Monday, April 29, 2013

Croasdaile GC beautifies school property, celebrates Spring with Junior Club

The Croasdaile Garden Club received about 75 flower bulbs from Keep Durham Beautiful in March which the members then planted at the entrance to Riverside High School along Rose of Sharon Road.  The Club is hopeful there may be blooms for graduation. Pictured L-R: Connie O'Neil, Linda Yankes, Susan Antle, Vanessa Kozmon. 
The same day the GC ladies flew kites with their Junior Garden Club students.  It was a lovely, breezy day, and the students had a great time!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pitching in at Briggs Ave. Community Garden: Forest Hills Garden Clubs

In less than two hours, members of the Forest Hills Garden Club and its newly organized Junior Garden Club weeded and mulched not one, not two, but FOUR large plant beds of the Briggs Avenue Community Garden for their April meeting and service day. The Junior Club pitched nearly 5 cubic yards of mulch into wheelbarrows while the moms weeded and spread the mulch over the FH Garden Club's sponsored blueberry bed, adjacent blackberry bed, and two other large beds flanking the garden's entrance.
Oh, and a few bugs tried to help out, too!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Garden Clubs invited to decorate holiday trees for Duke Gardens, response deadline May 17

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is celebrating its 75th Anniversary of the Dedication of Duke Gardens. The Gardens staff would like to invite your club to participate in the festivities by decorating a tree for the 2013 Holiday Season at the Doris Duke Center. The theme this year is Celebrating a Legacy – Sarah P. Duke Gardens. We want to showcase the natural beauty that is found within the 55 acres of this outstanding public garden.
The goal is to have five trees, 2 large wreaths and all windows decorated using this theme. As a participating garden club, you would be responsible for producing the decorations and decorating one tree. Each indoor tree is artificial, pre-lit and is 7 ½ feet in height. In addition, this year we will have one larger tree in front of the Doris Duke Center for this special occasion. This tree would be representative of the entire garden showcasing elements from each area.
Each club is asked to choose from one specific area at Duke Gardens and make ornaments to represent that area. These areas include: The Historic Terraces, The H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, The Culberson Asiatic Arboretum and the Garden of the Doris Duke Center – specifically the White Garden. We hope to represent the Historic area which includes the Terraces with some vintage ornaments from the time period of the 1930’s. Members of the Gardens’ horticultural staff are willing to advise with your chosen area.
Please plan to decorate your tree on Wednesday, December 4, 2013. We ask that you schedule your club’s time of arrival with me 2 weeks ahead of time. We will stagger the arrival times of each club to ensure the availability of step-stools/ladders and any attention necessary from the Gardens’ Staff. Your decorations should be hand crafted and reflect the area of Duke Gardens that you select. Please plan to include decorated items for beneath the tree as well. We hope to avoid the use of commercially manufactured materials as much as possible. We also ask for an information poster to put beside your tree explaining the materials you used and their relevance.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur during installation, the period of time the decorations are in the Doris Duke Center, or during the removal of decorations. Items on display enjoy the same security as the Gardens collections, but irreplaceable items or items of great value should not be included.
Please discuss this opportunity at your next meeting to gauge interest. If your club is interested in participating, please contact me or 919-668-1705 with your chosen area as soon as possible. Deadline to respond is Friday, May 17, 2013.
In appreciation, Duke Gardens would like to offer each participating Club a free guided tour of Sarah P. Duke Gardens for your members during the calendar year 2014. We now offer special thematic tours that may be appealing to your members. We hope you will want to be a part of this exciting upcoming holiday season at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Durham County Master Gardeners Graduate this Week!

A new class of certified, NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners (EMG) graduated Monday, April 22. Among the 27 students, the Durham Council of Garden Clubs was represented by Treasurer and Publicity Chair Jennifer C.  The prestigious, statewide program: was organized and facilitated by Durham County Extension Agent Michelle Wallace.

