"HOW On Earth" – Published in Pink Magazine – March 2010


I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep
contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody
could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process
of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to
observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early
peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.
–   Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

Happy 1st Anniversary to How on Earth! I can’t believe it has been a year since I wrote my first article for Pink Magazine. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my love of gardening with you and greatly appreciate all of your wonderful feedback.

It is another cold rainy day today as I write this article about spring. It is hard to imagine that warmer weather is just around the corner. I am sure we are all anxious to get back out in our gardens and assess the winter effects on our loved ones. This winter remained consistently cold for our area and so far I have not seen the first blooms to herald to beginning of the season. I believe that our dormant friends may be a little shy in coming forth. Please lets be patient. Many plants may appear to be dead judging by their brown leaves or lack of leaves. However, their roots can be quite alive and are just waiting for the soil temperature to warm before they send up new shoots.

Spring in the garden to me is a delight for my senses. I love witnessing those first blooms on a Cherry or Magnolia tree and smelling the fragrance of Wisteria or a Banana Shrub. There is something so delightful in these first few weeks of spring when life is renewed and hope blooms again.

Many people ask me when is the proper time to prune and clean up our gardens. The answer is now, and in honor of our 1st anniversary I would like to reprint the monthly cycle section that appeared in my original article.


Spring Cleaning: Now is the time to clean up our gardens. I love this process of creating a clean slate. I like to start this rather daunting task by dividing it into (3) separate jobs.

(1)Cut It Out: To improve the look and increase air circulation, I cut back my perennials to 6”. This includes flowers such as plumbago, lantana and ruellia. Ferns, ground covers, and gingers can also be cut back. Watch for the new unfurling growth coming up and be careful not to cut that part.

(2)Raking It In: Next job I tackle is the removal of the top layer of old mulch, leaves and debris Insects and disease harbor here and this is a great way to get rid of last years problems.

(3)Saying Goodbye: Lastly I remove any plants that did not make it through our winter. The tender tropicals that were left outside will fall into this category.

Pruning Tips: This is the time to do that heavy rejuvenation pruning.

Wait to prune spring blooming plants such as Azaleas, Ligustrum and Gardenias until after they bloom.

Planting: March 15th is the average last frost date for our area. I know it’s hard, but please wait to plant geraniums, hibiscus, impatiens and other colorful tender favorites until after this date.

Fertilizing: Now is the time to feed our plants. I like using slow release granular organic products. This is a good time to get a soil sample which will tell you exactly what your plants need. Our lawns can be fertilized at about 2 weeks after they “green” with new growth.

Vegetable Gardening Highlights

I look forward to March in my vegetable garden. My fall crops of broccoli and cauliflower are pretty much finished which after clearing will leave me space for the next rotation of crops. This month I will put in bush beans, peas, lettuce, beets, radishes, turnips, and potatoes. This will be my 3rd year with my asparagus patch which I am very excited about. This is the year that I will get my first true harvest, talk about being patient.

My Top 3 Favorite Blooms this Month:

Wisteria is probably my all time favorite. I love the color and the fragrance. Yes, this rampant vine can really take over, but with the proper structure and pruning, I believe this can truly be a spectacular plant. The Saucer Magnolia is a tree that I enjoy year-round from its beautiful winter silhouette and pussy willow like buds, to the huge delicate flowers in early spring, followed by the lush green foliage in the summer. When I first came to Hilton Head, certainly it was the large Azaleas which really captured my eye. These southern beauties still delight me and I love seeing them massed beneath our Live Oaks.


Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens          www.savannahtourofhomes.org

March 25-28, 2010

Festival of Houses and Gardens                     www.historiccharleston.org

March 18-April 17, 2010