Wednesday, August 28, 2013

September Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

Sustainable roses are the focus of a
Durham Co. Master Gardener program
offered Sept. 8.
NC Botanical Gardens
Location: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

UNC Herbarium Open House
September 14, 10 – 1 p.m.
Meet Herbarium staff, students, and volunteers. Learn about new projects and the many ways the internet and alliances with other institutions have made the collections accessible. Check out the new/old Harvard herbarium cases on the first floor of Coker. Get the scoop on molecular systematics, internships, and forthcoming floras. If you are an alum of the Botany Department at UNC, bring your own favorite herbarium stories to share! There is no charge to attend, but we do need to know that you are coming!

Floras and Herbaria: New Riffs on an Old Theme
September 14, 4:00 p.m.
How does a major work like The Flora of Virginia evolve from being the dream of southeastern field scientists to a major published reference? What’s on the horizon for future taxonomic manuals? Author and Curator of the UNC Herbarium Alan Weakley will answer these questions and share details about the upcoming “Mobile Flora App,” citizen science opportunities, Herbarium collaborations, and more. After the talk, enjoy refreshments (courtesy of Sally Couch Vilas) and invite Alan to sign your copy of the Flora! Registration is free.

Sculpture in the Garden: Preview Party 2013
September 20, 5-7:30 p.m.
The 25th Sculpture in the Garden Preview Event NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill September 20, 2013, 5pm – 7:30pm, $35.00 Enjoy the opportunity to meet the artists, review their work and make early purchases, while sampling delicious hors d’oeuvres and beverages. The juror for this special 25th anniversary year of our annual sculpture exhibition is Steve Litt, art and architecture critic for Cleveland's 'Plain Dealer' (formerly of the Raleigh 'News and Observer').

Sculpture in the Garden: A Sculptor’s Perspective
September 22, 3-4:00 p.m.
Join sculptor Tinka Jordy for a 1-hour walk-and-talk of the 25th Sculpture in the Garden exhibition. Tinka has been working as a professional artist for 35 years and her work is exhibited and collected internationally. Tinka was honored at the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s 21st Sculpture in the Garden show with a Best in Show award for her figurative stoneware sculpture, “Balance.” She is a board member of the Hillsborough Arts Council. Free, but advance registration required.

Rethinking “Nature-deficit Disorder” & Environmental Education
September 26, 12- 1 p.m.
Join us for this lunchtime lecture that examines and critiques ‘‘nature-deficit disorder’’ (NDD), Richard Louv’s popular theory of how and why children are alienated from nature. We will explore NDD within the context of one North Carolina forest environmental education program that aligns with and uses Louv’s message. Underlying Louv’s message is a cultural assumption about human-nature relationships that relies on a “fall-recovery narrative” (that children are separated from nature and must return) and which promotes science and naming as ways to reconnect youth to nature. This presentation explores how NDD may be a problematic environmental message that obscures the problem. Dr. Dickinson’s social scientific research explores the relationship between culture, nature, communication, and environmental education.

Fall Color: Where, Why, When, and Wow!
September 30, 2:30-4 p.m.
We are blessed in Eastern North America with a dazzling array of fall colors. This phenomenon represents an interesting interplay of chemistry, physiology, genetics, weather, and the general environment. Johnny Randall explores these color change factors and the biogeography of where and why certain regions of the Earth have a particularly recognizable fall color variation in their flora whereas others do not. He will also speculate on the co-evolutionary relationship between plants and humans in what might be called “the burning bush effect.” Fee: $15 ($10 NCBG members).

JC Raulston Arboretum
Location: Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture
September 5, 7:30-9 p.m.
"It's the Soil, Stupid—Understanding and Unlocking the Amazing Secrets of the Soil"
Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Plantsmen's Tour: "Winning Combinations"
September 10, 1-2:30 p.m.
Plants with great texture, color, and form are all important elements in the garden but they don't stand alone. Join us for a look at some pairings and combinations of plants that we think work especially well in the late summer garden.
Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St Durham, NC 27708  Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Terraces and Perennial Gardens: Color and Plant Combinations
September 5, 9-11:00 a.m.
Each season brings change in these gardens, with new perennials, seasonal plantings, foliage and tropical plants. Learn from curator Michael Owens and horticulturist Jan Watson about their method of planning plant combinations and how you can do the same in your home garden. Meet at the Doris Duke Center. Participant limit: 15. $7; $5 Gardens members and Duke students/staff. Pre-registration required. Parking fees apply. Information/registration: 919-668-1707.

