Bill Kirby began his career with The Augusta Chronicle 40 years ago and has held just about every job in the newsroom. He and his wife Carla spend their spare time doting on their West Highland terriers, Lil' Bow Wow ("Buddy") and Snoop Dog. He writes several local columns each week, as well as YouTube videos on local history called "Kirby's Augusta." From 1998 until 2001 he was editor and publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Over a 40-year newspaper career he has won more than 100 state, regional and national awards for reporting, editing, column writing, editorial writing, sports writing, business writing, investigative reporting, layout and design.
Posted April 15, 2009 06:27 am

Who put the 'garden' in Garden City?

Augusta has been known as the Garden City for as long as we can remember.

Anyone visiting our town this month would find the reason obvious.

The beauty of the Masters is known worldwide and reinforced every year when the lush television images are broadcast.

We proudly represent the state as the Garden City. It says so on all the signs.

But why?

Most credit goes to Julia Lester Dillon.

Mrs. Dillon was a rarity earlier in the past century -- a female landscape gardener.

She developed a reputation advising many Northern visitors who came down to enjoy Augusta's mild winters.

One day almost a century ago, Sidney Ferguson, a local banker, dropped by to ask Mrs. Dillon what she thought would be a good nickname for Augusta.

As the story goes, he told Augusta's famous gardener, "We're doing this promotion about Augusta and it should have a name."

Mrs. Dillon responded quickly, ``It's already named, for heaven's sake -- it's the Garden City of the South.'

Ferguson liked it. Took it back to the city naming committee, and everyone agreed.

Almost a century later, does the name still fit?