April 2024

Azalea Garden Tour, April 5-7th: Beyond the Garden Gate

Magic awaits behind the gate at Garden #6 on the 2024 Azalea Garden Tour. The event features 10 private gardens with landscapes of all dimensions and includes FREE admission to Airlie Gardens on Saturday and Sunday.

Photography by Bernadette Baker

Garden #6 is tucked behind a charming brick patio home in the Pointe Summerset neighborhood off Eastwood Road. It is here that homeowners Becky and Carlus have lovingly transformed a blank slate into a verdant feast for the senses.

Since a courtyard needs to be encompassed, the couple started by installing a handsome privacy fence, stained in a warm sienna brown, to serve as the backdrop. Outside the fence they added neatly trimmed shrubbery in varying shades of green.

Within, they replaced the grass to create a fabulous “Southern” English Garden with multiple places to stop and linger. Over a ten-year period, they selected and hand-planted each component themselves. Although not classically trained, the couple’s love for horticulture is evident in the details. 

Clusters of variegated liriope line the curved bluestone pathway that carries you forward to the delightful surprises that abound. A sweet fairy, their garden angel, a gift from Becky’s sister two decades ago, overlooks an Apricot Drift rose bush. A gardenia bush, trimmed in tree form, adds its divine scent.

Careful attention was given to the bones of the garden and the powerful interplay between color and texture. The goal was to create a garden that could be adapted to any style, depending on the annuals, furniture and art added.

One of Becky’s favorite pieces is the elegant ironwork mirror that reflects all the greenery from its position behind the graceful white heron.

Here, the hot pink and green of flat caladium leaves are strikingly paired with fluffy bright lime-green sedum and dark green spiked grass.

The dining area is accented with chartreuse green cushions and a matching umbrella. Copper-topped dovecote birdhouses flank the pathway, attracting feathered friends whose songs intermingle with insect buzz and the tinkle of wind chimes.

“We created our own special little paradise back here. It’s quite a difference,” said Becky.

Around the corner, a bistro set, with black and white striped cushions, offers the perfect perch for morning coffee. A red mandevilla artfully climbs the fence. 

Purple phlox and a yellow daylily add a pop of color to the greenery and fresh mulch.

A traditional screened porch with plantation shutters overlooks the garden; an ideal place to enjoy the view, morning, noon or night. At one end, a cozy wicker set welcomes company.

At the other end, a white wooden bench sits in front of an iron gate with the invitation: “Friends Gather Here.”

“We can easily fit seven or eight people on the porch and it’s very lovely at night with the garden lights,” said Becky.

When dawn arrives, a solitary chair waits in a private corner, shadowed by a slender Crepe Myrtle. A shining set of Elephant Ears stands proud above the Creeping Jenny. The vibrant leaves of a potato plant cascade down to meet the pink Vinca flowers wound in ivy. One can sit quietly here, watching the songbirds flutter, butterflies float and bees dance.

“This is my happy place. Carlus and I love our garden so much we’re out here every day,” said Becky.

Becky is a member of the Cape Fear Garden Club which sponsors the annual Azalea Garden Tour. She and Carlus invite you to stroll behind their garden gate and experience the wonderful courtyard in person, April 5-7th. For more information, event details and ticket locations, visit www.capefeargardenclub.org

The 2024 Tour offers exciting opportunities, including a $1,500 Proven Winners plant raffle, a Secret Garden tour, outdoor dining tabletop displays, and a chance to enjoy two art venues. The April 5th Ribbon Cutting will be held at Cameron Art Museum. The April 7th Benefit Art Show will be held at Garden #9.

Tickets are $50 each and benefit the charitable programs and grants of the Cape Fear Garden Club which have returned $1.4 million to the community since 2003.

Stop by Stone Garden to purchase tickets. Cash or checks only (made out to Cape Fear Garden Club).

You can also buy tickets on tour days at each garden. Note: Gardens 1-4 are accessible by trolly ONLY at Harbor Way Gardens in Wrightsville Beach.

Experience Airlie in Spring Bloom

Your Azalea Garden Tour tickets include FREE admission on Saturday and Sunday to Airlie Gardens with over 75,000 azaleas and over 60,000 spring bulbs to see.