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Garden on a Mountain Top | Volunteer Gardener

December 6, 2019

– On top of Signal Mountain
in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Frances Jones has created
an amazing hillside garden. And if you think you
garden on a hillside, I bet you can’t
compete with this. There are evergreen plantings
that hold the slopes. There are crinums in full
bloom in front of me. There’s an azalea collection,
a viburnum collection, a conifer collection that
we’ll see in just a moment. And I’m gonna take a climb back up the side of
the mountain here, meet Frances up in the garden. Frances, I’m amazed
at the garden that you have carved out of
the side of the mountain here. – [Frances] Well,
that’s the problem. It’s the side of the mountain. – [Troy] That has been the
challenge, over how many years? – [Frances] I guess
I started the garden really in about 1986. My husband was killed by
a drunk driver in 1984 and I had to go take over
running that business and this was my therapy. – I understand. – I came home and
started digging. I came through naturally. My mother and my grandmother
were in the flower business in Mississippi
when I was a child. My mother was a graduate from
the University of Illinois in horticulture, floral-culture. – [Troy] So you did
come by naturally. – [Frances] I picked it up
just by being around them, that’s what I did and I
kinda went back to my roots. – So 30-some years
ago, this all began. – There was a house
here, stone house. In fact, all that stone
you saw sitting over there came from where we tore
the stone house down here. And I tore a house
down on the other side. – So you have
several lots up here. – Seven to be exact. – Seven. – Seven. – Wow. And you have just over the
years carved out gardens… – Just gradually. – In places. And we’re standing up
here kind of at the top in a relatively flat spot. – [Frances] Yeah, exactly. – [Troy] But as they
saw in the opening and all that, it goes way
down the side of the mountain. – [Frances] Oh, yeah,
it does, absolutely. – Quite a… – In fact, I went over
the bluff right here, riding a lawn mower. – Oh, no, and lived
to tell about it. – And lived to tell about it. – My gosh.
(laughing) One of the things
that you do have is quite a collection
of conifers. – [Frances] I love conifers. I thought, well… – [Troy] It’s such a rich
tapestry of colors and textures. We’ve got blue spruce back there and beautiful golds. – [Frances] Right,
that’s what I tried to do is to try to get ’em sort
of mixed up with the colors. – [Troy] Right. – [Frances] I’ve tried to get,
like I’ve got about 25, 26 different Japanese maples and
I’ve got all those viburnums. – [Troy] One of the other
things that you have in addition to a tremendous
collection of plants is quite a collection of
art, specifically sculptures. – [Frances] Yes, I was a
potter once upon a time, so I kinda relate to
three-dimensional things more than I do… My daughter’s a painter
and my son’s an architect, but momma likes sculptures. – [Troy] Right. And you have some
beautiful pieces. You’ve collected
pieces from artists, just anything that
sort of speaks to you. – [Frances] Exactly,
that’s what I’ve done. – [Troy] I like some
of these that move. – [Frances] I love the kinetic
sculptures, right, exactly. But that one moves just about
the slightest little breeze and that one will move. – [Troy] Something on it. You have one of the most
unique water features that I have seen. Tell me how this came about. – [Frances] Well, I wanted
to have a little waterfall and these rocks looked like
they were the perfect thing to have the water come
over, so my son suggested that I fix a
disappearing waterfall so I wouldn’t have to
have a pool to clean out. – [Troy] So there’s
no open water here that requires maintenance. – [Frances] No. – [Troy] This actually
trickles down these rocks and disappears into the gravel. But the secret is that
then it’s actually piped over to the other rock
and falls almost 15 feet or so down into another
disappearing pool below where it’s recirculated. – [Frances] Exactly, right. We had planned to have
it run over the rocks, but it was just
going back under. – [Troy] Yeah, not enough
flow to make it fall. – [Frances] It
didn’t look right. – Just trickled. So you created the trough and now have that
nice little stream of water that comes over. It’s beautiful. One of the things I notice is
that you obviously have this tremendous tree canopy overhead. And then you’ve layered
things in under that. – [Frances] I’ve tried
to because originally there weren’t many trees
or anything in here. It was just sort of
a jungle over here inundated with wisteria,
which was just the worst thing in the world. – [Troy] Something that
you had to deal with, yeah. – [Frances] Yes, and so we
gradually added different things and tried to get some
understory going in here. – [Troy] Right, and I think
that’s really an important thing to talk about in designing
a garden is that you’ve got your big overhead tree
canopy with your shade trees. And you come in with things
like these beautiful dogwoods, the Japanese maples that’s
lit up behind us here. Then you get on into
your shrub layer here and then all the way
down to ground level with the perennials. So you’ve got those
very distinct layers all the way through this garden. – [Frances] Well, I’ve tried. – [Troy] And even in the
summer season like this when the spring
wildflowers are gone, you’ve got so much
interesting texture and color in the
foliage and all that. – Thank you. – It really is. – That’s what we hope for. – And that was the goal and
it has obviously worked. – Exactly, yeah. Never saw a plant I didn’t like. And you buy ’em and then
where you gonna stash ’em. – [Troy] Exactly. That’s what all of us go
through as gardeners I think. I always have a pile of
plants that don’t have a home. – [Frances] I got some over
there behind my greenhouse. – [Troy] Very good. One more really fascinating
tree I wanna point out is this bigleaf magnolia. Magnolia macrophylla? – [Frances] I’m not
sure whether it’s ashei. – [Troy] Or could be ashei. – [Frances] I’m not sure. It has to do with right here. – [Troy] Right. – Which one it is
’cause I’m not sure. – But it’s so fascinating
and such a fantastic texture in amongst all of
these other trees that have just kind
of small leaves. This is one of the
largest-leafed deciduous trees in North America. – [Frances] It is. – [Troy] It gets big,
white magnolia blooms on it in the spring. There’s a seed pod up there and that would have
been a big white flower a few weeks ago. – [Frances] Yeah, exactly. – So just one more fascinating
plant in this garden that I am amazed that you
have carved out of the top and side of this mountain. – Well, it’s been a labor
of love, you know that. – I am so grateful for
you opening up for us and letting us come in. – [Frances] Glad
that you could come. – [Troy] Thank you so
much. (upbeat music) For inspiring garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects Visit our website at or on youtube at the volunteer gardener channel and like us on facebook.


  • Reply Dani Happy Farms Louisiana June 7, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    I love the kinetic art. I wonder how she got rid of the wysteria? Very nice video.

  • Reply ПЕРЕСВЕТ June 8, 2019 at 5:27 am

    Спасибо авторам видео и хозяйке сада!Необыкновенно красивый ,гармоничный,естественный сад!

  • Reply S a g G June 9, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Very talented lady

  • Reply awill2 June 9, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    awe lovely lady …so humble & artistic.

  • Reply Michael Karr June 9, 2019 at 9:31 pm


  • Reply Anna Poole June 9, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    I love her gardens but I think I love HER so much more!!!! She is a precious, precious lady!!!! God bless her! AND I pray her life is blessed richly, with all she has been through! 💖

  • Reply Lisa Vogel June 10, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Wow! She is very artistic and bless her for all her trials. Gardening is good for the soul.

  • Reply Ian July 29, 2019 at 1:40 am

    i love this show, and I love her garden and the effort she put into this

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