Tuesday, December 30, 2014


     This shady woodland bed is planted with Autumn brilliance fern, violas, Japanese iris, and hellebores.

November was cold by North Carolina standards but December more than made up for it with mild, sunny days and plenty of rainfall. I had 5 yards of a custom blend of topsoil  ( compost, manure and gray sand ) delivered and spread some on the various flower beds and created berms as well.  Spent a great deal of time shredding and incorporating leaves into the existing soil in the beds.

It was warm enough to plant so I visited the garden center and selected a gorgeous Mahonia, White 'japonica ' camellia and 'christmas jewel ' holly.   I planted them near the large picture window which has a lovely view of the bird feeders and houses.

I finally had to cut back the ginormous elephant ears that I planted in the Spring.

I dug up and divided the bulbs which I spread around the shady areas of the rock garden.  I also planted a lot of daffodils and alliums in the roadside garden beds so Spring should be quite colorful.  

Since my front garden is not fenced in I plant only what the deer are not supposed to like.  As extra insurance I have been spraying faithfully with Liquid Fence which stinks to high heaven until it dries, which can take about a day.  I've found it very effective in keeping the deer away, but winter will be the real test.  

    My roadside wildflower garden, started with seeds, looked good through late Fall.

Christmas snuck up on me and it was time to retire the trowel for awhile.  Lea's grandparents arrived from Cork, Ireland for the holidays and I've spent time visiting with them as well. They were impressed with the garden I've created thus far, having seen the blank slate it was during their visit last year.

This was a very special Christmas for Lea as she gets to share it with her paternal grandparents.

As the year draws to an end I'm already looking 
forward to my plans for the garden. My first priority is a fenced-in backyard so that I can garden without worrying about deer . I want to naturalize lily of the valley, hellebores, sweet woodruff and ferns in the woodland areas.  I want to create a privacy buffer near the main entrance to our property but I don't want it to be hedges in a row -something mixed with both deciduous and evergreen shrubs.

I wish all of you good health and happiness in the coming New Year.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


November marks the first year in our new home and garden.  We have not been idle.  When we bought our little cottage in the woods we knew we had lots of work to do.  We had to put on a new roof, replace the front porch, replace HVAC in the crawlspace, re-do two bathrooms and add a third, gut the kitchen and install a new one, update the lighting system, install new water heater, build a carport and add a new addition for a guest room and small deck .  Whew!  

Outside we had water problems when it rained - our neighbor up the hill had two drain pipes gushing water to our property and there was a huge mountain of dirt that a contractor had left and was untouched for many years.  We plugged and re-directed the drain pipes and had a contractor level the mound.  We uncovered a ton of boulders under it and viola! I had an instant boulder garden.   I love the look of the boulders and I'm developing a garden with them.

In the wooded area in my front yard which borders a busy highway, I removed all the grass and spread wildflower seeds.  I added birdhouses , baths and feeders.  The wildflowers grew very well and I added butterfly weed, lantana, asters, mums, sage and grasses which attracted many butterflies, bees and birds. I planted lots of ferns, hollies, mahonia, violas, daffodils, crape myrtle, hellebores ,osmanthus and climbing hydrangeas in the wooded area fronting our house.  On the side of the house near the large picture window I planted a Korean maple in the bird sanctuary.

In my boulder garden in back I planted catmint, yucca, verbena, asters, japanese iris, elephant ears, ajuga, scarlet sage, red buckeye, ornamental grasses, pyracantha, forest pansy redbud and a nectarine tree.

In my future vegetable garden I planted two Asian pears and an herb garden.  I am waiting to get the backyard fenced in before I start a larger vegetable plot.

My younger sister Linda came down for a two week visit and got to see all the progress we had made since she was here last year when we first moved in and she was amazed.

I added two  new tools to my garden collection that I had never had before :  a leaf blower and shredder.  I have so many leaves and instead of raking and bagging, I shred them so they can easily compost into the soil.  

My future plan is to make this little half acre into a bird sanctuary by adding more birdbaths, feeders and birdhouses.  It's wonderful to be awakened by the sound of birds singing in the morning and to watch them as they enjoy the suet, birdseed and water  put out for them.

November also marks my third year in North Carolina and my granddaughter Lea's sixth birthday.  She chose a farm venue to celebrate.  She's a natural on a horse !    As my one and only I think that God smiled down on me and embodied everything -beauty, brains and sweetness into one little girl who is our constant joy and pleasure.

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