Glorious gardens

Avant-Gardeners tour takes guests through some of Sun City's best backyards

Special to The Sun City PacketMay 30, 2013 

A three-tiered fountain is the focal point of a plant bed facing a view of a golf course at the home of Jim and Gerri Lagoy in Sun City Hilton Head. The fountain is surrounded by palms, Indian hawthorn and knockout roses.

PHOTO BY ELEANOR O'SULLIVAN

On May 20, guests on Sun City Hilton Head's Avant-Gardeners 13th annual tour were treated to seven homeowners' personalized gardens, plus a look at the hummingbird and butterfly garden, which is maintained by the Avant-Gardeners Club and by the Bird Club of Sun City.

The Avant-Gardeners' tours are open to 350 ticket holders; most guests are Sun City residents said tour chairman, Eileen Lehrer. Proceeds from this years tour went to the butterfly and hummingbird gardens in Sun City.

Whimsical beauty Whimsy merged with beauty at the home of Jim and Gerri Lagoy, where stepping stones embedded with green glass turtles led visitors to a three-tier fountain surrounded by palms, Indian hawthorns and knock-out roses.

Like a number of homeowners on the garden tour, the Lagoys enjoy mixing and matching, so their garden is a lively melding of blue plumbago, pink New Guinea impatiens, bottle brush, various shades of lantana and purple ageratum.

"The garden is a lot of work, and we learned pretty quickly that the plants that work in the north don't work here,'' Gerri Lagoy said.

Colorful palette At the home of Dennis and Karen Stosak, hanging planters spilling over with red camellias were just the beginning of a plethora of colors and textures.

"Everything you see we've done ourselves. I like flowers and I like color. My pride and joy is my cutting garden,'' Karen Stosak said.

A buttery yellow David Austin English rose, Tamora, made for an interesting contrast with multi colored zinnias, gerbera daisies, osteospermum and diplodina.

Surprise sanctuary A big surprise awaited visitors to the home of Bev Jarrett, who tends to every single cranesbill, geranium, autumn fern, grape leaf mahonia, viola, crepe myrtle, society garlic and cut leaf coneflower on a property nearly a half acre in size. As visitors enter the property, it is narrow; as visitors approach the backyard, the property fans out to sizable proportions, culminating at a serene backdrop of dense woods that provide color, line and cooling shade.

"Five years ago, I started taking courses and going on garden tours. I do everything myself. It's my sanctuary. I don't think or worry about anything else when I'm back here,'' Jarrett said.

Sense of humor shines A lovely garden is accentuated by the delightful sense of humor of its owners, Bill and Jeannie Mahaffey. They have interspersed their calm and comforting backyard garden, set on pavers and highlighted by hefty stones, with statuary and sculpture. George Carruth's stone sculptures of gnarly and smiling faces can be found, with careful looking, on trees and tucked into shrubs. Angel Audrey can be seen from the couple's bedroom window, as can a bench with gaily colored throw pillows set at the edge of the woods.

A bird paradise Noah and Mary Helen Rosenstein deliberately crafted their garden to attract birds, as Mary Helen is the president of the Sun City Bird Club. Buddleia, or butterfly bushes, flourish as do gardenias, elephant ears, azaleas, tropical plants and gaillardia. At the rear of the property, overlooking a lagoon framed by deep woods, the couple have spotted bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, great egrets, great blue herons, green herons, swallow tailed kites, cardinals and red-winged blackbirds, not to mention a family of alligators resting at the banks of the lagoon.

Flowers and vegetables Ed and Ginny Quill have a corner garden that frames a shaded patio. There, a red umbrella matches rows of million bells, sea lavender, ice plants, hot lips salvia, jasmine and sweet pea. And on the table sits a bowl of bright yellow squash that Ed grew himself.

"I like flowers,'' Ginny Quill said.

"It's all her effort for me to enjoy,'' Ed Quill said.

Tropical garden The home of Vince and Karen Taylor has a dramatic tropical garden defined in classic borders, a sloping back yard that leads to the second largest lagoon in Sun City, and stately palm trees. They have dedicated palms at the entrance to the back garden to her parents, who died within a year of one another.

"This is the start of our little paradise,'' Karen Taylor said, gesturing to the front of the garden.

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