When your river-front gardens are so welcoming and well-tended that even wandering cats drop in and decide to never leave, you know you're onto something special. That's just what you'll find at the magical gardens of Jim Phillips and Rudy Riggs. These highly regarded horticulturalists and Person County favorites have been avid gardeners for nearly 40 years. As a special treat for friends of the Person County Museum of History, they are opening their private space to the public for an evening of light refreshments, followed by a brief garden presentation, a discussion of heirloom seeds and plants led by local heirloom gardening enthusiast Jim Pentecost, and exclusive walking tours.

The event will be held on May 16, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:00 at 830 Terry Road in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, with proceeds donated to the Person County Museum of History. Tickets are available directly from the museum, and cost $5 for Members and $10 for Nonmembers (Museum Memberships are also available). To learn more, visit the Person County Events Calendar.

Click here to buy your tickets now.


Located just southwest of Roxboro in Person County's charming Hurdle Mills community, Jim and Rudy's impressive grounds include several private gardens, each lovingly maintained to showcase a specific collection of botanical flora. The first garden features a wide array of woodland plantings hand-picked by the pair for their local hardiness, exotic beauty and historical significance. Next, guests will visit the rock garden, which was recently highlighted as a featured venue by the North American Rock Garden Society.

In addition to their gardens, also notable is Rudy and Jim's historic home, which is beautiful example of the work of Jon Andre Condoret, an American architect known for bringing modernist design to North Carolina. (Their home is listed on www.NCModernist.org.) The two purchased the property in 1990 with hopes of establishing a permanent garden.

It was a slow process. First, Rudy and John began the arduous but necessary task of preparing their newfound farmstead to house the landscape of their dreams. They cleared brush, formed paths, installed stone paths and amended nearly every inch of soil on the property. Ever the avid gardener, Rudy took the lead in selecting the plants and nurturing the landscape. Jim kept things moving by managing the equipment--and delivering a lot of sweat equity. Every decision was considered carefully. Every project was tackled as a team.

The result is a breathtaking combination of multiple woodland style, natural and rock gardens that each feel perfectly sited, planned, tended and celebrated.

Fortunately, Rudy and Jim have agreed to offer friends and members of the Person County Museum of History the rare opportunity to visit, learn about and tour the gardens first-hand, all while enjoying prime views of the nearby Flat River.

They live with their two cats, Effie May (19 yrs old) and Felix, who showed up and chose to stay. No detail has been overlooked. Even as you approach, you're invited to step back in time as the long road meanders past a charming meadow dotted with historic markers and old gravestones. Once at the house, visitors will enjoy a casual social followed by a short presentation about the gardens. The evening concludes with guided walking tours, and the occasional glimpse of Felix and Effie May, their garden-friendly cats.