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Carl Witty's shade garden includes birdhouses, bird feeders and this statue, carefully concealed within the foliage.
Daily photo by Holly Hollman
Carl Witty's shade garden includes birdhouses, bird feeders and this statue, carefully concealed within the foliage.

Limestone gardeners tend yards to grow green
Event to help fund
3 community projects

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ATHENS — There's peace in Carl Witty's backyard, but there's a battle, too.

It's a battle the retired Athens State University academic dean enjoys watching.

From his porch, Witty can relax in the coolness of his shade garden and listen to the water trickle from his goldfish pond.

That's the peace.

But he can also spy on goldfinches defending the corner bird feeder dangling from a branch. He can laugh at the squirrels unable to reach the center yard bird feeder hanging from a pole.

"My wife greases it," Witty said, "so the little fellows get halfway up and fall back down."

In the early mornings, he can enjoy breakfast while watching baby rabbits overcome their skittishness and romp and eat.

Those are the battles he finds in nature.

Witty gets such enjoyment from his shade garden that he wants to share it with others. Witty is a member of the Limestone County Master Gardeners Association.

The group is holding its annual plant sale Saturday at the Farmers Market.

John O'Neill, the master gardener in charge of the plant sale, said members like Witty bring flowers, herbs and vegetables they have grown to sell. Limestone Correctional Facility also donates trees and shrubs grown by inmates.

"You really never know what you'll find," O'Neill said. "That's part of the surprise."

Witty is donating yellow archangel from his garden. It loves dry, shady areas, he said.

"This is the place to come if you are interested in starting your own garden, whether it be a shade garden or something entirely different," Witty said. "We can give advice on what works. I know I've had successes and failures in my garden before finding out what plants work best and in what areas."

Witty sticks to native plants like ferns, hostas, phlox, lenton roses and azaleas.

"I grew up on a farm in Tennessee, and I find enjoyment in gardening," he said. "Being involved with this organization gives me help with my hobby and gives me a way to give back to the community."

The group uses money from the plant sale to fund its three major community projects. The gardeners do the landscaping at the historic Donnell House in Athens and tend the triangle gardens on Athens' major thoroughfares.

The group also has a community garden, which member Edd Hall has hosted for six years on his property. Members grow vegetables like corn, tomatoes and beans, and distribute the food to those in need through the Athens Senior Center.

Witty gets satisfaction from knowing his hobby helps others, but he also gets satisfaction from seeing what his hands have created in his backyard paradise.

"This hobby will teach you patience," Witty said. "But when I'm on my porch reading a book, and can look up at my garden, it's worth it."

Green thumbs wanted

  • Limestone County Master Gardeners Association will have a plant sale Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Farmers Market on Green Street in downtown Athens. Plants sell out early. Sale includes flowers, vegetables, shrubs, trees and herbs.

  • The Athens Garden Club will have a plant and bake sale at the Farmers Market on April 28 from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Proceeds benefit projects such as a scholarship for a student of horticulture.

    - Holly Hollman

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