I was fortunate to spend this evening at Vince & Barbara Dooley's garden in Athens, at a party/fundraiser for the Southeastern Horticulture Society. What a cool event! For those who are outside the Atlanta area, he's the college football icon, and the namesake of the "Vince Dooley" hydrangea.
Truly, I was expecting something fairly "dry," and was dreading the long drive from Cobb County to Athens; now that I'm back at home after the party, I'm delighted I went!
For starters, the Dooleys are very gracious hosts, who clearly open up their entire garden for roaming, exploring, and general poking around. There are no "off limits" areas, including work areas, the baby plant nursery, etc. Linda, Patti and I made a point of seeing all that we could.
The added bonus to this evening was that the "tour guides" were Drs. Allan Armitage and Michael Dirr! I can honestly say I've never been to a garden event with more knowledgeable tour guides, or any who were more enthusiastic about sharing their (unbelievable) expertise in the world of horticulture.
There were very cool plants in the Dooley garden that are not yet available on the market, as well as some of the original first generation plants that have come out of the UGA test gardens over the years. It was pretty cool for a "plant geek" like me to have Michael Dirr show me how he would propogate a particular hydrangea, sharing lots of great tips, and then giving me the cuttings to take home. And how awesome to have Vince Dooley say, "If there's something here you want to take a cutting from, please feel free to do so....."
The evening reinforced my feeling that there are very few jerks in the plant world, and that gardeners are just gracious nurturing souls by nature.....