“Choban’s garden thrives in winter” is the headline in today’s Greenville newspaper for a two page color spread. They came to interview us about 10 days ago and the article was published today. We are so excited. There is a good photo of Bob and I, one with Sabrina and mums and about 5 other photos of plants in our garden. Below is the article. Who would have thought my 64 little pansies and flowering kale would be such a hit?
While winter means a bare time for many gardeners, for Fay and Bob Choban, the Upstate’s winters represent an additional growing season entirely non-existent to them at their previous home in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
The Chobans moved to Travelers Rest two years ago after a meticulous effort to find the ideal geographic location for their retirement.
“Our criteria were lower cost of living, a lot less winter, still four seasons, limited opportunity for hurricanes and earthquakes, and not in the middle of nowhere,” Fay Choban said.
Choban’s first love, when it comes to the garden, is fragrant blooms and flowers that are good for cutting. And although their home in Minnesota was packed with ornamental landscaping, Choban said they weren’t ready to commit to that again at their new home.
“We wanted to enjoy traveling around here, so we really didn’t want to spend all our time gardening, but still wanted to have flowers and plants,” Choban said.
That, combined with the fact that their home is built on a sloped lot, limited the Chobans to a more modest garden. Many of their flowers and herbs are done in pots which they’ve placed on their towering back porch and deck. In fall and winter, Choban fills them with pansies and ornamental kale.
“I’ve always wanted (kale), and I tried it in Minnesota and it just didn’t work,” Choban said. “Here, the colder it gets, the brighter they’re getting.”
In the late spring, those plants make way for other, heat-tolerant annuals. Below the porch and deck sits a concrete patio with a hot tub, a handful of container gardens and, to one side, a large lantana-filled space with several bird feeders scattered around it. Choban said that spot draws lots of birds and butterflies in the summer, and it’s placed just so she and her husband can see them all from the porch above, where they spend lots of their time.
Around the corner, a row of Asiatic lilies graces the side of the house. Choban said that was one of the first things she put in the ground.
“The very first thing I planted, along the side of the house, was Asiatic lilies, because they have so much fragrance, and they’re a beautiful cut flower,” she said. “This was the first year I got to see them all bloom.”
Around to the front of the house are a handful of knockout roses, which have become one of Choban’s favorites. There’s even a small knockout rose tree.
“They bloom for so long, and they are pretty easy to take care of,” Choban said. “The tree, I think it’s going to be really pretty in front of our living room window when it grows.”
One thing that caught Choban by surprise during her first Upstate spring was the brilliance of the azaleas in her neighborhood.
“We moved in September, and when I saw the azaleas in the spring, they were just all over my block,” Choban said. “In Minnesota they’ve developed an azalea that blooms, but they’re all pastel colors, so I was used to really light yellow and white and light pink. Oh, they’re just beautiful.”
There is one thing she misses about Minnesota, though:
“I’m trying to find a spot to put a lilac,” Choban said. “That’s the one plant I miss from Minnesota.”
But the long growing season and mild winters more than make up for that loss in Choban’s book.
“I’ve gotten a lot of garden without a whole lot of work, and that was kind of what we were looking for,” she said.