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“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – April 2012

I have been attracted to vegetable gardens since I was a kid. I was always fascinated to discover how fruits and vegetables grew on plants. Last spring, I brought in peas, beets, carrots, asparagus, onions, lettuces, strawberries, and mint to my daughters third grade class.

“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – March 2012

Going and Growing Green

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”
Walt Whitman

Running barefoot through the grass was always a favorite childhood pleasure of mine. I couldn’t wait for the weather to warm up and the new, soft green growth to flourish. It was almost magical that first spring day that I could take my shoes off and feel the blades tickles my toes. The occasional bee sting, cut, and permanent green stained clothes did not deter me in the least for my lack of footwear. The smell of a freshly cut lawn also filled my senses. Skipping through sprinklers, picnics, a game of Frisbee, rolling down a hill, or simply watching the clouds go by, all were pastimes spent leisurely on the green carpet.


Everyone loves the look of a golf course and often times, we try to recreate that in our own yards. Golf course maintenance however is very time consuming and costly. There are four basic components that really can make a dramatic difference in creating a healthy lawn. Proper site, correct mowing procedures, appropriate fertilizing, and assessing water needs, are the keys to healthy turf.

Warm Season Grasses

Centipede St.Augustine Zoysia
Color Light Green Dark Green Dark Green
Texture Medium Course Fine
Maintenance Low Medium High
Water Requirements Low Medium Low
Heat Resistance Good Good Excellent
Cold Resistance Good Fair Excellent
Wear/ Traffic Tolerance Poor Fair Excellent
Partial Shade Tolerance Fair Good Fair
Drought Tolerance Fair Fair Fair
Salt Tolerance Poor Good Fair
Advantages -Responds to minimal care
-Slow growing
-Dark green color
-Coarse leaf blade
-Tolerant of salt
-Tolerant of partial shade
-Golf course appearance
-Slow growing
Disadvantages -Sensitive to salt
-Grows slowly
-Yellowish color
-Blades turn brown in    winter
-Iron deficiency in alkaline soils
-Pest prone
-Marginal cold hardiness
-Dormant brown winter color
-Thatch problems with improper care
-More costly to establish
-Dormant brown winter color

Compiled from The South Carolina Lawn Guide by Steve Dobbs

Centipede Grass


-Mowing grass high promotes deeper roots systems, which are better able to withstand environmental stresses.  This is even more important in times of stress, such as drought

-Only trim 1/3 of blade length at a time

-Keep mower blades sharp

-A great idea is to measure the actual length of the leaf blade just after mowing to compare with the settings on your mower

-Mowing too closely encourages weed growth

-Mowing Height

–Centipede: 2”-3”
–St. Augustine: 2”-3”
–Zoysia: 2”-3”


-Start with a soil test to determine the needs of the soil for your turf

-Fertilize when the lawn completely greens up

-Don’t fertilize in times of stress (such as drought)

-Over fertilizing can stress your turf grasses.

-Two approaches may be taken to fertilizing, organic and synthetic Organic Approach Disadvantages

-Synthetic Approach

–Fertilizers come in a combination of nutrient options (example 10-10-10, 6-6-6, and 16-4-8)

–Fertilizers are offered in the form of fast release, slow release, or a combination of both


—Grass will green up faster
—Reasonably priced


–Requires more frequent applications
–May burn lawn more easily
–May increase problems with pest and disease
–May kill the microbial activity in the soil, resulting in compacted soil
–May lower the PH of the soil

-Organic Approach

–Use organic fertilizers such as alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, seaweed products, wood ash, or milorganite.


–Benefits soil, not just the turf grass
–Leaching of fertilizers into groundwater is less likely
–More even growth of turf grass
–Not as likely to burn turf grass
–They are typically low in analysis and require larger amounts of product application
–Slower to impact a plant if a deficiency is present
–Often objectionable odors that emanate from usage


–They are typically low in analysis and require larger amounts of product application
–Slower to impact a plant if a deficiency is present
–Often objectionable odors that emanate from usage


-Water deeply and infrequently for 20-30 minutes, check depth of saturation to assure water has penetrated 1” deep to effectively irrigate root zone

–Temperatures of less than 50 degree, no need for irrigation
–Temperatures from 50-70 degrees, water once a week
–Temperatures from 70-85 degrees, water twice per week
–Temperatures from 85 degrees and up, water three times a week

-Water in the morning to ensure as little evaporation as possible
-Watering in the evening promotes disease

“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – February 2012

It’s late winter, and every year at this time I get so excited to see the Red Maple in bloom. The flowers are not particularly eye-catching; in fact, most people don’t really notice these red clusters that hug the limbs and branches. To me, it signifies that spring is just around the corner. Some believe, Punxsutawney Phil is the predictor of springtime’s arrival, but I feel it’s the Red Maple. I know that the next season of renewed growth is on the way, when I see this large, gray trunk beauty, studded in color.

