Sunday, December 6, 2009

Guest Garden - Even in Winter

As the first [very] light snow hit Central Virginia yesterday, I needed to think of warmer places and one of my favorites is Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We have been spending Thanksgiving there for the past ten or so years. Some years we get balmy 70's and some years it's not quite so nice, but usually warmer and sunnier than here.

This year we were not lucky. A low pressure cell was hanging just out to sea, and the entire mid-Atlantic coast - even as far south as South Carolina - was cool and rainy. We had good enough weather to play tennis every morning, but never set foot on the beach - not even to walk - because it just wasn't nice enough. However, in visiting all our favorite places on the island, we found a new one - the Compass Rose park.

Apparently the original development company for the island was named Compass Rose, and this new "green space" is named in honor of that founding presence. [See logo design above.] We saw the park under construction last fall and it will be several years before the vegetation is mature and full-sized, but it has interesting bones and will be lovely in a couple of years - and on a sunny day!!

The park is an interesting blend of hard scape and water features (ponds, falls, bubblers and sprinklers with wide walkways that are easily accessible to handicapped individuals) and areas planted with native plants. In late November there was little in bloom, but one can easily see how pretty it will be "in season" and how easy to maintain it is.

The water features are filled with taro, dwarf papyrus and pickerel rush. I was a bit surprised not to see lotus or water lilies, but they may have chosen plants with less summer spread, since they have such a long growing season. There is also an interesting blend of natural beds with the very "constructed" waterways that are concrete and stone and all very "straight-lined". When it's mature I think the plants will soften the harsh edges in a very nice way and create a neat contrast.

As you can see, the main thing blooming right now is pansies. [What would we do in the south without our pansies for color in the late fall and early spring?] I did find one azalea with a few blooms and one day lily what clearly had lost track of the seasons, but otherwise, it was purple and white pansies. But look at all that white concrete wall and all that water and imagine first hawthorn and then azaleas in bloom next spring - gorgeous!


There is one other Hilton Head sight that I want to share with you. Like other places in the deep south decorating for Christmas creates a fun juxtaposition. Many of the developments had not started their decorating yet, so I had to look for a place to take this photo to share with you. How can you not love blooming spring flowers (see the pink begonias in the foreground and the dusty miller in the middle) and the ribboned Christmas garland? By now many of the entrances have added lights, wreathes and candles - wish I were there to see it!

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