South Carolina Living February 2022

Page 1


Take-out at home HUMOR ME


Running wild around the world

Magic man Howard Blackwell conjures amazement out of thin air

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Read in more than 600,000 homes and businesses and published monthly except in December by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. 808 Knox Abbott Drive Cayce, SC 29033

2022 |

14 Party tricks Peek behind the curtain at Holy City Magic to see how comedy magician Howard Blackwell is delighting crowds in downtown Charleston.

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Take-out bowls and wraps at home SC STORIES

Servant leader

Medical doctor with a busy family practice. Pastor of his church. Chief of one of the largest Native American tribes in South Carolina. How does John Creel get it all done?





Bowls and wraps are the latest take-out craze. Here’s how to make your favorites at home.

Periodicals postage paid at Columbia, S.C., and additional mailing offices. © COPYRIGHT 2022. The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. No portion of South Carolina Living may be reproduced without permission of the Editor. 2

A history of empowering communities

A new book from University of South Carolina Press explores the history of the cooperative social movement in the Palmetto State and how that movement has improved the lives of all S.C. citizens.

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Supply chain issues also affect your local electric cooperative. Learn how the team at CEEUS is working hard to smooth out the bumps.

18 19 20



The bare facts: planting roses in winter

Get an early start on spring and reap a colorful future by planting bareroot roses this month.


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Wild and wimpy places

Humor columnist Jan A. Igoe goes in search of exotic adventures—but draws the line at venomous snakes, dangerous birds and giant spiders. SC RECIPE

Take-out at home HUMOR ME

Running wild around the world FEBRUARY 2022



Updates from your cooperative


Magic man Howard Blackwell conjures amazement out of thin air

Nothing up his sleeves. Charleston magician Howard Blackwell brings humor and amazement to the stage at Holy City Magic. Photo by Mic Smith.

SC |agenda Managing supply chain issues

you probably found that some of the items you needed were sparsely stocked and others were out of stock altogether. This is a symptom of a breakdown in the global supply chain—one or more of the steps required to produce and distribute those items went wrong, leaving them temporarily unavailable. Supply chain issues have also put South Carolina’s electric cooperatives in a similar predicament. For example, co-ops used to be able to acquire transformers—you know them as the big green boxes in front of your house, or the gray cylinders at the top of utility poles—in as little as four to eight weeks. Now it often takes 10 times that, says Chad Capps, CEO of Cooperative Electric Energy Utility Supply (CEEUS), the corporation that supplies tools and equipment to co-ops. “One major manufacturer in our industry … they’re telling us their lead times are 127 weeks,” says Capps. “They’ve already sold all their capacity for over two years.” On top of that, prices frequently increase, even months after CEEUS places orders. “We are getting price changes literally every day,” he says. Capps says the delays and price increases are largely due to a shortage of labor at every point in the supply chain, but especially in manufacturing. The pandemic triggered a wave of layoffs, resignations, and early retirements from which transformer manufacturers have yet to recover. Some facilities are IF YOU’VE GONE GROCERY SHOPPING RECENTLY,


Chad Capps, CEO of CEEUS.

short-staffed by as many as 400 employees and able to run at just 60–75% capacity. While many expected the labor situation to improve after the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program on Sept. 5, 2021, that has not yet been the case. Fortunately for South Carolina co-op members, CEEUS is attempting to insulate them and their cooperatives from the worst consequences of the supply chain breakdown by monitoring lead times and maintaining an emergency stock of ­electrical supplies. “The reason we exist is, in general, so customers don’t see these ups and downs of the market,” says Capps, but “even CEEUS can’t mitigate everything.” —JARED BAILEY

ONLY ON Dig in!

