Sunday, February 12, 2023



"No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.  It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left.  It is the nativity of our common Adam." 
-  Charles Lamb 

Unlike the previous January this month brought very mild weather, with the exception of one week of freezing temperatures.  My evergreen 'Lady Banks' rose  dropped her foliage as did  some usually evergreen viburnums.  'Spring bouquet ' viburnum was an exception and was not damaged at all.  'They will however, return next Spring.  I will miss its beautiful blooms this year .

Spent a lot of time inside the studio painting when the weather was too cold to go out.

The cheerful blooms of 'Peggy Clark ' were delightful and not affected by the freeze we had .  'Kobai'  ( below ) a more shrub-like cultivar, bloomed even though it was just planted in the Fall .

Buds are forming on the variegated Daphne 'odora  '  that I planted last year.  Can't wait to smell it !

I've been doing battle with the voles who seemed to have chosen my garden to set up winter homes in.  I've spread castor oil about and coyote urine, as well as destroyed their tunnels.

I see buds forming on the evergreen clematis 'armandii ' so its unscathed as well.  I'm crossing my fingers that Spring will bring out a lot of new growth on those damaged by the freeze.

Time to start thinking about preparing the vegetable garden for Spring.  Going to plant kale, chinese broccoli, bok choy, green onions, and  spinach soon.  They can tolerate some cold temperatures.

Also working on two client's garden designs for this Spring.   Love that I can garden inside and out all year round in this mild Carolina weather !

Wednesday, January 4, 2023


 Yes Virginia even in December there's still flowers blooming !  Below is the very late blooming native mum 'raydon's favorite ' that persists in this the last month of the year.

December started off mild.  I cleared the garden of excess leaves and began to battle an infestation of voles by spraying with a castor oil mixture.

Because I have a variety of evergreen and deciduous shrubs the garden has a strong structure that looks good even in the deep of December .

Below, Edgeworthia, aka, Chinese paperbush, shows off her December finery.  Her fragrance is very powerful.

Christmas week brought a deep freeze with temperatures in the teen's.  My Lady Banks rose, an evergreen, suffered damage as did other usually sturdy perennials.  Overall the good news is that many plants were able to survive.  The hellebores are going to be late this season.  

From a daytime high of 15 to 70 degrees is predicted for our New Year's day weather.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2022



"If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year's beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener's calendar.  This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect.  People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better, and take even a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth."

I always pray for good weather in November because I open my studio to the public the first two weekends to see my paintings.  This is a tour of about 100 artists in the area and is very popular with the residents.  We had a lot of visitors and sales this year and the weather was good - no heavy rain or snow.

The entrance to my studio is through the garden gate and visitors are always pleasantly surprised to see a garden still filled with texture and color.  The Japanese mums and Autumn sage are still in bloom and the brilliant Fall color of dogwood and viburnum is stunning.

         Fall color of the 'Koreanspice ' Viburnum

Because of our warm Fall the leaves were late in dropping and I have been busy raking them into the forest to compost.

While cleaning up the garden I noticed voles had quite a few tunnels dug and I sprayed them with castor oil and dish detergent mixed together.  

After a few chilly days I finally got around to planting the alliums I bought to add to the daffodils for the Spring border.

The garden still looks good in November and my plan for Spring is to plant as many evergreen groundcovers I can to fill in bare spots so I won't have to mulch.  We call this " living mulch. "  I have a lot but I need more.

                 A corner of my November   garden.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022



 - 1874-1963

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

A few of my October favorites, left to right :  Autumn Sage, 'Bolero '  mum, Japanese roof iris,   and Euphorbia 'ascot ' .  'Autumn Joy ' Sedum is peeking out from the boulder on the left corner.
I planted dwarf Fall blooming anemones  to add to next year's blooms.  This year the asters were a disappointment.  I suspect they were affected by an early Spring fungus that also attacked my daylilies.   To remedy that in the Spring I'm going to spray with a fungicide.

The star of the late Fall garden is the latest blooming aster 'raydon's favorite'.  It spreads nicely and I've divided and planted it throughout my roadside garden, a deer resistant pollinator garden that fronts the entrance to my home.
While it takes the poets to write about the glories of Autumn it takes us gardeners to rake them so it's onward to composting a half acre of fallen  leaves and pine needles, some of which I'll leave for mulch but I have to be careful because I've seen signs of voles getting ready to nest for the winter.   

