Here are some questions and answers about the tax credit extension from the National Association of Home Builders: Question: When does the tax credit extension expire?

What plants are good to fill in the spaces recently vacated by summer annuals?

Purple blooms of salvia leucantha.Though Shakespeare declares that only in June come perfect days, gardeners in the Lowcountry know better. We have not forgotten the crushing days of heat that afected both gardens and gardeners last June. But, October, November — and even into December — we are furnished with perfect days outdoors when brisk air, moderate temperatures, adequate rainfall and bright Carolina blue skies that stimulate and inspire our efforts.

While Northerners are putting their landscapes to bed for months under snow cover, Southern practitioners are busy planting winter annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday rich in its traditions: turkey, pumpkin pie, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and football.

Many families have the tradition of gathering around the dinner table or in the living room and makes a “gratitude circle.” Each friend or family member has to say what they’re most thankful for this past year.

Here are a few new ways to carry on the same spirit of this tradition, but with a little more flare.

Mastering the Art of Fine Gardening

oct09_flowerWhat a refreshing idea! It is well known that gardens thrive in the spring and early summer, but what happens or can be expected in the fall in a Lowcountry garden? Those and related questions will be answered on Oct. 17 when the Lowcountry Master Gardener Association presents its second annual educational garden tour. The emphasis is on education and even the most experienced gardener can learn something.

With cooler weather under way and the market on the upswing, now’s the time to revamp or build your dream home.

A Cook's Kitchen

Experts weigh in on the perfect culinary setting

oct09_kitchen

 

It’s no secret that the heart of every home is the kitchen. After all, it’s where holiday meals are cooked, school lunches are made and parties tend to linger.

&g

Staging the home for potential buyers may take a professional...

Kelly Hughes sees it all the time.

A couple tours a potential new home, excited about the breakfast nook where they can picture themselves sipping coffee while reading the newspaper and then are simply giddy about the extra storage provided by the two-car garage. But when they walk into the living room and see the loud paint on the walls, their dream home suddenly becomes a fixer-upper.

Crinum lilyYes, the summer garden is history. It had more than a few moments of glory and at the same time, some disappointments. But the overall learning experience was valuable.

So in the interest of onward and upward in the garden, following are impressions of the winners, the losers, the ho-hum and the “teaching moment.”

First, the good news. Clear winners in the summer garden for long-lasting bloom, color, ease of culture and apparent indifference to our weather extremes were pentas, angelonia, torenia, scaevola, melampodium, coleus and caladiums. In the shrub category, hydrangeas are included.

All of these annuals performed beautifully all summer, blooming well through August. Salvia Victoria could be added to the list, although there is an extended period of non-bloom after cutting back the first vigorous flush, which was long-lasting and magnificent. Cannas were also reliable in that they will re-bloom several times just when you think they are finished. Journey’s End, Panache and Australia are in this category, as are others. All of them created a colorful focus in the summer garden.

Visit gardens and enclosures to learn what plants will attract butterflies to your yard

Bring on the beautiful butterfliesAs Jane Austen might phrase it, a summer garden must be full of butterflies to be complete. If only all desires could be so easily achieved, because there is scarcely a garden in the Lowcountry that does not already grow one or all three of the major butterfl y magnets: lantana, pentas and salvia.

Add coneflower, verbena, coreopsis, rudbeckia, butterfly bush and honeysuckle, (the Lonicera sempervirens variety), and a water source, and they will come.

Homes in the South require year-round maintenance

Lowcountry Home CareThe year-round warm and often humid weather, the sprawling live oaks with Spanish moss and surrounding fresh and salt waters that make the Lowcountry famous also provide the perfect setting for pests that threaten homes — from palmetto bugs and termites to mold and lawn fungus. Lowcountry homeowners must keep a watchful eye out for the unique problems that can affect all aspects of the home: lawns, foundation, siding, roofs and more. Here’s a peek at some of the typical home improvement issues affecting the lower part of the Palmetto State.

Outdoor kitchens a fast-rising Lowcountry trend

Planning an outdoor kitchen? Remember: Maintenance should play a significant role in the construction of your outdoor feast center, especially in the Lowcountry.From Frederick Law Olmsted’s manicured lawns to Alice Waters’ organic vegetable patch, the perfect American yard is constantly evolving. But, when it comes to entertaining, there is little doubt that the kitchen is the heart of a home. Why not merge the two and take your culinary adventures outside?

Advances in durable kitchen products coupled with inventive designs mean outdoor kitchens can be customized to fit individual preferences while being as functional as a cook’s most indispensible gadget. Imagine a pizza oven for your patio, or a bar that’ll let you mix martinis while watching a king-fisher at the end of the dock. But before you toss out your trusty charcoal kettle and rush into a sprawling outdoor cook station, here are some things to think about when planning your outdoor kitchen.