This week we visit the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island Georgia. Kevin Mclean is an extraordinary horticulturist and in charge of the beautiful gardens and landscape.
We first visit a sunken garden at Crane Cottage. This garden is 2-3 feet below the regular grade and provides a feeling that is totally different from the surrounding space. This sunken garden is particularly hot because there is less circulation. It is designed with a lot of structure not only in the hardscape, the bricks and paths, but the plants as well. To create this formal look Kevin has used Japanese boxwoods and placed them in an "X" formation. This provides geometric shapes, diamonds and triangles for additional plantings. The Japanese Boxwoods were chosen because they are slow growing. They are a dwarf plant and won't get much taller than 3-4 feet tall. He keeps them clipped to about 18 inches and trims them every 3-4 weeks. This keeps their pattern tight and creates a nice formal, symmetrical look. In between, in the diamond area, in the front he has planted Salvia, Victoria Blue. As well, Marigolds have been used for their striking effect, something that jumps out. These Marigolds have a pillow effect. That has been accomplished by using two different types of French Marigolds, this gives a layering, relaxed or a billowing effect. This contrasts with the formal structure of the Boxwoods. In areas like this that are arid or have well drained soil Lavender, Lavandula works well. Kevin has chosen Fern Leaf Lavender. He likes the bloom quality, the scent and the fact that the flower is blue. He is bringing blue flowers into this area because he doesn't see a lot of blue in gardens presently. Additionally the leaf has a silver, almost white tint which works well with the white walls. In the evening or nighttime the silver and white reflect the moonlight which adds to the beauty of the garden. It also works well in this area because weddings are held in this garden and these colors typically don't clash with the bride's colors. Kevin has combined two tough-as-a-boot plants and made them look like one. Artemesia, Powis Castle, has nice silver foliage and the second plant is Gaura, Siskiyou Pink. It is a great plant, blooms season round, lasting into the fall. It doesn't require much cleaning. This combination with light pink and strong silver go well together, they provide a soft pastel look, pleasing to the eye. As well, since this is a warm space with a lot of sun, hot colors like reds or oranges would make one feel warmer and they would tend to bleach out. In the long bed he has used Boxwoods, then on the outside used a larger variety of perennials with different layers and a looser plant material. The pathways are Oyster shells which have been used here historically. This building has several beautiful water features. They bring a sense of coolness to the garden.
In hot arid parts of the country one of the biggest gardening challenges is lack of water. Plant selection becomes crucial. Select native plants. What grows in your area without any help? Good choices for about any part of the country are Ash or Honey Locusts. Most Oaks are great choices for low water situations. For small or flowering trees consider Buckeye, Dogwoods, Hawthornes or Junipers. Many of these are exotics, they came from other parts of the world where there was a lack of water, but they work great here. Native perennials work well in low water use gardens. Baptisia or Purple Cone Flower are great choices for low water situations and make an interesting addition to a perennial border.
Kevin shows us another garden. This is surrounded by a loggia or balcony. It is a courtyard garden at Crane Cottage and is part of a working restaurant. It has seating areas surrounding the garden. One problem, since it is an enclosed garden, is that it has down spouts from the roof lines feeding into the area. This creates drainage issues with the turf. In one area the turf is perfect, in another the grass is suffering. Kevin has used Star Jasmine to hide the drain pipes. It has a beautiful white flower which is fragrant. It's a vigorous vine that needs trimmed now and then. It will trail around the down spout, every now and then they may wrap it around but it seems to cling to anything it wants. When brushed against, it releases an aroma into the air. It can also be used as a ground cover. Some of the new foliage has Interveinal Clerosis. This area has a sandy soil, it drains quickly, probably creating a Magnesium deficiency, it is often seen in this location. It doesn't seem to be destroying or harming the plant, just causing some aesthetic concerns, so not a tremendous concern. This plant, with the surrounding architecture creates a very comfortable feeling. Kevin has also chosen Nearly Wild Rose for this location. It is a good choice because of its' blooming quality. It blooms all summer and into the fall. It is a nice single bloom, a beautiful color. This rose is more tolerant of shade , disease and insects. Even though this area has high humidity it doesn't get much Blackspot. It was placed in this particular area to keep people from cutting through and trampling the grass. It has thousands of thorns and they let people, animals, etc. know that through traffic is not welcome. It's a little shrub, doesn't need supported and will grow to about 3 feet tall. It is a great choice.
Mosquitoes are a real frustration and problem. If you like spending time outside, Mosquitoes can ruin your evening. Kevin is using a fairly new machine to combat these pesky critters. This machine uses propane, just like we use on a gas grill. The propane is burned and it produces Carbon Dioxide and heat just like our body. It has an impeller which causes a sucking in rather than blowing out. The mosquitoes are attracted to the heat and Carbon Dioxide, they come to the space where the impeller is sucking in and get trapped. This particular machine will cover about an acre of land and takes about 3 weeks to clear the area of Mosquitoes. But after that amount of time there will be a dramatic reduction in the female population - the females bite. This is a professional model and costs about $1,200. There are home models that cost about $300-500 and they cover a smaller space.
