Enjoy the charm of camellias in Middle Georgia

Spring has come early to Middle Georgia, and there is no better way to celebrate spring than a visit to Ft. Valley’s Massee Lane Gardens. The camellias are in full bloom, and over the coming weeks, the rest of nature will blossom along with them.

Massee Lane Camellia variety R. L. Wheeler
The R.L. Wheeler variety of camellias is one of the many varieties of camellias in the gardens as Massee Lane. Photo by Doug Deal

Massee Lane Gardens is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission for adults is $5, but senior citizens (age 55+) pay $4, and children under age 12 are free. A variety of plants, including live camellias, are available for sale at the gardens.

As the headquarters of the American Camellia Society, and a part of Georgia’s Camellia Trail, Massee Lane Gardens features six distinct gardens: the camellia garden, the Avera-Peterson Children’s Garden, the daylily garden, the Japanese garden, the rose garden, and the environmental garden. Ask at the front desk about the children’s scavenger hunt, but remind your little ones not to pick petals or leaves off of living plants. There are plenty of fallen blooms, leaves, and blades of cut grass to complete the scavenger hunt without plucking from the flowers.

The brick-laid paths of the camellia garden have old-world charm that is perfect for a romantic stroll, a family weekend outing, or a photography session. There are over 1,000 varieties of camellia growing throughout the garden. Wandering through the camellias leads to a lovely hidden koi pond in the Japanese garden, with a peaceful bower where you can sit and enjoy the birdsongs, or step from stone to stone across the pond and look at the koi.

Massee Lane Gardens
Massee Lane Gardens, historic home of the American Camellia Society. Open Tues-Sat 10 AM – 4:30 PM and Sun 1 PM – 4:30 PM. Photo by Doug Deal

In the Avera-Peterson Children’s Garden of Discovery, parents can sit in a central area while youngster’s explore a variety of smaller gardens. In the dinosaur garden, children can dig for fossils in the sand banked by plants from the dinosaur era. There is also a garden where children can smell different flowers and herbs, and a seasonal vegetable garden. Around Massee Lane Gardens, there are several ponds, and the children’s garden has its own small pond for children to enjoy. There is a butterfly garden, a gazebo, a playset, and even a flower maze for children to enjoy.

Near the children’s garden is the environmental garden, which is distinguished by the screened-in outdoor classroom at its entrance, which is used for environmental education, and its viewing patio overlooking the garden’s 2.4 acre pond. There is a paved path around the pond that is perfect for families with strollers and others needing wheeled access. There are benches for wildlife viewing, and shady areas make the area pleasant year-round. Bluebird houses dot the shoreline of the pond, and a variety of native species grow along the path.

The daylily garden comes alive in mid-spring, and colorful blossoms can be seen from May through the summer season. Year-round, there are delightful characters from Alice in Wonderland scattered among the daylilies to engage young visitors. Crepe myrtle blooms in late spring, and bird houses attract feathered friends to entertain young and old alike.

The rose garden is a popular spot for engagement and wedding photographs, with its 150 varieties of drought-resistant roses and its beautiful gazebo. The rose garden has a climbing arbor where hydrangeas bloom. Its full charm can be enjoyed in the late spring.

Massee Lane Gardens is home to America’s largest collection of porcelain by American artist E.M. Boehm, an American sculptor whose works featured many nature themes. His works may be viewed in two galleries onsite, the Stevens-Taylor Gallery and the Annabelle Lundy Fetterman Educational Museum.

For every age, there is something to explore and enjoy at Massee Lane Gardens, and this is the perfect time of year to venture out and discover all they have to offer. Massee Lane Gardens is located at 100 Massee Lane Road in Ft. Valley, Georgia. Call them at (478)967-2358, visit their website at https://americancamellias.com/, and like their Facebook page.

For more information, check out: https://americancamellias.com/



Roe’ing for a Cause: Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia

LuLaRoe clothing is one of the year’s most popular clothing brands for women and girls, and today, women in Macon have the opportunity to shop LuLaRoe for a good cause.

Today, Thursday, November 17th, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., there will be a LuLaRoe clothing pop up sale at 915 Hill Park, Suite 100C, in Macon, hosted by LuLaRoe consultant Kayla Blades and benefiting the Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia.

LuLaRoe's Carly dress
LuLaRoe’s Carly dress

The Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia is a non-profit organization that provides support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. They provide a broad range of services, including legal and financial help, planning assistance and shelter for families needing to escape abuse, access to counseling and support groups, and community education programming.

