By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
Not many people can say that they are living a dream, but former Auburn University Coach Pat Dye is one of them.
Dye is coming to Cullman Saturday, July 27, to meet and greet folks and to tell them all about his Japanese maples. Everyone is invited to this event.
Coach Dye first learned of Southern Accents through a friend who highly recommended that he check out their selection of antique doors. “I went up there and they had some wonderful doors,” he recalled in a telephone interview. “I think I bought 10 or 15 of them for my house.
“I’m looking forward to coming back to Cullman,” he continued. “The folks up there are just great. I don’t recall exactly how many football players we’ve recruited from there when I was coaching, but there were a bunch of them. Cullman is a good, clean Alabama town, and the folks at Southern Accents were really good to deal with,” he said. “I have a good time wherever I go, and it’s going to be a fun day this weekend. Life’s too short not to have fun.”
“Southern Accents is excited to have the opportunity to host Coach Pat Dye for the day,” said an exuberant Garlan Gudger. “We have such a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the efforts he is making to preserve and promote these beautiful Japanese Maples that are so rich in ancient history. Just as we are passionate about saving and preserving architectural artifacts for future generations to enjoy, Coach Dye’s passion is extended, for the same reasons, to these trees. This is a great opportunity to meet Coach Dye and learn about his current endeavors,” Gudger said.
“Quail Hollow Gardens is a dream come true,” Coach Dye reflects in his press release. “I’ve been fascinated by Japanese maples since 1981, when my landscaper planted one of these beautiful trees in my Auburn, Alabama yard. The large green multi-trunk seedling he brought in was the most gorgeous tree I had ever seen. The ever-changing beauty of these magnificent trees has enhanced my life as I have studied and lived with them.”
“Over the years I have dug and moved many Japanese maples (some over 50 years old), planted every cultivar I could get my hands on, and loved every single one of them,” Coach Dye continued. “Each Japanese maple has its own personality and I look forward to watching spring’s new growth and summer’s changing colors, admiring fall’s deep yellows, reds, golds and oranges, and appreciating winter’s view of spectacular limb structures. Everyone needs at least one of these trees in their yard to enjoy.”
The man who has seen so much action in his life is now assistant to the president of Auburn University. He speaks at and provides lectures for coaching clinics and touchdown clubs, and as a motivational speaker for corporations and agencies around the country. Coach Dye is actively involved in fundraising efforts for schools and departments at Auburn University.
Not only does he have a wall full of trophies and plaques from back in high school, college, the military where he was proud to serve his country, and of his fulfilling career coaching the Auburn Tigers, he is now retired, but like a lot of people, stays busy and is doing what he dreamed of doing for years.
For 12 seasons, Coach Dye was head football coach at Auburn University. During that period, he led the Tigers to four SEC Championships, was named National Coach of the Year in 1983 and was a multiple SEC Coach of the Year winner.
These days, Coach Dye is the owner and operator of Quail Hollow Gardens, where he passionately goes about cultivating 60 different varieties of Japanese Maple trees on his 700-plus-acre farm.
“I get up in the mornings about 5 a.m. and do some errands, then work on my book, ‘After The Arena’ which will be available this fall. Then I get on a bulldozer or a bush hog and I’m like a little boy playing in a sandbox,” he said.
Coach Dye will arrive at Southern Accents with a variety of the maples. He will also have available for sale a few items of memorabilia, including a limited number of copies of his first book.
According to Gudger, a numbered ticketing system will be used to organize visitors who wish to meet Coach Dye, who will be available for autographs and picture ops. Visitors will need to stop by Southern Accents showroom the day of the event to pick up tickets. Tickets are free.
Coach Dye is bringing approximately 20-30 Tamuke Yama Japanese maples in seven-gallon containers. He will also bring another 20-25 three-gallon trees. There will be a mix of uprights and weeping (dissectum) style trees.
“I also plan on having an information sheet on the different trees that we are bringing to hand out and to help answer questions,” said Coach Dye.