Warmer weather is finally here and that means it is time to plan your garden (if you haven’t already). According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, now through the first of May is prime time for sowing seeds in your garden or transplanting plants outside.
For those seeking inspiration, there are some interesting local events on the horizon. Whether you plant your own garden, or not, there are tours, talks and seed swaps scheduled for the next few weeks.
Historic Columbia’s 2016 Gardening Symposium, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Robert Mills House. “Redefining the Southern Garden: Past, Present and Future” will feature three hands-on workshops: Cultivating History: Growing and Saving Heirloom Crops in the Home Garden with Rodger Winn, owner of Rodger’s Heirlooms in Little Mountain; Sprouting, Rooting and Dividing: Basic Propagation Techniques for all Gardeners with Eric Shealy, greenhouse and nursery manager for Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens; and Seeing Your Landscape for the First Time: Basic Field Botany with Dr. John Nelson, curator of USC’s A.C. Moore Herbarium and Historic Columbia’s Horticulturist Keith Mearns.
There will also be an heirloom seed swap featuring seeds from Seed Saver’s Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. A guided tour of the USC Horseshoe with Katharine Thompson Allen, author of On the Horseshoe: A Guide to the Historic Campus of the University of South Carolina, wraps up the day.
An opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday will feature author and food historian Dr. David Shields and Chef Wesley Fulmer of Motor Supply Co. Bistro. Shields’s keynote address, “Revival of the Carolinas’ Greatest Fruits and Berries,” will focus on foods and food traditions of the past and what is being done to revive them.
Shields is author of Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine, chairperson of Slow Food’s Ark of Taste Biodiversity Committee for the Southern Region, and Chair of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. He is responsible for the repatriation of a dozen classic ingredients to the region’s fields and gardens, most recently the Bradford watermelon, Carolina African Runner Peanut and Purple Ribbon Sugar Cane and the soon-to-be-planted Hick’s Mulberry.
Shields’ book will be available for purchase at The Gift Shop at Robert Mills and he will be signing copies during the garden reception, 7-8:30 p.m., with heavy hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Fulmer.
Fulmer and Shields collaborated on the menu that highlights Southern cuisine. The tentative menu includes: bacon-wrapped Santee River shad roe with Anson Mills white grits and house bourbon-soaked whole grain mustard; local duck liver mousse with Midlands loquat jam, toasted white bread and smoked almonds; braised Carolina Heritage Farms pig feet and tomatoes with Carolina Gold rice, herb-roasted stewed tomatoes and slow-cooked trotter meat; old fashioned Bacon and Greens with Benton’s smoked-bacon, Lexington braising greens, traditional creamed turnips and sweet-and-spicy pepper vinegar; Carolina field pea soup with Anson Mills Sea Island red peas, braised mutton and toasted herbed bread crumbs; and local strawberries and sweet whipped cream, mint syrup and benne wafer.
Shields says that starting around 1830, as the railroads connected the coastal areas with inland cities and more ingredients became available for the table, Columbia became known for shad roe dishes.
Tickets $40 for one day, $75 for both days for Historic Columbia members, $45 and $85 for non-members. Register at historiccolumbia.org; call (803) 252-1770. ext. 23; or [email protected]
FLOWER & GARDEN FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Sustainable Midlands & Slow Food Columbia Potluck & Seed Swap, 6 p.m. April 12 at 701 Whaley. Seed savers, gardeners and farmers are welcome to join Midlands Food Alliance and Slow Food Columbia members for a potluck dinner. Jared Cates, of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association will talk about the upcoming Sustainable Midlands Farm Tour (May 21) and how to incorporate food systems planning into county plans. Please bring a dish to share (with a serving spoon) and non-GMO seeds that have been labeled and organized in containers or packets for sharing and exchange. RSVP to [email protected]
Columbia Green’s Festival of Gardens, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. April 13 and 14, showcases ten private residential gardens in the Hollywood-Rose Hill and Wales Garden neighborhoods and lunch and craft display and sale at the Garden Club Council Building at Maxcy Gregg Park. Advance tickets $20/Columbia Green members, $30/public; $25 and $35 day of tour. Available at www.columbiagreen.org
Midlands Plant & Flower Festival, April 14-17, State Farmers Market, 3483 Charleston Hwy., West Columbia Thursday-Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Festival of Houses & Gardens Tour of Charleston’s Old & Historic District through April 24. Choose from a selection of walks and tours throughout the day at various locations, prices vary depending on event. Proceeds to benefit Historic Charleston’s historic preservation initiatives and educational programs. Www.historiccharleston.org
Richland County Master Gardeners Plant Sale & Community Education Day during the Sparkleberry Country Fair, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 30 at Sandhill Research & Education Center, 900 Clemson Rd. $5 parking fee
The South Carolina Agricultural Council’s Spring Agricultural Tour, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. May 6. After 7 a.m. check-in at Farm Bureau office, 724 Knox Abbot Drive, the tour heads to Old McCaskill’s Farm in Rembert, Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in Bishopville, SC Cotton Museum in Bishopville, McCall Farm in Effingham, Swan Lake in Sumter and Cottle Strawberry Farm in Hopkins before returning to Farm Bureau. Tickets $55/person, includes lunch, beverages and snacks. Tour participants must wear closed toe shoes (no sandals). Call Steve Slice (803) 360-2845 or [email protected]
Lexington County Master Gardeners Garden Tour 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 19 and May 21, highlights five private gardens in Lexington County. Tickets $25/person, available at Clemson Extension Office, 605 West Suite 109, Lexington, or at eventbrite.com. Active and retired military free
WHERE TO FIND NATIVE PLANTS AND SEEDS FOR THE GARDEN
Rodger’s Heirlooms, 2528 Old Dutch Road, Little Mountain, www.rodgersheirlooms.com,specializes in native plants. Find them at Gardener’s Outpost and Rosewood Market in Columbia, or call (803) 924-6084
City Roots, 1005 Airport Blvd., (803) 254-2302, www.cityroots.org. Certified organic transplants
Gardener’s Outpost, 709 Woodrow, (803) 252-0041, gardenersoutpost.com. Sustainable, organic and local gardening products
Hay Hill Garden Market, 1625 Bluff Road, (803) 834-6652, hayhillgardenmarket.com. On site Greens Manager and horticulturalist
Wingard’s Market, 1403 N Lake Dr, Lexington, (803) 359-9091, wingardnursery.com
Woodley’s Garden Center, 1067 Woodleys Way, (803) 788-1487 and 2840 Dreher Shoals Road, (803) 407-0601, www.woodleygardencenter.com