Sustainable Roses in the Garden
September 8, 2-4 p.m.
Novice and seasoned gardeners can learn more about growing roses sustainably in this information session, presented by Master Gardeners of Durham County. Sponsored in partnership with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service: Durham County Center. Location: Doris Duke Center. Free. Registration required. Parking fees apply. Information/registration: 919-668-1707.

Plants of Distinction: Gorgeous Grasses
September 10, 2:30–4 p.m.
$7; $5 Gardens members & Duke students/staff. Discount for all four available. Learn about spectacular plants that offer both beauty and functionality with Historic Gardens curator Mike Owens. Please note this is the first of four programs. You may sign up separately for each session to learn about a new group of beautiful and useful plants, or take all four sections. Meet at the Doris Duke Center. Participant limit: 15. Horticulture Certificate elective course. Information/registration: 919-668-1707.
Introduction to Vegetable Gardening: Fall
September 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
$85; $70 Gardens members & Duke students/staff.. Enjoy a late autumn harvest from your vegetable garden. Instructor Andy Currin, Duke University's campus horticulturist, will discuss root crops, salad plantings and other cool-season crops. You will also learn how to prepare for winter and build the capacity of your garden with cover crops and organic methods to feed your soil. Class meets three Tuesdays and one Saturday to include indoor discussion and outdoor practice in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden. Class textbook included for those beginning this series. Location: Doris Duke Center. Participant limit: 15. Information/registration: 919-668-1707.

Durham Garden Forum
Meetings are held at Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Tuesday Evenings from 6:30-8:00p.m.
Membership is $25 for the year (which runs April – March) or each lecture is $10. No preregistration is required. Contact information is

Ornamental Grasses
September 17, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

NC Extension Gardener Seminars:
Complete program information at Registration required. Programs are free.

Durham Gardening Basics
September 22, 3-4 p.m.
East Regional Library, 919-560-0203

Urban Trees
September 29, 3-4 p.m.
North Regional Library, 919-560-0231

Dig Divide and Share
September 29, 3-4 p.m.
South Regional Library, 919-560-7409

Invasion of the Weeds! 2013 rain accumulation noted for exceptional growth throughout eastern US

It's not your imagination. Weeds are bigger and badder this year than ever. See full article:

UNC Herbarium and "Flora of Virginia" Book Celebration: Sept 14-15

Image of Dionaea muscipula Ellis
 from the UNC Herbarium.
NC Botanical Gardens are hosting three special events to celebrate recent accomplishments of the UNC Herbarium, including the landmark publication of the Flora of Virginia

  • On Saturday, Sept. 14 from 10 - 1 p.m. the Herbarium will host an open house.
  • From 4 - 5:30 p.m. will be a lecture, “Floras and Herbaria—New Riffs on an Old Theme.” Author and Curator of the UNC Herbarium Alan Weakley will answer  questions and share details about the upcoming "Mobile Flora App," citizen science opportunities, Herbarium collaborations, and more. After the talk, enjoy refreshments and invite Alan to sign your copy of the Flora!
  • On Sunday, Sept. 15 from 9-1 p.m. will be a local field trip to Picture Creek Diabase Barren.
Registration is free of charge, and can be accessed through the UNC Herbarium website:


On June 18, 2000, the Southeast's premier herbarium, the UNC Chapel Hill Herbarium, officially became a part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden. The facility, used by students, botanists, taxonomists and other professionals from across the Southeast and the nation, currently contains over 750,000 specimens. Though some specimens in the collection date back to 1835, it was actually founded in 1908, residing in Davie Hall from that year until 1957 and then moving to Coker Hall. In 1998, the Herbarium celebrated its 90th birthday with a gala in the banquet hall of UNC's Morehead Planetarium.

Architectural plans are being formulated for a facility to house the Herbarium on Botanical Garden grounds next to the Education Center.

