Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas comes to the Burt Stark House

 The Ladies Parlor Christmas tree here at the BSH was created in honor of Miss Mary. Hats, shoes, hat boxes, passports, and cameras all illustrate her love of travel and enjoying life each day.
 a close up detail
 Men's and women's hats represent Miss Mary Stark Davis and her husband Thomas Lyles Davis.
 The Men's Parlor Tree and mantle is simple and adorned in a peacock theme.
 a wide shot of the entire room
 the mantle in peacock
 several details from the tree feature scented pinecones hung from ribbons and cast iron keys.

Remember that BSH Christmas Ornaments are available at the house each Friday and Saturday from 1:30 to 4:30 for a suggested $10.00 or more donation. All proceeds from the ornament sale helps to restore the flower beds and grounds here are the BSH.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

BSH Old Kitchen Herb Garden Update - Fall 2016

Much activity has taken place in the new Herb Garden this Fall. The fence was finished. The weeds and grass were scalped and sprayed. Cardboard was laid to cover the entire ground area and weighted with bricks and sticks. The lumber for the raised beds was secured and delivered by the local Rose Garden Club. The lumber was screwed together and now sits awaiting filler inside the beds and wood mulch for the paths between the beds. Progress comes slowly. 
 Here is a photo of the finished raised beds.
 A rear shot shows the bigger picture. Paths are wide to allow for wheelchair access.
 Progress but miles to go.
 Four six foot by ten foot raised beds are going to take a lot filling soil.
The garden as it sits right now - starting to look like something great!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Burt Stark House Christmas Ornament 2016 now available

The 2016 Burt Stark House Christmas Ornament is now available. The ornaments are available for a minimum $10.00 donation or larger. The ornament is clear glass with either a black and white or color photo image of the Burt Stark House encased with the ornament. Ornaments are available at the Burt Stark House each Friday and Saturday afternoon from 1:30  to 4:30. All proceeds from the sale of these ornaments goes to fund restoration of the gardens and flower beds on the Burt Stark House grounds.

Boxwood Restoration Fall Update - 36 new plants

This spring the healthy boxwood shrubs on the west side of the front lawn were air layered. A process wounding a small branch and packing moist rooting medium around it. The wound sits all summer long and in the fall the plant begins to produce roots at the wounded area. The packing material begins to feel tighter and tighter, and that is when you know the roots are forming. 
 One cool morning after a slight rain all the air layers were removed from the shrubs. If done carefully this leaves the plant looking as if it were simply pruned and thinned, but you have new plants with roots for your efforts. The hardest part is the patience it takes to wait out the new roots.
 Here are the finished air layered clippings. The Piedmont region of South Carolina had one of the driest summers we have had in decades. A few of the air layers did not survive the trauma, but many did.
 Here is a close up of the finished product. The roots are wrapped in spagnum moss, plastic, and then aluminum foil so the roots are formed in complete darkness. The bottom of the original branch is clipped off of the bottom of the root mass. The new plant is planted in plain garden top soil from the big box store.
The final boxwood plants. This year there are 36 new plants with roots that will be allowed to grow roots and fill in over the winter if it ever rains again. The reason all this trouble is taken is because we have the same plants to fill in the holes from shrubs lost through the decades, and we have no fear of boxwood blight. No new plant material will be brought onto the property so the original boxwood shrubs are completely safe.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Herb Garden Fence

The fence around the Old Kitchen Herb Garden is finally completed. The weather has been too hot to dig, and the ground was hardened by weeks lacking of rain. The fence is done and the real work on the ground and the flower beds can finally begin. The local garden club has offered help, so cardboard and lumber is coming to begin the raised beds.
 This is a wide view showing the garden space from a corner.
 This is a distant shot, looks pretty good.
 This is going to be a nice addition to the grounds. It is visible from the both side roads, and the windows of the old kitchen look directly out into this space. Going to be pretty.
Rear view of the garden space, after everything is in place a fence/gate will need to enclose the whole space. Two small entrance gates are planned next to the building for ease of access.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Flag Pole flower bed

The plan was to create a red, white, and blue flower bed for this round brick flag pole bed. The red is verbena, the white is full sun caladiums, and the blue never worked out. I tried blue salvia but the seed would not grow. Maybe next year. It does look good from the intersection as cars drive by.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Kitchen Herb Garden Fence is going up

Sorry for the hazy photo, it was really steamy and hot when the first posts were set. The space near the house will be for a gate. 
Here is a shot of the final two sections added to the fence. I think the fence looks fabulous!!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Projects and Future Plans

This summer work has continued in the front flower beds on either side of the front steps here at the Burt Stark House. The photo above is the left side of the front steps. Some Crepe Myrtle shoots are there behind that Hydrangea. They will be encouraged and will eventually shade this sunny bed nicely.
This is a closer shot of the front left bed closer to the front steps. The little weedy patch in the middle of the bed is some old daylilies that will need to be lifted and divided this fall. 
Here is a picture of the flower bed to the right side of the front steps. These Aspidistra "Cast Iron" plants need to be moved to a shadier bed in the back yard. At one time there were huge ancient magnolia trees that put all this area in deep shade. But they are gone and this plants need a move to some cooler shadier area.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rubble Pile Put to Good Use

The large pile of fill dirt and rubble that was removed from the yard behind the Old Kitchen to make way for the new Herb Garden has been put to good use. The picture above shows the small loads dumped over electrical wires and exposed tree roots behind the Burt Stark House. 
Here is a wider shot showing that this was a small area behind the house. To the right of this area is a large grassy yard often rented out for social functions and as a wedding venue. Exposed wires and roots needed to be covered and the view improved. 
Everything was smoothed out and raked as level as possible. Ten bales of pine straw should cover and clean this little project up nicely. Mission accomplished. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Nobody knows ...