Just in time for your next Taco Tuesday celebration​—Chef Belinda SmithSullivan’s recipe for the best Beef Taco Bowl you’ve ever tasted. Plus: You won’t believe how easy it is to turn ordinary soft tortillas into crispy taco bowl shells. Learn all the chef’s secrets at

Shine a light on home security


There’s more to keeping bad guys at bay than switching on the porch light at night. See what the experts recommend. You’ll find the story under the “Home & Garden” tab at

Alarm check





They monitor our safety 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors don’t last forever. Find out if it’s time to replace or upgrade yours with these tips, found under the “Home & Garden” tab at

About 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through inefficient windows. Caulk and weatherstrip windows to seal air leaks. When running your home heating system, lock all operable windows to ensure the tightest seal possible. SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

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| dialogue A history of empowering communities


President and CEO, The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina

ratives How Electric Coope Carolina Transformed Rural South


The book also shows how ABOUT EIGHT YEARS AGO, electric cooperatives shepe­ lectric cooperatives across the BURN J A M E S E . C LY F O R E W O R D BY state began celebrating their herded economic progress in L AC Y K . F OL E RY D 75th anniversaries with book rural communities. In addiI A B D E R A J AND and video projects highlighting tion to modernizing farm and their rich histories. On their home life with new machinery own, these were wonderful and appliances, electric cooperstories about how local coopatives became a critical part of the social fabric in rural South eratives “turned the lights on” Carolina. They evolved to reflect for communities that weren’t the people they serve, becoming being served by the existing more diverse in their leadership power companies of the day and workforce. Electric cooperaand how co-ops empowered How s tive era their rural communities for the tives also set a new standard in Electric Coop following generations. their commitment to commuTransformed ina Rural South Carol Collectively, electric cooperanity, assisting their less fortutives have another story to tell. nate neighbors and supporting It’s the story of a social movelocal causes. And while much of ment that, in true cooperative Buy the book Empowering Communities details spirit, changed South Carolina Learn more and shop online at events of previous generations, for the better. the story of electric cooperaThis month, the University or your favorite book retailer. of South Carolina Press pubtives in South Carolina would be egregiously incomplete lishes Empowering Communities: without an account of recent events, like the overHow Electric Cooperatives Transformed Rural South Carolina, a book that not only tells the story of haul of a local cooperative board that had violated rural electrification across the Palmetto State its members’ trust, and the ongoing controversy but also the cooperatives’ efforts through the over the future of Santee Cooper, the cooperatives’ decades to enhance the quality of life for all South largest single provider of electricity. Carolinians. Our story continues today as co-ops are fulfillThe book was co-written by University of South ing their missions to provide safe, reliable services Carolina history professor Dr. Lacy Ford, an awardto their communities. Those services go beyond winning author and former Dean of the College poles, wires and electricity to include home of Arts and Sciences. Ford collaborated with our improvements that save energy, and even highstaff on this project, specifically writer Jared Bailey, speed internet access. whose contributions became so significant that In acknowledging the modern proverb “History Ford agreed he should share credit on the cover. doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes,” I hope we can We’ve been telling the moving stories of rural use this account of our ongoing social movement electrification for a long time, but Empowering as we face new challenges and transformations Communities provides a deeper, more comprehenin our service to our communities. I hope you, as member-owners of your local cooperative, will take sive account of the challenges South Carolina faced pride in your role in this story. before and after the lights came on. As evidence of the much-repeated idiom that co-ops were “born in politics,” important parts of our story take place in and around the legislative chambers in Columbia and Washington, D.C., where crucial victories have been won thanks to the grassroots efforts and influence of cooperative members. BAI LEY



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| recipe






1 tablespoon sesame oil Take‑out ½ onion, chopped bowls and ½ chopped red bell pepper wraps are the latest ½ tablespoon minced garlic craze in healthy fast 1 pound ground beef food. But why drive to 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger pick up these tasty me als Pinch red pepper flakes when you can make ½ cup water chestnuts, chopped them in the comfort G cup hoisin sauce of your own Bibb/butter lettuce, leaves separated kitchen? into cups, washed and dried

6 10-inch tortillas Curly-leaf lettuce, torn into pieces ½ cup red cabbage, very thinly sliced 1 large avocado, sliced 1 large tomato, sliced ½ cup plain Greek yogurt 2 grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced O cups grated cheddar

Bean sprouts, optional for garnish Fresh chopped scallions, for garnish Fresh chopped mint leaves, for garnish 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

To wrap, fold in each side, then fold up the bottom and finally fold down the top. Place seam-side down on parchment paper of large platter until ready to grill. The shape of each wrap should resemble a rectangle.

