Sep 8, 2016

Hypertufa Workshop

I will be at Hickory Knob State Park this week end for a Hypertufa and Sans-casting workshop.
Hypertufa Check list
Safety First
Dust mask,Eye protection ,Rubber or Nitrile gloves
Apron and old clothes, rubber boots
Portland cement
Aggregates :Vermiculite, perlite, PermaTill, sand, sea glass, pea gravel, sea shells
Organics:  Sifted peat moss or Coco peat, potting soil
Optional: Concrete dye, concrete reinforcing fibers, liquid acrylic fortifier

Molds: Styrofoam coolers, Pizza Box, plastics bowls, flower pots, heart shaped candy box.  
Remember this is not rocket scienceAggregates can be peat moss, coco peat, and perlite or vermiculite. I do not like perlite because it is white. The peat moss or cocoa peat must be sifted through ¼ inch hardware cloth to remove lumps and sticks. Hypertufa made with the classic proportions for mortar (1 part cement: 3 parts aggregate) has a composition of
·         3 parts Type I Portland cement
·         4 parts peat sifted
·         5 parts vermiculite or perlite
For pots 1 parts cement: 3 parts aggregate.   1 quart Cement, 1 ½ qt. Vermiculite 1 ½ qt. Peat 1 qt. water
For stepping stones & bird baths 1 parts cement: 2 parts aggregate 1 part water more or less
stressing the pot with a wire brush
To increase strength and longevity, polymer-fibers, liquid acrylic fortifier, and fiberglass fibers may be incorporated into the mixture. Add the fibers to a quart of water and mix thoroughly and add to the mix.  Other aggregate such as sand, pebbles, sea glass and crushed oyster shells can be add but they increase the pots weight. Powdered or liquid concrete dyes can be added to the water first to tint the hypertufa to resemble natural rock. Buff, red and brown are the best colors to use. Fibers that protrude from the pot after it is finished can be burned off with a lighter.
Day 2 -Distressing ( making pots look old or wore)  After you manage to get your pot out of the mold take a wire brush or file and go over the outside of your pot. This will expose the vermiculite and peat. If you do not do this your pot will look like concrete and not like aged stone. Use a tile cutting bit on the dremel
Carving and drilling holes. The pots are still soft enough to carve with power tools such as angle grinders, dremels and electric drills.  Handle with care it will be easy to break until cured.
Curing – Keep your pot damp covered with plastic in a cool place for about 2 weeks or longer. Occasionally re-wet your pot as it cures. Leave your pot sitting out for a month before planting. The slower concrete dries the stronger it will be.
Recommended reading: Making Concrete Garden Ornaments  and Creative Concrete Ornaments in the Garden by Sherri Warner Hunter. My Blog

Making a Butterfly stepping stone with plywood and aluminium flashing 
Tufa tools for stressing 

May 30, 2016

Daisy Fleabane

Carolina Wildflower Daisy Fleabane

In late spring soft clouds of lavender pink flowers float above unkempt yards and roadsides. Closer inspections reveals a tiny daisy like flower. I have often wondered about the origins of the common name for Erigeron annuus. The flower looks like a daisy and it is in the Composite family with other daisies, but does it repeal fleas? I have never had anyone tell me that Daisy Fleabane does repel fleas, but then again I have never noticed any fleas near it.  This dainty little wildflower can be found throughout the U.S in poor but moist soils.  Around here, Daisy Fleabane is not found in dry sandy areas, but it is common around farm fields.  That is a good thing because the flowers are used by many native pollinators. If they come up in your lawn, please let them finish blooming before mowing.

Apr 23, 2016

Spring Rose Show

For the first time the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Show will be held on James Island because Cypress Gardens is still closed. 

Colorful modern hybrid teas, fragrant old garden roses and many others blooms will be on display during the 24rd Annual Charleston Rose Show on April 30 at the James Island Town Hall, 1238-B Camp Rd.
The show draws both novices and experts exhibiting 100’s of local grown roses of every color and form.
This year, there are over 25 exhibition categories from Noisette Roses, Shrub Roses and Hybrid Teas to Miniature roses. There will also be a Rose Photography Exhibition open only to members of Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society. Information about the society and how to grow beautiful roses will be available during the show.
Having membership in a rose society is not required to participate. Specimens entered must have been grown by the exhibitor in his or her own garden. Stems should be as long as possible and blooms should be open, vases will be provided.
Entries will be accepted 7-10 a.m., with judging set to begin at 10:15 a.m. The show will be open to the public noon-5 p.m.

Rules, judges and guidelines for judging are found on the society’s website at or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.

Mar 7, 2016

The Sustainable Rose Garden for the South (Part 1)

