By Laurie Paolicelli
“People are ready to view beautiful gardens in our warm sunny climate and enjoy the botanical creativity on display throughout our neighborhoods,” announced leaders with the Chapel Hill Garden Club.
One of six private gardens open to the public that weekend belongs to Chapel Hill residents Dick and Lynda Baddour. Dick says the garden is a shared passion between the two of them, but Lynda says don’t let him fool you, it’s all his.
“I’ve been gardening since 1971 and I love it,” he says. “Our big back yard was just ivy for many years and when I got serious, I consulted with a friend, the late John Passour, who helped us plan the garden and did most of the walls, walkways, and larger tree plantings.”
It’s easy to see the pride on his face, and he’s earned it. Just one look at the elegant form and foliage of his Japanese maples will have Garden Tour visitors hooked. Baddour admires the brilliant colors of the classic Japanese maple, the red-purple leaves that turn crimson in fall. His grand flowering snowball bush is also a favorite. This viburnum snowball bush opens white flowers in mid-spring. Butterflies love their flowers and birds love the berry-like fruit, so they’ll attract wildlife to your yard.
And Baddour loves to dote on his wisteria bush, one that has miraculously been laced around the outdoor deck. The purple blooms are breathtaking. Wisteria is a marvelous vine that, when cared for properly and grown under the right conditions, wows each year with luscious cascades of purple flowers. Non-native wisteria first showed up stateside in the 1800s. The plant was desired for not only for its beauty, but for its rapid growth and dense foliage. These characteristics make them ideal plants for gazebos, walls, porches, and gardens.
“The problem,” Dick says, “is that it’s time to repair our deck and we have to make some tough decisions about how to replace the wood OR keep the wisteria intact. And let me be transparent: I don’t like those choices.”
Richard Allen Baddour’s path to joy began right here in Chapel Hill, as a graduating member of the UNC class of 1966. And he never left. In the late 60s, he became Assistant Dean of Men. Then, as Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, he was in touch with all the academic disciplines, traveling the state as the University’s representative. Later he became Chief Operating Officer of the Law School.
Dick served the National Guard for 31 years and retired a colonel.
His history of service to the town of Chapel Hill is admirable. He co-chaired the bond drive to build the Chapel Hill Public Library, was vice-president of the Parks and Recreation Commission; chair of the Orange County Heart Association; Cub Scout master and Little League coach. Dick was volunteer of the year in the public school system in 1996. He’s worn so many different hats in his career he needs a walk-in closet to house them all.
Most famously, perhaps, Dick was the Tar Heel Sports Athletics Director from 1998 until 2012, one of the most successful and admired programs in the country.
James Moeser, Chancellor Emeritus of the University, worked closely with Dick and speaks of him glowingly. “I always had complete trust in Dick’s integrity and honesty, and he never let me down. It is no accident that our athletic program is a point of pride and excellence across the board.”
He retired after 44 years of service and is currently teaching the capstone seminar in the Graduate Program in Sports Administration.
Dick Baddour is a man well-acquainted with joy. In his garden, with their children and grandchildren, and building bird houses in his shed while Lynda paints landscapes in her studio.
Gardening is food for the soul, and the Baddours are the type of souls we all love: down to earth, kind, giving, and serious about the fruits of their labor.
Learn more about the Chapel Hill Garden Tour here: https://chapelhillgardenclub.net
The 2022 Chapel Hill Garden Tour will take place, rain or shine, on April 23 and 24. You must register to attend this event: https://chapelhillgardenclub.net/2020-tour-home-page
Seven gardens – rain or shine:
Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.