The Garden Club of DeLand has presented the October 2021 Garden of the Month award to Margaret Gillen.
Her Victoria Hills garden has been planted predominantly in green and white. In the summer months, white caladiums grace the space, and year-round, green and white variegated liriope and low-maintenance green coontie continue the theme.
This 13-year-old garden has gone through a major transformation. Great care has been given to placing the right plants in the partially shaded areas. Agapanthus and daylily summer blooms were just finishing up for the season.
As we followed the path along the north side of her home, Gillen pointed out her potting area where she is preparing plants to be sold during the Garden Club of DeLand’s annual plant sale. The sale will be 8 a.m.- noon Saturday, Oct. 9, on the clubhouse grounds at 865 S. Alabama Ave. Gillen shared that her circle, the Firecrackers, are making yard art Whimsy Sticks for the fundraiser.
We walked along her decorated sidewalk featuring brick art she creates, with fun and inspirational sayings like “Aspire to Inspire.” Gillen, a former art teacher, teasingly refers to herself as a concrete artist. Her garage is her studio and her garden her palette.
“Peacock ginger is full now. It will go down and come back again in the spring. It’s a wonderful ground cover and spreads easily,” Gillen said.
While showing her camellias, she added, “My father was a camellia judge, and he started the first men’s garden club in Gainesville. My mother planted beautiful long-stemmed roses. They inspired my love of gardening.”
To combat erosion, Gillen created a tiered garden and planted amaryllis due to that plant’s giant root system. Next, she pointed out Pink Ladies and other plants that need a balance of shade and sun. Gillen is outlining her garden with bromeliads that were actually rescued from a trash heap.
“I love bromeliads; the one with the pink blossom is called Kyoto after the former capital of Japan. Aspidistra is wonderful for floral arrangements. Soak the long leaves in water, and then you can curl and pin it to form a spiral. Every garden needs aspidistra and fern for floral arrangements,” she added.
Gillen received her certification as a master gardener with the Volusia County Master Gardener Program. She loves sharing plants and helping to keep DeLand beautiful, and that’s why she serves as the Garden Club of DeLand co-chair for the Downtown planters.
Drive by 309 Victoria Hills Drive in DeLand next spring to see real showstoppers when Margaret’s azaleas will be in their full glory and her large tabebuia tree will be covered in yellow blossoms.
The Garden Club of DeLand is affiliated with the National Garden Clubs Inc.