Convention 2013

  2013 Convention    || overview | tours | speakersplants | schedule ||


ASA Convention

Classic Athens 2013
Athens Georgia • April 18-21, 2013

Athena--in Athens GA


what . . . The Oconee Chapter of the Azalea Society of America (ASA) invite you and yours to attend the Classic Athens 2013 national ASA convention and annual meeting in Athens, Georgia from April 18 through April 21, 2013.

You may know Athens, Georgia, as home of the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs, but it’s also the “Classic City of the South” where rich traditions at the heart of a hip college town create a culture unlike any other.

Nestled below the Blue Ridge Mountains, 70 miles from Atlanta, Athens is a harmony of old and new: Antebellum architecture, contemporary art and electric night life, a Victorian–era downtown teeming with funky shops and one of the South’s most progressive culinary scenes.

where . . .

Come join us at the convention starting at noon on April 18 through April 21, 2013. Our hotel is the Holiday Inn, 197 E. Broad Street in downtown Athens. We have special room rates at $109 for both singles and doubles. This rate will include free full breakfast and free parking.

Please use our special Group Code AZA when making reservations, by calling the hotel directly at 706-549-4433 (neither the Holiday Inn 800 number nor the online reservation system can handle our Group Code AZA).

The Holiday Inn is within walking distance of the University test garden, restaurants and antebellum homes and . . . the first Memorial Garden Club of America headquarters garden.

Athens is located 70 miles from Atlanta in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, with many tour sites when you come in or on your way out. We will be giving you more information as we go along.


Register now and don’t worry about the Convention being sold out! And register before March 15th to save $20! Registration form


Thursday, April 18

We officially began at 7 p.m. but registration opens at noon and the ASA board meeting meets at 2 p.m. The plant sale starts at 4 p.m.  Come early and settle in for the welcoming meeting.

Friday, April 19

We will start boarding our  buses at 8:45 a.m. leaving at 9 a.m. to start our tour of local Athens gardens, starting with the home of Vince and Barbara Dooley. When you think Vince Dooley, you think “Coach”, “UGA” and “Bulldogs”! But then, after all, he was the Head coach and Athletic Director at the University of Georgia for many years and has authored many books, all about football, of course!

Dooley Garden Entrance

Entrance to the Dooley Garden

On retiring though, he headed up another team. Again being the “Coach” but in a totally different field–gardening! Starting with the landscape at their home he and his wife Barbara purchased in 1964, Vince has transformed their home place into a “Southern Living” magazine featured garden. The estate of some five acres abounds with trails, with collections of Japanese maples, Hydrangeas (even one that bears his name), lots of exotic shade plants and of course, azaleas. We’ll see lots of water features, statues, a plant container garden, and a miniature Japanese garden and teahouse. The Dooley garden is a “work in progress” and by the time we get there, we might be in for a surprise or two!

Container Plants at the Dooley’s

Recent Addition at the Dooley’s

On top of this, Vince will be on hand to sell and sign his newest garden book!

With a short walk down the street, we’ll visit the garden of John and Charlotte Waters . “Greyside”, constructed in 1923, was designed by local architect Fred Orr in the popular Colonial Revival style. The landscape was developed by the current owners as a series of garden rooms, each with its own character. Azaleas, boxwoods, camellias, ferns, hostas, and hydrangeas are accented with garden structures, benches, urns, sculptural objects and three water features.

Charlotte Waters home

Waters Garden Hideaways

Waters Garden Hideaways

Georgia Botanical Garden Entrance
From there we head for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, where we’ll  spend some time and have lunch.  Look, we’ve all been on tours of botanical-type gardens but this one can and should be at the top of the “best” list.

It’s a three hundred plus acre preserve that was set aside by the University of Georgia in 1968 for the study and enjoyment of plants and nature. It’s a “living laboratory” for the University and the public. The Garden contains a wide variety of natural features and habitats common to the Georgia Piedmont area and a number of specialty gardens and collections.

