Hands On - Jean and Wallace Brockman

Jean and Wallace Brockman - Planters of Beauty

As I pull into their driveway, I notice an immensity of greenery. The Brockmans, Jean and Wallace, have a home surrounded by beautiful foliage. It’s a green haven, tucked away in a quiet corner of Charlottesville.

I am greeted at the door by Wallace, whose simple hospitality is comforting. He escorts me to the living room, where I take a seat next to Jean. Immediately, I notice the wall across from me that is packed full of books. Jean has a book open, EF Benson’s Mapp and Lucia. She closes the book and welcomes me with a warm smile.

Our conversation is lighthearted. I ask Wallace about his favorite plant, for which he replies, “Naked ladies, but I can’t remember the botanical name.” I assure him that I won’t pronounce his love for naked ladies, but will instead call the flowers Amaryllis.

I ask if I can circle their property and take pictures of their beautiful gardens. “Of course!” they state, while also informing me that the gardens used to be much more glorious when they had the ability to tend them regularly.

Before I leave, I am afforded a tour of other parts of the home, where Wallace proudly shows me pictures of his children and grandchildren. I also meet the Brockman family feline, who is less than interested in making my acquaintance.

I leave the comfort of the Brockman home, packed full of love and wisdom, and I step out into their soothing gardens, packed full of beauty and life.

Jean grew up in Nashville, Wallace was born in South Carolina. The two met in a chemistry course while attending Vanderbilt University. Both Jean and Wallace possess impressive educational accomplishments; she has a Master’s Degree in Physical Chemistry and Math, while he obtained a PhD in Organic Chemistry.

Life took them to Birmingham, Alabama, where Wallace worked at the Southern Research Institute as a Biological Chemist. He spent his days researching cancer agents. Jean felt a certain freedom in Birmingham, away from everything she used to know.

Jean and Wallace experienced the tensions of Birmingham during the civil rights era. They were displeased with their completely segregated neighborhood but believe that the city became more pleasant after the civil rights actions of 1963.

The Brockmans moved to Charlottesville in 1990 and spent a majority of their time outdoors. They loved to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline drive. Their love for the outdoors inspired them to create gorgeous gardens on their own property.

Currently, Jean and Wallace enjoy reading, staying abreast of current events, and interacting with Meals on Wheels volunteers.