Friday, September 30, 2016

October Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

Cooking from the Garden: Late Autumn Salads will be held 
Monday, Oct. 24 at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens420 Anderson St., Durham, NC. 
Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Wed, October 5, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Tue, October 11, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Course meets for 2 sessions
Wed, October 12, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Course meets for 4 sessions
Tue, October 18, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Sat, October 22, 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Mon, October 24, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Sat, October 29, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Course meets for 2 sessions
Tue, November 1, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Course meets for 2 sessions
Thu, November 3, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

JC Raulston Arboretum
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.

Plantsmen's Tour: 40th Anniversary Tour—Directors' Picks
Mark Weathington, Director
 Tuesday, October 4, 1:00 pm–2:30 pm
Landscape Potential I: Approaches to Design
Saturday, October 8, 9:00 am           
Creating a Sustainable Urban Wildlife Habitat for the Birds, Bees, and Butterflies
Wednesday, October 12, 6:30 pm

Wednesday, October 12, 9:00 am3:45 pm

Conservation You Can Taste: The Role of Ethnobiologists in the Collaborative Conservation of Food Diversity
Gary Nabhan, MacArthur Fellow and Kellogg Chair, University of Arizona
Friday, October 14, 7:30 pm9:00 pm

Fern Propagation Workshop
Saturday, October 29, 2016 – 9:00 am
Plantsmen's Tour:  Positively Presidential
Mark Weathington, Director
Tuesday, November 1, 1:00 pm–2:30 pm

The Botanical Paradises of Greece
Liberto Dario, NARGS Traveling Speaker
Thursday, November 3, 7:30 pm9:00 pm

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

LUNCHBOX Talk: Fall Color: Where, Why, When, & Wow!
Johnny Randall, NCBG Director of Conservation
Thursday, October 6, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Raptors Live!
Kindra D. Mammone, Executive Director, CLAWS
Sunday, October 9, 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

LUNCHBOX Talk: How to Bird-Proof Your Windows
Thursday, October 13, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Early Autumn at Mason Farm
Ed Harrison, Naturalist
Saturday, October 15, 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Full Moon Walk at Mason Farm Biological Reserve
Amy Sayle; Mickey Jo Sorrell
Saturday, October 15; 6:30 pm – 8:00pm; (Inclement Weather Date: October 16; 7:00 pm)
LUNCHBOX Talk: The Secret Lives of Backyard Birds
with Mike Dunn, Naturalist
Thursday, October 20, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Therapeutic Horticulture: An Introductory Workshop
Sally Haskett, Horticultural Therapist
Saturday, October 22,  8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Geology for Botanists and Ecologists
Mike Schafale, Botanist/Geologist; Skip Stoddard, Ph.D., P.G.
Saturdays, October 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19 (Dec. 3 optional fieldtrip); 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Autumn at Penny’s Bend
Ed Harrison, Naturalist
Saturday, October 29, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners

Tue, October 18, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

"Ferns: Fiddleheads to Fronds"
Bob Payne, Wake County Extension Master Gardener
Monday, October 24, 10:00 am12:00 pm

"Pollinators-a-Plenty: A Look at Hundreds of Pollinators Aiding Food and Flower Production in North Carolina"
Presentation by Chris Apple
Sunday, Oct 23, 3:00 to 4:00 pm
South Regional Library

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Town & Country Garden Club Visits Beautification at DPS Hub Farm

Last April the Town & Country Garden Club presented a $18K check to the Hub Farm Durham Public Schools.

Hostesses of the Town & Country Garden Club
September business meeting at the Hub Farm.
The Town & Country Garden Club held its September business meeting at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm to celebrate and see its charitable gift for new gardens on the property.

At it’s February 9 meeting, the Town & Country Garden Club unanimously approved the recommendation by it’s Beautification/Projects committee to allocate $18,000  to the Hub Farm for the Front Entry Gardens.

The Durham Public School’s Hub Farm is a 30 acre woodland, aquatic and farm habitat whose mission is to engage Durham county school students in all aspects of food production, as well as land stewardship, to foster healthy living, career exploration, environmental stewardship and community engagement.  Learn more about the Hub Farm/Durham: .

Members of the Town & Country Garden Club assemble for their September meeting in the barn of the Hub Farm of Durham.
Photos by Becky Wood.

