Newsletter

April 2021 Edition of The Scoop Print

Welcome

For ease of reading, printing and sharing full articles, click here to read it in your browser 

To access the March 2021 Scoop - click here 

In all the rush to end our term, we almost forgot to send you our awesome March newsletter. NEVER FEAR, it's right here, chock full of great information on starting your plants right through proper propagation. From seedblocking seeds to air layering techniques, our writers will provide you the step by step instruction you need to succeed this spring!  

Take a gander. You'll want to save this issue for ready reference. 

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President's Message

It has been such a joy to gardenFORlife along with you these past two years. From the very beginning we set out to bring you a monthly newsletter worthy of your attention, chock full of easy to follow instructions to enable you to expand your awareness and gardening skills. 

None of this would have been possible without a few key individuals in each of our districts who lovingly devoted their time to researching, writing,  photographing and sharing this amazing journey. 

As editor of The Scoop, I am extremely grateful to Jan Litton who launched it in 2019, to Rue Lucas who coordinated every article, and to our incredible writers, Anna Sheets, Karen Galloway, Kate Copsey, Gail Ford, Bonnie Disney, Laurie Churchill, Gina Ginther, and Linda Geronilla.  

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Welcome New Members

Our federation family is growing. 

This spring we welcome Mountainside Garden Club to our membership rosters. Located on Paris Mountain in Greenville, this is a gardener's garden club, devoted to learning and growing together, protecting the environment and leaving a trail of beauty wherever they go!

Nestled in a hickory oak forest, members contend with everything from deer to raccoons to black bears, and many do it with a smile.... until they destroy the bird feeders! This beautiful moss garden is tended by Mountainside member Joyce Moore and her husband Phillip, who regularly rake the hickory and oak leaves off the forest carpet of moss. The leaves are piled into casual compost rings where they break down naturally and are used to feed the many flower beds around the property. 

Welcome to the federation family, Mountainside! 

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Month by Month Gardening

April, the month we Spring into Spring

by Gail Watkins Ford, East Sandhills District

Plant:

  • Plant summer vegetables and flowers directly into the soil.
  • Add crushed egg shells and/or lime under tomato plants to prevent bottom-end rot.
  • Summer bulbs such as caladiums, cannas, dahlia and lilies.
  • Annual and perennial herbs.
  • Tuberous begonias.
  • Bare root plants roses, strawberries, berry bushes and fruit trees.
  • Hanging baskets mid to late April.

 

Fertilize:

  •  Camellias if not fertilized in March.
  • Roses with a balanced rose fertilizer.
  • Spring flower shrubs after they bloom (super phosphate) makes flowers and roses grow larger.
  • Bedding plants monthly after planting.
  • Spring-flowering bulbs with high phosphate fertilizer or bone meal.
  • Flower beds or borders with5-10-10 or cow manure. (Bloom EZ is a great choice can be found Fromm some Ace Hardware stores).

 

Prune:

  • Camellias ( heavy pruning in March and April).  Prune middle of camellias to open space for better aeration.
  • Spring blooming shrubs AFTER they bloom (azaleas, forsythia spires, quince).
  • Pinch out tops of cosmos to make bushier.
  • Prune out dead portions of shrubs.

  

Propagate:

  • Take clippings to root forsythia, boxwood, citrus, camellias and roses.
  • Divide perennials such as hosta, cannas, chrysanthemum etc.
  • If starting citrus from seeds, plant immediately and do not let seeds dry out,

 

Harvest:

  • Arugula and cool weather greens such as lettuce.
  • Herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

 

Routine Care:

  • Test soil and amend according to results.
  • Keep a shopping list for needed gardening supplies.
  • Decide what plants are going needed to fill in gaps in the garden before going to the plant store.
  • Plan companion plant pairs.
  • Check plants regularly for signs of pest and diseases and treat according.
  • Clean out bird feeders and bird baths.
  • Clean out old mulch, aerate the soil and add new mulch.
  • Continue to remove dead camellia blooms on the ground, (do not mulch).
  • Move houseplant outdoors to a shady spot for the summer.

