“Herbs don’t like synthetic fertilizers or acidic soil,” she said. “They like sweet (alkaline) well-drained soil, and they thrive when fertilized with liquid seaweed, kelp or fish emulsion. Healthy soil equals healthy plants, which equals more health benefits for us.” Amy facilitates a gardening program at May River Montessori, where the students have built raised beds and a medicine wheel garden. They’ve planted, tended, harvested, prepped and consumed veggies and have created a certified Wildlife Habitat Garden. Amy also has her own herbal tea and health consulting business, Harmonic Infusions. She shared with The Breeze essential herbs to have on hand in the garden for cooking and health. Here are a few of her favorites: Rosemary: Perennial, full sun, deer resistant, use fresh or dry. Great to add to potatoes and to meat because it helps break down the proteins for digestion. Rosemary tea increases mental clarity, and a strong brew also makes a great hair rinse. Oregano: Perennial, full sun, deer resistant, use fresh or dry. Immune booster, helps prevent colds, warming, aids digestion. Great in any dish! Basil: Annual, full sun, deer resistant. Wait until you’ve filed taxes before planting! Basil needs warm nights. Make pesto, add fresh leaves to salad, sprinkle generously over every meal. Aids digestion, nourishes and restores the nervous system, calms anxiety and reduces mental chatter. Parsley: Biennial (lasts 2 years), full sun, deer will nibble. Use fresh, not very beneficial when dried. Juice leaves or sprinkle in salad. Cleansing, detoxifying, extremely high in Vitamin C. Mint: Perennial, full sun, deer resistant, use fresh or dry. Great in salads. Tea prevents colds (or soothes if you already have one) and is great for upper respiratory infections. Chewing fresh leaves relieves nausea and upset stomach.
Flowers and Ornamentals Bluffton’s subtropical climate lends itself to creating lush, attractive environments full of greenery and punctuated by pops of color. “Generally, you want to please yourself,” said expert gardener and native Blufftonian Ben Turner. “You also want to see something blooming every time you look in an area and plan so that when one thing goes down, the next blooms.” Start with your evergreens to provide the background, Ben says, such as the classic azalea, which comes in a range of colors and sizes. He calls Camellia “queen of the garden,” thanks to its beautiful waxy leaves and winter blooms. Mix in annuals like pansies, geraniums and impatiens and look for plants with extended blooms times, such as lantana that peaks in late summer and is very attractive to butterflies. Go to a good locally based nursery where someone is on hand who knows about plants and choose from what they have available. It’s important to get things in the ground before the weather starts cranking up to 90-degree temperatures. “Our heat is more than what they think it is,” advised Ben. “Read the tags, and don’t get something that can’t handle the sun.” Tulips, for example, never do well here, but there are lots of sages and salvias that can stand up to the heat and will bloom in late summer or early fall. Try variegated plants for color and texture and consider cannas and elephant ears. Decorative grass is another great way to add interest and break up a pattern. 30