Sunday, December 27, 2015

Labyrinths Offer Homeowners a Pathway to Peace

It took 5,000 square feet of bluestone to create the labyrinth which is set in lush fescue.
Photo by Dorothy Hong for WSJ.

By Amy Gamerman          

“All I asked for was just a little place to walk the walk,” said Ruth Ann Harnisch, a 65-year-old philanthropist.

What she got—after a massive, two-year earthwork project at her home in New York’s Hamptons—is an 86-foot tripartite path of hand-cut stone, set in lush fescue grass.

It took 5,000 square feet of North River bluestone to create the intricately winding walkway—called a labyrinth—which has 18 looping turns and is encircled by a 300-foot-long fieldstone wall. The pavers were set in dry-pack mortar on top of concrete wire mesh, to hold them in place. An underground irrigation system was installed to keep the grass bright and shaggy.

Thirteen mature Yoshino cherry trees, trucked into the site, ring the labyrinth. In the springtime, they shower its walkways with white blossoms. “It’s magical,” said Bill Harnisch, 69, president and CEO of Peconic Partners, an investment firm.

Labyrinths—circular paths for walking meditation that have been widely adapted by churches, hospitals and retreat centers—are now popping up in upscale American backyards. “There are 3,740 labyrinths in the U.S.—it’s really blossoming,” said Lauren Artress, author of “Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice.” Some are simple, such as the 30-foot spiral of desert stones that Andrew Weil, the physician, author and founder of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, built at his home in Tucson. Other, more lavish walkways evoke the 13th-century labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral in France.

See full article, video and slideshow of labyrinths built around the US at:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Town & Country Garden Club Takes Holiday Tour of Governor's Mansion

Members of the Town & Country Garden Club toured the Raleigh Governor's Mansion
 for their last meeting of 2015. The mansion was decked and trimmed
for the Christmas holidays. Photos by Becky Wood, T&C Garden Club.

Rooms from the Governor's Mansion.
Members of the Town & Country Garden Club of Durham, NC.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015 Poinsettia Project Sets Record Sales

Poinsettias border the VA chapel's piano. Photo by Marcia Loudon.

The Heritage Garden Club of Durham would like to thank all who participated in the annual Poinsettia Project in beautifying the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center chapel for Christmas.

Poinsettia Project sold a record 112 plants! The chapel can accommodate 100 plants, so 20 poinsettias were displayed in the CLC dining room. After the holidays each plant will be gifted to a veteran in residence of the medical center.

Every year, Durham Council Vice-President and Heritage Garden Club member Marcia Loudon makes multiple weekly visits to the chapel to individually water all 100+ poinsettias during the project from Thanksgiving to New Years. Thank you, Marcia, for all of your time, mileage, parking and loving care!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sustainability: How do Insects Survive Winter?

Two soybean aphid eggs laid next to the bud scales of buckthorn.
 Photo by Marlin E. Rice, Iowa State Extension.
From the Currituck County Extension Center

As the days get shorter and cooler in the fall,insects enter into an inactive state of arrested development called diapause. During the winter an insect’s metabolic rate drops to one-tenth or less, so it can use stored body fat to survive. Many insects also produce alcohols that act like antifreeze. These insects’ bodies can reach below-freezing temperatures without forming cell-damaging ice crystals. In the spring, as temperatures rise, diapause is terminated and insect growth and development return to normal.

Even with all of these adaptations, extreme cold and temperature fluctuations can indeed affect insect survival depending on how low the temperature dropped, how long the cold persisted, and if snow cover was present. Other factors to consider are microclimates and how protected insects are in their hiding places. So where do insects hide during the winter?

Insects spend winter in various life stages. Aphids overwinter as eggs laid in the bud scales of woody plants. Bagworm eggs are safely tucked away inside a bag. Tent caterpillar eggs can be found in a mass on branches. Bean leaf beetles spend winter as adults under loose bark or fallen leaves. Lady bugs congregate under firewood. Japanese beetle grubs hide deep in the soil, and some butterflies overwinter as pupae in a cocoon or chrysalis. Each insect has its own way of dealing with cold weather. As much as we would like to think that a rough winter will take care of those pesky insects, most will survive.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

BOOKS: American Horticultural Society Pruning & Training

Editor's Note: As the garden goes dormant with freezing temperatures, now is the time to research the appropriate time to prune!

