Lots of wonderful flowers, plants to see during garden tour season

Special to Lowcountry LifeApril 15, 2012 

  • The All Saints Episcopal Church will hold a garden tour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 19. There are eight homes on the tour and they are all on Hilton Head Island. Tickets are $30 and include lunch. Tickets are available at the church, 3001 Meeting St., Hilton Head, or at the following locations:

    On Hilton Head: Nell's Harbour Shop, Le Cookery, Pretty Papers, Deli-by the Beach, The Greenery, Bistro 17, Stephens Pharmacy, Burke's Pharmacy, Munchies, Christie's Hallmark

    In Bluffton: Christie's Hallmark, Green Thumb Nursery, Markel's Card and Gift, Garden Gate Nursery, May River Gallery, Sunshine Nursery and Bedminster Group.

I love flowers. I love plants that don't flower but have interesting foliage. I love the way some plants form unusual shapes as they grow. Most of all, I love going to flower shows to see nature at its best, biggest, weirdest and most flamboyant.

No surprise then that the past decade has found me at the Atlanta and Philadelphia Flower Shows, the Chelsea in London and the Floriade outside of Amsterdam. The memories of each are vivid; the photographs that Larry took serve to remind us of the glory of nature.

Last week I added the Mystical Garden Flower Show presented by The Avid Gardeners of Hilton Head Island to my list of top memories. Held at The Plantation House in Hilton Head Plantation, the show was unique in design, and a perfect showcase for the talents of the TAG gardeners who have embraced the wonders that our semitropical climate allows. Congratulations go to the show chairwoman Suzy Baldwin, and to Olivia Ford, Dick and Maryellen Phillips, Sara Jebo, Eileen Creek and Gail Haller.

May and June are garden-tour months in Beaufort County. It begin with the All Saints Episcopal Church to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m May 19. There are eight gardens to tour, all are on Hilton Head. Tickets are $30, include luncheon and are available at the church on the day of the event.

Mary Anne Gebler, chairwoman of this year's tour, said local artist Dorothy Steelman's painting, "Grandmother's Flowers," will be featured on the commemorative posters used to promote the group's 25th annual tour. All proceeds from the tour will be donated to local nonprofit organizations.

Kathi McKinley of the Beaufort Garden Club has announced the Beaufort annual garden tour, "A Garden A Day," will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 4-8, in conjunction with National Garden Club Week. All five gardens have been designed and developed by the Master Gardeners who tend them. Admission is free; the tour is, McKinley explains, The Beaufort Garden Club's gift to the community.

My fun begins now. With names and addresses of gardens and gardeners, I shall set forth to see them all. Past experience tells me that there are wonders in store. I remember pink flamingos in a tree; another small leafless tree, its limbs hung with colored bottles; a manmade stream with water cascading over stones; floral stepping stones designed and made by the gardener; and an entire miniature village complete with trees and flowering plants.

The creativity of these tour gardeners never ceases to excite; the imaginative use of containers and hanging baskets, the succulent and cacti gardens, the herb gardens with 20 or more herb varieties, the breathtaking rose gardens.

In a future column and before the tours, I'll share with you what I found.

As Beaufort County continues to grow, with accompanying loss of the population of native plants, it's gratifying to find that in the yards of many of our gardeners, we are seeing native plants. We now have local growers who specialize in them. On a visit with Master Gardener Marion Gosson to Woodlander's Nursery in Aiken to pick up an order for the Hilton Head Town Hall Xeriscape garden, we were told that Woodlander's now ships native plants throughout the U.S. as well as to other countries. We've now added Butterfly Weed, Asclepias incarnata and A. tuberosa, Baptisia australis, Aralia spinosa, Osmunda cinnamomea, and Aleurites fordii to the garden.

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