I woke up in the hotel in Charlotte and looked out the window to see that the sun was shining, a promising start to the day. As we drove to a nearby restaurant for breakfast, I marveled at the trees and shrubs planted along the roads, especially the crepe myrtles in full bloom.
Charlotte, as far as I could tell from the areas I was in, is a pretty city, with landscaping along public streets and lots of flowers in bloom.
After breakfast, we got back in the car and programmed the GPS for Wing Haven on Ridgewood Avenue. It told me that I was nine minutes from Elizabeth Lawrence’s garden. Nine minutes after years of wanting to visit. Nine minutes.
As we drove to the garden, my friend was surprised that we were driving through a lovely neighborhood in Charlotte. Where was this garden? It was at her house, of course. And her house was in a neighborhood just down the street from another, larger residential garden called Wing Haven.
And then we were there. I parked the car in the nearby parking lot and we walked two houses down to the big white house that had once been the home of the Clarksons, whose three acres of gardens, along with the gardens of Elizabeth Lawrence, are maintained by the Wing Haven Foundation.
|Clarkson Home, Wing Haven Foundation Offices|
At this point, the woman who was there to collect our entry fee and explain about the gardens might have suspected that I was a fan of Elizabeth Lawrence. I was rather eager in asking for directions to Lawrence’s garden. I might have told her I was a big fan. I might have mentioned I’d read all her books. I might have said we planned to see Elizabeth Lawrence’s garden first, then come back Wing Haven.
“Eight houses down on the right. There’s a sign in front.”
Off we walked. I was too excited to actually count houses, but I’d seen the pictures of Lawrence’s house, so I knew we’d find it.
And then, after a short stroll, there was the house.
|Elizabeth Lawrence’s House|
I was there! My pace quickened and I almost ran up to the gate where Elizabeth Lawrence posed for that classic photo of her inviting people into her garden.
“This is the gate of my garden. I invite you to enter in; not only into my garden, but into the world of gardens — a world as old as the history of man, and as new as the latest contribution of science; a world of mystery, adventure and romance; a world of poetry and philosophy; a world of beauty; and a world of work.”
The first thing I did when I got there was pose at the gate.
|June 30, 2012|
I didn’t get the pose quite right but Andrea, who works at the garden, said “I love when we have visitors who already know about Elizabeth Lawrence.” I wondered if the woman at Wing Haven had called ahead. “We’ve got a fanatic heading down your way.” Or maybe Andrea figured that anyone who knew how to pose at the gate knew who Elizabeth was.
In any case, I was there, and ready to begin my tour of the gardens of Elizabeth Lawrence.