Title: American Horticultural Society Pruning & Training
Authors: Christopher Brickell and David Joyce
Series: American Horticultural Society Practical Guides
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: DK; 1st American ed edition (August 1, 1996)
ISBN-10: 0864387652
ISBN-13: 978-0864387653
ASIN: 1564583317

Review from

Although primarily a reference text, Pruning & Training is also a stroll through an arboretum, intertwining beautiful and descriptive photographs with explanatory text. If you've ever wondered how a tree, shrub, or vine was trained or formed, this book will explain every how-to for every plant that stirs your experimental side. If you're saddled with an overgrown orchard, poorly maintained landscaping, or heavy frost damage to trees and shrubs, you can renovate them through pruning. Solid background material is provided, including growing habits (and how to take advantage of them), advice on pruning tools, and basic and specialized pruning techniques.

The reference is organized by ornamental trees, fruiting trees, ornamental shrubs, soft fruits, climbing plants, and roses. Each section discusses specialized methods for the subject plant type and includes a plant-by-plant dictionary. With the American Horticultural Society's stamp of approval, you can be sure that Pruning & Training does not neglect pollarding, coppicing, and pleaching. Step by step photographic sequences and before and after shots provide invaluable visual clues. Drawings showing pruning locations frequently feature a silhouette that illustrates the end result of the pruning method. If you'd like to try your hand at espalier or topiary, many training methods are also addressed at length. This is no guide for the casual pruner, but if you want a reference to answer any question you will ever have about the subject, you've found your book. --Molly McElroy

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Keep Durham Beautiful: Letter from the Executive Director

We are thankful for each of you: our volunteers, partners and supporters who help to make our organization successful. Durham is a great place to live, and much of our community is both unique and beautiful. But we still have work cut out for us to obtain the resources needed to clean up and improve our community-wide appearance.

Keep Durham Beautiful is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and financial donations to accomplish our mission. Your financial contributions enable us to host more litter cleanup events, tree plantings, waste reduction efforts, and help our community become better environmental stewards.

Please consider making a year-end tax-deductible donation to Keep Durham Beautiful!
  • $10 buys ten pairs of gloves for volunteer work days
  • $20 buys 40 heavy-duty trash bags for litter collections
  • $50 buys one 6-ft tall street tree for an underserved community or school
  • $100 buys 15 litter grabbers, our most popular tools
  • $500 funds a competitive community beautification grant
Visit our donation page to support the mission of Keep Durham Beautiful in a way that is meaningful to you and your family.
Thank you for being an integral part of the solution.


Tania Dautlick
Executive Director
Keep Durham Beautiful, Inc.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Decorating at Home: The Power of the Flower

Generous foliage can lend a sense of being in a garden
to floral arrangements. Photo by James Robert Fuller for WSJ.
See full decorating steps at:
At the dining table, bear in mind that high arrangements
can cut off the flow of conversation.
Photo by James Robert Fuller for WSJ.
By Sarah Rose
ENERTAINING at the holidays is a perennial joy, but festive flower arrangements can be an annual puzzle. “It should feel effortless,” says florist Emily Thompson, who says she believes flowers aren’t just for the table and can be used in every room in the house.

Choosing one type of bloom or a dominant color to repeat through the house goes a long way toward taking the stress out of choosing flowers, says Ms. Thompson, the New York-based florist whose clients have included the White House. “There’s beauty in a feeling of coherence and continuity.”

In her floral designs, Ms. Thompson insists on using plants in season to evoke a sense of time and place. The same branches that bud in spring are laden with fruit in autumn, and locally sourced cuttings will be less expensive than hothouse blossoms that must be flown in.

In winter, garlands of evergreens easily lend themselves to repetition throughout the house. They can be placed over doorways and on mantels, as well as in wreathes and bouquets. “Evergreen lasts and lasts and smells wonderful,” she says. Pine, cedar, spices and citrus are evocative of winter holidays.

