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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.


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.


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.


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.


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–

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


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.


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!!

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?

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


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?


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!)


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?

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

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