What an extraordinary winter we've had. The months of January, February and March set records for warm temperatures; the lowest I recorded was 32 degrees on Jan. 3. Some of last spring and summer's annuals died, but many did not.
Spring has arrived. Our cutoff date for planting this year's annuals was March 15. Our spring flowering trees and shrubs began to bloom three weeks ahead of their normal schedule, giving winter's end a red, white and pink glow. But I found it interesting that native plants of buckeye, azaleas and sweetleaf kept to their usual schedule.
Another garden season brings questions from Lowcountry gardeners, as well as information about upcoming garden events.
Question. I have been planting daffodils in my garden yearly. The newly planted bulbs come up and bloom, but those planted in previous years produce leaves but no blossoms. Is there something I can do to encourage them to bloom? -- A. Buchhotz
Answer. Daffodils and other flowering bulbs do best in our climate and sandy soil if they are designated Southern varieties. Brent and Becky's Bulbs and Old House Gardens growers and suppliers list several Southern varieties that many local gardeners have grown successfully.
Q. I live in Rose Hill. The yards on the golf course side seem to be heavily covered in Spanish moss. This is a new phenomena, occurring over the winter. Is there an explanation? I have noticed that leaves do not grow where the moss is heavy. I believe we have many trees that were healthy last year that will fight to exist in the future. -- Janet Wright
A. The high winds we've experience the past two months have brought down much Spanish moss (often mixed with mistletoe) in my yard also. I'm careful to remove it from shrubbery as I've lost shrubs due to leaf suffocation.
Q. Could you apprise local gardeners of the Rent-A-Master Gardener program that is offered by Lowcountry Master Gardeners to help them be more successful? After identifying specific issues or concerns, a team of Master Gardeners will accompany you on a tour of your garden to assess and answer questions. There is a $50 fee that includes a soil test from Clemson University. -- Bette Warfield
A. This popular program has been helping local gardeners for more then two years. Call Martha Jamison at 843-986-5965 to schedule a visit to your garden.
Q. Could you tell me the date of the Hilton Head Island Herb Society's spring sale? We need to purchase plants to include in the Hilton Head Island Elementary School garden. We are included in the South Carolina "Follow the Blooms" program this year. -- Nadine Korosi
A. This popular statewide program begins Saturday in Santee and ends April 20 in Lake City. You can see all of the gardens or pick one. On April 1, participants of "Follow the Blooms" will tour Hilton Head Plantation's butterfly house at Honey Horn Plantation, the Avid Gardeners' flower show "The Mystical Garden," the deer-tolerant garden of Corliss Zampino and Port Royal Plantation's Arboretum. The Herb Society's spring plant and products sale will be held at Pineland Station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4.
Q. Could you please tell us what are your favorite native plants? -- J. Weidner
A. It's no secret that I have many natives in my yard. My favorites are small trees Sparkleberry (Vaccnium arboretum) and horse sugar, known also as sweetleaf (Symplocos tinctoria), and skullcap (Scutelaria integrifolia), a plant that blooms in mid-summer with deep blue flowers. The trees are small with white flowers and, best of all, require no care on my part. All three were planted by Mother Nature.