The Lowcountry of South Carolina is abundant with flora of all shapes and sizes, including native and non-native trees, bushes, and plants. From magnolias to dogwoods to azaleas and camellias, there’s something in bloom here practically all year round. The favorite blossom of many local gardeners during the fall and winter months is the beautiful camellia. With its exotic origins in the orient, the camellia has become one of the most popular plants in the southeastern United States.
A longtime “Southern staple” in Lowcountry gardens, camellias were first introduced to our area in 1786, when André Michaux, the royal botanist for King Louis XVI of France, presented the first camellias to the Middleton family at their Ashley River plantation near Charleston. More than two hundred and thirty years since their introduction, literally hundreds of varietals have taken root in the Lowcountry.
Among the most popular varietals of camellias are “Pink Perfection” and “Debutante” as well as “Shi Shi Gashira,” and “Irrational Exuberance.” There’s also the aptly named “Winter Star,” because camellias bloom mostly in the colder months of November through March.
Camellias are fairly simple to care for: plant in rich soil in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. As they mature and the canopy of leaves provides more shade to the roots, they can take increasingly more sun. Camellias thrive in ample moisture and well-drained soil. Be sure they get plenty of water when conditions are dry.
If you would like to learn more about these captivating plants, join The Greenery Garden Center and Wendy Dickes for a free presentation about camellias, a southern staple for your Lowcountry garden. Wendy will share helpful tips for keeping your camellias happy and healthy all winter long, whether they are newly planted or mature and established. Participants will also receive a 10% off discount on all Garden Center items after Wendy’s talk!
Event Details: All About Camellias! Free event Saturday, October 28th at 10:30am Outdoors in the Camellia Garden 960 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island 843-592-3759 visitthegreenery.com
Man, is it hot outside! Summer has officially arrived and that means it’s time to take extra special care of your yard to protect it from this intense summer heat.
But summer doesn’t mean that your yard doesn’t get to look its best. With a few extra steps, you can keep your yard looking great despite the rising temperatures.
Here are some tips to keep your landscape looking fabulous all summer long!
Water Often and Early Dry, hot weather in the summer depletes soil moisture which can cause wilted blades and leaves. It also reduces root growth. Practice watering your plants and lawns on a regular basis, enough to soak plants and turf with a day or two in between depending on soil and sun exposure. The water should reach 4-6 inches deep.
Remember to water early in the morning, ideally before sunrise, allowing plants time to soak up any moisture before the heat of day sets in. Also pay attention to weather forecasts and adjust your watering plan if heavy rain is expected in your area.
To Fertilize or Not to Fertilize? Many of the grasses that make up Lowcountry lawns and other warm weather areas would greatly benefit from a mid-summer fertilizer to promote healthy growth. But be careful not to burn an already heat-stressed grass. If you are unsure, it’s best to consult a professional about whether to fertilize, and what type of fertilizer to use.
Plant Colorful Summer Annuals If your yard is looking a little dull as the summer season progresses, or you are ready for a burst of exciting summer color, then consider incorporating new summer-blooming annuals or perennials. Salvia, Zinnias, Pentas, and Lantana are great examples that do well in the Lowcountry.
Be aware when planting which flowers need more light and shade and arrange in your yard accordingly. Also be sure to water new plants adequately to promote healthy root growth.
Give Your Plants a Rest The summer is a stressful time for plants that are battling the heat and sun exposure. Try not to over prune or severely cut back plants when it’s this hot, recovery may not be as timely as thought. Routine pruning is helpful, and safety pruning may be needed.
For more tips about caring for your yard this summer and other info, follow The Greenery Garden Center on Facebook and Instagram at @GreeneryIncGardenCenter.
by Darren Davis, Hilton Head Residential Branch Manager
He was not a runner but at age 47, like most of us, Ronald Vargas was feeling the pressures of life. You’ve been there. Family, work, aging, you name it, these mid-life stressors are real.
But one’s ability to “dig deep and keep going” is equally as real and Vargas is living proof of this. “I was not happy at home and didn’t want to be there. So I decided to go walking. Then I decided to walk-run. Then I just ran,” said Vargas, who is a Production Manager at The Greenery and no stranger to hard work.
