In 2004, during the construction of St. Paul’s latest addition, the vestry approved a master landscape plan by Little and Little Landscape Architecture of Raleigh, N.C. Generous donations made these plantings possible and by 2008 the masterplan had been largely implemented. The development of St. Paul’s gardens is ongoing and faithfully tended by a group of dedicated volunteers. Many hands and hearts, both staff and volunteers, have been involved in this process over the years and many more will be needed to ensure that St. Paul’s Church continues to be as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. New volunteers are always welcome.

The Nave Entrance

For many years parishioners and visitors have enjoyed the beautiful flowers and shrubs on either side of the nave entrance. The garden was originally designed by Julie Sherk. Nancy Sherk tended this area for years.   Nancy Spencer, her friend and fellow gardener, now tends this area. Annuals are placed amongst pieris, green mountain boxwoods, and abelia. A low border of ivy enclosing the garden is kept neatly trimmed.

Dalton Memorial Garden

The Dalton Memorial Garden

Named in honor of Louisa Bitting Dalton, the Memorial Garden is situated on the site of the former rectory. In 1948 the residence was given to the church by Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Lasater and served as the rectory for twelve years. The old wrought-iron fence that surrounds the memorial garden can be seen in a photograph taken when the rectory was still in use. In 1983 St. Paul’s retained Roy Pender, a landscape architect, to design a garden for the burial of cremains.

The garden features a central pergola flanked on either side by large saucer magnolias. A brick walkway encircles the grassy central area, which is set aside for graves. Four stone columbaria on either side of the pergola provide above-ground niches for burial. Four additional columbaria will be added in the future. At the far end of the garden stand four natchez crape myrtles in a liriope bed. This area, the Evelyn Owens Lerned Memorial Garden, is set aside for those who wish to have their ashes scattered rather than buried. A long, low marble monument bears plaques with their names. The garden is surrounded by evergreen hollies and laurels. A magnificent maple keeps watch over the tranquil garden. In 2007 a ginkgo had to be removed and a small garden of azaleas and hydrangea has been put in its place. In one corner of the garden a plaque honoring the Rev. Dudley Colhoun can be found by the sweet bay. The Dalton Memorial Garden provides a restful site for an urban neighborhood. People who live and work in the area are often seen walking in the garden, resting, or eating lunch under the pergola.

A wide variety of plants can be found in this garden. Nancy Sherk, an avid gardener, contributed many unusual trees, flowering shrubs, and conifers. Jim Rodgers and Jack Salt faithfully tended the Dalton Garden for many years.

The Garden Chapel

The Garden Chapel

Prior to the building construction of 2005 and the addition of the loggia, the courtyard area was simply a grassy hillside that sloped down from Summit Street to the top of the stone wall above the old burial ground and to the brick wall of the daycare playspace. During construction of the loggia, the top two levels of the courtyard were excavated out of the hillside with the idea that these areas would be planted as additional funds became available. The original sloping grade can still be seen along the foundation wall of the nave. A grand staircase that connects the loggia to the other levels of the courtyard was donated in memory of Robert Lewis Neill by his family. In 2010 the Ecclesiastical Arts Committee designated funds for the Haddonstone jardinière and in 2011, with a generous donation from a parishioner, work was finally begun on the upper level of the courtyard, transforming it into a garden chapel. The garden chapel plan was designed by landscape architect Janice Lewis and renowned gardener Nancy Spencer in collaboration with members of the Garden Committee. The construction itself was undertaken by stone mason Jeff Messick and New Garden Landscaping. Leigh Smith has agreed to become one of the caretakers for the Garden Chapel.

The Garden Chapel Altar

The Garden Chapel Altar

The altar was designed by Janice Lewis and fabricated by local blacksmiths, Frank Naples and Tim Crumley, who also installed it. Jeff Messick, the stone mason for the garden project, obtained a slab of Tennessee Crab Orchard stone for the altar top, chosen for its beautiful figuration and color. Six men were needed to carry it down into the garden and place it on the wrought-iron frame. A slab in the ground supports the stone and its sturdy frame.

The iron frame of the altar is a work of beautiful craftsmanship. Look closely at the riveting, the connections, hammer marks, and twists. Above all, notice the Christian symbolism that inspired the design. The front panel of the altar has three large Gothic “windows” that symbolize the Trinity and also reflect the windows of the nave. Three quatrefoils and three crosses are nested within the three windows. Quatrefoils also are typical of Gothic architecture.

As befits a garden setting, vines at the base of each Gothic “window” are reaching upward. Their leaves represent the “tongues of fire” that appeared at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This outpouring is symbolized by a descending dove at the top of each window.

The twelve scrolls at the bottom of the frame stand for the twelve apostles. At each end panel of the altar there is a large cross. A quatrefoil at the center of the cross represents the crown of thorns and there are four large rivets representing the nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet.

The altar has been situated with the beautiful nave wall as its backdrop and is centered in front of two large windows. A bronze sculpture showing the descent of the Holy Spirit is attached to the nave wall below the windows. The bronze sculpture was a gift from Nancy Spencer and the garden altar was made possible by the generous gifts of St. Paul’s parishioners.