Last but not least on our tour is the Tom and Ram Giberson garden, a two and one-half acre lot in a subdivision that has been transformed into an oasis that features waterfalls, koi ponds, and a spirit house exemplifying a Thai tradition. A huge collection of Japanese maples with numerous groupings of plants surpasses anything you might find in any botanical garden. Ram Giberson has created a landscape on her own that will leave you in awe! We’ve allowed you plenty of time to let it all sink in and to take plenty of pictures. You won’t want to miss the duck and chicken houses–these ain’t just “Chicken Coops”! Be sure your camera battery has a full charge!

Gateways to Giberson Garden

Container Plants at Giberson Garden

Container Plants at Giberson Garden

Paths to Waterfalls and Ponds at Giberson Garden

Paths to Waterfalls and Ponds at Giberson Garden

Saturday, April 20

Again, we start boarding our buses about 8:30 a.m., headed for Commerce, Ga. to visit the Homeplace Garden Nursery, owned and operated by the Willis Harden family for over 35 years. Homeplace Gardens grows a wide selection of plants suited for the shade, specializing in Japanese maples, Rhododendrons, Kalmias, Pieris, Conifers and other shade loving plants. All these plant varieties have been carefully selected and grown out doors to insure they are hardy and well acclimated.Our next stop is Lavonia, Ga. home of Transplant Nursery. If you don’t recognize the Transplant name, then how about George and Mary Beasley? Remember, George created some great crosses of the deciduous azalea which are still in the trade–like ‘Deliverance’, ‘Nacoochee’, and of course the popular ‘My Mary’ named for his wife.The nursery, now owned and operated by Jeff and Lisa Beasley, still offers quality products and is expanding their selection of new introductions. They still maintain a wide selection of native and evergreen azaleas, camellias, Japanese maples, and other shade trees and shrubs. Their garden of natives should be in bloom for us.Heading back to the Holiday Inn, we will stop in at the Founders Garden which was created as a living memorial to the twelve founders of the Ladies Garden Club of Athens–the first garden club of America, organized in 1891.

The theme gardens, collections and display beds contain plants of interest throughout the year. One is the Heritage Garden which contains plants of historic interest such as heirloom annuals, perennials and antique roses: fruit crops such as peaches, apples and pears; row crops like cotton, tobacco and peanuts; and a selection of plants native to Georgia.

Then there is the International Garden which explores the interrelationship of plants and people throughout our civilization. The Herb Garden, Physic Garden and Bog Garden are located within the context of the International garden. Special collections represent the flora of the Middle East, Spanish America, American South and China.

The Shade Garden is made up of seven plazas which represent the seven districts of the Garden Club of Georgia starting with a wisteria covered arbor on the main plaza providing a commanding view of this garden which features shade tolerant plants. Major collections include azaleas, redbuds, camellias, magnolias, laurels, dogwoods and viburnums. The Native Flora Garden adjoins the Shade garden where native species, many rare, threatened and endangered, can be found.

The Flower Garden includes roses, dahlias, iris, butterfly plants, a fragrance garden and collection of other herbaceous plants such as garden annuals and perennials, daylilies, daffodils and peonies.

Georgia Botanical Garden scene

Georgia Botanical Garden scene



Next, we visit the Cindy Karp and John Morrison garden a few miles away but well worth it.

One of the Athens Garden tour selections for the 2012 venue, this five acre property draws the visitor to various focal points including many sculptures and a pond, water fall and pool area.

The approach to the garden will be ablaze with color from tulips and azaleas planted in mass along either side of the driveway.

 Karp-Morrison Garden Scene  


We’ll spend enough time for you to wonder around the woodlands where the trails will lead you through a botanical garden-like setting, surprising you with exotic trees and shrubs that have been collected over the years, including evergreen and deciduous azaleas. Many collections of flowers should be in bloom along the trails. Before we leave, we’ll enjoy some of Georgia’s best BBQ! Homeplace Gardens Nursery Container Area                           Homeplace Nursery Container Area

Overlooking Transplant Nursery                                 Native Azalea Garden at Transplant Nursery            Native Azalea at Transplant Nursery
Founders Garden Club Plaque                                    Founders Garden Club
The layout of the two and one–half acre series of gardens consist of a formal boxwood garden, two courtyards, a terrace, a perennial garden and an arboretum.

