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Time For Dreaming

By Wendy Kelly for Island Eye News

If you’re anything like me, that last cold snap didn’t do your yard and garden any favors. The usual protocol for my plants when a frigid weather looms is to bring some inside, put some in the garage, cover some, and pretty much just cross my fingers on the rest.

Well, the cross my fingers group didn’t have a chance. In fact, the group I covered didn’t either. It was seriously cccccold.

Naturally, my first instinct is to run out and replace everything immediately. But the truth is, my kids had a better-than- average Christmas last month (translation: I’m broke.)

Also, despite the temptation, I know better. Because now we’re in that “no-man’s land” between seasons; it’d be foolish to spend the time and money re-planting everything when we’re definitely not out of the winter woods yet. Which means right now the perfect time for dreaming, planning and research. So go get yourself a cup of tea (bourbon – optional if it’s really cold) and take a look at these interesting options for the coming year.

BUTTON BUSH (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

(Photo of Button Bush by

(Photo of Button Bush by

I first saw this awesome shrub awhile back while kayaking the Wambaw, and it took me all this time to identify it. Common button bush is a good-sized shrub (6-12 feet tall) with a really interesting and unusual flower; think of a golf ball with hair. It prefers part sun and a moist environment, and it’s a great nectar plant. Plus, its seeds are relished by ducks and shorebirds.

LION’S EAR/LION’S TAIL (Leonotis leonurus)

(Photo of Lion's Ear by Valentine Floral Creations)

(Photo of Lion’s Ear by Valentine Floral Creations)

Commonly called lion’s ear, this unique shrub is native to South Africa. It can grow rapidly to 3-6’ tall in a single season from seed planted in the garden in early spring. Bright, fuzzy, orange flowers bloom in whorls on its square stems. It’s fairly drought tolerant, too. The flowers, seeds, leaves and stems of Lion’s Ear have been used for centuries to treat a variety ailments; from jaundice to dysentery, while its roots and bark have been used to treat snakebites and scorpion stings.

PARROT BEAK LOTUS (Lotus berthelotii)

(Photo of Parrot Beak Lotus by Padeia)

(Photo of Parrot Beak Lotus by Padeia)

I fell head over heels in love with this amazing annual the first time I saw it. Its delicate foliage is a soft silvery green, accentuated by bright yellow to orange blooms that are shaped like a parrot’s beak. (Hence the name, folks) It prefers light, well-drained soil and full sun, but it can definitely tolerate a little afternoon shade in the heat of the summer. Parrot’s Beak has a graceful arching habit, so it’s particularly suitable for hanging baskets. It flowers best in the cooler weather of spring and early summer, but even while it’s not in bloom, Parrot Beak Lotus is a keeper.

So if you find yourself with a little time to dream about your spring garden, hop on the internet and see what’s out there.

Living in the low country, we are fortunate to have loads and loads of choices when it comes to what we can plant in our yards and gardens. These plants are really just the tip of the iceberg. Speaking of icebergs…has anyone checked the forecast lately?

Wendy Sang Kelly is owner of Garden Pixies, find her online at or call 843.822.1044.

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