 

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Pollinator of the Month

People ask me all the time.

"What is the best pollinator?"

My answer is always the same. 

"The best pollinator in South Carolina is you!" 

Every time you plant native species, make room for yet another flowering specimen, add signs to your flower beds, give away free seeds, have plant sales, teach classes, open your gardens for tours, or simply spend quality time discussing the pollinator crisis and its various solutions, you are pollinating awareness and hopefully cultivating a relationship that seeks to make our world better. 

This term we started 100+ pollinator gardens and community gardens at local centers and schools, taught dozens of hands on workshops and produced several videos available to the public on our Youtube Channels. 

Better than that, we cultivated new gardeners, and shared the love of gardening and the deep connection and rewards of gardening FOR Life at all layers of our landscape. 

Keep up the great work South Carolina!

Cultivate awareness wherever you go. 

GardenFORLife! 

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Native Plant of the Month

Salvia lyrata, also known as Lyreleaf Sage, is a common native plant across our state that blooms from April through June. For the better part of the year it remains a lowgrowing rosette of green to purple leaves, with wavy edges thought to resemble the musical instrument, the lyre. As such, it makes a lovely groundcover in woodland gardens, pollinator borders or anywhere it is given room to prosper, from full sun to partial shade. 

Triggered by the rising evening temperaturesof spring, it sends up a central raceme (flower stalk) with calyx of white, pink or blue. Typical of raceme blooms, the flowers begin to open from bottom to top, welcoming pollinators as it continues to grow. In the pollinator garden, Lyreleaf sage makes a great host plant for the lesser moths, and provides nectar for smaller native bees and beneficial insects. Occasionally, hummingbirds can be seen visiting the flower stalks. 

Lyreleaf sage, like most salvias, employs a unique nototribic pollination system, where pollinators are fooled into carrying the pollen as they sip the nectar. As bees approach the flower they grab the bottom lip of the blossom, reaching in to sip the nectar from the stigma. The weight of the bee activates a lever mechanism inside the base of the flower where the two stamen are connected by a small membrane. When the membrane is triggered, it tips the stamen downward, causing the anthers to brush against the back of the bee. 

As flowers age, the stigma also begins to dip downward, eventually reaching the same position as where the pollen was deposited onto the bees back.  Since salvias appeal to many different bees and some small birds, their pollen is easily transferred to different species, thus producing a myriad of diversity. 

Growing native Lyreleaf sage in your garden is quite easily done by seeds gathered in summer or left to sow themselves by dispersion. As a prolific seed producer, it can easily escape its original location, spreading rapidly into other parts of your garden. To control its spread, simply clip the seed heads before they open. 

The term salvia, from the Latin salvere, means to heal and many salvias are used as medicinals as well as culinary herbs. Native Americans used the root as a salve for wounds, and made tea of the leaves and flowers to treat coughs and colds. Young leaves can be add a minty flavor to salads and dishes. Mature leaves and flowers can be dried for a delicious tisane, and stronger concoctions work well as a gargling aid for sore throats. 

 

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East Piedmont District

My gardening journey has come full circle 

by Gina Ginther, Director East Piedmont District, 2019-2021 

In keeping with our theme, “GardenFORLife, I have chosen to pick four memories that highlight periods of MY Life!

I was four, in the side garden of my paternal grandparent’s home in Los Angeles, California. Oftentimes, when children are small, the scale of their environments are remembered larger than they really were, but I remember conversations as a pre-teen and saw photos that confirmed that their house was a very large white, stately two-story colonial, built in the late 1920’s.

The front porch was huge, covered, and welcoming. I can remember the sound of my shoes on the wooden planks. Looking from the street, on the right side of the house, toward the back, there was a shade garden in an area outside the French doors off the study. A worn pergola faithfully supported aged wisteria vines.

