Tour some of the most beautiful gardens of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Next month, as azalea blooms enliven an already picturesque coast, residents of some of Cape Fear's most beautiful homes will
open their gardens to a host of admirers. We visited the Azalea Garden Tour last year, and Photographer Cary Jobe captured
the true essence of this annual event that brings out the community's finest for a show like no other.
Now in its 55th year, the Azalea Garden Tour has long been a popular tradition in Wilmington. Under the direction of the Cape Fear Garden Club, the three-day celebration raises money that funds local scholarships, helps beautify the area, and protects local wildlife preserves.
Azalea Belles and Summerall Guards, The Citadel's elite drill team, add to the nostalgic atmosphere of the weekend. The belles serve as escorts in gardens along the tour.
This antique sign sits inside the city garden of Suda and Steve Tuggle. Every year, 10 to 12 gardens are chosen to be part of the festivities.
Queen Azalea Amy Pietz cuts the ribbon at Cynthia and Peter Dugan's home to open the 2007 tour. Amy, an actress, joins a long line of well-known queens including stars Ester Williams, Joan Van Ark, and Kelly Ripa.
Sisters with matching hats visit the garden of Pam and Rick Kingston. "Hats are all the rage during the tour, especially those with spring flowers," says Cindy Godwin, publicity chair for the tour.
Azaleas take center stage at the celebration, which is part of the North Carolina Azalea Festival.
Dara Holmes of the Wilmington School of Ballet performs before the 2007 ribbon cutting ceremony. Special performances are
featured each year and have included a swing band and local choirs in the past.
"A Lovely Coastal Tradition" is from the March 2008 issue of Carolina Living: People & Places, a special section in Southern Living for our subscribers who live in North Carolina.