In a skillet over medium heat, add oil. Saute onion and bell pepper until translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional minute. Add ground beef, crumbling and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until all pink is gone. Add ginger, pepper flakes, chestnuts and hoisin sauce. Stir to thoroughly combine ingredients. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Preheat a skillet or grill pan on medium-high heat and spray lightly with cooking oil. Place wraps, seam-side down, in skillet and sear for 2–3 minutes until golden brown. Flip over and sear other side. Cut in half and serve while warm and cheese is melted. If transporting to a different location to serve, wrap serving sizes tightly in parchment paper.

Arrange lettuce leaves/cups on a large platter or sheet pan. Divide beef mixture between lettuce cups. Garnish with bean sprouts, scallions, mint leaves and sesame seeds. Serve warm, drizzled with additional hoisin sauce, if desired.

Arrange the tortillas on a clean, dry surface. Down the middle of each tortilla, layer with lettuce, red cabbage, avocado, tomato, yogurt, chicken and cheese. Make sure to leave about 2 inches around the sides. Don’t overload wrap ingredients—it will be easier to fold.

What’s cooking at



Find Chef Belinda’s recipe for Beef Taco Bowl plus her technique for turning tortillas into salad bowls at​food/​chefbelinda



Take‑out bowls and wraps at home BUFFALO CHICKEN BOWL SERVES 4

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch cubes ½ cup hot sauce, plus 2 tablespoons 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice Canola oil, for frying 1 cup all-purpose flour ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs ½ teaspoon kosher salt J teaspoon cayenne pepper Lettuce, chopped Celery stalks, thinly sliced Carrots, thinly sliced Red onion, thinly sliced ½ cup bleu cheese crumbles Chunky bleu cheese dressing, optional

Preheat oven to 400 F. Put chicken cubes in a medium bowl or zip-close bag and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons hot sauce. Mix to equally distribute. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Into a small saucepan, add remaining hot sauce, butter and lemon juice and heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and keep warm. In a large Dutch oven or frying pan over medium-high heat, add oil. In a medium bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs, salt and cayenne pepper. Dredge chicken cubes in flour mixture and fry until lightly brown, 2–3 minutes per side. Transfer to a towel-lined platter. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Toss the chicken in the hot sauce mixture and spread on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until they have absorbed most of the sauce, about 20 minutes. Half-fill 4 bowls with lettuce and distribute chicken pieces between the bowls. Add celery, carrots, onion slices and bleu cheese crumbles. Serve with bleu cheese dressing, if desired.

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| stories

Servant leader What’s the best way to address a man who’s been pastor of his hometown church for the past 25 years, is a longtime family physician and chief of one of the state’s largest Native American tribes? “Servant,” says John Glenn Creel, who has always called Colleton County home. He and his wife, Charlene, still live in a house next to his parents, where a midwife delivered him on Halloween as The Andy Griffith Show played on the TV. As chief of the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe, which numbers 756 members, it’s his goal for the tribe to achieve federal recognition, clearing the way to expand the hours and services provided at the Four Holes Edisto-NatchezKusso Indian Free Clinic. The tribe also plans to build a new museum to “teach future generations who we are and to be proud of who we are.” Being a self-described “master delegator” helps him manage a full schedule. His mind is in constant motion, even when he gets away for one of his favorite activities—hunting. “I’m probably the only one who will sit in a deer stand and do continuing medical education questions,” Creel says. “I try to use my time wisely. When I’m sitting, I just can’t sit.” Faith is a constant companion during a life that hasn’t always been easy. The first of his three children, John Charles, was born with spina bifida. Doctors didn’t believe he’d live past the age of 2. “JC” is now 37 and ministers alongside his father. Creel’s wife was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2020, but the family’s faith never wavered. “Part of this life for Christ is to carry that cross,” Creel says. “Sometimes you’ll begin to feel the weight of that cross. It’s then that I’ll say, ‘Lord, I need your help.’ And then he gives grace. It’s the touch of His hand that makes the difference.” —MICHAEL BANKS | PHOTO BY MILTON MORRIS

John Glenn Creel AGE:


Cottageville. In 2020, he was elected chief of the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Native American Tribe of South Carolina, and, for the past 25 years, he’s served as pastor of Little Rock Holiness Church in Cottageville. DAY JOB: Owns Walterboro Adult and Pediatric Medicine, where he’s a family medicine physician. Mentors students as an associate professor of family medicine for his alma mater, the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. CO-OP AFFILIATION: Creel is a member of Coastal Electric Cooperative. HOMETOWN:




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PASSION. COURAGE. LIBERTY. Discover how South Carolina’s quest for independence turned the tide of the American Revolution. With the first permanent exhibit of its kind, the Revolutionary War Visitor Center at Camden tells the powerful story of the Southern Campaign and the valiant patriots with their hearts set on liberty.