The concrete was old, uneven and randomly cracked, and in the gaps, grew thick rounded cushions of Irish moss. The deep green was an amazing contrast to the aged, stained concrete, and sometimes I was lucky enough to see a dusting of tiny white flowers. It was a quiet place and my imagination was undistracted. My eyes would follow the lines of green and I thought for sure the little flowers were there for fairies to pick! The beds against the house hosted beautiful mature hydrangeas of various colors, and there were always pots with this or that, something different every time I came to visit. There were butterflies, bees, and an occasional snail leaving a glistening trail.

This special place of what I now call enchantment, is my earliest memory and my first introduction to what was called a garden, and at 72 I still remember how I felt when I was there in that space. Even today, when I simply hear the word garden, the visual image I’ve kept in my mind of that place defines the word for me.  

As a young mother, I started the tradition of planting bulbs with our two little girls. The task of planting bulbs can be monotonous, so I found a way to engage them by pretending that we were putting the bulbs  down for a nap until they were ready to wake up bright and cheerful. We would pretend the holes we dug were “beds” and the girls would give each and every bulb a kiss and say “night night” before they “tucked them in.” We would cover them with a “blanket” of soil and pat them gently while they said, “sweet dreams, sleep tight!”. Sometimes I would hear them whispering to each other so they wouldn’t wake them up! Even the next day, they would tip toe by the beds we had planted, turn around and give the “shhhhh!” sign with their little fingers against their lips! It was hysterical!

And then there was the satisfaction of picking our first blood orange some 40 years ago, from a tree we planted in the garden of our house in California. The tree was a gift and we had waited 4 years for the first crop! We had measured the tree’s annual growth on the fence, as we had measured our girl’s height each year on the pantry door casement in the kitchen. We took pictures of the orange blossoms and counted them as they bloomed. The fragrance was amazing! When we saw the tiny green fruit buds, we were so excited and so impatient for the fruit to be ready to harvest! Knowing that once picked, the ripening process ends, drove us crazy! We HAD to be patient! The blood orange is harvested in December. It was worse than waiting to open a Christmas present, but when we sliced into the first orange, it was a spectacular color, it was so juicy and it tasted amazing! We cut it into four sections like cake, and celebrated! 

And finally, I remember the “aha moment” I had just two years ago. For years, I kept demanding that my incredibly beautiful, wooded, natural and native back garden, march to the manicured madness of a suburban neighborhood. Harnessing three fourths of an acre is work! After failed designs, and too many dead plants to count, I finally let my garden have her way. We scattered some flagstone pavers and planted dwarf mondo grass in the gaps for areas to sit, watch the fireflies and enjoy a fire.

My husband installed a beautiful winding river rock water feature and we hung a hammock in the center to gaze at the canopy and watch the birds. We punctuated the entire area with bird houses and feeders.  Today, our back garden is a natural, native and unscripted oasis, mostly people-free, but with small places where we can listen to the wind in the trees and observe the abundance of wildlife that come to visit. So blessed to be gathering and sharing such beautiful memories from our garden in our golden years!

Almost feels like I’ve come full circle, back to the garden. My grandmother would be pleased!

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Heirloom Gardening

Heirloom favorites 

by Anna Sheets, West Low Country 

When someone mentions “heirloom“ referring to plants, we tend to think of seeds. Seeds from plants that your grandparents grew, saved, and that were able to maintain the same characteristics even after several generations of growing and harvesting. These seeds are typically open pollinated by birds, bees, insects, and wind. 

