GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2012 show25
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Show #25/2812
Two Private Charleston Gardens


First Home - Front Garden
ONE OF THE MOST FORMAL ROOMS IN THE HOUSE IS THE FRONT DRAWING ROOM. Mary Carolyn wanted to continue that effect when going out into the garden. When one steps out on the balcony it flows beautifully. This garden is partiered, the plantings are low, they're very manicured and the pavement is bluestone. Bluestone was used extensively in the 1800's. The fountain was added for ambience. It deflects the street noise, providing the setting for a lovely area to sit and view the back of the house.

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Favorite Plants In This Garden
MARY CAROLYN DISCUSSES SOME OF HER FAVORITE PLANTS IN THIS AREA. Osmanthus fragrans (Tea Olives) are underneath the windows of the main house. If one has a garden in Charleston it's almost a given that Tea Olives will be utilized somewhere. Lorapedlum is planted underneath the Tea Olive and is another Charleston favorite. Anchoring the garden in the corners are Lagerstroemia indica 'Cinnamon bark' (Crape Myrtle).

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Garden On Axis With The Walkway
THEY MOVE TO ANOTHER PART OF THE GARDEN. It still has a formal look and the star of the show here is the fountain. It is on axis with the walkway. This is a Bittern (a type of bird) fountain. Mary Carolyn told the landscape architect that she wanted a fountain with frogs on it thus this fountain has frogs but also turtles around the base. In this area Mary Carolyn likes the Rosa 'Knockout' and the Okama Cheery tree. Azaleas are underplanted with the Cherry trees. The Cherry has been easy to care for, no fungus, no leaf spot, they just bloom their little hearts out, she doesn't need to do anything to them.

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Pool Area
MARY CAROLYN AND JOE NEXT VISIT THE POOL AREA. It clearly has a more casual look. This is where they entertain. And because it is less formal it is often their guests favorite spot. Importantly, there is often a breeze in this area. The pool house mimics the architecture of the front of the house, even down to the Palms. They did have to plant Butia capitata 'Pinto palm' because Canary Island Date Palms were not available. The pool is on axis with the wall behind it.

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Second Home - Pathway
TODAY THE 2 HOMES ARE CONNECTED BY A PATHWAY. Gene feels the pathway he designed is logical, it's the way one would walk. He thinks of the pathways as halls. They connect the larger house with the carriage house and the gardens in a logical order. The garden rooms are developed off the halls, just like one would on the inside.

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Carriage House Garden
The garden is also impressive. IT IS MEANT TO REFLECT THE FORMAL CARRIAGE HOUSE, it certainly compliments it. Gene made the garden the width of the carriage house and formalized it with Buxus sempervirens (Boxwood) and other evergreen shrubs. Joe notices there is very little color from flowers in this area. And that came about by trial and error. Gene tried different plants but they were always behind the boxwood trying to peep out and by June they were all waning. Thus, he got tired of flowers and is trying to go green and instead is utilizing various textures. For color he is using Plectranthus and Coleus blumei in containers. These provide a pop of color and right where it's needed. Oftentimes with a formal setting and Boxwoods one must view the plants inside from above. Gene has Olea europaea 'Little Ollie' (Dwarf Olive) growing in between the boxwoods.

Click here for more info

Long Narrow Garden
THE NEXT GARDEN VISITED IS A NARROW STRIP which follows the driveway from the front of the house to the back of the property. Many of us have similar areas, a long and narrow strip. Gene has transformed this strip. On one side is a wall hedge. This hedge was intended to provide privacy, to make this section of the garden private. But, it took a long time to grow this tall. When it was growing Gene kept looking at it and felt it was terribly plain, it had no interest. So he decided to punctuate it with Cupressus sempervirens (Italian Cypress) and it provides a colonnade look. The green of the Cypress and the green of the Ilex X attenuata 'East Palatka' Holly compliment each other and the combination transforms a very flat surface into a more interesting rhythmic wall.

Click here for more info

Island Garden
THEY NEXT TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO THE BEAUTIFUL ISLAND. The end parterres are quatrefoils and they were intended to reflect the windows of the carriage house. The long parterre is really a space filler. One advantage is less grass to mow. These beds have plants that are different than other areas. Gene has limes in pots which he has seen used quite often in Italy. An interesting green plant is Teucrium canadense (Germander). Because it has silvery foliage it contrasts nicely with the bright shininess of the Boxwoods. Gene has done a knot design with the Box. Another great looking area.

