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Hydrangea Festival still ‘labor of love’ for co-founders
by Liz Marino
May 22, 2013 02:07 PM | 4214 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Liz Marino<br>Jeri Farmer and Susanne Hudson flank Hudson’s mailbox that has been decorated for the upcoming Hydrangea Festival.
Staff / Liz Marino
Jeri Farmer and Susanne Hudson flank Hudson’s mailbox that has been decorated for the upcoming Hydrangea Festival.
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Staff / Liz Marino<br>Hydrangea festival co-founders Jeri Farmer and Susanne Hudson enjoy a spring morning in Hudson’s outdoor sanctuary where nature’s green dominates.
Staff / Liz Marino
Hydrangea festival co-founders Jeri Farmer and Susanne Hudson enjoy a spring morning in Hudson’s outdoor sanctuary where nature’s green dominates.
slideshow
Staff / Liz Marino<br>Susanne Hudson and Jeri Farmer display climbing hydrangeas native to Georgia. Hudson’s garden will be featured on a garden tour June 1 and 2 during the festival.
Staff / Liz Marino
Susanne Hudson and Jeri Farmer display climbing hydrangeas native to Georgia. Hudson’s garden will be featured on a garden tour June 1 and 2 during the festival.
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Staff / Liz Marino<br>Hydrangea Festival co-founders Jeri Farmer and Susanne Hudson stand with yellow irises from Hudson’s garden that will be on the festival’s garden tour June 1 and 2.
Staff / Liz Marino
Hydrangea Festival co-founders Jeri Farmer and Susanne Hudson stand with yellow irises from Hudson’s garden that will be on the festival’s garden tour June 1 and 2.
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For co-founders Susanne Hudson and Jeri Farmer, of Douglasville, the upcoming annual Hydrangea Festival is a labor of love.

What they wanted to stress, however, was this is not their event but everyone’s festival.

Farmer said she and Hudson “wanted our citizens and governments to buy into it.”

“A lot of people think it is Susanne’s and my festival,” Farmer said. “It belongs to the citizens — not just to us.”

It literally takes a village — or county — to put on this major undertaking, Hudson said.

“It’s run by volunteers,” said Hudson. “We’ve estimated that it takes 10,000 volunteer hours each year.”

Ten committees work year-round on the festival. During the festival weekend, some 200 volunteers are on duty. “The goal is to generate tourism for our community,” Farmer said.

In its sixth year, the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival opens with a “Summer Sampler” sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority on May 31 at Le Jardin Blanc. This is one of the few events with a cost, at $20 per person.

The festival itself is open on June 1 and 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Ticketed events include a garden tour at $25 per person and celebrity guest speaker and gardening expert Walter Reeves on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Cost is $10 per person.

Free events include a Saturday night concert by local singer/songwriter Mike Brookshire and rising country star Vanessa Lee Branson on the grounds of the Douglas County Courthouse at 7 p.m.

A Standard Flower Show, sponsored by the Ama Kanasta, Skint Chestnut, Sweetwater and Town and Country garden clubs of Douglas County and the Douglas County Master Gardeners is scheduled Saturday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the courthouse rotunda.

“We want to solicit interest in the flower show from our citizens,” Farmer said.

The 2013 flower show will feature the “Blushing Bride” hydrangea. In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the flower show won both national and state awards and last year drew guests from 56 Georgia cities, 13 states and five foreign countries, Hudson said.

“We wanted our community to be known for something,” explained Hudson. “We want to elevate our community into something we are known for and to get inspired.”

Free events also include display gardens on the grounds of the Cultural Arts Center on Campbellton Road near Douglas County High School, which will feature miniature gardens called “fairy gardens’ displayed in wheelbarrows.

“Display gardens are a place to get inspired and for people to get ideas for their own gardens,” Hudson noted.

For the first time this year, the festival will add an artist market, a gardening market and a plant market, all located at the courthouse.

Hudson said they “want to inspire people to beautify their gardens and take pride in them.”

“We want to encourage people to plant hydrangeas in their gardens,” she said. “Our goal is to have 500,000 hydrangeas planted in Douglas County by 2015.”

According to Farmer, anyone can successfully grow hydrangeas.

“There are shade varieties and sun varieties,” she explained. “You can even grow them in pots.”

Farmer encouraged Douglas County residents to decorate their mailboxes and front doors with hydrangeas for the upcoming festival.

“When people come into our community, it wows them,” she said.

If you go:

What: Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival.

When: June 1 and 2.

Where: Douglas County Courthouse, 8700 Hospital Drive, Douglasville; and other sites.

Information: (770) 949-4090; or visit

www.pennymchenryhydrangeafestival.com.
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