Butterfly Swings and the Common Good

Today’s gardens are “an extension of one’s home,” says Joyce Moore. Photos by Tim Robison.
Today’s gardens are “an extension of one’s home,” says Joyce Moore. Photos by Tim Robison.

Joyce Moore would like folks to know that, despite the resistant cliché, there’s more to “women who garden” than just snipping roses. “We are not just a bunch of ladies arranging flowers, as many think,” says Moore, this year’s chair for the annual private-garden tour sponsored by the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs.

Moore talks about the Council’s civic-beautification efforts, its urban environmental programs — now embedded in the county elementary schools’ regular curriculum — and its work with Scout troops. Council members also maintain the historic-register status of their headquarters, the 1838 Kilgore-Lewis estate, a Palladian-style home with a metal roof that shelters 20 garden clubs. The site’s five acres of grounds are certified as both an arboretum and a Natural Wildlife Habitat.

Greenville’s East Side is the focus of the spring garden tour, a two-day annual event with an educational bent: master gardeners on site will dispense mulch musings, sunflower secrets, and freesia 411. This year’s stops include a whimsical, snugly laid out cottage garden (packed full of common and native species) and a lake-accented Italianate garden that recreates Tuscany with a bocce-ball court situated among plentiful exotic fruit trees — kiwi, persimmon, and fig. At another home, owned by avid plant collectors, a woodland garden contains a pond and whimsically creative garden furniture, including a swing carved like a butterfly.

With so much emphasis these days on outdoor living, “the garden becomes an extension of one’s home,” notes Moore, naming important features such as benches, fountains — even a fine-craft birdbath.

“This tour contains great examples of homeowners who take accessories to an art form.”

The annual garden tour happens Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13, 10am-5pm. Tickets, printed with the homes’ addresses, are $25 ($22/advance). Proceeds benefit the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs’ community programs. Call 864-232-3020 or e-mail council@kilgore-lewis.org for more information.