Compiled by Kelly Oden, Photography by Hana Frenette and Guy Stevens
Each year, the Pensacola Federation of Garden Clubs chooses six homeowners who open their beautiful gardens to the public for a weekend of inspiration and education. The Secret Gardens Tour presents six unique and beautiful private residential gardens, selected for their creativity, use of native plants, stunning garden features and interesting horticulture specimens. This year’s tour ran the weekend of May 20 and was very well attended. For those of you who couldn’t make, Pensacola Magazine brings you the highlights of the six splendid gardens. This year’s gardens offered splendid rose gardens, native landscaping, funky, salvaged décor, and more. We hope it inspires you to go play in the dirt and to attend next year’s Secret Gardens Tour.
Debbie and Stan Barnard
The Barnard’s garden covers over 20 acres and uses salvaged Pensacola memorabilia in the design. Mature overhanging oaks reminiscent of an old southern plantation flank the driveway entrance. Raised vegetable gardens are uniquely framed by old concrete Pensacola street signs. The whimsically decorated potting shed, working barn and greenhouse are stocked with bromeliads and roofed with antique salvaged windows. An old church cross backs a private pet cemetery with an engraved arch. Two enormous church steeples, old brick pillars and a set of red brick stairs housing potted succulents create flow to help visitors navigate the property. An observation platform overlooks a tranquil pond that attracts ducks and a low-lying cypress swamp. A natural wonderland, the Barnard garden is certified by the National Wildlife Federation.
Bill Norman’s garden is maintained as a Naturalist garden. It boasts a koi pond with flowing waterfall and a greenhouse on site. Rocking chairs and bench offer resting spots around the pond. Several fruit trees, such as Ruby Red grapefruit, Naval orange, Key Lime and Myer Lemon adorn the landscape. There are many appealing features in this relaxed and relaxing butterfly-friendly garden. Almost everywhere there is some variety of milkweed for monarch butterflies. The Norman yard is focused on serenity and is a sanctuary for most critters who choose to visit them. They welcome the butterflies, birds, bees, snakes, turtles and almost anything else that chooses to visit, eat, drink, or rest with them.
Glenn Schulman’s residential garden is resplendent with exhibition roses in raised beds. Glenn’s rose garden does not look like a typical garden variety garden! He grows roses to enter into competition at rose shows throughout the South. This stunning display of roses is a delight for all the senses. Over 12 expansive raised beds hold over 200 roses in every type and color.
Chip and Diane Frost
The Frost’s garden can be found in a well-established neighborhood off of Scenic Highway. A large circular driveway holds a stunning and prominent water fountain. A riot of color results from roses, petunias, blue salvia, society garlic, verbena, agapanthus, begonias, and other plants surrounding the water feature. On the right side of the driveway stand two large Bradford pear trees and a cherry blossom tree, underlain by Cleyera japonica and Encore azaleas. Deep blue salvia line the east fence, along with numerous varieties of interest-catching multicolored foliage on the way into the backyard through the wrought iron gate. The back garden is expertly landscaped with a tremendous variety of horticulture. This acre of property also holds a workshop, a greenhouse, and a treehouse. The colors, variety, aromas, and natural sounds are sure to inspire and delight any garden lover!
Scott Brady and Chuck G. Lewis
The goal for the owners of this East Hill residence is to create a traditional landscape of mainly indigenous plants in a residential neighborhood. Being named as the Residential Garden for the Longleaf Pine Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society means that they have succeeded. This garden, found south of Cervantes, features labeled Native plants that are best suited for the Pensacola climate. Plants include pollinators and butterfly attractors and are chosen for drought tolerance and low maintenance. Look closely, and the milkweed garden will be a caterpillar heaven. Replacement turf, such as perennial peanut is used in place of turf grasses. Native palmettos, varied rosemary shrubs, and a rare pink Titi tree frame the walkway and offer privacy to the homeowners. Redbuds and a gorgeous Japanese maple are statement specimens. A beautiful travertine walkway leads to the backyard pool and pool house where scattered pots hold kitchen herbs.
Quint and Rishy Studer
Rishy and Quint Studer’s gorgeous circa 1937 estate home boasts a completely renovated garden. Situated on Bayou Texar waterfront, it is just minutes from Pensacola Bay. Multiple stairways and landings offers shade and plenty of spots to sit and rest or to just enjoy the water view. The gentle slope of the property is covered with aromatic jasmine and several fragrant sweet olive trees. A beautiful waterfall feature tumbles into a small pond. Flanking the pond is a rock staircase, providing one way to ascend back up the slope to the main house. Mature olive trees, saucer sized leopard plants, and native Oak leaf hydrangeas offer interest. An observation tower with spiral staircase allows those willing to climb a panoramic view of the bay. A brick outdoor fireplace, tranquil pool and pool house, boat dock with lift and kayak hut add functionality to the sophisticated setting.