Ellen’s Blog

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

Five Easy Fruits for Every Home Garden

Five Easy Fruits for Every Home Garden

Having been raised by parents of European decent, it is impossible for me to imagine a garden that does not have fruit ripening every summer. I remember climbing our plum trees to eat loads of sweet ripe plums, and watching my brother’s young children dance through his tall berry patch with a fist full of warm blackberries in one hand, and blueberries in the other, so excited and happy, their smiles and clothes purple from the juice.  Refrigerated fruit, irradiated and neatly packaged from the grocery store is just not the same. Many different fruits grow well in our temperate climate – apples,...

Read more...

September Harvest

September Harvest

As many years as I have gardened, I never get over the joy of going out to the garden to see what grew, what ripened, and what I can harvest to bring inside.  Whether it is  beautiful flower or luscious tomato, I am still like a kid finding the chocolate Easter egg.  This was a beautiful July harvest from several years ago. This year I planted a few heirloom (open pollinated) tomatoes, but more hybrid tomatoes.  Regardless of taste, it is just impossible to beat the productivity of hybrid tomatoes.  My 8 tomato plants produced over 150 lbs of tomatoes.  I dried, canned and froze...

Read more...

© 2012 - Learn to Garden | Garden Happy!

website security

  • facebook