Heirlooms are considered any seeds that existed before hybrids were introduced after World War II. Why grow heirlooms? They are a taste of the past. They have wonderful flavor that has been consistent over several generations, instead of grown for ease of shipping, uniform appearance, or ability to grow well throughout the country. How often have we bought a beautiful grocery store tomato, and it was mealy and tasteless?   Heirlooms also save money. New seeds do not have to be bought every year since hybridized seeds are often sterile and do not reproduce new plants. Heirlooms are also more resistant to pests because of their ability to survive diverse climatic changes and soil conditions over many generations so less insecticide needs to be used reducing contamination of soil and water.

My mother always grew the small yellow pear tomatoes, saved the seeds, and grew them the next season. Likewise, I did the same. Tomatoes just taste better picked fresh off the bush. There are many vegetables that fit the title of   “heirloom” and many sources on the internet to acquire your favorites.  In fact, the Doomsday Seed Vault in Norway has 800,000 of the world’s heirloom seeds in storage if there is a catastrophic disaster that decimates the world’s food crops.

Other plants, such as, flowers, berries, fruit and flowering ornamental trees, herbs and native plants can also be classified as heirloom.  The Elberta peach, the Mahan pecan, Eastern redbud, white dogwood, PawPaw tree, camellias, and Loblolly pine. These have been around a long time and have fed, beautified our yards, and built our homes.

One of my favorite flowers is the Four O'clock (Mirabilis jalapa) , although not a native, given to me by my mother from seeds she collected from her plants. The simple bell-shaped flowers in red, white, yellow, with a fragrance noticeable on warm evenings, remind me of my family and home.  The pollinators love them too. Part of the charm of heirloom plants are the memories they evoke. Another benefit is the nutrient value may be healthier for you since they contain more variety of beneficial minerals than hybrids. 

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Garden Moments

Favorite Garden Moments

by Kate Copsey, East Low Country  

Each year there are many moments of joy in the garden but my particular favorite time is spring – finding which perennial is popping up, or small tree putting out its spring blossom. Every spring is different, and the moments are many but this year there was one particular money of joy.

The tree was new last year and is a little cherry tree. Almost from the start a borer found the little guy and I was getting sawdust debris on the leaves most mornings. I tried several treatments, from Neem to wrapping the tender bark to stop more borers getting in. My actions may have thwarted the critter a little but it persisted to send out sawdust to confirm he was still inside. Finally fall came along with frosts and the leaves on the tree fell off.

This spring, I was not holding onto much hope that the tree had survived and a scratch test on the upper part confirmed that the upper part was dead, and I didn’t think it had made it. However, to my delight, the lower parts were still alive and in due course the tree put out leaves and even a couple of little flowers! I know plants are not human, but this little guy is definitely a trooper in my book - he endured a rough start and came back beautifully in spring.

Alas I found the borer woke up a few weeks ago too and on Clemson recommendation have used a product that is supposed to treat borers in fruit trees. It is still a small tree that I can easily drench with the product (Spinosad). I hope this works and that the tree will continue to grow and product fruit in future years. As of this morning, it may be working!

Editor's note: Spinosad is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D. It is used to control a wide variety of pests. These include thrips, leafminers, spider mites, mosquitoes, ants, fruit flies and others. Please consult an expert before applying this or any chemical to your garden. 

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Container Gardening

Winning combos for your favorite containers

by Karen Galloway, West Sandhills Director, 2019-2021

The National Garden Club Handbook for Flower Shows defines combination plantings as “a grouping of three or more botanically different plants with similar cultural requirements such as light, water and humidity”. These stipulations are found on the plant tag or online and, if followed, are instrumental in guaranteeing the success of planting container combos. 

Container gardens have unlimited options whether planting in a traditional urn or a salvaged washtub from an antique shop. You may choose wire baskets hanging from shepherd’s hooks, willow baskets on gates or brick garden wall, or a plant stand full of ferns, hosta and coleus. The selections are yours and should reflect your garden style and tastes and most importantly the plant’s essentials.

