Spring has definitely sprung in the Golden Isles. With temperatures set to hover around 90 degrees this weekend, it seems high time to shake off the winter doldrums and enjoy some sunshine.
It’s a cheery start to the season, one that will likely draw many a gardener out to spruce up their lawns and flower beds over the next few weeks. And for those in need a little inspiration, one annual event on the horizon will be offering just that.
The 15th Annual Tabby & Tillandsia Cassina Garden Walk will return this year from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24. Eight St. Simons Island homes will be featured including properties in the Island Club at Retreat, Black Banks, Sea Palms West and Hampton.
For co-chairs Judie Mattie and Julie Sellers, the return of the tour, which was shelved last year, is a huge relief.
“At the beginning of this year we were not even sure that we could have the garden walk. We so hated to cancel for the second year. The club considered a virtual tour, but we know everyone was eager to get outside and enjoy the beautiful gardens on our island,” Sellers said.
“We are really looking forward to our traditional outdoor event. We know that our community is ready for some fresh air.”
Mattie agrees, noting that the nature of the walk lends itself to safety.
“The entire community is so enthusiastic to have a COVID-free event. The Cassina Garden Club is excited to present nine fabulous gardens to enjoy. Being outside strolling this beautiful island touring the gardens is a great way to welcome spring,” Mattie said.
Tickets to tour the gardens will be $30 in advance and $35 on tour day. They’re available at ACE Garden Center, GJ Ford Bookshop and St. Simons Drug Co. or online at cassinagardenclub.org. Tickets can also be purchased or picked up at will call at table at the tabby cabins, 1195 Arthur J. Moore Drive in Gascoigne Bluff on St. Simons Island.
Cassina’s Garden Walk Plant Sale and silent auction will take place at the same location. Tours of the cabins will also be available. A food truck will be onsite and local singer Annie Akins will provide entertainment at the post-tour garden party.
Proceeds will help maintain and preserve tabby cabins and gardens. Current CDC COVID-19 guidelines will be in place.
Descriptions of the locations can be found below. To protect the privacy of the homeowners, addresses will only be made available prior to the self-guided tour:
• Marsh View Cottage: This home, which overlooks Bloody Marsh, boasts a variety of foliage and florals including blue plumbago, giant ligularia and pots of spaghetti yucca plants. The property boasts a lagoon that attracts local wildlife and a screened porch which contains a hearth featuring wrought iron from the owner’s grandmother’s home.
• Shady Oasis: Ferns and a canopy of towering oaks offer shade and comfort throughout the front garden. In the backyard, there’s espaliered sasanqua camellias, colorful plantings and an artificial turf, which provides a year-round green lawn. There’s also an artist’s studio that will be available for viewing.
• Villa Bellagio: This Italian villa is situated on a lake found at northern end of the island. The property contains four acres, which includes tennis courts, a resort-size pool and multiple terraces. Colorful planters overflowing with flowers also dot the property.
• Riverside Retreat: This low country design is located on the ruins of the original Hampton Plantation. Crepe myrtles and antique wheelbarrows filled with colorful annuals flank the front door. In addition to the garden, the ownerwill offer a peek in the home, where an extensive array of 18th and 19th century French, English and American antiques and ceramics are on display. An aviary of Australian and African finches is also a highlight of the home.
• Cozy Colonial: This home’s Southern garden hosts mature camellias, stunning magnolias and live oaks. Stepping stones salvaged from Brunswick’s Oglethorpe Hotel lead to the back garden, where an inviting guesthouse, pool and large veranda await visitors.
• Black Banks Bungalow: The grounds of this property feature mature live oaks, pots of colorful plantings and flowering beds of sago palms. A screened patio leads to the pool and cabana, which features a fireplace and an intricate herringbone design on the floor.
• White Columns: This marsh-front home boasts a path to an archway leads to a secret garden with mirrored trellises as well as. A stacked stone koi pond that is surrounded by native ferns. The path ends at the home’s swimming pool with Parisian-inspired mirrored trellises and gaslit sconces.
• Family Affair at Retreat: This Island Club home has a porte-cochere surrounded by a circular design of sago palms and liriope. A patio features a fountain and terra cotta planters lush with Bougainvillea. The large outdoor space features a double-sided fireplace, containers of colorful bird-of-paradise and golf course views. The pool area is edged with palms, white drift roses and a podocarpus hedge with three vertical statuary fountains offering plenty of privacy.
• Butterfly Garden at Demere Park: The Butterfly Garden at Demere Park has was designed in 2019 with more than 200 new plantings to encourage visits by the four butterfly species that call St. Simons Island home. A local artist has painted stationery butterflies to fly throughout the garden and represent the monarchs, tiger swallowtails, gulf fritillaries and painted ladies found there. The garden, redesigned and maintained by Live Oak Garden Club, is enjoyed by walkers and families throughout the year.