March 2023

Pool, Pavilion & Playtime: Azalea Tour

Gregg Thomas and Tom Faust entertain often. Their pool and pavilion make an ideal playground. You can see it for yourself on the Azalea Garden Tour April 14-16.

The open-air pavilion shelters an expansive seating area for all their friends, a brick fireplace, outdoor kitchen and bar. The transformation of this property is quite remarkable.

I first fell in love with this place in 2017 when helping a dear friend on her own search for a new home. It spoke to me immediately. Since that day I couldn’t get it out of my mind. [Gregg]

He and his husband Tom were not looking to move from the historic downtown home they had just finished renovating on Front Street. In fact, they were preparing for the 2018 Azalea Garden Tour.

Two years later, Gregg was delighted to find the property in Glenn Meade that he could not forget was still for sale. It was meant to be.

They immediately purchased it. Gregg had a very clear vision of what was needed. In just over a year, he completely transformed the house interior and the garden using the mantra of “classic, formal and elegant.”

Lime-wash on the red brick and a new front porch drastically change the street appeal. The circular driveway is now sleek concrete with brick accents. Boxwood hedges add a stately appearance and single, large boxwoods are artfully placed as foundation plantings. Four tractor-trailer loads of empire zoysia grass create a lush carpet of green.

Flagstone pathways nestled in the zoysia grass led to the back yard enclosure where the pool and pavilion await. Symmetry can be found throughout the design.

Once through the iron gates, a wonderland awaits. The pool area, surrounded by artificial turf, provides a dirt-free environment for Riley and Lady Bird, their beloved Labrador Retrievers. Apart from all the parties, Tom swims at least six months of the year.

Gregg’s favorite feature is the tranquil koi pond, reminiscent of his childhood. It was recently created by Drew Thorndyke of Cape Fear Water Gardens using 22 tons of boulders and a great deal of grit.

The charming potting shed reflects Gregg’s talent for striking architectural design.

On the other side of the pool, ‘Hen Haven’ houses thirteen chickens supplying fresh eggs for friends and neighbors just as Gregg’s maternal grandmother did long ago.

In the front yard, a charming gazebo at the street gives Tom and Gregg the opportunity to interact with their neighbors.

We were very fortunate to inherit a stunning display of mature azaleas, camellias and dogwoods that completely encircled three sides of the property. [Gregg]

The interior of the gazebo looks like a cozy living room, complete with comfortable seating, a chandelier and a firepit.

Hybrid tea roses bloom in the Witherspoon Rose Garden. Gregg’s love of gardening stems from his paternal grandmother who lived steps away from him on the family farm. He helped plant in her rose and iris gardens.

A small koi pond greets visitors in the side garden. All these changes came from Gregg’s memories and visions.

The pool was the only thing committed to paper – everything else was “trust me, you’ll love it,” and I did! [Tom]

Once a vision in Gregg’s mind, the couple now avidly share their home and magnificent garden with others.

We’re delighted to be on the 2023 Azalea Festival Garden Tour! We look forward to answering questions and sharing our happy place with you all. It’s a joyous thing. [Gregg]

Affectionally known as Green Acres, look for Garden #5 on the tour!


Don’t miss the 70th Anniversary Tour April 14, 15, & 16, 2023. Tickets are available online until April 3. Stop by our store to purchase while they last!


The Azalea Paint Out is an artistic partnership with the Azalea Garden Tour. Twenty-five talented artists will be working in thirteen featured gardens of the 70th Azalea Garden Tour. Their artworks will be offered for sale at Azalea Art Sale as well as two other venues during the tour weekend. A portion of the art proceeds from this event benefit charitable grant programs of The Cape Fear Garden Club.