Thursday, April 1, 2021

MARCH TOWARD SPRING



When I posted the above photo on my facebook page I got hundreds of hits, much more than my usual gardening posts.  Go figure !

Anyhoo, March marks the official beginning of Spring but of course it doesn't always happen  according to plans.  This March has been very rainy and the temperatures fluctuated from very warm to freezing, which of course plays havoc on emerging plants.  One day of 80 degrees fried the blooming daffodils.

I love to watch Spring unfold in my garden -begining in late February when the two Japanese ornamental apricots  ( prunus mume ' peggy clarke ' ) is covered with double-pink blossoms.   Edgeworthia, aka, Chinese paperbush has its overwhelmingly sweet fragrance and beautiful blooms as well.  I have three kinds of viburnum that are early Spring-blooming :  Chinese 'snowball ', Korean Spice and a rare evergreen variety, 'Spring Bouquet. '  The 'pocahontas ' Lilac's bloom emerges as it is a very early blooming variety and one  that can take the Southern summers.


Chinese 'Snowball' Viburnum

In the woodland garden daffodils, hellebores and red buckeye emerge, along with the cobalt blue Ajugas and various ferns. 


                                    A Carolina native -Red Buckeye

The evergreen clematis 'armanii ' was spectacular this March and its fragrance as I walk along the garden path is very pleasant.  

                                                   
                                      Korean Spice Viburnum

Late  March and Kerria japonica has put on its sunny yellow dress in the deep shady area of my backyard garden.

Another end of the month bloomer is the Viburnum 'mariesii ' a lovely shrub that has lateral branching filled with white flowers and followed by red berries. 


                                                       'Mariesii ' Viburnum

                                        
                                       'Spring Bouquet ' evergreen Viburnum

To say I love Viburnums is an understatement.   They have so many wonderful attributes -lovely flowers, foliage and berries and  are very hardy and low maintenance.

Now onward and upward to the month of real Spring in the Piedmont - April.



Monday, March 1, 2021

A NEW FEBRUARY FACE IN THE SWEET GARDEN

 

Last August I lost my beloved Mini-Aussie Duke to lymphoma.  He was a young, spirited 5 year old and my constant companion in the garden.  While I still grieve for him on February 20th  I decided to get a new puppy to fill our lives with joy.  Meet  9 week old Odie, a Schnoodle ( Schnauzer/Poodle ) with the dog whisperer, granddaughter Lea. They're already great pals.   She wants to be a Vet when she grows up, a good choice given her great love of all animals.




This year we've set a new record for the rainest winter -38 " and counting, the annual rainfall of rainy Seattle and close to our annual rainfall of 43-48 ".   We've had a light dusting of snow which quickly melted away and few temperatures below freezing so this winter was also rather mild.

Blooming in the Sweet Garden this months are 2 Prunus mume 'peggy clarke ', Edgeworthia, Hellebores, daffodils and evergreen Viburnum ' spring bouquet. '  There are big, fat buds on the evergreen Clematis 'armandii  '  that will burst forth in a few warm days.


                      
                        The double pink blossoms of Prunus mume 'peggy clarke'
             attracts multitudes of bees.  It's a rare and welcome sight in the
             midst of January /February .

This last day of February we had 75 warm and wonderful degrees !  What we need are more sunny days to dry up the saturated ground. 

Looking ahead to March the long-range forecast shows mild weather.  Once the ground has dried I need to get out to the vegetable garden and sow seeds.  I've got 4 boxes of wildflower seeds that need to be planted in my roadside garden.

Meanwhile I'm watching my favorite Bluebirds fill the many nesting boxes I've put up -a sure sign of Spring ! 


 






Sunday, January 31, 2021

GARDENING BEGINS IN JANUARY


One positive thing that the dreadful pandemic that has so profoundly impacted our nation and the world, is a renewed interest in gardening.  Walking about my neighborhood I witnessed so many homeowners doing gardening projects and starting their own vegetable gardens.  As a landscape designer I was also  kept busy with consultations and installations.  

As Elizabeth Lawrence declared in her  A SOUTHERN GARDEN book, there are two months of winter here in central North Carolina -January and February and that even during those months there are many pleasant days to enjoy.  This winter has been mild with no appreciable amounts of snow, but ample rainfall.

My daffodils are already up this year and I've seen some older established ones in bloom in neighbor's gardens.   The blooms on my Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke ' have formed but several below freezing nights have given them pause.  Edgeworthia, aka, Chinese paperbush is in full bloom and the blooms of the Chinese Snowball Viburnum still linger on the bush .  

Last Fall I edited my backyard boulder garden, removing shrubs that had overwhelmed their space and replacing them with lower-growing evergreens  and long-blooming perennials that give more structure to the garden.  

                            
  A few of my long-blooming perennial  favorites -'purple knight ',  lambs ear, autumn sage, sedum, euphorbia, Japanese roof iris and perennial mums.

I'm pleased to say that my garden now has year round interest with something blooming or evergreen each month of the year.  My plan for this New Year is to plant more wildflowers in the roadside garden, replace a grapevine with an evergreen flowering one  ( Carolina Jessamine ? ) and start vegetables early from seed.  
I also need to work on my frontyard rose garden .  I have tried various cultivars but none have done that well despite planting them in a raised bed with recommended soil preparations.  The Camellias in that bed have done very well and I know there's enough sun for roses .  I have avoided planting the sensational 'Knockout ' roses that are so widely popular because I prefer something out of the ordinary.  Oh well, I haven't given up yet and will attempt once again this New Year with different varieties in my search to find the right one.  

