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Amanda McNulty - Clemson Extension Agent, Host of “Making It Grow!”
My Personal Hobbies: I love to cook and eat delicious food with friends and talk and talk and talk. I love to hear stories.
My First Memories of Gardening: When I was six, we moved to a new house, which had an acre of newly plugged zoysia to weed. Before Daddy would take us swimming, we had to fill up a brown paper grocery bag with weeds. In the fall, we had to fill up a bag with pinecones. We didn’t mind it, since we were all out there together and we got to go swimming afterwards. On the well-trodden path between our house and Aunt Liza’s, there was a dog cemetery with four o’clocks growing in it. Daddy worked at the Palmetto Building on Main Street in Columbia and walked through Kennedy’s Florist to reach the interior parking lot. When we lost a dog, he would often bring flowers home for the funeral service. Momma would walk around the yard with me sometimes and crush anise leaves for me to smell. I planted anise as soon as we started having children, so I could do that with them.
My Favorite Plants: My favorite plants need to be thick-skinned, as the list changes with the seasons. Pine forests where the wind sings through their needles. Wild azaleas when you come upon a hillside of them in bloom. Bloodroot since it signifies spring to me and the blossoms and leaves are so charming. Hickory trees, which have fall leaves like almost burned butter.
Plants I Like To Grow: My wild azaleas are my favorites, as I can stare daily at the fattening buds and watch them begin to separate into what will be showy petals. Dogwoods with red berries that mockingbirds love. Sweetbay magnolia with its intoxicating fragrance – sophisticated, like Bellodgia perfume.
My new passion is growing vegetables (started seriously about four years ago). I have a new (for me) variety of okra that doesn’t get woody and pole beans from Alabama that produce in our hot summers. Cucumbers for cucumber soup and ice cream (with a little ginger) to cool us on hot nights. I like to grow trees for shade and flowers. Native crabapples are great favorites, but they get rust and I never seem to get the ladder way out back to spray them.
I love to grow plants I can cut and use in arrangements. From Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ for its flowers to winged elm for its branches.
My Least Favorite Things to Do in the Garden: There isn’t a chore I particularly dislike, but I dread being in the garden when it is so horribly hot and you sweat so profusely that there isn’t a dry spot on your tee shirt, front or back, to wipe the sweat off your eyeglasses.
Things that Interest Me in Horticulture: Plants that have a feature that you wait for and then can exclaim over, once it arrives, are my favorites – could be a flower, a fruit, or the leaf color.
My Biggest Mistakes in My Garden: My biggest mistake was not hiring a professional designer to help me lay out my yard when I began planting, so the yard would have more balance and connection between different areas. Would have been money well spent.
People Who Inspire Me in Gardening: Tony Melton inspires me. He is indefatigable – works scouting crops all summer long, grows vegetables, and loves and knows landscape plants and flowers.