Pet Contest lead

Do you know the No. 1 tip for becoming a fruitful vegetable gardener?

Gardening gurus like Laura Lee Rose, the consumer horticulture agent for Beaufort County Clemson Extension and coordinator for the Master Gardener program, will tell you to first consider what you like to eat. “Make a list of your family’s favorite vegetables,” Rose said. “This will help you plot out your garden and ensure you eat what you grow, which is really the fun part.”

It’s not just happenstance that Bluffton and Hilton Head look the way they do. It takes an army of architects, landscapers and gardeners.

There are certain sounds that are undeniably Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. The call of a pileated woodpecker. The cry of a young hawk. The crash of the waves on the beach or the sound of the wind in the trees.

Helpful advice from the Lowcountry’s preeminent plant nerd

Early March is a pretty time to be in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and after some very cold and damaging weather I am ready to be outside digging in the dirt. Sorry, “soil” is the preferred horticultural term for that brown crumbly stuff we grow our flowers, shrubs and vegetables in.  

Hilton Head Christian Academy chef Brooks Rhinehart and school nurse Wendy Cummings share a philosophy for wellness.

Most days Cummings can be found applying Band-Aids, taking temperatures and listening to hilarious anecdotes of students who wander into her office to “get well.” Rhinehart is usually busy in the school kitchen, crafting healthy, culinary delights.

Every year thousands of flowers are used in weddings around the world. What most people do not know is that most flowers used are flown in and are not local. That is not the case with local shop Make it Pretty as they truly work hard to use locally grown flowers and greenery from the environment.

At this time of year, colorful summer salads are a staple at the dining table at home. There’s nothing simpler and more gratifying than creating your own palette of vegetable greens, reds and yellows in containers of all sizes. And don’t forget to spice up those nutritious salads by tapping into the bounty of home-grown herbs.

HOME---OpenerWhen nature lovers of the All Saints Garden Tour arrive at the Rose Hill home of Alex Kasten, they’ll soon discover that this art lover has taken his discerning eye for line, form, and beauty and turned it into a backyard masterpiece drenched in Mediterranean appeal. He calls this deep emerald temple “Elysian Gardens.”

With landscape designer Patrick Judd, Kasten has surrounded his home with small elements of visual punch, curved walls that guide the eye from one botanical wonder to the next, and an oasis of peace and tranquility that would make the Gods jealous.  

Getting your patio or deck ready for the spring season is just as important as attending to any room inside of your home. The proper attention now could make the difference between “pretty” and “pretty ugly.”

The 4 Rs of prepping your Lowcountry patioRECLAIM YOUR SPACE

Consider your patio or deck as you would a room in your home. What’s the first thing you’d do to an interior room? Clean it. Reclaim that space with a deep clean of the whole area. Getting in there andcleaning out your patio now will ensure that when the weather gets warmer, you can focus more on relaxing and entertaining and less on mold, clutter and pollen.

Start by moving everything — grills, flower pots, outdoor décor and patio furniture — and clean underneath, sweeping away everything you find there, from leaves to pollen to spider webs to old bugs — it is the Lowcountry, after all. (If you’ve got more winter sludge than usual, you may want to consider a power wash.) Clean all exterior windows of your home that surround your patio, and check for any damage on the surface of your patio that might be a structural or tripping hazard — such things can happen when you’re not looking.

Lowcountry homes: The accents of springThis past winter was an especially cold and dreary one for the Lowcountry, but take heart, because the payoff has finally arrived. Spring is here, the time to usher a sense of warmth and energy into your home by thinking about personal styles, 2011 trends and how you can revitalize your sanctuary with some fresh ideas and a little imagination.

Seasons change and trends come and go, but the basics of our personal style rarely shift. We all have our own ideas about what makes us feel safe, secure and healthy, and it’s important to remember that our home is our sanctuary — not a place to continually keep up with ever-changing trends, but a place where we can indulge in our personal style.

When planning for spring, the first rule is to identify your own style. There are three basic design principles: traditional, eclectic and contemporary. And within each style lies the chance for personal expression and individual choice.

Looking for a quick, tasty way to go green this spring? Start outside your window.

Grow your own edible container gardenMarch in the Lowcountry can be a magical month, as the life cycle begins again and our coastal landscape awakens. I love to watch this time of year as our marshes begin their gradual shift to green, our trees take on fresh chartreuse tones and our lawns begin to re-emerge after a long winter.

But green is more than just a color, of course — it means a gradual evolution in the way we live and do business. And one of the newest trends in our area’s evolving green industry is the “edible landscape.” That’s a fancy term for growing your own food, a practice that reconnects us Mother Earth, delights our children and is rich in health benefits.