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  • Kalmia Gardens - ''The Laurel Branch''

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    March 03, 2023

    Welcome to our e-newsletter, "The Laurel Branch."

    Big Thank You to the Kalmia Volunteers.
    This issue, the Kalmia team wants to send a huge thank you to all the volunteers who help keep the Gardens looking their best. Thank you to all those who take a little time out of their week to make a big difference in the Gardens. The Kalmia team works hard every day, but there are some projects in which another pair of hands makes all the difference in the world. We would not be such a wonderful place to come and enjoy nature if it were not for the heart and soul our volunteers leave in their work at Kalmia. It is almost as if you can feel the love as you walk down a freshly-cleaned trail or enjoy taking pictures in the freshly-painted gates. Even the plants seem to bloom a little brighter with the smiles volunteers bring to the Gardens. Many hands make light work, and good company makes time fly. Here at Kalmia, there is never a shortage of tasks to check off the to-do list. Since we have only three people to run it all, an extra helping hand is always appreciated. Whether you are just one person with a little free time or a whole group with service hours to check off, we have tasks large and small to fit everyone’s ability and schedule. You could help with anything from pruning and weeding to monitoring beautiful bluebird nests. Kalmia welcomes you one-and-all to become a part of the Kalmia family so that next time you come to the Gardens with your friends and family, you can say, “I am one of the reasons this is so lovely.” Years in the future, there will still always be a part of each volunteer here in the Gardens. To start your volunteer journey just contact us at Efloyd@coker.edu or give us a call at 843-383-8145. 

    Pictured above are volunteer, Julia Fulmer (Left) and Assistant Director, Elizabeth Floyd (Right) painting the gait.

    Darlington County Master Gardener Association Plant Sale
    There is an abundance of wonderful things happening in the Gardens, and the Darlington County Master Gardener Association Plant Sale is definitely at the top of the list. Plant lovers of any kind will find something to fit their fancy at this plant sale. The Darlington County Master Gardener Association Plant Sale is April 13 - 15, 2023, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., and will feature a variety of plants grown by skilled master gardeners. You will be hard-pressed to find a plant sale that is as wonderful as this one. You will want to come as early as you can, because these beauties do not often last long. We all look forward to seeing you with us amongst the greenery.

    Oyster Roast Tickets are Now Available Online
    The wait is finally over. This month on March 18th, we will host our annual Oyster Roast Fundraiser from 4-7 p.m. We can’t wait to welcome you to Kalmia for an amazing event with some equally amazing people. With the mountains of S.C. low country oysters, cold craft beer, flowing wine, live music, and a porch full of incredible foods (for you land lovers), how could this event not be a hit? Get your tickets before it’s too late, as this event will sell out quickly. Click here
     or speak to a Kalmia staff or Board member to get your tickets before they sell out!


    Earth Day Festival Seeking Exhibitors
    We are excited to, once again, host our annual Earth Day Festival. The festival will take place on Saturday, April 15th, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. If you or someone you know would be a good fit and would like to be an exhibitor for the event, please contact Dan about being a part of the festivities at Dhill@coker.edu. We would love to see you there to celebrate this wonderful day with us.

    Chris’s Tip
    If I have said it once, I have said it many times: you can never be too prepared when it comes to making a successful garden. Here are some tips for getting your gardens ready. Early spring, before the ground is ready to be worked, is the time for one of the most important garden activities: soil test, soil test, soil test! First, make sure you fill out your soil sample bag before filling it with soil, and then take it to your extension agency. Soon after testing your sample, you will receive a multitude of data about your soil, including any improvements needed for the plants you want to grow. Because each plant is different, you can even cater to specific plants you want to grow. The other important way to prepare for spring planting is to focus your energy on any hardscaping you may have. This is the perfect time to level out stepping-stones and repair any damaged raised beds, retaining walls, and window boxes. When temperatures allow, add a fresh coat of paint, stain, or sealant to any hardscaping elements made of wood that could use a “freshening up.” Now is also the perfect time to make any additions you realize you may want this growing season. For example, if you didn’t have enough room for veggies last year, now is the perfect time to make those new additions before things get rolling. These tasks are much easier to accomplish while your plants are still dormant and some of the bugs are too. Before your spring bulbs start to pop up, clean the plant debris out of your garden beds. Keeping good hygiene in your garden or beds is the best way to keep pests and diseases far away. Now is also a good time to clean out debris from your pond or water feature. Speaking of hygiene, a 1-part bleach/5 parts water solution should take care of any lingering diseases or insect eggs in your containers. Many people overlook this important step! After you complete all of these steps, you can sit back and relax knowing spring won’t catch you unprepared. Happy gardening!

