published Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Carloftis to design Grandmothers Garden for Arboretum

  • photo
    "Grandmother's Garden" is a new feature to be designed by nationally renowned garden designer Jon Carloftis at Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center at Reflection Riding. Photo by Christopher Hirscheimer


What: "Putting Style into Your Garden," lecture by John Carloftis.

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: Chattanooga State Community College Humanities Auditorium.

Admission: $15; proceeds go to Grandmothers Garden Fund.

Information: To register, go to or call 821-1160. For more about Jon Carloftis' garden designs, go to


A fundraising tea will be held in the Humphrey's House at Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center on May 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $35 for adults, $15 for children 8-13. Not recommended for children under 8. Register at

It's a place you'll want to take grandma.

"Grandmothers Garden" is a new feature to be designed by nationally renowned garden designer Jon Carloftis at Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center at Reflection Riding.

Carloftis, of Lexington, Ky., who will give a lecture about gardens next week at Chattanooga State Community College, says a "Grandmothers Garden" is made from old-fashioned plants.

Such plants are "both native and non-native, but not invasive, that were popular during the Arts and Crafts Movement (1860-1910) when people rebelled against the Industrial Revolution and wanted to use and buy things that were made by hand, including gardens," Carloftis explains.

Groundbreaking for the garden will begin by the end of this year with plans to have it completed by the end of 2014, says Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center board member Margaret Hill.

The garden is also part of a greater effort to gain community support for the Arboretum and Nature Center, says Dennis Bishop, curator at the center.

"It is our hope that the Chattanooga community will embrace the entire Arboretum through this garden. We want Chattanoogans to make the Arboretum their own," he says. "We are starting with two things no other Southeastern garden has -- the spectacular scenery of Lookout Valley and a Nature Center that ties the Arboretum to our local animal life and the rest of the natural world.

"The Grandmothers Garden will provide one more reason for people come see what a fabulous place Chattanooga is."

The garden will be built in memory of Marie Humphreys, Margaret Chambliss and all grandmothers, Bishop says.

Humphreys and her husband, Harold Humphreys, lived on the Reflection

Riding property for many years and assisted John and Margaret Chambliss with the development of Reflection Riding, a 317-acre area that was incorporated in 1956, according to

Marie Humphreys and Margaret Chambliss were cornerstones of Reflection Riding, and two stone pavers will be set in their honor in the Grandmothers Garden, Bishop says.

"Around these two cornerstones, a paved stone patio will be built and dedicated to all of our grandmothers," he says. "Pavers for the patio will be sold as part of a fundraiser for the garden. They will be engraved with the names of the purchaser's grandmother."

The garden will be funded entirely through donations, Bishop says.

Carloftis appreciates the efforts of the couples to preserve the land for the good use of future generations.

"My family has always been involved in saving land for the future and it has trickled down to all of us, including grandchildren. Once it's gone, it's gone," Carloftis says. "I'm involved in a group called Fayette Alliance in Lexington, Ky., that encourages people to stay inside the city limits and make it a place you would want to stay instead of moving out to the beautiful farms and turning them into suburban tract houses.

"That is why I'm so excited about the Chattanooga Arboretum where people can come visit and get their outdoor energies out before going back to the city or suburbia. You have to have places to go or else it won't work."

At Chattanooga State, Carloftis will offer tips on how to put style in any garden, whether it's a flower garden, vegetable garden, indoor plants, woodland garden or potting sheds.

"Everything we do in the world of gardening can be done with lots of style," he says. "And that doesn't mean lots of money because the most innovative gardens I've seen are done with more ingenuity than money."

Today's gardener wants extras in gardens such as lighting, comfortable seating, even outdoor kitchens -- and all that is fine, he says.

"If it takes these nice things to get us outside, off the computer and the big sofa watching TV, then it's worth it," he says.

Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at or 423-757-6396.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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