Click here for more info


LINKS:

The Inn At Middleton Place

Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau



Complete transcript of the show.


Garden Smart visits Charleston, South Carolina to explore the gardens of 2 historic homes. Joe arrives at the first stop in a horse and carriage in the company of Louisa Cameron. Louisa is native Charlestonian and the author of 2 books on Charleston gardens.
Louisa's garden was on a tour one year when a visitor asked where one could obtain a book on the private gardens of Charleston. In thinking it over Louisa remembered that there was 1 book on the topic but it had been written in the 1950's and was out of date and out of print. The woman suggested that Louisa write a book on this topic and Louisa decided to do just that. Louisa doesn't believe that there is a typical Charleston garden. They're all different. A Charleston garden is dependent on the location, the size and the gardener. Gardens in Charleston are used for many things, but entertaining is high on the list - birthday parties, wedding receptions and more are very popular. Charleston gardens are treated as extra rooms of the house. Many in-town Charleston homes are on smaller properties thus the gardens tend to be smaller. It's easier to have more formality with a smaller garden. Many of these gardens are very private. Some individuals open their gardens to the public during the year for garden tours that benefit charitable organizations but normally they're very private.
In this show Garden Smart visits 2 larger gardens that are more formal and on the same street. One is owned by a local, retired Doctor who has been working on his garden for over a decade. The Doctor designed this garden himself. The other garden is also owned by a Doctor and was designed by a local, well-known, landscape architect, Sheila Wertimer. Both are beautiful.
Joe thanks Louisa for her insight and introduction. Even from the street these gardens are inviting.
We start with the garden owned by Mary Carolyn. Joe certainly wants to see the garden but first wants to know more about the house. It was originally built as a Federal house. Construction was started in 1797 and was finished in 1803. Gail Yard, a rice planter, originally built the house. The house then sold twice and Mr. Shulbrede bought the house in 1820. Mary Carolyn credits him with the magnificent Greek revival portico, the carriage gate, the balustrade, the staircase and the marble entranceway. There is a lot of history to this house. One of the most noteworthy events occurred when General Robert E. Lee was in the home as a guest of the Bennett family in April 1890. He addressed the citizenry of Charleston from the balcony.
Mary Carolyn and her husband started coming to Charleston in 2000 for vacations. When visiting they would always take the Tour of Homes. They decided that they wanted to retire in Charleston and wanted to build a new home but couldn't find land that totally suited them thus started looking in the downtown area. They then found this home and purchased it. It has undergone major renovation. When they purchased the property the gardens were virtually non existent and much of what remained was ruined during renovation. Mary Carolyn approached the renovation of the gardens similarly to that of the house. Louisa Cameron provided inspiration but as well Mary Carolyn did much reading. For example she did research on Mrs. Whaley's garden, a garden of note, that was designed by Loutrel Briggs, a famous landscape architect in Charleston in the 30's. Mary Carolyn's research was instrumental in helping her develop her plant list allowing her to know exactly what would grow in this zone and what would have been typical in this garden during the earlier time. However, it is not exactly a historical garden. She didn't attempt archeological studies. Instead it's her garden, a garden that makes Mary Carolyn happy. Sheila Wertimer, a local, well known landscape architect designed the plan but Mary Carolyn provided her with details. Sometimes she provided too many details, for example when Mary Carolyn's list of plants reached 200, Sheila suggested she stop adding plants.
Mary Carolyn and Joe start the tour. And it is a surprise. From the street it's hidden, like an oasis in the back yard. It clearly provides the feel of a garden room and it has a formal look. And, that was Mary Carolyn's intent.
ONE OF THE MOST FORMAL ROOMS IN THE HOUSE IS THE FRONT DRAWING ROOM. Mary Carolyn wanted to continue that effect when going out into the garden. When one steps out on the balcony it flows beautifully. This garden is partiered, the plantings are low, they're very manicured and the pavement is bluestone. Bluestone was used extensively in the 1800's. The fountain was added for ambience. It deflects the street noise, providing the setting for a lovely area to sit and view the back of the house. Joe feels that they've done a wonderful job of marrying the view of the house with that of the garden. The house is the star of the show but the gardens are a great compliment. And, that was the intent.
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MARY CAROLYN DISCUSSES SOME OF HER FAVORITE PLANTS IN THIS AREA. Osmanthus fragrans (Tea Olives) are underneath the windows of the main house. If one has a garden in Charleston it's almost a given that Tea Olives will be utilized somewhere. Lorapedlum is planted underneath the Tea Olive and is another Charleston favorite. Anchoring the garden in the corners are Lagerstroemia indica 'Cinnamon bark' (Crape Myrtle). These were on the property when they purchased it and they wanted to save them, so throughout the construction process they were babied and they all made it. There are also 2 Magnolias that were originally up against the cookhouse and the main house. They had a tree spade come in an dig them up and move them to this part of the garden because as they had grown they were too close to the house. Underneath are 4 Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm) which were also originally on the property but again not originally in this location but moved to this location. Rhododendron indicum (Azaleas), Camellia japonica, Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) have also been added. Mary Carolyn is a native Texan thus has a fondness for Yaupon. The Hemerocallis (Daylilies) weren't put in the parterre beds because Mary Carolyn didn't think they provided quite the right look. But she put them underneath the window because she has a fondness for Daylilies. Next to those she has Agapanthus africanus which are particularly great when they bloom in the spring. Mary Carolyn also tries to have plants in bloom for as much of the year as possible. In the fall in Charleston there isn't much garden color. Thus she has Chrysanthemum leucanthemum placed strategically around the garden in containers. Before the Chrysanthemums she utilizes Impatiens 'New Guinea' and at Christmas time she'll add Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettias). By always changing out plants one can make sure you have seasonal color most of the year. By a doorway Mary Carolyn has added Begonia 'Dragon Wing Pink' another great way to add seasonal color. There is also a fountain in the area by the Begonias to add a soothing sound and feel.
Top


