Having first visited the Geneva county garden of Patricia and Buddy Guilford in May of 2008 when it was featured on the annual garden tour, I quickly became enamoured with their pristine acres of roses, wild flowers, and other perennials and flowering scrubs. Amid rolling miles of picturesque country roads about 20 miles southwest of Dothan lies the charming community of Hartford – home to this garden gem.
Remarkably, the couple still maintains their illustrious garden without any supplemental help doing all the the required mowing, fertilizing, mulching, and pruning themselves. Buddy, who spent many years in fertilizer sales, has a wealth of expertise in the science of gardening. A few weeks after the 2008 garden tour, my parents were in town to attend my youngest son’s high school graduation. The couple very graciously allowed me to bring them by to tour their garden. How exciting it was for my Mother to find gardeners who shared her passion for rose cultivation!! In addition to designing and maintaining their own garden, the couple was instrumental in the planning of a gorgeous prayer garden at their church, First Baptist in Hartford. They continue to dedicate countless hours and energy to preserving its beauty. I revisited their garden back in the summer, and again, found it to be a garden journey of great beauty and renewal.
Several years ago one of the Guilford’s granddaughters was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a rare genetic disorder that affects the pulmonary and digestive systems of some 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. as well as approximately 70,000 worldwide. Although there is no cure for this chronic disease, survival rates and management of the disease have improved significantly over the past few decades. Possibly my favorite part of the Guilford garden is the breathtaking rose garden they planted as a loving tribute to her. Significant is the fact that that they planted a total of sixty five roses. “65 roses” is what children diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis call their condition since the term is much easier for them to pronounce. The concept of “65 roses” has captured the hearts of all who have heard it since the rose is appropriately the symbol of love.
Patricia and Buddy Guilford have truly created an everlasting garden legacy with their exuberant chorus of vibrant flowers and unique garden rooms . . .
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners ho make our souls blossom”. Marcel Proust