Five Things          

  • Choose a dominant color or flower to lend coherence to party bouquets.
  • Focus attention on entryway and dining-room arrangements, the most memorable spaces.
  • Think about perfumed and scented flowers, especially in the guest bathroom.
  • Locally grown flowers, branches and vines will evoke a sense of season and place.
  • Potted plants can be sent home with guests as gifts.

Think of the flowers for your party the way guests might, says Ms. Thompson. The first thing they see is the entryway arrangement; the dining table is where guests spend the most time. You will get the most blossom for your buck if you emphasize the flowers in those rooms.

In entryway arrangements, call attention to flowers with a large, dramatic display. Use branches to give the display size and be generous with foliage, to suggest the experience of being in a garden. Tucking flowers between vine leaves as if they were hidden in the undergrowth brings a sense of the wild indoors, one of Ms. Thompson’s hallmarks.

At the dining table, repeat some of the entryway flowers or colors, bearing in mind that high arrangements can cut off the flow of conversation across the table. For a long dining table, create groupings of arrangements so that every guest has a slightly different view. Ms. Thompson suggests combining cut flowers with potted plants such as homey topiaries, herbs or African violets.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Charity Bridge Games Raise Funds for Maple Court Veterans

Maple Court.
By Robin Marin, President
Town & Country Garden Club

THE BRIDGE ACADEMY and Durham-Chapel Hill Bridge Club held special "Charity Games" on November 9, 11 and 13. The games were in support of the veterans at Maple Court, a transitional housing community whose purpose is to provide affording housing and services for vets who are transitioning from being homeless to self-sufficient. The owner as well as the directors at The Bridge Academy contributed a percentage of game fees from each player that participated that week. Players brought in clothing and donations as well. 
With proceeds from the Charity Games, Maple Court administrators purchased six large office chairs for the facility.

Members of The Bridge Academy and Durham-Chapel Hill Bridge Club present a check to administrator of the Maple Court. Members of Bridge clubs include members of the Town & Country Garden Club and Homestead Heights Garden Club of Durham.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

Making your own Holiday greenery decorations will be offered at two different times at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Dec. 5.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St., Durham, NC.
Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Holiday Greenery 
Dec. 5, 10-12 p.m. and 2-4 p.m.

JC Raulston Arboretum
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.
Friends of the Arboretum Lecture "Poinsettia: A 200-year Journey from Gangly Mexican Shrub to Christmas Icon"
Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.
James E. Faust, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University              
Open Studio: Exploring The Winter Garden
Dec. 5, 12 p.m.
Preston Montague, Artist and Landscape Designer 

Poinsettia Open House
Dec. 6, 1–5 p.m.

North Carolina Botanical Gardens 
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

Dec. 4, 12-2 p.m.
Bring your lunch and join Nicolette Cagle for a discussion of Annie Dillard’s nonfiction book, 'Pilgrim at Tinker Creek'. This story is a first-person point of view, detailing the narrator’s explorations of nature and life in the area of Tinker Creek in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. The book records the narrator's thoughts on solitude, writing, and religion, as well as scientific observations on the flora and fauna she encounters. No prerequisite Fee: $15 ($13 NCBG member)
Dec. 5, 2-4 p.m.
The Village Band performs a selection of pre-Christian and Christian winter carols. The Village Band was organized as a non-profit community concert band to promote classic town band music in the region, and includes about 60 members, from their teens to their 90s. Free. Pre-registration required.
Dec. 6, 2-4 p.m.
Event is Full: Accepting Wait List Registrations
December is a great time to enjoy the trees of the UNC campus. Ken Moore will trace the footsteps of well-known horticulturist William L. Hunt who enjoyed leading an annual UNC Winter Campus Tree walk. Among the impressive mature specimens of broad-leaf evergreens and conifers are an amazing collection of evergreen holly species and cultivars. In addition to relating some of Mr. Hunt’s “tree stories,” Ken will use a selection of vintage photographs to show how the campus landscape has changed during the past 100 years. Fee: $15 ($13.50 NCBG members) Limit 20.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Record Sales for Town & Country Garden Club 'Awesome Auction'