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known for having unique things, and this show is unique.” Charleston. You’re downtown. All the The thing about magicians (and comelovely people are walking the old streets, spilling in and out of the restaurants dians, for that matter) is you can’t ever and shops. The sounds of laughter and really tell when they’re being completely BY HASTINGS HENSEL | PHOTOS BY MIC SMITH clinking glassware carry on the warm straight with you. Once you attend one evening breeze. Are you with me? Good. of Blackwell’s shows, you know he’s not OK, now picture this. You arrive at the corner of King and kidding when he says “unique.” Actually, he’s performing a John streets. You push open a door, walk up a narrow flight of classic showman’s move—he’s underselling. The overwhelmstairs, and enter a dimly lit room. There are 30 or 40 people ing responses throughout a night at Holy City Magic are oohs, inside. Many are ordering from the bar; a few are sitting in aahs, no ways!, head-shakes, head-scratches, pure disbelief seats before a stage. The atmosphere, as if by magic, somehow and roaring applause. contains both a mysterious hush and a buzzing anticipation. And it all starts with a little “close-up magic” at the bar. Voila! This, my friends, is the first trick of the night at Holy One recent evening, Blackwell asked a lady to draw a heart City Magic—to create a space of such intimacy before worldon a card. After shuffling the deck and asking her to conrenowned and Charleston-based comedy magician Howard centrate—his hands always moving fluidly throughout every Blackwell blows your mind. trick—he then opened her hand. When the lady looked down “Charleston offers a little something for everybody, and at her hand, the heart had somehow appeared on it. I think my act fits really well here,” Blackwell says. “We’re “I swear!” she cries. “You’re like the real deal!” Blackwell laughs. Part of his charm is his ability to disarm the disbelievers with his humor. After all, he’s a comedy-­magician, in the manner of The Amazing Johnathan, whom he grew up watching. “My goal is for the audience to have a good time,” he says. “That’s why I do what I do. I like to laugh with the crowd and have a good time. I love to see that sense of amazement on the audience’s faces when they’re watching me perform.” Yet for all the comedy, he’s pretty serious about the history of magic. One of the other charms of the Holy City Magic theater is the wealth of magic memorabilia decorating the walls. Blackwell has adorned the place with show posters, tour cards, a signed NOW YOU SEE IT Howard Blackwell poster of Harry Houdini, a wand performs “close-up magic” in the made from the wood of Houdini’s old bar before the show begins. house, and even some sideshow uu PICTURE THIS. IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT IN





behind the magic

Howard Blackwell, aka Wayne Capps AGE:


Charleston. Stage magician and mentalist, Holy City Magic. DOUBLE LIFE: Capps is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. “That’s why I use a stage name,” he says. “I thought, ‘If I’m gonna be a serious guy, I can’t also be the silly magician downtown.’” OPEN SECRETS: Although they say a magician should never reveal his tricks, Capps admits he’s “horrible” about that. “I spill my guts, if I can help develop another magician,” he says, which is why Holy City Magic also teaches four-week stage magic and close-up magic classes to adults. RESIDES IN:


When the magician Howard Blackwell was a 12-year-old boy named Wayne Capps, his dad took him, as many dads will do, to a magic shop in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. Capps was, as many 12-year-old kids will be, utterly fascinated. But unlike most kids, this budding magician had talent and, more importantly, drive. “I worked hard on it all week,” he remembers about his first trick, which he still performs—making small sponge balls disappear in one hand and appear in another. “And I came back and bought something else, and the guy was pretty impressed. So, I kept going. I did my first paid show when I was 14.” That first show was for a church charity, and Blackwell earned around $30. But more than making money, he was thrilled by the awe of the audience. It was a thrill that would have him performing professionally by the time he was in his late teens, even while deployed overseas with the Air Force. He even put himself through college doing magic. “But then I took a long break for a while,” he reveals. “I just stopped. I really got tired of doing the kids’ shows.” With the encouragement of his wife, he began performing again. He traded in his huge truck of equipment and found the perfect space in Charleston to start Holy City Magic. He learned new tricks. He perfected his show. He focused more on mentalism. And now he’s exactly where he wants to be, which is no illusion, just a revelation of hard work. “I’ve got my show to a point where I’m thrilled with it now,” he says. “It’s an intimate crowd, where I’m able to laugh and tell jokes and connect with the audience. That’s why I became an entertainer.” FEBRUARY 2022 | SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING


