A visit to John's Native Gardens


On Saturday, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to take a trip to Scottsboro, Alabama (about 2 hours away) to visit John's Native Gardens. Eve at Sunny Side Up had written to me and suggested this garden for an article. The garden features native azaleas and rhododendrons so I knew I needed to get on the ball to get the required photos. Despite leaving in a heavy drizzle and even some brief downpours, the weather in Scottsboro was dry and perfect. It turned out to be a wonderful trip. Not only were the gardens fantastic but we also received a warm welcome from LaRue Anderson, the garden owner, and fellow blogger Eve, who also made the trip over from her hometown about 20 minutes away.

LaRue's husband John started the garden in the late 80s. He died in 2000 and LaRue has continued maintaining the gardens as well as opening an on-site nursery. John Anderson was first interested in native azaleas and rhododendrons. He later became interested in Japanese Maples and conifers. The garden sits on a hillside with expansive views of lush plantings and an enormous pond that the Anderson's dug when they first moved in. The wooded hillside is dotted with rhododendrons and azaleas that thrive under a canopy of pine trees.
Plantings near the house are composed in island beds. This bed near the garage features Japanese Maples, roses and evergreen shrubs. A paperbark maple (right) grows in the background.

Beautiful rock walls showcase the borders filled with perennials like peony and iris.


The charming porch is surrounded by ferns and potted plants. LaRue has a great collection of birdhouses and garden ornaments.
Asian Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Goshiki Kazura).
I've never seen one so healthy and lush as this one.
Iris fulva (Copper Iris)
A few years ago, a tornado did some major damage (see the website for photos). One of the casualities was this cedar tree. LaRaue saved the trunk and displays bird houses on it. It is covered with Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).
Japanese Maple "Crimson Queen"
Japanese Maple "Skeeters Broom"
Japanese Maple "Viridis"
One of the largest Japanese Maples on the property (I didn't get the name).
Five-Leaf Akebia (Chocolate Vine) (Akebia quinata),
one of my favorite vines, grows on a tree trunk
next to a pink azalea.
Inside the carport that frames a stunning view.
Another awesome view behind the house. An immense Cork Screw Willow
Salix matsudana) can be seen in the background.
Approaching the woodland garden. Cucumber Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata)
We missed the native azalea display but the rhododendrons were putting on a show.
A beautifully shaped specimen.
Rhododendron "Cynthia"
One last glimpse at the gorgeous color of the Japanese Maples.
The Japanese Maple in the foreground is growing in a pot.
If memory serves me correctly, this is "Dancing Girl".

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Phillip,
    What is the difference between a Cucumber Magnolia and a Cowcumber Magnolia?

  2. Randy I have no idea. I've only heard of the cucumber!

  3. Well done Phillip! Your post beautifully illustrates this jaw dropping landscape!! I'll post a link on her blog! Thank you both for coming and spending the better part of the day with us!

  4. Wow, that is a beautiful garden. Lots of yummy color and texture.

  5. What a marvelous garden... I'm overwhelmed! And the Japanese maples... spectacular!
    I will have to share this post as it's very inspiring... Larry

  6. Looks like a really lovely place. That copper iris is fantastic!

  7. I can see how one could become enamored of Japanese maples. They give a variety of color, shape and size. This looks like a beautiful garden to stroll any time of year.

  8. Wow, I haven't seen copper iris before! Thanks for sharing this beautiful garden with us.

  9. This is the kind of garden I dream of. I only hope one day I can achieve it. It's so wonderful. I did not realize Viridis was such a big J. maple. Love it! The textures are awesome. How wonderful you could visit.

  10. My favorite garden photos are views of trees/shrubs in harmony. Thanks, Phillip!

    I was stunned by the Japanese maple 'Viridis.' I planted a small one last year - had no idea it will eventually look like that (God willing I live that long).

  11. Can't wait for the article! You always do such a good job, Phillip.

  12. Can't wait for the article. You always do such a fabulous job, Phillip!

  13. the stone walls stopped me in my tracks - so beautiful. The magnolia was featured on our pbs gardening show here in SC, Making It Grow. The host wears creative hats each week, this was the hat on tuesday. copy and paste for the pictures. made me laugh.


  14. Hi Phillip, What a great post! I visited this nursery, along with Eve, shortly before the tornado you spoke of. I was saddened when I heard of the damage, but your photos show what a great recovery John's Native Nursery has made. I enjoyed meeting LaRue, and truly my visit was one of the most enjoyable 'field trips' that has come about through connections made via my my blog.


Post a Comment