The temperature is 56 degrees at 5:40 pm Saturday, January 17th as the left hand turn is taken from Walter Sheppard Road onto Chilton Woods Road in Rutledge. On the west side of this corner the lawn is immaculately kept and lined with young green giants. The sun is setting on the crest of the horizon behind giant oak trees with the beautiful blue sky and fluffy white and gray clouds serving as the backdrop. Turning into this particular driveway the most obvious feature is the variety of large metal art sculptures spread throughout the grounds on each side of the driveway. A lovely pond sits in the distance to the left. Stepping out of the car, I’m greeted by the barking of friendly dogs. I hear country music playing on the radio in the unoccupied cookhouse and workshop. A newly constructed fire pit, surrounded by swings, sits beside the cookhouse. This is the home of Blue and Hilda Chilton, two of the finest people on the planet.
Blue and Hilda were married in 1991. The two had been friends for many years and when both their spouses passed away within a month of each other a romance soon sparked. They talk of a wonderful life that they have together. The couple has traveled every state in the U.S. together. They love entertaining family and friends. Friends and family stay at their house from all over the country. Blue and Hilda host a huge family reunion each year. Blue and Hilda have been very active members of Madison Christian Church for 20 years. Hilda is a member of the Rutledge Garden club. The metal art sculptures in the yard were hand crafted by Blue.
A sign at the door reads “A gardener lives here with her well-tended family”. The house is nestled next to a huge flower garden on the right side and front. A large fruit and vegetable garden grows to the left between the house and pond. I step out of the house with master gardener Hilda Chilton. Hilda was born in Salsbury, North Carolina where her grandfather lived and was the primary gardening influence on her. She moved to Atlanta in 1961 and never gardened again until she moved to Rutledge. She describes how the huge flower beds were created and planted in a “if it feels good, do it” manner. At one time Hilda was known around our small but special town as the “tomato lady”, growing 150 plants a year and supplying farmer’s markets in Rutledge and Madison with tomatoes. She supplies the Caboose with fresh flowers. Blue calls Hilda the most giving person in the world. She gives fresh flowers to people all over the community to celebrate happy occasions or to comfort them in times of sickness or the loss of a loved one. Hilda donates fresh flowers for the sanctuary at Madison Christian Church. Hilda loves to can and has processed five deer this year. She is constantly giving food to family and friends. Food from the garden is donated to Harvest of the Heart. Blue and Hilda do not exchange gifts at Christmas, choosing to go around the community from 5 to 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve giving out food and gifts to needy families.
The one word I would use to describe the visit with the Chiltons is peace. Walking through the gardens or talking in their living room there is a sense of peace. Hilda believes in living an active and giving life. She prays that when she and Blue pass away that they will be in the garden or in the shop doing what they love to do. Hilda’s favorite hymn is “Just as I am”. We are very blessed to have Hilda living in the RTL and we love you just as you are.