The Town & Country Garden Club annual Awesome Auction set a record in sales!
Gross earnings topped the 2014 Auction by 50 percent and attendance was up
 23 percent. The garden club uses its Awesome Auction proceeds to support
Durham non-profits including the Museum of Life and Science,
Duke Homecare & Hospice, and Community Life and Recreation Center.
Photos by Robin Marin, T&C GC President.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Garden Spotlight: The Vegetable Garden of Monticello

The Vegetable Garden Today

The recreation of the Monticello vegetable garden began in 1979 with two years of archaeological excavations that attempted to confirm details of the documentary evidence. Archaeologists uncovered the remnants of the stone wall, robbed in the twentieth century and covered by eroding soil, exposed the foundation of the garden pavilion, and searched for the nature of garden walkways. The ensuing recreation is especially accurate in detailing the structure of the garden -- the location of the garden squares, the site and character of the wall, and the appearance of the garden pavilion.

The garden recreation attempts to show, as best as possible, the garden as it existed between 1807 and 1814, to reveal Jefferson's experiments in horticulture and landscaping, and to serve as a site for the collection of both Jefferson and nineteenth-century vegetable varieties. The garden today, however, is only an interpretation of the original. Modern tools, such as roto-tillers, are utilized to ease the maintenance of the garden. Organic fertilizers, natural pesticides, and irrigation are used to preserve the varietal collection. Nineteenth-century techniques -- the use of brush for the staking of peas (shown at right), the manuring of perennial vegetables, the construction of composted hills for squashes, melons, and beans -- are utilized when appropriate.

There are a number of differences between the appearance of the original Jefferson garden and the recreated one. In 1811, the most intensive planting year for Jefferson, there were eighty-five plantings of vegetables throughout the year. Today, the garden is planted much more intensively, partly for seed collection, partly to present a fuller interpretive picture. The rows of vegetables Jefferson planted were much closer together than they are portrayed today, the wider spacing a maintenance necessity. Although Jefferson alluded to the "long, grass walk," the nature of the internal pathways -- whether turf, gravel, tan bark, or more likely, packed earth -- is a matter of conjecture. The low locust railing along the edge of the garden serves as a safety barrier. It is possible, however, to replant many of the perennials in the precise locations that Jefferson had specified. The figs along the Submural Beds, the cherry trees along the long grass walk, and the asparagus and artichoke squares conform precisely to their locations in the original garden. Also, many of the varieties Jefferson especially treasured, from the Marseilles fig to the Chile strawberry to the Tennis-ball lettuce, have been replanted in today's garden.

The Site of the Vegetable Garden

The vegetable garden evolved over many years, beginning in 1770 when crops were first cultivated along the contours of the slope. Terracing was introduced in 1806, and by 1812, gardening activity was at its peak. The 1,000-foot-long terrace, or garden plateau, was literally hewed from the side of the mountain with slave labor, and it was supported by a massive stone wall that stood over twelve feet in its highest section. One contemporary visitor remarked on the dramatic "sea view" across the rolling Piedmont countryside.

Perched atop the wall, at the half-way point of the garden, is the garden pavilion with its double-sash windows, Chinese railing, and pyramidal roof. The pavilion was used by Jefferson as a quiet retreat where he could read in the evening. It was reputedly blown down in a violent wind storm in the late 1820's. The pavilion was reconstructed in 1984 based on Jefferson's notes and archaeological excavations. It overlooks an eight-acre orchard of 300 trees, a vineyard, and Monticello's berry squares, which are plots of figs, currants, gooseberries, and raspberries.

Thomas Jefferson was an astute observer of the natural world. The daily activities of sowing seeds, manuring asparagus, and harvesting peas between 1809 and 1826 are precisely recorded in his "Garden Kalendar," a part of his famous Garden Book. Jefferson was often the detached scientist in the Kalendar as he recorded that his Hotspur peas were "killed by frost Oct. 23," or that his yellow squash "came to nothing" in 1809. He could also record remarkable detail as in 1811 when he noted of his Asparagus beans that "2/3 pint sow a large square, rows 2 1/2 feet apart and 1 f. and 18 I. apart in the row, one half at each distance."

For Jefferson, the vegetable garden was a kind of laboratory where he could experiment with imported squashes and broccoli from Italy, beans and salsify collected by the  
Lewis and Clark expedition, figs from France, and peppers from Mexico. Although he would grow as many as twenty varieties of bean and fifteen types of English pea, his use of the scientific method selectively eliminated inferior types: "I am curious to select one or two of the best species or variety of every garden vegetable, and to reject all others from the garden to avoid the dangers of mixing or degeneracy."

