Thursday, May 28, 2020



"Well-apparel'd April on the heel
Of limping Winter treads."
- William Shakespeare

My young dogwood bloomed for the first time this April.  The dogwood is the State flower of North Carolina and one of the best native trees that grow well at the forest's edge.  Thus far I have planted six of them.

April 15 marks the last freeze date and thus the beginning of serious planting in the garden.  Due to the lock-down the local garden center has been busy adjusting to curb-side service and safety precautions for those who want to shop inside.

Walking about the neighborhood I see a new found interest in gardening.  So many projects that were never tackled before are now being done and I see old, overgrown shrubs chopped down and thrown to the curb for pick-up.    A new revival in gardening has rapidly spread and the garden center is busier than ever.

Since I can't go to client's gardens as usual to help with their projects,  I have been busy dividing and transplanting and creating new garden beds in my own garden .  

Meanwhile it's great to see so many flowers blooming this month, and they're about a month early as well.  Below is my clematis 'bee's jubilee ' a very prolific, repeat bloomer.

    Roses blooming in April ?  Indeed, a surprise but there she is, my 'golden showers' climbing rose's first bloom, which was followed by many more.

Meanwhile I set out my tomatoes early and planted some spinach and kale.  Rain has been abundant and the garden looks lush.

I'm behind on my weeding and creeping charlie has started running so I have got to catch him before he takes over !  

March Madness

That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty."
-  William Shakespeare 

Spring is so early this year and with the mild winter we had there's an abundance of  blooms in the garden.  Above is my 'Marisii ' Viburnum and the cobalt-blue Ajuga.

I had so many plans for my garden this year and for my client's as well but those were put on hold with the horrible news of the Corona virus pandemic.   To add to the misery my sweet Awesome Aussie Duke was diagnosed with lymphoma and given a short time to live. He's only 4 years old. My constant garden companion, standing on his favorite boulder and surveying his kingdom.

I'm quarantined at home but I will find solace in my garden as well as painting.  I'm hoping that April and May will bring better news about this horrible pandemic.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

February's Face

"Late February days; and now, at last,

Might you have thought that

Winter's woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air."
-  William Morris  

Yes, hard to believe but that's my Clematis 'armandii' blooming smack dab in the middle of February this year -at least a month early !  Oh, and did I mention the fragrance ? Sweet, sweet clematis !

The daffodils were abundant this year, spreading their golden heads even further than last.  I'm making a note to plant more, along with some purple alliums.

The beautiful Lenten Rose, or hellebores, that I have lining the long walk from the main road to my house, have been blooming all month.  They are spreading quickly and I need to divide and transplant after they finish their long  blooms. I love the fact that their beautiful foliage is spectacular and evergreen.

I love the white Hellebores in my frontyard forest because they show up better than the others.  That's my young, newly planted dogwood in the background.  It's my aim to fill the bare spots in my forest with native dogwoods.

I thought that last summer's drought might have killed most of my Ajuga but thank goodness it didn't.  I love its cobalt-blue blooms.

In my backyard garden this gorgeous, hardy, semi-evergreen groundcover 'Georgia Blue ' creeping Speedwell is a welcome sight this early Spring.  It spreads nicely and I divide and transplant it after it blooms.

Now onto March.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Turning over a new leaf in January

This photo was taken during the hottest, driest summer since I've been here in North Carolina.   It was such a tropical summer that my banana palm actually flowered and bore tiny bananas before the hard frosts of December killed it .
With the exception of several days of below-freezing temperatures in the 20's, December and January have been rather mild and rainy, some days in the high 60's and 70's.
Now that we're in the first month of a new year ,  I , like many others, am planning to turn over the proverbial   " new leaf. "   I am noting which perennials/annuals were able to withstand the terrible summer, how to prevent/destroy Japanese beetles before they get a foot-hold, and a new strategy on squirrel warfare and of course, deer. I need also to address several areas in the garden that have poor drainage due to the downhill slant of my property that invite run-off from the uphill neighbors . 
 In the vegetable garden ( below ) I want to renovate all the beds and rotate crops and improve drainage there as well. The blooming tree in the foreground is a white peach.

In my frontyard forest ( below )  I'm planning to add more ferns and woodland plants. I want to plant more dogwood , witch hazel and fragrant tea olives, to name a few.  The blooming cobalt-blue ajuga is outstanding in the Spring.

Looking forward to the New Year and many plans to work on in the garden.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

December's Winter Gems

December in the Piedmont garden can still be quite lovely with such beauties as the above Camellia, the yellow blooms of Mahonia ( below ) and Edgeworthia.

Edgeworthia, aka the Chinese Paper Bush, is a very unique plant which fills the winter garden with its unique form and fragrance.

Perennials such as Artemisia and my late late blooming native aster ' raydon's favorite ' are still striking.

I still see bees buzzing around 'raydon's favorite '  ( above ) aster even in December when there's little left for them .

And lastly, the herbs that remain evergreen year-round are delightful-sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme and oregano.

In the vegetable garden I have savoy cabbage, kale, green onions, and spinach .

I love being able to garden year-round and I'm pleased to say that I have something blooming every month of the year.

Now on to the new year - 2020 !

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

November's Colorful Dress

My 'appalachian spring ' dogwood in all her November finery .  November is truly the month when Fall begins here.  

The viburnums and crape myrtles are also wearing their lovely Fall colors.  I have late-blooming native asters, vervain, autumn sage, lantana, and mums still in bloom.  I love my dwarf fountain grasses that provide color and texture all season.

                                       Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Little Bunny'   

This November also brought an early cold spell with temperatures dropping into the freezing zone.  We also had some much-needed rain.

Even as winter draws near the garden still has a lot of life.  I have cabbages, kale , leeks and parsley growing in the vegetable garden.  

The fragrant herbs I planted as a border in the roadside garden to deter deer are spreading nicely and I plan to fill the area with more come Spring.  I added lots of daffodils there as well.

As is my practice I put out suet for the many bluebirds and cardinals that frequent my garden as food is scarce in the winter here.  To deter the pesky squirrels I buy the red pepper flavored suet.

Now on to the last month of this year !  

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Don't Fall for October

Each October I seem to expect Fall to suddenly appear as it did in my Chicago home and garden.  I dreamed of cooler and wetter days after one of the hottest and driest summers since I've been here. It was hard to watch some of my plants lose their leaves and luster from the drought.  Lantana ( below ) is one of the most drought-tolerant and attracts bees and butterflies all summer.  Autumn sage is also a great plant for the dry summers.

October did not bring Fall and the dry days continued.  Even though I plant drought-tolerant trees and shrubs they required supplemental watering.

Finally, mid-October brought some much needed rain even though it would've had to rain a lot more to catch up with the drought.    Ah, well, on to November and more hope for rain.

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