Another month of spring brings another month of questions. Plants are emerging from a long winter dormancy, and we don't remember when or why we planted them. There are new varieties of old favorites at our garden centers; we purchased some only to find a difference in their behavior.
Take zinnias. They're sun lovers, right? So into the full sun they go, only to begin to fade. First the flower colors, next the brownish leaves. I rescued two of the five and placed them into half-day shade. They are now thriving.
In my garden, an orange-flowered Kurume azalea set its buds the middle of May and is now flowering. Two Florida native azaleas flowered in April then leafed out in May -- a normal pattern would be leaves first. Native wildflowers have expanded their territory tenfold. It will take weeks to clear the pathways of lyre-leaf sage and the wild ageratum, mist flower.
It's not just my yard. There are questions from readers, too. This is one I've gotten more than once: Is it OK to use Oregon green moss when making wreaths or decorating glass bowls or baskets? I called my daughter in Oregon, and the answer is yes; the moss is beyond abundant.
You've asked about Impatiens being devastated by a pathogen, Plasmopara obducens, in recent years. But with all our trees, our Lowcountry gardens are filled, thankfully, with healthy-looking, shade-loving, beautiful impatiens.
Here's some more:
Question. How can we discourage armadillos from digging holes in our garden? -- Master Gardener Rosemary Kratz, who works in the Hilton Head Island Xeriscape Garden
Answer. Managing one of their favorite snacks, the Japanese beetle, helps. Organic milky spore applications will kill these grubs.
Q. I am a volunteer at Hunting Island State Park and am researching native plants for a small garden plot at the lighthouse. What plants might have attracted pollinators in the period from 1875 through 1933? -- Norma Allen
A. Today's native plants of the Lowcountry are not the same as those during the time frame you mention. Because of climate change, we now have some natives that have moved up from Florida or have been introduced via ship or plane from other countries. It seems safe to say there was goldenrod and butterfly weed and some of the morning glory varieties. For sure, they had Virginia creeper. Plant and allow vegetable varieties, such as tomato, eggplant and okra, to go to seed. Plant a larkspur, snapdragon, coneflower or black-eyed Susan. And good luck.
Q. Could you print information about the Garden-a-Day Tour presented by the Beaufort Garden Club? -- Marti Webster
A. My pleasure. I've been there, done that, and it was so much fun. The lovely gardens of this free, 20th anniversary event will be open from June 2 to June 6. Several of the gardens were part of the original tour and areat The Point, on Lady's Island and in Burton. The tour takes place rain or shine from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of Coastal Lowcountry gardening.