Jefferson the Gardener

Although the garden was essentially a functional part of the plantation, Jefferson occasionally considered other ornamental features aside from the garden pavilion. He discussed planting an arbor of different flowering shades of the scarlet runner bean (shown at left), arranged adjacent rows of purple, white, and green sprouting broccoli, or even white and purple eggplant, and he bordered his tomato square with sesame or okra, a rather unusual juxtaposition of plant textures. Cherry trees were also planted along the "long, grass walk" of the garden to provide shade.

"I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that . . . as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal diet."

Salads were an important part of Jefferson's diet. He would note the planting of lettuce and radishes every two weeks through the growing season, grow interesting greens such as orach, corn salad, endive, and nasturtiums, and yearly plant sesame in order to manufacture a palatable salad oil. Although the English pea is considered his favorite vegetable, he also cherished figs, asparagus, French artichokes, and such "new" vegetables as tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, and cauliflower. While Jefferson cultivated more common vegetables such as cucumbers, beans (both "snaps" for fresh use and "haricots" that were dried), and cabbages, he also prized his sea kale (Crambe maritima, shown above right), a perennial cabbage-like vegetable whose spring sprouts were blanched with clay pots, then cut and prepared like asparagus."

19th-Century Vegetables and Cultivation Techniques

The character of garden vegetables has been altered since the early 1800's due to the technology of commercial production, the tastes of the consumer public, and even the function of the vegetable itself. Some of the variations that distinguish modern varieties from their nineteenth-century parents include insect and disease resistance, a fruit suitable for shipping, compact plants, more consistent harvesting dates, and more cosmetically pleasing fruits.

Most vegetable species are annuals and thus are lost easily if seed collection is neglected. Names have been changed for commercial purposes. Jefferson often listed varieties according to the person from whom he received the seed ("Leitch's pea"), its place of origin ("Tuscan bean"), or else he noted a physical characteristic such as color ("yellow carrot") or season of harvest ("Forward pea"). "Leitch's pea" is not only unavailable from commercial sources today, but there is no description of its qualities in the garden literature of the last two centuries. The collection of Jefferson's 250 vegetable varieties is a complex challenge. In many cases, the varieties planted in the garden today were known in the nineteenth century, and serve as substitutes for the originals grown by Jefferson.

Cultivation Techniques

A major influence on Jefferson's gardening practices was Bernard McMahon, a Philadelphia nurseryman and author of The American Gardener's Calendar, the most complete American work on horticulture in the first half of the nineteenth century. McMahon's book provides directions for manuring the garden, interplanting lettuce and radishes, cultivating unusual vegetables such as tomatoes and sea kale, and planting cucumbers in hogsheads. These practices were duplicated carefully in the garden at Monticello. McMahon also sent Jefferson important vegetable varieties such as the Leadman's Dwarf pea, the Egyptian onion, Early York and Sugarloaf cabbage, red celery, and red globe artichoke.

In 1793,
Martha Randolph wrote her father from Monticello and complained of insect damage in the garden. Jefferson's response summarized a basic philosophy of gardening:

"We will try this winter to cover our garden with a heavy coating of manure. When earth is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance, and of the best quality. I suspect that the insects which have harassed you have been encouraged by the feebleness of your plants; and that has been produced by the lean state of the soil. We will attack them another year with joint efforts."

How much manure Jefferson spread himself is a matter of speculation; however, in his daily attention to details in the garden as evidenced by the "Garden Kalendar" suggests that he was at hand, perhaps directing the work. Jefferson's slave
Isaac recalled that "For amusement he [Jefferson] would work sometimes in the garden for half an hour in right good earnest in the cool of the evening."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Winterizing the Herb Garden (and Other Perennials)

Witherspoon Rose Culture President David Pike recently presented an educational program regarding winterizing roses and the garden to the Forest Hills Garden Club. Mr. Pike warned of the hard freeze forecasted for Monday, Nov. 23, and said that now is the time to cutback perennials like Lantana. Mulch roses and all plants soon after Monday when they have gone dormant. 

