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Fall colors? They’re green

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County library director Dwight McInvaill has a new name for the Organic Learning Garden at the Waccamaw Library at Willbrook.

“Call it the Lowcountry Herb Society Labor of Love,” McInvaill said during a dedication ceremony for the herb garden last week. “I know a considerable amount of very hard work has gone into this endeavor. We are so very, very appreciative.”

Herb Society president Susan Rivenburgh said the garden was the dream of past president Amber Bradshaw and horticulture chairwoman Karen Burch. She said they were helped enormously by Andrea and Larry McCoy and Janelle and Larry Sabourin. “All I did was weed and water,” Rivenburgh said.

The ceremony attracted students from the Waccamaw Intermediate School’s gardening club and their instructor Peggy Sumlin. Maddox Robinson, 11, the youngest member of the Lowcountry Herb Society, led the students on a tour of the garden after he cut a ribbon of bay leaves to officially open it.

He pointed out the plants in the four areas of the garden: culinary, children’s, meditation and butterfly-bee. The students saw plants they have in their own garden like fennel and dill and some new ones, like stevia, they want to add. Robinson gave each student a tiny sprig off a stevia plant and let them taste. “It’s sweeter than sugar,” said fifth-grader Hunter Bayes.

Sumlin said the intermediate school’s garden isn’t designed to produce herbs for eating or cooking but to attract birds and butterflies. The stevia, however, will happily break that rule.

The library’s herb garden will change with the seasons, Burch said. It’s full of bright colors now that the winter pansies have been planted along the winding rock path.

Children, Burch said, prefer the path to the straight sidewalk. That’s just what McInvaill hopes for young library patrons. “They say it’s best to stay on the straight and narrow in life,” he said. “I disagree.”

Even dried, greenery makes an impression

The usefulness of a flower doesn’t haven to end when it dies.

Rebecca Turk, education and events manager of Moore Farms Botanical Gardens in Lake City, showed members of the Lowcountry Herb Society how to recycle dried seed pods and blooms into fall wreaths this week.

Turk said her materials are all available in a home landscape: boxwood, holly, magnolia leaves and even a dried okra stalk. She looks for “cool seed heads” on plants like crape myrtle and the chaste tree. “I go to the garden and when I see something dried, I go ahead and pick it,” Turk said.

The base of an autumn wreath should be green, she said. “Otherwise, nobody can see it from the street.”

To make a wreath, she begins by bundling small sprigs of greenery and covering a wire base. Then comes the golden shades of fall: wheat, dried marigolds, hydrangeas and false basil, a plant that looks and smells like the herb and produces a lovely dried seed pod. Another of her favorite fall additions is muhly grass. “I’m a big grass fan,” she said.

Turk also uses sea oats, but only ones grown in the garden. The ones that grow on the dunes are protected by law.

Turk tries to keep her designs simple for people who come to the botanical garden for classes. “What’s the point if nobody can do it?” she asked.

Next month, she will begin adding holly and nandina berries and painted pine cones for Christmas wreaths. She gave members of the Herb Society a tip for making their outdoor wreaths last longer: Spray them with water every day.

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