Monday, March 28, 2011


Another group of milestones occurs this week indicating that we made it through another year and it is springtime in the Lowcountry! The Bridge Run, Summerville’s Azalea Festival, and the Cajun Festival at James Island County Park are all wonderful outdoor events that mark spring for me in the Lowcountry.

Last week was the week my banana shrubs bloomed. These are not the topical plants that grow bananas for eating. They are the shrub (Michelia figo) that is in the Magnoliaceae family. Small yellow blooms that peel open like a banana and emit the fragrance of a banana Now or Later, that chewy dentist’s friend candy (pulls fillings and crowns out) of the 1970’s.

Banana shrubs are not readily available in the nursery trade, and they are hard to get established. You can find them at older established plantings throughout the Lowcountry. Look in older neighborhoods and the public and private plantations for this jewel.

My sweet tea olive’s perfume is also dominating the fragrance in my front yard. The camellias are still flowering, and the azaleas are also blooming – depending on variety. The bottlebrush shrubs are looking like they are getting ready to burst into their showy red blooms that will attract hummingbirds. The dogwoods have been outstanding this year.

A big thank you is in order to the people who planted bulbs over the years that provided early spring color this year. Even the Prunus species (cherry, peach, crabapple, apricot, plum, almond …) trees looked outstanding.

With new foliage comes new insects and disease. Be sure to inspect your plants closely this time of year. If you have fruit trees that insects or diseases have been a problem in the past, you should be spraying already.

Scale that attacks camellias is in its crawler stage and is easy to kill right now. Get the little guys before they exude that waxy coating for protection from birds and control products.

Mole crickets are doing their spring mating flights. Expect to see increase activity in your lawn. Tirade or Intice (organic) will deter the mole crickets from starting a family in your yard and nail fire ants as a bonus.

Large patch is also flaring up on the transitioning turf grass. A good systemic fungicide like Cleary’s should help with the large patch.

Moles will begin to have babies now as well. Be ready for increased activity.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.