IF TREATED PROPERLY, many herb plants will survive in the garden for a number of years. Others are sensitive to frost or severe cold weather and must be brought indoors, protected, or replanted each year. Annual herbs will be killed with the first hard frost in the fall. Remove dead plants in order to minimize overwintering insects and disease problems. Some frost sensitive herbs, such as basil and geranium, can be brought indoors for the winter. Take cuttings to root or pot the entire plant.Many perennial herbs are winter hardy in all or parts of North Carolina and can be left in the garden. A few plants are marginally winter hardy; in a mild winter they survive but may die during a severe winter. They can be brought indoors to overwinter. Unless they receive adequate light indoors they may drop some of their leaves. Lemon verbena is a deciduous plant; it will lose all of its leaves indoors.

After a severe winter, some outdoor plants such as rue, sage, thyme, and southernwood, may appear brown and dead. The leaves may simply be dehydrated or the plant may be dead almost to the ground. Scrape the bark of a few stems to determine the extent of damage. If the stem is green, delay pruning until after new growth begins. 

Improving Winter Survival

Most herbs benefit from a 2-3-inch layer of organic mulch (pine straw, coco bean hulls, hardwood bark, bark and sawdust mixture) during the growing season. Mulch is an adequate winter protection for herbs such as mint, chives, and fennel providing protection to minus 20°F. A winter mulch helps maintain uniform soil temperatures around the root system and provides protection against heaving cause by frequent freezing and thawing of the soil.

Some herbs require a thicker layer of mulch to protect their roots during extended freezing weather. Heavy mulching before cold weather occurs should be avoided since it will keep the soil warmer and may actually decrease winter hardiness. After the first hard freeze, apply a 3-6-inch layer of organic material such as straw, pine needles, or chopped leaves. Most of the mulch should be removed in the spring as new growth begins.

Rosemary, lemon verbena, and a few other perennial herbs are not reliably winter hardy. Extra winter protection can be provided by cutting plants back to within a couple inches of the ground after the first hard frost and covering the remaining stub with soil. Then cover the soil with a 4-5-inch layer of mulch. For lemon verbena, the use of a microfoam ground cover (the packing material used around fragile items) also works held down with soil works very well providing over 95% survival in most years. An alternative method is to encircle the plant with a cage of hardware cloth or chicken wire. The cage diameter should be about 12 inches larger than the plant (6 inches on each side). Fill the cage with mulch.

Harsh, drying winds can prove as fatal as cold temperatures to some of the less cold tolerant herbs. Wind breaks can aid the survival and appearance of herbs such as French tarragon, germander, English lavender, Roman chamomile, and winter savory. Covering with a few evergreen boughs will prevent drying out of silver and lemon thyme foliage. The more cold-sensitive herbs have a better chance of survival if grown in a protected location.

Other cultural practices that influence winter hardiness include: fertilization, pruning, soil drainage, and watering.

Herbs should not be fertilized after early August. Late summer applications of nitrogen fertilizer will promote new growth that may not have time to mature before frost. The herbs will remain actively growing instead of becoming acclimated for cold weather.

Avoid significant pruning (light harvesting is acceptable) in August which will stimulate new growth that will not have time to mature before frost. Also, avoid severe pruning in late fall since winter hardiness is reduced until the cuts have healed. Woody plants should not be severely pruned within 4 to 6 weeks of the first severe freeze. In western North Carolina, the last severe cutting on sage, lavender, or oregano should be made before early September. Light pruning after frost is acceptable.

Soil Drainage
Excessively wet soil or sites with standing water can decrease winter hardiness of some plants. This is especially true for Mediterranean plants such as rosemary, thymes, lavenders, and French tarragon that are adapted to dry climates. Provide adequate drainage by incorporating pine bark mulch or planting in raised beds.

Keep plants adequately watered during late summer and fall. Drought stressed plants are weaker and are often less cold hardy. Water during a dry winter, especially before a severe freeze. This is especially true for evergreen plants that will lose water from their foliage on bright, sunny days even when the ground is frozen.

