Monday, September 30, 2013

October Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

Monticello gardens. Photo by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

NC Botanical Gardens
Location: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

Early Autumn at Mason Farm
Oct. 6, 1- 3:30 p.m.
Spring isn’t the only time of year that Mason Farm Biological Reserve is worth a scenic stroll! Join naturalist Ed Harrison for an in-depth tour of the “old farm trail” that travels through some 260 years of cultural and natural history. Ed will point out early fall wildflowers and others as well as discuss the many positive effects of the Garden’s intense management for both field and forest on the Reserve. Meet at the ncbg Visitor Parking Lot gazebo. Fee: $10 ($5 ncbg members).
Oconee Bells: Emblem of Resiliency in the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment
Oct. 8, 7 - 9 p.m.
Join Patrick McMillan and the Friends of Plant Conservation for a special evening celebrating OCONEE BELLS Emblem of Resiliency In the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment Meet the speakers and join us for refreshments following the program. The Friends of Plant Conservation, NC Plant Conservation Program, and the NC Botanical Garden invite you to an evening with Patrick McMillan and Rob Evans exploring the North Carolina native plant with a 100 year history of mystery and intrigue—Shortia galacifolia var. brevistyla. Patrick will lead us through the unique characteristics of the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment and the role that it appears to have played in serving as a crucible of life through change and how important it may be in the face of changes we see today.
Oct. 20, 2:30 p.m.
Join us for this special free program on a fall Sunday! Peter Hatch will discuss the various themes that defined Thomas Jefferson’s interest in gardening and the natural world, the restoration of the gardens and landscape at Monticello over the last 50 years, and how the fruits, flowers, and vegetables Jefferson cultivated have evolved over the last two centuries. Hatch is the author of “A Rich Spot of Earth”–Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello. This lecture is free but advance registration is required.
Peak of Autumn at Penny’s Bend
Oct. 26, 1 – 4 p.m.
Take a walk through the colorful fall landscape of this remnant 84-acre diabase glade and Piedmont prairie in northwest Durham, surrounded on three sides by the Eno River. Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve, managed by NCBG, encompasses mature forests as well as remnant prairies with numerous regionally rare plants. Late-October/early November is generally the peak of fall color season in the Piedmont. Fee: $10 ($5 ncbg members). Meeting place will be sent to you after registration. Please Note: This hike is about 2 miles in length, and much of it is on uneven terrain. Wear sturdy hiking footwear and carry a walking stick if you use one, as well as water.
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: "Great Gardens and Nature Sites in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia"
Oct. 3, 7:30-9 p.m.
Tim Alderton, Research Technician, and Christopher Todd Glenn, Programs and Education Coordinator
Plantsmen's Tour: "Fall Perennials"
October 8, 1-2:30 p.m.
Tim Alderton, Research Technician

North American Rock Garden Society (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture/Friends of the Arboretum Lecture: “Spring Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge"
October 19, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Tim Alderton, JC Raulston Arboretum

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

Plants of Distinction: Fall Planting in the Vegetable Garden
Oct. 8, 2:30- 4 p.m.
Learn about spectacular plants that offer both beauty and functionality with Jason Holmes, curator, and Lindsey Fleetwood, horticulturist, Doris Duke Center Gardens, Duke Gardens. Please note this is one of four programs in the series. Sign up separately for each session to learn a new group of beautiful and useful plants, or take all four sessions. $7; $5 Gardens members & Duke students/staff. Discount available to register for all four sessions. Information: 919-668-1707. Location: meet at the Doris Duke Center. Participant limit: 15. Horticulture Certificate elective course (1.5 hours each).

Fall Festival in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden
Oct.13, 12-3 p.m.
Autumn fest in the Discovery Garden with activities for the entire family. Drop-in activities, information stations, displays and resources will include a salsa tasting contest, sack races at 1 and 2 p.m., SEEDS with seed bombs and the pollinator game, a plant a seed activity, taste a rainbow, storytime in the garden, Master Gardeners with plant information and advice, the Beekeeping Club of Durham and more. Free admission. No registration required. Parking fees apply. Information: 919-668-1707.

