DECATUR – Those who enjoyed visiting the landscaping masterpiece on Country Manor Drive should thank the Master Gardeners who persuaded Mick Ashley to welcome hundreds of visitors Sunday afternoon.
When his wife, Glenna, was first approached, after her home was identified as a possible stop on the annual Garden Walk, she said she did not believe Mick would go along with the idea.
But after Macon County Master Gardeners gained a view of the magnificent backyard from the street behind the house, they persisted in trying to put the Ashley home on their map.
Mick Ashley was then talked into it by one of the walk leaders, as well as his wife.
After he saw how much effort goes into the event, and the excellence of the other gardens, he accepted the invitation as an honor.
However, their garden, which includes more than 100 kinds of artistically arranged plants and appears suitable for regular public viewing, has not been spruced up for this event. The one improvement that was made, with the help of the Master Gardeners, was the addition of plant labels.
“We do this for ourselves,” said Mick Ashley, whose day job is managing a laboratory at Archer Daniels Midland Co. “I go for the detail look. I'm in quality control, so detail is very important.”
The Ashleys, who have been married for 41 years, spend an enormous amount of time tending their three-quarter-acre property, which features annual and perennial flowers scattered in every nook and cranny of the ground and in numerous hanging planters and wheelbarrows, a smattering of exotic and common trees, as well as a sizable collection of antique farm implements.
“My wife and I are home people. We like to stay at home,” Ashley said.
That explains how they transformed a lot they purchased 15 years ago -- which was covered with grass and weeds as well as some nasty, thorny trees and a rusty barbed wire fence -- into a lavish spectacle.
The Ashleys call their home the Millennium House, because they purchased the first building permit of the new century in Decatur on Jan. 2, 2000. A plaque near their front door commemorates that event.
“It was just meant to be,” Mick Ashley said. “I couldn't believe it set here all these years just waiting for us.”