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VOL. 124 | NO. 172 | Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Homeowners Prepare for Central Gardens Tour

By Tom Wilemon

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LIVING HISTORY: Five homes and one garden are in the lineup for this year’s Central Gardens Home and Garden Tour on Sept. 13. Tickets are $12 in advance, but $15 on the day of the event.

Rick Clark took advantage of unusually cool weather this week to spread gravel along the path through his shade garden in preparation for the Central Gardens Home & Garden Tour on Sept. 13.

“We’ve been planning on doing all this,” he said. “Getting ready for the tour just makes you finish it.”

The cool space behind his home at 1379 Carr Ave. balances elegant and whimsical features. An antique bird bath adorned with an angel ascends from a grove of bonsai trees in the center of the garden, while a group of concrete frogs party under the branch of a Japanese maple in a secluded corner.

The annual tour, now in its 33rd year, gives Memphians the opportunity to see the architectural details of these historic homes, their interior décor and private gardens. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the tour. The tour hours will be 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Advance tickets can be purchased at Davis-Kidd Book Store, Miss Cordelia’s Grocery and 1910 Frame Works.

SPRUCING UP: Rick Clark spreads a new layer of gravel along the path through his shade garden on Carr Avenue in preparation for the Central Gardens Home and Garden Tour.  – Photos By Tom Wilemon

The tour is the Central Gardens Association’s biggest fundraiser and is usually attended by more than 2,000 people, said Regina Whitley, one of the organizers.

Arts, crafts, life

This year, there are five houses and one shade garden on the tour, all within easy walking distance of one another on Carr Avenue, Harbert Avenue, Vinton Avenue and Melrose Street. The houses were all built between 1909 and 1923.

They include the Guy E. Patterson House, the Judge Allen Hughes House, the Edward Lehman House, the Albert Wolff House, the Dr. William Britt Burns House and the John Talbert Morgan House.

The original owners or their descendants have contributed to the city’s history in various ways. Burns’ son-in-law started Southern Living magazine. Allen Morgan founded Morgan Keegan Co. Dr. Jimmy Hughes was one of the founding physicians of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Central Gardens, a neighborhood encompassing several blocks in the heart of Midtown, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is known for its many architectural styles and its plentiful trees.

The houses on this year’s tour exemplify the Arts and Craft style.

“The tour is a celebration of our neighborhood, and this year we are happy that the houses stand together as fine examples of the influence of Arts and Crafts in Central Gardens,” said Millicent Stillwell, tour organizer. “Living in an old neighborhood reminds you that there are certain things in life of which you are only a temporary custodian and that there are many stories and people who came before us here and that are yet to come.”

The neighborhood is filled with avid gardeners such as Rick and Fran Clark. She took a break and sipped a cool drink while he spread the gravel.

“It’s taken about four or five years to develop this out,” he said.

He paused from working on the koi pond to walk around front. Red impatiens along the porch soaked up the last rays as the sun began dipping behind an oak. He smiled and waved at a neighbor, then went back to work.

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