Traditional Japanese Tea Gatherings: Moon-Viewing Tea
Oct.18, 6:45-8:15 p.m.
Enjoy a moment of respite in the Duke Gardens teahouse, where, as a guest to Tea, you will experience the warmth of a traditional Japanese tea gathering. Enjoy the aesthetics, poetry, and serenity of this rich tradition over an enticing bowl of whisked green tea and a Japanese confection. Guests will meet at the Doris Duke Center to be escorted to the teahouse for these intimate gatherings. Information/registration: 919-668-1707. Participant limit: 10. Location: Meet at the Doris Duke Center. $40; $30 Gardens members and Duke students/staff.

Dried arrangements are made for autumn tables!
Seasonal Floral Design at the Gardens: Halloween Parallel or Round Design
Oct.19, 10-12:30 p.m.
Each participant will work with Theo Roddy, floral designer, and create an individual flower arrangement in each class; no cookie-cutter designs here! You will sharpen your design skills, learn of resources to purchase flowers, use flowers from your own garden and create a seasonal floral design. Students supply flowers (fresh or silk), a container, and tools. A supply list and more information will be provided prior to each class. All other materials will be supplied in class. This is the second of four sessions, register for one or for all. $50; $40 Gardens members & Duke students/staff. Discount available if registering for all four classes. Information/registration: 919-668-1707. Location: Sarah P. Duke Gardens greenhouse classroom. Participant limit: 20 (minimum 6).

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

New and Unusual Plants
Tue, October 15, 2013, 6:30-8 p.m.
Join Tony Avent, of Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, to learn about some fantastic new plants.

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

The Buzz About Bees
Oct. 13, 3-4 p.m.
South Regional Library, 919.560.7409

Gardening with Native Plants
Oct. 20, 3-4 p.m.
North Regional Library, 919.560.0231

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

GCNC District 9 Annual Meeting: "Inspired and Going Native"

The GCNC District 9 Annual Meeting “Inspired and Going Native” will be held Thursday, October 17, 2013, from 9-2:00 p.m. (or longer if you want to stay for a tour of the gardens!) at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, Chapel Hill, NC.
The Orange County Garden Club Council will host the meeting. Member garden clubs include: Carrboro GC –  Chapel Hill GC –  Colony Woods GC –  Hillsborough GC.

Guest speaker will be Derek Smith, of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. For the past 22 years Derek has been the Roadside Vegetation Asset Management Engineer for the NCDOT. He also manages landscape design, wetland/stream restoration actives as well as serves as the Statewide Blue Star Memorial Coordinator.

For sale at the meeting there will be Calendars for Scholarships, plants, gift shop goodies, and vendors you can’t resist…
*-*When you go home, you will have the knowledge and tools to make your District 9 Shine.

