The Gardens of The Grand.

My lovely Mom and I went on a weekend getaway to The Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, Michigan back in September 2019. It had been something she had long wanted to do, and the timing was finally right.

It was a glorious late-summer-early-fall weekend, thought the trees hadn’t started changing, the air was a bit crisp but the sunlight still had the intense brightness of summer. If you’ve never been, it is certainly well worth the circuitous trip up there. For us, it was a nearly 7 hour drive eastward across the state and then up along the coast of Lake Michigan, culminating in a ferry ride over to the island from the Upper Peninsula.

But oh how we were rewarded!

The Esther Williams pool (middle).

The view of The Grand from their sunken gardens

Travel around the island is strictly by foot, non-motored wheels like bikes or roller-blades, or horses. It is quiet and quaint and delightfully slow paced.

The plantings on the grounds are exuberant and brash (in the best possible way) to say the least. Heavy on annuals and tender perennials, they looked fantastic even as the season was ebbing towards its end.

Verbena bonariensis (a personal favorite) featured prominently in every bed and they were covered (swarmed!) with Monarch butterflies starting their southward journey. The pairing of the verbena with the decorative kales and cabbages was a master stroke!

The verbena and the Abyssinian bananas was even better.

The red Pelargoniums didn’t pair particularly well with the mixed borders this season, but given that those cheerful and bold annuals (that are also personal favorites) are the signature flower of the hotel, one can’t balk too much.



My Mom and I had such a lovely time. The inside of the hotel is just as ebullient and colorful as the exterior and the food was beyond amazing. We had such a wonderful time!

Sorry for all the balcony shots, but how can anyone resist them? Those flags? That sunshine? All that stately architecture? All those glorious geraniums? I was smitten!

I would love to go back in summer some year to see the gardens in full force- though I suspect the crowds would be more than I cared for- but every year there is a Lilac Festival in early June and a Proven Winners sponsored Garden Show in late August that might be worth the trouble.

Have you ever been to The Grand or to one of these events? Do share your experiences!

4 thoughts on “The Gardens of The Grand.”

  1. I worked there at the Murray Hotel the summer after my freshman year at college. On a day off I would sometimes go to the Grand Hotel for their afternoon tea with the string quartet playing. I think technically the tea was for patrons only, but if they knew you worked on the island they looked the other way. I went straight back to college from working there. I think I maybe had one night at my house before going back, and I almost walked in front of a car at school, because I was so used to the lack of cars and the pace of horses on Mackinac. (Plus I was still shell-shocked from travel. I really should have given myself a little more time between Mackinac and school.) I was there when the venerable lilacs were in bloom and the scent floated all over the island. I remember the plantings at the Grand Hotel being a lot more staid. The only flowers I remember were tuberous begonias, which were everywhere. I wonder who has the job of chief gardener there?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely way to spend a summer! It is fun to see such exuberant and colorful displays- its a bit much for a home garden perhaps, but it does look lovely at this large scale with so much room to breathe!


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