Now at 57, Vargas has completed five 100-mile races, five 50-mile races, two 24-hour races, one 160-mile race, and numerous marathons and trail runs. Always striving, on August 11, Vargas will compete in his most grueling course to date: the Bigfoot 200, a four-day 200-mile race through high elevations in the Cascade Mountains in Washington state.
Talking about his preparation for Bigfoot 200, Vargas admitted, “There is a lot of pressure. You never know how you are going to do the day of the race. You can do all the training, but you never know. Elite guys even drop miles in.”
So Vargas has been concentrating on his mental game. “I’m hard-headed. I’m a push guy. However, I listen to my body and know how much to push it.” Vargas’ long distance runs have taught him how to tune out everything around him and just look at each foot as it steps in front of the other, propelling him forward toward his goal.
Vargas also has a hardcore training schedule. “Some days, I am up at 5 a.m. and work until 5 p.m. and then go home. I make sure everything is fine, eat, shower, and chill, and even though I’m freaking tired around 10 p.m. I run four to five hours. I have to be prepared for running at night.” During his workouts, Vargas also focuses on strengthening his legs. At times, he will run outside weighted down with 15 to 20 pounds of filled water bottles or inside on a 15-incline with a 25-pound weighted vest.
And yet, regarding race preparation, it is Vargas’ approach to life that gives him the competitive edge. “When I do something, I do it with a lot of passion.” Vargas began working at The Greenery 24 years ago as a crew member and likens his professional success to his running. “Work and running both take dedication. I do not compete with others. Just myself. I do not need to do anything better than chase my own dreams and do it with a positive mind.”
You should know, though, that getting Vargas across the finish line takes more than just training. “I really rely on the emotional support of other people. I wish I could have my best friend go with me, but he can’t go. I also need financial support. These races are expensive. I need three to four new pair of shoes, nutrition, and money to travel for training and to go to the race.” Jokingly Vargas then added, “And I need to sleep at night.”
Vargas manages his stress just as he competes in his races: one foot in front of the other, step by step. “When I get in a low patch, I know I need to dig down into my soul and keep going.” Vargas’ mental endurance has helped him overcome several physical challenges on the race course like losing a toenail, blisters, muscle cramps, and vomiting, as well as personal challenges off the race course. “We all have the ability to keep going.”
Our very own Janet Fanning was recently interviewed by Sarah Claire McDonald from The Island Packet sharing her expertise in creating a beautiful garden that will attract butterflies all summer long.
Have you ever walked through a local botanical garden and longingly wished you could have your own butterfly garden at home?
As it turns out, it’s not too difficult to reimagine a butterfly haven in your own yard.
Having the right soil, having enough sunlight and adequate watering and caring for your flowers is all you need.
The preparation of the soils, getting a soil test to make sure you have the right environment for your plants, ideally at least some morning sun or a full day’s amount of sun as well as pre-made plans for the plants you’d like to have are all important beginning steps to creating an at-home butterfly garden, said Janet Fanning, manager for the The Greenery’s Hilton Head Island Garden Center. The Greenery’s Garden center is located on the island at 960 William Hilton Parkway.
Many pollinator plants, the best plants to select for such a garden, are sun-lovers.
The pollinator garden at the Garden Center holds a variety of plants that butterflies and bees love to orient themselves around and create a wonderful butterfly garden.
Passionvine, Salvia and Cuphea are predominant and necessary plants in a South Carolina butterfly garden. These brightly colored flowers even make up a majority of the Garden Center’s pollinator garden.
Many different varieties of Salvia are available and will bloom throughout the summer. They tend to be a group favorite for pollinators at the Garden Center. Cuphea also comes in several different varieties.
“If your goal is to host and take care of the Monarchs, a really important plant to have is Asclepias,” Fanning said.
Asclepias is also known as Milkweed and is essential for these butterflies.
The Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on the Asclepias and the hatchlings will munch away at it. Eventually the caterpillars will then form their chrysalis and the butterfly will soon emerge, Fanning said about the asclepias’ importance to Monarch butterflies’ life cycle.
