An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

July 3, 2013

Private Garden Tour, Part II

     The north end of the Virginia Beach oceanfront was once a place where families from elsewhere in the state had their summer homes. Come Labor Day, these cottages were closed up for the season and stayed unoccupied until the following May. Although some of that tradition still occurs, most of the homes are now lived in year round.

      The third stop on our tour, the MacKinlay garden, has been in the current owner's family for decades, in fact, she grew up in the house. She converted the garage in the back to a carriage house, where she now lives, and has left the main house, and all of its memories, available to her daughters as the family beach house. I found the landscaping around this home very appropriate to the smaller scale of this cottage-like home. Unlike so many other homes, this one does not have a green mustache of evergreen foundation shrubs planted across the front. Rather, it has a mix of annuals, perennials and groundcovers, with the occasional evergreen thrown in too. This mix carries around to the side garden and into the back, where the garden and carriage house have more of a courtyard feel. As much as I love a grand estate, there is nothing like a small garden done right.

MacKinlay Garden (9)

     The petunia is 'Pretty Much Picasso' which came out several years ago. This is the first time I have seen it used where I liked it, and I think that's because it shares its space with Sedum 'Angelina'.
MacKinlay Garden (11)

MacKinlay Garden (17)

MacKinlay Garden (13)

MacKinlay Garden (10)

MacKinlay Garden (8)

     The tree up against the fence is a large Persea borbonia, known as red bay here.  This coastal plain native is endangered, and it is at its northerly limit here in southeastern Virginia.
MacKinlay Garden

MacKinlay Garden (2)

MacKinlay Garden (5)

MacKinlay Garden (18)

     Osteospermum and Lisianthus (Eustoma)
MacKinlay Garden (16)

MacKinlay Garden (4)

MacKinlay Garden (14)

     My next post will take us to a home that is as bold and dramatic, as this one is quaint and charming. If you would like to see part I of our tour, you can click here.


  1. I'm stuck on that petunia. In close-up with the Angelina sedum, it's nice enough that I can almost forgive it for being a petunia. But I'm stuck. I usually hate petunias in all forms. Open my mind.

  2. Sweet garden and perfect for the house!

  3. Refreshing....It's always nice to see other real gardens in this area and what they are growing. Love the Redbay and it's focus, a plant almost forgotten here and in local garden circles. I get to plant a few of them every couple of years and am excited folks like them. In westside Norfolk, where I grew up, there are bunches of old, old Redbay specimens, some with 20+ inch trunks and as healthy as the day they were planted.

  4. Oh, this was a GOOD one! I especially love the photo with the brick path (or is it patio)...And the colors/flowers are so attractive and well distributed....

  5. I'm a sucker for garden folly...loved the rustic bench and garden tools on the wall. Creeping Fig covered the brick to my childhood home so adore that. The red bridge, water in the gardens. All good.

  6. Lovely. I love garden follies too !

  7. I love how they use the stones, ground covers and other plants to make a real tapestry that seems all of one piece.

  8. I absolutely love that small foliage bed with the Dichondra and white Caladiums! The brick walk, gate, shorebird sculpture-so much interest packed into such a little bit of space.

  9. Yes, the petunia with the sedum is a great pairing. Love the blue birdbath....what a great color with the chartreuse foliage.