In My Mind I'm Going To Carolina...

drippy(7bAL)February 13, 2008

...and when I'm not running around singing that, the other half of me is screaming, "HELP!!!" I'm from SE Massachusetts - Buzzard's Bay area - soon to be transplanted (early to mid-summer) to the Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina. I know I should get a longer growing season out of this deal, which suits me fine. I also know I probably won't be able to grow lilacs (*sniff*) - what else? I see/hear big things about drought - is it statewide, or just some areas? This is my husband's gig that's moving, and he says it's beautiful there - I'm going sight unseen (yeah, I trust his judgment), so...would love it if any of you locals would give me the "IMO" view; the good, the bad, the ugly, and/or the "nothing could be finer" view.

Thanks in advance,

Kim, who is feeling a bit disoriented right now.

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susandonb(NC 7)

Hi Kim,

Susan here in North Carolina, originally from SE MA. Lived on the South Shore for 40 years and have been in NC for nearly 6 years. I can't speak for SC, but the drought hasn't been as bad in our area, at least not for us. We have well water and water when necessary. I don't know anyone who grows lilacs but I am told they don't do well here, that said I am buying some this year and giving them a try. The longer growing season is fantastic! I love it! We will be direct sowing cool weather veggies around Mar 15th maybe sooner.

I would love to keep in touch with a fellow Yankee. What sort of things do you want to grow? My hubby and I have a 1 acre veggie garden, a greenhouse and we are putting in a small vineyard next spring.

Best Wishes with your move and hope you love it.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 1:24PM
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There is a new lilac that grows in the South but I don't remember the name of it, easy to find out once you get there. Also Greenville Spartensburg has cold winters though not as cold as New England. Expect pansys to die in the summer heat but sometimes grow all winter long. Any others like lupine, Sweet William etc. will like it better in Feb March. That's all I know, I live in NC. But my brother in law used to live where you are going and it's pretty and houses are cheaper. Good luck, LindaNC

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 3:19PM
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Welcome, Kim! I'm in NC too, originally from the South Shore of MA (Hingham, Hull, Duxbury, Plymouth over the years). Moved South 14 years ago, and never looked back!

You will love the extended growing season and don't fret over the lilacs as we all knew them up North (they won't survive here, but as was said above, there are lilac varieties for here too) - there are sooo many more plant opportunities here that it's mind boggling. Don't limit yourself to the familiar plants, get to know the natives here (plants and people!)- you're in for a treat!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 7:20PM
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Hello, Drippy, and I remember you from winter sowing postings. I am now addicted to that, thanks to GW. As for your move, I grew up in the Gv-Spartanburg area, and my Mother had a lilac bush which did very well. Since I was not interested in plants at that time, I cannot tell you which one it was, but it was healthy! Welcome to the Carolinas. I have lived in both South and North, and they have equally good areas. You will be able to grow lots of things in your new home. Again, welcome and happy new life.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 7:44PM
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Thank you, folks - sounds as if both native folks and transplant folks (LOL, Zigzag, sounds like we're plants, eh?) like being in the Carolinas. I'm nervous as a cat - but overall feeling positive, especially about the gardening aspect. Those that know me from the WS forum (where I hang out the most) know that snapdragons are arguably my favorite flower - and they will perennialize there, no? I'm thinking maybe I won't have to dig up my dahlia tubers every year?

Susan, I ridiculously try to grow everything on a suburban lot. I'm hoping we'll get a little more land out of this deal - an acre or two anyway, which would be more than I've ever had. I'd like to grow lots of vegetables, being more and more into the idea of edible landscaping/sustainable agriculture/potager gardening. But I love my flowers, too. To give you an idea of what a nutcase I am, my "Seeds I Have" file is 32 pages single-spaced.

I guess I NEED a longer growing season!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 10:12PM
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I'm in cosatal VA (zone 8, for all practical purposes, at least for the last several years), and I have a plain, ordinary Syringa vulgaris (common lilac) which blooms every single year just fine. Sure, it gets a little powdery mildew in the summer, and it's not as floriferous as the ones we see when we visit family in PA, but it does okay. I'm sure the hill country in SC gets at least as many chilling hours as we do in the winter, which is supposedly the limiting factor in producing lilac blooms. Granted, I'm only growing it because my partner is from Pittsburgh and wanted one, and there are tons of other things that do as well or better, but if you want to try one in Greenville, I say go for it!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 3:35AM
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susandonb(NC 7)

I am so excited for you! It is AWESOME here! I lived on "postage stamp lots" my whole life in MA. Don & I now have 4.4 acres, I go crazy, standing in my backyard looking out on my acreage(I love saying that word-LOL) and drive my husband nuts with all that I want to do.

I tried the WS thing and it was a horrible failure, which I did not understand because I have great success when I use my cold frames. Don is finishing up a greeenhouse that he started building three weeks ago, I am so excited! We grow so many veggies I couldn't possibly buy seedlings so I have been using my coldframes but ran out of room so naturally I begged for a greenhouse. :)

Can someone please explain the difference between WS and coldframes or greenhouses?