Friday, September 23, 2016

BOOKS: The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health

The Hidden Half of Nature:  The Microbial Roots of Life and Health
Authors:  David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé.
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (November 16, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0393244407
ISBN-13: 978-0393244403

By Robert Kourik

As most gardeners know, healthy plants require healthy soil. The Hidden Half of Nature offers insight into the soil life forms— specifically the microbes—that play an essential role in supporting plant growth. It also explores an intriguing link between these microbes and the microbes in our digestive systems that affect our health.

For authors David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé, their path to this revelatory connection began with puttering in the garden. As they became more accomplished organic gardeners, their interest turned to the “hidden half,” the life in the soil. What, exactly, was it that made their garden soil so productive?

In this book, they discuss subjects such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria that colonize legume roots; beneficial fungi that absorb minerals directly into root cells (mycorrhizal association); the vibrant root ecology where nutrients are absorbed (the rhizosphere); the chemical exudates that help release minerals into a form roots can absorb; and useful bacteria that interfere with pathogens.

In the midst of their research, Biklé was diagnosed with cancer. She emerged with a clean bill of health after surgery, but this experience led her to investigate the beneficial microbes that colonize human digestive organs and their roles in keeping us healthy. Our bodies and the soil may seem like disparate entities, yet the authors draw many fascinating parallels.

Montgomery and Biklé also review some of the earlier proponents of organic or sustainable farming: Sir Albert Howard of the 1930s, Lady Eve Balfour in the 1940s, and William Albrecht of the 1950s. All proposed a link between the organic nurturing of the soil and a healthy body, but it’s only recently that these assumptions have been scientifically substantiated.

On that note, I love scientific detail so I appreciate this book’s copious footnotes and citations for further inquiry. I would have preferred more depth to the index, but this is a minor quibble.

Overall, the authors make a strong case for “working with rather than against the microbial communities that underpin the health of plants and people.” This book will illuminate the connections between what we feed the soil and ourselves.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Witherspoon Rose Culture on the Move in Durham

Read about WRC's forthcoming relocation on their blog:
The new Durham location will be just one mile away on Garett Road and offer shoppers the peaceful country road shopping experience that Witherspoon created 60 years ago. Photo by Witherspoon Rose Culture.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Join the NC Butterfly Highway: Roadmap for Pollinator and Wildlife Conservation

The Butterfly Highway is a statewide conservation restoration initiative that aims to restore native pollinator habitats to areas impacted by urbanization, land use change and agriculture across North Carolina. From backyard Pollinator Pitstops to large-scale roadside habitat restoration, the project is creating a network of native flowering plants to support butterflies, bees, birds and other pollen and nectar dependent wildlife.

The Butterfly Highway began with several communities in Charlotte, NC that wanted to beautify their environment through planting gardens. Through the Butterfly Highway, these communities are transforming community gardens, backyard gardens, public spaces and park fragments into new pollinator and wildlife habitats. The Butterfly Highway has also provided capacity for communities to participate in a community based citizen science project that tracks butterflies and bumble bees. No garden is too small to make an impact and all together they are a part of the Butterfly Highway.