DCGC Treasurer and Publicity Chair Jennifer C. stands
proudly with her EMG certificate next to Program Leader
 and Durham County Extension Agent Michelle Wallace

The 2013 Durham County EMG program featured a rigorous, 15-week curriculum of college-level courses led by guest lecturers from the North Carolina University System in topics ranging from botany, plant pathology, entomology to integrated pest management (IPM) and water management. Students were given weekly quizzes and submitted two projects; one project being a short, evidenced-based presentation or article on a chosen horticultural topic, the other project a detailed research paper of the student’s own home landscape complete with charted solar paths, plat of property with every plant species identified and labeled, calendars for pest management calendar and plant maintenance, soil tests, and thorough research of numerous other physical considerations unique to their property.

The Extension Master Gardeners now number nine members in the Durham Council, and the rewards of being and EMG are purely for the passionate of gardening hearts.  The opportunities for volunteer services are wide. Examples include:

·        Diagnose plant, insect, and disease problems though the Extension Office and its consumer horticulture phone line
·        Staff plant clinics at the local Farmer’s Markets and educational exhibits
·        Provide support for demonstration or community gardens such as Extension’s  Briggs Avenue Community Garden in Durham
·        Lecture on various gardening topics through the Speakers Bureau
·        Bring the joy of gardening through lectures to area community groups, Sarah P. Duke Gardens Extension Gardener  Seminars, and the Durham Public Libraries Extension Gardener Seminars
·        Assist with horticulture related events (fair, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Field days)
·        Provide leadership to Extension Master Gardener projects and events
·        Help with university lead research  
·        Provide artistic support (Photography, Graphic Design)
·        Solicit funding and in-kind support for the program

Also notable, Durham County Extension Master Gardeners also began working with Cooperative Extension educators to train elementary school teachers to deliver hands-on science lessons that connect the students to the world of soils and plants.

Although they come in many shapes, sizes, demographics, etc., Master Gardeners are known for their feisty, dry wit and “get to it” work ethic. Here are a few of the common traits as reflected by individual MGs:
You Know You’re a Master Gardener when…
  • You grab other people's banana peels, coffee grinds, apple cores, etc. for your compost pile

  • Your neighbors think nothing of traipsing over the property line to ask you questions about their tomato plants 

  • You enjoy crushing Japanese beetles because you like the sound that it makes

  • You spend more time volunteering than at home, and your spouse rarely knows where you may be on any given day 

  • You arrange your monthly schedule around including some MG hours to get your 40 for the year

  • You buy a bigger truck so that you can haul more mulch 

  • You've given up trying to get the dirt out from underneath your fingernails

  • Your boss makes "taking care of the office plants" an official part of your job description

  • Your non-gardening spouse becomes conversant in Latin botanical names

  • You find yourself feeling all leaves, flowers and the trunks of trees wherever you go, even at funerals

  • You dumpster-dive for discarded bulbs after the commercial landscapers remove them in order to plant annuals

  • You plan vacation trips around the locations of botanical gardens, arboreta, historic gardens, etc.

  • Your neighbors mostly recognize you in pajamas, rubber clogs and holding a cup of coffee

  • When considering your budget, plants are more important than groceries

  • After purchasing $300 worth of plants, you enter “Harris Teeter” in your checkbook register

  • You always carry a shovel and a plastic bag in your trunk as emergency tools

  • You appreciate your Master Gardener badge more than your jewelry

  • You talk "dirt" at baseball practice and relish opportunities to “get dirty” with other like-minded gardening individuals. 

  • You spend more time chopping your kitchen greens for the compost pile than for cooking dinner