What is an Herbarium?

An herbarium is a museum collection of plant specimens and associated label and research data. Herbaria are the fundamental documentation of plant diversity.

The herbarium specimen is the unit of botanical knowledge. The herbarium is the only authentic source of identification of plants and their present and past distribution. It helps us understand the changing landscape. It is the court of last resort for plant identification and distribution, including:
  • New weeds and their spread.
  • Plants poisonous to people, livestock and pets.
  • Hay fever plants.
  • Blooming and fruiting times.
  • Medicinal plants and North Carolina as a resource for these plants.
  • The historical distribution of endangered plants.
  • Wildflowers and trees.
  • Plants of state parks; national parks, seashores and riverways; wildlife refuges.
Such information is crucial to those interested in planning North Carolina's future as our state and region continue their fast-paced development.

Facts about the UNC Herbarium?

The UNC Herbarium, founded in 1908 by Dr. William Chambers Coker . . .
  • Includes more than 750,000 labeled museum specimens of plants, algae, fungi and fossils
  • Spearheads the identification, distribution and history of plants in our diverse State
  • Is the largest collection in the Southeast
  • Was designated one of 25 National Resource Centers and one of 105 National Resource Collections by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Was ranked third among university collections by NSF
  • Has supported publication of 24 major works and hundreds of research papers
  • Holds over 150 years of botanical observation and the work of hundreds of collectors and botanists are documented in the Herbarium
  • Is a rich archive of field notebooks, maps, photographs and illustrations
  • Serves all 16 campuses of UNC and a wide array of other institutions and users
  • Has supported the education of hundreds of students, both at UNC and elsewhere
Today, this wealth of information is available, not only in the collection but through the UNC Herbarium website, where specimens may be inspected by students, educators, scientists from around the world, government agency representatives, and the general public.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cankerworm Management Workshop: How to Prevent Them for 2014!

Protect your trees and woody ornamentals from these pests.
If your trees look like green Swiss cheese from the infestation of “inchworms” that devoured them this Spring, then consider attending a free workshop on cankerworm management. 

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m. at the Cooperative Extension Agriculture Building located at 721 Foster Street, Durham, NC 27701. 

This workshop is designed to show you how to manage Spring cankerworms (Paleacrita vernata) in the Fall to prevent their damage later in Spring. A limited number of workshop kits will be distributed first come first serve to attendees. The kits will not include Tanglefoot or duck tape, but will have a list of suppliers who carry them for sale.

The workshop is sponsored by the City of Durham – Urban Forestry Division, Keep Durham Beautiful, Durham County, and Durham Cooperative Extension.  To register, please email:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Journalist, Gardener, Foodie or All Three? Author Michael Pollan’s “Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education”

Author Michael Pollan examines many aspects
 of growing plants and their impact on society.
In his articles and in best-selling books such as “The Botany of Desire” and “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Michael Pollan has established himself as one of our most important and beloved writers on modern man’s place in the natural world.
A new literary classic, “Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education” has become a manifesto not just for gardeners but for environmentalists everywhere. “As delicious a meditation on one man’s relationships with the Earth as any you are likely to come upon” (The New York Times Book Review), “Second Nature” captures the rhythms of our everyday engagement with the outdoors in all its glory and exasperation.
With chapters ranging from a reconsideration of the Great American Lawn, a dispatch from one man’s war with a woodchuck, to an essay about the sexual politics of roses, Pollan has created a passionate and eloquent argument for re-conceiving our relationship with nature.

Tom Stuart-Smith Takes the English Garden Global

 Grass-Roots Effort - A walled garden near a home in Cheshire, England.
 Tom Stuart-Smith envisioned creating a secluded retreat amid an
open landscape. PHOTO: by Marianne Majerus.
By J.S. MARCUS of The Wall Street Journal

British garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith made his name close to home. The winner of eight gold medals and three Best in Show awards at London's annual Chelsea Flower Show—the Oscars of the gardening world—he has counted among his clients Queen Elizabeth II, for whom he designed a garden at Windsor Castle.