Importance of Pollinators in North Carolina
  • North Carolina has a $78 billion agriculture economy that relies on pollinators for crops such as squash, apples, blueberries and strawberries.
  • Global food crops are dependent on pollinators and more than 70% crops either require or have a higher production because of pollinator insect visit
  • It has been estimated that native pollinators are responsible for pollinating almost $3.07 billion of US produced fruits and vegetables.
  • Only 2% of wild bee species do 80% of the pollination
  • Conservation of wild pollinator habitat in agricultural areas can provide several economic benefits in addition to increased crop production these include reduction in area of cultivated land and reduced rental of cultivated honeybees. Farms that include pollinator conservation practices may be eligible for subsidies or receive a premium price for produce that is organic or “environmentally friendly”.
  • In a 1996 study, Americans reported that they spent $33.8 billion on wildlife and bird watching. Insects, including pollinator larvae, are an important food source for birds and provide protein that is vital to young chicks. Pollinator larvae are an important source of this protein. Calculations based on the number of insectivorous birds, places an estimated annual economic value insects to wildlife watching at $19.8 billion.
Current status of pollinators in North Carolina
  • The Birds and the Bees Act (NC Senate Bill 225) is currently under review and a report is due March 1, 2016.
  • There are 13 known bumblebee species in NC several of which are threatened. Bombus affinis (rusty patch bumble bee), Bombus terricola (Yellowbanded bumble bee) and Epeoloides pilosula.
  • There are 174 species of butterflies in NC and approximately 1200 moth species.
  • Monarch butterflies journey through NC during both their spring and fall migrations. Because of the threats to pollinator habitats, there has been a loss of important nectar plants as well as a significant loss in the Monarch’s host plant milkweed, which can affect their ability to fly the long distances as a part of migration.
Threats to NC pollinators
  • Native pollinator habitat loss, limited floral resources
  • Invasive plants
  • Landscape fragmentation due to urbanization
  • Parasites
  • Diseases
  • Overuse of pesticides and fungicides
  • Introduced bee species, feral domesticated bees
Native plants should be used in habitat restoration and pollinator gardens
Natives typically:
  • Do not require fertilizers.
  • Require fewer pesticides for maintenance.
  • Require less water than other nonnative plantings.
  • May function to inhibit nonnative weed encroachment.
  • Provide permanent shelter and food for wildlife
  • Are less likely to become invasive than nonnative plants
  • Promote local native biological diversity.
  • Are preferred by native pollinators.
North Carolina Wildlife Federation impact on pollinators
We are engaged in projects and programs at many different levels to create a lasting impact across the state.
  • Landscape scale restoration: Engage private landowners and public lands in large scale native meadow and riparian restoration projects. Examples of landscape scale projects include meadow restoration in utility right of ways and private or publicly owned sites > 1 acre.
  • Pollinator Pitstops: Pollinator Pitstops can be any size and created anywhere as long they include native pollinator nectar and host plants. Pollinator Pitstops can be added to residential yards, libraries, community centers, local businesses, the options are endless.
  • Stewardship: Pollinator habitat and monitoring training course will be offered for Habitat Stewards.
  • Partnerships: NCWF will establish strategic partnerships with stakeholders, municipalities and organizations that have an interest in or are currently working on pollinator programs. These partnerships will help to ensure that these gardens have a sustainable long term impact on native pollinators and wildlife in NC.

Connelly, H., Poveda, K. & Loeb, G. Landscape simplification decreases wild bee pollination services to strawberry. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 211, 51–56 (2015).
Garibaldi, L. A. et al. From research to action: enhancing crop yield through wild pollinators. Front. Ecol. Environ. 12, 439–447 (2014).

Learn how to participate in the Butterfly Highway and register your pollinator garden at:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Grains for Your Garden

Looking to grow your own grains?  Here is a podcast from the Triangle Gardener magazine about how to grow grains in a suburban garden setting using simple, Colonial methods.
Click here:  Grains for your Garden

Back to Business: Council Kicks Off 2016-2017 Fiscal Year

 The Durham Council of Garden Clubs held its first business meeting Tuesday this week.
The agenda included the Council's annual community project and the funds available in Council reserves.
Durham garden clubs are encouraged to discuss ideas for the project at their
September and October meetings and to be ready to present these ideas at the November Council meeting on Nov. 8. 
Shelley Dekker, Council Treasurer, picks up her 2016-2017 Yearbook/Membership Directory
outside the Hill House prior to the Tuesday meeting.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Successful Planting of Trees and Shrubs

Fall is the best time for planting woody ornamentals and trees.
Two of the most common causes of tree and shrub problems are improper planting techniques, and failure to select the right plant for the site. These problems are easily avoided through a bit of research and preparation. This document will show you how to get the results you expect. 
1. Plant in the Fall - The survival rate of trees and shrubs planted in the fall is much greater than those planted other times of the year. Cooler temperatures slow evaporation of soil moisture. This promotes root growth, which will help the plant survive our hot summers .

2. Evaluate the Site - Before you plant, consider the following:
  • Soil Fertility - Collect a soil sample and correct nutrient deficiencies before planting.
  • Soil Structure and Texture - The red clay soils of Durham County are well suited to growing healthy plants. However, they are very susceptible to compaction. Deep tillage will alleviate this compaction. If you have the gray mucky clay of the Triassic Basin, you may need to construct raised beds using high quality topsoil (as opposed to "fill dirt").
  • Exposure - How much sun does the site receive?
  • Drainage - Does the soil stay wet for prolonged periods?
  • Available Space - What size plant would be appropriate for the space? How close are nearby buildings, trees, flowerbeds, etc.? Are there constraints on how far the roots can grow (e.g. a curb, driveway, sidewalk, etc.)? The roots of a large tree may extend fifty feet or more from the trunk. Are there overhead power lines or building overhangs?

