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If you are anything like me, this warm weather makes me want to get “my garden on.”  So if you are looking for something to do, you can always prep your veggie or flower beds.  I wouldn’t jump the gun to plant summer veggies yet, just in case there is a frost.  The ‘ole farmer’s almanac says this year April 15 is the last risk of frost, so I would wait until then just in case.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff to do. This weekend I am going to prep my beds.

1)Going to get some more topsoil–I get the bags for this sort of project.  They are easier for me to pick up without killing my back.

2) Going to use my compost, but will probably need to get some too.  I get the cheapest and my veggies still grow.  I tried that black cow stuff for $5 a bag–didn’t really notice a difference, so decided to stick with the cheapo stuff.  It is just poo anyway.

3)Get some slow release fertilizer too.

4) Get mulch for later…remember mulch is key!

Then I will put the soil and compost in the wheel barrow and add some slow release fertilizer, mix and then dump it all in my beds.  I just layer on top of what I already have left over from last year.  I also always have the mixture ready to fill in when I transplant new plants.

So if you are itching to get outside this week…I say prep work should be on the to do list!

Happy Gardening!



Remember when you had a school field trip…you were so giddy with excitement to discover something new and there was this feeling of wonder…well, that is not lost after you grow up.  Chris and I went on a field trip this weekend and we were inspired to write a slew of posts from our adventure….here is just one.

The Parade of Hellebores!

So I think we have established the specialness of a winter garden…but Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanical Gardens personify it–the specialness, I mean.

Check out the pictorial display.The ultimate winter flower…Hellebores.

Chris talked about Rockstar Gardener Tony Avent, but here is my take on him and his operation.  First of all, the place is secret, or at least it feels that way.  It only opens 8 weekends a year (limited access). It seems only insiders know about it (Chris is such an insider and she shared it with me). And when you try to find its location…GPS will NOT get you there.  It is in a place called Juniper Level, who ever heard of that.  Enough about Tony…on to the garden.

So the field trip…WOW is the word that comes to mind.  There was an extravaganza of Hellebores, or Lenten Roses…and not your grandmama’s Lenten Rose…no, exotic ones: green with red lining, Deep Purple blossoms, White with purply, pink speckles, double flower, triple ones…I over heard a lady describe them…they are a “humble beauty.” It is one of the very few plants that bloom throughout winter up until April. Wonder indeed.

We walked the grounds and there he was, on his groovy cool patio.  He was wearing a flannel shirt and a tobagan.  He looked so normal…certainly not a world reknown landscape artist, cultivator, plant preserver….oohh…I wish I had my Sharpie…Chris actually talked to him…I have video…but you will have to wait.  Enjoy the pics of the rare Helleboress for now.

…to be continued…

Happy Gardening.


P.S. Definitely go on more field trips!

Cool colors, shapes and shadows in my front door flower garden--January 2010

When we first moved to this house in the early 80s, I had a book about English cottage gardens under my arm, and a burning desire to grow flowers. 

Looking back, I think I had the equation reversed–sort of like starting with throw pillows when you’re decorating a room.   But I also think a lot of gardeners start in this place.  And that’s ok.  The important thing is jumping in, getting your hands dirty, learning from your mistakes (always the best lessons). 

I jumped in by planting the small  plot between my two front walks.  

It was good to start small, good to start near the house in a highly visible spot, but hard to hide my mistakes.  And I made a lot of them.  Bad soil and killer drainage had to be fixed.  And, of course, a lot of the English flowers couldn’t take our southern heat.   Still, I had some success.  I grew some beautiful flowers.  At moments, my little garden was lovely.  And at other times,  like November-May, it was just a muddy patch of soil.   

That’s how I discovered the concept of structure.  You can’t just grow flowers–you have to think about leaves and interesting bark, shapes, and colors  to carry you though the winter. 

So I compromised.  I gave up  some flower space for a few shrubs (they bloom, too), added tall things, small evergreens,  and a funky vintage bird bath–all  to keep my eye interested until spring rolls around. 

Is it prefect?  No.  But it’s a big step in the right direction and valuable lesson–flowers come and go, so plan for all four seasons.

Photos:  Same garden, different angles–Flowers take center stage, May 3, 2009. 

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

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