Dill is the similar equivalent of Milkweed as a host plant for the Swallowtail butterfly.
Buddleia, also known as butterfly bush, is a common addition to any butterfly garden as well.
Now is a good time to plan for your garden and to plant your pollinators. You can plug new plants into your garden all summer long until the temperatures begin to chill and potentially frost. However, the earlier you plant your Milkweed plant the better.
We’re fortunate here because we can garden for such a long time before the cold dormancy of winter then on to another long growing season, Fanning said.
Growers will want to focus primarily on the pollinator plants when starting their own garden. This is why initially planning the plants you want to include beforehand is essential.
It’s important to understand the necessary needs of each plant, the sunlight they require and how much they need to be watered. Watching the plants and pruning weak flower buds is also the key to maintaining your plants’ health and maximizing bountiful blooms.
Butterflies all live together. I recommend planting lots of different plants and having a jumble of color and texture in your garden, detailed Fanning. This is going to please the bees as well as the butterflies. Especially in the late summer you’ll notice the garden alive with movement.
“It’s a lot of fun honestly and it’s not hard to do,” Fanning said.
Fanning also noted that it is important to water your plants in the morning before the heat of the day to fully hydrate the plants and prepare them enough to tolerate the coming heat.
In midsummer they are just beautiful. You can see the humming and the buzzing and, with the Salvia, hummingbirds will visit them all the time too. So, they are a part of the equation. The butterflies, the bees and the hummingbirds all benefit, explained Fanning.
“The hummingbirds are incredible, but just watching the interplay with all of it is amazing. If you’re having a stressful day you go out to just see all of the butterflies, especially the Zebra Longwing which is my favorite, it’s truly just wonderful.”
Need help getting started on your butterfly garden? Visit us today at The Greenery Garden Center. We would be happy to help!
Berry and Ruthie Edwards signed the papers on a car hood when they bought a piece of Hilton Head Island 50 years ago. They were buying a nursery in a place they’d seen for the first time three months earlier. The two-lane main drag out front was pretty empty in 1973, but Berry saw signs of growth coming.
Still, it was a dare to quit his job as a textiles executive. He was a 30-year-old Sewanee English major. She was 28 with an art degree from Rollins College. They had two little boys, Berry III, 5, and Lee, 3. And Berry knew not one thing about plants.
“We made flash cards,” Ruthie said, “and the only way he could get a drink at night was to recite the names of 20 plants.”
They named their business The Greenery, and it has beaten tremendously long odds. As it marks its 50th anniversary this month, it joins David Martin’s Piggly Wiggly as one the few existing island businesses to survive that long under the same ownership.
What Berry and Ruthie bought was called Hillside Nursery, with six employees, six lawn mowers and two pickup trucks. This summer, The Greenery expects a staff of 750 to work its locations on the island, Bluffton, Beaufort, Savannah, Greenville, Amelia Island, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach.
Through it all, the face of the business remains the same: a wood frame building they bought for $600 from Gethsemane Baptist Church in Okatie and barged it to the island.
“We wanted something attractive there,” Ruthie said. “It was perfect.”
That simple, decommissioned church stands as a symbol of a plucky generation of new islanders who dared to be different. They often struggled financially, but found other creative people here, and, as Ruthie says, “We worked like dogs all week and partied like dogs all weekend.”
Lee Edwards now runs the company as president, while his brother owns and operates another venerable business, Island Tire & Automotive Services.
In an interview, Lee Edwards discussed how a family business can possibly survive 50 years on Hilton Head:
Have descendants. Lee took over as president in 2007. Mixing family and business can be hard. Ruthie said: “Berry fired me and I quit. We weren’t compatible business partners.” She opened a Christmas shop.
Add services. They offered tennis court installation for a while; added landscape maintenance, then landscape design, then the design/build concept doing both. Ruthie said business was helped by referrals from legendary landscape architect Robert Marvin, who liked working with Berry.
Adapt. Landscape maintenance has veered away from residential to commercial customers. The retail nursery in the old church building is now a small part of the business. They do more staff training and have moved to robotic lawn mowers and electric leaf blowers.
