My Grand Garden Show

Debbie Rea at the 2018 Grand Garden Show on Mackinac Island

Have you ever heard of The Grand Garden Show on Mackinac Island? It’s a terrific garden show, begun in 2013, that is hosted by Proven Winners® at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. It includes garden seminars and lovely receptions at the superbly elegant Grand Hotel. The seminars feature presentations by well known speakers, and there are a good number of giveaways, such as gardening tools from Corona Tools and plants from Proven Winners. And the best part, in my opinion, is the garden tours around Mackinac Island, which allow you to enter and tour the backyards of private residences on the island, as well as the grounds of the Grand Hotel and other establishments.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that Mackinac Island, Michigan, is a very special place for my husband and me because we honeymooned there in 1991. I was not a gardener when I first became a wife, but Stan had long been calling me “the gardener wife” by the time we returned to Mackinac Island in 2016 for our 25th anniversary. That’s why I was thrilled that the Grand Garden Show is held in late August, right around the time of our anniversary, August 24th. We got to stay at the Grand Hotel and attend the Proven Winners Grand Garden Show, which was in its fourth year. Then we returned and did it again for our 27th anniversary in 2018. It was during this garden show that I decided to name the new garden we were creating in our side yard the “Mackinac Island Garden.”

We had hoped to go to the Grand Garden Show again for our 30th anniversary. Due to COVID, however, they did not have a Grand Garden Show on Mackinac Island last year. But we still went to Mackinac Island on what we called our “30th Anniversary Extravaganza Trip,” and it was wonderful. The trip was leisurely and elegant as Stan booked us to stay in gorgeous bed and breakfasts along the way there and back. And I turned this trip into my own Grand Garden Show by visiting and taking photos of all the lovely gardens we saw. I created videos from the highlights, and those are linked in the descriptions below. You may also click on any of the photos below to get a better look at them on your device. I hope you enjoy The Gardener Wife Grand Garden Show!

Goldberry Woods Garden

The first B&B we stayed at was Goldberry Woods in Union Pier, Michigan. It’s not far from Chicago, and it’s the perfect place for folks who love fresh garden-grown food. Julie Haberichter, the innkeeper/gardener, uses their harvests year round to make delectable farm-to-table meals for guests staying in the inn and cottages. All of the eggs, vegetables, fruits, and even the honey used in her fabulous garden-to-table breakfasts are produced right there at Goldberry Woods. Julie is an expert organic gardener, and the extent and variety of the garden here is amazing.

South Haven Garden

I knew we would be near the South Haven garden of my Instagram friend, Tanner, so I arranged to meet her and see her extensive garden in person. Her kids say that she’s an “organized hoarder” and they are not kidding. It was a delight to hear how she put together all the treasures she’s found on her antiquing adventures to create a great variety of gardens, filled with flowers and charming vignettes. Many feature sweet little “houses” constructed from beautiful windows and architectural pieces. And of course there are greenhouses, too. Stunning!

Mackinac Gardens Tandem Tour

On our first morning on Mackinac Island, we went on a tandem bike ride—like we had done during our honeymoon! We revisited the famous Arch Rock,  and we reenacted our honeymoon photo at Windermere Point. We stopped along the way so that I could take photos of the Mackinac gardens we passed, as well as the other sites.The last few garden photos of this video were taken at the B&B we stayed at on Mackinac Island, the Bay View Inn.

Bay View B&B

Pointing to our balcony on the Bay View Inn

This B&B was exquisitely decorated inside and out. They spoiled us with cookies every afternoon and a pastry and ice cream dessert each evening. Our room featured a private balcony from which we could see the bay to the left and the gardens of the Island House and the Yacht Club to the right, plus Fort Mackinac further back and even a corner of the Grand Hotel sticking out from the bluff beyond the fort. Here are some sunset pictures that I took from our balcony, followed by several pictures of that balcony. I got such a kick out of being able to see our room from half of the island! The photo of me pointing to our balcony was taken at Fort Mackinac.

Views from our private balcony—

Here’s a closer look at the gardens of the Mackinac Island Yacht Club and the Island House Hotel, which we could see right from the balcony. To the left of the yacht club, we could also watch the construction progress on the roof of the Brigadoon Cottage, a private residence that had caught on fire almost three months earlier.

More Gardens of Mackinac Island

Here are highlights of the gardens that we saw as we walked around the island. Again, I recognized several from the garden walks that we had enjoyed when we had come here for the Proven Winners Grand Garden Show, three and five years earlier. Besides walking up and down the main downtown area, my husband and I toured several historic places, such as Fort Mackinac, the Biddle House, and the  art museum housed in the Indian Dormitory.

Gardens of Fort Michilimackinac

Garden of Brigadoon B&B

Before returning home, we went to Mackinaw City and stayed at another lovely B&B, Brigadoon. It’s the sister to the Bay View Inn, so it also had gorgeous decor and served nightly desserts as well as breakfast every morning. While there, we visited Fort Michilimackinac and Mill Creek. I had very much  enjoyed the gardens of Fort Michilimackinac three years ago, so I did not want to miss going there again even though the day was cold and rainy. I’m intrigued by how the historical interpreters have planted gardens like those that the soldiers and other residents had in colonial times, and they use the harvests in their cooking demonstrations. They tend those gardens with the methods and tools that would have been used in the 1800s. I can relate to this very well because I use organic methods in my own kitchen garden.

Last Stop on My Grand Garden Show

After we returned home, I shared highlights on my social media from a local garden as the last stop on The Gardener Wife Grand Garden Show. Heather Blackmore had opened her lovely garden in Lockport to the community a couple weeks before our trip, and I had not yet shared the photos I had taken.

Joe Cillufo’s “Bike Reflection Teal” printed on a garden flag

And that brings The Gardener Wife Grand Garden Show to a close. I still have hundreds more photos and many memories to treasure. Not surprisingly, the souvenirs we brought back from this trip included several items for our own “Mackinac Island Garden” at home. We picked up stones from the beach to put in the “Mackinac Cottage Fairy Garden,” and I got a tiny bike, also for the fairy garden. To display in the larger garden, I got a coaster with red geraniums and a garden flag made from a local artist’s painting of a bicycle that is similar in color to the one that stands at the front of my garden. As you can see in the picture below, I hung it on the fence to the right of the wooden gate.

Our own “Mackinac Island Garden” in the side yard of our Chicago area home

Let me know if you have gone to the Proven Winners Grand Garden Show or any other big garden shows. In 2019 I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show, which is the largest flower show in the U.S. and the longest running one in the world. And this spring, April 2022, I went to Floriade in Amsterdam, an international horticultural expo that takes place every ten years in the Netherlands. Going to garden shows is an excellent way to find inspiration for our own gardens.

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Published by Debbie Rea - The Gardener Wife

Helping you to GROW SOMETHING, something beautiful—even better, something to eat! Speaker, Writer, and Influencer—available for speaking engagements on gardening and/or Christian faith topics and for collaborations on home and garden products

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