University of Georgia's famed football coach is passionate about two things: football and gardening. In our Q & A, he talks about his biggest gardening challenge: "Trying to keep it up as I acquire more and more space and more plants. My mother used to say, 'Housework is never done.' The same can be said for gardening."
What’s the first thing you ever planted? I remember Dr. Allan Armitage talking about a flag iris in class, and he said, “If you can’t grow this, forget about it. You can’t grow anything.” I figured I’d better plant something I felt confident about. Flag iris will thrive anywhere, so that was probably truly the first thing I planted.
What’s your planting strategy and where do you find inspiration? I’ve got a garden for all seasons. I like variety and plants that will bloom and do their thing at different times of the year. That way, I always have something going on in the garden.
There’s beauty in flowers. There’s beauty in fragrance. There’s beauty in fruit. Viburnums, for instance, have great fruit, as do some of the hollys. Tea viburnum has these drooping great clusters of red fruit. There’s also beauty in the bark of trees like Acer griseum. Crape myrtles, particularly the Natchez, have bark that provides winter interest.
Then, again, I’m always looking to add plants and studying the history of plants and gardening. I have an endless interest in newly introduced plants that are being hybridized, too; working with Dr. Michael Dirr gives me an advantage on that because plant introduction is his greatest satisfaction.