Beaufort County in bloom
Story By Daisy Dow
Signs it’s May in the Lowcountry: you can’t walk down the street without hearing flip-flops, aloe is a hot commodity on the shelves, and the May River is finally warm enough to swim in. The true telltale signs of May can be found in the flickers of vivid colors and oddly shaped flowers peeking out wherever you go. Perhaps you spot a carpet of Carolina jessamine draped across your neighbor’s fence or a patch of blue-eyed grass among the wildflowers along the road. Be it delicate clumps of miniature milkweeds or dramatic black-eyed susans that are impossible to miss, nature all around Beaufort County seems to be applauding the onset of summertime with its best palette of petals. While nature really does the heavy lifting of fulfilling our aesthetic appreciation for its flowers, businesses owners, gardeners, farmers and florists all over the area spend months balancing soil pH, monitoring greenhouse temperatures and studying designs so we can bring the beauty of the outdoors into our living rooms and kitchens this spring.
Local flower farms
Bred for beauty
While the flower food packets rubber-banded to a flower’s stem make it feel like we are keeping the plant alive by “feeding” it, as soon as that flower is cut, it has been severed from its lifeline. When it comes to finding fresh flowers, it can be worth going straight to the source. Three farms in the area allow you to order arrangements directly from them, ensuring that fresh, South Carolinian flowers end up on your doorstep or at your event. Farmer Blue on Seabrook Island grows chemical-free specialty flowers that many florists around the South use in their designs. Wimbee Creek Farm also supplies southeastern florists with seasonal flowers spanning a range of colors, heights and aesthetics. Starting on May 1 you can order weekly bouquet deliveries from them to fill your life or a loved one’s space with a little extra color and fragrance. If you are looking for an in-person experience with flowers on a farm, Earth People Farms on St. Helena Island is hosting a flower arrangement demonstration May 20. Tickets for the event can be purchased on its website and include afternoon tea and a talk by local artist Just Dorneish.
Local farmers markets
Creme of the crop
If you are looking for a one-stop shop for locally sourced produce, honey and local confections, Beaufort County is home to a number of farmers’ markets. Organizers behind the weekly gatherings are in touch with farmers and artisans from miles around to ensure that when their markets open, visitors can browse the freshest produce. With May temperatures marking the shift from a pleasant spring into the full-on heat of summer, it’s best to stop bright and early. At 9 a.m. Saturdays the Port Royal Farmers Market at Naval Heritage Park opens if you want to pick up some brightly colored flowers from the namesake Mr. Camellia from Cannon Farms. On Thursdays, head to the Bluffton Farmers Market to pick up a bouquet from the Island Girl Flower Truck, a vintage 1973 VW that roams the state, curating arrangements from locally grown flowers. A trip to St. Helena Island for the community market hosted at the Penn Center will bring you up close and personal with the farmers and gardeners who are preserving the agricultural history and maintaining the native produce of the region. Pick up some sunflowers from Papa Brown’s farm, or admire the likeness of the Lowcountry’s flora in some handmade jewelry.
Local flower shops
Delicate by design
It is estimated that Hilton Head Island hosts upwards of 1,500 weddings each year. As a hub for both local and destination weddings, folks in the Lowcountry know a thing or two about how to throw a party. There is no shortage of florists in the region, so wherever you find yourself, there are top-rated flower shops all around. A Floral Affair on the north end of the island has a team of expert florists that can craft handheld bouquets, wearable flowers, or specialty arrangements specifically designed for unique venues and lighting situations. Fox & Olive also offers crafted arrangements personalized for gatherings large and small, while also offering workshops for those interested in floral design. Flowers By Sue offers a selection of products tailored for an array of occasions, whether that is celebrating something special with a partner or sending condolences when words are not quite enough. Mums The Word in The Village at Wexford offers European garden, contemporary and original designs to guests. If something about a bouquet of flowers strikes you the wrong way and feels too fleeting, check out Branches for artificial arrangements that so closely mimic the real thing, you would never be able to tell.
It’s one thing to have flowers around because they look pretty. It’s another to choose to bring living flowers into your life and commit to caring for them. Tending a garden and building a little ecosystem of shared soil is no easy feat. It is essential to consult with local experts who understand which plants do and do not thrive in the Lowcountry. A visit to a nearby nursery can supply you with both the flowers to plant and the knowledge you need to keep them alive. Stop in at Bruno Landscape & Nursery to pick the brains of Bruno family members who can offer advice from their over 30 years of experience landscaping yards and gardens on Hilton Head. The Green Thumb, Carolyn’s Nursery and The Greenery, which has locations in Hilton Head, Beaufort and all around the Lowcountry, have a deep understanding of the nuances of how to grow flowers in the region, as can been seen in their seasonal floral displays. The Garden Gate Nursery in Bluffton sells region-specific plants accompanied by insightful plant-tending advice to help local plant growers be a part of the effort to keep the Lowcountry’s ecosystems intact.
Local grocery stores
On every corner
It’s one thing to have flowers around because they look pretty. It’s The beauty of flowers is that they can be found in the most unexpected places. As the world becomes increasingly developed, it can be difficult to find and stroll in a field to pick wildflowers. Luckily flowers aren’t too hard to find, as a number of grocery stores in the area have incredible floral departments. Whether you forgot roses on Valentine’s Day or find yourself in the mood for refreshing your office with a new orchid, chain grocery stores like Kroger and The Fresh Market offer beautiful fresh bouquets sourced from all over the world. Exclusive to a unique flower called the Charmelia, The Fresh Market has hydrangeas, lilies, alstroemerias, sunflowers and even herbs you can pot on your own. Kroger also has a wide variety of options, making it possible to pick up a bunch of tulips or an elaborate arrangement while stopping in for a gallon of milk.