Newsletter

October 2019 Print

Welcome

We are happy to finally publish our first edition of "The Scoop," The Garden Club of South Carolina's electronic newsletter.  We hope you will enjoy this, and future editions!

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Calendar of Events

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President's Message

Welcome to The Scoop, the official newsletter of the Garden Club of South Carolina, Inc., devoted to sharing timely and environmentally friendly gardening education to members in all districts of our beautiful state.

 South Carolina is naturally rich and abundantly diverse. With land spanning from the Blue Ridge Mountains down through the Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plains and Maritime Strands, our unique physiography provides a wealth of natural communities.

 Over the course of our colonial and agricultural history and through the continued urbanization and industrial expansion of our state, much of our ecological heritage has been lost or fractured into non-contiguous natural preserves. While many of our affiliate organizations seek to remedy this on a grand scale, we, as gardeners, can make our own significant impact simply by changing the way we garden at home and in our communities.

 Thus, the GardenFORLife Initiative was born. The GardenFORLife Initiative is an amalgamation of many gardening methods including organic, native/non-invasive, bio-intensive, sustainable/permaculture, forest, pollinator and wildlife gardening, and can incorporate the best practices of each. While the purpose remains static, the applications are dynamic and infinitive and provide as much reward to the gardener as they do to the garden.  

 The GardenFORLife Initiative

 The fundamental principle of the GardenFORLife Initiative is to promote gardening practices that maximize and harmonize diversity at all levels of the landscape. Put simply, we invite you to garden FOR life instead of just for beauty or productivity.  By creating lush, bio-intensive and naturally diverse, residential landscapes, we aim to preserve South Carolina's ecological heritage while nurturing our own gardening experience.

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Garden FOR Life

Gardeners are caregivers by nature!  We tend all things green. We get invigorated when a plant is coaxed back from the dead, and leap for joy when the night blooming cereus finally blooms. We are social-media-posting crazy when the first tomato ripens, and surf the internet for hours just to identify an unusual new plant that caught our eye on our morning walk.

We are also eternally thirsty for scientific methods that will maximize our ability to create consistent productivity and beauty in our gardens. After all, the more we know, the better we can predict results, right?

But there's another side to gardening that we often overlook and it exists within the enchantment of relationship. In our efforts to "master" the science of gardening,  we often miss those magical experiences that drew us to gardening in the first place.

Think back to your childhood experiences in nature. Did you need to know the botanical name of the tree to enjoy the climb?  Wasn't the enchantment created more by the attributes you encountered: the roughness of the bark, the sounds of the rustling leaves, the sweet discovery of the bird's nest?

As adults, we now know that same tree needs a healthy root zone, steady rainfall or supplemental watering, likes a specific pH, and supports hundreds of butterflies and moths. The problem arises when knowledge and the pursuit of perfection outweighs the personal benefits of the experience.  We forget how it feels to be there and get stuck in the chores of maintaining perfection.

Recreating those magical experiences that we remember requires a combination of science and soulfulness.  The GardenFORLife Initiative seeks to cultivate a healthy relationship with your garden by connecting fundamental gardening knowledge with ecological awareness and personal enrichment. Like any healthy relationship, it's requires give and take, work and play, participation and presence. 

This newsletter is dedicated to nurturing the GardenFORLife philosophy. Our goal is to make better gardeners who get as much from their gardens as their gardens get from us.

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Month by Month Gardening

Gardening In October

The cool nights and bright sparkling days of October bring beauty and color to the season and to the garden.  While the spring and summer gardening tasks may change or diminish, October still calls for gardening.

Here are some suggestions for gardening in October:

  • Clean debris from garden and flower beds. 
  • Mulch where needed, such as rose beds. The roots of some plants need protection from extreme cold.
  • Clean and sharpen garden tools.
  • Fertilize chrysanthemums lightly; remove buds for larger flowers.
  • Use gibberellic acid to force camellia buds to open sooner and get larger; use Neem Oil to get rid of scale, mealy bugs, or mites.
  • Divide perennials every three years.  Remember, the first year, they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap.
  • Plant daffodils; feed with bulb fertilizer or potash from your fireplace.
  • Plant pansies and winter annuals; feed with slow release fertilizer now. 
  • Plant and transplant trees and shrubs; water well.
  • Sow wild flower seeds.
  • Seed lawns with annual rye grass for winter color.
  • Chill spring bulbs in a paper bag and away from vegetables to 35-45 degrees in the refrigerator.
  • Store purchased or saved seeds in the refrigerator or a cool dry place.
  • Cut fall clematis to the ground.
  • Prune shrubs and roses ONLY for neatness. Heavy pruning will encourage growth which must be avoided as roses are hardening off for winter.)
  • Put houseplants in greenhouses or indoors if they have been in the garden for the summer; groom plants and check for pests regularly.
  • Bring in Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti when the nights turn cool. Place them in a low light area until you want them to bloom; then move to a brightly lit area.
  • Not only is October the month to begin preparing for winter in the garden, but it is also a time to start the process for spring and summer’s blooms.  Enjoy the gardening process!

