Have you ever had a red letter day? I’m not even sure that’s the right description, but I am talking about a day that was enjoyable from start to finish? My college roommate and I used to joke about how we wondered if that meant we were soon to die. As if God would gift us with one last heart-overflowing kind of day. Well, last Saturday was a day like that! Part of what made it so special was traveling to The Hydrangea Festival.
The Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival & Garden Tours is an annual event held in Douglasville, GA. Also known as “The Hydrangea Capital of the South.” When we arrived we were given a wrist band and a brochure that included a map of private gardens open to visitors. The map also included stops where we could see local artists, food vendors, an art show at the museum, a juried flower show and plant sale. I must admit, we did not make it to all of these stops. But we were delighted by the places and friendly faces we did see.
Someone who has been following me on instagram told me about this event and I’m so glad she did! It was only about a 2 hour drive from our home and made for the perfect day trip. We stopped at the infamous Buccee’s on I-20 for some picnic items and found plenty of parking when we arrived at Douglas County High School. Most of the stops were within walking distance from there.
There was a point in one garden where we tracked down the sweetest scent and found it was this magnolia tree pictured above. Another favorite bloom of mine. So there was more than hydrangeas to see. Much more!
I loved this front porch dressed to the nines complete with a silver tea service. Do you think they’d invite us to dinner if I made a dish or gave them a painting? I’m only kidding. (Well sort of!)
I was enamored with the vignettes we came across, inviting porches and tables set about outdoors that were ready for a garden party to break out. One garden in particular we were told was a “must see” and it belongs to Susanne Hudson, one of the event’s Co-Founders. She is an interior & exterior designer and there was so much to take in. I could have stayed at her house all day! She made it look so winsome and effortless but of course it took incredible talent. We left inspired and challenged to do better in our own back yard.
At our last stop we were greeted by this sign and given a walking stick. The homeowners and their daughter were delightful to visit with and more than happy to share their knowledge. Their long driveway wove through hills with paths to explore. They handed out a colorful map and offered bottled water to their guests. Plants and trees had signs to introduce themselves. While we were there, we ran into the very person who told me about this event! We had not met in person but she recognized me and had seen my name on the sign in sheet at the top of the drive.
The weather was perfect. The hosts most hospitable. It was really good for the soul to get outside and exchange greetings with passers by! On our way home we stopped in Heflin at Marie’s Barbecue where we picked up a cold pound of chopped pork, Brunswick stew and creme horns that take me back to my childhood. If you are ever on I-20 between Birmingham and Atlanta, I highly recommend a stop there. We love to get it cold and have it for dinner when we get to our destination.
I have more photos and painting inspiration for days! You can see a little video I made of our adventure on instagram here. Mark your calendars for next year’s Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival & Garden Tours! Maybe we too will get to say hello in a garden.
For more on the festival, visit their website here. Or follow them on social media for updates.