“ Everybody in here will see the exact same thing, but they’ll walk away feeling just a little bit different.” —HOWARD BLACKWELL

TOUGH TO SWALLOW Audience member Elin Cate of James Island illuminates a string of needles that Howard Blackwell first swallowed individually and now pulls out threaded.

WARM AND INTIMATE The cozy theater at Holy City Magic keeps the audience close to the action, and magician Howard Blackwell keeps them laughing.

GET THERE Howard Blackwell’s show runs every Friday and Saturday night at Holy City Magic from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. unless otherwise listed on Holy City Magic’s website. The theater is located at 49 ½ John St. in downtown Charleston. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit



collectibles (“The old stuff people used to pay a nickel to see behind the tents,” he says.) The audience can peruse this collection with cocktails in hand until the lights dim. Then it is time to take a seat. Eduardo Pignataro, the stage manager of Holy City Magic and a magician himself known as “Gogo Cuerva,” welcomes everyone to the main event with a request for no one to take videos. Magicians, like comedians, can’t have their acts being broadcast beyond the live stage. Which is why we won’t spoil the tricks here except to say they live up to the hype. There are card tricks and word tricks and hypnosis tricks and even a mentalist trick involving a special pair of socks. For one of his first tricks, Blackwell swallows a bunch of sewing needles and pulls them out of his gullet all strung together by thread. “It’s better than watching Joey Chestnut!” one audience member yells, and everyone laughs. At one point, a $20 bill somehow appears in the middle of a lemon. At another point, a sponge somehow turns into a bunch of scorpions. It’s all mind-blowing, and as the night goes on, the applause gets longer and louder. “Everybody in here will see the exact same thing, but they’ll walk away feeling just a little bit different,” Blackwell says. “A lot of magicians will get wrapped around the act— about how well this sleight of hand is versus how deceiving this trick is. For me, it’s all about entertainment value. I want people to laugh and walk away with a smile on their face.” And when the lights finally come on again, and the people gather again at the bar or spill back out into the Charleston streets, they are indeed all smiles and laughs. It’s just as Blackwell predicted; it’s as if they are under his most magnificent of spells.


| calendar

Upstate F EB R UA RY

18–19 Central Railway Model and Historical Association Train Expo 2022, Rock Springs Church Impact Center, Easley. (864) 508‑7126. 18–20 Upstate South Carolina Coin Show, Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, Spartanburg. (864) 293‑8416. 18–27 The Great Gatsby, Greenwood Community Theatre, Greenwood. (864) 229‑5704. 19 Deep Winter Blues, Hagood Mill Historic Site, Pickens. (864) 898‑2936. 25 Awakened—Spartanburg Philharmonic, Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg. (864) 948‑9020 or 26 Sweetheart Charity Ball supporting Meals on Wheels of Greenville, Greenville Convention Center, Greenville. (864) 233‑6565. MARCH

4–13 The Great Gatsby, Spartanburg Little Theatre, Spartanburg. (864) 542‑2787 or

FEB 15–MAR 15

5 Carefree—Spartanburg Philharmonic, Twichell Auditorium at Converse College, Spartanburg. (864) 948‑9020 or

26 16th Annual Joy of

Midlands FE B RUARY

18 From Refugees to Slave Traders: The Transformation of the Westo, USC-Lancaster Native American Studies Center, Lancaster. (803) 313‑7172. 18–19 Governor’s Cup Road Race, Downtown Columbia. (803) 960‑6202 or 18–26 Murder’s in the Heir, Aiken Community Theatre. (803) 648‑1438 or 19 Pleistocene Family Day, Museum of York County, Rock Hill. (803) 329‑2121 or 19–20 Winter Stamp and Postcard Show, Spring Valley High School, Columbia. (803) 309‑2534 or 20 Lexington Chili Cookoff, Icehouse Amphitheater, Lexington. (803) 358‑7275 or 25 Old Town Night Market, Old Town Rock Hill, Rock Hill. (803) 328‑2787 or

Gardening Symposium, Gateway Conference Center, Rock Hill. 26–27 Battle of Aiken, 1210 Powell Pond Rd., Aiken. (888) 378‑7623. 27 Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra, Harbison Theatre, Irmo. (803) 407‑5011 or Our mobile-friendly site lists even more festivals, shows and events. You’ll also find instructions on submitting your event. Please confirm information with the hosting event before attending.

