Gardens History

By Catherine Redles, granddaughter of J.T. and Kate Young Roberts, November 19, 2001


We remember being told that Kate Young Roberts “was in a boat in the pond” or low area at the west side of the property. I do not know whether this was when the house was an institute and she attended school there. The area was later drained by a ditch.

Warren Graham (grandson of J. T. Roberts) remembers an area west of smoke house (later play house, still standing) devoted to a “formal garden” with rectangular areas separated by paths, possibly bordered with liriope. There would have been flowers planted in the beds. Kate came from the Young Plantation (Thomasville) which had a formal garden.

A high fence ran north-south beyond the formal garden, which shows in photographs in the Edwina Roberts Collection (LCHS Museum). On the west side of the fence was a vegetable garden.


The fence fell down and/or was removed. West of the play house was a grape arbor. Also banana tree, sweet shrub, jasmine, wild azalea, green rose, flowing quince, fig trees, Japanese magnolia, pomegranate. Southwest of the play house was a rectangular play area we called “the park.” West of the house was a trellis covered by a large Cherokee rose bush (photo available), a second grape arbor (purple and scuppernong). Warren remembers a third arbor but I don’t know the location.

On the south side of the house adjacent to porch are the brick foundation remains of a hot house, shelves along inside of the walls, with a slanted roof of what seemed to be glass panes in window frames, with a dirt floor below sidewalk level. We called it “the pit.”

To the west of the house, Warren remembers a rooting bed used by W. L. Roberts (son of J. T. Roberts), the family amateur horticulturist. Sometime in this period, he was interested in daylilies and even exhibited them to a national hemerocallis society convention held in Valdosta. There are many daylilies southwest of the house. And the camellias. He was the one who bought, rooted, planted, hybridized, exchanged, tended, exhibited, gave away blossoms. Camellias are on the north, east, south sides of the houses, extending on the southwestwards to the last palm tree, hundreds of them, I estimate.  There are several large camellia bushes with their bucket rims still visible where they were placed while waiting for a permanent location. Pathways are lined with double rows of liriope.

The rock garden southwest corner of the house, is composed of concrete rubble and a few lava rocks. The garden part never was created so the rocks are actually two piles. An extra large concrete birdbath has disappeared from under the oak tree southwest of the house.

Narcissus grow by the hundreds near the site of the barn, foundation bricks still visible. Also to the north of the barn, northwards to the fence along River Street. There are some lilies, wisteria, path lined by liriope, hedge of spirea.

In the 1950s, Margaret R. Graham planted several rose bushes in the site of the old “wood house” located north of the playhouse, west edge of driveway parking area, bordered by liriope and huge azalea bush.

In the 1950s W. L. Roberts planted strawberries in the site of the barn.

Banana trees were on the south side of the storehouse (built in early 1930s) and by the two-three car garage shared with the A. Winns, west edge of driveway parking area (part of foundation still visible). A large clump of bamboo stood in front of wood house. Bamboo also lines part of the south margin of the property.

Trees: orchard of pecan trees (proceeds paid property taxes); pear trees; mimosa in front yard, southeast of house, now gone; camphor tree (china berry) by northeast steps of porch, now gone; sycamore tree south side of driveway entrance in sidewalk, now gone; cedar tree in front walk, now gone; dead cedar tree north side of front walk; black walnut northwest of play house, now gone; magnolia tree east of barn.