In Episode 1, we went to a couple of local plant sales and found a bounty of plants grown by members of the Charleston Garden Club and the Charleston Horticultural Society.
The website for the Charleston Garden Club is www.thegardenclubofcharleston.org. There you can find information on joining, on tours, and on flower shows.
The Charleston Horticultural Society was a very early Charleston group that dissolved but was revived in 1999. It offers classes, virtual tours, lectures, and many resources. The website is www.chashortsoc.org.
Some of my finds were plants I have never grown, such as the Irish tassel plant (Emilia javanica), sesame, and the Formosa lily (lilium Formosanum). The plants are now in our garden and so far, so good.
The plant of the week is the highly fragrant and decorative vine, Jasminoides trachelospermum, or Confederate Jasmine. This climber, which needs support, grows beautifully in our zone 8b/9 and is covering walls, fences, arbors, and even tree trunks all over the city. Bloom started in April and I hope will continue for several weeks this May. The plant originated in China and its name has nothing to do with the southern United States, as it actually refers to the Malay Confederacy. The leaves are evergreen and the vine is hardy from zones 7b to 10. It can be grown almost anywhere, as it is both sun and shade tolerant.
In general, a weed is a plant that grows where it is not wanted. And it's usually one that you don't want anywhere in your garden.
When we bought this little one-fourth of an acre property in the Historic District of Charleston, SC, there were weeds everywhere in its woefully and completely neglected back yard. Garden is too kind a word for the tangle of May apples, Carolina cherry laurel seedlings, dandelions, crabgrass, spurge, chickweed, purslane, cress, dicondra, poa grass, and many plants that I could not identify that covered the yard. To my horror, I even found some poison ivy. Everyone in my family is highly allergic to that aggressive vine.
The small lawn was hopelessly eaten up with weeds and had to be torn up and re-laid. It's nice now, but clover, mostly dropped by the birds, continues to be its worst enemy. I wage war every year, all year long and have won a few battles.
Thanks to the lockdown for covid 19, we have had the luxury of spending more time in the garden. We are also now retired and I can devote myself to at least keeping the weeds at bay.
I have a copy of R.E. Wilkinson's and H.E. Jaques' s How to Know the Weeds. As you might expect, their advice for controlling weeds is short and sweet: never allow them to ripen seeds, never plow them under, be alert for new species and get rid of them immediately, be very careful with herbicides which can do more harm than good, and learn the weeds' growth habits and life cycles. In our small and plant-packed garden, the best method of control is, of course, daily plucking.
I do have a couple of very good tools: one is a small and narrow hoe with a serrated edge that can reach in between plants and the other is a stirrup hoe that is extremely effective in the gravel driveway.
One word of caution. Before you put your nursery plants into your garden, make certain that you are not also planting weeds. A cousin and I were lamenting some particularly noxious weeds that we each allowed to come in with a large order of shrubs and plants. We were too busy to bother checking each and every plant, or we did not notice the weeds when then first broke ground in our gardens.
You do not have to be a member of a garden club to get together for a plant swap. Any group of friends, neighbors, fellow church-goers, or relatives will usually be most receptive to a morning or afternoon of exchanging plants.
Let your targeted group know a good month in advance that you are planning to host the swap, so they can root, propagate, dig up plants and pot them, or gather seeds. Our garden club brought seeds in plastic bags, bulbs in cardboard boxes, rootings in small bottles of water, and of course, little plants in a wide assortment of various pots and containers. In addition to the small plants I had potted up for the occasion, I put out a basket lined with a cloth napkin of poppy seed heads and had extra boxes available. At the last minute, I even dug out some eomecon anemones and put them in a box (these to be planted right away, of course). Traditionally, our club members bring their own lunches to enjoy out in the hostess's garden after the meeting and the swap.
Larkspur, with its purple flowers shown above on the right, is a member of the delphininium family. It's an annual, but it produces a lot of seed, which you can gather by deadheading and then drying. Once dry, the seedpods can easily be shaken over a bag for collection. The tall blue flower spikes are stunning in the late spring and early summer garden and there are also white and pink varieties.
Asclepias, or butterfly weed, is a colorful addition to the flower bed, tolerates heat, blooms for a long time, and comes back year after year. It attracts monarch butterflies with its red, orange, and yellow flowers.