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Tis the season. Every time I go to my favorite local nursery, Campbell Road in Cary, shoppers are stuffing these shrubs in their cars.


Good choice. Beauty Berry takes shade, has a nice airy form, looks great in my woods and shrub borders. It can be cut back to the ground in spring or left to go wild.


And then there is the big selling point–fall berries. Even after all our recent rain, my beauty berries still have stunning, neon-colored fruit. And they will for weeks to come. This long season of interest another big plus.

Beauty Berries seed for me–which means I have more than a dozen in my garden and always a few to give away to friends.


Most of my plants originally came from another favorite nursery–Camellia Forest in Chapel Hill. They’re having a Fall Open House this month. I think I’ll go buy some more beauty berry.


I think I lost the hanging baskets while we were at the beach.  The backyard is pretty much a dust bowl,  In my beds, even some of the weeds have wilted. 

But my shabby end-of-summer garden still has a few bright spots.  They keep me going as a I drag the hose around.

The Native Beautyberry or Callipara amerciana is a jewel in the woods garden.  My two plants  are bigger than a Volkswagen (a garden measurement I like to use around here) and stunning .  These deciduous shrubs are also tough as nails.  No wilting today in my dry as dust soil.  There’s also a Japanese variety, Callipara japonica and a white version called Leucocarpa.  I grow them all but the purples are best in my book.  Mass them for more berries, more impact, more joy. 

Also in my garden today, a bumper crop of cucumbers.  The variety is General Lee which I figured would hold up well to our hot summers.  Still, don’t imagine for a minute that these plants have been around since spring.  Vegetables are all about timing.  I planted General Lee seeds in June so I would have lots of late summer cukes for homemade pickles.  Now, if I could only find the time to “put  my pickles up” as my grandma would say. 

One more thing about this time of year–Don’t worry if your garden’s looking pretty beat up.  There’s a reason I’m only showing you tight shots of mine.   Death is a part of gardening, and this is season when many things wind down.   Around here cuttings are always croaking, seedlings turn to dust or get the wilt from too much water, plants burn out, or just burn up.  Some of it is natural, some–my  fault.  That’s today’s true confession.  I don’t have a green thumb.  I just keep trying.  You should too.  The important thing is not what dies, but what you do after– keep gardening.

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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