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Garden Day Blooms

Roanoke College President’s Residence
An eye-popping border of yellow and white pansies and tulips defines the lines of the stately Georgian Revival residence of Roanoke College President Michael Creed Maxey and his wife Terri.
Many treasured pieces of art and furniture, donated by alumni and friends of the college, are on display throughout the home. A life-sized bronze, Trophy Crow by Blacksburg sculptor Betty Branch, is featured in the library. The formal living room includes White Roses—one of several pieces on display by nationally-known local artist and illustrator Walter Biggs. This room also houses a figure study by John Singer Sargent.
The kitchen is designed to combine family needs with the requirements of large-scale entertaining. A potted herb garden is filled to the brim in one window, ready and waiting for its leaves to be picked for some gourmet creation.
French doors open into the elegantly appointed dining room. An impressive crystal chandelier hangs over a banquet table. In the center, a large porcelain tureen overflows with spirea, Japanese maple leaves, Solomon’s seal, hellebore and the deepest of pink tree peonies.
Embedded in the terrace is an 18th-century millstone, a gift from a friend of the college. Lovely border gardens, a fountain, pots of Gerber daisies and a mass of tree peonies in a floral display decorate the courtyard.
The home plays host to many guests and college traditions. Students are often invited to dinner parties here, and seniors enjoy the annual ritual of touring the rooftop to confirm the existence of the legendary swimming pool. “We entertain a lot, and it is great to have this space,” says Terri. “It is great fun!
We love it.”
The Hough Garden
Paula Irons has described Jane and Franklin Hough’s garden as “small but wonderful.” Jane Hough designed and created the entire garden. “I’ve been gardening all of my life,” she says. The couple moved here 28 years ago. “We started with a vegetable garden. But eventually the flowers took over.”
A striking River birch, covered with scales of peeling bark, anchors the garden, and a row of Black Forest cryptomeria runs along the garage. A tiny but lush lawn provides a path to the different beds of brilliant color. In one corner, a decorative White Cloud plum is pruned to an umbrella shape.
Bulbs of unimaginable colors and size take center stage in spring. The glorious pink ‘Spring Beauty’ and intense orange ‘Sunrise’ tulips intermingle with many other spring blossoms. As spring turns to summer, these will be replaced by day lilies of every color and size, hostas and ferns. Herb plantings are scattered here and there, wherever Jane “thinks they will be pretty.”
Jane now relies on Warren Van Emmerik, who owns Dutch Heritage Landscaping, for help with care and maintenance of the garden. “He is a real ‘master’ of gardening,” says Jane.
Jane is often asked where she finds her plants. Her reply? “Wherever I see them!” Catalogs, Riverside Nursery, Lowe’s and Mike’s Greenhouse are a few of her favorites. A fanciful iron bird that pops out of one garden bed is a treasure Jane found on a garden trip to Asheville.
The “talk of the garden,” says Jane, is her espalier fence of apple trees. She saw this horticultural technique on display during a trip to France in 1982, and by the following year had planted a row of saplings along the garden border. They were pruned short, then espaliered. “It took them three years to get to the top and to start growing across,” says Jane. “It is just wonderful!”
On the terrace, an arrangement of tree peonies, Solomon’s seal and roses brings the garden one step closer to the backdoor. Nearby rest charming planters, created by Van Emmerik, and filled with a checkerboard of mosses. A pergola, constructed by Jane’s son, provides a lovely spot to sit back after a day’s work in the garden.
“This is definitely a labor of love,” says Paula Irons of Jane’s garden. Jane speaks of her beloved plants as if they were her children, and says that she has heard “you should sing to them as part of your care routine.” Whatever Jane does, it is certainly working!
The Ogden Home and Garden
Pam Ogden is both a well-known artist and a master gardener. One look at her home tells you she excels at both.
Ornamental trees, including a century-old white mulberry, dot the garden. “When we moved in 2001, the bones were here,” explains Pam. Today boxwoods, bulbs and perennials fill the borders and interior garden beds. An area in the back of the acre lot is designated as a wildlife habitat. A fountain featuring Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, is on the terrace. Ornamental iron globes filled with a succulent called “String of Pearls” form a border.
Pam has created a charming space for comfortable living and gracious entertaining. She designed a large sunroom with rounded walls and ceiling. “I wanted a softer entry into the room,” says Pam. Bookshelves abound, and are filled to the brim. Iris and tulips arranged in a tall silver vase stand out on a corner shelf. Another eye-catching arrangement of hydrangea, narcissus and a contorted form of pussy willow rests on a table.
Paintings and collages are everywhere. Sally Mook’s painting of a row of roosters hangs in the kitchen. According to Pam, “She does roosters like nobody else!” Pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries, including many inherited treasures, fill the rooms and provide memories and splendor all around. Pam’s home embodies her creative spirit at every turn.
