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In the beginning we raked and planted side by side. We got dirty, made a mess, planted beautiful things. Then Imogene’s husband would come out in his necktie and sweep up after us.
It was always a really good day.
More recently, Imogene couldn’t do much heavy work, so she pulled weeds (with a vengeance) from a lawn chair that I moved around.
The last few times we planted, she held the plant tags and watched from the window, too frail to navigate her own back stairs.
Then in late February, at the age of 97, my oldest friend passed away.
It was time, as they say. Still I am sad that we will not celebrate Spring in her garden this year. But it helps that Imogene is everywhere in mine.
Gardeners go on–
In the plants they share like the blue woodland phlox in the top photo. Imogene dug a clump from her garden for mine almost 30 years ago. Because of the cool weather, it is having a splendid year.
In the designs they inspire like this path I built with my own two hands after the brick knot garden that Imogene built with her own two hands became a problem for the mower guy and she told me I would be doing her a big favor if I carted all the hand-made brick away.
In the knowledge and encouragement they pass on to younger gardeners which may be why I’m finally able to sit down and write about the loss of my dear friend. Husband Bill and I just spent a very hard but satisfying Saturday afternoon helping co-blogger Melissa limb up trees in her garden.
The best gardens are never solo projects—Imogene would be proud.
This is George Tabor, two of them actually, flanking the path in our woods.
So if you are just starting to shape your Southern garden (and planting shrubs is the way to do it, BTW), make room for at least one Azalea–George Tabor.
Any other suggestions? What are your must have shrubs?
Here’s a link to the PAX sale at NCSU. Click on woody plants on the right to see the list of shrubs they plan to offer
And the Garden Conservancy Open Days are in the Spring now:
Note that the fabulous Joslin garden is open. I will have to revisit that old favorite and pick out one or two more gardens on the list.
At the State Fair grounds, a cluster of great sales by local garden clubs:
If you like Azaleas, the Gardeners of Wake County sale will take your breath away. I prefer the Raleigh Garden Club Sale which usually has plants shared from members ‘ own gardens. They do very well in my Wake County woods.
So grab your hat, a check book and get out there. April 13 and 14 is a great weekend for local gardeners. Enjoy!
Timing is critical when it comes to growing from seed. I want to have these plants ready to plant in the garden by our last estimated frost date, April 15th. Too early and they will be floppy and leggy. Too late and the plants will be stunted.
Let’s hope my timing this year is just right. (These plants were started March 8-14.)
And it’s time to eat lots of homegrown kale, collards, cabbage and other greens that wintered over so I’ll have that space empty when the aforementioned tomato plants are ready to set out.
It’s also time to fertilize, mulch, powerwash outdoor furniture, weed the beds, clean the porches etc, etc, etc. Spring is the busiest season in the garden, sort of like Christmas if you’re in retail.
This tough little perennial will even grow between pavers, but since the foliage smells a bit like a skunk when it’s bruised, planting starflower on my little patio was not the best idea.
PS. It’s also time to start checking yourself for ticks. Can you believe I got my first tick bite on Sunday? Yikes that’s early.