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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.


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.


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.


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!



This is the year I’m going to finally give up on my dream of an English border. I have neither the space, the sun, the climate, or the staff required to pull it off.

After all, I live on a mostly wooded lot in hot, humid climate where plants slug it out for water and sun. It’s time to grow up get real.

Wake up. girl! You live in the woods.

Wake up. girl! You live in the woods.

So this year I will plant more shrub groups. Shrubs give my garden backbone, and they’re generally super-tough.

Shrubs make a big splash in less than perfect conditions

Shrubs make a big splash in less than perfect conditions

I will still plant flowers in 2015, but this year I’m going to try working backwards. Instead of leafing though beautifully photographed seed catalogs on long winter’s nights, I’ll pick 4 or 5 tried and true annuals I can’t live without and plant them in larger patches.

Manos beauty is one annual I will always grow

Manos beauty is one annual I will always grow

This is the year I will finally say NO to polka dot planting. I will set out my flowers in groups of 5 or more.

It's a garden, not a vase.  Plant fewer varieties in multiples of 5 or more--

It’s a garden, not a vase. Plant fewer varieties in multiples of 5 or more–

And I’m finally going to give up on zinnias. I won’t stop loving them, but I will stop trying to grow them. I just don’t have the space or full sun.

What about you? January is a month for planning. How do you plan to improve your garden this year?

Is anything nicer than Autumn sunlight slanting through trees–


My favorite fall camellia heavy with blooms–


This is William Lanier Hunt, a Camellia Forest introduction.


A long awaited honey-do project finally getting done–


Thanks to pals Ivy and Megan for the gate and husband Bill for doing such a splendid job hanging it.

A new bed waiting to be filled–


Our pup Tralee also likes to garden.

A newly arrived bulb order waiting to be planted–


More on this mass of bulbs in a later post. I’m in a hurry to finish writing and go enjoy the sunshine.

Fall is the best season in the South, time to get back to the garden and all its pleasures (including the garden blog in my case–sorry for my long absence).

How are you celebrating the season?

This is the first year I tried to grow Kale.  I wrote about planting this fine Kale in my post: The Great Fall Garden Transformation, but little did I know what joy this wonder plant would give me.

Kale - Super Food, super easy to grow. You should grow that

Kale – Super Food, super easy to grow. You should grow that

There is a Kale craze sweeping the nation and for good reason.  This super food is packed with nutrition – some even call it a plant healer.

Consider all these amazing traits:

  • 9 essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within the human body—-histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine (not unlike how the protein in meat works)
  • 1 gram of fiber per serving
  • 3-1 carb-to-protein ratio — complex carbohydrate at that
  • 9 other non-essential amino acids—making a whopping 18 total
  • Omega 3 – although it is considered a fat-free food
  • Vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin (good for sunblock, eye sight), Vitamin C
  • Calcium – which is actually absorbed 25%  better than whole cow milk in kale form
  • And to balance all that calcium, it also contains magnesium to keep it in check
  • Anticancer compounds, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbino are packed in too
Picking Kale from my garden

Picking Kale from my garden

Kale is a part of the cabbage family but it is a little on the wild side.  Blog partner Chris, would love this description of Kale -the  “hippie” member of the cabbage family.

Growing it is super all you brown thumb nay-sayers...even you can do it. All you need is soil – in a bed or pot – fertilizer, a kale transplant (when putting them in the ground I prefer transplant to seed, but if you wanted to grow seeds inside and then transplant that would work). Some sunlight and water – I only watered the first day I planted – nature did the rest.  Voila – Rockin’ Kale.

By now you are on board and ready to dive into eating a “whole mess” of Kale – but how you wonder?

Here is an amazing “How To” video from one of my favorite organizations – America’s Test Kitchen.

Microwave Kale Chips

I made them for my Thanksgiving feast and what a hit. Light and airy, comparable to super bad potato chips. Yum!

Enjoy the recipe! Thanks so much for reading our blog.  On this day, I am thankful for all of you and my new love -Kale.

Happy Gardening & Kale Experimenting


Annuals, especially hard to find annuals often get overlooked by gardeners. Some people write them off as common, others think they’re too much trouble–

But there are so many annuals I NEVER want to garden without.

At the top of that list:
Manaos Beauty aka Brazilian Button Flower aka Centratherum Intermedium. A perennial in it’s native country, here in Wake County NC it’s tender and needs to replanted in the spring.

Even the leaves are pretty–

And the button-like buds and flowers rock the front of the border from mid-summer to frost.


I first saw this plant at he famous Montrose Garden in Hillsborough. Fortunately I was able to find seed at my favorite source for hard to find and old fashioned annuals, The Fragrant Path.

Annuals like Manaos Beauty are the reason I usually have lots of flowers in the garden. What about you? What are your workhorse plants?

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

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