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Fall is the best time for planting In the South —
Check out the back of her mini van after our latest shopping trip.
Our purchases may look a little beat up now, but no worries. We’ll plant, mulch, and cut these plants back in the next few weeks. Next spring and summer–lots of new flowers will grace our gardens. What a deal!
Were do you find your best plant bargains?
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.
Fall is for planting in the South. Perennials and shrubs do better when they get settled in before our summer heat, so find a good plant sale and go.
Here are a few of my favorite sales and the plants I bought this weekend:
5 perennials for 10 dollars at Campbell Road Nursery on Tryon Road in Cary. I came home with some splendid Carex, Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Mexican Petunia, Veronica Georgia Blue plus some dollar annuals and 50 cent perennial herbs. Some of my best plants have come from the retail side of this well-respected wholesale nursery. They are great growers.
Some of my most unusual plants come from Plant Delights Nursery in Wake County. Tony Avent’s plants are pricey but many are very rare and all are splendid. Even if you don’t take your wallet, the display gardens are free and worth the trip. I came home with a sweet almond tree verbena (Aloysia virgata)and a red Mexican Bamboo (Polygonum cuspidatum ”Crimson Beauty)–plus a maidenhair fern that is supposed to take the heat. Rare indeed.
Finally, everyone should go buy some greens by the end of the weekend. Even if you live in a third floor apartment, you can grow collards, kale, lettuce, chard and cabbage and they will be so much better that what you buy. Grow transplants in beds and pots. Toss leaves in your soups and salads until next spring. I have arugula, romaine and spinach. I’m shopping for collards and cabbage.
What about you? Share your fall planting lists and favorite sales. Maybe I’ll see you there.
After a Q&A over wine we determined that she’s using the same soil mix, Fafard Professional Growers Mix.
Lots of light–my adjustable grow lights were a long-ago investment from Park Seed. I have them on a timer.
A fan–it keeps the air moving and makes the plants sturdy.
But no fertilizer. I use a very weak solution of this plant starter fertilizer. Miracle Grow also works–just make sure to only a use a tiny bit. The water should barely have color (blue) . And I water with this ultra light food almost every time.
Melissa took some fertilizer home. We’ll see if her plant envy subsides.
By the way, this fertilizer is a plant starter formula because it’s high in phosphate, the element that promotes roots and flowers or fruit. Check out the middle number (10) –that’s the phosphate indicator. When my Daddy lived in Lowland South Carolina two decades ago, the commerical tomato growers put Triple Super Phosphate on their crops as in 0-48-0. Strong stuff and another reason to grow your own tomatoes.
Now a baby plant horror story. Can you see the gnats on the sticky trap above? My sister’s seedling crop had a serious infestation that came out of her Miracle Grow Potting Mix. She called the company and got “we don’t gurantee our soil to be sterlized”. She’s using sticky traps from Garden’s Alive to control the problem. Still–this is another a reason to use a starter mix you really, really trust. I always buy my mix from a nursery or seed and feed, like Stone Brothers and Byrd, and Campbell Road.
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.