St. Francis Courtyard

St. Francis Courtyard

In 1993, under the leadership of parishioner Nancy Sherk, St. Paul’s volunteers designed and planted the charming St. Francis Courtyard. A small statue of St. Francis watches over the quiet garden. The Courtyard is bounded on the west by a massive stone wall, a remnant of the foundation of the home of John Buxton, a former senior warden of St. Paul’s. The fountain just in front of the stone wall was given in honor of Nancy Sherk by her family. One of the two teak benches was a gift of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Churchwomen. An Oklahoma redbud, the centerpiece of the Courtyard, was donated by Dr. and Mrs. David McCullough in memory of their daughter, Caroline. In 2013 the redbud had to be cut down and was replaced by a dogwood. Plants of special interest include three tall Graham Blandy boxwoods, a climbing hydrangea, a tree-form oak leaf hydrangea, sasanqua camellias, daylilies, forget-me-nots, Japanese painted ferns, and maiden grass.

Paradise Herb Garden

Paradise Herb Garden

The Paradise Herb Garden, also developed by volunteers under the leadership of Nancy Sherk, was created in 1993. This unique garden, in keeping with the Neo-Gothic architecture of St. Paul’s, recalls the kind of garden one might have found in churchyards during the Middle Ages. Typical medieval features include a decorative wooden screen built by parishioner Charles Pace, and an arbor, designed by artist Luli Sanderford and given in memory of her parents. Other period elements include a stone bench, curved stone walls, low hedges and a flowery mead of thyme. The herbs selected have either biblical significance or medicinal, spiritual, cosmetic, or culinary value. Significant plants include fennel, rosemary, lavender, valerian, hyssop, hellebore, St. John’s wort, white flag iris, tansy, thyme, and soapwort. The Garden, now enclosed by a wrought-iron fence, was designed by landscape architect Julie Sherk and made possible by major gifts in memory of William Dando Harper and George Foster. It was dedicated in June 1997 by the Reverend Rod Reinecke, St. Paul’s interim rector. Since its inception, the Paradise Herb Garden has been faithfully tended by parishioner Cynthia Bouldin and other volunteers. The garden is a favorite with St. Paul’s children.

The St. Francis Courtyard and the adjacent Paradise Herb Garden were designed to be used and enjoyed as sacred spaces beyond the church walls. They have been the site of a number of special occasions, including a baptism, a St. Hildegard reception, evensong, and rogation prayers. They are also a favorite site for photos of confirmands, brides, and bridesmaids. The ashes of two of our parishioners have been scattered here as well.

Nancy Pixley Wilson Garden

The Nancy Pixley Wilson Garden

This garden was created in 2013 with a gift from the family of long-time parishioner, Nancy Pixley Wilson. Featuring a stack stone seat wall, boulders and a central Japanese Red Maple, the garden is an area through which many people pass on their way to the Goodheart Entrance.

Rock Garden

The Rock Garden

Soon after the latest major construction project in 2005, a sizeable pile of rocks was left at the outside corner of the new chapel. In 2010 nearly half of the rocks were relocated on the grounds, making planting possible in the space now called “The Rock Garden.” With the help of our sexton, John Lewis, the remaining rocks were moved into a more pleasing formation. In September of 2011, parishioner D.D. Hellebush agreed to adopt the garden and oversaw the planting of numerous shrubs and perennials. Most of the perennials were divisions taken from her own garden. Shrubs include gumpo azaleas, rhododendron, taxus, butterfly bush, daphne, gardenia, abelia, and a golden barberry. The perennials include daisy, black-eyed susan, geum, creeping jenny, blackberry lilly, blue Siberian iris, Louisiana swamp iris, daylily, dianthus, and creeping phlox. Pansies and begonias are planted seasonally. An area that had been unappealing is now a beautiful garden enjoyed daily by families of our preschoolers. The Rock Garden shows how a neglected spot can be transformed into a reflection of God’s beauty.

St. Paul’s Resurrection Garden

St. Paul’s Resurrection Garden

St. Paul’s Resurrection Garden, beneath the chapel wall facing Summit Street, was given by an anonymous parishioner in loving memory of Kay Watts Shields, wife of the Rev. John E. Shields. The garden contains hundreds of daffodil bulbs, representing resurrection to the donor. Additional flowering plants will be added to extend the season the garden is in bloom. A Blessing of the Garden service was held April 5, 2017.

The Corner Garden at Pilot View and Jersey

The Corner Garden at Pilot View and Jersey

The chain link fence running the length of the backyard along Pilot View Street was removed in 2009 as part of an overall landscape improvement project. A new fence was installed in the middle of the backyard to enclose the playground and to create a grassy open space. The garden was planted by volunteers at this highly visible corner of the church property in order to welcome the many parishioners who come to church by way of Jersey Avenue and to offer an attractive view to the neighborhood. Homestead purple verbena drapes over the low stone wall. Plants include carissa hollies, a blue muffin viburnum, a limelight hydrangea, a tall foster holly, and an assortment of perennials including maiden grasses and purple salvia. The Corner Garden has been adopted by volunteers Jane Goodrum and LeClare Turner.

Plants in the Dalton Garden

little gem magnolia,

blue sapphire cedar

golden arborvitae

dwarf hemlock

mugo pine


Chinese (kousa) dogwood

flowering dogwood


dwarf Japanese maple

sweet bay




burford holly


sasanqua camellias


white oak


viburnum varieties

azalea varieties

witch hazel

natchez crape myrtle




Plants in the Garden Chapel

bloodgood Japanese maple

Chinese (kousa) dogwood

souix crape myrtle

espalier little gem magnolia

morris midget boxwood

green beauty boxwood

sasanqua camellia


waterfall Japanese maple

green mountain boxwood

dee runk boxwood

degroot arborvitae

little rascal holly

coral bell azalea

osakazuki Japanese maple (on level two)

variegated daphne

little lime hydrangea

variegated liriope

purple bearded iris

autumn fern

burgundy glow ajuga

dwarf mondo grass