Christmas at Sea Pines Center

Karen Geiger of Creative Gardening makes Christmas magical at Sea Pines Center on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – January 2012

New Year’s Resolutions

“It’s not the destination, but the journey.”

Sydney Paige McCutcheon

It’s January, the time of year that our gardens are resting, preparing for the busy season that awaits. I always look forward to this time of year. There is a quietness and stillness that I find calming and grounding. The rush of the holiday season is over and a new year has begun. I relish this time while I can get caught up with unfinished tasks, reflect on the past year, and set goals for the future.  Last year I made several gardening intentions all with an enthusiasm and idyllic vision. My list included first-time visits to the Biltmore Estate, Middleton Place, the Atlanta Botanical Garden and new growers. I also wanted to add a compost bin and citrus plants to my vegetable garden. I envisioned creating an oasis in my home with indoor plants and a wall fountain. Lastly, I thought I would like to research and explore the subject of bulbs for Southern Gardens.

The fun and enlightening part about documenting one’s dreams is to see how far you have come along your path. I have discovered however, that sometimes it is the detours that prove to be the most memorable and soul satisfying. I still have yet to see the Biltmore or Middleton Place, but I did make it to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens which I wrote about in the July issue. I did not visit any new growers even though several attempts for these “field trips” were made. I did however go to the Tropical Plant Trade show in Fort Lauderdale where I fell in love with Bromeliads. Some of these gems are hardy here and make fabulous, low maintenance container plants. My attempts at my indoor Garden of Eden have resulted in one dead philodendron, a thriving ZZ plant, and a bloomless orchid. Not exactly the greenhouse look I had pictured. I have searched several times for that elusive wall fountain with no luck, however in the process of my search, I came up with another idea for a simple water container garden. My thought is to place Papyrus in a tall planter, add a pump, underwater lighting, and position at my front door. I did add the Mandarin Orange along with a Persimmon tree to my vegetable garden and enjoyed the fruits last fall. I am sorry to say that I still have no compost bin and I did not do any research on bulbs.

At first when I reviewed all of my intentions for last year, I felt rather unaccomplished. It seemed that most of what I had planned, I had not done. I then looked deeper into the reasons why I had chosen what I wanted to do. My desire to see new gardens really comes from a passion of both traveling and discovering new plants. My attempts at my interior plantscaping are really a craving to be enveloped in a calm and tropical paradise. Research on bulbs comes from my forever quest and love of knowledge. Anything related to my vegetable garden stems from my hunger to connect to nature by delighting all of my senses. Upon closer inspection, I had actually achieved exactly what I had wanted…really wanted. This past year, I saw the most amazing garden I have ever witnessed in my life. I went Scuba diving for the first time this past Thanksgiving, and there, forty feet beneath the surface off the coast of West Caicos, were coral gardens. There is approximately 465 square miles of Coral reef located here. Some 60 species of coral live in the waters off the Turks & Caicos. Hard coral varieties include staghorn, elkhorn, pillar, star, and brain. Sea fans, sea whips, and sea plumes number among the soft varieties. The colors were incredibly vivid, with every Crayola color imaginable. I was mesmerized watching thousands of tropical fish swim in and around them, much like bees on hyssop. I envisioned big barrel sponges as planters and was fascinated by the vast array of textures. I truly was in heaven, surrounded by living beauty, and encased in a silence I have never heard. Being a part of this amazing underworld filled me with childlike awe and was the most captivating experience in my life. This is water gardening at its best!

So you may ask, what are my intentions for this year? Traveling, visiting new gardens, learning about plants, and connecting to nature are tops on my list.

Published in Pink Magazine

“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – December 2011

I find white themed flower pots, an encapsulated recreation of the winter wonderland that is reminiscent of the snow filled landscape. This month, let’s explore the South’s icicles and frosty interpretation of winter gardening.

“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – November 2011

This is the perfect time of year for transplanting and planting, establishing new beds, and dividing perennials. During the cooler months, plants establish themselves by growing their root structures. This makes them much more prepared to handle the heat of our summers.

“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – October 2011

The Herb Garden

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping…” ~William Shakespeare, 1611.

