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In Living Color

An Oxford couple enjoys the lush landscaping just outside their backdoor.

Written by Leslie Criss  |  Photographed by Joe Worthem


Carolyn Carter has seen lots of changes through the years in the home she shares with Gary, her husband of 52 years. She was 2 weeks old when she first moved into the Fillmore Avenue house her grandfather built.


When they married, Carolyn and Gary moved into a house at the top of the hill on Fillmore that was a wedding gift from family. Years later, their son Chris Carter, a contractor, renovated his mother’s childhood home, and since then, Carolyn and Gary have called it home.


When the Carters moved into the renovated house on Fillmore, they had big plans for the backyard.


“We knew what we wanted,” Carolyn said. “We wanted to be able to go out on the deck and entertain. It’s a pretty place to entertain.”


The yard is large and completely fenced, making it a safe space for the Carters’ two pups, Lucy and Pepper, to roam. Wrought iron tables and chairs dot the ample deck, and additional seating is found on a higher level. A pergola, built by grandson Will Carter, covers a portion of the deck and the family’s grill.


A large fountain is the focal point of the backyard and is a calming and colorful spot when all the flowers are in bloom. A stone wall runs the length of the yard, and azaleas abound, along with hydrangeas, camellias, a crape myrtle, a red bud tree and sunshine ligustrum, a golden hedge that flourishes in full sun.



“When I discovered sunshine ligustrum, it was not easy to find,” Carolyn said. “We finally found some at a place in Jackson.”


At one end of the yard remains a building Carolyn’s father bought and had moved to Fillmore Street. It was a playhouse for Carolyn and her older brother.


The Carters have been happy with their landscaping but admit it has been a lot to keep up with.


“We have tried to do it ourselves, by the hardest,” Carolyn said. “We have been blessed to have a great group of kids at our church who have helped in the yard some.”


Today, they are preparing for the latest change to their landscape: a new plan that will make it easier for the Carters to care for the yard themselves.


“We are kind of excited to hear what the landscaper has in mind,” she said. “We just would love something more low maintenance. My mother had a green thumb that I did not inherit. But I so enjoy the beauty of it all.”

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