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If you read my post about my summer from hell and how the garden got me back in the game of life, this is sort of a follow up. Today would have been my friend Susie Steiner’s birthday.

Those bulbs co-blogger Chris made me buy and plant — well, I bought some called Susie.  I needed to do something after she passed.  Since I didn’t live in her hometown and couldn’t go to the private funeral. I needed some way to create closure. I learned through this process that funerals are not for the dead, they are for the living.  They are for the support from others. They are a way to come to grips of a new realty without someone.  I always thought I wouldn’t have a funeral.  I didn’t want the attention. But now I see the real purpose…

Anyway, when a funeral is not an option for whatever reason, you need a way to accept, remember and move on.


I chose a daffodil.  They are one of my favorite plants.  They are special because they don’t grow just anyway…they don’t grow in California as I have noted before.  <Strike another win for NC.> To me they SCREAM spring, life and hope.


This daffodil I picked is BOLD, vibrant and confident just like its namesake, Susie.  I sawit now blooming around my graden during early spring and it reminded of all my amazing memories with her.

In loving memory my friend!



So what does that mean…a fragrance hug.  Well, I have a patch of hyacinths right outside my front door.  This time of year, every time I walk outside to go for a run, check the mail, even take out my recycling and garbage, I am consumed by the fragrance of these little spring wonders.  It is really like a hug.  And don’t we all deserve a hug once in a while?

So the hyacinths outside my front door I planted 3 years ago and they are the first ones to pop up this time of year.  Which is a lesson I learned.  It does take a few years for plants to get established.  The ones I planted this fall during my bulb bonanza…they are just peeping through.  I planted them in a place where I could walk into that fragrance hug, along my path in my back yard and right next to my deck where I hang out on sunny days.  It is best to put your fragrant flowers where you will actually be able to smell them.

So put on your list this fall to plant hyacinth bulbs.  You deserve a  hug and a fragrance hug smells so sweet.

Happy Gardening!


You should go to these…  Here are some spring garden events you might enjoy.  I never know when these types of events occur, until after, it seems.  So mark your calendar now. Maybe I will see you at one!

Here are some garden events around the Triangle for March:

Spring Pruning
March 18, 1pm-4pm

Some plants simply must be rehabilitated occasionally through skillful pruning. Instructor Jonathan Smith, of Bright Leaf Landscaping, will demonstrate several pruning techniques to help you manage plants in your home garden.  $20/members, $25/non-members. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 426 Anderson St., Durham. 919-668-1707. (

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture
March 18, 7:30pm

Big, Bold, and Bodacious-Creating a Lush Tropical Feel in a Temperate Garden, by Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens. Free/members & NC State students and Horticultural Science faculty and staff. $5/non-members-others. JC Raulston Arboretum, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh. 919-513-7005. (

Camellia Forest Nursery Spring Open House

March 19-21, 9-5pm F, S, and 1-5pm Sun.

Visit the blooming camellia. 620 HWY 54 West, Chapel Hill, NC

Nature for Sprouts: Birds, Birds, Birds
March 19, 10:30am-11:30am

Find out what makes a bird a bird. Go on a bird-watching walk and discover how birds behave. Make a bird feeder for your garden. For children aged 3 to 5. Children must be accompanied by an adult. $6 per child. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 426 Anderson St., Durham. 919-668-1708. (

Birding with the Beardens – Neuse River Forest
March 20, 9am

Greet spring with a birding excursion along the Neuse River in Johnston County. Grab your binoculars and join birders Karen and Joe Bearden as they explore a portion of the Neuse-Clayton Forest natural heritage area placed under a conservation easement last year by the Triangle Land Conservancy. Look for returning spring migrants and possibly a few lingering winter species.  Details at

Expert Answers to Your Rose Growing Questions – Open Q&A.
March 20, 10am

Class at Witherspoon Rose Culture. Free. Durham. 800-643-0315.

Carol Stein’s Gardeners Forum “Vegetable Gardening”
March 20, 11am

Learn the steps to grow your own vegetables and make good on your resolution to eat homegrown and healthier this year.  Free, registration requested.
The Garden Hut, 1004 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina. 919-552-0590. (

Signs of Spring Family Hike
March 20, 1pm-2pm

Celebrate Spring Equinox exploring the gardens and trails for signs that the natural world is waking from its winter slumber. We’ll learn some spring facts and folklore, then search for singing frogs, salamander eggs, budding trees, wildflowers, and more. $10/members-family, $15/non-members-family. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill. 919-962-0522. (

Blooming Shade
March 20, 1:30pm-4pm

You don’t have to sacrifice color for plants that thrive and bloom in shade. Special considerations for planting around and under trees will also be discussed. $30. Swiftbrook Gardens, Raleigh. (919) 828-2015 or

Healthy Gardening: Taking Good Care of Your Body
March 20, 2:00pm-3:30pm

Learn how to be good to your body while you garden! This free workshop focuses on key concepts of body mechanics with multiple gardening examples, proper use of tools and ergonomic features/options, and common gardening injuries and how to avoid them. Jean Genova has a doctorate in physical therapy and is nationally certified as both an orthopaedic specialist and athletic trainer. Free. Call to register. 919-962-0522.

