Michelle, Mel, Cheryl and me heading into Troll Knoll.

Garden Tour 

(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 it.

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.

And inside...

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 dump.

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 okay...

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 idea!"

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 much.

Michele will speak no evil....


Aliens or ants?


They're back!

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 visit www.trollknoll.com ...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 photo below.

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