Heidi Sawyer-Clark
District 9 Director

Vedic Gardens: Morrisville Nursery Serves South Asian Immigrants

Water garden by Vedic Gardens.
Anil Gandhi stands next to a
Tulsi shrine at his nursery, Vedic Gardens.
Photo by Jessica Jones.
When South Asian immigrants to this country get homesick, there’s a good chance they can probably locate an Indian restaurant or grocery store to remind them of home. Finding a place that stocks the plants and trees they grew up with is much harder.
One entrepreneurial immigrant in Morrisville is seeking to change that. Anil Gandhi moved to North Carolina from Mumbai back in 1989, lured by family members and good jobs in the telecom industry. But today he makes a living by selling the plants of his native India. As a sprinkler shoots water over hundreds of exotic-looking items at his nursery, Gandhi strolls over to a small shrine with a leafy herb called Tulsi spilling over the top.
"In India, most of the Hindus family, they have this in their backyard. The ladies they come in the morning and they bring the holy water and they take a circle and they pray to the goddess Tulsi, " says Gandhi.
The Tulsi plant- also known as holy basil- is one of the most popular items for sale at Gandhi’s business, called Vedic Gardens. He opened it three years ago near the Raleigh-Durham airport, after realizing there was a demand in the South Asian community for greenery from back home.
"Now it’s come to a point where it’s getting so popular that every single day I have customers calling from out of state asking me to ship plants, whether it’s a bodhi tree, or holy basil or a curry leaf plant, which is another popular one."
As far as Gandhi knows, his business is the only plant nursery in the country catering to South Asians. He has a steady stream of customers every day, some of whom drive in from neighboring states. Gandhi got started in the landscaping business 12 years ago, after he was laid off from his telecom job. He had always loved gardening, so after much thought he decided to start his own landscaping business for the area’s growing South Asian community.
"So I went to do the landscaping and they would ask can we put a mango tree in our yard, can we put a tamarind here, can we put a banana here, so that prompted me to research more deeper into plants," says Gandhi."
That’s when Gandhi began collecting all the plants he needed from online stores and nurseries so South Asian customers could find everything they wanted in one place. Today, a customer can buy everything from spiky turmeric plants to several varieties of jasmine from India and the Middle East. These days, Gandhi propagates most of his products himself, with the help of seeds he finds on Ebay and in stores. And even though many of his plants are subtropical and need to be brought inside during the winter, he can’t always keep up with customer demand.
On any given day at Vedic Gardens, you’ll find customers wandering through Gandhi’s collection of plants with smiles on their faces. A few years ago, Sudharsan Narva moved here from Connecticut, where he says he never found anything like this. Narva says there’s one thing he always notices every time he visits the nursery. "The smell first thing," says Narva. "I correlate myself with what I used to be long time ago when I was in India, the smell of the tree, the smell of the flowers. So it feels like home, that makes me really happy here."
A few steps away, Sunita Prabu is examining a cluster of graceful curry leaf plants. They’ll eventually grow into small trees. Prabu says it’s important to have a good supply of fresh curry leaves for her Indian home cooking. "This one, if you take the leaves out of the tree fresh, it smells very good, rather than buying it from store, so we thought of like keeping one in our balcony so that we can get fresh leaves whenever we want to cook," says Prabu.
Many of Gandhi’s employees were born and raised here in the U.S. and didn’t know much about Indian culture before. But they’re learning. According to recent census data, twenty percent of Morrisville’s population is originally from South Asia. Amanda Hayter is a native North Carolinian who’s watering a row of holy basil plants by hand. She says she’s happy to be part of this growing business. "It’s definitely working," says Hayter. "I mean you have to think about the area that you’re in and who you’re selling to and be definitely diverse and open to new things. If you don’t you’re just going to fail miserably."
As for Anil Gandhi, as a boy growing up in Mumbai, he never could have imagined he’d end up running an Indian plant nursery in far-off North Carolina. Gandhi says emigrating to the U.S. opened up a whole new world of possibilities. "This is the country that gives you opportunity to do whatever you want to do. And that’s what I’ve learned. Just honesty and hard work can take you way up there, wherever you want to be," says Gandhi. Gandhi says in deciding to open the nursery, he stumbled across his dream job. He says there’s nothing better than growing the plants he loves and sharing them with others.
By Jessica Jones, WUNC.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rethinking Chrysanthemums...

Mixed bouquet of mums. The seemingly uptight fall flower can be loose, lush and sultry.
Photo by Don Freeman.

It's time for the chrysanthemum to shake off its reputation as a stiff, kitschy flower that returns each fall as predictably as Halloween. For those in the know, the mum is a horticultural star with more personalities than the clones in "Orphan Black." The Chinese, who discovered the flower around 500 B.C., quickly figured that out, worshiping it for its decorative beauty and extensive culinary and medicinal uses. The Japanese later elevated it to official status on their emperor's seal. But the plant crossed over into an all-out cult object in the 17th century, when England succumbed to a mad, mums-breeding frenzy.

