I think I’ve waited long enough. If it hasn’t pushed out new leaves by now in my Wake County NC garden, it’s not going to. That means it’s time cut back the deadwood on shrubs.


Don’t panic–there’s always some winter die-back in the garden. But, of course, this winter has been especially hard.

Here’s a short how-to video co-blogger Melissa made last week. (Do I really speak that slowly???)

So get inspired, get your pruners, and get out there. It’s time.

PS. Back in the 80s we had a very cold winter with a low temp of minus 9 (yikes!). Many plants including camellias died to the ground, but came back out from the roots. Your plants are tougher than you think.

PSS. This is a good time to make note of micro climates in your garden. For example, the Summer Sweet Shrub on the east side of the house was in leaf a full week and half before the one in the woods to the north. And have you ever noticed that plants by the street (asphalt) always come out first?

Time to get my baby plants out of the dining room and into the fresh air.

A few hours in protected spot, like under this viburnum, is a perfect introduction to outdoor life.

This gradual acclamation to the wide world is called “hardening off”. It’s a critical and nerve wracking step, but very necessary.

A cold frame works, too. But hey, the viburnum was closer, and the plants seemed to like it fine. Happy to say, their first day out was a success.

Plants have officially taken over the dining room.  If the weather stays warm, we will have an enormous tomato crop! Some favorites on the table include: Sweet Chelsea, Red Jelly Bean, Bella Rosa, Big Beef and many more.


Happy to say that seeds are once again germinating on our dining room table–a sure sign of spring.

Years ago, I invested in adjustable grow lights, and they have certainly paid for themselves in seedlings. My lights came from Park Seed.


But I would never use these pricey floressents without pulling out my inexpensive little fan. The moving air not only makes my seedlings sturdy and compact (as opposed to floppy and leggy), it prevents “damping off”, a condition that causes tender stems collapse. In my experience, if you have a seed table, you must have a fan blowing across.



Tool number 3 is also an adaptation. I bought two packs of foil trays in the catering section at Costco. They’re much sturdier than plastic plant trays and allow me to bottom water without leaks. Watering the surface can knock baby plants over, so I pour lukewarm water into the tray, let it sit about an hour and pour off excess.


Finally, a old plastic table cloth protects the dining room table. Mine came from the thrift store. You can also use plastic drop cloths from the paint store, or plastic sheets from the fabric store. Wrap them around your lights to store in the off season.

Any signs of spring around your place?


It’s hard to find a prettier picture this time of year than early daffodils under a Carolina blue sky. And you can bet the bulb companies know this. Their catalogs are full of stunning close up photos.


But in the landscape, it’s a very different story. It takes a ton of bulbs to make a splash in our Apex (NC) woods.

So I’m really happy that all the work and money I’ve spent on daffodils over the years is finally paying off.


Of course there have been some casualties along the way. None of the double daffodils I planted survived more than a few years. Ditto–the late season varieties. Our woods leaf out too early for them to store energy for the next year.


But a few varieties have proved to be big winners for me, returning year after year, and blooming their hearts out without any care. My daffodil stars are:

February Gold
Ice Follies

What about you? I’m always looking for new daffodil varieties to light up the woods here in zone 7-B. What are your daffodil stars?

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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