  • You like the smell of cow and horse manure better than Chanel No. 5

Botanical Treasures from Duke’s Hidden Library; Garden Club tours available

Herbarium Exhibit Banner Image

DATES: April 10 – July 14, 2013
Botanical Treasures of Duke’s Hidden Library examines the work of the Duke Herbarium, explains how plant specimens are collected, and highlights some surprising stories from the field, like how Duke biologists recently named a newly discovered genus of ferns after Lady Gaga!
Location: Perkins Library Gallery, Duke West Campus 
Public Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am–7pm; Saturday, 9am–7pm; Sunday, 10am–7pm
Hours may vary during the summer months. Please check our 
posted library hours for more information.
About the Exhibit 
When you hear the word herbarium, you might think herb garden. Not so.
Instead, think of an herbarium as a kind of library of preserved plants. But instead of shelves upon shelves of books, an herbarium contains cabinets upon cabinets of dried and labeled plant specimens. Unlike most books in a library, which can be repurchased or duplicated, each herbarium specimen is truly unique. It is a representative of plant biodiversity at a particular place and time in the history of life on earth. A new exhibit in Perkins Library explores the beauty and importance of herbaria in furthering our understanding of the natural world and highlights our own “hidden library” of plants right here on campus—the Duke Herbarium. 
Detail: Herbarium sample of Rhynchospora, commonly known as beak-rush or beak-sedge.

The Duke Herbarium, located in the Biological Sciences Building next to the French Family Science Center, is one of the largest herbaria in the United States and the second largest at a private U.S. university (after Harvard). With more than 800,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes, algae, lichens, and fungi, the Duke Herbarium is a unique and irreplaceable resource used by local, national, and international scientific communities.

The role of herbaria in housing and protecting plant specimens is invaluable. Herbaria are where biologists turn to identify plant species, check the validity of a newly described species, track how a species has changed over time, and even analyze how entire landscapes have been altered. Herbarium specimens can yield information to help us better protect our planet. This is especially important today, when humans have a greater impact on the environment and plants are exposed to conditions they never would have encountered just a century ago.
For more information on arranging a Garden Club tour with an exhibit curator, please contact: Meg Brown at, or visit

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Making the Most of Your Mulch: Top Tips to Remember!


This is my mulch pile back in 2008. The older child is now able to help! I’ve learned a few things since then, including – 1) put a tarp under the mulch so you don’t lose much of it in the lawn, and 2) don’t let the kids climb on it.

By Ann Barnes
Durham Co. Extension Master Gardener

Like me, many Triangle homeowners are spending April weekends spreading mulch in their landscape beds. Mulch provides many benefits beyond simply making your yard look tidy and finished.
  • A layer of mulch can keep the temperature of soil a bit cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  • Mulch helps to prevent runoff and erosion. It absorbs water, which then can move into the soil. It also slows evaporation of moisture from soil.
  • It reduces soil compaction as a result of raindrops hitting the soil, and can help to prevent certain disease causing soilborne fungi from splashing up and coming into contact with leaves.
  • Mulch can prevent germination of weed seeds that are found in the surface layer of soil, so a Saturday spent spreading mulch will mean fewer hours spent pulling weeds later. Fewer weeds means that your plants will have less competition for resources such as water and nutrients.
  • Organic mulches (such as hardwood or pine) break down over time and release nutrients into the soil. Organic materials also improve the texture of our clay soils, resulting in more oxygen, moisture, and nutrients being available to plant roots. Inorganic mulches do not break down quickly and may not have to be reapplied as frequently, but they do not provide nutrients.
  • Common organic mulches include: shredded hardwood bark, pine needles, compost, leaves, pine nuggets, and hardwood chips.
    'Volcano trees' die between 7-10 years old
    because their root systems do not properly grow
    downward; they grows shallowly in the mulch!
  • Inorganic options include: rocks, gravel, landscape fabric, and recycled rubber. Black plastic is sometimes used, but not recommended because it doesn’t allow air or water to easily move to the soil below.  

If you are not sure which mulch to choose, you can refer to the chart at the end of the article at this link:

  • The recommended amount of organic mulch to use is 2-4 inches around trees and shrubs, 1-2 inches around perennials, and 1 inch around annuals.
  • Avoid piling mulch around the stems of plants, as this can encourage both stem rot and shallow root growth.

4th Annual Herbfest sponsored by the Friends of Page-Walker, May 5

The 4th annual Herbfest will be held rain or shine on the grounds of the Page-Walker Arts & History Center, Cary, NC. In addition to touring the Garden, festival-goers can watch herb cooking demonstrations and visit vendors selling a wide variety of herbs, crafts and garden products.

