Michelle, Mel, Cheryl and me heading into Troll
(Saturday May 18-19, 2013)
I couldn't believe that we talked Mel into
joining us on this years Soroptomist garden tour. "Come on, it'll be a return visit to Annsville, to see what it's like now!" Mel had milled lumber
for the it around 2003. This was the first garden listed on the tour. Dick Tracy calls it
Troll Knoll in his caption for the tour. "In all my travels and garden
tours over the 40-odd years, I've never seen anything to equal 'Troll
Knoll.' There's a line between 'hobby' and 'obsession' and the garden's
creators crossed it long ago. Without meaning to. The 20-acre creation of
John and Ann Morris in Penn Valley is as much a love story as it is about
gardening. As Hohn points out, the German word for garden (garten) means
'sanctuary,' and that's what he originally planned to create on a hilltop
that had been blackened by the '49er Fire' in 1988. 'What I really wanted
was a garden to take Ann on evening walks,' he says." As you stroll
through the garden with us I will mostly quote Dick Tracy's story about
All that's left following the tour...?
"For irrigation it depends on 20 miles of PVC pipe
and four miles of drip tubing. In addition to evening walks, the couple
now cruise on daily maintenance forays along the miles of pathways in
white electric cars they call 'Piglets.'...By John's tabulation there have
been roughly 5,000 visitors a year since he opened it for private viewing
in 2004. They often arrive by the busload. In fact, three separate garden
clubs are scheduled to visit the same week as this Soroptomist tour."
"So what's the attraction? Incredible artistry in
arranging roses and flowering perennials dotted with orange trees and
palms...mixed with garden statuary and overlooks. There's an 'ant garden'
unlike any other; dinosaurs; a Louisiana swamp:....a small western town
named, 'Annsville' John created as a surprise birthday present for Ann; a
race course for garden tractors (eat your heart out, NASCAR); a flying
saucer and missile garden and more."
Here's the Annsville water tower, and
the link to our first visit.
Cheryl and Michele set the Sam Hotel sign upright,
while Mel relaxes on the porch.
Morrisburg Marshal's office next to the hangin'
tree...so watch your step!
And the local saloon with lots of empties outside.
Here's the old ore trestle from the shaft to the
The remains of the miners who toiled here? A mirror
makes it appear to go deep into the hillside. Cheryl couldn't resist
having a photo op in this eerie place.
Here comes John Morris and pal in a Piglet.
...While Mel checks out Boot Hill.
The hike down the hill and now up the hill makes me
feel like headin' for Boot Hill, so John Jr. picks me up in an electric Piglet.
There wasn't enough room for Mel who insists he can do the return trip
Who would have thought ten years could make such a
difference. I'm starting to feel like those empty clothes with the cane on
the bench when we got here. Mel's all smiles..."Come on, this was your
Mel and I found a shady place near the house to
wait for Cheryl and Michele who were going to go down the other side
of the hill to see the vineyard, prehistoric creatures, flying saucer,
space being's colony (or ants), and whatever. Even though it would
have been interesting and fun, covering all 20 acres would be too
Michele will speak no evil....
Aliens or ants?
We're all most finished....
"You're probably visualizing a small army of
maintenance workers making routine forays into the garden, right? Wrong.
Except for heavy construction and earth moving, the vast majority of the
work is done by the owners. Really. And they have to cope with the
mischief of a band of mythical 'Rinkydinks' as well....You might like to
...There's no way I could describe the property in the space allowed. It
could fill a book.
'In fact, I'm thinking about writing a book about
the garden,' John sighs, 'but the truth is I love to talk...but hate to
type.' Now 68, and recently recovered from major surgery, he grimaces:
'This may be my swan song for tours. But my friends laugh and say, "You've
said that before."'
John Morris, Cheryl, Michele and Ann Morris in the
We thank our host and hostess for the tour of their
beautiful garden, before heading back to Penn Valley for something to eat.
This huge garden with so many different things to see was just about all
we could handle today. Tomorrow we'll visit the rest of the gardens listed
on this years tour.
Almost to Penn Valley we're in a slow moving traffic
hold up because of a Parade advertising the rodeo this weekend. We pull
into Northridge restaurant and watch what's left.
Nice looking stagecoach and horses.
Tractor pulling float.
We're also celebrating dear Michele's birthday.
Happy birthday to you....
It's been more darned fun, but time to head for home
and rest up for tomorrow.
Garden Tour continued