Amanda McNulty

Host, Producer

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.

Ways to Connect

Black Cherry Wood

Apr 4, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The wood that comes from our native black cherry tree, Prunus serotina, is the most prized in the forestry/timber industry. The wood has the beautiful deep red color valued by furniture makers, is strong, and is easy to work. The Allegheny Plateau of Pennsylvania and New York is the region that produces the majority of quality timber.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Prunus serotina, black cherry, is our most important and largest native cherry tree in North America. It has a huge range, from the middle of Canada to Florida, over to Texas and Arizona and even with a subspecies that extends into Mexico and parts of Central America. Its importance in the forestry/timber industry is based on the beauty of its wood, which has that deep red color so beloved by furniture makers and for those fortunate enough to use it for paneling or flooring.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you take a botany class, you learn that the leaves or stems of certain plants have aromatic compounds. My mother had a Florida anise, Illicium parvifollium, in our yard and she would always crush a leaf when we walked outside and let us inhale that wonderful licorice fragrance.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Fire blight affects members of the rose family – that means apples, pears, and plums. It is caused by a native, not introduced, bacterium that overwinters cankers and becomes active when spring brings warm temperatures and rain. Bees actually spread it from flower to flower and It causes plants to die back from the terminals – often the branch tip looks like a shepherd’s crook.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The first callery pears were brought to the United States by USDA scientists trying to find varieties resistant to fire blight – a native bacterium that was in the early 1900’s ruining 85% of the western states’ commercial pear crop. Tens of thousands of seeds collected in Asia were planted in Oregon and Washington and resistant individuals eventually became root stock for tasty pears varieties.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Large seedlings that resulted from crosses between Bradford pear and other Callery pear cultivars are easy to spot --thickets of these white-flowered invasive species are in full bloom across the state. Bradford pear itself is self-sterile, it was selected from Asian seedlings grown in this country for its extreme success as a street tree that would flower its head off but produce no messy fruit to litter the street or attract wasps.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One of our favorite guests on Making It Grow is Durant Ashmore, a landscape architect and nurseryman in Fountain Inn. If you run into Durant this time of year, he may be somewhat tight jawed as he takes personal offense at the ubiquitous and now in full bloom Bradford pears.

Cultivar Names

Mar 12, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. This is a mini-botany lesson and it is might be helpful as gardening catalogues are filling up our mailboxes. Although Linnaeus developed the binomial system of classification that identifies an organism by just two names, the genus and species, you’ll find a third name for many plants being sold.

Southern Heritage Crops present a unique opportunity for entrepreneurial farmers to grow and market high value niche products valued by households, restaurants and other markets for their authentic and historical attributes centered on taste and nutritional values.

Dave Lamie of Clemson's Agri-Business team talks with Amanda McNulty about these valuable crops.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When we use scientific names for plants, we use two names. The first is the genus the plant belongs to, which is a general group so to speak. The second name is the specific epithet, or species, which narrows it down to one individual plant with its own distinguishing characteristics.

Beech Drops

Mar 2, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One of the unexpected pleasures of walking through the woods is the occasional foray into deeper growth in order to see a man about a dog. A plant you might overlook unless stopped and focused upon the ground, is beech drops, Epifagus virginiana. Epi for upon and fagus for beech – this parasitic plant grows on the roots of beech trees. This is an easy plant to miss.

Beech Nuts

Mar 1, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Beech trees, Fagus grandifolia, with their smooth beautiful trunks and handsome leaves, also produce nuts – usually there are two highly nutritious and tasty nuts which develop in very spiny burrs, protective structures that open with frost, allowing the nuts to fall to the ground.  Unlike our delicious pecans, beechnuts unhealthy contain compounds unhealthy for humans that are destroyed by roasting.

Leaf Strategy

Feb 28, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Beech trees, Fagus grandifolia, hang onto their dead leaves throughout winter – a phenomenon called winter leaf marcescence. Why would this benefit a tree? You’d think that snow, ice and strong winds would make these trees more prone to winter injury. There are a few theories about the benefits of this condition.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. On my drive to Sumter, red maples proliferate in the river swamp but as I get closer to the Stateburg -Wedgefield intersection, low spots are filled with easily identified beech trees. Beech trees, Fagus grandifolia, want lots of moisture but not wet soils. They are extremely easy to spot in winter as they exhibit a condition called winter leaf marcescence.