Take care of employees. Berry Edwards said: “You can achieve sustained, quality growth by finding and keeping the best people at all levels of a company.” To do this, the company has become employee-owned. Employees earn stock, which has increased in value. It pays more, accepting that the minimum wage here is at least twice the government mandate. It provides transportation. Employees take company vans home to nearby communities, bringing others to and from work. It provides some housing for workers. The company owns six to eight condos on Hilton Head and rents some houses in the Hardeeville area. It offers a signing bonus to new hires. It offers a referral bonus to employees who refer new workers. It pays a lot of overtime.
“I’d rather pay a good employee time and a half than pay somebody else who won’t get the job done,” Lee Edwards said.
Give back to the community. They did landscaping for the island’s Youth Center in 1974, the forerunner to the Island Recreation Association, and in 2012 did landscaping for the Spanish Moss Trail in Beaufort. More than 250 employees were involved when they did a one-day tear-down and replanting of landscaping at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Berry Edwards said, “You reap what you sew.”
Grow. They did it by buying businesses. “We grow, not to be the biggest, but to give employees the next step up,” Lee Edwards said.
Work hard. “Dad was a workaholic,” Lee said. He tells about the summer day when he was 14, sitting at home watching television when he told his father there was nothing to do. “Well, there’s going to be something for you to do tomorrow,” he was told, and that was his welcome to the world of landscape maintenance.
Living in the south, we don’t have freezing temperatures very often. But occasionally, Jack Frost DOES make a visit and we need to be prepared to protect our plants and lawn. Although the first freeze warning has already come and gone in our area, there could be more to come this winter. Taking these extra steps before a freeze will help your yard fare much better when the frost arrives. Also, a year-round approach to lawn maintenance makes the transition into spring go much more smoothly.
A freeze warning occurs when the temperature threatens to drop below 32° F. To avoid damage to your yard, follow these five steps:
Bring your potted plants inside
The easiest way to protect potted plants is to bring them indoors if possible. But if this isn’t an option, place your plants close together so they can protect one another. The plants most susceptible to damage are tropicals, azaleas, tomatoes and petunias.
Moving potted plants inside and outside regularly can cause undo stress on the plants. So you may want to consider just moving plants indoor for the duration of the cold months.
Cover tender plants
Just like we bundle up for cold weather – plants need to also! If possible, cover the roots of your plants with mulch or pine straw. Use cloths or burlap to cover your plants to shield them from the freeze. A proper cover should reach down to the roots in order to trap in heat. Don’t use tarps or plastics that can damage the limbs and create condensation on the foliage.
At the Greenery Garden Center, we use N-Sulate frost cloths to protect our outdoor plants and shrubs. N-Sulate cloths help covered plants to stay 5 degrees warmer as well as protect against frost without weighing down branches. But keep in mind that this cloth will not help when there is a hard freeze.
Once temperatures start rising during the day, be sure to uncover your plants to avoid condensation from forming.
3. Water your plants
Wet soil helps to retain more heat than dry soil. And winter winds can remove water from plants faster than the roots can actually absorb it. Water acts as an insulator for plants. Plant cells that are hydrated will hold up better against cold damage.
Try to water a day or so before the freeze in the morning directly at the plant’s root system. Avoid getting any of the actual foliage wet. Wet leaves are more likely to form frost that can cause more damage than just the cold air.
The exception to this rule is for succulents. Because they hold water and water expands when frozen, any freezing temperatures can cause succulents to break open.
Pay extra attention to newly planted trees and plants in your yard. Their root systems are less established and the disheveled soil may allow cold air to penetrate deeper into their roots.
If the ground is already frozen, skip the watering. Also, you don’t want to water if there’s a hard freeze (at least four hours of 25°) or the outside temperature is already below 40°.
This step is quite particular. Over watering can actually cause more harm to your plants. So water with care!
4. Protect your pipes and your irrigation system
One of the MOST important things to do before a freeze is to make sure your pipes are protected. A busted pipe can be an expensive and messy problem!
