Garden Diary - March 2009

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Monday, 9 March 2009
Nursery Visits Around Charleston

I'm not lecturing for the Charleston Horticultural Society until this evening. Patti, my hostess, is polishing her garden so it will be at its best when 40 members of the Camden, South Carolina garden club arrive for lunch on Tuesday. I'm going to be chauffeured around to garden centers and nurseries on James Island and Johns Island to keep me out from underfoot and suitably entertained. Just another day in the briar patch, right Br'er Rabbit?

Hyams Nursery at 870 Folly Road, James Island, South Carolina

This was our first stop. And who should we see here but Patti, intent on acquiring just a few more plants to fill up some bare spots in her garden. That's her theory. Mine is that the garden looks extremely well. But as we all know, visitors and garden owners may not see the same thing even when both are looking at it.

Hyams is an up-market garden center featuring excellent plants,
garden tools, fertilizers, all sorts of garden ornaments from fountains
to plaques and fancy pots, and garden books including several copies
of Waterscaping which I dutifully (and happily) autographed


A classic long Tom pot (deeper than wide)
with a rosemary just begging to become topiary.

A manger-style window box planted with herbs, lettuce, and Bull's Blood beet.
Pretty to look at and good enough to eat. The edible, ornamental garden.

And in the spirit of place that indicates we're in the Deep South,
tubers of elephant ear, Colocasia, and caladiums, plants that thrive
when heat and high humidity arrive with the dog days of Summer.

Sea Island Savory Herbs at 5920 Chisholm Road, Johns Island, South Carolina

Previously Pete's Herbs, it was just last month, February 2009, that two new owners with continuing guidance from Pete himself reorganized as Sea Island Savory Herbs. They're busy propagating, planting, tidying up and preparing for the rush of customers as Charleston's premier herb nursery opens up for the Spring season.

Numerous large pots of rosemary, a garden perennial in these parts.

A deliciously fragrant hoop house with luscious pots of fragrant mints.

There's apparently a fondness for succulent too, as exemplified by this
weighty hypertufa dish with assorted aeoniums and jelly bean succulents.

Palm Trees Ltd. at 2615 Bohicket Road, Johns Island, South Carolina

This one was a happenstance stop. To wit - I saw a sign for Palm Trees Ltd. by the side of the road and asked if we might stop. Obligingly finding a place to turn around, in we went. I think they sell wholesale as well as retail.

A stockpile of rather sizable palms with no fronds and absurdly small rootballs.

Casually swinging one through the air, loading them like jackstraws.

We strolled down a row of nursery stock. I could have been back in Puerto Rico.

These are year-round, all-year-long, outdoor plants. Well, Charleston is
a lot like Florida with mild winters and torrid summers (when,
Patti assured me, everyone in Charleston goes somewhere else.)

Brownswood Road Nursery at 1290 Brownswood Road, Johns Island, South Carolina

They had pots of the beautiful Lady Banks rose, at very modest prices.
The English said this was miffy and a poor doer. But that's because
they don't have the right climate. British summers are hardy torrid
and the lady loves heat. The largest Rosa banksiae I ever saw
was in Tombstone, Arizona. Planted in 1885 it now covers
8,660 sq ft of trellis in the garden of the Rose Tree Museum.
Evergreen, the yellow form has beauty but is scentless,
while the white one smells deliciously like violets.

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