A form known as 'Irregular Incurve'.
Photo by Don Freeman.
But that was then and this is now. It's hard to really grasp this flower's exquisiteness if all you've seen of it are the sad bunches of rigid, garish, daisy-shaped blooms wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. You probably don't know that its shape ranges so widely that the National Chrysanthemum Society has designated 13 classifications, from the wispy spider to the bodacious pompon. And few people realize that it lasts and lasts as a cut flower (especially if you change the water regularly and give the stems a fresh cut).
"The spiders are the most popular and probably the most otherworldly, with their sea-creature-like form," said Ray Gray, owner of King's Mums in Oregon City, Ore. (, who's cultivated chrysanthemums since 2008 (including those featured at right). To grow your own, purchase small plants from King's Mums in the spring (the online catalog is a dangerously seductive time-suck) and reap the benefits in fall.

Examples of spider mums
(all from King's Mums in Oregon City, Ore.)
Photo by Don Freeman

Florist Lewis Miller of LMD New York, who created these surprisingly sensual arrangements, has long been a fan. "I love mums for so many reasons. They come in infinite color combinations and flower-head sizes, from the giant cushy football mums in shades of rust and burnt yellow to the lacy spiders in the most delicate mauve," said Mr. Miller. "They add fabulous texture to floral arrangements or look great en masse alone. What's not to love?"

By Lindsey Taylor
WSJ - Sept. 13, 2013

The 8th Annual Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, September 21 – 22

Visit 27 Farms Including Six New Farms!
Farms open 1–5 p.m. both days

Whether it is cute animals for the kids, meat, egg and fiber production, veggie and fruit growing, cut flowers and rare trees, mushrooms, bees and honey or urban gardens and farms, we will have something for you — across the eastern, northern and southern sections of the Triangle.

TOUR BROCHURE: Download the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour 2013 Brochure to learn what you can see and do at the 27 fabulous farms on the tour this year!

MAP YOUR ROUTE!:  Plan your tour route using the 2013 Interactive Google Farm Tour Map which lists all the farms and gives you customized driving directions.
DON’T MISS THE WORKSHOPS! Included in the price of your farm tour ticket!

  •   Raising Chickens in your Backyard at SEEDS Educational Garden in Durham on Sept. 21 at 1:15 p.m.
  •   Urban Composting at Raleigh City Farm on Sept. 22 at 1:15 p.m.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back to Business for Town and Country GC...


The Town and Country Garden Club recently held their September business meeting at the beautiful Coppertop Farm in Roxboro, NC. 

The home has been owned by a Club member's family since it was built in 1921. Property features include a Boxwood Parterre and rose garden. Photos by Robin Marin.

Duke Gardens Plant Sale, Sept. 28


Join Duke Gardens for its Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m.-noon.

Shoppers will find an array of plants appropriate for this region, including Duke Garden's plants, trees, shrubs, vines, spring bulbs, decorative plant pots and more. And you can get free gardening advice from staff and Durham Co. Master Gardeners.

Preview sale: Join Friends of Duke Gardens and you may shop at the preview sale from 8-9 a.m. preceding the public sale. Non-members may join on site. Please see our membership page for more information about support levels and benefits.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Early Fall Gardener's Checklist

What to Do In September
Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs.