Kathy Woolsey
Let’s face it growing roses in the South can be a real challenge with high humidity and temperatures which can last for months.  In Charleston we have 4 seasons:  Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer and Christmas.
A sustainable or low maintenance rose garden is possible if disease resistant cultivars are selected and the site is carefully prepared. In the first part of this series I will explore low maintenance rose cultivars. 
A queen is a very high maintenance person indeed and it is no wonder that hybrid tea roses are often called the queen of flowers. A weekly regiment of spraying for insects and diseases will pay off with beautiful blooms. There are a few folks who have the time and money to wait on the queen of flowers, but most of us just want a few nice rose blooms to enjoy in the garden or in a vase. 
There are many types of roses and some are better suited for southern climate than others. There are some that can stand the heat and humidity and will not succumb to fungal diseases and some that are not appealing to bugs. 
Before the invention of pesticide, roses had to survive.  Weak cultivars faded away and were lost to history.  After chemical fertilizers and pesticides came along, hybridizers bred flowers with big showy blooms and southerners relied on chemicals to keep them alive.  Now hybridizers are breeding roses that are earth friendly or low maintenance. Still many rose lovers look to old garden roses that have stood the test of time.
Antique or Old Garden Roses are usually roses that came along before Hybrid Tea Roses.  ‘La France’ was hybridized in 1867 is considered the first hybrid tea rose but it was the French ‘Peace’ rose that made modern hybrid teas popular . ‘Peace’ was introduced in 1945 and its big showy blooms propelled the hybrid tea class in to garden spotlight. Soon every southern gardener was planting hybrid tea roses even though they were very susceptible to fungal diseases like ‘Black Spot’.  Not to worry, because as fast as hybridizers turned out roses, chemical companies could produce pesticides to keep them alive.
Rachel Carson’s Book “Silent Spring” (1962) was a wakeup call against the use of pesticides, but it would be many years later before rose hybridizers would realize that gardeners did not want roses that needed constant spraying. In the year 2000, Will Radler introduced the ‘Knock Out’ rose as a low maintenance rose and in the past 15 years many other low maintenance roses have come on the market. These modern roses are often marketed as “Low Maintenance”, ”Landscape roses” or “Earth Friendly” but be aware that these roses may still need pruning in late winter. Also insects can still be a problem with these roses.
Some gardeners took a different approach to growing roses. They sought out old cultivars that survived in cemeteries, church yards and old homesteads with little care.   These Rose Rustlers shared their finds with each other and rose nurseries.  Now there are rose suppliers that specialize in old types of roses.  There are several types of roses that do well in the South. I recommend Polyanthus, Noisette, Tea, China, Hybrid Musk and some Species.
 Polyanthuses are darling little roses. The small clusters of flowers are found on neat compact plants that need little pruning. ‘The Fairy’, introduced in 1932, ‘Marie Pavie’ in 1888, ‘White Pet' in 1879, are a few to try if you have a small space. They also do well in pots.  An old southern favorite is the ‘Sweetheart’ rose whose real name is ‘Cecile Brunner’, a French rose from 1881. The ‘Cecile Brunner’ most often found in the south is the climbing form. 
If you have plenty of room and a large trellis you should try some Noisette roses. This was the first class of roses hybridized in America by John Champney of Charleston.  “Champney’s Pink Cluster” 1811 and Noisette Blush are large bushes with small pale pink flowers. Other Tea- Noisettes are vigorous climbers like ‘Crepuscule’ and ‘RĂªve d'Or’ 1869 with large flowers.
Noisettes are fragrant and will repeat bloom almost year round.  They are vigorous and tough and will survive black spot and other fungus. Noisettes tend to bloom heavily in the spring and again in the fall with a few blooms in the summer. Dead heading will encourage more blooms.
Most old garden roses have soft pastel colors, so if you need a bold red than try a China Rose. They are not very fragrant but will bloom almost year round as long as the temperature is above freezing. 'Louis-Philippe' is a red rose with a pink center that has been growing in lowcounty gardens for years with little care. Some of the old timers’ call it Charleston Red China. Other good China Roses are ‘Old Blush’ and ‘Mutabilis’, the butterfly rose.
Hybrid Musk roses are an odd group of roses bred in Great Britain from multiflora, Musk and Noisette roses.  They produce huge amounts of small to medium size blooms in spring and will bloom a little through the summer.  The bushes tend to be medium size and tend to sprawl and cascade in the garden. ‘Penelope’ produces pale peach colored blooms that will fade to white in the summer heat. “Prosperity” is a small climber or rambler with clusters of pure white blooms. ‘Ballerina’ is a vigorus climber with dainty single pink flowers with white centers. She blooms the same time as Confederate Jasmine and they do well planted together.
Tea roses should not be confused with modern Hybrid Tea roses. Tea roses have large flowers that are mostly pastel colored from rose pink to white. There are a few yellow ones but the colors are soft. Flower stems are weak and the large flowers often nod. There is a variety of flower forms--flat, cupped, quartered, and globular. Most are very fragrant.  Tea roses produce large shrubs that only need light pruning in the spring. If you have room try ‘Duchesse de Brabant’, ‘Mrs. Dudley Cross’. There are also some wonderful moderate climbers, since the flower heads look down, they work well on arbors.    ‘Sombreuil’ has a flat cream colored flower and is a 6 to 8 foot climber.
There are a few good species worth trying but most only bloom for a few weeks in the spring. The ‘Cherokee’ rose is a native species rose from southern China and the state flower Georgia. ‘Cherokee’ is a vigorous climber covered with thorns and not recommended. The popular ‘Lady Banks’ rose is another China species rose, it too is a vigorous climber but nearly thornless. , the Chestnut rose, is an odd rose. It has large deep pink blooms on a large bush. The buds have prickles like a chestnut. A good care free rose if you have room. If you want a Carolina native rose then try Rosa palustris, The ‘Swanp Rose’, it is one of the few roses that will live in wet ground. This rose can be found growing along fresh water rivers around here. It blooms late in the spring for about 6 weeks. The swamp rose is very fragrant an ideal plant for rain gardens.
Lady Banks
Rosa roxburghii

Recommended reading: The Organic Rose Garden by Liz Druitt, In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher and Antique Roses for the South by William Welch.