Gardening Blog

When deer dine in your garden, and praise for Beaufort’s Sea Island Garden Club

A blossoming stewartia malacodendron.
A blossoming stewartia malacodendron. Submitted photo

People with a shared interest frequently form a club to exchange information, ideas and experiences. Over the course of time, the membership rises and falls until a point is reached when the members decide to go their separate ways. One remarkable gardening group in Beaufort, however, has defied that pattern and recently celebrated its 80th year.

Allyson Harden of the Sea Island Garden Club shared some of the group’s history. The club was organized on Feb. 8, 1937, at the home of Mrs. F. W. Scheper, Jr., chairman of the extension committee of the Beaufort Garden Club. Since that time, the club still meets regularly. They have sponsored the Hospice Garden in Port Royal as well as gardens in the National Cemetery in Beaufort.

One of the projects of the club is caring for the on-going beauty of the Stewartia Grove on St. Helena Island.

‘Stewartia malacodendron’ is one of the most interesting shrubs in the Beaufort area. It was found growing in the low ground on St. Helena Island by club member Mrs. Claire Macdonald. She realized it was a rare plant and had it identified by the Smithsonian Institution. The plant grows slowly into a large deciduous shrub or small tree, and it has stunning flowers with waxy white petals and purple stamens.

In 1971 the Sea Island Garden Club named the plot the Clare I. Macdonald Wild Flower Preserve and placed a plaque on the gate. In 2007 Historic Beaufort Foundation awarded a Historic Preservation award to the Sea Island Garden Club for its care of the plot.

It is quite a remarkable feat for any group to remain vibrant for such a long period of time. Obviously, the longevity of the Sea Island Garden Club is the result of the dedication, energy, and enthusiasm of its members. Kudos!

All Saints Garden Tour set

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year is the All Saints Annual Garden Tour, which takes place on Saturday, May 20. Seven beautiful gardens on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton will be featured.

For the tour’s poster contest, forty-five artists submitted works in watercolors, acrylics, and photography for the chance to be selected a winner. Congratulations to Mary Agnes Garman for “Sun Bathers,” an acrylic work which was awarded the first place prize and will become the poster for this year’s tour.

The People’s Choice award went to Marcia Mohl for her beautiful watercolor entitled “Summer Song.”

When Bambi is a problem

Speaking of garden clubs, when I addressed a club recently, a member voiced a concern about deer damage.

I am one of those homeowners whose plants seem to be a favorite grazing ground for deer. Do you have a quick reference list of plants that these creatures are not partial to? Thanks. J. Pizzuti., HHI

I had quite a few problems from deer snacking in my yard also. They ate all the hydrangea and daylily blossoms and absolutely stripped the rose bushes.

Finally, I covered all of those plants with bird netting and deer began to search elsewhere.

The next thing that I did was to search out plants that are considered deer resistant. While no plant seems to be completely deer proof, Bambi and friends seldom damage the plants listed below.

Key: T=tree; S=shrub; V=Vine; P=Perennial; A=Annual

This is not an exhaustive list.

American BeautyberryS
American HollyS
Angel's TrumpetP
Autumn FernP
Bald CypressT
Butterfly WeedP
Cabbage PalmT
Carolina JessamineV
Cast Iron PlantP
Chaste TreeT
Cinnamon FernP
Confederate JasmineV
Crape MyrtleS
Dusty MillerA
Dwarf PalmettoT
Elephant EarsP
Fruit TreesT
Glossy AbeliaS
Holly FernP
Japanese BoxwoodS
Japanese Painted FernP
Japanese YewS
Lady FernP
Live OakT
Mondo GrassP
Muhly GrassP
Purple HeartP
Royal FernP
Sago PalmsT
Society GarlicP
Southern MagnoliaT
Southern Shield FernP
Sweetbay MagnoliaT
Tea oliveS
Vinca FlowerP
Wax MyrtleS
Wax BegoniaA
Yaupon HollyS

Source: Clemson University Extension

Frank Edgerton is a Hilton Head Island resident, garden consultant and plantsman. He can be reached at