I also need some tips on starting flowers, I fail at those too and I love them. Most of my landscaping is green :(

drippy, please keep in touch, I would love to share some of my favorite veggie seeds with you.

Happy Gardening,

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 8:45AM
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Duh...I meant "coastal VA". That's what I get for posting at the crack of dawn!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:50AM
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I live right in the middle of the Greenville- Spartanburg area and grow lilacs so do not count them out!

We have mild winters and it is beautiful here! You can be in the mountains in 30 minutes and at the beach in 3 hours!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 10:46PM
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In upstate SC we are not on drought restrictions yet. It may happen this summer if we do not get more rain.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 10:48PM
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Boy, it all sounds good to me! If I could just bring my family and piano students with me, I'd probably stop fretting at all, LOL. Actually, I'm very much looking forward to that extended growing season and wider variety of plants that will survive.

Lsst, thanks for the heads-up on lilac - maybe I will bring a start with me and see how it does. I am hoping to bring small starts of my Bluebird rose of sharon (a memorial plant for my Dad, given to me 12 years ago) and my hydrangeas. I plan on checking out my white rosa rugosa for possible remaining rose hips; ditto for the classic pink ones at Planting Island Beach (that's the name of my favorite beach in town here) - rosa rugosas are pretty easy to start from seed.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 7:06AM
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Bear in mind that SC soil is not the color you're used to in MA.... I'm originally from CT, and we have acreage outside of Greenville. Not sure what to make out of clay soil, having lived in coastal CT (rich sand) and FL (poor sand). At least I won't have to deal w/ sand!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 6:23PM
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Will you continue to teach piano once you move to SC?
My Mother taught piano for 30 years and is now retired.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 7:24PM
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1sst, I'm not 100% sure yet, but I probably will. I enjoy it, I'm trained for it, and the commute is great! (although I do some lessons in other people's homes as well as my own)

Guess I'll have to see how it all works out when I get there!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 8:47AM
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I'm spending my 2nd winter here now, was singing that same song in fargo nd not too long ago.. :) you will love the weather. Mary

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 3:57PM
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This ought to whet your appetite:

Here is a link that might be useful: South Carolina Home & Gardens

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 7:05PM
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This site looks useful:

Here is a link that might be useful: Clemson

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 7:08PM
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Thank you for the links, Laurabs - I bookmarked them; I find things like that very helpful.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 9:35PM
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I would really love to hear from WSers in the Carolinas, particularly anyone close to Greenville-Spartanburg area. My questions arose as I was doing some WSing last night (to save my sanity, LOL): When do you typically start - solstice or later? Is there enough winter to do multiple dormancy plants, like trees? Do you have to water your containers before they germinate? (I don't, in southern NE - we get plenty of winter/spring moisture) How much time is there between germination (generally) and seedling frying season? Any help in this area would be greatly appreciated - I WS a large amount every year, and was hoping to continue the process when I move south.

Thanks in advance,


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:42AM
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Hi Drippy- Welcome to the Carolinas! The winter will be a big change for you. It starts in January and ends in January lol. I am in Raleigh NC- the Piedmont. You can wintersow just about everything you did before. You just don't have to start as early as you "had" to before. I start with Solstice with my hardy perennials and then progress to the tender stuff in March. Many things you can just throw out in the fall such as foxgloves and poppies. I am not sure about multiple dormancy. Those things you might have to "fallsow" or try your hand at cuttings. After the first initial watering, I don't usually have to water until near the end of March but by then the tops are mostly off. But with the drought this year may be different. For us in NC- the rumor is that the drought may continue until the fall. Seedling fry can happen quickly in the Spring so be prepared to check the forecast. It is not unusual to have a 40 degree difference in 24 hours in late winter/early spring.

Near the Charlotte area I think some of the swappers have a plant swap so check them out. If you feel like a drive we have a Raleigh swap 2x a year, Rootdigger hosts a swap near Greensboro and Quirkpod host one in Kernersville.

You might want to order a catalog from Plant Delights Nursery (PDN). It is a mailorder nursery but it is open 6? weekends a year. You will want to make at least one of the open houses.

I'm really happy you are moving down here. You'll love it. Shannon/Dirtrx

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 4:39PM
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Welcome to Greenville!! You are in for a treat.

First let me tell you that you likely will not feel the impact of the drought as Greenville has one of the best water conservation systems on the East coast. We do try to conserve water but we have a gracious supply fed by 2 mountain lakes.

The downtown Greenville area has been revitalized and now is full of Bistros and great shops. We have a waterfall right in the middle of our once rustic downtown and its a fantastic place to spend the day.

Growing seasons are long here and sometimes plants that are close to the house don't even lose all their leaves. We dont have much snow....maybe one good one a year. Keep in mind a 'good one' here means that the snow actually sticks on bushes and grass and school gets called off. lol

Our winters here might not give the proper chilling for things like lilacs and currants but since I dont grow these its hard for me to say for sure.

We are zone 7a and typically expect a last frost date of April 15 (tax day) but most gardeners here push that. It common for me to have everything in by April 1 with crossed fingers!