To you this is just a photo of a couple of old boxwood shrubs. But it really is the final product of two days work on hands and knees. Ivy was pulled. Lots and lots of ivy was pulled. Weeds are clipped. Dead branches were sawed off. This is not a photo of two old boxwood shrubs. This was a major accomplishment. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

So Excited!

The one ton pile of fill dirt and rubble has been removed from behind the Old Kitchen building and so work on the Kitchen - Herb Garden can begin in earnest. 
The soil behind the Old Kitchen looks pretty good, and was leveled nice and smooth, it should make a superb foundation for the Herb Garden.  
Here is a better view from behind the Old Kitchen showing how level the new garden bed is going to be. You can also see how much good full sunlight this yard gets from early morning until late afternoon, so it should be a good spot for herbs and flowers. 
One last look of the before of the Old Kitchen Herb Garden at the Burt Stark House July 2016. Can't wait to get started! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Herbs for the Kitchen Herb Garden

The summer plant sale at Wayside Gardens helped us score two types of rosemary, sage, and several phlox plants for the herb garden.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Restoration of the boxwood hedge begins

Several days a week or two ago the boxwood shrubs on the healthy side of the drive were air layered to begin the process of restoring the full ring around the driveway.  
 The process is really not that complicated. A branch of boxwood smaller than a number 2 pencil is stripped of leaves. Two cuts are made around the branch about one inch apart. The outer layer of bark is removed.
 The now wounded area of bark is packed in moist sphagnum moss, and wrapped in plastic to help hold moisture.
 Press and Seal is a kitchen product but really makes this step easier.
 The final package is tightly sealed and twisted.
 The plastic is too tempting for birds so the whole thing is encased in an aluminum foil wrapping to give protection from birds searching for nesting materials, and to create a dark area for new roots to form.
The final product. This is a slow process. By the end of summer when the temperatures are beginning to drop the sphagnum moss should be completely full of new roots. The new plants will be cut from the shrub and potted up to grow over the winter in a sheltered area, usually under a tree or foundation shrubs for a year or so. Then they will be ready to plant.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Kitchen Herb Garden begins

 We went to the local big box store and purchased fencing to surround the area for the new Kitchen Herb Garden behind the Old Kitchen here on the property of the BSH. Near the back corner of the Old Kitchen you can see the pile of dirt and rubble that must be moved first. You can also see how very dry it is here, as the golf cart tracks are easily seen in the dry grass. We need regular rain.
 Two corner posts, 8 fence rails, and 6 end posts were purchased, along with some bags of gravel to toss into the post holes to speed drainage and slow down rot. We are still thinking about enlarging the width of the garden, but we will see.
While on vacation we took a side trip to Georgetown, SC. Next to the Rice Museum, the Lowcountry Herb Society has planted a small herb garden. This garden was in a small space and mostly shaded. I think our Herb Garden should do well with more space and more light. We will keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Boxwood Workshop planned for March 5th

Care and Restoration of 
Boxwood and other Shrubs
Sat. March 19, 2016        9:00 – 2:00
donation: $25.00 including a boxed lunch
t    benefit the restoration and improvement of the Burt Stark Grounds

9:00 - 11:00 – Abbeville Civic Center classroom
11:00 – 12:00 – lunch
12:00 – 2: 00 –hands-on at the Burt Stark House gardens

Topics to be discussed:
·        identifying the types of boxwood
·        problems with boxwood shrubs
·        how and when to prune and shape boxwood
·        proper care of tools when pruning boxwood
·        how to rejuvenate an old or damaged boxwood
·        care and fertilizing boxwood shrubs
·         how to propagate more boxwood from your cuttings

James Hodges, Clemson Extension Agent Greenwood Co.

Contact information
Send all information with check made to Burt Stark House by March 11 to 
BSH Boxwood Workshop
c/oDavid Whitmire 106 Greenville Street, Abbeville, SC 29620
For questions you can email us at

Name: ____________________________________________________________
Address: __________________________________________________________
Email: _________________________________
phone: (        ) - ______- ­­­­­­­­­­___________

Sponsored by the Abbeville Historic Preservation Commission 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

View of the Front Gardens

Here is a view from the upper porch using my teenager's GoPro camera. The fisheye lense shows a complete view of the front yard including the driveway path, the boxwoods, and the front gate area. In the photo you can clearly see the difference between the boxwood on the left and right sides. My goal is to restore and fill in the outer and the inner boxwood hedges, to fill and restore the gravel drive path, and to establish new herbaceous perennial beds inside the edges of the lawn.

Below is the view from the front gates looking back toward the front of the house. Again, you can see the clear difference between the two sets of boxwood hedges. The front yard is designed in a long tear drop shape this end being the point of the tear drop and the largest rounded end near the front steps of the house.

To Everything there is a Season

    Work continues inside the house spring cleaning and preparing for this summer's tourist season, and work continues outside the house too. Weeds need to be pulled now while everything is dormant and flowers have not begun to bloom. Below is the poundage of sticker bryer roots pulled from underneath just one gardenia bush. This process has been repeated in every flower bed around the house. 
     Next, there is several years worth of privet hedge growing in the outer garden beds in amongst the fig trees, and roses. They are fairly easy to pull out if young enough, and don't put up a real fight even if well established, but it will still be a monumental task.
     On a happy side note - pecan seeds from the best, old pecan tree have rooted and could become future landscape trees to replace some trees that are aging and will need to come down at some point. It is good to know that original plants and trees can be grown and be ready to repopulate the grounds.
     In the photo you see that this seed was soaked and started on Dec. 21 - so it only took two shorts months to cokes it to life. The life of a gardener is not a fast paced life.
To everything there is a season...