Here's to hopes for a better, brighter New Year in which we defeat and put behind us the devastating  plague of last year.  I wish you good health and happiness.













Friday, January 8, 2021

DECEMBER'S BARENESS EVERYWHERE

 "How like a winter hath my absence been From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year! What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!

What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:   
Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,   
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near."
- William Shakespeare, How Like a Winter Hath my Absence Been

Despite the bareness of December there is still joy to be found in the garden -the fat buds of the Chinese Paper Bush, the Camellias and the Hellebores.  The sedges are still green with life as are the hollies and the ferns.  


                         Edgeworthia chrysantha
                      A most welcome sight in the deep of                                     December

My boulder garden is still filled with textures from the Evergreens and other hardy perennials.



                        Lots of green in December.  The Autumn Sage still has blooms on it .

This last month of the year is time to reflect on the terrible pandemic that affected not only our country but the entire world.   My garden and art have kept me sane and occupied and I am grateful for my children living nearby.

I hope that the New year will bring peace and prosperity for everyone.




Thursday, December 17, 2020

A MOST WONDERFUL NOVEMBER

 "November comes And November goes,

With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."
-  Elizabeth Coatsworth

A most wonderful November in which summer hung on and the garden flourished with ample rainfall and sunshine.  I believe the weatherman said its one of the warmest on record.


I cleaned up overgrown perennials among my boulders.  I love the purple/chartreuse /red combination of euphorbia, purple heart , yellow mums and red autumn sage.

Of course it's Fall and while it takes the poets to write about the glory of autumn the rest of us have to rake them.   A big THANK YOU to the inventor of the leaf blower !

November also marks my 57th wedding anniversary. It seems only yesterday that we wed and yet here we are, surviving through thick and thin.  We certainly proved the old adage wrong that " East is east and West is west and never the twain shall meet. "

This thanksgiving we were blessed to have it outdoors on a farm in the beautiful countryside.  So happy that all my children and my younger sister live nearby and gathered to celebrate our blessings .

Here in the depth of November and near the end of the year I pray for an end to this plaque that has befallen the entire world.  Will we ever be the same again ?  

Thank goodness for my garden where I can find peace of mind and tranquilty in this topsy-turvey world  !







Wednesday, December 16, 2020

OCTOBER GOLD

 "The stillness of October gold

Went out like beauty from a face." --  

 E. A. Robinson



My 'Appalachian Spring ' dogwood in her October gold coat.

I love the month of October here in central North Carolina.   There's still a lot of life left in the garden -late blooming asters, mums, viburnum, autumn sage, goldenrod and brazilian verbena .  This year it's so mild that the Lantana is hanging on and the bees and butterflies appreciate that.


 Among the boulders -red autumn sage, golden mums, euphorbia and japanese roof iris.

Unlike the dry, hot , scarce rainfall of last summer we were blessed with ample rainfall and the garden was lusher than usual.  The downside of course is that the weeds also thrive and I've spent many a day trying to eliminate them before they get a foothold.  Creeping Charlie-arggggggh !   Trying to plant everything close together to shade out the weeds and eliminate mulching as much as possible.


This may appear to be a natural forest but everything in front was added by me -viburnums, dogwood, elephant ears, carex , and ajuga add color and texture to my front woodland garden.

October is the month when I  look forward to my camellias blooming.



This is the gorgeous 'hana jiman ' in all her glory.  

Call me picky but I only like white or white with pink tinged Camellias.  They really show up well against their shiny dark green leaves.

Now on to November and usually a month when Fall/Winter really begin.








Thursday, October 1, 2020

September's Song



By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer."
- Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885


Ah September and the days grow shorter and cooler. The birds sing loudly outside my window and  I arise early to begin editing my boulder garden which had become overgrown with exuberant Lantana . 

Since we have such a long growing season here I added more evergreens -Mahonia, Japanese  Ligustrum, Lorepetalum, Mugo Pine and golden privet, to name a few. I also want to be able to see the boulders which are native to this area.


The many birds that visit my garden love the bubbling solar fountain.  I don't feed the birds in the summer but providing water is more important as they are able to easily find lots of insects. I just wish they would devour the Japanese beetles.

I ordered a truckload of compost and topsoil to spread over my newly dug garden bed then I topped it with the leaf and pine needle mulch that had been aging over the winter in my front yard forest.

Rainfall has been abundant this growing season and the roadside meadow garden has flourished without much help from me.

            
              Above :  Brazil Verbena in the background, daisies and artemisia ,
               three prolific colonizers in the meadow garden.

I dislike the roundy/moundy mums sold each Fall at the Garden Center and last season I planted hardy garden mums that are now blooming and  brightening up the garden with their lovely yellow color.  I'm going to add some spider mums this Fall but will have to special order then since they're not available at local garden centers.



'Bolero' hardy garden mum , a prolific bloomer and spreading perennial.

Another Fall favorite is Goldenrod which I combine with purple Asters.



In the vegetable garden I sowed seeds of 5 types of Kale, spinach and Chinese broccoli.  I'm going to add some cabbages and leeks as well.  With the occasional use of row covers the winter veggie garden will thrive.  

I used to dread the coming of October in my Chicago garden as it meant the end of the gardening season but here I look forward to it.










 




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