Attracting Bees and Butterflies to Your Garden
March 21, 2pm-4pm

Curious about how to attract more bees and butterflies to your garden? Come learn what makes bees, butterflies and other insects beneficial pollinators in our landscape and what specific plants provide nourishment and protection during each stage of their life cycle. Durham County Master Gardeners Gene Carlone and Faye McNaull will also include tips and perspectives on the proper use of herbicides and insecticides in the gardens and lawns that we share with these valuable creatures. Free, registration required. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 426 Anderson St., Durham. 919-668-1707. (

Yoga at the Garden
March 21, Sunday 3:30–4:45 pm

Enjoy the benefits of a mindful yoga practice—emphasizing restoration & relaxation— in the Growing Classroom of the Education Center. Perfect for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. Bring your yoga mat if you have one; a limited number of mats will be available. Per-session fee: $5/members, $10/non-members. 919-962-0522. (

Birdhouses on Parade
March 21- April 11

The Carolina Inn celebrates the spring with a display of over 80 unique, one-of-a-kind birdhouses crafted by North Carolina artists and a series of spring-themed events including afternoon teas, luncheons, and historic tours. The Carolina Inn, 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill. 919-918-2711. (

Meeting the Challenges of Climate & Weather in Changing Times
March 27, 10am

Class at Witherspoon Rose Culture. Free. Durham. 800-643-0315.

Color in the Garden
March 25, 7pm-9pm

All of us perceive colors a little bit differently from others. That makes color both interesting and useful in the garden. Jan Little, the Gardens’ director of education and public programs, will outline some basic strategies to use color as reinforcement for other garden goals. Then she will show some applications that will help you make the best use of color given your particular site situation. $10/members, $15/non-members. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 426 Anderson St., Durham. 919-668-1707. (

Nature for Sprouts: Tree Home
March 26, 10:30am-11:30am

Who lives in a tree? Discover what creatures make a home in a tree. Look closely at trees to see who lives there, find out the parts of a tree, and make a bark-rubbing. Make an owl puppet and a tree home in a bag. For children aged 3 to 5. Children must be accompanied by an adult. $6 per child. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 426 Anderson St., Durham. 919-668-1708. (

Japanese Tea Gathering
March 27, 1pm-4pm

Enjoy a traditional Japanese tea gathering and tea tasting to celebrate the early bloom of Japanese cherries. The event will take place rain or shine. But if the weather is nice, there’ll be an additional guided stroll through the serene Culberson Asiatic Arboretum and the new Durham-Toyama Sister Cities Pavilion on the hillside above the Teien-oike Lake. You’ll also see a display of Ikebana and Bonsai exhibits in the Doris Duke Center, where the event begins. $15/members, $20/non-members. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 426 Anderson St., Durham. 919-668-1707. (

Inviting Native Plants
March 27, 1:30pm-4pm

Identifying and encouraging native plants in your garden or natural areas benefits wildlife and your garden. Learn to identify some Piedmont native plants and learn how to recognize and control invasive exotic plants. $30. Swiftbrook Gardens, Raleigh. (919) 828-2015 or

NC Native Plant Society: Signs of Spring
March 28, 2pm

Join Carol Ann McCormick, Asst. Curator of the University of North Carolina Herbarium, for a walk at TLC’s Horton Grove Preserve in northern Durham County. Slated to become the newest TLC preserve, this outing, organized and hosted by the NC Native Plant Society, is a great opportunity to see the land before it is made accessible to the general public. The walk will be off trail, along streams and on moderately steep slopes, so wear sturdy shoes. Details at

Natural Egg-Dyeing
March 28, 2:00pm-3:30pm

Learn how to dye Easter eggs naturally! It’s fun and easy to use fruits, spices, and more to create beautiful colors. Please bring hard-boiled eggs (up to a dozen) and wear clothes you don’t mind getting colorful. $20/members (child+adult), $25/non-members (child+adult). North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill. 919-962-0522, (

Remember, field trips are always fun and insprirational.

Happy Gardening!


If you lust after plants the way I do, you need to grow seeds. 

  • It’s the only way to try plants  that  never show up in  local garden centers or nursery catalogs. 
  • Seeds are generally cheap.  The risk is small–the reward potentially wonderful, making it easy to experiment.   
  • And seeds create bounty.  They come in packages of 20, 50, 100 which means plants to share with friends.   (Sharing  is one of gardening’s great joys)

Every year since I’ve had a home of my own, I’ve put together a  January seed order.  Even before we had this house, the woods, the gardens, I ordered seeds to grow in pots on our thrid floor balcony. 

And if I should ever have to leave this house and go to the old gardeners’ home, I pray I can still  order my seeds.  They are one of life’s miracles, the very essence of spring, and a reason to jump out of bed in the morning and see what’s new.

I have three favorite seed sources–

Pinetree Garden Seeds ( A little company in Maine that sells small seed packs geared to  home gardeners.  They are value-priced.  Most varieties are under two dollars.  Pinetree has a mind-boggling  selection–including international vegetables, and more than 10  kinds of basil, alone.  I always order their sugar snap peas, Swiss chard, kale, and leeks from my spring garden.  For Summer, Sweet Chelsea tomatoes, Italian basils and beans, Mexican peppers.  Their General Lee cucumbers do really well for me.   Check out their flowers too. And If you’ve never tried Cleome, order some and rake it into a flower bed after last frost. 

Many of the wonderful flowers in my garden come from  I direct sow their dark, blue larkspur, California and Shirley poppies.  My woods are full of their white and purple honesty every spring.  The Fragrant Path is a mom and pop shop with great  products and  prices.  I admire and adore their mission–preserving heirloom plants and flowers.

And finally, It wouldn’t be summer without tomatoes and I grow mine from seed.   Totally Tomatoes has the best selection of  I’ve ever  found.  Anything in their Goliath line is a winner.  “Best tomato I’ve ever grown,” said my friend Robert who grew up on a Wilson County farm.   I grow their Goliath, Italian Goliath and Old-fashioned Goliath.   And I always order something new.  That’s the cool thing about seeds, remember?  You can always afford to experiment.

Photo:  Tiny now, but they’ll make a big splash in May– Larkspur resents transplaning so I rake $2  seeds into the flower bed every fall. 

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

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