BRINGING THE TROPICS TO SOUTH CAROLINA
Greg adds that he really enjoys the yard. Small wonder: he designed it himself.
He and Margaret decided to create a tropical outdoor atmosphere to complement the home’s Mediterranean style. A retired industrial-landscape designer, Greg set about unearthing plants that could survive — even thrive — in Grand Dunes’ seaside climate, where the temperature can plummet to 15 degrees.
“I introduced the palm tree to South Carolina,” he explains, “and it has done extremely well. It was at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the old pink palace, where I saw this particular kind of palm. I called the Extension Service to find out about it. I saw it again at the Breakers Hotel and asked the manager where I could find it, and he steered me to Boynton Beach. I went to see the trees in person, and the nurserymen told me they’d planted them in Houston, Los Angeles, and New Orleans.
“It’s a date palm, that’s what it is: Phoenix dactylifera. It originated in Egypt. I was a little suspect how it would do here, but I talked to Clemson University, and they said, ‘It will probably do well. Go ahead and try it.’ I’m glad I did! I have five of them out there, and they’re the focal point of our yard.”
Greg planted a total of 16 palm trees, ranging from pindo, Washingtonia, and Silvestri palms to European fan palms. “Other people were watching to see how mine would do, and now they’re incorporating them into their own landscaping. One guy came up from Litchfield, saw my Phoenix, and planted 10 or 12 in his yard. This was my life — I landscaped 2,000 acres a week.”
To achieve the formal look he was after, Greg planted ginger lilies, ferns, shrub roses, azaleas, crepe myrtle, Italian cypress, pittosporum, Indian hawthorn, and boxwood. “Plus we’ve got all Margaret’s pots around here. They contain a flush of bulbs.”
He says he’s got the yard work down to about an hour per week except for his wife’s bulbs and roses, and she takes care of them. “We put in zoysia turf, so there’s not a lot of mowing. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on yard chores. I get someone else to do the dirty work — then I can just sort of piddle.”