Hi there! I'm Lee Hemmings Carlton and I am a horticulturist living and growing on the western side of Beech Mountain (3500' altitude) North Carolina. I was born and raised on a large tract of family land just outside of Moultrie way down in southwest Georgia. Situated along the banks of the Ochlockonee River, our forest, with it's longleaf pines towering over vast swaths wire grass and specialized wildflowers, is one one the most diverse ecologies in North America and one of the most beautiful to me. Growing up, I spent many hours deep in the woods on my horse. My mother, an artist and teacher, inspired to to make things with the natural materials I was always bringing home from my explorations. My father, a hunter-gatherer, deep sea fishing attorney, instilled the value of land conservation in me- always pointing my eye towards the precious flora and fauna surrounding us.
Although I began my studies at the University of Georgia in the College of Art, I eventually found my way to the Plant Sciences building. I was so lucky to have studied under plant world rock stars Michael Dirr and Allan Armitage as well as several other professors that were the top in their fields. Thanks to their enthusiasm, I've been obsessed with plants ever since.
I have been designing and installing plant driven, site specific, colorific gardens and landscapes in Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas ever since- 2 decades now. When I moved to the mountains full time in 2008, I began growing cut flowers for market as well. I was a vendor at the Watauga County Farmers Market through the end of the 2017 season- making bouquets on demand every Saturday for lines of giddy customers.
Whether it is for gardens or bouquets, I seek out and incorporate locally native plants. Not only do they lend a regional character to my work, I believe that bringing attention to them is necessary for our future. Without conserving and propagating them, they, and the unique ecosystems they are part of, will be lost to us forever.
In August 2017, I had a dream opportunity fall into my lap. A local nurseryman and landscaper was ready to retire and wanted his longtime client's gardens to be left in good hands. Taking care of these gardens, along with my existing landscape client's gardens keeps me more than fully occupied. That, in addition to curating a cut flower tested collection of dahlia varieties and other flowery favorites here on the farm, allow me to be exactly where I want to be- surrounded by plants.