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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.


When Melissa’s Grandma said, “All I want is iris,” I found myself digging Black Gamecock from a good third of the front bed last night.

LouisianaIrisBlackGamecock_lg

Is this a good time to move Louisiana Iris? Of course not. It’s going to be 90 degrees next week, after all. So if you’re a member of the Iris Society, stop reading RIGHT NOW.

But I am a sucker for grandmas in general–Evelyn in particular (because co-blogger Melissa loves her so much). And Louisiana Iris are about as sturdy as Southern Grandmas. If you cut back the foliage and DON’T confuse them with their surface-loving, bearded cousins, you should be able to move them successfully any time.

What's going into this big hole in the front bed??? Stay tuned.

What’s going into this big hole in the front bed??? Stay tuned.

Plus, I was over Black Gamecock in the front bed. They bloomed well for a few years, but this year, they had spread too far and needed dividing.

The Spring blooms were over and done.

Outta there! I like to move things when the spirit or grandmas move me. What about you? Need any Black Gamecock? I’ve got plenty to share–
outta_there


Before I order my spring seeds, it’s time to toss some old ones.

IMG_2780

Not all of them, of course. Many seeds are viable for years if you store them in a cool dry place–I use a vintage canvas suitcase that fits under a living room bench. But why hold on to the verbascum from 2010, if I have a later crop at hand?

verbascum

Doing a seed inventory also helps me remember what did well last year and what wasn’t worth the space. (Those seeds get tossed in the trash!)

seed-mess

There are two kinds of seeds in my collection: Open-pollenated seeds that I’ve collected from favorite garden plants (mostly flowers), and purchased (mostly hybrid tomato and vegetable) seeds.

It’s an important distinction–just ask anyone who has ever tried growing open-pollenated heirloom tomatoes under less than perfect conditions. It’s really, really tough.

Hybrid tomatoes and vegetables, which have been bred from two or more parents for certain characteristics, do much better at our house.

But hybrids don’t come true from home-collected seed, so I’ll need to get out the credit card.

Which brings us to $$$s…

Seeds may look inexpensive at first glance, but that shopping cart fills up quickly. I try to limit myself to 3 new varieties every season. I usually end up with about 5–

Did I mention growing plants from seed is addictive? Have you gotten hooked yet?


Everyone needs to grow a plant that their grandmother grew–

tiger_lily1

This tiger lily, (Lilium tigrinum)–which traveled from my grandmother’s Kentucky home to my parents’ North Carolina home to my sister’s Virginia home and back to me in Wake County NC– is mine.

tiger_lily2

Like a lot of my favorite plants it has a story that connects to people I know (or knew) and loved.

What about you? What plants from family and childhood do you grow?


seedsave_1Thank goodness! The open paper sacks and cardboard boxes are NOT cluttering up the side porch anymore.   I took advantage of dry weather this week to finish harvesting my flower seeds.  seedsave_bag

When it comes to saving seeds, moisture is the enemy.  I use wide mouth jars–no lids.  Seeds like to be dry and cool.  seedsave_jars

No languishing in the hot garage for these.seedsave_results

No special tools either.  Cut and save seed heads in open bags and boxes.

Later,  I shake them over an old metal pan, then pick out the trash with my fingers.

Pour seeds in a jar and label.    You’ll thank yourself in the spring.

I save poppy seeds, woodland tobacco, mallow, bishops flower, larkspur, hollyhock, wild campanula, evening primrose and celosia.  What about you?

Another plus–seed saving gives me a great sense of continuity.  Already, I’m looking forward to next year.

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

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