Thursday, June 27, 2013

July Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

For Independence Day, add some red,
 white or blue cuttings to your table!
NC Botanical Gardens
Location: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

Southeastern Native Perennials Walk-and-Talk
Date:  Saturday, July 27, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Instructor: Chris Liloia, NCBG Curator
 Looking for some new plant ideas? Ready to learn about gardening with perennials? Come enjoy a morning in the Garden as we walk and talk about native perennial plants. We'll use the garden around us as a starting point to learn some new plants and explore topics like growing requirements as well as dividing, transplanting, and care of sun and shade perennials. We'll make the coffee; you bring the questions. Fee: $25 ($20 NCBG members)

Book Review: Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Short Course)
Date: Thursday, July 11, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Instructor: Peter White, NCBG Director

This course is intended for a broad audience. Students independently read Walden by Henry David Thoreau and come together to discuss Thoreau’s understanding of society and goals of simple living and self-sufficiency. Fee: $30 ($25 NCBG members)

The Physical Fitness of Leaves: Science for All of Us
Date: Sunday, July 21, 2:30 - 3:30 pm
Steven Vogel, James B. Duke Professor of Biology, Emeritus, author of The Life of a Leaf (2012, University of Chicago Press), will describe in in words and hands-on activities how a plant leaf manages its world and what this teaches us about how we could manage our own. Every organism must contend with its immediate physical environment, a world that both limits what organisms can do and offers innumerable opportunities for evolving fascinating ways of challenging those limits. Professor Vogle will explain these interactions, examining through the example of the leaf the extraordinary designs that enable life to adapt to its physical world. He will provide food for thought and tools for a new way of seeing the beauty and simplicity of the science of life. Free, but advance registration required.

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

Plantsmen's Tour "The Summer 2013 Interns' Top Picks"
Date: July 9, 9:00 A.M.-10:30 a.m.

Griffin Buser, Tom Gargano, Jeremy Sanders, and Ginny Youngl, 2013 Summer Interns

Orchid Repotting and Care Workshop Date: July 13, 9 a.m.-noon
Sponsored by the Triangle Orchid Society and the JC Raulston Arboretum
Suzanne Hens, Ph.D., Ralph Sears, and Paul Welty, M.D.

Hypertufa Trough Workshop
Date:  July 20, 9 a.m. - noon
Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane, Lasting Impressions and JCRA Volunteers

Cast Concrete Leaf Workshop Date:  July 20, 1 p.m.- 3:00 p.m.

Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane, JCRA Volunteers

Doris Duke Center.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Location:  420 Anderson St Durham, NC 27708  Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Walk on the Wild Side
Thursday, July 11, 2013, 11 a.m. - noon.
Explore wild North Carolina in these walks through our Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. Join curator Stefan Bloodworth or horticulturist Annabel Renwick on the first Thursday of every month for discussions of seasonal interest. Please dress for the weather. $7; $5 for Gardens members and Duke students & staff. Registration required (parking fees apply). To register, or for more information, please call 919-668-1707.

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

Gardener's Fair
Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Join us for expert advice and answers to your questions. Presented in the Doris Duke Center by Durham Garden Forum in partnership with Duke Gardens and N.C. Cooperative Extension's Durham County Center. Free admission.

Garden Tools - Stone Brothers and Byrd
Hottest New Plants - Barbara Albertus, manager of the Durham Garden Center
Container Gardening - Michelle Wallace, Durham County Extension Agent
Repellents - Marilyn Cox, owner of  I Must Garden
Plant Propagation - Sara Smith, member of Duke Gardens’ volunteer propagation team
Vermicomposting - Rhonda Sherman, solid waste specialist in the N.C. State Dept. of Bio and Ag Engineering, and Lynne Nelson, Extension Master Gardener
Beekeeping - Donna Devanney, president of the Durham Beekeeping Club
Trees - John Monroe, owner of Architectural Trees
Orchid Care - Triangle Orchid Society
Shade Plants - Beth Kelly, owner of The Plant Lady
Rain Gardens - Laura Webb-Smith, Storm Water Educator for the City of Durham
Mulches, Compost and Stone - Emily Brogan, owner of  The Rock Shop
General gardening advice - Master Gardener Volunteers of NC Extension
Cooking demo - Susan Walter Sink, the Tarheel Foodie, LLC
Growing and Using Herbs - Lisa Treadaway, owner of The Little Herb House
Bird Feeders, Houses & Equipment - Byron Schermerhorn of Wild Birds Unlimited

NC Extension Gardener Seminars
Complete program information at

None at North or South Regional Libraries in July 2013.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Save on Plants with this Council Advertiser!