THEY MOVE TO ANOTHER PART OF THE GARDEN. It still has a formal look and the star of the show here is the fountain. It is on axis with the walkway. This is a Bittern (a type of bird) fountain. Mary Carolyn told the landscape architect that she wanted a fountain with frogs on it thus this fountain has frogs but also turtles around the base. In this area Mary Carolyn likes the Rosa 'Knockout' and the Okama Cheery tree. Azaleas are underplanted with the Cherry trees. The Cherry has been easy to care for, no fungus, no leaf spot, they just bloom their little hearts out, she doesn't need to do anything to them. They bloom in the spring and they have a magnificent pink and white bloom. The Azaleas mimic it because they're also pink. The Cherry trees are great when not in bloom because they still provide structure and they compliment the walkway and the vertical axis.
Top


MARY CAROLYN AND JOE NEXT VISIT THE POOL AREA. It clearly has a more casual look. This is where they entertain. And because it is less formal it is often their guests favorite spot. Importantly, there is often a breeze in this area. The pool house mimics the architecture of the front of the house, even down to the Palms. They did have to plant Butia capitata 'Pinto palm' because Canary Island Date Palms were not available. The pool is on axis with the wall behind it. Originally the fountain was to have been on the same axis but somehow during construction something happened, it was off axis. So they built a wall for the fountain and it is now back on axis. This was an effective way to solve this issue. The keystone at the top of the fountain is marble and was found on the property when digging. By incorporating it into the fountain it not only looks good but incorporates some of the history of the home into the fountain.
Cupressus sempervirens 'Spiral' has been added to this garden. This is their 3rd attempt at finding a plant for this area. The first was Papyrus but Mary Carolyn didn't like that look. The second was English Boxwood that was trimmed into a cone shape. She lived with that for several months, but it, too, wasn't quite right. She finally found the spiral cuts and thinks they work quite well. Because this garden has a more informal setting Mary Carolyn has planted Hydrangea serrata 'Mariesii Variegata'. They appear to have been whacked back quite a bit. Mary Carolyn says over-trimmed is the better description. Fortunately they're forgiving plants and coming back nicely. For seasonal color in this area Mary Carolyn has planted Viola x wittrockiana (Pansies) and Anthirrhinum (Snapdragon) and they look great.
Joe thanks Mary Carolyn for the tour. Both her home and gardens are spectacular.
Joe next visits Dr. Gene Johnson. Again, Joe wants to see the gardens but first wants to know more about his beautiful home. Gene and his wife purchased this home in 1995. At that time it was dilapidated, the roof was going, the house was about ready to cave in. The Historic Charleston Foundation had purchased the property and offered it to him. With their guidance and the services of a very good, competent contractor/conservator they were able to piece it back together. What is here today is probably as close to what was originally here as could be expected. This property is doubly impressive. It isn't just one house, this is a house, a carriage house and is situated on about half an acre, which is large for an in-town home. They actually have 2 separate addresses.
Top


