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Environment & Nature

Vince Dooley's Garden
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Vince Dooley's Garden
A Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach
Vince Dooley
Illustrations by Steve Penley

Looking Glass Books
$35 hardcover
10 x 10
200 pages, 35 color paintings and 100 color photographs
April 2010
Environment & Nature, Photography & Art, Sports & Recreation

The name Vince Dooley is synonymous with football in the South. More recently, the retired University of Georgia head football coach has gained renown as one of the region's finest gardeners. Following the lead of his mentors, respected horticulturalists at the University of Georgia, Dooley has created a spectacular garden around the home that he and wife Barbara have lived in since 1964. The University of Georgia Department of Horticulture honored Dooley by naming a rose after him, along with the Dooley hydrangea, a unique variety discovered in Dooley's garden. Vince Dooley's Garden tells of the former coach's twenty-year full-time commitment to gardening. Steve Penley's exceptional paintings complement the story perfectly, along with nearly 100 color photographs of Dooley's garden.


Vince Dooley writes for the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Football, Gardening Linked for Vince Dooley"

A great article by the Atlanta Journal Constitution about Vince Dooley's passion for gardening.

Find Vince Dooley on Facebook. Be sure to subscribe to his blog.

Visit Barbara and Vince Dooley at

Visit Steve Penley's Web site at


Flower arranging contest
". . . I reluctantly agreed, for the good of the cause, to participate in a celebrity flower-arrangement contest. The event drew a nice crowd, and to my astonishment I won the contest, just barely beating my friend Joe Washington, a highly respected public affairs, sports, and landscape broadcaster and a very knowledgeable gardener. It was a major upset, perhaps stimulated by sympathetic judges who appreciated the efforts of a football coach totally void of the art of flower arranging."

Passionate pursuits
"Success — defined as doing the best you can do in whatever you pursue — is best achieved by enjoying and being passionate about your work."

Barbara vs. Vince
"Barbara is in charge of domestic affairs and has the final say on all things in the house. I have been assigned as chief of foreign affairs and I have the final decision on garden matters. At least she lets me think so."

Famous in France
"When I was introduced to Mr. Mallet, he immediately responded, 'Mr. Dooley, what a pleasure to meet you, and I want you to see your hydrangea in our collection.' We then posed together for a few pictures. I got a real kick out of being famous in France and recognized by a noble Frenchman all because Dr. Dirr named a hydrangea after me."

Always the same question
"(Longtime friend Loran Smith’s) standard question whenever my name is connected with gardening is, 'Why don’t you grow something you can eat?'"

Dooley and Dye: Together in the garden
"(Dooley and former Auburn Coach Pat Dye share an interest in Japanese Maples). This bonding in the soil is a lot better and more fun at this stage of our lives than competing year in and year out in a game that has life-or-death connotations to Auburn and Georgia fans."

Tree stays
"Providing shade for the azaleas is a large common mulberry (Morus alba) that is a favorite of Barbara’s because of the unusual and lumpy gnarled character of the bark. Dirr and I wanted to take it down because of its commonality, plus my having to clean up the mulberries that make a mess of the walkway. We both backed off when Barbara’s Lebanese blood got boiling as she emphatically stated, 'Don’t touch that tree! It has character!' We agreed — out of fear for our lives!"

Speaking Southern Latin
"Remembering the Latin name was one ordeal; pronouncing them was another. The struggle did eventually pay off, and today I still recall the botanical names most often before the common. However, people accuse me of speaking 'southern Latin' when using the botanical names!"

Listening to the Lord
"I got my basic garden training from Henry (Cleveland), but that might not have been the case without some divine intervention. Henry was a very religious man and started working for Barbara after he appeared at our door in his standard overalls, stating that the Lord told him she needed him to work in her garden. Barbara, who also listens attentively to the Lord, hired Henry on the spot."