Grice Green Teaching Garden

The Green Teaching Garden was created to model sustainable garden practices at College of Charleston's Grice Marine Lab.

Operating as usual


From Healthy Yards:

"Our climate is changing and our environment faces serious challenges. Yet, every one of us, even those with the smallest of backyards, can reduce their carbon footprint by employing sustainable yard practices.

The commitment of Healthy Yards is to help people change from harmful yard practices... to healthy yard practices...

Healthy Yards reduce carbon emissions. Healthy Yards bring back wildlife and help create a more resilient habitat, which is better equipped to fight the challenges of our future.
And of course, Healthy Yards are beautiful!

... Visit our website and join us: "

There are lots of great sustainable gardening resources available at this website, including the below link to a list of recommended native plants for South Carolina yards from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Looking at our world today can be worrisome. We too, feel anxious about the disappearing wildlife and the climate crisis. But sometimes you just need to take a magnifying glass and walk into your yard. There is a whole universe right there. And making that 'little' universe hospitable for beneficial insects, birds and other small wildlife is easy: just stop using toxins, leave the leaves, and plant more native species. Let's start to restore our environment, one yard after the other.


Pollinators are loving fall at Fort Johnson!


Believe it or not, flowers are still blooming in the Grice Native Plant Garden!


The Grice Native Plants Garden is bursting with life right now!


Grice Green Teaching Garden's cover photo


Pollinators and predatory insects (and those that are both!) are loving the Grice gardens right now. Come on over and pay a visit to the gardens, and if you take photos, please post them below!


The Grice Native Plant Garden was featured on the South Carolina Native Plant Society's page yesterday. :D

Somehow it's June already... which means that it's time to celebrate our favorite native plants of May! For plant identifications, click through the photos below. The first set of photos includes plants growing in the College of Charleston Grice Marine Laboratory's native plant garden, constructed and maintained by students in the Graduate Program in Marine Biology. This garden is watered by HVAC condensate; part of it has an underground liner to create wetland conditions, but the rest of the garden has very well-drained super-sandy soil. This student garden is located on the shore of Charleston Harbor, and despite being completely inundated with saltwater during each of the past three Fall seasons, it's still growing strong! The second set of photos are from a slightly more inland backyard setting in the Charleston area.
Please share names and/or photos of YOUR favorite South Carolina native plants from last month in the comments below!


Spring is underway in the Grice Native Plant Garden! And a bunch of new plants just got planted in the Green Teaching Garden (between Grice's wings). Stop by to see what's growing on. :)


Five days after the arrival of Winter Storm Grayson, it's still looking pretty snowy out there!


The Grice Native Plant Garden's sea myrtle (Baccharis halimifolia) is a monarch magnet right now!


There are a bunch of tadpoles in the Grice Native Plant Garden's pond! :)


I'm not going to lie... the Grice gardens are looking a bit rough right now. And we'll likely have quite a few leafy casualties over the next few weeks. Being completely submerged in seawater for hours will do that to most plants... But there's some good news! While poking around the native plant garden this afternoon, I spotted at least 3 frogs + 2 lizards + 2 species of butterflies + several species of native bees! Wildlife is still thriving in the garden. And quite a few of the plants in the garden are either adapted to salt marsh living, or are just plain tough (as evidenced by their survival through Hurricane Matthew's impacts last fall). The garden's sea-myrtle (Baccharis halimifolia) and climbing aster (Ampelaster carolinianus) appear completely unfazed, and fall is their season of maximum habitat value. Our Virginia saltmarsh mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica) has been setting dozens of beautiful pink blooms every morning, and will likely continue to do so through first frost. I carefully removed the wrack that was keeping our four youngest sweetgrass plants down, giving them a strong chance of rebounding. Unfortunately the Blanketflowers (Gaillardia) and Beach sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) in the garden might be mostly done after Monday's prolonged inundation, but both species are fantastic seed-producers, and I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty of their next-gen seedlings come spring. A stream of fresh HVAC condensate is constantly trickling into the garden, and will continue to do so until outdoor temperatures cool, thereby diluting the salinity of the soil in the marshy (lined) section of the garden.

The story in the Grice rain garden (between the wings of the lab building) is a bit less cheery, but there will definitely be survivors (hopefully including the goldenrod which is just starting to bloom), and we can re-plant as necessary when the time seems right. (The South Carolina Native Plant Society's native plant sale is coming up next month...)

A gardener's job is never done! Fortunately, gardening yields many satisfactions (beautiful blooms, sightings of wildlife, tasty fruits and veggies and herbs) to provide rewards and encouragement along the way. :)


Joe Evans from SCDNR ventured onto the Fort Johnson campus ~4:30 PM today (several hours after the 1:12 PM high tide of 9.92 ft) and captured some photos of the impacts of Tropical Storm Irma's storm surge and rain on the Fort Johnson landscape, including the Grice rain garden... which was a little overwhelmed by the scale of this event!


Pre-Irma-storm-surge photos of the Grice student gardens, as well as a few shots of the rest of the Fort Johnson campus, taken ~4:00 PM Sunday. It's strange to see the boat slip empty! All boats have been relocated to more sheltered locations. Sturdy-looking storm shutters were installed over DNR's Marine Resources Research Institute (MRRI) main entrance and water-facing windows. Things looked pretty calm along the MRRI shoreline on Sunday afternoon, although the water was a bit rougher on the Grice side of campus. Butterflies were taking advantage of the shelter from wind offered by buildings to forage on flowers. Hopefully things will look pretty much the same on Tuesday!