This is a great place to live....people are so friendly. You have a choice of many nurseries and gardens to visit. You are situated between 2 of the best rose nurseries in the country (Roses Unlimited and Ashdowns).

You will be hot during the summers as I find that northern states get night time cooling. We dont get a much of a temp drop in the evenings here. You will acclimate and as a gardener will grow to appreciate this heat and the longer season it brings. I had roses blooming in October!!

Feel free to email me with any questions you are in for a real treat.....welcome to SC!!


Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of Upstate SC

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 1:14AM
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I agree with Ronda. I grew up in Downtown Greenville and now reside in Greer.

I garden year round. When we built our home 4 years ago, we moved in the month of Nov. I spent Dec. hard scaping and spent the first week of January planting trees and laying sod. As long as the ground is not frozen-you can plant.This year, so far, the ground has not froze. Here we have had a mild winter.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:01PM
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Oh yes I agree. I actually put a pond and waterfall in during November. The ground doesnt freeze. It will need added ammendments as the clay won't be optimal for plant growth. I use manure and add it to all the soil I plant in.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:23PM
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Gorgeous roses, Ronda! I hope I'll be able to grow roses again - I had good luck with them in Ohio, but none here for anything except my rugosas (which a lot of the locals treat as weeds, but I love mine).

It sounds heavenly - I don't take to the cold too kindly, and I won't miss shoveling snow. I don't think the high temp hit 30 today, and it gets deep in my bones in February. We have friends in Upstate SC, and DH tells me they have a rosemary bush growing year-round outside - that's almost reason enough to move there, IMHO. :) I am a big fan of herbs, and will miss the gardens I've started here, but because of Wintersowing, I have plenty to start new gardens. I also hope to root a few cuttings from things here - forget the clothes & dishes, who needs them, I'm bringing a car full of plants when I come.

I wish I could bring my compost with me, but it's just not going to be practical. I enjoy the whole process of gardening though, for the most part (although digging up large rocks I could do without), and will start a new pile or bin as soon as I'm settled.

Thanks for the welcome! Right now I'm in the middle of housing logistics, but I'm looking forward to being there later this summer.

Thanks again for the info/advice,


    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 11:15PM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

Hi Susan,

I grew up in Asheville. Be sure to go see the Biltmore Estate during spring, fall and during the holidays. Another nice place to visit often is the Grove Park Inn. I worked there for several years and it is always decked out during the holidays. The resort was built back in 1913 from boulders mined from the mountain it sits on, Sunset Mountain. Check out the website. You could make it a day trip easy to either place.

Cliff in South Florida

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 8:07PM
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The most often mentioned lilac for down here in NC is Miss Kim. But it's not a very lilac-like lilac, to this original Wisconsin native's eye, LOL.

Here is a link that might be useful: Miss Kim

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 10:31PM
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If you look at MY PAGE above, I have a list of roses that can be grown no-spray.

If you have any questions about any of the roses just email me. I have pictures of each and can provide you with more info on each one.

I cannot imagine living anywhere else. 4 seasons and yet a gardeners paradise. i suspect you are going to love it here!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 1:35PM
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I received the Spring Gardening catalog from Wayside Gardens, today, and they list a lilac that they say performs well, "even in the south." It is S. vulgaris Blue Skies (Monrovia), and it is listed as Z 4-9.

My wife and I are moving to Spartanburg this summer from SE PA near Longwood Gardens. We bought a house in Spartanburg a few years ago, so I have been reading up on gardening in the south. I was mentally balancing not growing lilacs and peonies against the fact that I have a large banana tree growing next to the screened porch. But, actually, it seems that many plants that are thought of as "northern" can be grown in the UpState area if you choose the varieties carefully and consider that "full sun" should maybe not be taken too literally.

Good luck with your move, drippy. I am so looking forward to no commute, no traffic, and no snow. I am not even taking my snow blower to Spartanburg!

We are moving in July, and I am going to try to limit myself to maintaining the existing plantings as much as I can for awhile. When I get really frustrated, I can fight the poison ivy in the woods. I am also going to do a lot of walking around to see what really grows well in the neighborhood. There are some palm trees about two blocks from our house that are really tempting.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 7:31PM
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Hi there Drippy & welcome to the Carolina's. You will love it down here. I'm a transplant myself 11 years ago from PA. You will be further South then me though - I'm in Pineville, a town next to Charlotte.

I WS'd last year for the 1st time. I started the first week of January. In retrospect, mid to late Dec probably would've been better for those perennials needing more cold. I did my HA's beginning Feb, HHA's beginning March and my tender A's late March. Out of 300 or so containers I had a 98% success rate. I did have luck with Crepe Myrtles but no other tree's. My seedlings died though in the heat of summer.

One thing to watch out for is those late freezes. Last year we had a freak late freeze after about 10 days of 80's. Alot of us had damage to our Myrtles and Jap. Maples. The Myrtles have bounced back but time will tell for the Maples.

You will very much enjoy gardening here and folks are very friendly. Make sure you plan a trip to Charleston. You will love the gardens there.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 10:15AM
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