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How does your garden grow?
Spring begins in late March, which means it's time to think about planting gardens and replacing any greenery lost to frost.
Before heading off to a garden center, check out the many resources at your local Beaufort County library, which will help in selecting the right tree, shrub or grass for the right location in your yard.
Another important consideration in selecting shrubbery and grasses is their maintenance. Did you know that only 3 percent of the world's water is freshwater and, of this, only a very small percentage is in groundwater, lakes and rivers? The Southeast relies on surface waters, or reservoirs, which require adequate rainfall for replenishment. Water may be a renewable resource, but more frequent droughts are painful reminders that water must be conserved and used judiciously.
Homeowners can have a positive impact on water conservation through xeriscape, or "dry landscape," techniques that combine horticultural planning and design with water conservation. Appropriate use of plant materials and efficient watering methods can significantly reduce water usage, which directly translates into money savings for consumers. Xeriscaping is not only cost effective, but low maintenance, saving time and money. The library has several helpful titles to get you started with xeriscaping.
The Lowcountry is blessed with plentiful sun, rich soil and long growing seasons. To make the most of these optimum conditions for gardening, plants must be matched with the proper location and care. The resources highlighted below will give both the veteran gardener and newcomer to coastal South Carolina the tips and tools necessary for a successful garden.
For visual learners who prefer seeing to reading, there are DVD series such as The Complete Gardener , which is "jam-packed with easy-to-follow tips and expert advice for gardeners of every level." Planning and maintenance, annuals and perennials, and gardening tips are just a few of the topics covered by this series. "Five Secrets of Great Gardening" features pest management, pruning, horticultural design and water management.
Use these other library resources to get inspired to roll up your sleeves and garden:
South Carolina Gardener's Guide  by Jim Wilson
Author Jim Wilson was the host of the popular PBS series "Victory Garden" for 10 years. Here, he tailors his years of gardening experience to the Palmetto State and features 175 of the best plants for South Carolina's unique growing regions. Entries for each plant cover the plant's optimum habitat, design uses in the landscape, planting instructions and tips for a happy, healthy plant. A USDA South Carolina zone map pinpoints the growing regions for each plant.
Month-by-Month Gardening in the Carolinas  by Bob Polomski
Major plant categories (annuals, perennials, bulbs, herbs and vegetables, lawns, shrubs, trees, roses and ground covers) are featured using a monthly format. Follow the calendar format throughout the year to learn when it's time for gardening and maintenance tasks, such as: When is the best time to plant trees and shrubs? When to prune roses?
Xeriscape Gardening  by Connie Ellefson, Tom Stephens and Doug Welsh
The introduction states that "xeriscape" is a new word that represents an old idea: Let the outdoor environment you create around your home echo the natural world of your region -- without pouring thousands of gallons of expensively purified water down the drain in the process. This helpful guide covers the principles of xeriscape and features the plants best suited to a specific region. Appendices highlight drought-tolerant ground covers, trees and shrubs for seaside gardens, wildflowers for xeriscape landscaping and more.
Shrimp, Collards & Grits  by Pat Branning
This beautifully illustrated and informative book celebrates reaping what you sow, literally. Cooking Southern food is an amalgam of traditions, culture, folklore, art and great food. Recipes are organized under "From the Garden," "Gullah Fixins," "Breads and Brunches," and "Sweet Splurges," to a name a few of the chapters in this feast for the eyes and insides.
Francesca Denton is the reference manager at the Beaufort Branch Library.