TODAY THE 2 HOMES ARE CONNECTED BY A PATHWAY. Gene feels the pathway he designed is logical, it's the way one would walk. He thinks of the pathways as halls. They connect the larger house with the carriage house and the gardens in a logical order. The garden rooms are developed off the halls, just like one would on the inside. Dr. Johnson is a retired radiologist and thinks there is a correlation between radiology and gardening. With both one deals with the visual recognition of what's correct and what's not correct. But with gardening there is a lot of trial and error, it's certainly not as critical as in radiology. But one should look for things that suit your taste and things that provide a good visual experience. There's a relationship and a balance that should be considered.
Gene and Joe start the tour looking at the carriage house. It is completely different than the main house but stunning. It is a gothic revival carriage house and one of the oldest carriage houses in the city in this style. And, it undoubtedly went over the top architecturally. It has marble surrounds around the windows, quatrefoils and the gothic windows. It's an interesting building and the view from inside looking out is equally impressive.
Top


The garden is also impressive. IT IS MEANT TO REFLECT THE FORMAL CARRIAGE HOUSE, it certainly compliments it. Gene made the garden the width of the carriage house and formalized it with Buxus sempervirens (Boxwood) and other evergreen shrubs. Joe notices there is very little color from flowers in this area. And that came about by trial and error. Gene tried different plants but they were always behind the boxwood trying to peep out and by June they were all waning. Thus, he got tired of flowers and is trying to go green and instead is utilizing various textures. For color he is using Plectranthus and Coleus blumei in containers. These provide a pop of color and right where it's needed. Oftentimes with a formal setting and Boxwoods one must view the plants inside from above. Gene has Olea europaea 'Little Ollie' (Dwarf Olive) growing in between the boxwoods. The two greens are different but work well together. They provide great contrast, the Dwarf Olive has a loose form while the Boxwoods more of a tight form. This provides additional interest and contrast. This area is even more special when one knows the history. In the early 1900's this had been a parking lot, replete with asphalt everywhere. It even had painted lines showing where to park. Gene and his son dug up the asphalt and took it away which was no easy job.
Top


THE NEXT GARDEN VISITED IS A NARROW STRIP which follows the driveway from the front of the house to the back of the property. Many of us have similar areas, a long and narrow strip. Gene has transformed this strip. On one side is a wall hedge. This hedge was intended to provide privacy, to make this section of the garden private. But, it took a long time to grow this tall. When it was growing Gene kept looking at it and felt it was terribly plain, it had no interest. So he decided to punctuate it with Cupressus sempervirens (Italian Cypress) and it provides a colonnade look. The green of the Cypress and the green of the Ilex X attenuata 'East Palatka' Holly compliment each other and the combination transforms a very flat surface into a more interesting rhythmic wall. Because there are some open areas of the hedge, Gene has underplanted with shrubbery and added some ground cover. This fills in any empty spaces and is a clever technique to solve a relatively common problem.
Top


THEY NEXT TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO THE BEAUTIFUL ISLAND. The end parterres are quatrefoils and they were intended to reflect the windows of the carriage house. The long parterre is really a space filler. One advantage is less grass to mow. These beds have plants that are different than other areas. Gene has limes in pots which he has seen used quite often in Italy. An interesting green plant is Teucrium canadense (Germander). Because it has silvery foliage it contrasts nicely with the bright shininess of the Boxwoods. Gene has done a knot design with the Box. Another great looking area.
Joe thanks Gene for the tour. His gardens are spectacular, even more so considering their history and reclamation.
In this show we visited 2 spectacular private gardens. Both were formal in design yet both provided a relaxing feel. Dr. Johnson said that the relaxed feel was his goal in designing his gardens and that is what most feel when visiting. Formal gardens are a classic idea. In our own gardens we can achieve the same results. To do so, utilize several objectives - simplicity, limited plant palette and repetition. By doing this it's not complicated and easy to apply. There was little use of actual flower color to create interest in these gardens. Yet they were interesting gardens. These are lessons we can all apply to our gardens.
Top



LINKS:

The Inn At Middleton Place

Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau


   
 
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