For Further Reading
HIL-8110 -
Growing Herbs for the Home Gardener
HIL-8111 -
Harvesting and Preserving Herbs for the Home Gardener

Linda Blue, Extension Agent, Agriculture - Urban Horticulture
Buncombe County
Jeanine Davis, Extension Specialist, Herbs/Organics/Specialty Crops/Vegetables
Horticultural Science
Ervin Evans, Extension Associate (Consumer Horticulture)
Horticultural Science 

Publication date: Jan. 31, 1999

Monday, November 16, 2015

Holiday Lights at the Elizabethan Gardens: November thru January

Join The Elizabethan Gardens and Southern Bank for the opening celebration of WinterLights, a spectacular twenty-two night event of holiday lights and sights. Opening is Friday, Nov 27, 2015, 6-9:00 p.m.
Find holiday warmth and charm inside and out with festive food and drink in the “Embellished” Hall, and cozy fire pits on the Great Lawn as well as seasonal gift shop and plant sales. 
The Holiday Lights will be open to the public:
  • December 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23, 26,30 (Wednesdays thru Saturdays) 
  • January 2,8,9,15,16,22,23 (Fridays and Saturdays) from 6pm-9pm.
Non-Members: Adults $15, Youth (ages 6-17) $9, Youth (5 and under) $7. Members/Friends: Adults $11, Youth (ages 6-17) $8, Youth (5 and under) $6. For info or details, call 252-473-3234252-473-3234 or visit

Cankerworm Banding Days for Durham Set Dec. 3 and Dec. 8

Combat cankerworms and help save our Durham neighborhoods!
Volunteer tree banding days sponsored by Trees Across Durham, City of Durham, Durham County, and Keep Durham Beautiful,:
* Thursday, Dec. 3, 1 p.m. – Old North Durham, meet at Bay-Hargrove Park, 208 Hargrove St.
* Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1 p.m. – Walltown, meet at the intersection of Green and Berkeley streets.

The Durham County Main Library, located at 300 N. Roxboro St., will have free tree-banding kits available to the public for checkout until the end of December. Kits include materials and tools to band approximately two medium-sized trees.

See more on the program:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Honored with New Celebration by Durham Council

Morning sun hits the 2015 Veterans Day wreath placed
 at the VA Medical Center's Blue Star Memorial marker.
The Council sponsored and installed the marker in 2014.
Veterans Day began in 1918 when the armistice between Germany and the Alllied Nations went into effect at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. “Armistice Day,” celebrating this laying down of arms and world peace, was subsequently set for November 11, and made a US legal holiday in 1938. In 1954, the holiday was amended as “Veterans Day” and is often honored with city parades and two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. with tribute to all war veterans, both living and deceased.  A wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery is held annually.  

In Durham, 2015 saw a new Veterans Day tradition of laying of wreaths at the Blue Star Memorial marker in front of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, hosted by the Durham Council of Garden Clubs.  Over 40 attended the new celebration on Wednesday, including 18 veteran patients and 10 hospital staff and administrators. The ceremony began with an invocation by Rev. Dr. John P Oliver, Chief of Chaplain Service and was followed a flag presentation and laying wreaths led by Heritage Garden Club member Martha Sanderford. Wreaths were sponsored by the General Davie DAR chapter and the Durham Council of Garden Clubs. Chaplain Margaret March, CPE Supervisory Education Resident, then read “In Flanders Fields.”
In April 2014, the Durham Council of Garden Clubs unveiled the new Blue Star Memorial marker that its 10 garden clubs had purchased and installed with specially designed flower bed in front of the Durham VA Medical Center. In April 2015, the Council won the highest award, a “Certificate of Appreciation,” from The National Garden Club for the purchase and installation this marker. The NGC award came with a plaque, and at Wednesday’s Veterans Day ceremony, Pat Cashwell, Chair for the Garden Club of North Carolina, presented this plaque to VA Medical Center Associate Director Steve Black to hang in the facility.

The history of Veterans Day was then presented by Durham Council First Vice-President Marcia Loudon who said the day is “a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” The ceremony then concluded with a benediction read by Chaplain Margaret March.
Images from the 2015 Veterans Day celebration sponsored by the Durham Council of Garden Clubs.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Croadaile Garden Club Holds Service Day at Riverside High

The Croasdaile Garden Club of Durham recently held its annual Bulb and Pansy Planting service day with its Junior Garden Club at Riverside High School. The club planted two flats of pansies and 90 bulbs. Croasdaile GC also sponsors raised garden beds on the school property.

