Lorraine Fink

One from the Heart

Like most women, Lorraine Fink wears numerous hats: She is a tennis player, a grandmother, an elected official, and much more. She is also a well-known and very creative gardener. As spring approaches, I talked with her about the many and varied aspects of Lowcountry gardening and her personal take on the role of a garden in the life of a "home."

Q: Talk a little bit about how your garden and your home reflect you.

A: Both my home and my garden reflect our desire to mingle "heritage" and new life experiences. When we purchased the lot for our home, we chose it because of the exquisite live oaks, the oldest of which is 275 years. Its location determined where we placed our house on the lot, and the type of vegetation we could have in the front yard. We also have a water feature - a lagoon that has alligators mating, osprey fishing, and cormorants sharing their antics! The new gardening experiences have been many, but the most significant has been the realization that I should not fight nature, heat, or the deer.

Q: What do you want people to see as they approach your home - initial impressions?

A: I would like those who approach the house to feel that they have entered a place where there is some order, but not too much. There should be a feast for the eyes in texture, color, and gently curving paths. People should be able to walk comfortably, touch, and experience scents.

Q: How is gardening different from your locale before moving here?

A: Mostly, I miss the perennials that require a hard frost to form their gorgeous spring blooms. In the Pittsburgh area, my May and June gardens were full of color that required very little effort. I had spectacular rhododendron blooms, intoxicating lilac scent, and peonies full of deep red colors.

Q: What is your best source of local gardening know-how?

A: I always go to the All Saints Garden Tour to look at plant combinations that work well visually here. I have belonged to the garden club in my community and to the Hilton Head Council of Garden Clubs. I have always found the speakers at these group meetings to offer a wealth of information. I also consult with Art Smith, a gentleman in our community who is a master gardener. However, perhaps my most valuable sources of information are my friends who are avid gardeners. We share our successes, our failures, and our sources of great "green" bargains.

Q: What are your best tips for local gardeners?

A: Don't fight nature. If the deer eat a certain variety of plant and you don't have a fence, it probably is not a good choice for you. Vibrant colored flowers are beautiful, but sometimes leaf color and textures are better alternatives, especially if your garden is in the shade. If a plant has high moisture requirements, it is probably not a good choice for summer hanging baskets or potted patio plants. Finally, small flowering shrubs make great high-impact planters for a season and can be "recycled" into your beds at the end of summer.

Q: What else does gardening do for you besides the obvious lovely atmosphere and beauty it produces?

A: What I truly enjoy about gardening is the satisfaction of viewing the outcome of my work. I look out the window and see beautiful camellias in the dead of winter; it gives me great pleasure. It makes me happy to watch hummingbirds and butterflies hover over my summer plants. Gardening is usually a peaceful endeavor - unless I encounter a snake or lurking alligator, of course!

In addition to cultivating her lovely and welcoming garden, Lorraine contributes to the growth and beauty of our community. She is a very active volunteer and serves on many committees. She has chaired the publication of a cookbook, the proceeds of which go to charity, served on multiple boards and lead several activity groups. Gardening is her love, but she is truly an all-around lady. Her garden is not the only thing that is active twelve months a year!