18–20 Horry Georgetown Home Show, Myrtle Beach Convention MAR CH Center, Myrtle Beach. (843) 918‑1225 or 4–6 Craftsmen’s Classic Art & Craft Festival, South Carolina State 19–20 The American Heritage Fairgrounds, Columbia. (803) 799‑3387 Festival, Graham’s Historic Farm, or Lake City. (904) 200‑1232 or 5 Irish Fest Camden 2022, Historic Camden Revolutionary War 20 Taste of Gullah, Arts Center of Site, Camden. (803) 432‑6157 or Coastal Carolina, Hilton Head Island. (843) 686‑3945 or 12 Aiken’s Bacon & Brews, 21–28 Hilton Head Island Seafood Newberry Street Festival Center, Aiken. Festival, Hudson’s on the Docks, Hilton Head Island. (843) 681‑2772 or 22–27 Beaufort International Film Festival, The Beaufort Inn, Beaufort. (843) 522‑3196 or FEBR UARY 18 World Affairs Council of Hilton Head program: “Iran: Can We Lose 26 Lowcountry Festival, Shelter The Enemy,” First Presbyterian Church, Cove Community Park, Hilton Head Hilton Head Island. (843) 348‑6758 or Island. (800) 523‑3373.


26 Swamp Fox Chili Cook Off,

Main Street Commons, Marion. (843) 423‑9918 or 28 Hilton Head Irish Concert, Lowcountry Celebration Park, Hilton Head Island. (855) 287‑7287. MAR CH

10–12 National Shag Dance

Championships, The Spanish Galleon at the OD Beach & Golf Resort, North Myrtle Beach. (843) 222‑6706 or 12 Barnwell Sundial Festival, Downtown Barnwell. 12–13 Low Country Pow Wow and Cultural Festival, Millstone Landing, Hardeeville. (843) 384‑5551. 13 Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Pope Ave., Hilton Head Island. (855) 287‑7297 or




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n Spring-blooming camellias should begin showing off this month, but, while admiring their beauty, tame a potential beast by raking up any spent blossoms to help prevent the soil-borne disease known as petal blight that can turn future flowers an ugly brown.


in its firm, freezing grip, you might think I have snapped my cracker by declaring, “It’s rose planting time!” but let me explain: No, now is not when you plant rose bushes fully adorned with flowers and foliage but rather bareroot roses— you know, those skinny, seemingly lifeless sticks bristling with barbs often seen in garden centers now. One of the biggest advantages of bare­root roses is variety. Lots of variety. E-nurseries usually offer a ton of bare­ root selections online because they are easy to ship, while local garden shops can cram many choices into a minimum of retail space. So, how hard is it to squeeze fancy bloom displays out of such scrawny, thorny twigs? Growing bareroot roses is not tough at all, and it starts simply by finding a prime spot for your planting bed-to-be. The site should be well draining in a location that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight. Fluffing up the soil will certainly help with drainage, and this can be readily done by mixing generous amounts of compost or commercial soil conditioner into the growing ground. Also, raised beds are a good option. When you get your roses home, plant them as soon as possible. How­ ever, ­before tucking them into the earth, ­hydrate the roots by submerging them WITH WINTER HAVING THE GARDEN


FEED ME Zephirine Drouhin is a classic climbing rose that will put on better flower shows with proper fertilizing.

