Doug Davis

Though Azalea Chapter member Doug Davis is Professor Emeritus of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, he has artistic thoughts in that technical mind of his. Doug decided to exercise these talents with landscape design and gardening. The primary plants around which he chose to "paint" are rhododendrons. Doug designed and developed his own garden, learning along the way much about rhododendron culture. These pictures are from a presentation Doug prepared. All pictures and illustrations are his. Doug explains:

The Davis garden got its start around the summer of 1991 with my frustration over a mass of wild blackberries slowly creeping across the entire width of Westhampton Dr. (the location of our home). Once having cleared this mass of vines out, however, there was the all-important decision to make: what do I do with the newly reclaimed real-estate?  This led to my planting a large patch of red presidential cannas in the newly reclaimed area. In subsequent years, with such a limited spectrum of flowers, boredom set in and this resulted in the slow but steady addition of other flowering plants. Subsequently, I set my sights on clearing out an even larger area involving a mass of privet trees with the addition of still more new flowering plants.

A few years still later, my wife Christine began to make louder and louder hints regarding the condition of an area of our property next to Jackson creek. It seems that over the years I had used this wetland area, which was 30 to 35 feet below the elevation of the house, as my private dumping ground.  Leaves, old Xmas trees, large dead branches, anything organic I just shoved over the cliff into the bog.  However, over time this organic debris began to build up to rather unsightly proportions.  So it must have been sometime in 1994 that I finally agreed to take-on this very massive yard clean-up effort.  This actually turned out to be what I now recognize was the real beginning of my effort to explore landscape architecture.

In the case of the wetland area, the issue was more critical because of the total area involved, the density of vines, and the number of large trees blocking out sunlight.  Furthermore, I didn’t have a clue how I would garden in a swamp. Adding to this predicament was the fact that there exists a very large shift in topology from one side of our property to the other. Thinking outside the box was therefore deemed essential.  In particular, I puzzled over the question: how am I going to move large amounts of garden materials from one end of the property to the other?  What emerged was the idea of creating a superhighway system in the form of boardwalks. These networks (located at preselected critical elevations) would then be connected to each other through an array of vertical steps at different points along the length of the property. It took nearly three years to build this system of superhighways, and then another year to clear out an overabundance of large trees.  Once finished, however, the location of many of the flower beds evolved quite naturally. At this time (2014), 95% of the flower beds have been identified (see attached map with its listing of azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas), and most are well along in their maturity.

The newest elements now being added to the garden are water features in the form of ponds, streams, and waterfalls along with bamboo fences and oriental statuary.  Thus, the Davis woodsy-oriental garden like many other kinds of gardens is still a work in progress.