The Butterfly Lady returns to Herbfest this year with live butterfly releases scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The Friends of Page-Walker have also teamed up with the Cary Creative Center to provide reuse materials and guidance for children to make a fun garden crafts from 10:00 - 1:00 p.m. The Center is a non-profit organization which connects people with the arts and environment to promote reuse as a way to achieve waste reduction in our community landfills.

Location:  Page-Walker Arts & History Center, 119 Ambassador Loop, on the Cary Town Hall Campus.
Dates and Times:  Saturday, May 4, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
For More Info: or (919) 460-4963
This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Council takes home $150 in prizes at GCNC Annual Meeting

The Durham Council and select members won the following awards in Wilmington this week at the Annual Meeting of The Garden Clubs of North Carolina:

#1 Masilon Award: Sunshine Williams
#22 Best mentor: 3rd place, Margaret McCotter, Heritage GC
#93 Council Award for Best Program: 2012 Fall Board Meeting, 1st Place, DCGC, $25
#101 Garden Therapy for Veterans: 1st Place, Bedding Plants VA Hospital, Heritage GC, $25
2nd Place, Homestead Heights - Maple Ct
#104 Garden Therapy Senior Citizens: 1st Place, Heritage GC, $25
#122 Church Garden: Heritage GC, $50
#200 Yearbook: 1st Place, DCGC, $25

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Junior Garden Club kicks off in Forest Hills: Little hands help create harbingers of Spring

Contributed by Caroline Carrington

Daffodils are in bloom next to the University Drive sign thanks to the
fall planting by Camille Carrington, daughter of Caroline Carrington (FH).
Recently the Forest Hills Garden Club has been growing, and now we want to bloom!  Our membership has grown, and we have established our garden club as a significant member of the Durham Council of Garden Clubs.  Now we want to expand again, and help our little ones in the neighborhood bloom and grow, by sharing the joy of gardening with our kids.   The opportunity to establish a Forest Hills youth garden club enables us to help the Forest Hills Garden Club meet it’s goals and objectives for a thriving neighborhood garden club.  In its earlier days (circa 1950’s), the Forest Hills Garden Club did have a youth club, which helped to support the mission of the adult women’s club.   With so many kids accompanying their moms and dads in park clean-ups, volunteer time at the Briggs Community Garden, or planting bulbs in the park, it is a natural progression of our club mission, to extend our club to include a youth component.

Therefore, welcome the Forest Hills Junior Garden Club!  Our youngest members not only can help fulfill the goals and missions of the Forest Hills garden club, but may at times host fundraisers (think lemonade sales at the park, etc.).  At most, this affords us the priceless opportunity to share the beauty, serenity and joy of gardening in a teachable way, that can continue to the next generation.

The Forest Hills Junior Garden Club will be open to children of current members, ages 4-12.  Children should be able to participate in activities and follow basic instructions.  Parents will accompany their children during the club activities or events.  For more information, contact Mindy Solie 919-419-0550, or Caroline Carrington at 919-403-7468.

Forest Hills Junior Garden Club Proposal

Junior Garden Club Admin & Meeting Structure:
  1. At least 2 FH Garden Club members should be "sponsors" of the Jr. Garden Club, to organize and lead activities, and provide status report updates at FH Club meetings.
  2. Parents should be supportive of activities and attend scheduled events with their child (no child should be unsupervised).
  3. Event/Meetings:  November, February, April
  4. Event/Meeting should feature an activity that supports mission or goals of FH Garden Club (i.e. Briggs Community Garden work (weeding, watering, whatever is age appropriate) or planting bulbs in public areas around Forest Hill Park).
  5. Event/Meeting should also include a "teachable moment" to share the beauty, serenity and joy of gardening.  We may even want to teach the Garden Club Collect to Jr. members or incorporate some of the historical aspects of the garden club to help instill the longevity and legacy of the FH Garden Club.