Tuesday, October 4, 2022


"By all these lovely tokens
September days are here
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer."
- Author Unknown

Summer lingers and the ample rainfall we had in August has disappeared.   The mornings are cool and I use them to do my garden chores.  
The local garden center has started stocking its Fall plants and I found a few that I couldn't resist.  I purchased two dwarf anemones -'pretty lady susan ' and 'pretty lady diana . ' 

Spotted an unusual blue cardinal flower - ' starship blue ' for a partly shady corner of the garden.

I have a lot of yellow, orange and pink among the flowering plants so a touch of blue will help balance the color scheme.
I have fallen in love with coneflowers and have been planting them in every color.  I like the way they bloom continuously without much fuss.
August blessed us with a lot of rain but September was unusually dry so I had to do a lot of supplemental watering for newly planted perennials.
I have started to divide some spreading perennials such as the Japanese roof iris and 'ice dance' carex,
 and giving away excess to neighbors.  The lantana has also spread so I'm going to divide it as well.
Much cooler weather is on the way, as is Hurricane Ian which is supposed to impact us here in North Carolina as well.  Praying for everyone in its path.

Friday, September 2, 2022


 "When summer opens, I see how fast it matures, and fear it will be short; but after the heats of July and August, I am reconciled, like one who has had his swing, to the cool of autumn."

-  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

As expected August was filled with endless days of temperatures in the 90's but lucky us here in central North Carolina we had ample rainfall.  I shudder to think what it would be like to have the 67 days of  no rainfall and temperatures in the triple digits that Texas gardeners and farmers have had to endure this year.  To make matters worse they were then flooded.  How do you garden in such extreme conditions ?

Despite the heat the Coneflowers continued to brighten the August garden.  Coreopsis is another stalwart as is the ever-blooming Lantana and Autumn Sage.   I love Blackeyed Susans but forgot to give them a haircut in July and they tended to flop over.  

I believe that I have THE tallest banana palm in town -it's at least 15 ' tall and it has a large flower bulb that should turn into bananas.

One of my friends gave me a small clipping of 'purple heart ' a few years ago and as it spread I transplanted it through-out my flower border.  I love it's color and the bees love its flower.

Last year the Asters bloomed very early and were spectacular but this early warm Spring we had caused a fungus that seem to stunt their growth.  It also affected my daylilies with ugly yellow streaks on their blades.  Going to be diligent in spraying with fungicide this Fall/winter to hopefully avoid fungus this Spring.

Waiting for the cooler days of Autumn to start my Spring flowering bulb garden.  I've ordered 500 bulbs of species  ( wild ) tulips and while that sounds like a lot, it's not nearly enough ! Since I have a boulder garden the species tulips look much more natural and will colonize quicker than the larger ones.   I do love the late lily flowering taller tulip and may use some of them as well.   The species tulip will look good with the existing creeping  phlox and early blooming Japanese roof iris.  

September can still be warm and sometimes dry.  I'll spend it going about the garden and seeing what should be divided and transplanted.  

Thursday, August 4, 2022


                                                              July 10, 2022

                                          Carrboro, N.C.

                                                                 73 degrees high

 Sometimes the unexpected happens, thus the Southern saying " That'll be a cold day in July ' when it does.  I published a blog post a few years ago on this subject and got over 6,000 hits !

I'm still amazed that July here in central N.C. is the rainiest month of the year.   After days on end of temps in the 90's the thirsty garden certainly welcomes the rain.

We had a very wet, warm Spring that caused a lot of fungus, aka, Southern blight and it's mostly affected my Ajuga groundcover.   It's the first time that my daylilies were affected by the fungus and I had to spray them with Neem oil. 

Started my succulent garden next to the garden path near the back entrance with drought-tolerant plants.  

I'm loving coneflowers and have one in every color except white.  I am slowly filling my flower beds with more of them because they seem to love the hot weather and they bloom a long time.  My boulder garden, below, in late August, is filled with early blooming Mums, Autumn Sage, Purple Heart, Autumn Joy Sedum and Dianthus.  

Another drought-tolerant perennial that I love is coreopsis, aka, tickweed.  Below is 'moonbeam ' which has been in bloom since late Spring.  I gave it a little hair cut last month and it's re-blooming again.

By July we gardeners can tell which perennials are heat and drought-tolerant.  Another one that I like is Nepeta, or Catmint.  It tends to get leggy by late June so a trimming back helps it revive.  It is a very long blooming plant that the bees love.

Onward and upward in the garden -August won't give us much relief from this heatwave we're suffering this year but at least it's one more month 'til September !

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