BY Marimar McNaughton

Photography by Joshua Curry

Like a mirage it appears out of thin air an ethereally seductive secret place a few paces from the front door. Maybe it’s the peaceful ease of a swinging bench or the comfort of a rocking chair that beckons the alluring splash of a fountain or the sultry suggestion of a swimming pool. Retreat and relaxation remotely controlled by the whims of nature — the solitary rush of birds winging overhead the dance of leaves spiraling from a tree branch the shimmer of iridescent dragonflies twinkling in a sunray the cast of moonbeam shadows in the night — are like exotic tonics in this transitional oasis where what is indoors is now out and what is outdoors is now in to which the retired retreat and the hard at work aspire to put up their feet.

Big Easy Retreat

Landscape Architect:  Pamela Kersting

Authentic oyster shell tabby walls perforated with louvered shutters to capture the views of the Intracoastal Waterway shelter the outdoor room enjoyed by Alvah and Janice Bohannon at their Landfall home located just a few strokes from the Dye Clubhouse on Landfall Drive.

Inspired by the famed oyster roast of Pembroke Jones the relic farmsteads of Tuscany and the historic low-country ruins found near New Orleans architect Michael Kersting designed the home for the Bohannons and collaborated with landscape architect Pamela Kersting on the adjoining outdoor room.

From the garden gate or the central atrium of the Bohannons’ villa an Old World village-square fountain sends cascading water into a low reflecting pool. Outlined by tile squares and concrete pavers set among mondo grass amid the dense evergreen texture of a hedge of tinnus viburnum leafy cast-iron plants red spider lilies and an elegant specimen sago palm accent the grounds beautifully covered with aromatic Asiatic jasmine holly and tassel ferns and creeping fig vines. Decorative ironworks and balcony railings mimic the rhythm of passing water in this lush oasis where moving water buffers the passing traffic and the Bohannons pass a good time dining al fresco or entertaining guests. When the sunlight dims they warm themselves around the rustic steel fireplace and toast to the good life.

The Charleston

Landscape Designer:  David Erwin   North State  Gardens

The sandy lane forks and dips to Duck Point on the Intracoastal Waterway opposite Figure Eight Island. On the high bluff the ocean breezes whip the tree limbs that buffer a pair of twin homes one old and one new linked together by a Charleston-style courtyard embellished with low masonry walls wrought iron gates and balconies.

Thirty years ago Ann Carlson moved an historic house from Market Street to this remote countryside. When her four children were grown with families of their own she hired architect Ligon Flynn to design a modern dwelling that reiterated the lines of the stately home and moved next door leaving the vintage dwelling to the kids. She eventually sold the new house to her son Steve and his wife Ann and as always the entire clan enjoys their private enclave.

Landscape designer David Erwin’s touch is evident in the texture of green leafy plants and trees the placement of his signature windmill palm the fruit-bearing loquat trees azaleas white oleander and hot pink crape myrtle.

Holly fern English ivy fatsia pittosporum and podocarpus outline the courtyard and lap pool deck where pots of colorful flowers brighten black slate benches. Camellia sasanqua and pyracantha climb the low masonry white walls where the only witness to nocturnal skinny dips is the man in the moon.

English Country Garden

Landscape Designer:  Heather Burket Gardener:  Beth Randise

Outlined by a split-rail fence an Arts and Crafts-style bungalow in Demarest Landing is John Tinney’s roost where he comes at the end of the day to a garden sanctuary on the banks of Howe Creek.

A pair of wooden gates defines the formal entry into this terraced English country courtyard designed by Heather Burket. Drooling petal pink and yellow oakleaf and hearty blue pom pom hydrangeas border the low brick walls banked with boxwoods and anchored by pairs of Alberta spruce trees a Japanese maple and tropical hibiscus. A tangle of leggy roses and tomato plants compete in a meadow of black-eyed Susans snapdragons zinnias begonias portulaca and day lilies enticing butterflies and bumblebees into this delightful lair. A blanket of red and white impatiens spreads among the ferns beneath the eaves exposed rafter tails and decorative buttresses surrounding the front entry. From the covered porch where the roofline dips over an open porch views of the savannah are framed from a wooden swing and a pair of rocking chairs. One brick-lined path disappears toward the potting shed and mud room complete with a trickling fountain and a stained glass transom window. All that’s missing is the thatched roof.