Thurleston Delivers Springtime Magic With history and color

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By Dianne Lively Yost staff writer

In spring, Thurleston is magical with bright blooming pink azaleas and graceful white dogwoods.

A master gardener, Kathy Whiteside has lived with her family at Thurleston since 1983 and in the span of those 31 years she has meticulously collected the storied history of the home and has labored in its immense grounds. Because of her care and attention (along with the help of her husband Clarence), Thurleston today is one of Morgan County’s most sought after private homes to see and one of the most photographed.

At a glance, it is indeed impressive. Thurleston circa 1818 stands regal on 35 acres in the historic district of Madison.

A grand boxwood allee is among its most prominent garden features and there is a story that goes along it. According to Kathy’s research, the boxwoods were part of a boxwood garden at Magnolia House located on Main Street. “The boxwoods were dug up from Magnolia House and moved to Thurleston. It was quite a scandal at the time.”

But, Kathy is happy to have them. “They are all mixed. The biggest boxwoods are American and the smaller ones are English.”

The gardens are situated on 19 acres and have been “lovingly created.” They consist of a children’s garden, kitchen garden of herbs and vegetables, wildflower field, cutting garden and other garden rooms.” According to Kathy, native plants abound, as well as a collection of antique roses and many unusual, hard-to-find plants, trees and shrubs. Rock walls, water features, arbors and trellis’ complete the landscape.

The gardens harken back to a bygone era. “I followed the original garden plan as much as I could,” she said.

Thurleston’s beautiful Pride of Mobile azaleas tell a story too. “Some of our azaleas came from Berckmans Nursery of Augusta,” Kathy said. But, Berckmans is no longer there and a portion of the nursery’s original site is now part of a little golf course called Augusta National where the annual Masters tournament is played each April. And, like Thurleston, Augusta National is well known for its azaleas.

Kathy Whiteside is a Head Gardener and Lifetime Georgia Master Gardener

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