  • Open to children (boys and girls) whose parents are current members of Forest Hills Garden Club
  • Ages: 4-12 (TBD)?  Children should at least be of the age to participate in activities and follow basic instructions
  • Membership Fee:  $5 for basic supplies of gloves, or small spade? (Dues may be required for Durham Council of Garden Club for Youth Garden Clubs

  • At least 3 Proposed Events: 
November - Plant bulbs in the FH Park    (instruct how to plant and water bulbs)
February - Decorating birdfeeders or potting pansies in small pots (possibly painting pots as well)
April - Briggs Garden volunteer work   (instruct on different tasks, plant, water, mulch or weed)
 If the dates work well: consider adding additional events in other months or include an off-site SEEDS activity.
  1. Lemonade stand near the FH Clubhouse in late spring/early summer to raise money for SEEDS.
  2. Group craft activity in the Fall (making a birdhouse, painted pot, etc.) to donate for the December Holiday Forest Hills Garden Club (Fundraising) Auction, or for VA Hospital.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Carolina Farm Tours kick off this Spring: Sustainable farms in focus

Garden Clubs looking to hit the road in this spring and summer can enjoy several Farm Tours offered by the Carolina Farms Stewards Association (CFSA). 

The CFSA driving tours provide literature for visiting local, sustainable farms, and visitors can often purchase product from many farms, so bring a cooler!

  • Midlands Farm Tour, April 6-7, 1-5 p.m.
  • Pedmont Farm Tour, April 27-28, 1-5 p.m.
  • Upstate Farm Tour, June 1-2, 1-6 p.m.
  • Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, Sept. 21-22, 1-5 p.m. 

Check out this month’s eNews for all the details and to buy your tickets for these great farm tours - and to find a farm tour in your neck of the woods. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs/Events

NC Botanical Gardens
Location: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.
Controlling Invasive Plants (Short Course)
April 6, 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.Jeff Stewart, Ecologist
This short course is intended for a broad audience. Through classroom and field demonstrations, students learn the tools and methods needed to identify invasive species and effectively remove them under various scenarios. No prerequisites. Fee: $40 ($35 NCBG members).

SEEING TREES —the 2013 Evelyn McNeill Sims Native Plant Lecture
Sunday, April 14, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Writer Nancy Ross Hugo, shares some of the secrets discovered in her intense, two-year investigation of the seeds, catkins, cones, flowers, resting buds, emerging leaves, and other small phenomena usually overlooked on backyard trees.

Forgotten Grasslands of the South
Wednesday, April 17, 7:30 p.m.
From the pine flatwoods and dry prairies of Florida to the blackland prairies of Mississippi . . . from the grassy balds of the Southern Appalachians to the cedar glades of central Tennessee . . . grasslands of the southeastern U.S. form a broad group of unique ecosystems. Eminent ecologist Reed Noss has spent years exploring and studying southern grasslands.

Celebrating Earth Day: Crossroads of the Natural World
Sunday, April 21, 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Tom Earnhardt, writer and host of UNC-TV’s "Exploring North Carolina" and lifelong conservationist, ties deep geological time and forgotten species from our distant past to the unparalleled biodiversity of today. Crossroads of the Natural World invites readers to engage a variety of topics, including the impacts of invasive species, the importance of forested buffers along our rivers, the role of naturalists, and the challenges facing the state in a time of climate change and sea-level rise.

Perennial Vegetables
Sunday, Apr 21 (Inclement weather date: 5/5), 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Greta Lee, Permaculture Designer & Organic Gardener; Claire Lorch, Carolina Campus Community Garden Educator

This workshop will be held at the Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG). Vegetable perennials are often undervalued by gardeners and include a wide variety beyond the traditional rhubarb and asparagus. You will have an opportunity to sample some of these vegetables and take home plants for your own garden! Fee: $15 ($10 NCBG members).

JC Raulston Arboretum
Location: Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC

JCRA's Annual Plant Sale
Members Only Preview Sale
Friday, April 5, 4:00 -7:00 p.m.

Open to the Public
Saturday, April 6, 9:00-3:00 p.m.

The weekend begins early with featuring unusual and difficult to find plants ready for the landscape. The plants are available for purchase in the Brick Parking Circle in front of the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center.

