The Accidental Gardener: Paradise right in your own back yard

Many of us over a certain age have been urged to self-isolate.

Unlike the many folks up north, at least we are blessed with beautiful weather and amazing vistas here in the Lowcountry. Personally, I have taken advantage of this extra time by working in my specimen gardens for three to four hours each day. This self-imposed isolation has allowed me to truly inspect my gardens and plants to determine who needs an extra dose of fertilizer, iron or horticultural oil. My gardens have truly never looked better! I only wish that I could maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from my pantry and refrigerator.

With the mild winter we experienced, every plant is thriving to the point that I’ve been able to share some of my favorite plants with neighbors; Chinese dwarf indigo, pink cannas, pink ginger, evergreen toad lilies, yellow and purple swamp irises along with Brazilian walking irises. I’m anxiously anticipating the arrival of my curcumas and expect to be able to share these beauties as well. That’s the wonderful thing about Lowcountry perennials – a number of them self-multiply, which allows you to pass along their beauty.

SPECIAL DELIVERY • If you are uncomfortable venturing out, many local garden centers are offering easy pickup or delivery. Many are also offering daily specials, like BOGO geraniums at The Greenery.

Always on the hunt for the rare and unusual, I love to visit new garden nurseries, but given the current environment, I have been busy shopping the internet. If you are uncomfortable venturing out, I can recommend four wonderful sources from which I purchased last year – all of the plants from these sources arrived in wonderful shape and are thriving in my gardens.

I truly hope that each of you has been able to go outside and enjoy all the beauty that the Lowcountry offers. Here’s to happy planting!

Top Tropicals

I have purchased numerous plants, including an evergreen wisteria and a bamboo orchid from this Florida nursery. The challenge here is to pace myself by not ordering more than I can reasonably plant.

Mr. Maple

Last spring I watched a PBS special on these two brothers in North Carolina. They are now the largest grower of Japanese maple trees in the world! I ordered two unusual varieties and was amazed how well they were packed.

Gingerwood Nursery

Tim, the owner of this Louisiana nursery, is a renowned expert and purveyor of all things curcuma. Bare rhizomes were shipped well marked and with explicit instructions. They have done beautifully here in the shade.

Wilson Bros Gardens

This Georgia nursery occasionally offers plants off the beaten path – conversation-piece azaleas (which have the different color flowers on the same bush!) and Aphrodite Sweetshrub, which has a very unusual flower.

Ask & Answer

Dear Accidental Gardener,
I planted ginger last year but it looks rather sad. Isn’t this plant supposed to spread and bloom? — Perplexed in Palmetto Bluff        

Dear PB,
Ginger is a rather resilient plant but it is a heavy feeder. Be sure to routinely give it a nice dose of organic fertilizer and it will reward you in spades. Happy gardening!

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