Deadline for VA Chapel Poinsettia Project: Nov. 17

See the order form on the Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. website:

Horticultural Extension Agent Hired for Durham County

Cheralyn Schmidt as pictured on
Photo by Ford Burkhardt.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension has hired Cheralyn Schmidt as the new Horticultural Extension Agent for Durham County.

Cheralyn has over seven years working with the University of Arizona, Pima County Cooperative Extension. She has served as Program Coordinator for the Garden Kitchen, a commercially licensed culinary and gardening facility; managed efforts of the Garden Kitchen Master Gardener Team, to install, certify and maintain gardens in collaboration with organizations serving low-income families; and worked with area farmers in US/Mexico border region to promote growing fresh and local foods. She has a Bachelor’s degree from The University of Arizona in Nutritional Sciences and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Arizona.

Cheralyn will oversee the Master Gardener Volunteer program, the Briggs Ave. Community Garden in addition to her other Agent responsibilities for Durham County. She can be reached at the NC Cooperative Extension office, 721 Foster Street, Durham. Cheralyn's email is 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hope Valley Garden Club Sponsors Hive with Bee Downtown

The Hope Valley Garden Club ladies took a recent tour of the Bee Downtown beehives on the American Tobacco campus rooftop. HVGC members sponsored the gold and red hive on the far left of the apiary and got to see all the great things that their hive has accomplished this year. (The beehives cost $1,500 to sponsor.)  Bee Downtown's mission is to make Durham the Nation's leading bee friendly city. Photo by Bee Downtown.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

DCGC to Hold Outdoor Veterans Day Memorial Service: Nov. 11

The Durham Council of Garden Clubs cordially invites the public to attend a Veterans Day Memorial Service.

The service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11 outside the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the Blue Star Highway Memorial Marker. The Durham VA is located at 508 Fulton St., Durham, NC 27705.

The Durham Council sponsored the Blue Star Memorial marker in 2014 with the Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc.
See more on the marker project at:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

Woody Lilies will be presented at Plantsmen's Tour at JCRA on Nov. 3. 
 Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St., Durham, NC.
Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Walk on the Wild Side
Nov. 5, 2015, 11 - noon
Nov. 7, 2015, 9 a.m. to noon
Course meets for 2 sessions
Nov. 12, 2015, 6:30 - 8 p.m.
Nov. 17, 2015, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Fall for Orchids
Nov. 21, 2015, 10 a.m. to Sun, Nov. 22, 2015

JC Raulston Arboretum
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.
Nov. 3, 8:40 a.m.
Plantsmen's Tour: "Woody Lilies"
Nov. 3, 1:00 p.m.
Mark Weathington, Director

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture: "Apples from the 'Seed' to the Table"
Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Mike Parker, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Horticultural Science

North American Rock Garden Society (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture: "Rock Garden Nation"    
Nov. 21, 10:00 a.m.
Panayoti Kelaidis, Denver Botanic Gardens
Sponsored by the Piedmont Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society in Cooperation with the JC Raulston Arboretum

Gardening 101 will be presented by Hilary Nichols, garden manager, of SEEDS
 at Duke Gardens Nov. 7 & 14.
North Carolina Botanical Gardens 
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.
11/2/2015, noon - 1 p.m.
Soil Ecology (course)
11/3/2015, 9:30 a.m. - 11/24/2015

Natural Colors Workshop
11/8/2015,  1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Watercolor and Mixed-Media Holiday Cards: An Art Prescription Workshop
11/15/2015, 2 - 4 p.m.
Nurse artist Beverly Dyer

An Owl Prowl: A Nocturnal Experience
11/20/2015, 7- 9 p.m.
Cooperative Extension
South Regional Library - Wildflowers in Your Landscape
Nov. 8, 2015, 3 - 4 p.m.
Presentation by Nan Len
Register online at the Durham County Library website Click on "Events" to find the full calendar of events. Go to the date of the class and sign up.
Nov. 17, 2015, 6:30 - 8 p.m.