The Q&A Archives: Achieving The "Charleston Look"

Question: I'm the owner of a new home in the piedmont region of North Carolina, and am thrilled that one part of my new property will perfectly accommodate something like the side-yard Charleston gardens I've long admired. I'm looking for suggestions on shrubs, trees, plants and flowers that'll help me acheive the "Charleston Look" I so desire, but would withstand our piedmont winters. I'd appreciate your suggestions.

Answer: Below is an excerpt from "Gardens of Historic Charleston" by James R. Cothran

"Usually by the first of March, the short winter is over and Spring pre-empts the city. This is a dramatic invasion, starting with the waxy perfection of the camellia bloom and a spray or two of yellow jessamine. While the nights are still frosty it seems to hang poised and then descends, sweeping the parks and gardens with a tidal wave of color and perfume. Climbing roses foam over old garden walls. Wisteria hangs like purple clouds in ancient pine and oak, and everywhere the azalea seems to spend itself in a short breathing burst of color."

Charleston is located in USDA Zone 8; you are in Zone 7. You are on the northern border of camillia's hardiness zone, even with some winter protection, so you might skip those. However, you should be able to grow Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), climbing roses, wisteria, and azaleas. You might consider adding some saucer magnolia, rhododendrons, trumpet honeysuckle, and clematis too. There are literally thousands of perennials to choose from for your climate.

Here is another web site that might interest you:
Charleston's Horticultural Heritage

I hope this helps with your planning.

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