Georgia Raimondi is visiting today with Mark Mariani, a noted landscape developer. Mark says a landscape developer is a person who comes onto somebody's property and makes their dreams come true. Mark has certainly done this with his own home. Today Mark will introduce us to pergolas. A pergola is a covered structure that takes you to a place. His pergolas are on each side of the pool. They provide some shade and are covered with Roses and Wisteria and provide a sense of framing. When standing on the terrace you see the pergolas, they draw the eye in and out. It takes you to a place with your eye that you might not see if the space were open. In Mark's case there are beautiful vistas framed by the pergolas. His pergola's are made with stone columns and oak timber beams. The stone is a mixture of granite and fieldstone both local to the area. The Wisteria is climbing all over the pergola. Since Wisteria is invasive, Mark cuts it back hard every year. He cuts it back hard in the winter, then a little when the new growth hardens in July. To maximize the flowers he root-prunes the root structure. Root-pruning is cutting back the roots, by doing this it develops double the flowers. More energy goes into the plant instead of into the root system. The Roses are a little behind because of the late winter. Petunias are placed in hanging baskets. They add vertical interest and color. Periodically place them in the sun, since it's a little shady for them underneath the pergola. The Wisteria grows and blooms, then the roses, then the Petunias are the only color. It is beautiful.
We often think that a formal garden requires a lot of space. Kevin shows us a garden that is small and intimate, yet formal. By using repetition a nice formal courtyard garden has been created in a small space. By repetition he means - there is a repeated use of circles and diamonds. All accomplished by using the same plants in the same pattern. There is a pond, the circles repeat the shape of the pond and there is a circle behind the pond. There is turf around the pool but mulch or another material could also be utilized. It depends on your preference for maintenance and do you want green or another color. This is a well behaved garden, very structured, it feels like it fits the space. It would work well in an apartment or condominium. In any small space it gives a sense of order. And it's low maintenance. Kevin, in this garden, has used Pennisetum Rubrum, Red Fountain Grass. It works well in most climates, it has beautiful foliage, nice blooms of purplish, reddish flowers. It grows to 18-24 inches tall and goes great with the strong Chartreuse Alteranthera or Joseph's Coat. This looks great in the summer, in the fall it really pops full of color as it gets cooler. Another plant Tropicana Canna is fairly new on the market, it is used for it's foliage as much as for its flower. The flower is a bright orange but he foliage is also stunning. Gaura, Siskiyou Pink is the same as earlier and comes in white and pink. The pink is a hybrid and probably reverting back to the original plant that was white. It softens the wall. Creeping fig is also softening the brightness of the wall. Kevin next shows us a woodlands garden. It is more casual. Originally there was nothing but a Live Oak and Cedar tree in this area. Since people were strolling by on the walkway, Kevin felt the area needed something appealing to the eye, some foliage plants were needed. He added an autumn Fern. It is a great plant with beautiful foliage. The color is always changing in the plant. In the spring it has a pink or coppery color, in the summer strong, green, pointed frawns and in the fall a darker green with some of the new bronze foliage coming out, in the winter it is dark green and the spores on the bottom are bright red. It is a fern with four seasons of interest. It is hardy, surviving in zones 2-9, so it can be used almost anywhere. It doesn't get much higher than 2 feet tall.
Another of Kevin's gardens has half walls. It is symmetrical, very formal and has a homey, comfortable feel. The half walls allow one to borrow a view of surrounding areas. The backdrop has Bamboo, Palms and Magnolias. The walls give a sense of intimacy, yet allows one to have another layer behind the walled garden. It is symmetrical. He has used Scaviolla or Scaevola, Purple Fan Flower. It is a beautiful plant, spring or summer. It blooms non-stop, has a trailing habit, works well in containers or beds and is deer resistant. It has a little, tiny bit of yellow in the center. He has mixed in some Marigolds to tie that in. He again has used a Boxwood. It reminds Dr. Rick of an English garden, the partier effect. Plants were placed in the center, not for protection but to provide a nice, aesthetic look. To add visual interest, Kevin has added tree-form Crepe Myrtles. In the evening these are uplighted to raise the eye. He prunes these every winter, usually about January. They are pruned to keep them full at the top and they keep everything stripped down at the base to give them a tree-formed effect. The garden is structured but because each tree is different provides informality. In the center is a fountain. It's a non working fountain, basically still water. It provides a sense of calm, it's very soothing.
Another garden used to be a reflecting pool but its been turned into a beautiful garden. Since it was a reflecting pool they're using bog-type plants. Most of the plants are tolerant of wetter soil. Kevin has used a variety of annuals and perennials. Brugmansia, Angels Trumpet, which used to be called Detura is a perennial. They leave it outside, cut it to the ground in the fall, mulch it heavily and it comes back every year. It will grow to 6 feet tall, possibly taller. It makes a nice addition to any garden with its large flowers, the flowers only last a day but there are always more coming on. It is filled with flowers all summer and into the fall. It is a heavy feeder. Kevin gives it liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks.
Dr. Rick thanks Kevin for showing us these beautiful gardens. We appreciate all his hard work.