History of the Landscape Gardening Program and the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

This was passed out to the guests of the LSG and Horticultural Gardens 50th Anniversary celebration on June 9. The included pictures are from this event. Enjoy!

By Dee Johnson

In 1965, Mr. Francis W. Howe, owner of Clarendon Gardens Nursery and Landscape services in Pinehurst, North Carolina, developed a committee to explore the initiation of a National Institute of Horticulture.  As a result of these early efforts, Mr. Fred Heutte, Mrs. Louise J. Ballard, Mr. David G. Leach, Dr. Francis deVos, and Dr. Raymond Stone were asked to serve as the Board of Directors for the Clarendon National Institute of Horticulture.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Stone, president of Sandhills Community College, asked Mr. Heutte to continue with the original idea of training gardeners as conceived by the Clarendon National Institute of Horticulture and to consider the total program as managed and conducted by Sandhills Community College.  Mr. Heutte consented to continue his service as a consultant for the College.

Initial funding for the program was provided by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the

  1. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Anna H. Hanes Foundation, and Mrs. Jean Flagler Matthews of Rye, New York.

On February 1, 1968, Mr. Fred Garrett was hired by Dr. Stone to formulate the curriculum and initiate the first class of enrolled Landscape Gardening students in September of 1968.  The following year, two additional instructors were employed to help carry out the intent of training students in applied horticulture, utilizing training concepts already established in European garden training schools.

Mr. Heutte, a resident of Norfolk, Virginia, and former Superintendent of Parks and Forestry for the City of Norfolk and the first Director of the Norfolk Botanical Garden continued his interest in the gardening school and visited the College on several occasions until his death in 1979.  The first instructional building that housed the Landscape Gardening Program was named Heutte Hall in 1974.  With the construction of the new landscape gardening building, the name was changed to Steed Hall in honor of Warren Steed for his help in funding the new facilities.  Heutte Hall became the name of the living-quarters facilities for students.

By agreement with Mrs. James Boyd, owner of the Weymouth Estate in Southern Pines, the practical outdoor laboratories–such as vegetable gardening, tree climbing, pruning, propagation, landscape maintenance, and installation– was conducted on the Weymouth Estate at the beginning of the program. The classroom instruction was held on the main campus of Sandhills Community College.

In 1978, prior to accepting a large diverse collection of holly species from Dr. Fred Ebersole, funds were needed for the clearing and preparation of two acres of land for the Holly Garden.  The landscape gardening students undertook the work project on weekends, cutting trees necessary for construction of a new parking lot in front of Heutte Hall.  With permission from the College trustees, all monies derived from the sale of the trees would be used for site preparation of the holly collection.  The College trustees also dedicated fifteen acres of campus land to the Landscape Gardening program in 1978 for future garden expansion.  The Holly collection, which became known as the Ebersole Holly Garden, was the first garden established in what is now known as the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens.

Between 1980 and 1984, a decision was made to develop a master plan for the outdoor “living laboratory” which would serve as a guide for potential, additional garden expansion in the future.  Students have always been involved in the development and execution of the gardens, and a group of landscape gardening students developed a master plan project as their semester landscape design project.  Their plan included a vegetable garden with a small fruit orchard, a dwarf conifer area, and displays where annuals and seasonal flower color could be provided.

In 1984, the concept for another garden began as part of the statewide celebration of the commemoration of the attempted colonization of Roanoke Island in 1584.  A formal English style garden was designed by Susan Frett, a second-year student in the Landscape Gardening Program. The plan was submitted to the Moore County 400th Anniversary Committee, chaired by Norris Hodgkins.  The plan was accepted and Mrs. Jane McPhaul was named chairperson for fundraising efforts enabling the initiation of construction for the Sir Walter Raleigh Garden.

By 1987, Jane McPaul had raised over $100,000 for the implementation of the Sir Walter Raleigh Garden.  She suggested that a permanent source of funding be established to provide capital for ongoing maintenance and development of the gardens.  As a result of her efforts the Sandhills Horticultural Society Board of Directors was founded in 1987.  The formation and success of the Society have made it possible for the continued maintenance and growth of the garden.  In addition, individuals through their donations to the Horticultural Society have made it possible for specialty gardens to be developed as part of the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens.

Shortly after the completion of the Sir Walter Garden in the late 1980’s, a perennial garden was initiated on both sides of this garden.  In 1990, the Hillside Garden was funded by Mrs. Warner Atkins.  In the fall of 1991, Dr. Mark Cathy, then Director of the US National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., led the dedication of this garden.  The Desmond Native Wetland Garden was begun in the Spring of 1993.  This garden includes a 680-foot wooden boardwalk through the wetlands, terminating at an overlook of the upper College pond.  In 1995, the Hackley Woodlands Garden was started through a gift from the Hackley family of Pinehurst.  In 1998, the succulent garden was constructed using funds provided by the Sandhills Horticultural Garden Society.  In the mid-seventies, a site within the confines of the garden property had been marked as a potential area for construction of a Japanese garden.  In December of 1999, Mr. Jack Ambrose proposed a gift to the gardens in memory of his wife.  This gift was to be utilized for construction of a Japanese Garden.  The Ambrose Japanese Garden was dedicated in the Fall of 2005.

In the Spring of 1997, Fred Garrett, Coordinator of the Landscape Gardening Program, was contacted by a representative of the G. Victor and Margaret Ball family of Chicago.  This contact resulted in the construction of the G. Victor and Margaret Ball Garden Visitors Center.  This Center acts as a welcome center for the Gardens and a meeting place for garden-related events. Dedication of the Center was held on December 11, 1999.

Upon the retirement of Fred Garrett on June 30, 2001, “The Circle of Peace” statue that is in front of the Visitors Center was dedicated to him for his over thirty years of leadership in training students and developing the Landscape Gardening Program at Sandhills Community College.

Ms. Dee Johnson accepted the position of Coordinator of Landscape Gardening beginning July 1, 2001.

In 2009, the O’Rand family wanted to do something to honor their mother, Bea, who had passed away recently.  Bea was a member of the Sandhills Horticultural Society Board.  The Bea O’Rand Children’s Vegetable Garden was developed.  It is a totally organic place where children can see where their food comes from and get their picture taken in the face cutout.

The original metal Butler building, which housed the Landscape Gardening program since the early seventies was replaced with a new building dedicated June 16, 2010, as Steed Hall in honor of the late Warren and Marion Steed who provided substantial funding.  The expanded student living quarter complex within Steed Hall was named Heutte Hall during the dedication.

A past graduate of the landscape gardening program, Josh Richardson, went on to NC State and completed his landscape architect degree.  As part of his senior project, he designed the Hoad Children’s Garden.  The Hoad family provided a generous donation to the Sandhills Horticultural Society for the beginning construction.  Implementation of this garden began in 2014 and is ongoing as funding becomes available.

This is a brief history of the Landscape Gardening Program.  The Program and the Gardens are always evolving and changing.  Many people have helped and continue to help make them possible.  The Program has enjoyed fifty years of success (1968-2018), and this celebration today would not be possible without the many landscape gardening students, faculty, college staff, and the generous financial support of foundations, groups, and individuals.  The Landscape Garden program utilizes the Gardens as a “Living Laboratory” for its students, but the gardens are also a great community and regional resource that all can enjoy.

Thank you all for your continued support.  You are the reason we are celebrating today!


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