Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Carolina in My Mind

It is the chorus that keeps floating through my head. I first loved James Taylor during high school. I spent my time between him, Carole King, and Carly Simon. Guess the highway is calling us as well.

We are two Army brats that spent our early married life traveling the world with my sweet husband’s career in the Army. When time comes, I will have lived here 3 times longer than anywhere else in my life. Sure we have put done some roots here in Seaford, but change is something that we seem to embrace. With my sweetie retiring next year, it seemed like the time to make the move.
In the summer of 2010 we will be packing up and moving to a new place. What makes this move interesting is the choice of our new home. We almost did the old dart on a map to pick where we would go, sort of. We knew we wanted to be on a lake, in the south, inland enough that hurricanes would not bother us. In 2003 we got hit with Hurricane Isabel – just enough to make life a pain in the butt for a year. We were luckier than a lot of folks, we realize that. Each subsequent hurricane season gave me a knot in the pit of my stomach. It was time to go where the water doesn’t come into the house.

So using a website that lists property on inland lakes we started our search. I do like Virginia, though I have seen some of our lakes low during drought times. I know there are some lakes that are used for municipal water sources and others are primarily hydroelectric power. After looking for about a year, we settled on Lake Greenwood in South Carolina, a hydroelectric power lake. This lake is between 11,000- 12,000 acres and is very pretty. For those of us who garden this is a great place to be…home of Park Seed Company, Wayside Gardens, and now Jackson and Perkins.

Since 2010 will be here before you know it, time is of the essence. We did buy some land on the lake last March. It is an acre lot with about a 10% slope to the lake. Later this month we will go down to Greenwood and talk turkey with a couple of builders, landscape companies, and dock builders. Needless to say I have some specific ideas about plant material for the new place, but we need someone to install sod (remember the three dogs—can’t wait for seed to grow). I did spend a nice long morning with my favorite extension agent, picking his brain, showing him my ideas, and sharing the ‘plan’ I framed out. I have had a wish list on the sidebar of this blog for a while. Some of the plants are reminders of places we lived.

When we first got married we lived in an apartment on Chinkapin Trail…so Quercus muehlenbergii, Chinkapin Oak. Time in Frankfurt, Germany has some of the German named plants….some were ones we had in our garden, not necessarily German plants. From Germany we went to Texas—hence the yellow rose. I would love to grow Texas Bluebonnets, but I know they don’t always do well outside Central Texas; I will give them a try though. On to Florida for a short year, I just realized I don’t have a plant for Florida. Hmm, will have to think about what reminds me of Jacksonville. After Florida we went back to Germany, Spardorf. We had the garden in Spardorf. Afterwards we moved here. Many of the plants are Virginia natives that I think will do quite well in South Carolina.

The rest of the list is made up of various plants that have caught my eye. Some are new varieties, others are ones I like and want to include in the new landscape. So now I throw out the thought to some of you….if you could plan a whole new landscape…how would you do it?


  1. Oh my goodness, Janet, that is so exciting! I am thrilled for you and think you have chosen well, very very well! We have moved several times too, and aren't we so much smarter for having done so? :-) I look forward to seeing this come to fruition. And am a tad bit jealous of getting to design a house too, not just the garden.

  2. I'm positively pea green with envy, but very happy for you! What an exciting project!

  3. Perfect lot! I wonder how far away that is from me? I'll have to google it. 10% slope is perfect. Just enough. All those nice nurseries will be a huge temptation. We want to hear all about it. Very exciting and congrats.

  4. Hi Frances, I think moving broadens your horizons. We certainly have seen a lot over the years and met lots of people. I hope we have chosen well. Seems like a good place. I forgot to mention house designing as well. So many choices, so many decisions! One thing is for sure, we want an expansive view of the lake from the living area. Hoping to keep as much of the front as natural as possible but there is a septic system and well that need to go in.
    Hi Nancy- Pea green? :-D It is an exciting project.
    Hi Anna- I don't think it is too far from you. I too will have to Google it. The slope will be good for a walkout basement possibly. By the time we move I have a feeling everyone will be tired of hearing about all of this. maybe...

