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Hi all! I’m just back from my annual journey (via sailboat) to Mackinac Island and while I get my life back in order and get some proper posts (most of which I had dreams of finishing and publishing while I was gone) ready for you, I’ll give you my annual review of a garden I visit every year on Mackinac Island.

The gardens at the Iroquois Hotel are lovely and I particularly enjoy seeing how they change over the years. Designed and maintained by Jack Barnwell, they have a perennial and shrub backbone but are really all about the annuals, providing the kind of color and summer-long interest that is needed in a tourist location.

Here is the front walk leading up to the entrance to the restaurant.

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 

I love how every single crevice is filled with a plant. Here a trailing coleus fills the gaps.

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
Jack used Proven Winners Surefire begonias liberally this year throughout the garden and the effect is stunning. 
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

This was a tiny little triangle formed where the path met the small retaining wall and this little corkscrew grass fills the hole so nicely.

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
As you make your way around the back, more gardens—this one with several perennials and shrubs including hydrangeas and black sambucus (elderberry)—lead the way to the stunning view of the Straits of Mackinac.
 
 
‘Fine Line’ buckthorn punctuates the edge of the path.
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
Rectangular containers are filled with a variety of annuals. In the second picture you can see how the corkscrew grass is tucked in sort of randomly which creates a charming feel to the arrangement.
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

 

 
Barnwell wisely kept the plantings in front of the marque view in a simpler palette. There’s no need to compete with a view like that. 
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
 
Boxwood hedges keep chairs from straying from the patio and entering the flower beds.
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 
Although panoramic photos skew the perspective, this gives you a feel for the layout.
 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

Around the other side, the plantings repeat other areas of the garden for a cohesive look. The red buoy next to the trailer in the background marks the finish line of the sailboat race I participate in every year.

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 

Two views of the main front entrance to the hotel.

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener
 

And a close-up shot of the neatly trimmed boxwood hedges.

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

 

Jack also designs the hanging baskets on the main street on the island. This was my favorite.
 
 

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

 
It was a little hard to see what was in it, but fortunately I found the same design in a lower hanging basket at the Iroquois Hotel.
 

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

 
As usual, I snapped a couple photos of beautiful gardens on horse-driven taxi ride up to the airport on my way off the island. One of these years I’m going to stick around long enough to do a proper garden tour. I take a photo of this first house every year because I love the pig by the front steps. Wonder where you get a pig like that?
 

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

 
Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

 

Mackinac Island gardens: The Impatient Gardener

 Jack Barnwell works closely with Proven Winners and uses their plants extensively in his designs, so most of what you see (at least the annuals) are probably PW plants. Because of his arrangement with them he is often able to use new varieties that aren’t yet available to the general public.

I did an interview with Jack a few years ago. Check it out here.
You can check out other posts I’ve done about Mackinac Island gardens here, here, here and here.

This is the second year for the Grand Garden Show on Mackinac Island, an event partly organized by Barnwell in conjunction with Proven Winners. They always bring in a line up of great speakers (including P. Diddy) and best of all, Barnwell hosts tours of some of the private gardens he has designed on the island. It is held this year on August 24 to 26. I spoke with some readers who went to it last year who absolutely loved it. I must get to it one of these years.

You can follow Barnwell Landscaping and Design on Facebook for sneak peeks of some of the gardens Jack is working on and others that will be on the Grand Garden Show tour.

7 Responses

    1. Pink and yellow is definitely a combo that's not for everyone. I've never minded it but I know it's a little offputting to some people. I can't believe you've not been to Mackinac, Linda! You must go!

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