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And if you want winter colors (like blog partner, Melissa), Camellia Crimson Candles can’t be beat.
And I love the way it shines from my kitchen window where I spend a lot of time working over the sink.
We’re blessed with one of the country’s best Camellia Nurseries in Chapel Hill. Most of my favorite shrubs come from Camellia Forest. Pay them a visit and start enjoying Camellias of your own.
Not so for my friend. She’s living in a new house on what looks like an old corn field. There’s nothing going on her backyard but grass.
Boring. But she wants to change that. So here are 4 steps for creating a garden.
1) Lay out your bed(s.) Then increase the size. I suggested she use surveyor stakes or a garden hose to make the shapes–then live with them for a while. Most of us make our beds too small and way too narrow. Think of your house from Google Earth and you’ll get a better sense of scale.
2) Improve your soil. If you’re living in a new house, chances are the ground is compacted and the builder took all your topsoil away. My solution is to go up. Here’s a mixed border in my yard built on cardboard last fall. If you don’t have a truck to bring in topsoil and compost, buy bags and mix it on site. 1 bag topsoil and 1 bag organic humus, to 1 bag composted cow manure will work just fine.
3) Start with shrubs and small trees. Flowers come and go. Garden beds need year-round structure. Always think fall and winter interest before you consider spring and summer flowers.
4) Finally, Find an independent nursery in your area, go there, ask questions and make friends. Big box stores may be fine for nails and light fixtures, but I’ve seen lots of plants in their garden centers that just don’t like the weather here. A good local nursery will be stocked with locally grown plants. They’ll do well for you.
Now it’s your turn–any advice from the seasoned gardeners out there for someone just starting out?? We were all beginners once, remember. What have you learned along the way?
PS. Campbell Road Nursery on Tryon in Cary is my go to nursery. Stone Brothers and Bryd in Durham is great for growing supplies and good advice. And it wouldn’t be spring (or fall) with out a trip to Camellia Forest in Chapel Hill. The coolest trees and shrubs in my yard came from Cam Forest.
It’s hard. Those blooming annuals and perennials sold at almost every store this time of year are just so appealing. I can barely buy a dozen eggs without bringing home some color…like the Gerber daisy above.
Yes, it will look good in a pot…But before you blow the budget on blooms, a plea–
Annuals, even flats of annuals or quarts of perennials, look pretty small when we get them in home and in the ground.
Because they are small. They will grow. But they won’t grow enough to make a garden–
I just visited a spot in rural Orange County that I can’t get out of mind. Sorry, no pictures of Cathy’s garden. I was too busy taking it in…
Cathy lives on an old farmstead–lots of flat space which she filled with primo trees and shrubs from local nurseries like Camellia Forest.
The nationally famous perennial nursery, Niche Gardens, is just around the corner–but I get the feeling Cathy didn’t start with perennials. She planted trees, grand ones like Magnolia macrophylla, fruit trees and big old-fashioned shrubs like pearl bush and lilac.
And Cathy didn’t worry much about grass Standing in her rather tall mixed clover lawn, enjoying a rain of dogwood and cherry tree petals, reminded me of the wonderful, overgrown and very delightful gardens of my childhood.
So make sure to buy plants that will separate you from the neighbors and the street–trees, shrubs.
Just remember, if you plant it now, you’ll need to water. One inch a week for the first two years (if it doesn’t rain) is the rule.
You can do that.
It was a great week for me last week–Lots of sunshine and more spring blooms like the purple lenten rose above–plus I delivered a load of vintage fabric garden journals and tool belts to two of my favorite stores in Durham.
They also took some of my Rewind Design work belts, along with George Davis at another of my favorite stores–Stone Brothers and Byrd.
I’m so flattered to be in such good company. Both Floral Dimensions and Stone Brothers sell top quality, unique products–roses that open, orchids that live (from Floral Dimensions) , grass seed that’s geared to our area, seed starting mix, seeds, bulbs and bedding plants (from Stone Brothers and Byrd).
So as we all gear up to start the spring flower spending frenzy, a reminder to shop local independent stores like these.
Not only do they sell unique items you won’t find in the big box stores, they have lots of experience, passion and give out lots of free advice–
They are part of the local garden community–and that’s very, very important to me.
Plus our choices would be so limited without them–
Here are more local suppliers I couldn’t live without. What about you? Would love to know your favs.
Campbell Road Nursery in Cary. Great perennial and annual plants, knock your socks off sales and they contribute to world of plants: Lane is co-hybridizer of the wonderful dwarf butterfly bush–Buddleia Blue Chip
Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill–World famous camellia breeders. Most of the best shrubs and small trees in my garden began life here (including my Edgeworthia Snow Cream that blog partner Melissa and her dad covet)
Big Bloomers in Sanford–More perennials than you can count, great annual selection. My little sis always travels from Ashland, Va TWICE every spring to fill up her mini van…but don’t tell her husband.
Final notes: Did any of you ever shop at Buchanan’s Nursery on Western Blvd in Raleigh? Great plants and service–staffed with lots of people from NC State. You could call them up with a question and they’d spend 20 minutes on the phone with you. Gone now–killed by big box competition. How sad.
And if you ever buy cut flowers, read the article in this months Smithsonian Magazine.http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/The-Secrets-Behind-Your-Flowers.html Like our food, we need to know where our flowers come from. Another reason to shop with someone you trust.
Finally, one more milestone for me last week, one of my Kiki’s Rewind Designs made the new issue of Green Craft Magazine. Look for it on page 133 in the spring issue.
Of all the wonderful shrubs that grow and bloom in North Carolina gardens (and there are many) the Sasanqua Camellias have to be my favorite.
They bloom in fall, bringing color to my Apex woods from September to the hard freezes of December.
They are shade-loving, strong, and drought tolerant once established.
They are good blenders–open, lax and more at home in a woodland setting than their rather formal spring blooming cousins–Camellia japonica.
Sasanqua Camellia are evergreen–always a plus if you have neighbors or live in a deciduous forest.
Finally, I love the way Sasanqua Camellias smell–woodsy and clean–kind of like kicking your feet through newly fallen leaves, only sweeter.
Five Sasanqua varieties are blooming in my garden this week. All but one came from the fabulous Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill. My two favorites are Camellia Forest introductions: (They are world-famous camellia breeders by the way)
Favorite Number 1) Midnight lover–the reddest of the sasanquas. I can see the blooms clearly from my kitchen window even though it’s planted deep in the woods–110 feet away from the house.
Favorite number 2) William Lanier Hunt–a huge, trouble-free shrub that covers itself with hundreds of double rose-colored blooms around the time of my mother’s birthday in late Nov. Like I told blog-partner Melissa at the Camellia Forest open house last spring–”Wm Lanier Hunt–You should grow that”.
Sasanqua Camellias–give them a try.
Bulb update: My order from Tera Ceia Farms arrived this week. Here’s how I’m storing my bulbs until planting time next month–
Find a cool, dry spot–this is my shady screen porch table. Get the bulbs out of the bags and lay them out in a single layer. Now, go ahead and stock up on some BULBTONE–organic plant food for bulbs. Your grandma may have used bone meal but I’m told that the bones aren’t what they used to be. Blubtone is a better option. I’ve used it for years with good results.