Ellen’s Blog

2018 Gardening Course Schedule (final) Register now!

2018 Gardening Course Schedule (final) Register now!

Hello Everyone, I'm so excited about this year's gardening classes!   We will be in some of the very best gardens in Greensboro.  It will be a blast exploring them and learning from the successes and failures of the most knowledgeable gardeners around. Here is the final edition of the 2018 Gardening Course Schedule: 2018 Course Schedule Registration information is below and also at the bottom of the schedule.  This is a printable document.  Classes start March 11th!   Please register soon as I anticipate that these will fill quickly. (I may add more one date to each course if there...

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2018 Gardening Course Schedule!

Hello my Fellow Gardening Enthusiasts, Have you missed me just a little bit?  I have missed you! MY GARDENING CLASSES ARE BACK ON FOR  2018!  The first draft of the 2018 Course Schedule is here:  2018 Course Schedule   It is a program of nine 2-hour Courses. The fee is $295 per student.  Classes will not be offered separately.  (Sorry, I won't have time for the extra bookkeeping.) I sold my home and gardens last July so each gardening class will be held in a different local garden this year.  How EXCITING is that?!  Now in my classes, you will be exploring beautiful gardens...

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Screening Plants

The dozers have been working for 4 days to clear leggy pines, dead trees, poison ivy, honeysuckle vines and ancient barbed wire fences to make room for our new house.  There will be still more underbrush to clean up when they leave, but already the clearing has left our 4 acres quite exposed, with more road noise and less privacy.  As soon as the back hoes and dozers are out of the way, I will be desperate to get some large plantings in the ground. But what to plant? What will be of substantial size, mostly evergreen, super drought tolerant, deer resistant, tough enough to stand up to strong...

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At the Cusp of a New Year; a Winter Perspective

It was no surprise to NC Triad gardeners that 2016 set world records (again) for the warmest year ever.  It was a HOT one and our NC Piedmont summer seemed to last forever! Our first frost in Summerfield did not come until mid-November, a month later than average, but by November I was grateful for the mild temperatures. If there was ever something to renew your spirit after a fierce political season, it is the beauty of nature. I harvested the last ripe figs on November 8th.  My “Bloomathon” azaleas were still gorgeous. Camellias had begun to bloom even as my summer annuals were still...

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The Magic of Summer Bulbs

The Magic of Summer Bulbs

I have been so happy in my garden this spring that I could not bear to sit at my desk any longer than to handle the most urgent necessities.  Surely you missed me!!  Now at the summer solstice with 90 degree temps upon us, it feels good to be inside chilling out and taking time for a bit of reflection. Perhaps my favorite surprises over the past couple of months have been the bulbs I planted last fall. For many springs seasons, as soon as the last azalea and rhododendron blooms had faded, my garden turned a quiet monochromatic green.  Yes, green is still a color and May did offer offer rose...

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Asparagus!

What vegetable can you plant once and enjoy eating for 20 years?  Yes, Asparagus! If you love asparagus, planting your own is a pretty darn good investment!  I harvest crisp, delicious asparagus spears for 2 months in spring, and  then let the bed turn into a mass of beautiful ferns over summer to rejuvenate the plant for next spring’s harvest. Here it is in June after a morning of heavy dew on the mass of 6’ tall ferns.  I like using the etherial summer foliage in flower arrangements. Asparagus is super easy to grow as long as you give it the right home.  It needs a permanent...

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Pruning: “Crape Murder” or “Ugly Myrtle”?

Pruning: “Crape Murder” or “Ugly Myrtle”?

Although you may have heard the term “Crape Murder” used to describe the ruthless way many gardeners and landscapers prune their crape myrtles, the truth is that we rarely kill them with bad pruning practices - we just make them really UGLY. Crape myrtles bloom on new wood.  That much is true. The fallacy is that they must be topped, cut back or otherwise severely man-handled so that they produce more blooms.  This cannot be further from the truth.  In fact the fastest way to ruin the naturally elegant shape of a crape myrtle is to top it. My “Tonto” red crape myrtle has never...

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Green & Growin’ Show Jan 14th

For plant growers and nurseymen across the southeast, this week’s North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association’s (NCNLA)  “Green & Growin’ Show” is the event of the year.  It starts at the Sheraton hotel with 3 days of educational classes and workshops which helps professionals keep their licenses and certifications. Afterwards there are 2 trade show days, Jan 14th (9am-5pm) and Jan 15th (9am-3pm), at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.  Although these events are geared toward the wholesale nursery industry, ANYONE can attend the Trade Show at the daily non-member...

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Seed Catalogs! What to order now?

Seed Catalogs! What to order now?

It is that time of year when seed catalogs start filling my mailbox.  When the weather drops to freezing outside and the rain is coming down, I sit inside with a hot cup of tea and comb through page after page of beautiful photos planning what to add to my garden come spring.  What?  No catalogs? You can find everything online now and I’ll tell you where to look. Of course I have tried-and-true favorite seeds, many of which I save every year from open pollinated plants, but I always have to try a few new things each year.  Here is what is arriving in my mail now: Benary’s Giant Zinnia...

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Creating a new garden – Zero to Gorgeous in 90 days

Creating a new garden – Zero to Gorgeous in 90 days

Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes to give you a fresh look at your landscape. It was a friend and gardener who pointed out an unattractive triangle of lawn near the house that I passed every time I drove in.  It led to my lovely “Zen” garden, a shady area I had groomed for years.  This non-irrigated, not-so-healthy lawn that baked to a dull tan in the summer, added no beauty. My friend suggested replacing lawn with some tough ground covers, but it was a big an area (50’ x 35’ on the longest sides) and ground covers alone could be as boring as grass.  But never the less, his suggestion...

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