It's a great time of year to experience the Grice Marine Lab gardens! In the native plant garden by the parking lot, leopard frogs are leaping, butterflies and other pollinators are nectaring, and flowers are a-blooming! In the rain garden between the lab wings a fun diversity of pollinators (including zebra longwing butterflies, gulf fritiIlaries, and beneficial predator wasps) are feeding on the inconspicuous flowers of our lushly growing native poinsettia, and gorgeous and abundant purple berries are ripening on our beautyberry bush. Also, Billy McCord from SCDNR, who has conducted monarch butterfly research for 20+ years, donated a milkweed plant from his personal stash to the garden yesterday, so keep an eye out for monarch butterflies and their caterpillars!


We grew a healthy crop of frogs in the Grice Native Plant Garden this year!


Check out this super-cool visitor we had in the Grice Native Plant Garden this morning: a Delta Flower Scarab, a pollen-eating beetle native to the southeastern United States! It seemed pretty excited about the yarrow (Achillea millefolium) bloom it was on... at least until I came by with my camera and disturbed it!


The Grice Native Plant Garden is blooming up a storm! Swamp Hibiscus, Saltmarsh Mallow, Bog Sabatia, Stokes Aster, Cannas, Beach Sunflowers, Blanketflowers, Yarrow... and the pollinators are loving it! Water Lilies are spreading across the pond surface, and our River Oats are sporting handsome seed heads. Stop on by and take a look! :)


The garden's Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is in bloom today!


A subset of today's blooms in the Grice Native Plant Garden, featuring some of the first few blooms of the year on Bog Sabatia and Saltmarsh Mallow!


The Grice Native Plant Garden is in the midst of its annual spring growth spurt! Stroll on by to check out lush new growth, fresh blooms (often being enjoyed by bees, butterflies, and beneficial predator insects), successfully pollinated flowers (which have developed into seed pods), showy white bracts (white-topped sedge), and sturdy little seedlings (self-sown by plants growing in the garden last year).


Spring is a fun time in the Grice Marine Lab gardens! Both garden areas are starting to bounce back now, after a damaging period of flooding during Hurricane Matthew in October. Some plants were lost (and some replacements were purchased at last weekend's SCNPS native plant sale), but plenty others successfully weathered the storm (sea myrtle, wild white indigo, irises, golden cannas, all of our hibiscuses, and many more) and/or planted themselves from seeds produced by last year's plants (blanketflower, beach sunflower, yarrow). Two weekends ago the College of Charleston's Marine Biology Graduate Student Association did a great job of tidying up the gardens, planting vegetables and herbs in the Green Teaching Garden, and potting up native plant volunteer seedlings. This weekend, garden coordinator Julia Reynolds will be selling the seedlings as a garden fundraiser at the Charleston Honey and Bee Expo. Visitors are always welcome to stop by the gardens to see what's in bloom! (Gates are open to cars during standard business hours on weekdays, and pedestrians can walk past the gates at any time.)


Signs of spring are starting to appear in the Grice Native Plant Garden! Today's highlights: A few blanketflower (Gaillardia sp.) and Iris virginica blooms. :)


Happy Thanksgiving!


The Grice gardens took a hard hit from Hurricane Matthew, but they're already starting to bounce back! Monarchs and other butterflies are loving the copious climbing aster (Ampelaster carolinianus) flowers. Other current bloomers include blanketflower, purple coneflower, and obedient plant.


Every morning for the past few months, this Saltmarsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica) has put forth a fresh set of vibrant pink and yellow blooms. As the day progresses, the delicate blooms lose their freshness and the petals detach and drift to the ground, so stop by the garden early to see the best show!


Thanks to everyone who helped out with garden day! It was greatly appreciated and the gardens are looking great!


Beautyberries and blooms in the Grice Rain Garden!


There was a ripe berry on the blueberry bush in the Grice Rain Garden (the garden with the giant cistern and colorfully painted rain barrels) tonight. Free to the first picker!! :)


Recent developments in the Grice Native Plant Garden: Rain barrels to store and help moderate the temperature of the chilly HVAC condensate before it reaches the pond, and new blooms (a very tall yellow coneflower, saltmarsh mallow, and St. John's wort)!


Grice Green Teaching Garden's cover photo


Grice Green Teaching Garden


Today's featured native wetland plants: Golden Canna (Canna flaccida) and Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus). Both have super-showy blooms, and are easy to grow in areas with wet soils. They are herbaceous perennials, which means that the plants die down to the ground each winter but then re-emerge with lush new growth each spring. Visit the Grice native plant garden to view these beautiful blooms (and many others) in person! :)


The faculty and staff at Grice Marine Lab had a field day today when they discovered that a new critter had moved onto campus -- ground-nesting bees! Nothing makes a biologist more excited than encountering a new critter. It turns out that our new neighbors are excellent pollinators, and fall pretty low on the aggression scale (which I confirmed in person). Craig, Shelly, and Greg set up a ring of orange cones and flags with explanatory signs around the ground-nesting bee zone to protect the bees from people, and people from the bees. In the first photo, the garden is on the left, and the bee zone is on the right. And as promised yesterday, here's a photo of the garden's beautiful new bench!


Today in the Grice Native Plant Garden: Coreopsis, Stokes Aster, and Beach Sunflower blooms, and Seashore Mallow buds! (Coming soon: A photo of the garden's new bench! It's comfortable, sturdy, and stylish - but doesn't photograph well when deeply shaded - stop by and test it out for yourself!)

Videos (show all)

Photos from our super-successful ground breaking workday on Saturday! Recognize the song in the background? Free drink t...





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Charleston, SC
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