The Smith Home
A large bed of yellow and blue pansies greets guests who drive up the circular drive to Jackie and Bob Smith’s painted brick Colonial.
When the Smiths moved into their home 13 years ago, “The house was very closed in,” says Jackie. Following an extensive renovation, a more open format showcases the family’s collection of antiques and china. “A lot of my things come from Enchanted in Lynchburg,” says Jackie. Known for its fine collection of period antiques and reproductions, Enchanted is a regular stop in a day of antiquing in downtown Lynchburg. A 19th-century sideboard with intricate inlay stands in the hall. Here a delicate arrangement of narcissus and woody vines complements the lines of the piece.
Unsurpassed at this stop on the tour is the arrangement over the fireplace. Designed by Garden Club members, the mantel overflows with a mass of red, white, lavender, orange, pink and green. Tulips, tree peonies, hellebore and hydrangea are heaped in a mass of vibrant hues.
The imagination of the volunteers who take on the enormous task of creating the floral displays in each home is showcased here in the Smith home. One of Jackie and Bob’s sons is an avid golfer. In his bedroom, a large glass bowl filled with golf balls and perched on a putting green has bright red tulips popping out of the top, along with the 18th hole pin.
Interior designer Elaine Stephenson helped Jackie with the decorating and transformed a simple home into something quite grand. As Jackie describes it, “We made it into the perfect house!”
The Pollock Home
When Gay and Chris Pollock first found this post-Civil War home, they knew it was ideal for them. In addition to the charm and lovely lines of an older home, there is a bird’s-eye view of Roanoke College’s lacrosse field. Since Chris played lacrosse at Roanoke College and returned to be an assistant coach, the house was meant to be for the Pollocks.
Here again, club volunteers did a magnificent job creating unique floral displays. Pussy willows, white lilies and tree peonies decorate an elegantly set dining room table. The playroom features a schooner packed with bright yellow lilies and seed pods to match. And in the den, an arrangement of black tulips, Solomon’s seal and hostas creates an exotic display.
Gay and Chris’s home is furnished with local finds and family pieces. Plantation shutters allow natural light to come in. The absence of draperies shows off the floor-to-ceiling windows in the formal rooms. Neighbor and friend Kelly Curran, whose home was also on the tour, helped with decorating. The Pollock home is truly a real home designed with the family in mind. “It has suited us very well,” says Gay. “We love it!”
The Curran Home and Garden
Kelly and Paul Curran’s home exudes charm and elegance, yet is comfortable enough for families to gather and children to play. The painted brick Cape Cod boasts some lovely architectural points. A graceful curved staircase, several large bay windows, wainscoting and a corner kitchen fireplace were big selling points when the Currans purchased the house. “When the family needed more space, we saw this house and fell in love with it,” says Kelly.
Light pours in from each of the bay windows, highlighting the interior colors. Exquisite floral arrangements complement the décor at every turn. In the hall, yellow lilies and tree peonies in the deepest shade of rose are arranged in a delicately footed vase. And on the dining room tabletop, a multi-shade arrangement of blossoms fills the room with color.
Kelly is a passionate collector and uses her home as a display case. Her assortment of demitasse spoons sits in a silver cup, and an iron umbrella stand displays many unusual canes. Boxes and magnifying glasses are everywhere, and unique purses hang from doorknobs in the bedroom. In the elegantly appointed master bath, an antique cabinet is filled with crystal perfume decanters.
Above the kitchen’s angled fireplace is a colorful porcelain tray that the couple discovered on a trip to Italy. It has become a main focal point in the room. An arrangement of melons, asparagus, cabbage, kale and artichokes in a wooden bowl highlights how truly imaginative arrangements can be.
The Currans undertook an extensive renovation, including the addition of the pool, pool house, pergola and terraces. These improvements provide a lovely backdrop for Kelly’s gardens and the numerous floral displays associated with the tour. “I do some of my own gardens, but had help from Walter’s Greenhouse and Intermont Landscaping,” says Kelly. “Steve Boggs [of Intermont] has great design ideas.”
On the terrace, sweet-smelling akebia vine and Carolina honeysuckle envelop the pergola. This vantage point provides a view of the fountain and swimming pool, which is decorated for the tour with three floats overflowing with pink azaleas. In the pool house, a bouquet of roses and Irish bells sits ready to greet any would-be swimmers. Pots of flourishing flowers and English boxwood abound along the water’s edge. But perhaps the most stunning display of all is the rows of double knock-out roses, all in full bloom.
“It is all about being comfortable,” says Kelly. “We want everyone to be comfortable and have a good time, and that’s what this does. We just love our house!”
A common bond exists between these six homeowners. No matter how elegantly appointed the home or detailed the garden, they were all created with love and consideration of the enjoyment of family and friends.

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