TIP OF THE MONTH Roses, being heavy feeders, will obviously perform much better when fertilized, but don’t toss common formulations such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 into their planting holes because nitrogen in this form could burn the tender, developing roots. However, a half-cup of root-encouraging superphosphate (an easy find at garden shops) mixed into each planting hole is a good idea. Wait until the spring when the bare branches start to pop with new shoots, and then add a complete fertilizer around the bases of the plants. For better results, use a quality rose fertilizer that has time-released nitrogen and is high in phosphorus. 20


ALL GROWN UP From skinny, thorny sticks planted in late winter can come garden beauties like this Day Breaker rose.

in a bucket of water for several hours. Planting holes should be dug about 12 to 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide. Backfill some of the dirt to form an inverted cone in the middle of the hole. Then, carefully spread the roots over this cone, cover them with the remaining dirt and water thoroughly. If your rose has a cane union, the graft point should be positioned just above the soil line. Since ground moisture is important to young roses, each finished hole should be ringed with a two-inch-high mound of dirt to direct water toward the developing roots. The addition of mulch will also help retain moisture in the soil, as will regular waterings every couple of days through the spring and summer when the rains don’t come. Your bareroot roses will probably be a bit shy to put on a full-blown blossom-fest their first year in the garden, but by the second growing season, with proper care, those skinny little sticks planted during the late winter usually kick in with fabulous flower shows. L.A. JACKSON is the former editor of Carolina Gardener magazine. Contact him at


The bare facts: planting roses in winter

n Make sure your tools are ready for the spring growing season—sharpen any cutting implements you use in the landscape, and change the oil and gas in your motorized garden helpers.


| humor me

Wild and wimpy places BY JAN A. IGOE


I dreamed about traveling the world on a grand quest for adventure until my f­antasies were interrupted by some weird kids in a minivan who insisted on calling me “Mom.” Before I could object, family and career swallowed me whole. Instead of zip lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, I pushed swings at the park. My photojournalist friends roamed Kilimanjaro on wild animal safaris while I fed goats at the petting zoo. No, I never got to snorkel with the logger­heads at Ningaloo Reef, but when my kid’s retainer got lost in the cafeteria trash, I could dumpster dive with the best of them. Now that I’m older, wiser and wrinklier, I still crave adventure but preferably in wimpy places. By that I mean places with the fewest indigenous creatures intent on mauling tourists. Take New Zealand, for example, which is mostly sheep and kiwi birds. Kiwis are small and can’t fly. (That’s so cruel. What’s the point of being a bird if you can’t fly?) Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever been pecked into submission by a kiwi. Better still, New Zealand has all kinds of penguins, mostly short. Every animated movie assures us that penguins love to dance and are less likely to be sociopaths than some uncles. Even if things did turn ugly, your chances of outrunning a homicidal penguin are pretty good. Although New Zealand has no deadly snakes or spiders, there are still 22

Any time “carnivorous” describes a snail, I don’t require details. a couple of things to avoid, like the world’s heaviest bug, which can weigh as much as a small bird. It bears a striking resemblance to a palm-sized grasshopper wearing body armor, which can’t be good. You also need to watch out for flesheating snails that can be as large as Mike Tyson’s fist. Any time “carnivorous” describes a snail, I don’t require details. But if you do, this thing “sucks up worms and spaghetti,” according to I can’t imagine who needed to know that snails like Italian food, but researchers aren’t happy until they’re up to their eyeballs in useless ­factoids. The takeaway here is not to order snails in New Zealand. And check your spaghetti carefully.


Before I became domesticated, Australia was at the top of my bucket list. There was nothing like watching Steve Irwin spontaneously dive off a rowboat to fetch a maneating snapping turtle or wrestle a crocodile. That country is no place for wimps because pretty much anything that flies, slithers, swims, crawls or hops is out to kill you. Snakes? They’ve got 100 venomous ones. Jellyfish? The “box” kind has 15 tentacles, each armed with 5,000 stingers. Spiders? Funnelwebs have fangs that can pierce fingernails and venom twice as powerful as cyanide, according to Man-eating sharks? Yes, several kinds. You will absolutely need a bigger boat. Wild dogs? Check with Meryl Streep. The Aussie version of Big Bird is a 6-foot cassowary that can hit 30 mph when it wants to meet you. It has a 5-inch talon on each foot that is “powerful enough to sever your arm or slice through your abdomen in one swoop,” per Besides eviscerating you, it can kick, peck and head-butt when the mood strikes. So, adventure-wise, New Zealand is more my speed. If I am going to run away from a renegade bird, I want it to be a kiwi. JAN A. IGOE is no crocodile hunter. However, she does hunt humor columns in some primitive places, such as Big Lots. Join us anytime at

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