Unhook your outdoor hoses and turn off the water that leads to outdoor spigots. Try to cover exposed spigots using towels. Another way to protect pipes before a freeze is by leaving a slow trickle of water running overnight.
To ensure your irrigation systems are protected from the cold winter weather, be sure to:
Shut off the water. The main valve that controls water flow should be located by your water meter. If your system prevents backflow, you’ll also want to turn that off.
Turn off the automatic timer.
Drain the water. This is the most time-consuming, but important step. Some systems are equipped with an automatic drain feature. If not, you will need to drain the water manually.
If you aren’t comfortable with winterizing your irrigation system, The Greenery is here to help! Give us a call to winterize your irrigation system.
5. Avoid walking on your lawn
By the winter months, your grass becomes quite brittle. Walking on your lawn when there is a frost can actually break the blades. In spring and summer, grass blades can bounce back easily from being walked on. But damage done in the winter can affect the growth of your lawn in the springtime. So try to avoid stepping on your grass in the freezing weather.
Even though it doesn’t happen often – freezing temperatures can be costly on your yard and lawn. It’s much better to be proactive to help your yard flourish once the springtime rolls around.
For more tips about winter weather preparation and other info, follow The Greenery Garden Center on Facebook and Instagram at @GreeneryIncGardenCenter.
December 12 is National Poinsettia Day! The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the South Carolina congressman attributed with bringing this beautiful plant from Mexico to the U.S. This iconic holiday plant is the #1 selling potted plant in America. In fact, it contributes more than $250 million to our nation’s economy annually despite its short shelf life.
Did you know…
Poinsettias are native to Mexico where they actually grow as shrubby trees. In the wild, they typically bloom in December.
Poinsettias don’t have to be red. The plant has more than 100 varieties…white, cream, pink, purple, orange and yellow. In addition to marble and bicolor varieties.
The poinsettias color “flower” is actually a modified leaf called a bract. The real flower is the small yellow flowers (cyathiums) found clustered in the center of the bracts.
Although, poinsettias are commercially grown across all 50 states, California is the top poinsettia-producing state in the U.S.
Poinsettias can grow up to 15 feet tall!
In order to bloom and thrive, poinsettias need both sunshine and dark nights. The shorter days and longer nights of the “holiday season” are what cause poinsettias to bloom this time of year.
Here are some simple steps to ensure your poinsettia lasts all season long:
When picking your plant, look for a poinsettia that has tiny greenish flowers in the middle that are tightly closed. As the plant grows, they will turn yellow.
Keep your poinsettia covered when bringing it home. And don’t leave it in a chilly car!
Place your poinsettia in a window with sunlight. Since they are tropical plants, they can tolerate full sun.
Remember to water your poinsettia!
While these plants are mostly short lived, they definitely add a spark of holiday cheer to almost every gathering, doorstep and centerpiece this season. They also make a great hostess gift! Share a little holiday cheer by gifting a beautiful poinsettia at your next holiday party!
Did you know that Fall is the best season to install new plant material in South Carolina? This is the best time of year in our state to consider installing new material before the chilly winter ahead. Although true northerners may chuckle when those of us in the Lowcountry discuss our “chilly” temperatures – it IS important to be ready for the temperature to drop so that you and your plants aren’t caught off guard.
In our area, above-ground plants go dormant and cease growth in the Fall and Winter months. This includes evergreen shrubs and plants! However, the soil does not freeze, which allows plant roots to continue growing, even in colder weather.
If you plant now, when Spring does arrive then root development has a head start to search for water and nutrients leading to optimum growth during the warmer seasons.
You must provide adequate water during the establishment period. Plants installed in the warmer months will require more water than in the Fall or Winter. That’s why planting during this season requires a bit less water consumption.
When buying new plant material, take a look at the size of the shrub in the grower’s pot, especially the root ball. The roots are where the majority of water and nutrients are taken into the plant. Smaller root balls cannot sustain larger plants for long periods of time. These will need more frequent and deep watering practices.
