• I seem always to find themes emerging from Scriptural readings. Interestingly, they also change as I change...meeting spiritual needs that surface with each new encounter. Like a ladder, they take me higher and higher...deeper and deeper...as I climb. That is the marvel of God’s living word.

  • We’ve usually had a couple of days well into the 60s by this time of year to remind us that spring isn’t far away. While our winters are mild by comparison to New England and the Midwest, the cold has been reluctant to leave this year.

  • The hotline has received several requests for information concerning pruning in the last few weeks. Following are guidelines as to when and how much to prune:

    As the weather cools in the fall, many of us emerge from the air-conditioning and begin looking around the landscape again. One thing we may see is some plants grew a lot over the summer and have gotten somewhat out of bounds. There is often a strong temptation to get out the pruning saw and start fighting back the jungle.

    In gardening, timing is everything. Knowing when and when not to perform tasks is important.

  • Brunswick County community leaders, many of them Eagle Scouts, along with local Scout leaders, met outside the Brunswick County Courthouse on Monday afternoon to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts of America.

  • In Celebration of Black History Month, H.K. Edgerton will be North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 794’s featured speaker at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at Peace Baptist Church at 653 Love Mill Road in Whiteville.

    The public is invited, and there is no admission charge.

    H. K. Edgerton is a black Southern heritage activist and former president of the NAACP’s Asheville branch. He may best be recognized as the man who marched from North Carolina to Texas to build awareness of Southern culture and history.

  • Even though Old Man Winter seems insistent on hanging around, our gardens are beginning to awaken.

    The early daffodils are already up and the red maples are letting us know why they’re called “red maple” (the red flowers).

    If that’s not enough to chase away your winter blahs, consider adding Japanese flowering apricot to your garden. It always blooms in January and February in shades of white, pink and red.

  • I came across an interesting article the other day that triggered an idea in what little frozen brain I have left. Master Gardeners throw out terms concerning America’s favorite pastime as if everyone was familiar with the terms. I will try and explain some of the more common terms as well as some unusual ones.

    •Soil pH: All soils range from 0-14 with 7.0 being neutral.

    •Acid soil is soil with a pH below 7.0. Most vegetables, fruits, trees and grasses grow best in a soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0.

  • Religion, if not spirituality, is plagued by a certain passivity. Even the words we use denote a presence that requires response but seems not to evoke participation.

    We attend worship services and Bible studies. We say our prayers. We love our neighbor—though often less than ourselves. There is activity involved, but rarely the radical action that tries human souls and resurrects the spirit.

  • Volunteers who pick up a hammer and help a local family are now one-step closer to vacationing with Mickey, Minnie and Donald.

    Brunswick County residents can now volunteer locally and participate in the “Give a Day. Get a Disney Day.” program. Those who volunteer eight hours of time with one of the participating agencies will receive a voucher good for one day at a Disneyland or Walt Disney World theme park.

  • Staff report

    With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, Silver Coast Winery in Brunswick County is setting the stage and mood early with its annual Wine and Chocolate Pairing from noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6.

    Participants will enjoy award-winning Silver Coast wines served in a signature Silver Coast wineglass and paired with four handmade gourmet chocolates.

    The cost is $15 per person.

    Seatings are on the hour starting at noon, with the last one at 4 p.m. Reservations are limited.

  • Last week, I had the opportunity to go to the Green and Growin’ Show in Greensboro and hang out with lots of plant people from all over the state. While the economy continues to struggle, there are some wonderful new plants that will soon find their way into the nursery trade.

    One of the most interesting talks was by Dr. Dennis Werner, a plant breeder at my employer, N.C. State University. Werner worked on coming up with great commercial peach varieties for more than 20 years. In the past five years or so, he has devoted his ample skill to redbuds and butterfly bushes.

  • It’s cold outside and you really don’t feel like working in your garden. Those seed catalogs sitting by the fireplace look much more inviting, but the garden looks so unkempt. Well, that is just fine because those frozen perennial stalks look messy but they serve a purpose.

    The seeds of Echinacea and Rudbeckia will attract and feed the birds: There are also plants that like the protection their foliage provides for their crowns. Asclepias (milkweed), Chrysanthemums and Heuchera (Coral Bells) fare best if cleaned up in the spring.

  • I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in providential happenings. These are the events, experiences and episodes in life that occur with the sudden surprise of grace. They happen while we are busily doing something else, alerting us to the constant presence of a creative God. They cause us to exclaim, “You won’t believe what just happened!” And then, we begin our tale of the unexpected, the unusual, or the unimaginable—a saga we label coincidental.

  • Dr. Jessica Shireman and Dr. Scott Hewett were married Dec. 19 at Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church in Raytown, Mo., where the sanctuary was adorned with red poinsettias and white roses for the holiday wedding.

    The bride is the daughter of Steve and Kathe Shireman of Kansas City, Mo. She was given in marriage by her parents and escorted by her father.

    The groom is the son of Aaron and Lisa Hewett of Shallotte.

  • Joan Leotta and Edith Edwards first became friends through the Writer’s Block, a Wilmington-based writing group.

    They soon discovered they had a lot in common—a love of history and a penchant for writing short stories.

    It was just a matter of time for the two to collaborate on “Tales Through Time: Women of the South,” a new book of short stories the two wrote and published together.

    A reading and presentation of their new book is set for 2 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 22, at Hickmans Crossroads Library.

  • A 17-year-old violin and fiddle virtuoso wowed the crowd at the Odell Williamson Auditorium Saturday evening, bringing a blend of classical violin and traditional Celtic fiddle music to about 600 concertgoers.

    The Brunswick Community College Foundation and Coastal Financial Associates sponsored the visit from Caroline Goulding, accompanied on piano by Alicja Basinska and Janine Randall.

    All proceeds will benefit scholarships at Brunswick Community College.

  • This is a good time to review the planets; they have been on the move through the sky so it is time for a sky-wide planet roundup.

    We are losing Jupiter; well not really losing it, we are just losing sight of it.

    Jupiter is moseying into the sunset as the days pass. At least it looks that way, “danger science information ahead,” as Earth orbits the sun, we change the alignment of Jupiter and the sun in the sky. As we move, the effect is the alignment of the sun between Jupiter and us.

  • We’ve just emerged from a stint of colder-than-normal temperatures that we’ve been sharing with most of the country. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little mid-winter pick-me-up, a reminder that our short and relatively mild winter will be giving way to spring shortly.

    Luckily, all I have to do is go and hang out in the backyard to find winter-blooming plants like hybrid mahonia and edgeworthia.

  • As many plants wind down for the year, camellias come in to their own. The glossy, deep green Southern aristocrats brighten the cool season with perfect blooms. We mainly grow two camellia species here: camellia sasanqua, a fall bloomer, and camellia japonica, the “common” camellia that flowers in late fall to spring, depending on the variety.

  • Ashley Elaine Suggs of Calabash and Justin Darrell Ward of Sunset Beach were married Dec. 24 at Lighthouse Mission Church in Calabash.

    The Rev. Larry Ward officiated the ceremony.

    The bride is the daughter of David and Susan Suggs of Calabash. She was given in marriage by her parents and escorted by her father.

    The groom is the son of Vicki Cayton of Castle Hayne and the late Darrell Ward.

    Mateus Buchanan of Calabash served as matron of honor.

    Flower girl was Mackenzie Buchanan.

    David Suggs, the bride’s father, served as best man.