The Garden Next Door

Men laying new hardwood flooring

All spring, the residents of Avondale Estates have been pulling weeds, mulching flowerbeds, and planting new flowers and shrubs for the annual Avondale in Bloom Garden Walk. For two neighboring gardeners, the June 19th event is a chance to open to visitors the backyard floral retreats they share year-round with each other.

Greg and Lisa Shortell moved to 6 Clarendon Place about six years ago. Their neighbors, Jimmy and Emily Pritchett, had lived at 2 Clarendon Place for about 25 years. They reside in what Avondale in Bloom Garden Walk co-chairman Jim Glover calls the castle houses, two Tudor-style homes situated next door to one another. Lisa Shortell and Emily Pritchett have spent many hours in their backyards, creating a showplace that is every bit as unique and beautiful as their residences. Theyve created an area between their houses thats just incredible, says Glover, who shares chairing duties with Camille Harvey.

Although both families have participated in the Garden Walk before, returning visitors will find an entirely new landscape at the Shortell and Pritchett gardens. In the past, Pritchett has cultivated, for the most part, a shade garden due to the number of trees on her property. However, this year she had to remove three trees, allowing a plethora of sunshine to grace her flowers and plants. Now Im changing over to sun plants, Pritchett says. Ive been working for almost a month since the trees came down. She also planted a new kitchen garden. This year, I opened up a new herb garden, Pritchett says. I now have the sun to help it grow. Her garden also includes two fishponds and a wall garden as well as a playhouse-turned-potting shed.

Shortells garden also contains a wealth of flora and fauna, including dogwoods, poplars, Japanese maples, azaleas, hydrangeas, camellias, pieris, itea and gardenias, to name a few. Before this year, she also had various shrubs lining a chain-link fence bordering the property between her garden and the Pritchettsnot anymore. This year, weve done something interesting, Pritchett says. [Lisa] took down the fence and put in a dry creek bed full of river rock. Its real curvy, like a mountain stream.

Its a welcome change for both neighbors. There are even two bridges across the creek bed, allowing both families, as well as visitors to traverse from one garden to the next at their leisure. We have a lot of fun sharing our gardens, Shortell says. We share ideas and plants. Weve been doing this since I moved in. We always met over the fence and chattered about our gardens. Removing the fence is very symbolic to our relationship. I think its a very unusual situation.

Shortell and Pritchett also enjoy sharing their gardens with others. When you put that much work into it, its nice to have someone come look at it, Shortell says. And while its hard work producing a beautiful garden, both Shortell and Pritchett wouldnt give it up. Its my rejuvenation time, Shortell says. Its a creative outlet for me. If anything, Pritchett wishes she had more time for her garden. I spend every opportunity in the garden, but not as much [time] as Id like to, she says.

Both women hope this years Garden Walk visitors leave inspired to create their own personal gardens. I want people to know they can create their own little oasis, Shortell says. It doesnt have to be a professional or someone super-rich to do this. Pritchett agrees. I want them to think that they could do it, go home and start their own garden, she says. You can. You can do it.

Thanks to a new aggressive promotion campaign this year, that could be a lot of impressed folks. In years past, the Avondale in Bloom Garden Walk has drawn around 300 visitors. Glover expects that number to increase significantly. Weve gotten a lot of press and expect a higher turnoutbetween 600 and 900 people, he says.

In addition to the Shortells and the Pritchetts, six other Avondale residents also will participate in the Garden Walk. Expect every garden to be different. Weve got existing gardens, mature gardens, new gardens, structured and freeform, Glover says.

Expect a new feel to this years event as well. The Cobb Orchestra, DeKalb Symphony and several bluegrass bands will be performing at three different venues throughout the community. Also, a marketplace will be set up around the community lake, and an artists market will be on site.

WHAT: The Avondale in Bloom Garden Walk
June 19, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., rain or shine
: Admission is $15 and includes a tote bag full of goodies. Visitors can walk, bike or drive the Garden Walk, and trolley service will be available. Tickets can be purchased online at or in person at Avondale City Hall or area sponsors.

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