It’s always crucial to check with your local garden center to select the right plants for your yard and season. At The Greenery, we rely on a guide called “plant hardiness zones” as well as our many years of expertise in the markets we serve to help make our plant selections for our customers. This helpful guide created by the USDA specifies which plants will fare well in certain geographic regions based on the average temperature and rainfall. (Although no one can fully predict Mother Nature – so it is simply used as a guide.)
Not sure what to plant? Stop by The Greenery’s Garden Center to speak to one of our experts so that you can get planting today!
When you think of flowers in the Fall season – one of the most popular is the Chrysanthemum (or Mum for short). But, if you’ve ever purchased Chrysanthemums, you know that they aren’t the easiest plant to keep alive. Yet this stubborn Fall staple is almost a requirement to keep on your front doorstep or porch this time of year.
Although many people treat Mums as Fall annuals, they are actually fairly hardy perennials. Mums can come in a variety of colors including yellow, lavender, pink, purple, red, bronze, orange, and white.
So…what are you supposed to do to avoid the dreaded brown Mums that inevitably occur if not cared for properly? Instead of hoping that people just think your dead Mums are a scary Halloween decoration, proper care can result in beautiful, thriving mums! Just follow these simples tips:
Begin with Less Blooms: Mums that are covered in colorful blooms may provide instant gratification, but it’s better to purchase plants that haven’t fully flowered yet. Each of the mum’s bloom consists of tiny flowers called florets.
While it may be tempting to choose the plant with the most florets from your local nursery or garden shop, try to choose one with less blooms instead. This will help extend the life of your plant through the season and allow you to enjoy the flowers even longer!
Water Frequently: Although a very popular plant throughout our communities in the Fall, Mums actually do not like the hot southern heat here in the Lowcountry. That’s why it’s crucial to frequently water your mums, sometimes up to twice per day. If you notice the leaves are wilting on your mum plants, then spray a bit of water on the leaves to revive them.
Choose Partial Shade: Mums can technically tolerate full sun exposure, but it’s best to place them in a partially shaded spot. Try to place your mums on a covered porch or under the shade of a tree in your yard.
Select the Right Soils: Mums thrive in moist soil that drains easily. Make sure the pot they are planted in has drainage holes in the bottom to allow water to escape freely during watering. Mums do not like standing water and will quickly rot if left too wet.
Pondering purchasing a Chrysanthemum? Come visit our experts at the Greenery Garden Center for more tips to keep your Chrysanthemums alive and thriving all season long.
Container gardening is a great way to enjoy beautiful plant combinations on your patio or by an entryway. You can enjoy beautiful containers of plants and flowers, even fresh herbs, year round.
There are THREE simple elements to designing a wonderful container garden. Remember these when you go shopping for plants and you can’t go wrong. Each container should contain a:
Thriller plants are the big, bold focal points of your container plant designs. This plant provides an eye-catching vertical element. Tall, ornamental grasses such as purple fountain grass or Japanese sweet flag work well, but you can also use spiky blooming plants such as Canna Lily, Asters, Cosmos, Salvia, and Dahlia.
Filler plants are mid-size, mounding, or rounded plants that surround and enhance the thriller and fill the space in the planter. You can use one filler or opt for two or three different plants in your container gardening design. Suggestions include: Begonias, Coleus, Petunias, Lantana, Geraniums, Caladium, and Gerbera Daisies.
Spillers are splashy plants that cascade and tumble over the sides of the container. For example, here are some popular choices: Sweet Potato Vine (available in purple or green), Bacopa, Ivy, Trailing Vinca, and Trailing Begonia.
Remember these tips when preparing a Container Garden:
Be sure to use pots that will accommodate the plants when they are fully grown.
Good drainage is a must.
Use a high quality potting soil, and place plants together that have common needs. For example, don’t mix sun and shade plants. Plants that require a lot of watering shouldn’t be mixed in the same container with drought-loving specimens.
Group plants in odd numbers. It creates a more natural vibe.
For more information or a little guidance to get you started, be sure to stop by The Greenery Garden Center to ask one of our Garden Experts!
This place is great! They have everything you need to be a great plant owner and their plants look so healthy. I went for the first time the other day, as I pass by it almost every day I drive to work, and it did not disappoint! The staff was so nice, and very knowledgeable. I will be returning!