Monday, April 27, 2015

South Carolina State Flower

image from 

The state flower for South Carolina is the Yellow Jessamine, also known as the Carolina Jasmine or trumpet vine.  This beautiful yellow flower blooms in early spring and has a strong fragrance.  When I smell this flower blooming, I know spring is coming.  The vine grows up trees, along power lines, over mailboxes, and if there is nothing to grow on, it seems to bush up and grow on itself. 

The Yellow Jessamine is found in all parts of the state, and that may be one reason it was chosen as the state flower.  Native Americans used a Jasmine extract to reduce cramping, deaden pain and to purify blood.  They warned though that swallowing even a single flower can cause death by paralysis.  This cheerful spring flower is highly poisonous, so be careful!

The alkaloids that cause all this trouble are also found in the nectar of the flower, and yet many bees and butterflies visit these flowers every day.  They pollinate the plant and drink the nectar without trouble.  This is a perfect example of a wild plant that is safe for at least some wildlife but is not safe for humans.  Just because a bee can drink the nectar doesn’t mean we should!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Birds and flowers of South Carolina, by Shelley Hopkins

Image borrowed from Bird of Prey site

One of the most pleasant surprises I had in moving to South Carolina was seeing bald eagles.  In my mind I associated these birds of prey with Alaska and Montana, but SC has a healthy Bald Eagle population.  I have a favorite path along the river and when I stop on the crab dock I can see an Eagles nest.  It is high in a pine tree, overlooking the water and the woods.  I have watched an eagle soaring over the water to then land in the tree.  To see a bald eagle in the sky is one of life’s great moments.
            Bald Eagles eat fish that they pull from the marshes and rivers as well as fish stolen from ospreys.   They also eat the dead fish and other carrion that can be found around these waters.  Eagles mate for life and use the same nest each year if they can.  In South Carolina they lay eggs generally in December and January, and in the summer months they migrate north.  Many banded eagles from South Carolina seem to spend their summers in the Chesapeake Bay area.
            The ACE basin area has the largest population of eagles in the state, but they are found all over.  I have seen them soaring over suburban neighborhoods and in the marshes behind a friend’s home in Moncks Corner.
            One way to identify the Bald Eagle, besides the white head of mature birds, is in the way they fly.  Balds are large soaring birds, and they glide and soar in more of a flat profile than the “V” profile of the turkey vultures.

            Stay tuned for information on other birds and flowers you can find here in the low country!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Parks in North Charleston

Wescott Park

Local parks come in many sizes and flavors, and are designed for the different interests of all the local residents.  Wescott Park on Dorchester Road in North Charleston was designed primarily as a baseball/softball park.  The three main fields are smaller versions of famous ballparks.  The Atlanta Braves field has a backdrop of the Atlanta skyline, the Boston field includes a miniature “Green Monster” wall in left field, and the third field is based on San Francisco Giants Park.

The park was also designed to aid in training of young ball players and includes a Ripkin Training Facility.  The Ripkin training circle was designed for drills and improving of fundamental skills.  Training areas also include batting cages and pitching mounds.      

Nature Walk Views

 The park also has a small playground with a baseball mitt slide and a tire swing, giving the other children something to do during games or practice.  The park includes one small path through wetlands.  It is not a long walk but it is at least a pretty and peaceful area.

 One popular attraction is the dog park, a fenced in grassy spot where dogs can run off leash and interact with each other.  Dog owners also have a chance to visit and relax under the shade.

Even though the Wescott Park is small and focused mainly on baseball it is a pretty park and fairly popular for those that live in North Charleston.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

What is most important in Real Estate listings?

Pictures are important!

The view is an important part of a home

When you are searching for a home, what do you want to see?  Of course price and neighborhood information are important, details like number of bedrooms and bathrooms are usually high on the list.  Many people search for homes on the internet, and can easily set the search parameters to limit homes to the preferred price range, size of home and location.  The most important item that seems to set home listings apart is photographs.  Good photographs are important.  A listing can't have enough photos, images that let the searcher know what the inside of the home looks like, the yard and also the neighborhood.  It never hurts to have pictures of the views from the windows.  The searcher wants to really get a feel for the home before scheduling time to visit the home.  If the agent takes a few shaky shots from her cell phone house hunters won't be impressed.  Listings that don't show the inside of the home worry people, they wonder what could be wrong with that property.

Show the bathrooms, but be sure they are clean like this one

 Show how the house flows, such as this picture that includes kitchen dining room and living room

Show the size of the rooms, and how light enters from windows and doors