"We remodeled the house and the yard [in the mid-1980s]," said Jones, who resides in her Cartersville home with her husband, Saunders Jones Jr. "The architecture that I love is the Williamsburg-style house and gardens. So that was my starting point, with the way I designed the house and the way I designed the yard. And it's evolved over the past 20, 30 years. It started out small. I had two small boys. They were 2 and 4, and then the more time I had, the more I [gardened] further and further away from the house. We're on about 10 acres.
"As I said, I like Williamsburg, [Va.], and over the many years of going there, I noticed [their gardens] and I got books on plants that were popular during that time in our history. It would be the crepe myrtles, the camellias, magnolia," she said, adding her landscape also was enhanced by numerous boxwood shrubs provided by her mother-in-law. "[The] native plants that they had in that Virginia area was appealing to me. I really didn't like annuals, the modern-day plants. I leaned more toward the old-fashioned plants. ... So those old-fashioned roses, the pass along plants, those were the kinds of flowers and plants and trees that I really took to."
With a host of plants currently flowering, including hydrangeas, gardenias and roses, her gardens will be a colorful display when the public visits on June 2. To be featured on the 2012 Pond and Garden Tour, presented by Bartow Health Access, Jones is looking forward to assisting the local nonprofit and meeting other green thumbs. Along with being available to answer questions, several Master Gardeners also will conduct a plant sale at the Jones' property.
"I really break most all the rules as far as landscaping in that when I go to the nursery, I pick out a plant that speaks to me," Jones said. "And then I bring it home and try to find a place for it, instead of what you're really supposed to do -- find a place that you need a plant and then go get one that will fit that particular area. ... I try to get one of every kind, which is really harder on the gardener because it's more maintenance to try to take care of 2,000 types [of] plants instead of 2,000 of one kind of plant. So it's almost an obsession. And I like the idea of rescuing plants. I grew up with Charlie Brown and his poor little Christmas tree.
"So I always bring home these little Charlie Brown plants too. You go and you get things on clearance or you get plants that people give to you and they may not be the best specimens in the world but you nurture it back to health and enjoy taking care of it. ... I look at myself more as a naturalist. This is a certified wildlife habitat so I want something blooming all year long or have berries to take care of birds and animals. It's more of trying to take care of God's garden instead of me trying to manipulate the earth to suit my needs."
Situated at 222 Tatum Ridge Road, the Jones' garden will be joined by 11 other private properties on the Pond and Garden Tour. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 2, attendees also will be able to visit the following landscapes -- 35 North Woods Drive, 63 Cherokee Heights, 863 Mission Road, 239 Parkview Drive, 289 Briar Patch Lane, 299 Briar Patch Lane, 431 Old Alabama Road, 260 Paga Mine Road, 25 Waterside Drive, 16 Grandview Drive and 37 Thoroughbred Lane. All of the destinations are located in Cartersville, except for the Waterside Drive address, which is in Emerson. Driving directions to each property are posted on Bartow Health Access' website, www.bartowhealthaccess.org, and individuals can tour the listings in any order.
"The range [of the gardens and ponds] is just really big," said Jane McElreath, president of Bartow Health Access' board of directors. "Several of these are multi-acre. I think one is like a 7-acre garden and down to a very tiny backyard pond in a tub. So we really are excited about the diversity of our gardens.
"A couple of them are just world-class, gorgeous gardens, the Bishops up on North Woods Drive," she said referring to David and Doris Bishop's yard, which features more than 2,500 registered daylily varieties. "And the Saunders Jones' garden is really beautiful. Others are done by the homeowners -- they're all homemade and small. But all of them show a love of gardening."
Prior to the event, tickets for the Pond and Garden Tour can be purchased for $15 on www.bartowhealthaccess.org or at eight sites: Sam Franklin's Home Furnishing Center; Owens Family Dentistry; McElreath & Stevens Attorneys at Law; Cody J's; Janet Martin, State Farm Insurance; Riley's Casual & Formal Menswear; Periwinkle; and the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority. On June 2, tickets can be obtained for $20 at any of the tour locations.
Proceeds from the tour will support the operations of the BHA, which is in the process of transitioning from a referral center to a primary health care home. Looking to provide services on-site, the nonprofit has secured a permanent, larger facility at 31 Pointe North Drive, Cartersville. The 5,000-square-foot location is the nonprofit's third site since its inception in January 2008.
In the past four years, the Cartersville nonprofit has assisted more than 10,000 uninsured residents with health care referrals and medication assistance.
To qualify for these services, individuals must reside in Bartow; have no health insurance; and be at 200 percent or below the Federal Poverty Level, for example a two-person household would have a combined income of $29,420 or less. In addition to working with 55 health care providers ranging from family practitioners to dentists, who offer services at no charge or a reduce rate, the nonprofit also features a prescription assistance program.
Once a physician joins the staff, the organization will evolve into a primary health care home that will operate on a sliding-fee scale in which Medicaid and Medicare will be accepted and patients must be at 250 percent or below the Federal Poverty Level. BHA Executive Director Roberta Green said the nonprofit is planning to provide mental health services in the next 60 days, followed by having a physician on staff in the next six months. The BHA's future goals also include offering on-site dental services.
"Right now the way that we function is through the generosity of donations," Green said. "When we become a sliding-fee scale, [part] of our funding will come from patients and donors like that. Donors always like to see the exchange with the patients. But we will always be dependent on about 75 percent of our funding to come through the generosity of donors. The garden and pond tour is important as a fundraiser but it's really, really important to create the awareness of the need in the county.
"[We are] moving into a beautiful facility and I think it's a critical time for people to understand and begin to see what's being offered. ... Having a fundraising event like this, it is important because it forces us to look at who the uninsured are -- basically our neighbors. It makes you pause for a second and think about who's out there. I walk out my door in my home that I live in right now and I live in a little cul-de-sac. Out of the five homes in my cul-de-sac, I am the only person with insurance. The other four in my community, in my neighborhood, are people who have either lost their jobs or their work doesn't provide insurance or they can't quite afford it. ... So it's understanding who your neighbor is and that the people who we serve are the people who live right next door to us."
This week, the BHA will start operating at its new location on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information about the nonprofit and its upcoming Pond and Garden Tour, call 678-535-7216 or visit www.bartowhealthaccess.org.