In addition, the property maintains an old smokehouse for a living museum to the twelve original garden club ladies. Historical mementos, pictures and a painting depicting their historic meeting are among the most treasured items in the museum.

Before ending our convention tours, we will stop at the Trial Gardens of the University of Georgia which were started in 1982 by Drs. Allan Armitage and Michael Dirr and a number of students of the university. After plowing ground, building walk ways and getting support from the PanAmerican seed company the gardens came alive. Today, they receive plants and seeds from almost all seed breeding companies in the world, along with material from perennial plant nurseries, individual growers, and gardeners.

The primary functions of the garden are research, teaching and plant introduction, and it is open to the public and professionals alike. Detailed information on the plants under trial is available to all who visit the gardens.

Trials are planted in April and May and consist of major and minor bedding classes, tropicals, vines, plantings of annuals, over 150 free–standing containers and three large perennial beds.

UGA Trial Gardens Scene


Thursday, we’re happy to have Dr. Wilf Nicholls, Director, State Botanical Gardens of Georgia speak to us. Dr Nicholls, born in London, England, received his PhD (Botany) from the University of British Columbia in 1984. After several positions with botanical gardens he came to Athens in 2010 as director of the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Wilf has spent considerable time in the wilds of Morocco, Spain, the Yukon, Alaska and Labrador collecting plant specimens for research projects.

Friday we’ll go back in time and learn more about the life and times of several of our most notable Azalea Society plantsmen. Maarten van der Giessen will give us some insight into his work and friendship with the late Dr. Eugene Aromi. Dennis Royal, friend and confidant of the late James Harris will share his experiences with James, who passed away last year.

Jeff Beasley will take us back with tales about a “father-son” relationship with his dad, George Beasley of Transplant Nursery.

We all know about the strides these hybridizers made and the legacies they left in the industry but what about their personal life? Well maybe, we’ll find out!

Saturday brings us to our annual banquet, business meeting and featured keynote speaker. This year, we are proud to present Dr. Michael A. Dirr. Dr. Dirr worked at a nursery and garden center to pay his way to earn his bachelor and master of science degrees at Ohio State. He went on to earn a doctorate in plant physiology at the University of Massachusetts and began his teaching career in 1972 as assistant professor at the University of Illinois. He became a Mercer Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in 1979 and became the Director of the University of Georgia in 1981, and returned to teach at UGA and was promoted to Professor in 1984. He is one of the principals of Georgia Plant, Inc., which has introduced many new cultivars to the plant trade.

Dr. Dirr has published more than 300 scientific papers and articles and his book, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture and Propagation and Uses, has become one of the most widely adopted reference text in the education of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. It has sold over 250,000 copies.


Thursday, April 18
Noon-7:00 Registration Open
2:00-4:00 ASA Board meeting
4:00-6:00 Dinner on your own
4:00-7:00 Plant Sale
6:00-7:00 Reception/Cash Bar
7:00-9:00 Welcome/Speaker
Friday, April 19
7:00-8:00 Registration
Complimentary Breakfast
9:00 Tour Bus Departs
Dooley Garden, Waters Garden
Georgia Botanical Garden
Karp/Morrison Garden
Giberson Garden
4:00 Return to Holiday Inn
Dinner on your own
5:00-7:00 Plant Sale
6:00-7:00 Cash Bar
7:00-9:00 Speakers
Saturday, April 20
Complimentary Breakfast
9:00 Tour Bus Departs
Homeplace Gardens Nursery
Transplant Nursery
Founders Garden
UGA Trial Gardens
Return to Holiday Inn
5:00-7:00 Plant Sale
6:00-7:00 Reception/Cash Bar
7:00-10:00 Banquet/Meeting
Business Meeting, Awards
Speaker: Dr Michael Dirr
Sunday, April 21
8:00 ASA Board Meeting

  plant sale

At the plant sale we are planning on featuring plants of our late hybridizers James Harris, Dr. Eugene Aromi and Ralph Pennington, along with a lot of companion plants.

So . . . mark your calendars and watch for updates!