 

 

For sunny spots, you may prefer the cooling of silver and purple using dusty miller, purple petunias and Silverfalls dichondra. Color plays an important part in achieving the desired effect for your area. Queen Mum white agapanthus, white weeping lantana and trailing rosemary also provide the hot garden a soft, cool feeling. To bring a bold statement to the pool area, try a large container full of Colocasia (elephant ears), papyrus and cannas. 

 

For shady yards, bright color in area brings interest with upright pink or red fuschia, impatiens, vinca minor and lobelia.  A standby in my garden is a large urn of White Queen caladium, variegated creeping fig and a whopper begonia.  And finally, for a dramatic impact in the part shade garden, a large pot filled with a pink rose bush, dracaena and campanula mixture will soften a corner of any garden.

Successful horticulture combinations and containers are unlimited if you follow the guidelines that the three or more plants placed together must have the same cultural requirements. Plant shade plants in lush shady spots and sun loving plants in the warmth of the sun. The formula is simple resulting in joy to the gardener and variety, interest and beauty to the garden.

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This Month's Contributors

If you enjoyed this newsletter, you have the following people to thank:

Trish Bender, Kate Copsey, Laurie Churchill, Bonnie Disney, Gail Watkins Ford, Karen Galloway, Gina Ginther, Anna Sheets, and Rue Lucas.

In fact, you can read all about them here. 

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The Language of Flowers

The universal language of a rose garden

by Bonnie Disney 

About eight years ago, I fell in love with the look and fragrance of David Austin English roses and thus began my personal rose garden endeavor.  I began to read about roses and go to seminars to learn the basics of growing roses in our area. Then, I expanded my knowledge about types of roses and began collecting other varieties as well.  Currently, I have around 80 different roses and all except one produce a fragrance.  I arranged the roses so their bloom colors create a cottage-style English garden and have also interspersed companion plants throughout the bed.

 Our yard and property can be considered mostly shady; therefore, the only possible place where I could create a rose garden which requires sun was at the edge of our front lawn near our street, Swan Lake Drive.   But, whenever I had to do real work in the rose garden, any walker, runner, biker, driver, mail carrier or party goer at a neighbor’s house could see me in my gardener’s garb with rose pruners in my hand and baskets on the side to hold the roses I cut for the day. Some days, I probably looked like a sweaty, lost hobo rather than like an English lady in her garden----as I like to pretend I am.

I quickly learned that roses bring out smiles, questions, and stories in those who stopped to admire the roses and chat. Walkers, such as parents with children, loved receiving my fragrant roses. I would try to offer roses in their choice of colors since I have such a large rose bed. Fellow rosarians often requested permission to try to root a particular rose, and inexperienced rose lovers lingered to learn tips for growing roses. Then, I have had drivers quickly brake to a stop, jump out of their car, and enjoy time with the roses and me as if they were my relatives coming to visit.  Most have had a story to share about memories of a grandparent’s rose garden when they were a child or some other sweet memory. Did it matter that we were perfect strangers?  Absolutely not.  Our personal culture and appearance were irrelevant as the roses’ fragrance and multi-colored English-styled rose bed made us one in those moments we shared.  The roses have even attracted a future bride and prom ladies who wanted to pose beside their favorite roses.  (I just reminded them that a rose’s thorns can cause an ugly prick in their clothes and skin.)

My rose garden also became the perfect place to grow dahlias. Because Sumter winters have not killed the bulbs, eye-catching dinner plate dahlias start to bloom in late July when roses tend to take a short rest before jumping back into action in late August.  Dahlias have had the same effect in attracting those who pass by.  Many vow to plant their own dahlias in the future and ask for advice. (Actually, I only know that my dahlias are great companions with my roses.)

Each summer, I have garden moments that I have not planned. Usually, I am covered with perspiration, have dirt smudged on my face, have a wide-brimmed hat cocked on my head  and have a shirt with a few small tears caused by thorns when someone approaches my roses and smiles.  I have learned that the smile is a cue that we will be having a pleasant conversation.

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