  5. That is a big change for you! I must say you and I have the Army connection. When I first saw James Taylor I though 'Fire and Rain'. He got me thru many a long night in Iraq a few years ago. He and Dolly Parton as they were like the only CDs available for sale over there. I still love them both though. I wish you well on your new move.

    If I had the opportunity to start a landscape from scratch I would first be sure I had big trees or if not, I would plan them in and make sure to plant them right away. Especially in SC you will need shade though the lake probably has some already. Next, I would ensure my landscape around my home and the edge of my lot were all set. Around the edge of my lot it would be mostly shrubs and native plants so as to provide me with privacy and a nice natural area for the wildlife sure to come and visit. The foundation gardens and beds need to be well planned and planned for timelessness. No spruces or arborvitae that will outgrow their area. I will have a mix of deciduous and evergreens with the bones set in stone. Then I would have some flexibility around them. Gardens always change so it is a given even foundation gardens will change but bones are important and not so hard to plan once you take the time. The rest of the garden I would see how I use the landscape and be sure to think about patios and play areas. It will fall into place but the outside edge and around the house is the main area I'd focus on. Looking forward to seeing how it goes for you Janet.

  6. Janet -- that's really wonderful! I've heard that area is really pretty and to have a lake view -- awesome! :-)

    I thought you were heading here for Chapel Hill, home of James Taylor and I got so excited thinking you might be one of my gardening neighbors! :-)

    Congratulations on your new adventure. I look forward to hearing all about your build progress (having built 3 homes myself).


  7. Sounds like you picked a good location to move to Janet. My hubby retired from the Navy back in 04 but we stayed here cause our boys were still in school. Can't wait to see the new garden. :)

  8. Janet, first, a warm, future, welcome to (upstate) South Carolina!

    It's a wonderful place to garden, although I would miss the ospreys, bald eagles, and river otters in Seaford.

    But, being away from the coast and hurricanes, is something that we're always grateful for!

    I'm always keen on trying to restore wildlife habitat in my garden (which started out as almost two acres of lawn), but your garden should please YOU, most of all.

    I'd include plants that provide a sense of plants (the natives) as well as plants with stories (your memory plants), to be sure.


  9. Tina, you have given me some food for thought on the planning of the yard/garden. I ws thinking along the same lines with shrubs (including natives) along the sides of the property. My list of plants is longer than what is on the web site. I have a notebook that I took into the extension office. I take it you don't like arborvitaes nor spruce. A mix of evergreens and deciduous is good, though I like having evergreens as foundation plantings. As the list firms up I will be sharing more specifics.
    I like Dolly too, great story on her on 60 Minutes this past Sunday.

    Cameron- Thanks! Sorry it isn't to Chapel Hill, very pretty area. Would have been fun to be close by you. May have one of my daughters near you this next school year. She is going to teach middle school math and will be in North Carolina, we just don't know where yet.
    We have run the gamit from living in military housing to making choices on a new build to making an offer on a house where we hadn't gone inside. Building and making all the choices will be fun for us.
    Racquel- This is a great area and I am going to miss it a lot! Our kids are graduating college this year and have no plans on coming back to York county. It was nice to stay here for their elementary, middle and high school years, as well as all of college.

    Lisa- Thanks for the welcome! (future welcome) Yes I will miss all the wildlife we have in our backyard. From what I understand there are opsrey on the lake and maybe a bald eagle.
    I am a conflict of natives and new cultivars. I do like to have berries and such for the birds to eat and shrubs for their nesting and protection. Many of my memory plants for Virginia are native varieties. I am trying to keep in mind the mature size of any plant so I continue to live the mantra 'right plant right place'. I am not a fussy gardener, so I won't be choosing plant material that is needy for fertilizers or pesticides. I will prune, water, and admire. Any natives that you wouldn't do without?

  10. Hi Janet, I just happened to be on here. I do like arborvitae and spruces-just not right next to the house. I actually have both here. A story there of course. The arborvitae I have posted on, the spruces are new and a gift. We'll see how they go. Glad I could give you some food for thought! I tend to get a bit wordy. I am excited for you!

  11. Hi Janet~~ Before I read that you'd already bought property, thus committing to S. Carolina, I was going to suggest Oregon. Eastern Oregon weather can be brutal but here in western Oregon our weather is mild and garden-friendly.

