This is such a great time of year to garden in the Lower South. It’s hard to have favorite flowers or shrubs because there are so many from which to choose. Flowering shrubs really take the lead as azaleas, Spirea (bridal wreath), Lady Banks rose, and oak leaf hydrangeas show off in yards and garden centers. I still have some late Camellia japonicas blooming. Of course, the nurseries may have things blooming earlier than those in our gardens because they anticipate what we want and force them to bloom in hothouses or in a warmer zone.

I have already seen mophead hydrangeas in full bloom in garden centers when I know they aren’t supposed to be blooming until late May or June.

Most dogwoods and redbuds have finished blooming, but the southern magnolia, sweet bay magnolia, and fringe tree are the upcoming attractions. Ferns are popping out of the ground, and so are the wildflowers. My grass is littered with violets, lyre-leaved sage, and spiderworts. I have a hard time keeping a neat lawn. I’d rather have a composition of plants growing – that can be visited by pollinators – than just grass. I like mowing grass, but there is usually something better to do. Some might call it lazy, but I call it diversity.

Some of the best things come out of the garden in April. Strawberries, peas, new potatoes, and asparagus are getting ripe and ready at the U-picks and farmers’ markets, even if they aren’t in your garden. Luckily for us, the farmers also anticipated what we wanted. They planned and planted at the right time so that we didn’t have to.

It is probably time to pull out the winter greens and get squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers planted.

Check planting dates and get things in early enough to beat the pests and the heat. It may seem like Mothers’ Day is the time to set out plants, but here that is too late.

It’s never too late to test your soil. We have a drop box for soil samples out in the front of the Clemson Extension office.

You can get the forms and bags there too. It takes about 2 weeks to get the lab results, and you won’t have to guess what you need to apply. By testing the soil, you will get a recommendation indicating the amount of fertilizer and/or lime to add to your lawn and garden.

I’m old enough to remember the first Earth Day. We have a small planet, and we make decisions daily to make it better and leave it better. Our small part can be responsibly using pesticides and fertilizers to keep them from polluting our soils. This can also prevent their unintended spread into the air and waters. Another way is using plants that require less fertilizers and water, provide shelter, and support wildlife.

Happy Spring! Happy Earth Month! Enjoy the Blessings!

Clemson Extension office is located at 18 John Galt Rd. Beaufort, SC 29906.  Phone (843) 470-5109