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Pilgrimage in Bloom: The Hills show how their garden grows

 

Dr. Ryan and Bonnie Hill, pictured Tuesday with their sons Riley, 5, and 4-month-old Rhodes in the garden of Colonnade, are getting ready for Pilgrimage. The garden of the circa 1860 home on Second Street South in Columbus will be included on the Pilgrimage Orange Tour. It will also be the site of a garden party March 29. For Pilgrimage ticket information, go to visitcolumbusms.org or call 800-920-3533.

Dr. Ryan and Bonnie Hill, pictured Tuesday with their sons Riley, 5, and 4-month-old Rhodes in the garden of Colonnade, are getting ready for Pilgrimage. The garden of the circa 1860 home on Second Street South in Columbus will be included on the Pilgrimage Orange Tour. It will also be the site of a garden party March 29. For Pilgrimage ticket information, go to visitcolumbusms.org or call 800-920-3533. Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff  Buy this photo.

 

Launch Photo Gallery

 

Five-year-old Riley stops to examine daffodils on a garden path at Colonnade.

Five-year-old Riley stops to examine daffodils on a garden path at Colonnade.
Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff  Buy this photo.

 

Bonnie walks under an arbor with 4-month-old Rhodes.

Bonnie walks under an arbor with 4-month-old Rhodes.
Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff  Buy this photo.

 

Dr. Ryan Hill clears the lion’s jaws before testing the garden feature with running water Tuesday.

Dr. Ryan Hill clears the lion’s jaws before testing the garden feature with running water Tuesday.
Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff  Buy this photo.

 

Bonnie Hill, carrying Rhodes, strolls past the Colonnade guest house and some of the almost 1,300 tulips her husband planted this past fall.

Bonnie Hill, carrying Rhodes, strolls past the Colonnade guest house and some of the almost 1,300 tulips her husband planted this past fall.
Photo by: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff  Buy this photo.

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

One walk through the garden of Colonnade in 2010 convinced Dr. Ryan and Bonnie Hill it was meant to be, that this was the home meant for their family.  

 

"It's one of the reasons we fell in love with the house," said Bonnie, who relocated to Columbus from Biloxi with her husband and young son, Riley. "When we walked through the garden we saw all the potential. We said, 'We've got to do this.'" 

 

Ever since, the Hills have been busy enhancing the garden of the circa 1860 white-columned home, and sharing it again with the community and visitors during Pilgrimage. Colonnade's garden -- and a garden party there March 29 -- are among the many highlights of Columbus' 74th annual Spring Pilgrimage March 28 through April 12. For 16 days, the city will showcase its exceptional antebellum mansions, as well as some of its historic churches. And the roster of special events during Pilgrimage is second to none. 

 

 

 

Welcome, spring 

 

With each passing day, springtime coaxes the flora that has been in winter hibernation at Colonnade. These ladies-in-waiting -- roses, forsythia, azaleas, irises, tulips and more -- will soon show off in a rainbow of pinks, yellows and purples. Tending them is a hands-on project for the Hills.  

 

"We took shovels and got down on our hands and knees and dug up, replanted, moved bulbs," said Ryan, an anesthesiologist with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle. Bonnie is the "rose person," taking care of 130 rose bushes. Ryan planted more than 1,000 tulip bulbs this past fall, when the family grew by one, with the birth of a second son, Rhodes. 

 

"We didn't really know much about gardening when we moved in, but it's kind of evolved with us," said Bonnie. While the couple has adapted some of the space to their own needs, they have also been mindful of the garden's designers and caretakers who came before them, like the late Dr. William and Margaret Sanders. 

 

 

 

Room by room 

 

Colonnade's garden is one of color and textures, from pebbled paths to stone fountains and vine-covered wooden arbors. It's also a garden of "rooms," outdoor spaces with a personality of their own.  

 

"Each room has a different feeling," Bonnie explained. Visitors first encounter the boxwood maze, with its towering archways and trimmed hedges. Walkways lead to other sections surrounding an expansive lawn.  

 

"There is something around every corner," continued the Arkansas native. "There's a formal area, and then you peek around a brick wall and there's another section we call the reflection garden." Other paths leads to the arbor, rose garden and kitchen garden. "That's where we're going to be doing tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini -- and jalapeno peppers, because my husband loves hot peppers." The kitchen garden's new rabbit-repelling picket fence is in a style reminiscent of Colonnade's 19th-century origins, as are seating areas throughout the garden. 

 

Bonnie and Ryan aren't the only ones prepping for Pilgrimage. Riley, 5, is likely to offer his services as a tour guide. He also seems taken with the hoop-skirted gowns worn by Pilgrimage hostesses, including his mom.  

 

"Sometimes he wants me to pick him up (from school) in one of my 'pretty dresses,'" laughed Bonnie, who admits she loves the period attire. "He's going to grow up thinking he has a Disney princess for a mother." 

 

Many of Columbus' Pilgrimage homes have been in the same families for many years, some for generations. The Hills represent young homeowners drawn to the architecture and mystique of an earlier time. They willingly join the long chain of preservation, maintaining a slice of history for this and future generations to see. 

 

"This house is now like another child of ours, like a family member. We feel connected to it," said Bonnie. "It was here before we were, and it will be here after we're gone, and we feel like sharing part of it with others." 

 

 

 

Come to a garden party 

 

Colonnade's garden will be open for tours on six days of Pilgrimage as part of the Orange Tour. Its splendor will be on display, too, at a garden party Saturday, March 29, from 3 to 5 p.m.  

 

"Come stroll through the beautiful garden, and enjoy mint juleps and homemade cheese straws," urged Nancy Carpenter, executive director of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We're so pleased to have the Hills joining our other gracious homeowners again this year for Pilgrimage and helping make Columbus a memorable place to visit."  

 

Garden party tickets are $10, available in advance at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, 117 Third St. S., or at Colonnade March 29. 

 

Watch for additional Pilgrimage coverage in The Dispatch in days to come. See the entire Pilgrimage schedule at visitcolumbusms.org, or pick up a brochure and purchase tickets at the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau. Or call 800-920-3533.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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