By Jackie Perrone
Why are you sitting inside today? Finish reading your magazine, grab a jacket, head outside, and enjoy Carolina weather full time.
South Carolina has never appreciated its mild year-round climate more than now, during the Covid Era. Medical experts actually direct us to spend as much time outdoors as possible during this emergency. It’s good for your social life, your style of cuisine, and your health. Outdoors is where it’s at!
And we have plenty of neighbors and local enterprises to collaborate on the journey. Just look over your outdoor-living set-up, decide what needs to be improved, and stop in a nearby market for help, advice, and necessary equipment.
Wingard’s Market, celebrating their 55th year, is a Midlands institution that can help you make the most of al fresco planning. Long-time Lexington residents remember Judson and Marjorie Wingard, both born and bred right here in the Midlands, who lived on the corner of Highway 6 and Pilgrim’s Church Road on the shores of Lake Murray. Judson claimed he did not intend to go into the nursery business, but his green thumb and the proliferation of azaleas he rooted inspired their four daughters to set up a roadside stand, selling off the extras. The family business just grew, so to speak. Now the second and third generation of Wingards are thriving with a growing enterprise, having developed a greenhouse, gift shop, fresh produce market and wild birds accessories, and over 3 acres of plants at Wingard’s Market. Delores and Wally Steinhauser took on her parents’ legacy of a gardening institution and continue to expand and develop it.
This area has long depended on Wingard’s for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants. The gardeners can now advise and assist you with everything needed for outdoor living. Many types of plants, of course, fountains, colorful containers, patio furniture, and rugs… the list goes on.
Wally describes it this way:
“Generally, more so due to the pandemic, people are spending more time outdoors to entertain with a fully-equipped kitchen that may include: cooktop, grill, sink with running water, lighting, etc. The areas may be covered, left open, or covered with a pergola. For others, an uncovered grill will do just fine! No matter the extreme of the kitchen or grill, it provides a great way for families to spend time or a great venue for outdoor parties.”
The planting around your patio can include a huge variety of outdoor plants, as well as some popular indoor plants that can live all summer and fall outdoors. Think showy tropical plants, such as hibiscus, large upright elephant ears, Mandevilla, Dipladenia, cold-hardy palms (Mediterranean Fan, Pindo, Sago, Windmill), crotons, citrus (Meyer Lemon, Persian Lime) heading the long list of those which can withstand all but the most extreme cold weather. Other popular indoor plants that can live outdoors during summer include: Fiddle Leaf Fig, Christmas Cactus, Schefflera, Dracena, Philodendrons, Ficus, and Majesty Palms.
Wingard’s offers a full line of organic soils by Daddy Pete Farms, along with other soils that perform well in our USDA Hardiness Zone 8a.
Wally recommends Teak furniture for year-round outdoor settings. Teak, often used in shipbuilding, is known for its durability and requires little care.
He mentions that during the past two years, his family has cooked outside more than any prior. They’ve researched cookbooks to expand the menu. If there’s a latent chef inside you, where better to explore the possibilities than outside, where making a mess is just part of the show, and clean-up is easy. Meals can be as simple as grilled hotdogs and hamburgers or as tasty as steak or pizza! Turn your imagination loose with a cookbook of Thai, Japanese, or Greek recipes; outdoor living at its best!
Wally sums it up: “We are fortunate to live in a temperate climate that practically allows outdoor living year-round, and an outdoor cooking environment improves that experience more.” Dig in and enjoy! For more information, 803-359-9091