Digging in the Dirt: Brenda Cook’s Garden

July 29, 2009

Daniel Island and its neighborhoods offer all sorts of garden and landscape design ideas. Some island residents choose to keep it simple and clean, whereas others really take it up a notch. Brenda Cook is part of the later group. Brenda has been a resident on Daniel Island for seven years and a real estate agent at Daniel Island Real Estate for almost as long. Her garden in Daniel Island Park is an incredible blend of formal and informal design, incorporating both native and ornamental plants and flowers and a number of smaller nooks throughout that serve varying functions.

Brenda began work on her garden in 2004 at the same time Hidden Oaks Properties was building her house. When searching for a good landscape architect, she was referred to Clyde Timmons of DesignWorks. “Clyde and I hit it off immediately and have become great friends,” says Brenda. And Clyde agrees. “Brenda is dynamic, like her garden. The relationship between designer and client is critical to creating the perfect space, “ said Clyde. “You have to work well together so you can give each other ideas and explore options together. It’s a give and take relationship”.

brenda cook clyde timmons

Clyde Timmons has worked in residential landscape design in the Lowcountry for more than 30 years. His interest in plants and gardening began when he worked as manager of Abide-A-While Nursery in Mt. Pleasant before going back to school for his Masters in Landscape Architecture. He then returned to Charleston and began working for DesignWorks. Since then he’s won numerous design awards, including a Merit Award from the South Carolina Chapter of ASLA for Cattle Trough Park in Daniel Island Park. His designs have been published in several books and magazines, including Seascape Gardening by Anne Halpin and Southern Living magazine.

garden pano

When Clyde started work on Brenda’s garden, the two got together to discuss what Brenda had in mind. She wanted a fairly traditional Charleston garden, but one that also included some whimsical, creative and relaxing elements to set it apart. Her home in Daniel Island Park has “borrowed views” of a butterfly garden, pond and marsh. She wanted all of these elements to become a visual extension of her own garden. Clyde’s incorporation of these gave Brenda’s garden an open feel while also remaining private.

There’s a path system that leads from the house and meanders through the garden, creating a sense that the garden is a part of Brenda’s home. Pocket gardens are found off the pathway, ranging from annual and perennial flowerbeds to decorative objects, fountains and sitting areas. Among the many plants that bloom successfully are hydrangeas, a popular shrub that thrives in the south and means “water lover” in Latin.

Since 2004, the garden has continued to grow and evolve with the care of Brenda, Clyde and Aaron Stace of Coastal Scapes, who does the weekly maintenance. And, about once a year, Clyde will come to take a look, go through the space and talk to Brenda about what’s working, what’s not and what she can do to make it even better.

“A garden is like life: it’s ever changing and requires lots of love and attention. Sometimes it can be very disappointing but at other times, it’s so rewarding,” says Brenda, “I often tell my clients that I love “digging in the dirt” – I think it’s the farm girl in me”.

Gardening Tips for Daniel Island Residents
Clyde Timmons, ASLA, RLA | DesignWorks, LC

  • Pay attention to your drainage system and make sure it’s working properly.
  • Amend your soil frequently with organic material. This will help improve the quality of the soil so your garden grows successfully
  • Balance your garden with low maintenance areas that require little work with plants and shrubs that need more care. This way you will have time to actually enjoy your garden!
  • Plant annuals and perennials so you always have something blooming no matter what the season may be.
  • Hire a good landscape architect. They will help you “weed out” what will work best for your location.

Click below for more pictures of Brenda’s garden.

Photos by Pat Stuckart Photography.