From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 19, All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island will present its 25th annual Garden Tour, a potpourri of gardens at eight of the finest gardens in the area. Tickets are $30, and there is a map printed on each ticket.
Speaking for all of us old-timers who've taken the tour, may I say, we've never been disappointed. Last month when I made my preview tour of the gardens I was curious to see how the record-breaking mild winter, coupled with a hot and dry spring had affected plants soon to be on show. Not to worry, the experienced gardeners who let us come and see what they've done in their yards are on top of it.
This year's tour chairwoman, Mary Anne Gebler, along with All Saints' selection committee chairwoman, Isabella Trenholm, made more then 100 phone calls using names given to them by local garden centers, garden club members and All Saints parishioners. The resulting eight gardens selected were first visited in May and June of last year. They could not be more diverse.
New gardeners in the coastal Lowcountry can get educated about what succeeds here with a visit to Ramona Kramer's yard in Hilton Head Plantation. If it flowers in May, it's there to see. Ramona has a way of combining shrubbery with colorful plants that's unusual; the problem of what to plant under mature trees has been solved here with mini-gardens of ferns and flowers.
The huge hanging baskets and patio pots bursting with color are not this year's annuals; they were planted last year and lived through winter. Don't miss the creeping yew or variegated Angel's Trumpet.
Corliss and James Zampino's gardens in Hilton Head Plantation are filled with surprises. If you like the unusual, you'll be entertained, not only by the plants -- guaranteed there are at least a dozen that are unfamiliar -- but also the fun they had with creative hardscape. If you're like me and want to know what you're looking at, be glad that Corliss will have signs. I carried a white, fuzzy, fragrant flower with me for 10 days before I found someone who could ID it.
The stunning color blend of the house interior has been carried outside into the backyard of Sissy Haskell and Allen High's residence in Port Royal Plantation. Don't be surprised to learn that an interior decorator lives here. "Pretty in Pink" comes to mind, what with the "Knock Out" roses, dozens of impatiens, pentas and more New Guinea impatiens than you could find in a garden center. Sissy loves blue, too; agapanthus, lobelia and salvia plants are interspersed with white lilies and impatiens. Sissy has scattered now-flowering wildflower seed between the garden's border and the adjacent golf course.
At the arboretum at Port Royal Plantation, you'll find 6.6 acres of Lowcountry native plants. Follow woodland paths through a tour of well-marked native plant species. Established in 1966 by island naturalist Orion Hack, the arboretum is planted and maintained by volunteers. The variety of natives seen here is both educational and exciting in its scope.
The Korosi Vegetable and Herb Gardens at Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts are national award winners.
You'll see every vegetable and herb plant that could be growing in the Lowcountry in May. Nadine Korosi is the plant lady here; she plants and maintains the gardens with the school children. Adjacent is the butterfly garden created and maintained by the Avid Gardeners Garden Club.
Did you ever notice that interesting people have interesting gardens? At Anna and Jim Buckingham's residence in Leamington, you'll note Indian Hawthorn in the front and up the wall, and a magnificent Canadian palm.
Jim tells you his favorite plant is a Walter's viburnum and walks you to the backyard where he tells you to turn your back to the house and walk until he says to turn around. You do and "POW," you're in California. You see a replica of a Spanish hacienda fronted by a stone-filled dry creek bed and surrounded by all manner of cactus and succulent plants.
Jim claims that the hardest thing to grow in the landscape is grass. With plants, he says, it's all in the architecture, hence the dwarf Yaupon in interesting shapes, and unusual privet. When Buckingham is not in his garden, he can be found at his restaurant, Bistro 17.
Each pathway you take at the home of Jill and Patrick Graybeal in Sea Pines leads to another landscaping marvel. What a feel for drama this lady has. It's the curves and the grouping of the different textures and stripes, the water feature that looks like nature put it there, and a grouping of seldom seen, red-berried, Florida natives, Ardisia. You'll love the happy snails nestled amongst Durante and ferns. You'll remember the show of 30 flowering pentas grouped together and "Best in Show," a rare, standard Abutilon tree A. pictum with creamy, yellow bells that flowers almost continuously.
To round out the tour you are invited to visit the Gardens of All Saints at All Saints Episcopal Church, 3001 Meeting St., Hilton Head Island.
The Barbara B. Hodges Columbarium, a tranquil garden setting, is to the right of the church.
The Spirit Garden with a Japanese motif is across the parking lot in front of the preschool.
FOR TICKETS Tickets will be available at the church on the day of the event, as well as at numerous retail outlets located on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton, S.C. This years ticket outlets are as follows:
- Hilton Head Island: Nells Harbour Shop (Harbourtown); Le Cookery (Wexford Village); Pretty Papers (Wexford Village); Deli-by-the-Beach (Wexford Village); The Greenery (Rt. 278); Bistro 17 (Shelter Cove); Stephens Pharmacy (Pineland Station); Burkes Pharmacy (Main Street Village); Munchies (Main Street Village); Christies Hallmark (Festival Center); and the All Saints Church Office (Receptionist).
- Bluffton: Christies Hallmark (Belfair Towne Center); Green Thumb Nursery (Rt. 278); Markels Card & Gift (Kitties Crossing Center); Garden Gate Nursery (Historic Bluffton); Maye River Gallery (Historic Bluffton); Sunshine Nursery (Plantation Park); and Bedminster Group (Near Liberty Bank).
The church is located at 3001 Meeting Street, off of Main Street. For more information, please call 843-645-4111 or go to the Garden Tours web site at http://allsaintsgardentour.wordpress.com/.