The Crisis Line and Safe House operates through a combination of local, state, and federal grants, as well as through donations made by members of our community. Their services are free to families and individuals in need. Purchases of LuLaRoe clothing items made through today’s sale, which also be available on Facebook at LulaRoe Kayla Blades, will benefit the Crisis Line and Safe House and families in our community.

LuLaRoe leggings come in sizes to fit little girls up to the curvy woman, and each pair is buttery soft.
LuLaRoe leggings come in sizes to fit little girls up to the curvy woman, and each pair is buttery soft.

LuLaRoe is popular for many reasons: their clothing is beautifully designed in a wide range of sizes that can fit most women. Their fabrics are soft, especially their leggings, which are often described as “buttery,” and rightfully so! They also come in awesome patterns: from holiday themes to fanciful “hobby” designs (like bicycles, books, and animals), and lots of geometric patterns.

The LuLaRoe Nicole dress comes in a variety of patters and fabrics, perfect for work or weekend wear.
The LuLaRoe Nicole dress comes in a variety of patters and fabrics, perfect for work or weekend wear.

One of the most popular design trends for women is pattern mixing, and LuLaRoe saleswomen are excellent at helping you find the right patterns to make a great outfit.

Today is a great opportunity to try on LuLaRoe in person, and support the work of the Crisis Line and Safe House in their mission of helping make Central Georgia families safer.

The pop up sale is today, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at 915 Hill Park, Suite 100C, in Macon. Hill Park is located at the bottom of Coleman Hill, off Spring Street. If you can’t come try on clothes, check out the Facebook page, where you can shop November 17-18 to benefit the Crisis Line and Safe House, at http://www.facebook.com/groups/lularoekaylablades.

For more information about the Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia, please visit http://cl-sh.org.

Azul Salon and Spa: North Macon’s relaxation destination

Azul Salon and Spa is tucked into a little shopping center on Arkwright Road, just off Interstate I-75 north of Macon. It’s a surprisingly airy space, with natural lighting and a subdued palette, perfect for relaxing. The original works of local and regional artists decorate the walls.

Azul Lobby in Macon
Azul Salon and Spa serves all your style and rejuvenation needs. Photo by Doug Deal.

At Azul, the options are seemingly endless. The salon services vary by stylist and include everything from color to keratin treatments. The spa services include basics like manicure and pedicure, massages, basic facial waxing, and facials. Azul also offers more specialized services such as gel nail treatments,  microdermabrasion, hot stone massage, body waxing, and permanent makeup application.

One of the best feature of Azul is that each stylist works in his or her own private space. One of my favorite features of Azul is that the staff members are there for their customers. Nothing is more uncomfortable than sitting in a hair or nail chair while two or more stylists have a private conversation over your head. At Azul, the customers are the focus of attention, whether it’s your first time or you are a “regular.”

Stylist Lee Tillman specializes in curly hair, cuts, and hair coloring. One of his most unique style techniques uses undercuts with cut-in designs. He introduced us to Azul through his Facebook photos of his hair design work.

I got a far less edgy cut, long layers. My son, Sam, who is 8, also got a long shaggy ‘do, swept over the eyes. Lee talked to Sam to find out what kind of style he wanted, and he delivered. My daughter, Bell, who is 5, got a long, angled bob. Lee gave my husband a great, short professional style.

A few weeks later, I returned to Azul to find the same friendly staff greeting me at the door. After several stressful days, my neck, back, and shoulders were so tight that a deep breath hurt. I wanted a Swedish massage, and I was pleased that I could get an appointment the same day with massage therapist Tommika Clark.

I’ve had many spa massages, and Tommika is one of the best massage therapists I’ve experienced. She did a great job identifying the muscles groups that were tight, and then finding the right location to massage to release the knots in the muscles. It was a relaxing experience, and I enjoyed her work so much that I purchased a three-massage package when I left, so that I could come back. My second massage was as therapeutic and the first.

I don’t usually get salon nail services, but I wanted to experience as many of Azul’s services as possible, and so I made two separate trips to manicurist Megan Hayes. Like all of Azul’s services, manicures and pedicures are done in a private room. Megan was easy to talk to, and she helped me decide what I might like for my nails. She took the time to explain to me the difference between the different nail polishes, including gel nails. For my toes, I chose regular nail polish, but for my fingernails, I chose to try gel polish. I loved the look, feel, and durability of gel polish, and since I don’t routinely wear them, I didn’t notice any adverse effect on my nails or cuticles after the gel was removed.

