The cut stops here.

CONEFLOWER BLOOM AFTER PINCHING"The object of pruning is to control and direct growth, to improve health, to increase bloom, (or fruit) production and to shape
aesthetically. It should be done in a timely manner, not postponed until the day you confront the jungle that used to be your yard – which is your expensive landscape.

It is understood that spring blooming shrubs, particularly azaleas, must be pruned as soon as practicable after blooming in order to use the new growing season to produce buds for next year’s flowers. In the case of azaleas, wherever you cut you gain three new shoots for next spring’s display.

Deciduous woody shrubs such as forsythia, spiraea and flowering quince fall into this category. They should be renovated every spring by cutting to the ground the oldest, thickest stems, enabling new shoots to develop with access to light, air and water. Crowded, thick and crossing stems are injurious to the plant’s health, appearance and flower production.

Tips and references for the perfect garden.

SHEILA’S PERFUME, FLORIBUNDA, VERY FRAGRANT.It’s June and the subject is roses- although in the Lowcountry that can be backed up to May, when the first flush of bloom appears.

Roses are ubiquitous because they are irresistible and rose lore and literature are legion. One can explore cyberspace indefinitely and read massive manuals on rose care, propagation and history, but far and away the best way to experiences roses is an up close and personal encounter at Bob and Sandy Lundberg s magnificent display garden in Rose Hill. The garden contains 440 show quality rose bushes, meticulously tended to by the couple- both dedicated rosarians.

Sights and serenity at the All Saints Episcopal Church Garden Tour.

Brantley Residence – 2007 Tour.Ten precious and private Edens are on display for your pleasure on May 17, the traditional third Saturday in May during the annual All Saints Episcopal Church Garden Tour, now in its 21st year. Since Hilton Head Island is described by some as “paradise,” it is only fitting that a church should invite you to experience so many versions of Eden.

This year’s tour ranges from Sea Pines to River Bend in the neighborhood of Sun City, with stops in between at Port Royal Plantation, Hilton Head Plantation and Spanish Pointe, off Spanish Wells Road. This year, gardens are grouped largely in the two areas of Sea Pines and Port Royal Plantations, making it easier and more efficient to navigate the entire tour. Gardens will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fun Family Gardening ActivitiesGardening is a great way for kids to get exercise, spend time outdoors, and learn about the environment, food and wildlife. However, many kids grow up today without the benefit of having a gardening or farming background and access to free play outdoors. They often don’t know what to do in a garden. That’s where parents and grandparents come in. Adults can help kids learn about growing plants in a fun and engaging way. Plus, it will be a special time together outdoors, exploring the land, food and flowers.

But what if you don’t know where to start in the garden? What should you do with your kids so they won’t be bored, but you won’t be in over your head?

Big, bold and beautiful.

CANNA JOURNEY’S ENDThough we’re all familiar with the fabled lilies of the field, which neither toil nor spin, yet are arrayed more gloriously than Solomon, here we are concerned with something even more... dare it be said? ... gaudy. The extravagant color combinations of caladiums, as well as the once despised cannas are both showy and satisfying – the former for shade, the latter for sun. You can have the best of both possible garden worlds when you plant these two winners, for both dependable beauties deserve a place in every Lowcountry landscape.

They are here referred to as “the bulbs LIEoSf summer” because they do not come into their own until full summer – but then they go on and on into the fall.

Get your garden ready; it’s almost showtime.

MULTI-HUED ZINNIASThe reader/gardener has been promised new beginnings, so let’s begin. But not randomly nor recklessly in the feverish enthusiasm engendered by consecutive days of balmy weather. Since it is generally accepted that March 15 is the last day of frost expectation in the Lowcountry, one should delay planting tender annuals before that date.

Caladium bulbs should not be planted until the soil warms up considerably or they will not prosper – approximately April 15-30. A little planning and forethought at this point will pay off handsomely.

FOR THE GAME LOVER

Use your gaming table as a visual centerpiece in the game room.Turning a den or garage into a game room might be the perfect retreat for your home. Make it fun for the entire family by starting a weekly game night tradition! A game table set is for the person who loves card games, backgammon, roulette or even chess. These tables can covert into several different games and have plenty of storage for cards and chips. Game tables come in a variety of wood finishes to complement the décor of the room. Mahogany is a popular finish but a honey finish also looks elegant. A game room wouldn’t be complete without your favorite games, such as pinball machines, arcade games, foosball tables, dart boards and even board games.

For the golf lover, set up a small putting green. Practice your putt right in your own home! The race car enthusiast can get the feel of driving a real race car with the Virtual GT Racing Simulator. Check out virtual-gt.com to become a race car driver with your own “personal racing simulator” without ever leaving the driveway!

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.