Sweet Summer Days The season of porch sittin’, sweet tea drinkin’ and boatin’ is here and there’s no better way to enjoy it than getting out and about. From luxury to laid-back Lowcountry life on the docks, the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry are full of fun for everyone in the family. Choose from these exciting… Read More…
Bluffton Hotels – Inns – Motels
476 Mount Pelia Road | Bluffton | (866) 706-6565
35 Bluffton Road | Bluffton | (843) 757-2002
1575 Fording Island Road | Bluffton | (843) 837-8111
Many of us, in our Southern childhood wanderings, grew up with camellias, azaleas and crape myrtles. They may have been around our whole lives, but they weren’t always here.
Many “exotics” were brought to the North American continent with the Europeans. These plants are from all over the world! Camellias are from China, azaleas are from Japan, and crape myrtles are from Southeast Asia. Despite what its name suggests, even Confederate Jasmine is not native.
Lately, the trend is to use more native plants for landscaping. Native plants require less attention, can be subjected to the saltwater’s edge to absorb rain runoff and benefit indigenous animals and the Lowcountry ecosystem. As a marine biologist, I have rarely considered the difference until interior and waterfront development resulted in the removal of huge amounts of native vegetation, allowing rainwater to flow freely into the May River and, along with it, fertilizers, oil and gas residue, fecal coliform from animal droppings, litter and more.
Most non-native plants coexisting in the Lowcountry are considered naturalized or non-invasive and, since they have become established, are not a detriment. However, they aren’t as resilient as the saw palms, yuccas, sand spurs and bull thistles. Other natives include the Southern magnolia, American holly, dogwood, cabbage palmetto, black-eyed Susan, sweetgrass, Carolina jessamine, beauty berry and others. For the complete list of Coastal Native Plants, visit the South Carolina Native Plant Society’s website at scnps.org.
Native plants do fine without any extra irrigation or fertilizer—a great advantage when considering the local marine environment. And they’re cheaper! Many new developments have incorporated sweetgrass around parking lots and in medians. It is the grass with the purple POOF at the top (obviously, I’m not a botanist). It is also the material used to make Gullah sweetgrass baskets.
The saw palmetto stalks have spines that scratch. Have you ever run into one of these? Or tried to yank it out of the soil? They are sharp and tough. Deer do not eat palms, unless they are really desperate. Not only is the plant protected from would-be trampling, it also serves as a dense shelter for small ground dwellers. Saw palmetto extract has been used in the medical field to reduce urinary problems resulting from an enlarged prostate.
Have you ever bumped into the yucca in the Palmetto State Bank parking lot? You forget how sharp they are! I have stabbed myself a time or two getting out of the car, but I noticed it was cut down the other day. The common name for this plant is, appropriately, Spanish bayonet. Yucca need very little water and they produce an attractive white flower. Apparently, the root is edible and full of nutrients. Another plus? Deer will not eat a yucca plant.
Non-native plants which interfere with the growth of native plants are considered invasive. Kudzu comes to mind, as well as the tallow tree and honeysuckle vine. Tallow trees are very thirsty. They can dry up a small swamp, leaving little water for competing native species. This tree is everywhere! One good look at its unique leaf, followed by an observant glance at our woodlands will quickly yield a tallow tree sighting.
As a child, I plucked honeysuckle and tasted its sweet nectar. This Japanese vine was introduced to Long Island in 1809 and distributed by nurseries. It overcomes other plants by covering them with a thick mat. There is a native honeysuckle, but I guarantee that you have never seen it. It has fused leaves and a purple flower.
All our native plants have unique characteristics that make them perfect for the Southern coastal plains or Lowcountry landscape. The website mentioned above provides a concise list. You will even find there are two species of azalea that are native, but not exactly familiar. Now I want to find them! They are like hidden jewels and imagine what a conversation piece to have an authentic Lowcountry yard with much less fuss!
My favorite non-native, the gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) was first given its scientific name in England by Linnaeus in 1752. It was named after a Scottish physician and naturalist, Dr. Alexander Garden, who later retired to Charleston, SC. (Yes, Dr. Alexander Garden’s garden was the first location of a gardenia in America in 1762.)
By Amber Hester Kuehn, Marine Biologist, Owner, Spartina Marine Education Charters
1376 Fording Island Road| Bluffton | (843) 837-9494
105 Okatie Center Boulevard North | Bluffton| (843) 705-2300
29 William Pope Drive | Bluffton | (843) 705-9000
23 Towne Drive | Bluffton | (843) 815-1700
5 Young Clyde Center | Bluffton | (843) 705-9600
Bluffton hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts showcase the best of the Lowcountry. Whether you’d like to spend a week at a luxury hotel or enjoy a romantic getaway at a charming inn, Bluffton has just what you’re looking for. Discover Bluffton lodging and accommodations for the best of the Lowcountry.
For thousands of years, indigenous Muskogean Indians called Daufuskie Island home. The word “Daufuskie” comes from the Muscogee language and means “sharp feather,” due to the Island’s distinctive shape. In the mid-1500s, Spanish explorers had begun colonization of the Southeastern Coast of the United States, followed by the French and English. It was during this… Read More…
Art is many things: expressive, imaginative, creative, original and, often, visual; but at The Roasting Room, the art is a performance. Musicians, lyricists, singers, songwriters and composers deliver emotion that is almost palpable. From high-energy fervor to laid-back, smooth performances that go down like a great glass of wine, the art of The Roasting Room is… Read More…
A center of the Secessionist Movement prior to the Civil War, Bluffton was essentially abandoned after the Battle of Port Royal Sound in 1861, but served as a hub of the Confederate intelligence network. In the early morning hours of June 4, 1863, approximately 1,000 Federal troops transported by gunboats disembarked on Hunting Island Plantation and… Read More…
As an artist, I suffer from this problem—it’s an issue with focus. Not that I can’t focus on something, it’s that I have a tendency to focus on everything. It can be very distracting and lead to many started and unfinished tasks. I had a professor who I was helping with research and, while we… Read More…