Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

   We dodged the frost bullet this past week, but cold temperatures during flowering have caused the glory of the azaleas, Bradford pears, and dogwoods to fall a little short of our high expectations this spring.  However, don’t be depressed --  the Southern Plant and Flower Festival is coming to full bloom next weekend at the Pee Dee State Farmers’ Market.  This glorious perennial event germinates on Thursday, April 16th, and flowers through Sunday, April 19th.  Each day of the festival reminds me of the lowly roadside daylily with its spectacular orange color trying to draw your attention as you speed by but knowing far too well that tomorrow another spectacular flower must take its place and soon it will be another year past. 

   We may consider this as being a nasty winter, but truly our glorious spring weather makes all those Yankees shiver in the chill of the north and long for their vacation in South Carolina.  However, we tend to take all this beauty for-granted.  We ride by in our air- conditioned cars, passing by as the flowers fade, and missing out on the festivals right here among us.  With the high price of fuel, let’s enjoy these local festivals, the beauty around us, and make our yards a beautiful vacation destination without the cost of travel. 

   Flowering from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and noon until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, beauty will flood the market landscape.  From the typical to the unusual, something will ignite your spring gardening fever.  I love to do what some of the Master Gardeners call “gauk at the wonderful plants.”   The true gardener is an artist with the landscape as the pallet and always seeks to add another brush stroke of beauty.  As the renowned French landscape painter Jan Baptiste Corot said at the age of 77, “If the Lord lets me live 2 more years, I think I can paint something beautiful.”  Maybe this will be the year your landscape is truly something beautiful.

   Remember when purchasing these sprouts of beauty that outward beauty must be supported by inward beauty.  Look closely at the plant.  The plant should look healthy. Check for aphids, whiteflies, scale, and leaf spots.  Make sure the plants roots are healthy and not root bound.  Make sure no hidden pest or plant problem will spoil your plants homecoming. The Florence County Master Gardeners and I will be manning a booth in the center of the shed to answer all your gardening questions so please stop by and see us.  Also, we will be presenting gardening programs at 2:00 and 3:00 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday under the tent erected near the new enclosed farmers market building.

   The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political belief, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.



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