Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Story Behind the New Book

     I have been absent from my blog for a couple of months now, but I am back!
The reason behind my absence is, I was writing a new book that was most definitely needed here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
     Let me start with a little background. I have been the manager of Terra Bella Garden Center in North Charleston since October of 2016. I have been in the nursery/garden center business here since 2003, and I have been playing with plants/gardening since I was about 5 (1971). So I actually do know a thing or two about plants.

     I honestly believe that not a day goes by that we get somebody at Terra Bella that is not from around here, wants to do some work in their yard or garden and have no idea of what the plants are that they are looking at. With the constant influx of new folks coming into the area due to the incredible growth we are experiencing, I am sure it will just get worse. Many are from the north, some from the upper midwest, and some from the west coast, they all have one thing in common, "Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore!" The diversity of what we can grow coupled with the realization that some of their favorites won't grow here causes all kinds of confusion.

     Enter my new book, "A Beginner's Guide to Lowcountry Gardening and Landscaping."  The book is 370+ pages, 16 chapters, with over 8 dozen pictures. I discuss over 100 plants, shrubs, trees, vegetables, and fruiting plants. I also discuss, when to plant your gardens, some of the diseases you may see, insects, what kind of soils you will encounter, plus typical weather patterns and much more! It definitely is not a stand-alone, all-inclusive book, but it gives you a really good basis to start with.

     Here is just a small sample:
Landscape Plants, What Can I Put Where!?
When it comes to plants for your landscape, there are hundreds, if not thousands to choose from. You will need to figure out a laundry list of variables for where you want to plant something, such as:

Is it mostly shade, morning sun, or afternoon sun?
Does it stay damp all of the time?
Do you want it to stay green all year, or do the leaves falling every autumn not bother you?
Do you want it to flower, fruit, or just sit there?
Are the plants going to be used as a privacy fence?
How big do you want them to be at maturity, does it matter?
Many plants are poisonous to pets and/or children, do you have any?
Are there HOA restrictions?
Do you mind pruning or do you want something that is almost maintenance free?
Are you looking for a tropical feel, Mediterranean feel, or something else?

I am sure there are many more possible variables, but you get the gist. If you have not lived
through a Lowcountry summer, it is much different than other places.
A plant that is listed as a "Full Sun" may do fine in 10 hours of sunlight in the northeast. July in
the Lowcountry will turn that same plant into a crispy critter. That is why knowing morning sun or
afternoon sun is so important. There are many plants that you may have been accustomed to that just
won't work very well, or even at all because of the sun reason, humidity, or just the plain old heat of the late summer. A couple of quick examples would be Peonies, Lavender, and Hostas.
Though the last one will survive, but not necessarily thrive like they do up north. One of the good
garden centers listed in Chapter 15 will be able to definitively tell you if a certain plant will or will not work here. Do not trust the selections in the big box stores, the plants are probably fine, as long as you know what you are getting. They receive plants from a central buyer that may not be aware of the different growing conditions associated with their different locations. Just because they carry it does NOT mean it will thrive here! This is where the expertise of a locally owned garden center comes in handy if they are worth their salt they will only carry things that will grow here, or at least tell you if they should be grown as an annual (something that needs to be replaced every year).

     Yes, in Chapter 15, I list many of the good local garden centers around the Lowcountry. Yes, I work at one of them, but I list others too! It has always amazed me about this industry, we may all be competitors theoretically, BUT, we all know each other and if something bad happens to any one of us, the "competitors" are the first ones on the phone, "We heard what happened, what can we do to help?" It truly is a wonderful industry to be involved with.

     During this whole, new book release, I have also launched another website: The Citrus Guy Hortbooks Bookstore. There, you will find my other book, "How to Grow Citrus Practically Anywhere" and eventually there will be other titles, I can only write just so fast! The prices on my website are the lowest you will be able to find them, I even have the MSRP from Amazon listed, where the books are also available.

The website is HERE

     I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this, I know it was not really garden related in the direct sense, but I wanted to let as many people know about my book and maybe if you have somebody that could use a little help in figuring out what to do with their yard you can point them to this. 

     If you have any comments, questions, or problems, please do not hesitate to contact me:

Happy Growing!