I find Herb Gardening to be one of the most rewarding forms of growing plants. Herbs are any plant that is valued for either its culinary, medicinal, fragrant or spiritual qualities. Many are easy to grow, perennial, and deer resistant. I have fond memories as a child of my mother’s gardens, filled with plants that she would use in cooking, or brew a cup of tea, or merely snip for its sweet scent. One day she sent me into the garden to pick oregano and basil for a spaghetti sauce. I returned with a fistful of snapdragons. This became the family joke when I went on to major in Horticulture. My own children love the herbs in our garden, often picking mint to chew on or even sprigs of chives. The freshness they provide is a welcome connection to nature.


Aloe Vera

Medicinal –  Perennial –  Zone 9-11 – Full Sun to Partial Shade

I always keep a container of this amazing healing plant. There is nothing like the real thing to soothe a sunburn, insect bite, or rash.


Ocimum basilicum

Culinary / Medicinal / Companion / Fragrant – Warm Season Annual – Zone 9-11 – Full Sun to Partial Shade

Fresh basil on garden tomatoes in the summer is probably one of my favorite foods. There are many varieties on the market these days including some beautiful purple leafed types. I grew a miniature selection in pots this year and they thrived in our brutal summer.


Laurus nobilis

Culinary / Medicinal – Season – Zone 7-9 – Full Sun to Partial Shade

This is a very pretty, slow growing small shrub that is super tough.


Calendula officinalis

Medicinal / Culinary – Cool Season Annual – Full Sun

These plants do great here during our winters as long as they have excellent drainage and are in full sun. They come in orange and yellow flowers, very vivid and deer resistant.


Allium schoenoprasum

Culinary / Medicinal / Companion – Perennial – Zone 2-9 – Full Sun to Partial Shade

In addition to their great mild onion taste, the flowers are quite attractive in the spring.


Coriandrum sativum

Culinary – Cool Season Annual – Full Sun to Partial Shade

Similar in texture to Parsley, this herb is the quintessential Mexican cooking star.


Echinacea purpurea

Medicinal –  Perennial –  Zone 5-9 – Full Sun to Partial Shade

Coneflowers have undergone a lot of hybridizing recently with many new colors available.


Anthemum graveolens

Culinary/Companion – Warm and Cool Season Annual – Full Sun

This plant is so graceful and delicate. I plant mine around my squash plants to keep the borer away.


Foeniculum vulgare rubrum

Culinary / Medicinal – Perennial – Zone 6-9 – Full Sun to Partial Shade

The bronze form is really quite stunning and will self sow.


Lavendula angustifolia

Culinary / Medicinal / Fragrant – Perennial – Zone 5-9 – Full Sun

Okay, this has to be one of everyone’s favorite fragrant delights, and yet can be a challenge to grow in our humid climate. Try the Spanish variety Lavendula stoechas.


Cymbopogon citratus

Perennial – Zone 8-11 – Full Sun

Excellent in Thai cooking, it is the yellow stalk at the base that you use.


Tagetes species

Companion/ Landscape / Warm and Cool season Annual – Full Sun

Marigolds are quite colorful additions to the landscape and are great pest deterrents including nematodes.

Marigolds add color into the herb garden


Mentha species

Culinary / Medicinal / Fragrant – Perennial – Zone 4-9 – Full Sun to Shade

Chocolate mint has become my preferred choice and is not as invasive as the peppermint and spearmint varieties.


Origanum vulgare

Culinary / Medicinal / Landscape – Perennial – Zone 3-9 – Full Sun to Shade

Oregano is very dependable and comes in an array of varieties from Greek, Italian, and the pretty Golden selection.


Petroselinum crispum

Culinary / Medicinal – Cool Season Annual – Zone 3-9 – Full Sun

This plant has great texture. Try using both the Curly and the Flat-leafed types.


Rosmarinus officinalis

Culinary / Medicinal / Landscape / Fragrant – Perennial – Zone 6-10 – Full Sun

Rosemary looks great massed! One of the easiest to grow in our area and will bloom late winter if left unpruned.

Beds of Rosemary


Salvia officinalis

Culinary / Medicinal / Fragrant – Perennial – Zone 4-8 – Full Sun

This is one of the prettiest winter plants for pots, coming in purple, green, and tricolor varieties.


Artemisia dracunculus sativa

Culinary / Landscape – Perennial – Zone 5-8 – Full Sun

The French type can be a little challenging, and the Russian’s flavor is lacking. Try Mexican, Tagetes lucida.


Thymus vulgaris

Culinary / Medicinal / Fragrant – Perennial – Zone 5-10 – Full Sun

This herb has been very dependable in my garden, thriving with neglect. The variegated lemon Thyme is beautiful in the winter container mixed with orange and yellow pansies.

"HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – September 2011

September in the garden can look a little tired after our hot and humid summer. There is a wealth of fall blooming perennials that can be added to our gardens to spruce them up before the fall / winter planting.