3. Determine the Function the Plant Will Serve - What role will the plant play in your landscape? Are you looking for a specimen plant to be a focal point? Are you trying to develop a privacy hedge of a certain height? Are you trying to soften the edges of a building, e.g. with a tall, columnar evergreen? Do you need to add more winter interest to your landscape with berries, interesting shapes or attractive bark?
4. Choose the Appropriate Species or Variety - Once you have determined the site condition and plant function choose a species or variety that will thrive in those conditions AND serve the desired function. There are many good reference books that will help you make a decision, or you can call the Master Gardeners5m for suggestions. Local gardens, arboreta, nurseries, and landscapers are another source of ideas. Factors to consider include hardiness rating, preferred soil conditions, susceptibility to pest problems, growth rate, shape/form, height and spread at maturity, color, texture, etc.
5. Buy Quality Plant Material - Consider the following in your pre-purchase inspection:
  • Form - Does the plant have an attractive shape? Know the preferred structure for the species you have chosen (e.g. central leader, multi-stem, etc.) and select a plant that conforms.
  • Health - Does the plant appear to be growing vigorously? Are there any signs of insects or disease?
  • Trunk/Branches - Is there any damage to the trunk or branches? Is the bark intact? If it was pruned in the nursery, were the pruning cuts made correctly?
  • Roots - Does the plant have a full, vigorous root system?

6. Handle the Plant Carefully - Lift the plant by the container or root ball, NEVER by the trunk. Protect the canopy from getting wind blown during transport.
7. Prepare the Planting Hole - It's better to put a ten-cent plant in a ten-dollar hole than to put a ten-dollar plant in a ten-cent hole. If your soil test report indicates a need for lime or phosphorous, apply the recommended amount before planting and incorporate it into the soil. In most cases, it is best NOT to amend the planting hole with organic material. The planting hole should be no deeper than the root ball, and two to three times as wide. The root ball should be set on firm, undisturbed soil. If drainage is a concern, it may be planted so that one-third to one-half of the root ball is above grade.
8. Install the Plant
  • Container plants - Carefully remove the plant from the container. If you notice circling roots, tease them out so that they will grow straight (or cut them if necessary). If you can do so without severely damaging the root system, shake off some of the potting medium. Install the plant so that the crown or trunk flare (point where the root system meets the trunk) is even with grade and not covered by soil.
  • Balled and burlapped plants - Place the balled and burlapped plant into the planting hole. Being careful not to damage the root system, remove as much burlap, string, and wire as possible. At a minimum, fold back the burlap to expose at least the top third of the root ball. It may also be beneficial to carefully loosen

9. Mulch the Planting Area -Cover the planting area with NO MORE THAN 3 inches of mulch. Be sure the mulch is pulled away from the trunk.
10. Water the Plant - Soak the soil in the planting site. For large plants, it may be helpful to fill in half of the soil, irrigate, fill in the remaining soil, and irrigate again.
11. Develop a Maintenance Plan - Regular inspections to avoid moisture stress are critical. The frequency of such checks will depend upon temperature and rainfall. During the first 3 months, check the soil moisture level twice a week (depending on temperature and rainfall). After 3 months, check soil moisture weekly. After 6 months, check every two weeks. If stakes and guy lines are used, they should be checked monthly for signs two weeks. If stakes and guy lines are used, they should be checked monthly for signs of girdling. They should be removed after 6 months. Decide who will be responsible for the maintenance activities, and clearly communicate your expectations.
Miscellaneous Considerations:
Staking -Staking and guying are normally unnecessary, but can reduce the risk of wind damage. When planting large numbers of trees, trees with high value, or tall trees with full canopies, staking may be advisable. If stakes and guy lines are used, there should be enough play in the guy lines so that the tree an move slightly in the wind. The guy lines should be attached to the tree in such a way that they do not constrict or damage the trunk or branches. Stakes and guy lines should be removed after about 6 months.  
Pruning - In most cases, pruning of newly installed trees and shrubs is not recommended, except to correct structural defects (e.g. damaged limbs, crossed branches). Moisture stress should be avoided by supplying adequate water.
Soil Berms - If the tree or shrub is planted in a remote site that is difficult to irrigate, you may want to construct a berm of raised soil around the trunk. This berm will slow the runoff of rainwater, allowing for better water infiltration. The berm should be constructed at least 12 inches away from the trunk. A height and width of 3 to 4 inches is sufficient.

Urban Horticulture Note No. 7
Prepared by: Durham County Master Gardener' Program
721 Foster St. Durham, NC 27701
Revised October 26, 2007