Azul is a comfortable retreat, where you can relax in an intimate atmosphere and enjoy being the center of your stylists’ attention. I have enjoyed each of my visits. I didn’t call very far in advance to make my appointments: although I recommend scheduling your salon and spa services at least a week in advance, I was able to get same-day appointments for both of my massages, my manicure, and my pedicure. I also found their prices to be competitive with other local salons and spas, and their staff was exceptional.

To find more information about the services and prices at Azul Salon and Spa, check their website, http://azulsalonandspa.com.



Georgia National Fair in full swing

The Georgia National Fair in Perry opened on Thursday, October 6, and will run through Sunday, October 16, 2016, at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry.

Georgia Fair Swings
There are plenty of exciting rids for the kids at the Georgia National Fair. Photo by Doug Deal.

Families from all across the state travel to Perry to experience all of the best in wholesome fun. Be prepared to walk A LOT, although there are accommodations including handicapped parking and trolley transportation from the parking lots to the fairgrounds. Still, comfortable shoes and clothing are a wise choice.

There are many choices of food vendors selling everything from traditional fair foods like corn dogs, funnel cakes, and turkey legs, to Greek specialties, steak sandwiches, and grilled veggies. There are also treats ranging from Mayfield ice cream to apple dumplings, and of course, caramel apples and lots of cotton candy. New food vendors this year include Cedar River Seafood, the Donut Shop, and Coolicious Treats.

Among the most popular attractions at the Georgia National Fair are the midway rides, which include a Ferris wheel, a small roller coaster, and a high swing. A special selection of kiddie rides includes spinning cups and a child-sized roller coaster. Several rides are proportioned so that parents can ride with their children. The Agri-lift carries riders high above the midway, and rentable paddle boats let families enjoy time on the water below.

A note about the rides: on weekdays and the final Sunday of the fair, ride-all-you-want armbands are available, but they are not sold for the first full weekend of the fair, or on the second Saturday. Tickets for rides are approximately a dollar each, although purchasing in bulk gives a discount on ticket price, and most rides cost 3-5 tickets, though some cost even more. Also, some attractions, like the paddle boats, are cash pay. On Terrific Tuesday, arm bands are discounted, so if you love rides, or have children who do, it may be well worth it to make a weeknight trip.

The rides aren’t the only fun at the fair. The Georgia National Fair website has a map of all the attractions, as well as printable schedules for daily performances, livestock shows, horse competitions, and special events. Plan ahead!

Georgia National Fair - Rides
The Wiggle-Worm is a popular ride with younger children. Photo by Doug Deal.

Among the fun performances scheduled for the fair include daily magician shows, sea lion performances, a petting zoo with special feeding times, and many other daily concerts and performances. Every night at 10 p.m., the fair closes with fireworks over the pond.

One of the coolest opportunities for families is the chance to go see the Royal Hanneford Circus inside the fair, and admission is already included in your fair entrance fee. Showtimes are 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. daily, with an additional 2 p.m. show on Saturday.

Between livestock and equestrian shows, fairgoers can roam through the barns and see the cows, sheep, horses, rabbits, chickens, and other animals on display at the fair. Unlike in past years, children can’t hold the baby chicks, but watching them is always fun.

There are many educational exhibits at the Georgia National Fair. These include livestock and wildlife exhibits, and agricultural and gardening exhibits. The Miller-Murphy-Howard Building, Heritage Hall, and the Georgia Grown building house these exhibits. One of the newest exhibits is the bee story, devoted to Georgia’s beekeeping and honey producing industry. In the Georgia Grown building, fairgoers also have the opportunity to support Georgia agri-industry by purchasing homegrown products sold at the Georgia Grown Pavilion.

Nearby, in the McGill Marketplace Shops, vendors offer everything from leaf-guard gutters to handmade fudge and jewelry to boots. It’s a great place to start your holiday shopping. If you have a Thomas train fan, be sure to check out the train tables set up in the back corner, where your little engineer can play with trains while you relax on nearby benches.

At the Georgia National Fair, there is truly something for everyone. Fun fair foods, exciting rides and performances, free concerts for lovers of all kinds of music, livestock shows, equestrian shows, educational exhibits, and much, much more. There is no better way to enjoy all of the best that Georgia has to offer, and it’s a great way to celebrate fall in Middle Georgia.

For more information, including daily schedules and ticket information, please visit the Georgia National Fair website at http://georgianationalfair.com/