A Beech Tree Tale

Feb 26, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When taking botany with Dr. John Nelson, students endure such puns as his nickname for beech trees, A Son of a Beech. But that groaner didn’t put anyone off their fondness for beech trees, Fagus grandifolia, as they are among the easiest of all trees to identify. The bark is extremely smooth, leading to all sorts of declarations of love carved into them, and its common name of initial tree. A tree in Tennessee bore the statement “D.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The small ground nesting bees fall into several categories – mining bees, orchard bees, or digger bees are among them,  and all are important pollinators. They are absolutely no threat to humans or pets – even though several hundred may construct their burrows in the same area, that’s because the ground conditions are perfect.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cycads have been used as emergency food in many cultures. In Florida, however, Seminole Indians relied on starch made from the native cycad, Zamia floridana, as a primary source of calories. This plant, which covered portions of Florida, became the backbone of the arrowroot flour industry which flourished from 1850 to the 1920’s.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cycads have been used for food in many cultures around the world.  A cycad native to Florida, Zamia floridana, or coontie, was almost eliminated by the production of cycad flour; mills churned out 15 tons of arrowroot flour a day.  Since cycads contain extremely dangerous neuro-toxins that cause horrific symptoms in humans decades after consumption, the plant material must be processed with great care to render it safe. 

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Sago palms are actually cycads, which are grouped with gymnosperms like pine trees. They are among the oldest seed plants to evolve on our planet.   Cycad fossils date back to almost 300 million years ago and once flourished worldwide.  They were the dominant plant group during the Mesozoic; the period sometimes called both the age of the dinosaur and the age of the cycads.

The Ancient Cyads

Feb 18, 2019
Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Sago palms are the most readily available cold hardy cycads that we can grow in most of South Carolina. Well-established cycads will usually survive temperatures down to 15 degrees, but their beautiful, stiff, pinnately-compound leaves which normally stay green and live through winter are killed when we have unusually low temperatures. It’s best to let those dead leaves most of our sagos now have remain on the plants as they can give some protection to the growth points.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The common name dandelion is derived from the French phrase dent de lion – lion’s tooth, referring to the deeply serrated leaves of some species, including the one we most commonly see – Taraxacum officinale. For thousands of years, different cultures have used this plant as a nutritional food source or for medicinal purposes. It’s a strong diuretic which gives rise to the name wet-a-bed.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Dandelions bloom every month of the year in South Carolina.   A perennial weed with a tap root, individual plants can live for five years or more and established plants are hard to eradicate. Each flower makes between 100 to 500 seeds that have attached structures to catch the wind and for widespread dispersal. Although perfect lawn aficionados despise them, this is one non-native plant with importance for wildlife in parts of the country.

Dandelions

Jan 31, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. On my walks with friend Ann Nolte we’ve been examining dandelions, not much else is in flower right now. On warm days, we bend over and stare at those yellow blooms to see if there are any insect visitors. So far, we’ve seen small dipterans – that sounds more exciting than the common name of flies, doesn’t it? Our ubiquitous dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is a Eurasian species that has spread almost all over the globe.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Last year, South Carolina received 102 inches of rain, way more than normal. Although it was a nuisance to carry umbrellas every other day, for some farmers it was devastating.  In the Darlington area and others, some farmers couldn’t get their crops out of the field; peanuts and cotton revenues were lost. Even under normal circumstances, many fields require drains to be profitable.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. It’s cold and the ground has been wet. Not anyone’s favorite time for gardening. But the warm, sunny days of spring are around the corner and we will all be planting new perennials, shrubs and trees. Even though you know that you don’t dig a hole any deeper than the root ball, that is deep enough for you to call 811 before digging.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Clumps of paperwhite narcissus are up in my yard and any day I expect to see a flower stalk.  Although these fragrant bulbs aren’t attractive to European honey bees, other late winter, early bulbs are. Hyacinth and scilla blossoms, especially blue ones, a favorite color for bees, are relatively inexpensive, easy to grow and not only make your garden beautiful but their tubular flowers provide food for pollinators.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I was outside cutting magnolia to make a Christmas wreath and stopped to admire the flowers on one of my loquat trees. Loquat has a melodious scientific name, Eriobotrya japonica, and is sometimes called Japanese plum. Right now, this small, evergreen tree with handsome, gray green leaves with pubescent backs is in flower. Each branch ends with a large creamy white inflorescence.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Few plants have as long as blooming period as some of our camellias. Although they are classed as early, mid-season, or late, each individual plant sets flower buds that open over a period of months. An open bud or flower will be ruined by frost, but buds that are still tightly closed are unharmed and will open at a later time. That’s one reason that I think we should all have some of single or semi-double flowering camellias in our yards.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. There is a huge push to grow native plants in an effort to help pollinators. But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater – some of our most beloved non-natives are important food sources, too. Right now, camellias are coming into their glory. The cultivars that have single or semi-double flowers, that means they have functioning stamens and pistils, are used by European honeybees as a source of winter food – both nectar and pollen.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My friend Ann Nolte lives in a family house near St. Matthews with a yard full of old camellias. She sent me a photograph she took in mid-December after cold weather had damaged the beauty of the flowers that were opened when the night time temperatures dropped below freezing. Although the blossom wasn’t lovely to the human eye, it was dramatically attractive to a foraging honey bee.

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