Congratulations to the 2011 All Saints Episcopal Church garden team who put together this year's annual tour. Of the six gardens chosen to be shown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, one is on Hilton Head Island and the others in Bluffton, an easy distance to traverse in fewer than four hours.
You might start with Memory Matters, the safe haven for those with Alzheimer's disease that's located on the corner of William Hilton Parkway and Squire Pope Road, or one of two gardens located in Sun City's Riverbend.
The walled-in garden at Memory Matters has been carefully landscaped by Carolyn's Landscaping and Nursery with benches, raised beds for easy planting, urns, a large fountain and other decorative features given by the Hilton Head Island Council of Garden Clubs and its member clubs.
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A PIECE OF ENGLAND
In Colleton River Plantation you'll visit the home of Derrick and Sue Key for "A Piece of England" with a view of the Colleton River beyond the swimming pool that's surrounded by colorful gardens.
Container buffs will note the unusual planted containers and the striking evergreen plantings of variegated Euonymus and Monstera philodendron. Fragrant Confederate jasmine climbs the archway trellis.
THE SECRET GARDEN
The "Secret Garden" at Kathy and Wayne Corley's residence in Berkeley Hall is not the first secret garden to be shown on the All Saints Garden Tour, but it is without doubt the most dramatic.
Those gardeners who spend much garden time pruning our fast-growing shrubbery will note the manicured evergreens, green and shiny with new growth at the front entrance. Then the door opens, and POW! No more will I tell; it would spoil the surprise.
"The Castle" is a 15,000-square-foot Tuscan-inspired "Manor on the Okatie River" and the home of John Cardone. Plan to spend some time here; the sheer number of gardens and planters make for a dazzling sight. The walk to the water, edged with huge live oaks, has been planted with native grasses, oak leaf hydrangeas, saw palmettos and evening primroses.
The pool garden, side yard gardens and front courtyard are planted with Easter lilies, gerbera daisies, geraniums, roses, marigolds, coleus, dahlias, Dusty miller, petunias, salvias and impatiens -- and that's the short list. Cardone's not sure how many plants are flowering, a couple of hundred maybe? Bring a pen and paper.
LA DOLCE VITA
"La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) Sanctuary" of Toni LaRose and Ron Gerken is a Tuscan estate on the banks of the Okatie River. LaRose has an eye for the unusual in design and color that makes the walk around this estate a delight.
You're sure to come away with new ideas for your own garden. It might be the mix of colors at the entryway around the fountain or in handsome containers; the oak leaf hydrangeas used as foundation plantings (it works); or a backyard pergola with hanging baskets of purple Mona lavender and crimson mandevilla.
Mary Anne and Fred Gebler call their garden in Riverbend a "Gardener's Garden." I call it a "Four Hands On Garden." Every single plant in their cultivated yard -- trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals -- has been planted and nurtured by both. Mary Anne has run with her favorite colors of white, pink and yellow in groups of annuals throughout the yard.
These two seek out the unusual. They found a nursery in Springfield, Ga., that supplies Hymas and Abide-A-While garden centers in Charleston. It's given their garden the new and unusual. There's a weeping loropetalum, dwarf white pentas plants, "Soft Touch" holly, foxgloves and balloon flowers. This is cool: The Geblers spent cold January days working on their plant markers of small, clay plant saucers.