Raulston Blooms!
Saturday, April 6, 10:00–3:00 p.m.
There is something for everyone at this family-friendly day of green activities featuring beekeeping, birding, photography, backyard (urban) chickens, growing plants from seeds, container gardening, growing vegetables at home, home pruning, a maze, and nine College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student clubs and organizations providing a variety of great food. The event partners with green industry professionals, local businesses, and the student groups. Event is free.

13th Annual Birdhouse Competition
Saturday, April 6,10:00–5:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 7,12:00–5:00 p.m.

It's that time of year again! The Birdhouse Competition returns to the JC Raulston Arboretum. If making birdhouses is not your thing, then looking at them should be. The creations range from barrels of laughs to studies in craftsmanship and beauty. Drop off your entry on Friday, April 5 from 10:00 AM through 6:00 PM.

Seasonal Garden Photography Workshop
Saturday, April 13, 8:00–3:00 p.m.
Join the JCRA and two award-winning photographers/instructors for a series of four seasonal photography workshops with the accent on creativity. Learn to create more powerful, meaningful outdoor images with your camera. Learn to celebrate the special joys of each season in a beautiful outdoor setting. Register for one or all of the workshops by calling Chris Glenn at (919) 513-7005.

Spring Garden Conservancy's Open Days Tour
Saturday, April 13 9:00–5:00 p.m., Sunday, April 14, 12:00 -5:00 p.m.
For many years, the Raleigh area Open Days Tours have been featured in September, and these fall tours will again be offered on September 21 and 22, 2013. We are pleased to present the new April Open Days Tour experience so garden enthusiasts may visit these lovely spring gardens. Admission is $5.00 per person per garden or six gardens for $25.00.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

The Long Sleep: Plant Dormancy
Wednesday, April 3, 6:30-8:30 pm
Boyd Strain, professor emeritus of Botany and past director of the Duke University Phytotron
Boyd will discuss the basics of what we know about dormancy and then extend the idea to cover the impact of global warming on dormancy and partner animals/ insects.
Participant limit: 35 | Fee: $18; Gardens members $14

Cherry Blossom Festival
Sunday, April 7, noon-3 p.m.
Free drop-in activities for all ages; adult chaperone required.
Enjoy the spring season at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Festival activities feature our annual grand tea gathering in the amphitheater, Japanese taiko drumming, martial arts displays, theatrical Japanese storytelling, Ikebana flower arranging and bonsai, and more. Equipment basics, field strategies and techniques, exposure, lighting, and compositional skills.
A Taste of Tea at the Cherry Blossom Festival
Sunday, April 7, 2 p.m. | Participant limit: 50
Participants must pre-register (before the date of the festival) to enjoy a bowl of tea and a sweet after the presentations. Each registrant will pick up a ticket at the festival to exchange for refreshments.

What on Earth is Soil?
4 Tuesdays, April 23-May 14, 6:30-9 p.m. | Saturday field session, May 11, 9 a.m.-noon
Eric Bowen, ecology master’s candidate, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University; founder, Durham Locally Grown
This class will cover the basics of how soil is formed, its structure and chemistry, the supply and movement of macro-nutrients and how to get every bit of information from a soil test. The class will include simple experiments and tests to learn more about your soil at home. Location: Doris Duke Center | Participant limit: 15 | Fee: $160; Gardens members $130

Durham Garden Forum
Ground Covers: Doug Chapman of Plantworks
April 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Meetings are held at Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Tuesday Evenings from 6:30-8:00pm.
Membership is $25 for the year (which runs April – March) or each lecture is $10. No preregistration is required. Contact information is

Elizabethan Gardens
1411 National Park Drive Manteo, NC 27954
252-473-3234 or visit

Salad Container Gardening
Apr 6 - Apr 6 2013, 11:00 AM TO 1:00 PM
Lettuce show you how to plant and enjoy a fresh salad in a space- saving container! The Gardens will supply the containers, soil and plants for your garden to get started. And to taste what is yet to come from your own garden, a fresh salad will be served for lunch to all participants. For info or details, call 252-473-3234.