Hills and Dales Estate
Hills and Dales Estate is 35 acres of pure beauty located in Lagrange, Georgia. The gardens, started in 1832, consist of the most alluring hedgerows, skillfully crafted terraces, and a collection of plant specimens highlighting the best of the Southern botanicals.
Taking a stroll through these gardens always leaves me with a strange, yet wonderful, feeling. The intimacy of the layout and the never-ending supply of magnolias, camellias, and azaleas transports me back to my great-grandmother’s garden. One walk around this garden and you feel as if it’s a continuation of your own Southern heritage – of sweet tea in the garden after church, of Easter egg hunts among the daffodils and azaleas in the spring, and of scouring the ground beneath the blossoming camellias to find the ones fallen, yet still too pretty to neglect, to collect in your basket or float down the creek. It feels as if your grandmother and every other Southern grandmother you grew up with left her mark in this wonderful place.
And yet, this garden’s grandiosity at times would transport me from my own great-grandmother’s backyard to the elaborate estates of England. With just a turn along the azalea-lined path, you’d come face to face with an Italianate style mansion, or a greenhouse filled to the brim with exotics, or a sunken garden of elaborate stone water works.
It’s the best of both worlds, honestly. It’s where you can find a magnolia – not one for climbing – but one espaliered formally in the European fashion.
It’s where you can find the first leaves of the wisteria – not on the your grandmother’s familiar wooden swing – but on the Roman Tuscan columns of the porte-cochere.
And it’s where you can find the quintessentially Southern geranium – not in a cottage window box- but in a greenhouse filled with orchids, exotic begonias, and stag horn ferns.
I think middle March is the best time to visit this garden. It seemed that everything was blooming. Take a gander at some of my favorite plants growing at Hills and Dales:
The menagerie of orchids!! — cattleyas, phaleonopsis, cymbidiums, vandas, brassavolas and angreacums
The Prostrate Artillery Fern – Pilea microphylla
The Boat Orchid – Cymbidium spp.
The Lenten Rose – Helleborus orientalis
The Cast Iron Plant – Aspidistra elatior
The Pink Perfection Camellia – Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’
The Pieris – Pieris japonica **small, yet heavenly scented
The Saucer Magnolia – Magnolia x soulangeana
The Annual Bedding Tulips
Other plants in bloom this time of year at Hills and Dales include: azaleas, kerria, tea olive, flowering quince, daffodils, dogwoods, bougainvillea, weeping cherries, and loropetalums.
I’ve snagged a few photos from hillsanddales.org to show you some macro views of the gardens and to get a better sense of how the estate utilizes their many, many boxwoods. Hopefully these pictures will entice to take your own stroll through this magical estate.
If you ever find yourself in the South, Hills and Dales Estate is a great place to relax and find the spirit of the South through its gardens! It’s definitely one of my favorites!