What makes it good?

COMPACTED AND NUTRIENT-STARVED SOILDirt, not love, makes the world go round. There is more to dirt than meets the eye, but the most important thing to know is how to distinguish good from bad dirt and then maximize the good. And although it is not brain surgery, there may be a bit of bio-chemistry involved. Before you let that scare you away, what follows is simplified (maybe over simplified), but should be easy to read and heed. Almost certainly, native soils encountered by the Lowcountry gardener will be sandy and acidic. Your decision to move to the coastal plain and plant a garden does not automatically guarantee perfect conditions for your aspirations. It doesn’t take long to learn this.

Fred Mix’s May River dock is the “green dock with a red roof.”

Fred Mix’s May River dock is the “green dock with a red roof.”Looking out on the reeds and oyster beds poking out of the solid sheen of the May River in Fred Mix’s backyard, it’s easy to see why this Bluffton resident wanted to keep his new dock ‘green.’ After all, the May is one of a kind; a rare chemistry of salt water rushes up and down her banks with each tide in a delicate balance upon which so much rests.

As he began working with Bill Sease of May River Marine Construction on this eco-friendly dock, Mix realized he was going to have to take a few ‘green innovations’ and get creative with them. Fortunately, if there’s anywhere you can get creative, it’s Bluffton.

Our alphabetical journey comes to a close.

ZEPHYRANTHES, RAIN LILIESJanus, the mythological Roman god whose profile faces left and right simultaneously, signifies endings and beginnings, including the year just past and the year to come.

We honor that graphic illustration with the ending of the alphabetical list of plants for the Lowcountry and the beginning of garden plans and prospects for 2008. Those who have gone the course during the just completed year will no doubt be pleased to come to its conclusion with letters W, X, Y and Z.

“W,” which introduces wisteria, dictates an emphatic no-no. It is urgently advised not to plant it anywhere on your property that you ever wish to reclaim as your own. It is violently aggressive and just as violently persistent when you try to root it out.

Marshland Millworks and Cabinetry brings world-class woodwork to Lowcountry homes.

Marshland Millworks and Cabinetry brings world-class woodwork to Lowcountry homes.In an age where everything seems to be mass produced, the design and craftsmanship of custom woodwork is a rare beauty – even a fine art – that few modern homeowners have the luxury of possessing. And the craftsmen at Hilton Head’s Marshland Millworks and Cabinetry, true masters of custom woodworking, take their art very seriously.

“I have unreasonably high standards,” said Duane Constantino, the owner of Marshland Millworks and Cabinetry. And like any artist who pursues perfection in his work, Constantino said he’s not sure he’s ever been completely satisfied, and this attention to detail and quality is echoed throughout the company. “Everyone at Marshland is interested in doing a superior job,” he said.

High tech meets low ecological impact in the home of tomorrow.

Going GREENGreen causes and high-tech advancements seem to go hand-in-hand these days. In the following pages, we look at some technological advancements designed to ensure that the home of tomorrow will exist on a clean planet.

Going GREEN

Going green is a rapidly growing worldwide movement that is making a profound impact on the furniture and home building industries. Homeowners are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment and are beginning to request eco-friendly homes and products. With more green homes being built all over the country, furniture and home accessory manufacturers are going green too.

TITHONIAIn the garden and elsewhere, so goes the season.

Winding down to the end of another gardening year, we simultaneously near the end of our alphabetical trip, passing signposts S, T, U and V.

‘S’ is rich with possibilities, starting with salvia, scaevola, stokesia and spiraea, not necessarily newcomers to the garden although perhaps assuming a less familiar form. Two new cultivars of Salvia nemerosa, or Meadow Sage, sound promising and worth trying. ‘Caradonna’ has a very upright form, 1-2 feet, with dark purple stems which contrast effectively with bright violet-blue flowers. S. nemorosa ‘Sensation Rose’ is dwarf and compact, an unusual form for salvia, with bright rose-pink flowers rising from mounded foliage on 10-12 inch upright stems. Plant in sunshine and try to cut back at mid-summer for re-bloom.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

HYDRANGEA WITH CALIBRACHOA WINDOW BOXESTransplanted gardeners from colder climes are consistently frustrated in their attempts to translate their beloved northern gardens to the relatively inhospitable environment of the Lowcountry. But in spite of all evidence and advice to the contrary, they usually persevere in their efforts until experience convinces them that it is not to be. And it is understandable because northern plants are lovely and lush indeed, thriving in the temperate, (at least in spring, summer and early fall), climate of southwestern New York state, particularly Chautauqua, whence these garden thoughts float in late July.

Chautauqua Institution is well known for its up to date lectures on what’s happening now and why, delivered by highly qualified experts from around the globe, on weekly themed subjects. These, combined with symphony concerts, opera, ballet and live theatre, book and discussion groups and much, much more, combine to make it a glorified summer camp for adults. There is also sailing, swimming and even the obligatory golf course.

Beware, Hilton Head – here there be dragons.

Hilton Head is full of lagoons – and during the summer, lagoons are full of dragonflies. These conspicuous insects come in diverse shapes, sizes and colors, and together with their slender-bodied cousins, the damselflies, are easy to spot as they cruise along the shoreline or swoop over deeper waters. South Carolina is host to over 150 species; worldwide, there are more than 5,000.

A lagoon full of dragonflies resembles a busy airport. The more delicate damselflies flutter near the water’s surface. Small and medium-sized dragonflies hover and dart above them, while the biggest and fastest species claim the highest flight paths. Some dragonflies have been clocked at speeds of over 35 mph.

Following the ABC trail Into deep summer.

PENTASPQ R – Hello! Although P and R are well represented in horticultural circles, Q has fallen off the page. Research reveals that there is only one Q represented on a half page in Alan Armitage’s comprehensive 516-page Manual of Annuals, Biennials and Half Hardy Perennials. Quisqualis, (Latin for who? what?), indica also bears the common names of Rangoon Creeper and Drunken Sailor. It is a tropical vine that can reach 70 feet, fair warning that we should not invite it onto our premises.

Plectranthus is the new “in” plant. Slow to catch on at first, it was planted mainly for its foliage of plushy, silvery gray-green leaves. More recent introductions include the variety on display in almost every garden on the May All Saints garden tour. This is a large, attractive shrub with dark green foliage, purple underneath, and many long spikes of small, tubular lavender to purple blooms. It appears to be very easy to grow and propagate, thriving in sun to shade.

Old-fashioned living in the heart of Oldfield.

Lakeside VILLAGEWhen Rob and Dianne Wilson moved to Lakeside Village from Fairfax County, Va, in 2005, they knew that they found the ideal place to raise their four young children.

Located in the heart of Oldfield, Lakeside Village provides the perfect setting for this active family to hike, bike, swim, play tennis and enjoy the natural beauty of the Lowcountry. “My wife and I visited a number of communities up and down the East Coast before deciding on Lakeside Village at Oldfield,” said Rob Wilson, a successful recruiter. “This is a great place to raise kids, and great place for adults as well.” Lakeside Village, a Charleston-style neighborhood overlooking Goose Lake, offers ample old-fashioned charm and Southern hospitality. “Lakeside Village has truly set the standard for casual elegance in the Lowcountry,” said Scott Stephens, Oldfield’s vice president of sales and marketing. “The interest in this exciting community at Oldfield has been outstanding.”