Flight of Fantasy
The Simmons Garden

By Ann Varnum • Photography by Brian W. McDonald

Nestled in the middle of Geneva County’s rich farmland sits the home of Steve and Edna Earle Simmons. Though the Simmons have moved around the Wiregrass through the years, Steve putting to use his experience in commercial real estate and development to design and build each home where they’ve lived, the little community of Hacoda, where Steve’s family has had a presence since 1934, kept drawing them back.
       The couple spent 18 years on part of the same property where they today reside, but moved to Destin, Florida, for a four-year stint before returning to build their current home in 2004. “Coming back home is the fulfillment of my heart’s desire,” Steve shares. “I grew up here, where my family had a country store with our living quarters attached to it.” Edna Earle was ready to get away from the traffic and back to her roots as well. “I am a country girl, so I wanted to come back home,” she says.

       Steve’s first priority for this family land—even before the house was built—was to construct a grass landing strip to accommodate his beloved antique Cessna 140 and the Zenith 801 he built. Edna Earle, on the other hand, was determined to immediately create the kind of flower garden she had always wanted.
       Her commitment to gardening had been apparent for years, even at their previous Hacoda residence. “One day, Steve came home after being out of town for a week, and found me making a garden around our home using the backhoe and dump truck,” she tells. “It was dark outside, and I was still working and had dirt and peat moss all over me. He said he had to shine the lights on me; he thought it was a monster in the yard.”
       Although Edna Earle is the primary gardener, Steve designed and built the walkways and arbors placed throughout the outdoor space, and he handles the lawn care, edging, weed-eating and fertilizing and assists with large plants. “I couldn’t do what I do without my husband,” Edna Earle acknowledges. “My whole family loves the garden and enjoys all our gatherings that take place outside all year long.”

       On any given day, Edna Earle can be found puttering around her garden—watering, clipping back branches or adding plants. Like an artist, she develops a breathtaking display as she skillfully plants, tends to and rearranges each of her prized flowers, fashioning an ever more colorful and distinct look. “My style of gardening is English cottage gardening,” she says. “I don’t have garden rooms as some people enjoy, but I do have numerous areas in the garden that are planted with distinctive types of flowers and plants to add variety to our yard. I do have something flowering in my garden year-round.”  [subscribe to read full article]