Mr. Stuart-Smith, who works out of a studio in inner London's Clerkenwell district, has just finished a spacious walled garden in Cheshire alongside a 19th-century brick house, and a pair of enclosed garden spaces in Norfolk, near the North Sea, complemented by a wild garden between a restored 18th-century farmhouse and fields leading to a beach.

Now, he is taking his sketchpad on the road. He is designing gardens as far afield as northern Wisconsin, where he is creating a landscape for a compound belonging to members of a Midwestern industrial dynasty, and southern India, where he is working with a team of Mumbai architects to create gardens around a cluster of residential buildings in Kerala state.

See full article:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Priceless Queen Elizabeth I portrait examined at NC Elizabethan Gardens, Aug. 18

From The Elizabethan Gardens newsletter
Event: Aug 18 2013, 12- 2:00 p.m.

CNBC "Treasurer Hunters" declared Elizabeth I
portrait an original. Photo courtesy of
The Elizabethan Gardens; Ray Matthews, Photographer.
Artist unknown–but long attributed to the
school of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (ca. 1561/62-1636).
Elizabeth I (1533-1603), oil on oak panels, ca. 1593.
Courtesy of The Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo, NC.) 
Since her taxing moments in the spotlight, involving travel, investigating and prodding the Queen has been resting safe and secure. But The Elizabethan Gardens portrait of Queen Elizabeth I is coming out of storage on August 18 for an up close viewing and discussion.

Purchased over fifty years ago by Ruth Coltrane Cannon a member of The Gardens Board of Governors, this rare depiction of Queen Elizabeth I has recently piqued the interests of historians, art collectors and an investigative prime-time reality program on CNBC called “Treasure Detectives.”
This investigative program determines if something is a fake, forgery or an authentic work. Which is exactly what art historians asked of The Elizabethan Gardens’ unpretentious Queen.

“She’s had a remarkable journey from obscurity to fame,” said Carl V. Curnutte Executive Director of The Gardens. He explained, “We bring her out on special occasions. And what is more special than the birthday celebration of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parentage born to colonists who lived here 426 years ago.”

At the casual lecture, attendees will learn the backstory of the portrait, how it made its way to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and what has become of her come fifty years since her arrival, including recent revelations.

The Elizabethan Gardens’ portrait shows an aging, graceful Queen – completely content with her wrinkles, instead of the youthful queen a court-approved artist would have painted. Royal censors of the day would have rejected the portrait and directed the artist to destroy it. Unless of course, the artist or the Queen Herself hid it from the public.

Ruth Coltrane Cannon, founding member and benefactor of The Gardens purchased the portrait in the 1950’s. Since that time, the portrait has been kept at The Gardens. Curnutte will present research on the remarkable portrait. And try to answer lingering questions about the Queen.

Is this an authentic portrait, dating back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I?
Since unflattering depictions of the Queen were banned during her lifetime, if this work is from the Queen’s era, how did it possibly survive?

Armed with photos and his personal account, Curnutte will take you behind the camera and revisit the filming of CNBC’s “Treasure Detectives” episode that propelled the portrait from obscurity to fame. Curnutte will explore circumstances of the 16th century, and consider what could have influenced an artist to paint such a true-to-life portrait. He will also dive into the contemporary research and technology used to determine the portrait’s age – with consideration of Dr. Larry Tise and the investigative team at East Carolina University that brought to light many details about the portrait.
After the lecture, the portrait returns to safe storage. But what does the future hold for this portrait at The Gardens?

Curnutte is asked this question a lot. But he teases, “You’ll have to come to the talk to hear the answer.”

Come see the Queen’s portrait, enjoy cookies, tea, and learn about the story behind the portraits adventurers in The Elizabethan Gardens’ Odom Hall on August 18 from Noon to 2pm. For more information, contact The Gardens at 252-473-3234 or

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Soil Testing Fees Impacts NC Farmers from December - March

Soil testing is essential before planting healthy vegetables and landscaping!
To obtain the proper equipment and instructions, visit your local NC Cooperative Extension Office. 

Once a free service for all North Carolinians, soil testing now comes with a $4 processing fee if submitted between peak testing months for farmers, historically December through March.

The new soil testing fee is tied to the Appropriations Act of 2013 which contains a provision to implement a soil-testing fee.  The fee was approved by the Board of Agriculture and will be charged for all soil samples processed by the NCDACS Agronomic Division during its busiest season: December through March. (There will still be no fee from April through November.)

