Gardners Roll Call: Monday, July 24, 2017

Posted by on July 24, 2017



…still no rain…



Today was relatively cool, so I did a major edit in Park Inn Rooms 30/31 and grooming in Park Inn Rooms 34.

We are doing a major renovation in Park Inn Rooms 30/31. The space I have to work with is awkward, but I’m sure I can figure something out. To start, I removed all the mid-high mondo grass. I’m sure it started its life as a dwarf and reverted. Too late to save it now.

Went to Garden Supply to pick up three iron week, three Black-eye Susans, and three Amsonia, Arkansa Blue Star. While I was there, I picked up three more hay baskets for Park Inn Room 33. The one I put in the spring is doing so well, I decided to add more.

Park Inn Room 34 was looking a bit overdone. I moved a handful of anemones from one side of the water feature to the other. Deadheaded, deadleafed, cut back the wild petunias…they were popping up everywhere.

I also worked on the design for the new four peninsula areas. Picked 20 Rhus aromatica ‘Low Gro’. Ordered eight native fringe trees, Chionanthus virginicus, Carex laxiculmus ‘Hobb’, Blue Bunny carex, and Sporobolus heterolepis, commonly known as prairie dropseed. I’m still deciding on the perennials.


Posted this on Here’s an exert:

I was only six years old when Rachel Carson changed my world. And by all standards, Ms. Carson influenced a generation with her book, Silent Spring. That was some powerful stuff.

Since that time, so many of us are engaged in saving everything from birds to whales.

I was gung-ho all the way. I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in both environmental science and engineering. For 20 years I worked as an air pollution engineer, doing great work, but at the end of the day, it was just another business.

Most of the day was spent watering. I also dug up the red variety caladiums to plant into containers once Jorge gets them installed.

Transplanted several hardy geraniums grown in wild abandoned in the hoop house. I wanted to add more color under the dogwood by the Roost. Then only to find out that tree may be moved to put in a pavilion. Oh well. We’ll see it they survive.


Planted the native plants for the Park Inn Rooms 30/31 redesign. Added mulch. Heavily edited Park Inn Room 34. We have wild petunias growing around the grounds, and at first I liked the way they popped up here and there. Now I think they can be a nuisance. No, I’m not a hater, just trying to keep things in control.

We had a really, REALLY big birdhouse in The Roost area. It has multiple openings, so technically, it’s a dovecote, AND because there were squirrels living there, it was also a squirrel house. The bottom boards were warping, so I asked Greg if I could get hold of it to fix it up. Once it came down from the post, the bottom boards were no longer warped. It is so heavy and big I can’t just lift it up to look around. It’s gonna take some doing.


My day IN. I haven’t dedicated much time to my garden Helen’s Haven aka the Bee Better Teaching Garden, so I needed to dig in. Today I pulled and pulled. Things are going crazy, especially the reseed annuals like cleome.

Limbed up the Sycamore. Watered the container boxwood collection.

Watered the native Christmas ferns I rescued about three weeks ago. They are looking good, but you can really tell when they need a drink. I don’t do this often, if ever, but I set a timer on my iPhone and watered each fern for 2 minutes. I started at the back 40 (feet) where many of the native ferns were. I took a good look around to see how things were going. This is a xeric zone, so I shouldn’t have to water, but given this are newly transplants, and frankly, a bad time to do this, but these things need to be done when available.

I also started watering and cleaning up the bed in front of the boxwood, all around. I only go to one side. The soil was so dry, even if and when it rains, it wouldn’t do anything except wash away. Dry soil becomes hydrophobic. I wish I could have done more, but it was just too hot, and I had a lot of other garden-related things to do.

Stopped by the NC Fair Grounds to add plants to the Bee Better Teaching Garden. Even with staffers watering the raised bed, the soil was dry. I’ll need to stop by Saturday to water again since staff isn’t there on weekends.  I planted a flat of ‘Cheyenne Spirt’ Echinacea, a black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’, a coreopsis of some sort, and another echinacea I can’t remember. I’m blaming it one the heat. It got to 95ºF today.

Went on a search for ‘Henry Elders’ for the new Peninsula Beds at Fearrington. I don’t see any planted anywhere else, and I want some different native perennials for these beds. I have them growing in my garden, ones I got from Campbell Road Nursery three years ago. I love this plant. I called Campbell Road Nursery and they had the four I needed. There are more if you are looking for some.

I wanted to stopped by Lowes to pick up edging timbers. But the heat told me to slow down. I asked Lily if she wanted to go with me to Fearrington Village to drop off the plants and have pizza. It was a very nice time, and of course, the pizza was awesome. I love their wood-fired pizza.

Stopped by the Farmers Market, and specifically Archer Lodge. They have good plants, and John and Diva are very knowledgeable. For the new Peninsula Beds, I picked up four lance-leaf rudbeckia, a solidago, and some ‘Goldsturm’ Black-eyed Susans. I’m really not sure how they will be arranged, but I think I have a good amount and like to just start laying them out. It should be fun! This is my blank slate:




Again, hosting The Weekend Gardener. Check it out!! That was about all the gardening I could do on this VERY hot day. It looks like the heat wave will end by Monday, when it is back into the upper 80 to low 90s. And I’m doing some major planting.

Well gardening-wise, I guess I should count going over there NC State Fair Grounds to water the Bee Better Teaching Garden.

We have our first intern at Bee Better. We will begin together, Wednesday, August 2nd! Her name is Nathalie B. Nathalie wants to learn as much about pollinators and plants as possible. I knew who she was because she took the Bee Better course last October. She is also a Bee Better member. When she wrote me, she reminded me of this, and asked for my advice to gain as much knowledge as possible, specifically about the kinds of things we do at Bee Better. Natalie wandered about taking an on-line hort degree (2 years) or something else. Here was my reply:

I would never want to discourage you from taking the hort course online at NCSU. That will give you creds, which is always helpful. But also, the Master Garden program will give you, strangely, even more creds!!

Attend as many programs as you can. I’ll be attending the 16th Annual Gardening Gala and Seminar, September 21, 2017.  I always learn from these events and they are a VERY good price including meals!!!

The more hands-on experiences you can get the better. Gardening is really how you learn. Classroom education is great, but practical experience will get you there faster.

I asked her if she wanted to volunteer with Bee Better: [Ok, so I’m not actually asking for free labor, but here is a thought. What if you work with me for 2 hours a week on a Wednesday or Saturday mornings. I can talk with you as we work, advice you, at the same time you (hopefully) can learn a lot.

If you don’t want to volunteer with Bee Better, UNC (where she recently became a member) will need volunteers. A great way to gain this type of experience.

To say the least, I’m thrilled to have influenced someone enough to was to learn from we do at Bee Better.


It’s 8:36 AM as I write this…I am trying to get the energy to get out there to see what needs to be done. Today should be the last day of this heatwave, with tomorrow only getting into the low 90s. But things need to get done, so here go…

By 9:36 AM it was 82ºF, and I was hot. Temperature should always be viewed in context with time of year humidity, the temperatures that lead up to a day within a heatwave. In today’s 82, I was too hot to move, but if the temperature was in Mid October, I would be free as a bird to do anything I wanted. But when the air doesn’t cool at night, and everything around is especially hot, you become the receptor of that heat. In other words, 82 to day would have been something like 100 in October.

Since I wanted to remain inside today, I decided the timing was perfect to read the literature on the negative effects of the tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica and the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. 

I also spent the rest of the day making a four day seminar for Bee Better in October into three days, reading some, having tea. I can’t remember when I’ve felt more relaxed!




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