Spring Tour of Homes a Beaufort traditionIT WOULDN’T BE SPRING IN BEAUFORT WITHOUT St. Helena Episcopal Church’s annual Spring Tour of Homes. Known as a showcase of the historic city’s antebellum homes, the tour started in 1956 to help raise funds for a new parish house.

Fifty-three years later, the tour has become a community tradition and often attracts visitors from all over North America, said Reneé Killian-Dawson, tour chairwoman.

“We are blessed to have so many historic homes in the area — many surviving before the war of the states,” said Killian-Dawson, an interior designer and a historian. “We have a lot of civic pride. People from all over the place love these homes.”

Chairing a historic home tour couldn’t be more appropriate for Killian-Dawson. Her background in restoring English countryside historic homes helped inspire her Beaufort design business, English Interiors.

Musings on what it’s all about — for those who dig it.

..nothing is gained by not gathering roses.”Although it amounts to preaching to the choir, herewith a compendium of thoughts from gardeners who seem to grasp what it’s all about. Let us all get psyched up for the coming garden year!

If some expressions resonate more than others with various reader/gardeners, all contain a seed of reality, expressed poetically or more pragmatically. So, why garden? It is tempting to simply say that one gardens because he/she can’t help it. Is it genetic? Sometimes yea, sometimes nay. Well, what is the sweet mystery

then? Here follow several observations of devotees from the recent and distant past.  "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Who had the nerve to make such a bald pronouncement? Why, Cicero of course.

The Beaufort County Extension Service will offer the next master gardener class March 4 through June 12 at the PSD No. 1 office on Matthews Drive, Hilton Head Island.

The class will meet from 1 to 4 p.m. each Wednesday. The curriculum is developed and distributed statewide by Clemson University and administered locally by Laura Lee Rose, county extension agent-horticulture, Beaufort County Extension Service. 

Master Gardeners receive a minimum of 40 hours of instruction and core training in soils and plant nutrition, basic botany, entomology, plant pathology, vegetable and fruit gardening, landscape design, and several other subjects.

In addition to completing the class assignments, each individual is required to donate 40 hours of volunteer work to receive designation as master gardener. These projects range from support at the Hilton Head plant clinic and the Beaufort County Extension office, to providing horticultural assistance at a variety of community-based initiatives like restoring the gardens at the Heyward House in Bluffton and teaching gardening skills to area youth and adults.

There is a course materials fee of $200 per person or $230 for spouses sharing materials. Interested applicants can contact the Beaufort County Extension Service, P.O. Box 189, Beaufort, SC 29901, (843) 470-3655 for more information. The application deadline is Feb. 14.

The mission of the Clemson Extension Master Gardener Program is to select, train, and utilize knowledgeable volunteers to facilitate the educational work of the local consumer horticulture agent, by delivering researched-based information to residents of the state 

The Lowcountry Master Gardener Association is a volunteer organization that supports and engages in projects and activities which promote and foster community enrichment, knowledge and enhancement in the areas of horticulture and ecology. 

Nearby gardens meet great expectations.

View of Biltmore “castle” from South TerraceThe best New Year’s resolution you could possibly make for 2009 is to plan a trip, or several, to visit some of the outstanding gardens available within a day’s drive from Hilton Head Island.

These include three of the most renowned public gardens, not only in the Southeast, but in the entire country.

This is not to recommend a one-day round trip, because an overnight stay is necessary to fully enjoy the experience, although you can easily reach your destination in a day.

Users of Beaufort County’s popular Real Property Lookup and Real and Personal Tax Payment Web site pages are in for big changes with new state-of-the-art tax and appraisal software.

Property Max and Collect Max replaced the county’s property research and tax payment services. Both are powered by Manatron, a national company used by many government property tax and assessment ofces.

Put a modern twist to your traditional holiday decor.

Holiday Home Makeover

By now, you’ve likely pulled dusty boxes of half-broken ornaments, partially used candles, tangled twinkling lights and themed tablecloths from the bowels of your closet. But before you deck your house in holiday splendor, reconsider the décor of old. The impending New Year marks a fresh take to tradition, according to Carmen Natschke of Decorating Diva, an online home design resource.

“As with all things décor, the basics will always have a strong influence,” she said. “I don’t see a significant down trend in traditional holiday color usage. What I do see is a fusion of traditional color basics and trendy color newcomers, such as pink, robin’s egg blue, sage, chocolate and other 2008 color favorites.”

Late blooming pentas.'Tis the time of year for reflection while we can still remember what was a success or failure, what was a wonderful surprise or what was a disappointment.

Then in January we can face forward confidently with a little background information to help us make every month and year in the garden more satisfying than the last. Isn’t that the goal after all, as Katharine White famously wrote in “Onward and Upward in the Garden”? A short list of standouts from the year just past would have to include “Knockout” roses, the new shrub rose and glamour girl of the rose community.

The colors are indeed “knockout,” breathtaking in their floriferous beauty Almost everything about them as promised in catalogues is true - that is, resistance to powdery mildew, blackspot, rust, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, rose midge, drought, humidity and everything else the Lowcountry can throw at them, (except deer).

Well-traveled homeowners bring worldly perspective to Berkeley Hall.

Art collected over the years from Frank and Suzanne’s’ travels around the world provides visual interest and beauty in their inspiring living room.The home of Suzanne and Frank Grohowski is nestled in a cul-de-sac in stately Berkeley Hall. This fascinating couple had a home in Sea Pines for many years and, when it came time to make a change, Berkeley Hall captured Frank and Suzanne’s attention due to its beauty, elegance and magnificent home sites.

“We wanted to build a home that reflected our lifestyle and personalities”, said Suzanne. “We have been fortunate to have traveled extensively and collected both art work and other treasures along the way. We really wanted to build our home in a manner that would allow us to share our life and travels with friends and family.”

A Mediterranean, yet distinctly American home is the net result. Rich warm tones of winter wheat and cinnamon combine beautifully to set off textured fabrics, comfortable furniture and impeccable taste creating a relaxed, refined and quiet luxury throughout this home, the perfect venue for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Successful container plantings require a focal point.

Cordyline australis with pansies. Purchase Cordyline australis as opposed to Cordyline baueri because the latter grows much too large for any container.What makes a single plant the center of attraction?Is it color, form, height, uniqueness, or a bit of attitude?

Well, all of the above, but not necessarily at one and the same time.

A container wants a variety of plant material, either blending, contrasting or both, but the center plant is the one that will focus the attention for either good or bad.

The first consideration should probably be height as that will determine the relationship or proportion of the plantings to the container. It is important that the ratio be pleasing — that the height and mass of the plants be neither too small nor too large for the container.

New strategies, materials make it easier to be green.

Recycled glass countertop by Vetrazzo.Millions of people are making the switch to a greener lifestyle. From replacing plastic grocery bags with canvas totes to designing homes with environmentally friendly materials, consumers are completely aware of the benefits of going green inside and outside the home.

A GREEN INTERIOR — FROM ROOM TO ROOM

Making the switch to a greener home lifestyle can be as easy as throwing out old toxic cleaners or replacing regular light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

But if you’re looking to remodel major aspects of the home, think about using recycled materials throughout every room starting with the kitchen.