After a morning of speakers and a full afternoon of touring gardens, it sure seemed early when the alarm clock bounced me out of bed the second morning of the Grand Garden Show. I’d looked at the agenda for the second day already though, so I knew we had another fantastic day ahead . . . and we weren’t disappointed!
Australian Jamie Durie, who hosted HGTV’s The Outdoor Room for five seasons, several garden shows on PBS, and regularly appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show following his first appearance on the show in 2006, was the second day’s keynote speaker. Jamie shared great ideas and dazzled us with a presentation of work he has done around the globe, including Australia, the USA, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia and the UK.
The speaker we couldn’t wait to hear that morning though was our very own Jack Barnwell, a Mackinac Island gardener who, with his crew, has created many of the gorgeous landscapes we’ve been seeing on Mackinac for the last several years and ALL of the gardens included in the Grand Garden tour. Jack admits to being addicted to gardening. A few years ago – with a taped-together watering can and a borrowed cart – he began his island business, Barnwell Landscape and Garden, Inc., and he hasn’t slowed down since!
If you’ve ever been to Mackinac and visited the Iroquois Hotel, you know the beauty of their gardens. That was Jack’s first island project, and it was awarded a Proven Winners Signature Garden Award, an honor bestowed on only a few other gardens in the country. More on the Iroquois garden later in this post.
Jack and his team is responsible for the annual planting and maintenance of thousands of flats of flowers and specializes in innovative displays in garden beds, containers, and window boxes. As you can imagine, he shared some wonderful stories about dealing with the unique challenges of running this kind of business where motor vehicles are banned.
If you “like” Barnwell Landscape and Garden Services – a Mackinac Island Based Company on Facebook, you will have privy to awesome videos of some of Jack’s projects on the island. One of my favorites is about the morning each spring when all the hanging baskets arrive on the island and are hung downtown BEFORE the break of dawn!
In a break-out session, we heard Kerry Ann Mendez speak on The Right-Size Flower Garden. What a wealth of information Kerry Ann was!
We headed downtown on our bikes for lunch, knowing the three gardens we’d missed the first day would all be within biking distance of each other.
After fortifying ourselves with lunch at the Gatehouse, we headed for our first stop downtown – this beautiful blue cottage on the west end of town.
It seemed everything about this home’s landscape was about graceful curves . . . the flower beds, the walkway, . . .
. . . and even the custom-designed entrance into the home’s back yard.
What a beautiful and relaxing space.
Now here’s the part of this landscape that just blew me away. They trimmed all the trees across the back of the property from the ground up several feet. Then they took the limbs they’d trimmed, stripped them of twigs and leaves, and WOVE them into a fence!
No ties, no attachments. They used the natural setting as the base and wove the limbs around standing trees to create the privacy barrier. How cool is that!!
The entrance to the Iroquois Hotel’s Carriage House Restaurant.
It’s easy to see how this garden won its prestigious Signature Garden award!
Layer after layer of flower pockets wind up and down the path to the restaurant.
And then around the corner and through the side yard, you come to . . .
. . . this amazing area where you may choose to dine outside by the water.
The Monarchs seemed to approve also.
Our final stop was this stately downtown cottage.
The owners have several vintage carriages, which they use on a regular basis – drawn by their magnificent Friesian horses.
The entire landscape is an array of color . . .
. . . so many colors you could spend hours just trying to decipher where one ends and another begins.
The side yard is no less spectacular than the back.
. . . but it is this view – as seen by the owners everyday from their front yard . . . that captures all the magic of summer gardens on Mackinac Island.
A huge thank you to Grand Hotel for allowing me to tag along and chronicle the 3rd annual Grand Garden Show. This year the Grand sold completely out of rooms for this two-day event, and next year’s show, set for August 28-30, 2016 is already taking reservations. Why not treat yourself and book into the Grand for the show? Your rate will include all the speakers and tours described here for the two days, as well as other events that are open only to those who are guests of the Grand.
Let’s all go!