The Outside: Petal Pusher
Pam Brightman checks the weather and grabs her jacket. It’s time to get dirty in her yard on Lake Robinson. “We moved here eight years ago and just love it,” the 62-year-old reveals. “We moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We wanted a nicer climate to garden and we’re really not Florida people. The seasons are longer here, so this has been the perfect move.”
The nature-lover grew up working her family’s vegetable garden alongside her parents. A smile creeps to her face reminiscing about the fresh strawberries, tomatoes and corn. Pam’s green thumb is now “certified” by the Greater Greenville Master Gardeners Association. She joined the group not long after moving to South Carolina.
“This is a different climate zone, and I didn’t know how different the plants and gardening would be,” she says. “It’s been a great experience and very worth my time. I’ve met so many fun people. I’ve found, in general, gardeners are such a friendly bunch. There’s not a lot of drama. We just like to dig in the dirt and we’re very down to earth,” the spirited gardener acknowledges the pun with a quick laugh.
The GGMGA is an educational, non-profit service organization that works in partnership with the Clemson University Extension Office. More than 300 local members have all completed the required Master Gardener Training Class and spent 40 hours in the community, sharing what they’ve learned to inspire others. Pam has enjoyed the group so much, she even stepped up to serve as president last year.
Today, she’s prepping her beds for spring. “The previous owners had a plot that was a formal English cottage garden. I just picked up on that and I do a lot of perennials every year,” she says. “I love the different salvias that you can grow. Irises are gorgeous down here, and I like ginger lilies. I’m getting ready to divide them up for the spring plant sale. They are heavenly with their scent.”
Her kitchen counter typically features the bounty of her harvest, colorful buds in vintage vases. “I like to use dahlias, cockscomb and sedum in my arrangements. That adds a nice texture,” she explains. “I love bringing the outdoors in, whatever the season may be. It’s a wonderful way to brighten a room, and when you grow the flowers yourself, it’s that much more special.”
The Inside: FauxEver Queen
Make sure your hands are empty before visiting Lori Powers at her job. You just can’t help reaching out to rub every leaf and petal at Madison & Company. They. Look. So. Real. “People are shocked,” the owner reveals. “They come in with preconceived thoughts on artificial flowers, but then they see and feel them, and realize how natural and real they look.”
Lori has witnessed raw materials, production technology and floral supply change over many years in retail and sales. She operated a franchised décor store for a decade on Woodruff Road before opening her own shop in 2019. “It was time to go out on my own and have full control over what we provide our customers. They’re much happier and that makes me happy,” she says.
The floral department was born by accident, but it’s quickly taken over one-third of the business. “I discovered there’s a huge gap in the market in Greenville for moderately priced faux flowers. Our customers want something nicer than what the big box stores sell. Today’s mid-priced florals have artistic qualities and a feel that is organic and authentic.”
Floral Designer Melanie Chapman deftly pulls pods, moss, greenery and blooms together to create whimsical, layered centerpieces. Customers bring in their own containers, as well as wreaths, for updating. “Take any room, and until you have something that looks alive in it, it doesn’t feel warm,” Lori instructs. “And as much as people love real, fresh flowers, most folks don’t have the time, or skills, to care for living indoor plants, or they might not have proper lighting conditions.”
Faux flowers are also a fantastic way to bring a new vibe to a room without breaking the bank. “This is one of our busiest months,” Lori confides. “People take down holiday decorations and they want a new look. A flower arrangement as a focal point, with a new mirror, lamp, or artwork can make an old room feel like new, without having to purchase new furniture.”
As homeowners remodel, she finds that flowers also kickstart the transition from traditional to the present. “Ninety percent of our customers have transitional homes. They want to update their homes so they’re not as stuffy, but at the same time, they’re not boho chic. They’re not in their 20s or 30s. A modern arrangement is a great way to breathe life into a space. You can still keep your grandmother’s dining room table, but put a modern floral arrangement on top, and the furniture starts to disappear. You’ve saved a lot of money, and the arrangement will last for years.”
Outside Checklist for January
Bundle up and spend a day in the yard. Your efforts today will pay off in the spring and summer months.
- Survey the yard while all the leaves are off the trees. Identify what is dormant and needs pruning.
- Have your soil tested. The Clemson County Extension will test soil for a low cost, detailing what’s needed for optimum growing conditions.
- Focus on cool weather crops in the vegetable garden. Plant cauliflower, broccoli, lettuces, parsley, radishes and asparagus.
- Take a walk and see what’s budding and blooming. Look for camellias, violas, snapdragons and Lenten roses.
- Purchase a ticket to the GGMGA Symposium on Feb. 12 to learn more about local gardening, resources and trends.
Inside Checklist for January
Inject new life and color into rooms with these on-trend faux florals.
- Orchids have been bestsellers for the past year. Single plants in a pot are popular, as well as large arrangements with multiple stems.
- Every Southern home has at least one arrangement with hydrangeas. Swap out old, dusty silk blooms for the new, synthetic stems that look like they’re fresh from the garden.
- Simple, decorative wreaths can stay up year round by swapping out colorful, wired ribbons for each season.
- Don’t want a big pop? Monochromatic arrangements are subtle, yet add warmth to a room. Use a variety of textures to create interest that draws the eye.
- New styles of succulents continue to hit the market. Mix those with preserved items such as mushrooms, gourds, nuts and twigs.