By Lee Scott
I joined a Garden Club. I joined because quite frankly, I have no idea what I am doing in my yard. Our house had been vacant for several years before we bought it. It was obvious that the couple that owned the house before us loved to garden because there were multiple garden plots and lots of bushes and flowers growing all over the property. But by the time we occupied the property, there were also plenty of weeds. There I was wearing my bandana and using my machete thrashing through the vines and palms trying to get to the backyard. It was ugly. I had no clue as to what was a healthy plant and what was a weed. My husband and I raked up tons of pine needles, oak leaves and loads of Spanish moss. Then we yanked out vines from tall trees. When I say “yanked”, I mean we yanked. We tied one long vine to the back of our truck and pulled it down into the street. It had to be thirty feet long.
One bush blocking our garage door had to be trimmed back. It surprised us months later. We walked out one morning and our bush had little buds all over it. Our neighbor told us it was a Camellia bush. Who knew! Within a few weeks it was covered with beautiful flowers. We also tended a pathetic barren stick that was sitting in the side yard covered with Spanish moss. We pulled off the moss and clipped back some sad little branches. When it started to grow this spring, we discovered our crepe myrtle tree.
My husband and I readily acknowledged our ignorance of plant life in South Carolina to one another. And although I had grown tomato plants and marigold flowers in the past, I was now in unchartered waters. That was it. Time to get schooled in the art of gardening. Time to join a Garden Club.
If you have never been associated with a Garden Club, then you may have some preconceived notions. I pictured women in their Lilly Pulitzer dresses, sipping tea and talking about their rose gardens. But my neighbor assured me that I was wrong and that I would be pleasantly surprised. She was right! I am amazed at all the things I am learning in my Garden Club and the women who run it. These women are bright, tenacious and oh so helpful. The monthly speakers are fantastic. The most recent speaker talked about butterfly gardens. Suddenly, a term that I had heard about for years had meaning. Evidently butterflies are very good at pollination of crops and flowers, so you want to attract them. And the way to do that is to have the right kinds of flowers. On top of usefulness, butterfly gardens are also quite beautiful.
This past month, rows of Azalea bushes started to bloom in our yard. It made me feel better to know that I could pick up the phone and ask someone about my Azaleas and how to care for them. So my advice if you are thinking about planting a garden or if you are new to the area and do not recognize some of the plant life here in the Lowcountry, join a Garden Club.