Gardening Blog

Jukofsky: It's not easy to be a garden guru

I think this "volunteer plant" is a coleus variety.   Do you know?
I think this "volunteer plant" is a coleus variety. Do you know? Special to The Island Packet/ The Beaufort Gazette

The flowers that bloom in the spring are planted now. Right?

If only we knew the answer we'd be a garden guru.

I got my garden comeuppance last fall when I wrote about spring flowering bulbs and their growth and flowering in March and April, only to have them pop up out of the ground during end of the year holidays. Full flowering had come and gone before Valentine's Day.

Flowers and weather go together.

This year, I shall hold off with the planting until late winter.

I'm placing my order now. When the bulbs arrive, they'll be stored in a small refrigerator outside until planted in the ground.

More important is the bulb variety ordered. I've had success with the tazetta narcissi called ideal for southern gardeners . It has several stems per bulb, is very fragrant, and can be easily forced. Could you ask for more ?

My favorite tazetta variety is falconet. It has up to eight flowers per stem and is easily forced. I also ordered the avalanche variety called Seventeen Sisters. It yields cascades of blooms. Both varieties are intensely fragrant.


Question: Can I grow hyacinths here? What about tulips?

Answer: Yes, but it's likely they will not repeat bloom. They are treated as annuals in most of the Lowcountry. A spring flowering plant that I've grown for years is leucojum. It has pendant bell-shaped white flowers and is a spreading naturalizer. It's deer and rodent resistant and is easily grown in part sun and in ground or container. Given half-day sun, the flowers last for weeks.

Forget tulips. I hate to see flowering plants suffer in the heat and this is a plant that deserves better. Plan a trip to New England or Minnesota in April -- do they ever have tulips!

Question: I had good luck with tomatoes this summer. I've read about a new variety called Indigo Rose that sounds interesting. Can you tell me more about it?

Answer: Called Indigo Rose for its color, this tomato variety is an indeterminate variety that produces an abundance of fruits that -- are you ready -- are initially deep purple to almost black. When ripe, the tomato shoulder remains black and the rest of the tomato turns red.

Question: When I drive past community farm plots, I often see the gardens covered with plastic. Is this to keep the weeds down?

Answer: Yes, and it is also to promote solarization. The concept is to create heat necessary to kill pests, including nematodes, and includes slowing down the germination of weeds.

Question: When visiting a friend's house recently, I saw the most beautiful flowering vine that she called Clematis. Can you tell me more about this plant?

Answer: Called Queen of the Climbers, the Clematis vine can be trained to climb over trellises, fences or doorways. The plant is perfect for containers. It's truest colors of purple, red, and violet are at their best when plants are grown in full sun.

Variety fleuri blooms from violet to deep purple from May until August. Claire de lune flowers June, July and August with elegant white flowers.

Question: I attended a Hilton Head Island Herb Society meeting last year when you spoke about herbs that were good for you. You named the top two, could you please repeat?

Answer: Yes: that would be turmeric and garlic. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its golden hue. It serves you best for stomach pain, IBS, and depression. In a listing of edible, good for you herbs, garlic takes top honors. Turmeric is second. It is a key component of curcumin, a powerful inflammatory, shown, in a recent study, to be as effective a pain killer as ibuprofen. Tasty, it's not. I add turmeric to my salad dressings.


To all Beaufort County Gardeners: Haven't the summer rains been wonderful? I've hardly had to water.

Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of coastal Lowcountry gardening.