In Charleston’s historic district, most houses extend nearly to the sidewalk or street. So, the only visible gardening space people have is window boxes. These boxes of bright flowers have come to play a vital role in the city’s appearance.
Thanks to Southern Living, below is a list of plants that make for great window box options. They divide the plants into three types. Thrillers are big eye-catching plants. Fillers are smaller and used to fill space. Spillers grow over the boxes edges and dangle.
Cool-Weather Window Box Plants
Warm-Weather Window Box Plants
I rarely write or promote businesses, but I have to make an exception for Poogan’s Porch – which is one of my favorite restaurants for several reasons. I’ve been lucky enough to visit with both my mom and mother-in-law on chilly winter days, where the fireplaces in each room make the perfect cozy spot to enjoy some she-crab soup and sweet tea.
Poogan’s Porch was originally built in 1888 as a large Victorian townhome on Queen Street. In 1976, the owners sold their home to the restaurant and moved away. However, they left behind one thing – their dog, Poogan.
Poogan was a scruffy little mutt who was known throughout the neighborhood for being very happy and friendly. For this reason, restaurateur Bobbie Ball adopted Poogan. On the porch, Poogan began his career as the restaurant’s host and was paid in the form of back scratches and table scraps from visitors. The Ball family ultimately named the restaurant after Poogan, who passed away in 1979 from natural causes. Their website reads, “His porch and restaurant live on in his honor.”
If that sappy history doesn’t grab you, you might be more impressed by the restaurant’s visitors. The entry hall is lined with framed letters and memorabilia from celebrities, politicians, athletes, who all attest to the greatness of the food. Despite this, Poogan’s Porch has maintained a casual and cheery atmosphere of Southern hospitality, making it a landmark in downtown Charleston.
The baskets pictured above are made of locally-harvested sweetgrass, bulrush marsh grass, and palm. They have been woven by the Gullah-Geechee people for over 300 years. Being made of durable materials, they were originally used to transport rice and other items. Now, they are mostly used for decorative purposes and admired for their distinct coiled patterns and details. Their style derives from African basket-weaving tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. Typically, basket weaving is a skill learned from childhood, requiring a great deal of patience. For these reasons they fetch a pretty penny, but you can be confident in supporting a one-of-a-kind piece of coastal tradition that will outlast your lifetime. It has become custom to pass sweetgrass baskets down through the family (similar to Nantucket baskets).
If you are looking for more variety for your money, there’s a five-mile stretch of Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant called “Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway.” Here, Gullah-Geechee descendants can set up shop and sell their craft to those coming in and out of Charleston. Notice the word “descendants” – to have a stand on Highway 17, you must inherit it. Rights to stand cannot be sold.
It’s Easter Week! What better time to write about the Gullah Geechee faith?
Gullah religious systems and beliefs are derived from African tradition and the Christianity practiced by their former white plantation owners. While adhering to Christian doctrine, the Gullah practice a faith immersed in communal prayer, song, and dance.
The place –
While traveling throughout the coastal south, you may have come across small, whitewashed shacks in varying degrees of preservation or disrepair. These are known as praise houses. During the antebellum period, slaves were not permitted to worship in white churches, nor were they allowed to congregate in large groups for fear of rebellion. Small praise houses were purposely built to have an unthreatening presence. These whitewashed shacks once provided a place where blacks could worship, celebrate, and hold community meetings.
The sermon –
Many traditional African American churches are known for incorporating singing, dancing, and shouting into their worship services. Gullah Geechee services share this quality, which is derived from slave services where the congregation was unable to read. Most praise houses only had one Bible or hymnal, and being literate was a rarity. To address this, the congregation developed a call-response type of service, where the leader would loudly deliver the sermon, passages, or hymn, and the congregation would learn by verbally repeating it back. Additionally, the groups might clap or stomp to set a beat for the call-response. From this developed the performance of a Gullah Geechee ring shout, which is usually set for special occasions such as holidays or funerals.
A somewhat famous, but lesser understood feature of Gullah-Geechee faith is the blending of traditional African beliefs of hoodoo, wudu, or juju. In contrast to voodoo, this is a “lighter” form of folk magic that relies on an intimate relationship with the earth as an ancestral or parental relationship. Hoodoo heavily involves the use of herbs and roots for medicinal purposes, and from these practices, you may have heard of individuals known as "Root Doctors."
Until the 20th century, many lowcountry communities had their own root doctor. Dr. Buzzard, Dr. Bug, Dr. Snake, Dr. Crow. Just as people now keep lawyers on retainer, locals (both black and white) paid regular visits to their spiritual “doctor.” During the WWII, lines of visitors went down the street to pay a visit to Dr. Bug, who sold charms laced with arsenic causing heart palpitations for men who wanted to avoid the draft.
Posts are a combination of my own research, visits, and conversations, plus various information found around the web. I try to provide sources, but if you have specific questions, feel free to ask!