Monday, June 11, 2012

Those Pesky Invasive Plants

June 2012

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, June 7th, 2012 at the home of Sallie Mabon.  Hosting with Mabon was Mary Anne Harman. Members and guests wandered through admiring the Mabon’s Victorian home and ended in the garden beside her koi pond and waterfall where the program was presented.
   Lauren Johnson with the Department of Natural Resources and a naturalist at FDR State Park presented a program on Invasive Exotic Plants. Johnson first defined native versus non native species with the emphasis on those species of plants not native to our ecosystem and by introducing them in our area, we cause harm to our health or the economy or environment.
   We introduce plants that are invasive for the same reason we plant other appealing plants: for ornamental, landscape or agricultural purposes. As the garden club members were all thinking kudzu and privet, Johnson reminded us that for every 100 plant species introduced, only one becomes invasive.
   Invasive plants have several determining characteristics that make them invasive: they produce lots of seed and effectively disperse them, they grow and mature rapidly, they are long lived, adaptable to habitats, easily established, and have no natural predators.
   Invasive plants damage the environment by competing native species, changing the plant community, interfering with plant evolution, impacting wildlife and affecting the recreational benefits of an area.
   There are workshops to learn more about the plants, and federal agencies created an invasive species council. Georgia has an Exotic Pest Plant Council to help control such plants as Chinese, Glossy, and Japanese Privets, Japanese Honeysuckle, Kudzu, Nepalese Browntop, Golden Bamboo, Autumn Olive, Chinese Tallowtree, Hydrilla, Mimosa, Wisterias, English Ivy, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Multiflora Rose. Of current particular interest is Cogongrass that is invading the southern part of our state.  The DNR asks that we report any sprigs of Cogongrass that we see.
   Johnson explained that certain species have a lag time.  While privet was introduced in the 1800’s, its growth habits did not explode and become a nuisance until the 1950’s. Club members also discussed leaving English ivy unmaintained in the landscape as well as the love of Queen Anne’s Lace and managing wisteria.
   After the program the club members and guests were treated to a delicious brunch. The Next garden club meeting will be in July at the home of Carla Snyder with co host Erma Jean Brown and the program will be on landscaping the Southern home. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Breezy Hill

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, May 17th, 2012 and traveled north of Greenville to Rocky Mount Road and Breezy Hill, the horse farm and home of Andrea and Jim Harding.
   The Harding’s home is unique in that it was the Stacy Presbyterian Church located off Court Square in Greenville until just over a decade ago. Originally built in 1886, the church was destroyed by a cyclone on March 3rd, 1893 but rebuilt that year. The Hardings moved the church from Greenville on March 3rd, 1999.
   It was very exciting for the club members to tour the home because the Hardings are nearing completion of an addition to the structure that allows for a large master bedroom and bath, closet space, upstairs bedrooms for the grandchildren and an additional living area on par with the large scale size of the sanctuary.  
   The original sanctuary portion of the church is today’s modern designer’s “great room” and serves as a dining area where the Hardings converted the church pews into chairs for the large banquet table, a living and media area, kitchen, plus office corner.  The magnificent ceiling draws the eyes upward and the dark beaded woodwork with its triangular and box patterns is striking. Andrea, or Baby Sister, said it took workmen only four days of hand rubbing to restore the beautiful sheen and luster to the wood
   The architecturally distinctive turret creates a unique circular guest bathroom on the first floor. Harding has used period Victorian wallpapers, borders and trims alongside rich and gilded colors to accent the architecture. On upper floors, the bell tower room makes for a quaint bedroom with its original stained glass windows and the loft area over the kitchen more sleeping space.
   The sanctuary’s side doors now exit onto a large screened porch affording a panoramic view of the creek side of the farm property.
   Club members marveled out how perfectly matched or “married” the new addition’s shingles and siding are with the original. Inside, warm honey colored wormy pecky cypress is juxtaposed with a rock fireplace creating interesting paired textures. The mantel is an especially worm ridden reclaimed swamp cypress trunk.
   Of equal interest for the club was the garden.  Massive old English oak wooden gates welcome guests to the garden where crepe myrtles shade and tower over the center of boxwood edged squares and triangles of the formal parterre garden.  An iron bench, a gazebo, and the original church bell beckon the wanderer to pause, rest, read, chat or just enjoy being idle.  The views across the pastures from atop Breezy Hill are splendid, and yes, there is a constant cooling breeze.
   Andrea and Jim Harding have done most of the restoration work of the Victoria church and the garden club was surprised to learn that many of Andrea’s favorite finds and older European pieces have come from carefully shopping on EBay. An added delight of the tour was the Harding’s five year old grandson, Andrew Bennett Kirk, who led his own tour version of Breezy Hill and eagerly offered to continue the tour at the creek, barn, peacock pen, and to his other favorite areas.
   The next meeting of the Merry Weather Garden Club will be on Thursday, June 7th at the Mabons with a brunch hosted by Sallie Mabon and Mary Anne Harman.  The program, Creating the Environmentally Friendly Backyard, will be presented by Lauren Johnson.