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Native Plant of the Month

Callicarpa Americana

American Beautyberry

Callicarpa Americana, also called American beautyberry, is native to the east coast and the iridescent purple berries make it the star of the fall garden.  Because it is hardy from zones 6 through 9, it can be grown anywhere in South Carolina. American beautyberry requires well drained soil and is somewhat drought tolerant when established. The neat habit of this small shrub makes it perfect for growing in small gardens. Traditionally it is an understory shrub, found at the edge of wooded areas where it enjoys full to part sun. The berry color is improved with more sun, although hot afternoon sun in warmer areas of the state may over stress the plant, resulting in the opposite effect.

Callicarpa grows in a loose, open habit and reaches approximately 6-8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The flowers appear in mid to late summer and, although some people describe them as insignificant, they are small, pale pink in color, and slightly fuzzy in texture making them delicate and interesting to see. Shortly after the flowers mature the berries form, starting out green and maturing to the purple for which they are best known. Beautyberry is not bothered by pests or any major diseases. Fungal issues are also rare, making this shrub truly problem free in most gardens.  In fact, it has been touted as an effective repellent to mosquitoes, horseflies, deerflies, ticks, and other biting insects. The flowers are visited by numerous small insects and butterflies.  The fruit is high in moisture content and is an important food source for birds and other wildlife. When the stems of berries are they hold their color making them great for fall arrangements and door wreaths.

Plant callicarpa at the back of a shrub or perennial garden where it forms a green background throughout growing season. The young leaves can be damaged by late frost, but this is not an issue for most gardeners, as the shrub generally puts out leaves a later than other shrubs. Of course, there are years when early February temperatures fool nature into thinking spring is here, only to have temperatures plummet in March. The leaves may be damaged but new ones will be formed when temperatures warm.

Callicarpa Americana ‘Alba’ is a white berried variety, and there are numerous colors on the market which are native to Asia such as Callicarpa dichotoma and Callicarpa Japonica.

If you decide to grow this beautiful native plant, make sure it is located in a spot where the stunning berries can be seen and admired in fall.

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Pollinator of the Month

Monarchs and Milkweed

When I was a young girl growing up in Central Texas, I remember seeing blankets of Monarch butterflies resting on the shady lawns of stately old homes.  Hundreds upon hundreds of them, in mid to late September, stopped to rest from their long journey from the north as far away as Canada.

  Fall-blooming flowers provided a respite with food and nourishment for the remainder of their migration to Mexico.  Many of the homes around town had gardens with late-blooming flowers.  All that orange and black completely covering the grassy lawns, was a sight I shall forever remember.

This memory served as my inspiration to raise Monarch butterflies, although there are other vital factors that now come into play.  Elimination of habitats as well as the increased use of herbicides and insecticides, have alarmingly reduced Monarch populations.  Many concerned and inspired nature-lovers gratefully engage in bee-keeping.  Monarchs, like bees and other valuable pollinating insects, are disappearing and need our help!

  One day, someone asked me, “What are butterflies good for?”  I was alarmed that perhaps there are many people in the world who don’t realize the value of pollinators and other insects.   What could I do to help increase the dwindling population of pollinators?  I decided I would help educate the public about the role of pollinators in our environment by raising butterflies.

The first task for me to do before raising Monarchs was to incorporate their host plant, milkweed, in my existing butterfly garden.  Milkweed is the only host plant on which the females lay eggs and the caterpillars feed.  Unless there is milkweed growing wild, it must be planted where it can be harvested as needed to feed the hungry Monarch caterpillars.  I found milkweed at a nearby herb farm, where I knew they started their plants from seeds, and never sprayed them with insecticides.  Soon I noticed a Monarch gliding around my butterfly garden. 

A butterfly garden should attract pollinators with nectar-producing flowers such as Garden Phlox, Milkweed, Blanket Flower, Black-Eyed Susans, Blazing Star, Bee Balm, New England Aster, Joe Pye Weed, and Purple Coneflower, according to the book, “Monarch Butterfly” by Harry Goldcroft. 

In a few days, I found a tiny, pearl-like egg on the underside of a milkweed leaf.  Eggs usually become tiny caterpillars within five days and feed for about two weeks before they become lovely green chrysalises with gold sparkles, emerging as adult butterflies in nine to fourteen days.

What have I gained from my experience of raising butterflies?  Through research, I have learned not only about the value of butterflies as pollinators, but about the importance of biodiversity in our environment.  In conclusion, it is imperative that we, as gardeners, educate ourselves and the public concerning the way we conceptualize our gardens and their impact in the larger landscape.

If you are interested in raising Monarch butterflies, I recommend the book, “Monarch Butterfly” by Harry Goldcroft. “Bringing Nature Home” by Douglas W. Tallamy is an excellent resource for sustaining wildlife with native plants. 