  • September is a good time to set out landscape plants. Shop early to find the nicest shrubs.
  • When planting containerized plants, try to be certain to disturb or “open up” the plants’ root ball.
  • Set out new chrysanthemum plants this month.
  • Plant pansies to add color to your yard in the autumn, winter and spring months.
  • Groundcovers will become well established if planted now.
  • Transplant any evergreen trees or shrubs that need moving this month.
  • Plant the following fall vegetables in September: mustard, onion, radish and turnip.
  • Do NOT prune shrubs in September or October.
  • Remove “weed” or unnecessary trees from your landscape.
  • Root prune any trees or plants you plan to move next spring.
Aerate your cool season grasses.
  • Spray the following landscape shrubs for the following insect pests: arborvitae, hemlock and juniper(spider mites), azalea and pyracantha (lace bug) and euonymus (scale).
  • Spray for peach tree borer on your nectarine and peach tree trunks.
  • Continue with rose spray program.
  • Keep a close eye on all fall vegetable plants. Insects and diseases are more severe in the autumn.
  • Control the following woody weeds by spraying the recommended herbicide: trumpet creeper, and blackberry.
Lawn Care
  • Tall fescue and bluegrass lawns should be seeded this month. Remember to mulch the newly seeded areas with wheat or barley straw. Keep watered.
  • Fertilize and lime your tall fescue lawns according to soil test results.
  • Do NOT fertilize zoysia now.
  • Homeowners can apply an insecticide for lawn grubs in early September if needed.
  • Spring flowering bulbs can be divided and replanted this month. Daffodils will be the bulbs that most likely need this consideration.
  • Divide peonies.

Specific Chores
  • Clean up garden sprayers and lawn equipment if not in use.
  • Prepare house plants to reenter your home. Check them carefully for insect pests.
  • If you do not have a fall vegetable garden, it is a good time to chop, burn or discard dead vegetable plants.
  • Look for spring flowering bulbs to plant in October.
  • You can get last year’s poinsettia to flower by placing it in total uninterrupted darkness for 15 hours a day, starting the last week of the month and continuing until colored bracts appear. Give them plenty of sunlight during the day.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

JCRA Members are invited to Preorder Plant Sale

Camellia japonica 'Kujaku tsubaki' is one of several cultivars
 offered to JCRA Members in the Plant Sale.
The JC Raulston Arboretum is holding its third annual Members Only Preorder Plant Sale.

JCRA is often asked where we get our new and unusual plants and the answer of course is from a variety of sources, most not available to homeowners. We want to offer you, our members, a chance to purchase some of these outstanding plants for your own gardens as a way to thank you for your support. A few of these plants are already growing here at the JCRA but most are new to us as well and this is your chance to get these plants at the same time as the Arboretum. This is a preorder plant sale only. There will be no on-site sale.  The opportunity to purchase these plants is a membership benefit.  Please do not forward this information, except by way of encouraging friends and family to become Friends of the Arboretum themselves.

A description of each of the plants we're offering, some photographs, an the online order system are available at the URL below.
Proceeds from the plant sale support the JC Raulston Arboretum's General Fund within the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit public charity that supports academics, research, and Extension at or through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at North Carolina State University.

Fall Flowers Add September Color to the Garden

Add some jewel tones to your Fall garden!

Well after the hydrangeas, daylilies and usual summer blossoms have faded, here are some cultivars and varieties to try for keeping a colorful palette in the garden. (Recommended by New York-based garden designer Grace Kennedy for WSJ.)

Lespedeza ‘Avalanche’
Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’
Helianthus ‘Italian White’
Euphorbia paulustris
Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’
Verbascum chaixii
Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’
Zinnia ‘Benary Orange’
Zinnia ‘Envy’
Dahlia ‘Mrs. Eileen’
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Gold’
Agastasche rupestris
Autumn Reds and Purples:
Verbena rigida
Sedum matrona
Calmagrostis brachytricha
Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’
Callicarpa americana (produces berries in Fall)
Verbena bonariensis
Dahlia ‘Karma Chocolate’
Angelica gigas
Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’
Aster ‘Woods Blue’
Zinnia ‘Benary Pink’

DCGC Club of the Year Awards are given for 2012

Durham Council of Garden Clubs awarded three local clubs with the Club of the Year Achievement award and a $50 prize for 1st place in their size division on Tuesday, Sept 3 at the Hill House in Durham. 

PHOTO: (L-R) Jean Gurtner and Pat Cashwell of Heritage GC accepted for Small Club; Connie O’Neil of Croasdaile GC for Midsize Club; and Barbara Yowell of Town and Country GC accepted for the Large Club award.