Area gardeners not sad to see April come to end this year

bajslj@aol.comApril 26, 2014 

An 88-foot-high Lady Banks rose has climbed a pine tree in Cord Middleton's front yard on Hilton Head Island.


Goodbye, April. I'm not sorry to see you go. It wasn't the rain I minded; April should be rainy to promote emerging plants and the newly planted to get a good grip before warmer, drier days arrive. I took a look at last year's calendar and April 2013 saw many rain-filled days. Oh, and when I turned the page in the 2013 calendar, I read that on the first week of May, it rained every day. Here's the difference: It wasn't as cold last year.

Those amazing little pansy plants that kept right on looking great through January's temps in the 20s loved our April, and I put the heat-loving periwinkle and zinnia replacement plants on hold.

If the rain has kept you from planting bare-rooted trees and shrubs, here's what to do: Heel it in someplace where it will have protection from the sun and wind. Spread out the roots as you would if you were planting, and fill in with earth, tap firmly and water. Is there yet a shrub or small tree in your yard that has not begun to leaf out? To discover if there is life, do a scratch test. Scratch away a small amount of bark approximately 1 inch from the base of the plant. If the plant tissue underneath is white or green, it is alive. If it is brown or black, it is dead.

Rainy days give time to peruse the many garden catalogs that arrive at our house. When Larry finishes with his mail, he sometimes browses in those garden catalogs that look appealing. That's how he discovered (and ordered) two bare-rooted plants -- a cocktail tree and a blue rose. Sophisticated gardeners know that for many years, there's been a laboratory search for the first blue rose; the cocktail tree claims to produce five varieties of fruit. Both small trees are now heeled-in, waiting for a dry planting day and giving me time to figure out where to plant so they'll be noticed.

That's just in case of miracles.

This brings me to trees and a fun subject to wonder at. There is an artist traveling around the world painting trees blue. Really. His name if Konstantin Dimopoulos and he has painted trees blue in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and in the U.S. in Houston; Galveston, Texas; Seattle; Richmond, Virginia.; and at the University of Florida. The blue is not subtle; it's cobalt, garish and gaudy. It is also biodegradable pigment, dissolving into the ground in about six months. It is said you can't pass a blue tree without stopping, and that's the point. Dimopoulos says they are his personal protest against deforestation. I say, go for it.


  • Volunteer opportunity at Lowcountry Master Gardener Association: This is the second year for the SC 4-H Small Garden Project. The deadline for youth to register is April 30. Interested youth should contact their local 4-H Agent to sign up.

  • Free Master Gardeners garden classes are at noon Saturdays in May at the Farmers Market gazebo at Heritage Park in Port Royal. The topics are: "A Four Season Garden," with J. Weidner on May 10; "Multiplication by Division," by Sandra Educate on May 17; "Container Water Gardens," with Alice Massey on May 24; and "Turf Clinic," with Laura Lee Rose on May 31.

  • The 27th annual All Saints Episcopal Church Garden Tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 17. The garden tour that has become an annual Hilton Head Island classic has the theme "A Potpourri of Gardens" and will feature eight of the finest gardens in the area. Tickets are $35 and include a seated luncheon that will be served in the church's parish hall from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. In addition, there will be a flower boutique and bake sale. Pino Gelato will be setting up in the parish hall. Vendors on the church grounds include The Greenery nursery, Jewelry by Lilith and Jewelry by Caroline Alderman. F. Steven Branyon will perform on the organ from 11:30 a.m. to noon; and Sue Roderus -- a master gardener and master naturalist from The Greenery -- will give a presentation on deer-resistant plants from noon to 1 p.m. Details: 843-342-9727,
  • Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of Coastal Lowcountry gardening.


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