The April/May 2011 edition of Garden & Gun magazine includes feature stories about not one, but two, Washington and Lee alumni.
“Appalachian Spring” is the story of the Southern Highlands Reserve, a private native-plant garden and research center founded by Robert Balentine, of the Class of 1979, and his wife, Betty. Robert confesses in the story that he hated gardening as a kid, but his parents were award-winning horticulturalists and set him to work “digging holes” in the summer.
Today, the story notes, the Balentines spend three weekends a month on the 120-acre Southern Highlands Reserve, which is located in western North Carolina on the top of Toxaway Mountain at an elevation of 4,500 feet, outside of Cashiers, N.C. Among the many features that make the Reserve special are one of the largest known natural stands of Rhododendron vaseyi, rare pinkshell azaleas, hundreds of hybrid azaleas and the red spruce seedlings that researchers have raised, in part to help the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel.
In addition to being chairman and founding partner of Balentine L.L.C. in Atlanta, Robert is founding president of the board of the Southeastern Horticultural Society. He’s also a member of W&L’s Board of Trustees.
“The Wedding Belle” is the story of Calder (Britt) Clark, a member of the Class of 1999, an event planner in Charleston, S.C. As the story notes, Calder moved from Washington, D.C., to Charleston in 2003. She began Calder Clark Designs earlier this year, a wedding planning firm whose focus, according to the magazine, “is on handmade personal touches, unfussy flowers, family recipes, and nostalgic details.”