Camellias are the royalty of the southern garden. They stand majestic, clothed in rich green and glossy leaves all summer, but then burst into bloom in winter. Known as the winter Rose of the south, the blooms take on exotic almost origami like forms. Camellias come in a variety of wonderful colors ranging from snow white to deep red. By choosing a variety of these gorgeous plants it is possible to have Camellias in bloom from fall to early spring, bringing an ever changing kaleidoscope of lavishness. Grown in both gardens and containers, the plants have certain requirements like partial shade, soils rich in organic matter, and that are slightly acidic, but as long as those needs are met, they are not hard to grow. In fact, they are known to live for decades, even getting better as they age like a true “southern belle.”
Holiday parties are back this year, giving the perfect opportunity to show some southern hospitality by bringing “a little something” to the host/hostess. Wine is always safe, but why not get a bit more creative and take a bottle of bourbon from a local distillery instead? Flowers are wonderful as well, but make sure to bring a vase (the south’s beloved mason jar fits the bill) so that your host/hostess doesn’t have to arrange them. For around the home, cocktail napkins, soaps, or scented candles work well. Always sure to please, homemade treats such as cheese straws, jam, or flavored olive oil. If the stay is for more than one night, it is acceptable to send a thank you gift after the fact. The gift need not be elaborate or expensive, but a thoughtfully chosen and prettily wrapped one is a lovely gesture.
Tradition is a word heard frequently around the holidays, and one of the greatest seasonal traditions in the Lowcountry is the oyster roast. This favorite event is steeped in history as evidenced by Native American shell rings found throughout the region; a sure sign that even many hundreds of years ago, folks have been enjoying the sweet, briney goodness of oysters. In addition to copious amounts of paper towels, the classic condiments for an oyster roast include saltine crackers, cocktail sauce, mignonette sauce (a piquant sauce made of shallots and vinegar) , lemon wedges, and hot sauce. Of course, purists will say they are best enjoyed slurped right out of the shell with nothing but their natural juices known as “liquor”. Oyster season runs from September to April, click here for how to host your own oyster