    Dan’s Interesting Animal
    In this Laurel Branch, we will be shifting from flora to fauna as one of our guests spotted a little visitor near the canoe dock. This furry critter is of course a beaver (Castor canadensis)! Julia Klimek captured this very cool encounter. She stated that he was very calm and went about his own business. Beavers, luckily for us, are normally calm and keep their distance, as all wildlife should. Unless you have met one at a distance like Klimek, you may be surprised to hear that adult beavers can average 35 to 40 lbs. and may even exceed 60 lbs. in ideal environments. Beavers are the largest rodent in North America. Beavers are most recognizable for their flat leathery tails, which are used for making loud warning sounds by slapping the surface of the water, and in building dams. Beavers are a range of brown shades of color and have a very dense, soft undercoat with longer, coarse hairs as an overcoat. Beavers have many cool ways they are especially suited for aquatic life with nictitating membranes that cover their eyes like nature’s goggles. They also have ear and nose valves that can be shut to keep water out. Last but not least, beavers have large webbed back feet to help propel them through the water. Another surprising fact about beavers is that they have a lifespan of about 25 years. That is a long time for a rodent, especially if you take into account that the average hamster lives to be about two years old. Beavers prefer to live in places like Black Creek, or in small ponds and streams. Beavers will build a home on/in the banks of a body of water to raise their young, which are called kits. Kits will stay with their parental units for about 2 years until they are fully ready to face the world and make a family of their own. Another great thing about beavers is that they are strict vegetarians. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to go head-to-head with a 60-pound predatory beaver! Luckily beavers’ only prey is small twigs, the inner bark of trees, and leaves. Beavers were almost a thing of the past because their fur became a hugely sought-after fashion product in the late 1800s. The uncontrolled trapping of beavers caused their numbers to drop so low that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had to step in to make sure we didn’t lose these wonderful creatures for good. Overall, these large rodents are an interesting part of our South Carolina ecosystems, even if they are not often seen. 

    Castor canadensis

    Beautiful Plants of Kalmia Gardens

    Azalea (Rhododendron indica)
     Blueberry (Vaccinium elliotii)
     Blueberry (Vaccinium tenellum)
     Camellia (Camellia japonica)
     Devilwood (Osmanthus americanus)
     Dogwood (Cornus florida)
     Forsythia (Forsythia viridissima)
     Jasmine, Winter (Jasminum nudiflorum)
     Laurel, Cherry (Prunus laurocerasus)
     Pearlbush (Exochorda racemosa)
     Pinxter Flower (Rhododendron periclymenoides)
     Quince (Chaernomeles japonica)
     Red Bud (Cercis canadensis)
     Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
     Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
     Spirea, Bridalwreath (Spirea thunberii)
     Star Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
     Trailing Arbutus (Epigea repens)
     Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)


    Oyster Roast Fundraiser March 18, 2023, 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
     Earth Day Festival April 15, 2023, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
    Darlington County Master Gardener Plant Sale 13-15, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    Open Registration for Week in the Wild begins May 1, 2023
     Week in the Wild:
     Rising 1st & 2nd Grades July 10-14
     Rising 3rd & 4th Grades July 17-21
     Rising 5th & 6th Grades July 24-28

    Copyright © 2016 Kalmia Gardens of Coker College, All rights reserved.
     Laurel Branch
    Dan Hill
    dhill@coker.edu, (843) 383-8145