    With planning a new garden, I suppose the first step would be to map out the layout and consider hardscape. Then trees, shrubs and on down. I've been gardening here for 12 years and I can hardly remember back to those early days.

    Anyway, you'll want to enjoy your last summer in your current home. I hope you have a bumper year in your garden so you can take with you many pleasant memories.

  12. Tina- I will have to go to your blog and see what you have written about arborvitae. You weren't wordy. Appreciated it.
    Grace- Good morning! Thanks for the suggestion to go to Western Oregon. My husband has traveled out that way visiting units that are deploying. He has said how pretty it is. He lived in the Ft. Lewis area of Washington state when we got engaged. Love the Cascades.
    I am trying to make the most of my last growing season here.

  13. Hey Janet, Yes, James Taylor, Carol King & I have spent many hours together. My best memories of high school...I still have my original albums:-) Also saw James in concert, twice. Well, goin' to Carolina (could be N., could be S.)...yours is S. My parents loved S.C., in Litchfield (near Pawley's Island),but that of course, is near the ocean. Being former Military ourselves, we lived in Columbia SC while my sweet hubby was at Ft Jackson...but I don't recommend that area...it's TOO HOT!!! Not unless you can be near a lake there, in my opinion! Now my mother is in N.C., and I do love that area. She's not too far from Cameron, in fact! I envy you going to the Mtns. in N.C....it's going to be just wonderful;-)
    Since you and I are 'neighbors' in VA we really do need to get together a few times before you move! We can discuss that as time permits; right now I have so much on my mind...

    How exciting to have all of this to look forward to! I have no idea where we'll retire to...Mike is retired from the Army, but we still have a 12 yr. old and even though our daughter will be out of college and teaching, most likely NOT in this area, we'll have to stay here at least until our son is out of H.S. I like the idea of continuity.
    I moved several times growing up...it taught me to be flexible. Then when Mike & I married, I guess I was ready for the military life because the moving was always fun for me; I loved the idea of something new, and meeting new people. Living here in Virginia has been the longest we've EVER lived anywhere in our entire lives! Longer than anywhere I've lived growing up! I still like the idea of leaving where we are and going someplace near a lake...in fact, that's something Mike and I have been talking about for 'when that time comes'. ha ha, it might not:-)Being that you & I are about the same age, and I still have a 12 yr old, says a lot about how much longer I will have to wait until we can do something like that!!! arrgh! (But I wouldn't change a thing; having our son is one of our life's greatest joys)!

    We'll talk later, and I truly look forward to reading all about your plans as they unravel and develop!!

  14. When I read your post title I thought you were referring to UNC winning the NCAA basketball tournament!

    Your new location sounds like a gardener's dream come true. Hope you don't give up your great blog name though.

  15. Jan, my goodness!! We certainly have a lot in common! I have my albums still too! Music has been a big part of my life. It was fun to tie James Taylor in with this move. I always loved that song.
    Can't believe you lived in Columbia, about an hour-ish from Lake Greenwood.
    Moving to a new place, of our choosing, is going to be interesting. It was always 'where the Army sent you' prior to this. Your son being 12 sounds young, but in the blink of an eye he will be in college and then graduated.
    I am game to get together -- we will have to figure something out. Lots on your mind? Hope all is ok.
    Think you and Mike should look at Lake Greenwood for retirement. We could start our own group!
    Daffodil Planter- Not basketball, we (hubby) is a Mizzou grad, so we were cheering for them. Fun watching NCAA for the most part.
    I have been the Queen of Seaford for too long to give it up...maybe I will have to hyphenate it.?!?!? haha

  16. I lived in the same state my entire life. I think you're both very brave to make the move. You're right. It is a grand place to be a gardener. All those wonderful nurseries. I bet there are some small local ones too.~~Dee

  17. Dee, we have family in OKC, it is a nice area, though you guys get some wild weather out there. I wouldn't call it brave moving to a new place, it is what we know. We grew up with our dads being in the Army and moving all the time, then career in the Army--continued moving. We are looking forward to seeing what the new area has to offer--gardening as well as other areas.


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