By working together, we can answer the question, “What good are butterflies?”, and do something to help them survive.  Let’s bring back our Monarchs and support our pollinators! 

Questions about this article may be directed to Lynne Bauman, Magnolia Garden Club, Johns Island.

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Gardening for Pollinators

Thanks to organizations like Monarch Watch and Save Our Monarchs, gardeners everywhere are planting native milkweeds, harvesting the larva, and raising them in captivity. It is a fun and easy activity for teaching kids about the environment, observing the transformation first hand, and releasing them from the plam of your hand.

While other butterflies are just as easy to raise for release, monarchs have become the "keystone species" for backyard butterfly growers. It is estimated that approximately 10,000-20,000 additional monarchs are released each year by backyard enthusiasts.  Despite these efforts, monarch populations continue to decline.

For more information about raising and releasing monarchs, check out these links:

https://monarchwatch.org/

https://www.saveourmonarchs.org/

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East Lowcountry District

September is a transition month in the garden – the hot and dry weather eventually cools slightly toward the end of September, though hot days still occur. Regardless of the temperature, the days are shorter for all of us, which starts to affect the shrubs and plants in the garden. Cooler days also give rise to some pleasant time in the garden.

In the vegetable garden plant lettuce, and other cabbage family seedlings, all of which love cooler fall temperatures. Most cabbages can tolerate a little frost when they are well established although some, like kale and Brussel sprouts, are said to taste much better after the first hard frost.  Lettuce, which cannot tolerate frost, is easy to cover if there is a November frost. Sow carrots and peas directly into the garden for some great fall vegetables.

The perennial and shrub areas are also worth noting in September. Many stores are beginning to focus on Halloween and are looking to get rid of those sad looking perennials. As gardeners we head straight for these neglected plants, which are usually heavily  discounted. Moreover, once we start getting more rain in late September, and less nasty insects, the plants have time to put down a few roots before frosts put them into dormancy. Next spring they will perk right up and enjoy your perennial bed along with your other plants.

Shrubs too can be planted in cooler September weather and may be sold at bargain prices. Obviously, if rain is scarce, you need to water shrubs and trees to keep them hydrated so that they can put down roots and become established before winter .

Plan to plant spring bulbs in November or December since they need much cooler weather and soil. Of course you can order them, just let them chill at the back of the refrigerator until you can plant them.

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East Piedmont District

This year’s summer temperatures have taken a toll on many of our gardens and as summer ends and we begin planning our fall garden clean-up and planting, it’s a good time to remember the importance of knowing your plant zone.

In addition to removing the debris and remnants of a harsh summer, one of the most important steps in choosing plants and having success in your garden is making sure they are suited to your specific climate.

Surprisingly, zones are based on the average annual extreme MINIMAL temperatures.

They do not account for average maximum temperatures. Using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, farmers, gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to survive. Because the zones are based on minimal temperatures, some plants may struggle during extended periods of high heat whether it’s your lawn, trees, shrubs, or veggies. Even if you have planted something that is recommended for your planting zone, it will be important for you to develop a strategy to support your gardens in warmer, dryer months to prevent heat stress.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the state of South Carolina planting zone range is 7a to 9a. In addition to viewing a map of our state, you can find a more specific zone assignment by logging onto https://planthardiness.ars.usd.gov where you will find an easy tool that allows you to enter your zip code. For example, the specific zone assignment for zip code 29708 is 8a:10-15 (F).

After a long, hot summer, the garden clubs of the East Piedmont District will be getting back to growing their “force for good” soon! Best wishes for a successful club year and enjoyable fall days in your Garden FOR Life! 

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Guidelines for Submitting Articles and Information to The Scoop

  • Deadline for submission to “The Scoop” is the 15th day of the month prior to publication.
  • All gardening information must include science-based research.
  • Please no articles written in the first person, “home-remedies,” folklore, etc.
  • All copy will be reviewed and edited for grammar, spelling, and content. The editors reserve the right to condense the articles as needed.  
  • Photos must be submitted in jpeg or png format.
  • Please submit your articles via e-mail to Jan Litton ([email protected]) and Rue Lucas ([email protected]).
  • There are no restrictions on font style or size as all submissions will be formatted to the layout of the newsletter template.
  • Emphasis for articles submitted should be given to GardenFORLife Topics, including, but not limited to:

·       Organic, Sustainable, Biodiverse, and Permaculture methods
·       Pollinator host and nectar plants
·       Beneficial insects
·       Adaptive/Container methods 
·       Xeriscaping, Rain Gardening, and Environmentally Adaptive planning
·       Landscaping for Pollinators and Wildlife

  • District Directors and Chairs may also submit timely notices of upcoming events, deadlines, etc.
  • All other projects, programs, awards, advertisements, etc. are to be submitted to the SC Gardener Editor. 

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