If You Build It, They Will Come

Around twelve years ago hubby and I read about a community that was being built west of Franklin, Tennessee and decided to check it out. We drove out to what seemed like the boonies and had a delightful young sales agent named Erin Davis tell us all about this masterplanned development – how there would eventually be over 2500 homes, there would be a golf course,  pools, clubhouse, school, grocery store, beautiful open areas, and that the purpose of all this was to build not just a neighborhood but a community. We spent days reading over the material, made several phone calls to Erin, then decided to just stay where we were because so much had yet to be built. We had heard stories of developers that promise all kinds of wonderful amenities for their neighborhoods, then either waited until most of the homes were sold to add the amenities or either reneging on the deal altogether.

This past Friday, June 22, 2012, I took a drive around that lovely place I had visited so many years ago – it was my last drive as the Director of Floriculture for Southern Land Company who built that community I came to love called Westhaven.  Almost eight years ago I read an article about a company that was making horticulture one of the foundations of their developments, and that they wanted people to see the distinction that landscaping and floriculture made in their communities. I approached Southern Land Company and asked how I could be a part of this unique vision which was to make their communities feel a little like you were visiting Disneyland – and they signed me on to work in their horticulture department. What I didn’t know then was that they had built the community that hubby and   I had visited years before, that they would indeed follow through on their commitments to build what was promised – and make it even more wonderful than anyone imagined; that they would continue to build other beautiful communities like Laurelbrooke, Windstone, Dwell, Tucker Hill in McKinney, Texas, and branch out into commercial properties – and that I would get to have a part in coloring them with seasonal plantings; that the young Erin Davis would marry Southern Land homebuilding department’s Dan Gilbert and that they would use container plantings I had done for our common areas in their wedding, and that I would come to enjoy and value them both as friends and coworkers; and that this company that had wanted to build community would attract a neighborhood of people that enveloped me into their community, dub me ‘The Flowerlady’, and become a precious part of my life for almost eight years.  Somehow, in the vision that Tim Downey had for his Southern Land Company, community was about growing together.  I had the privilege of seeing beauty grow out of the containers and blossom into the friendships throughout the neighborhoods. To Tim, Brian, Ken, Amy Law, and so many others that built this village, and to the people of Westhaven, Laurelbrooke, Windstone, Dwell, and Tucker Hill who stole a piece of my heart, thank you for letting me grow with you.

One of the first courtyards I helped design – the Marlette’s home
Deckboxes became a signature look for our homes in Westhaven
Deckboxes growing in the greenhouse in the spring
A shade loving deckbox for a northfacing front porch

Having containers on the front porches of Westhaven homes made Southern Land communities a destination location for many gardening groups

New Dawn roses and jasmine embellish the arches surrounding the great lawn

Getting containers ready for the Golf Course opening

Along the wall at the pool

Winter planting at Westhaven entrance

Winter windowboxes

Summer containers around the fountain

The back entrance to Westhaven resident’s club

Doing container demonstrations at Southern Land’s new development in McKinney, Texas (Tucker Hill)  

July 9th I begin my new venture at LSI as their Director of Floriculture. Until then I’m learning a new computer, cleaning out closets, having lunch with friends, and staying out of these record temperatures as much as possible.