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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.

alba

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.

americana

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.

heavyberry

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.


hardingoff_2

One day I will have a fine lath house, inspired by the huge one at the JC Raulston Arboretum.
But until then, I will tote and fret, bring the tomato seedlings out in the morning, indoors a night, and worry all day long until they GRADUALLY become accustomed to outdoor conditions.

Otherwise all our efforts could be lost. And cold temps aren’t the only enemies.

IMG_1363

On the first few days out, I place the trays under large bushes with low hanging branches. This gives tender plants shade and wind protection.

When the weather warmed this week, I started leaving the tomatoes out over night in protected places: a covered porch, under the slats of a bench, and in my well-used cold frame.

coldframe_1

But that doesn’t mean I can quit worrying. I check the seedlings at least twice a day for water and sun-scald. And last night when thunder rolled all around us, I sat up in bed in a panic.

So yes, that woman in a bathrobe fussing over a cold frame in the rain at 4:55 this morning was me-

Happy to say all plants are Ok this morning.

coldframe_2

And speaking of the JCRA, their Raulston Blooms festival of birds and flowers is this Saturday.

Raulston Blooms  for Facebook

There will be a plant sale, info seminars, food; the always inspiring birdhouse competition, plus arts and crafts. I’m been invited to sell my garden tool aprons and other upcycled fabric creations–so come check it (and my work) out!

teacher_apronhands


It’s time to photograph your bulbs.

poetseye

Not like this–the bulb companies have all the close-ups covered.

But bulbs disappear in the early spring and winter landscape. So take ugly pictures like these.

bulbs_wide

Show where your bulbs are now, and where you want to add more–

Then go to your September calendar and write “Order Bulbs!!!” at the end of the month.

And make sure you can access the photos in September. Digital files do tend to wander and the bulbs and their foliage will be many months dormant by the time to order more.

Also, when thinking about bulbs, think outside the tulip-daffodil box.

flagstones

These spring star flowers dig dry shade and they lend my flagstones the “abandoned place” look that I love.

And while we’re on ugly photos, co-blogger Melissa suggested I remind everyone that cold-burned leaves are Ok on shrubs and perennials. These hydrangea leaves will come back–

ugly_leaves

But if you have tender plants….beware. Our last average frost date in central NC is April 15th. That’s why my tomatoes and basil have taken over the dinning room. It’s too soon to put them out!

matercrop

So what’s growing at your house?


Finally– this week brought some good weather to get out and clean-up in my (very) winter weary NC garden,
Here are some things that make it much easier to get the beds in shape.

1) A big pile of mulch. Yes, I own a pick-up for hauling mulch and other bulk stuff, but Spring is so short and busy, it’s impossible to get everything done. Driving and unloading take time. After years of never completing this job, I opted for delivery of 8 cubic yards.

mulchpile

2) And since this big pile of mulch has been sitting in our drive though rain, sleet and snow….the second thing you need in March is a patient partner, one who won’t mind too much when he/she can’t park in the garage through rain, sleet and snow. Or when dinner is late cause you’re out in the garden–or when you ask him to load the cart, etc.

rake

3) It’s also wonderful to have a retractable rake. This is my most favorite tool! Pal Susan gave it to me for a b’day many years ago, and I still use it almost every day. The re-tracked version is great for getting around shrubs and plants. Spread out the tines to rake leaves and trash. One tool, never put it down. Brilliant.

retracted

4) Organic fertilizer is a March ritual at our house. Yes, you can go cheaper, but it’s your garden, your earth–I go for the good stuff. Don’t try to toss it out all in one day–spreading fertilizer properly takes time. I rake the bed, prune, move plants. Next, I spread the Planttone from my galvanized dish pan, rake in the soil and water. Mulch from the big pile goes on last. It’s pleasurable work. Don’t rush it. Make the most of your investment.

planttone

5) I always need tons of soil mix and recycled nursery pots this time of year. There are more baby plants to pot up than time to pot them. My kingdom for a staff–

helleborouspotting

6) Finally, in March, I always need a manicure in the worse way. But to a gardener, these hands are beautiful. It’s been a long time, Spring. Welcome back.

manicure

What’s going on in your gardens???


After sleet, snow, ice and 6 degrees, my February Gold daffodils can still lift their heads.

feb_gold

Amazing–since this winter that won’t end has nearly flattened me–

Flowers that bloom at this time of year have to be study. And our recent cold, icy weather has certainly put them to the test.

My (splendid) winter-blooming trees, Prunus mumue and winter sweet have lost their flowers to the cold. Don’t worry. The plants will survive but the blossoms are gone for this year.

survior_2

Not so for my February Gold.

survior_lenten rose and daf

Is any color more hopeful than yellow?

It’s snowing again in Wake County this morning. Enough already. Please hurry Spring!!

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

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