Therefore, homeowners who diligently submit soil tests in Spring (such as April) before planting vegetables, or reseeding warm season grasses like Zoysia and Bermuda in June, will not likely incur testing fees. Likewise, soil tests for reseeding Fescue in September are generally submitted in August and would not have testing fees.


v  To improve lab efficiency by encouraging more growers to sample early, thereby fostering a more balanced sample load throughout the year

v  To enhance sustainability of the soil-testing program by generating receipts that will be earmarked for lab improvements, such as automated equipment, additional peak-season personnel and computer-programming enhancements  [The 2013 Appropriations Act ensures that receipts generated by the new fee will be appropriated to NCDA&CS for this purpose for FY 2014 and 2015.]

NOTE:  This year, December 1st falls on a Sunday and is preceded by the Thanksgiving holidays. Wednesday, November 27th, will be the last business day of the month for the soil testing lab. Any soil samples arriving after 6 p.m. on November 27th will be subject to the peak-season fee because they will not be logged in and processed until December 2nd.

Sample drop offs must take place during business hours (6 a.m.–6 p.m., Mon.–Fri.). A locked gate will prevent access to the loading dock area after hours and on weekends. This change will help increase the security of samples and improve customers’ access to Agronomic Division personnel.

Payment should not be placed inside shippers. By late Fall 2013, clients will have the convenience of entering sample and payment (credit card or escrow account) information online in the PALS website.  Cash and checks will be accepted for peak-season samples only if deposited in advance in an escrow account. 


v  The Agronomic Division provides a quality soil-testing service that includes comprehensive chemical soil analyses, site-specific lime and fertilizer recommendations and access to the consulting services of NCDA&CS agronomists.

v  It costs NCDA&CS approximately $3.22 to analyze one sample (based on average expenses 2008–2012), of which about $1 is covered by receipts from the state fertilizer inspection fee and lime tonnage tax.

v  For a typical 8-acre field in eastern North Carolina, we estimate that the peak-season fee will cost between $4 and $16, depending upon the intensity of the sampling protocol.

v  Most North Carolina growers submit fewer than 50 samples per year according to 2010 data.

v  Of the approximately 350,000 samples typically received each year, nearly 60 percent are analyzed from December through March, with turnaround times of up to 9 weeks.

v  The vast majority of soil samples analyzed during the winter months are from farms in preparation for spring planting. Most of these samples can be collected and submitted well before December 1st, thus avoiding the fee. Nearly all soil samples associated with home & garden and landscaping projects can be collected and submitted from April through November.

v  Clients who desire expedited service during the peak season can purchase NCDA&CS expedited shippers to receive a guaranteed turnaround time of ten business days. A limited number of shippers are sold each year (usually in August or September). The anticipated 2013–14 price for a 36-sample shipper is $200.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Shou Sugi Ban: The Latest Trend in Fence Design

Scorched wood technique makes for "mysterious" garden walls.
Photo by: Hisao Suzuki.
From The Wall Street Journal
August 2, 2013

Transforming backyards, the scorched-wood technique from Japan is catching fire in America

AS A GARDEN DESIGNER, I'm a fan of dark fences. Their color provides an emphatic backdrop for plants, but doesn't compete for attention. Until recently, though, the only ways to achieve a fence in a sophisticated chocolate, gunmetal or charcoal shade were paint (fated to peel) or stain (likely to fade).

No more. The Japanese art of charred wood—known as shou sugi ban—is making inroads in American landscaping. It's believed that the technique's Asian roots date to the 1700s, when the Japanese first started subjecting wood siding to fire as a way to preserve it. The charring protects the timber from sun, wind, water, decay and, yes, fire, greatly extending its life.

Recently, American landscape designers and architects have begun playing with this seemingly pyromaniacal technique when it comes to fences, and loving the results. Charred wood is seductive—its appearance ranging from lightly scorched to something resembling dried prehistoric lava or alligator skin, depending on the degree of burning. When shou-sugi-ban boards are used en masse to surround a garden, the effect is elegantly mysterious.

See full article: