The not-so secret gardens: A story behind every garden at Destin Library (PHOTOS)

Laura Hall, Gardens with Annie
Beautiful ladies keeping the gardens beautiful at the Destin Library r-l Daisy Pfoertner, Pat Collins, Joan Schauss, Marty Harshman, Brenda Crow.

I am amazed to find there are ten different gardens surrounding the Destin Library.  I am met by Daisy Pfoertner, a 15 year Master Gardener, a charter member of the Destin Garden Club and Chairman of the Garden Club’s landscaping committee. 

Daisy says, “ten years ago when the library moved to its present property on Sibert, the city landscaped with native plants such as blueberries, flame azaleas, palmettos, and oak leaf hydrangeas. This native hydrangea has handsome, deeply lobed, oaklike leaves that turn bronze or crimson in fall. 

In late spring or early summer, this plant with huge elongated clusters of white flowers will stop you in your tracks.  Another native, Florida anise, gives forth a delicious licorice-scent if mashed or clipped. This native area, is maintained by the city with a helping hand from members of the Destin Garden Club.

One of the newest gardens underway at the library is the Butterfly Garden.  This is an undertaking by the City of Destin and the Environmental Tree Board. 

Located on the right hand side of the library is the Imagination Garden along with this new butterfly garden.  The butterfly garden is being filled with plants that caterpillars like to eat and plants that adult butterflies feed on. 

This is a test garden with the hope that it will inspire people in Destin to put in more butterfly gardens.  Shrubs now found in the butterfly garden are chaste tree, cassia, bottlebrush, purple passion vine, plumbago and cuphea.  Ken Vanderzeyde, of the Tree Board, is looking for “host” plants like parsley, dill or butterfly weed.  If your garden has extras and you would like to share, call Ken at 650-3620 or Daisy at 650-2804.

The Imagination Garden is a nature garden filled with a bird bath, hummingbird feeder and bird feeder.  Native plants are used here for butterflies and birds to enjoy.  Destin Garden Club members were busy weeding and freshening up this garden when I was there.

There is a Seasonal Garden that greets you out front. It is beautifully done with fall colors, pumpkins, colorful chrysanthemums, and a small metal boy and a girl with her pigtails flying out and about. As Halloween approaches you can count on something scary and spooky in the garden followed by changes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Daisy says “Both young and older visitors love the displays.  You should see the kids eyes light up.”

The Destin Garden Club’s responsibility for maintaining many of these gardens include providing plants, fertilizer, garbage bags for cleanup and fresh soil for planting.  As if that wasn’t enough, there are 14 pots that take continual care.  The club raises landscaping funds from plant sales and raffle baskets at their meetings, and members provide approximately 2,000 hours of womanpower to keep the landscape in pristine condition.

There is a lot of work that goes into the garden and Daisy is grateful for the efforts of many. Friends of the Library gave a much needed and nice donation. 

“When I need something for the garden, it seems to appear.  When stepping stones were needed and we put out the word, Carol Baker called and said, ‘I have lots of those stones, come get them, you can have them.’ ” Daisy said. “It was heavy work to transfer all these stones but guess what?  This was when the guys showed up with their trucks and got the job done.”

When the garden work was drawing to a close, all the group gathered around for cookies, homemade pound cake and lots of chatter.  I ask several of the gardening ladies what they think about Daisy. 

They all pipe up with mixed voices, “That Daisy is a slave driver, dig, plant, pull weeds.... do it, do it, do it.” 

While this friendly banter is going on, I slip over to have my second piece of pound cake.  Annie and I will walk this off later today.

Laura Hall is a longtime Destin resident.  She writes about area gardens and other topics of interest with her cavalier spaniel Annie.  Contact her at