What to do with your extra garden produce? Donate it to food pantries provides a quick resource for sharing your extra bounty. is a nation-wide nonprofit campaign—backed by the USDA, the White House, and Google—that is connecting backyard and community gardeners who have a bountiful harvest with local food pantries that are ready and able to accept donations of fresh food. provides the only free, searchable, online database of food pantries across the country so that gardeners can find a convenient location to donate.  So, next time a gardener has a bigger harvest than they can handle, instead of throwing the fruits of their labor in the compost pile, they can feed hungry families in their community. Check out the Master Gardener page at
Some of the nearby donation centers are:
  • Durham Tech Campus Harvest Food Pantry N1637 Lawson Street, Durham, NC. Contact: Erin Riney,  Phone: 919-536-7231,  Email:
  • Community Food Pantry 410 Liberty Street, Durham, NC.  Contact: Lee Nelson
    Phone: 919-682-0538,  Email:
  • Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC 3808 Tarheel Drive, Raleigh, NC. Contact: Anna Davenport,  Phone: 919-865-3019,  Email:
  • Heavenly Groceries 510 West Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC. Contact: Gladys Pendergraph,  Phone: 919-929-1116

AmpleHarvest is a 501(c)3 organization, so donations are also tax-deductible!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Edible roses for unique summer recipies!

Rose petal ice cubes dress up any light-colored cocktail!
"Roses in the Kitchen" from Witherspoon Roses...

Roses are wonderful flowers that are often enjoyed in vases on kitchen tables as a centerpiece, but they can also be used to create unique and beautiful dishes.  Roses have been enjoyed for centuries in many different cuisines and cultures.  Eastern countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey use roses as often as they do other herbs.  Asian countries such as Japan and China also use roses in their cooking.   In more recent years, roses have become increasingly more popular in upscale restaurants around the United States.  Using roses as an ingredient in your kitchen is an easy way to enjoy new flavors and dishes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Gardens of the Renaissance" exhibit open at the Getty

Detail from "The Death of Parmenion," about 1470–75,
Master of the Jardin de vertueuse consolation
(Flemish, Bruges)
Summer travelers to Los Angeles may enjoy taking in this historical "garden" exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

"Gardens of the Renaissance," features over 20 manuscript illuminations, a painting, a drawing and a photograph from the Getty Museum's permanent collection, as well as loaned works from the Getty Research Institute and private collectors James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell.
Envision Renaissance gardens as spaces of leisure for the ruling class? Not always!

The murder of Parmenion, one of Alexander the Great's traitorous generals, takes place in a verdant setting in this illumination.
For more information on this exhibition, please see:

Underplanting Mature Trees

Flower bed underneath a holly
(Ilex hybrid), SAS Institute.
 Flower bed during Spring under Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum), SAS Institute campus, Cary, NC.

Article and photos by Kathleen Guerra  
Durham Co. Master Gardener

Do you long to remake those bare, dusty patches under your trees into a lush mosaic of feathery foliage, spiky sedges and springtime blooms? Underplanting mature trees can transform a garden space, but doing so requires patience and care to ensure the continued health and vitality of the existing trees.

Consider the Tree First

To start, ensure that you do no harm to the tree. Many homeowners share the common misperception that trees are deeply rooted and that outward root growth mirrors the tree’s crown. In truth, most trees have shallow root systems with 90 percent of roots occurring in the top 12-18 inches of the soil and extending far beyond the drip-line of the canopy. Since most tree roots are close to the surface, it is imperative to avoid changing the grade of the soil under mature trees. Adding just a few inches of soil can significantly reduce the oxygen available to feeder roots, effectively smothering them. Moreover, installing a raised bed under existing trees can dramatically increase moisture levels near the trunk, leading to bark decay and the eventual decline and death of the tree. Some trees such as beech, cherries, pines, red oaks, and sugar maples to name just a few, are highly sensitive to having their roots disturbed. Be sure you know the tolerance level of your particular tree. You may give a second thought to underplanting a highly sensitive tree or choose to limit your plantings to perennials rather than annuals to avoid disturbing the soil more than once.

Select Plants for Dry Shade

Next, consider the type of shade that exists under the tree – do you have filtered (dappled) shade, partial shade, open shade or deep shade? You will want to choose  plants that grow well in the specific shade conditions and in dry shade. Competition for water and nutrients from tree roots may create shortages for your plants, so select only those that will thrive in reduced moisture and light. Native plants that grow naturally under similar conditions are good options. As you select plants, keep in mind their mature height and width to avoid crowding the lower tree branches. Lastly, some trees such as black walnut and butternut produce juglone, a natural substance that can stunt growth and cause plant death. For underplanting beneath these trees, be sure to select plants that will tolerate juglone.

Minimize Root Disturbance

How do you plant in a Medusa’s nest of tangled tree roots? Planting under mature trees requires the art of “pocket” planting – that is, the gentle digging and tucking of small plants into open spaces between tree roots. To minimize root disturbance, install several small-sized plants (2 ½ - 4 ½ inch pots) that don’t require large planting holes. While it will take time for the small plants to fill in, the bed will look better and fuller each subsequent season. Never use a tiller or other means of mechanical cultivation under trees to avoid damaging precious root systems. When planting, if you come across a root that is one and a half inches in diameter or greater, move your planting hole off to one side to avoid disturbing it.

You can prepare the planting area under a tree by spreading a top dressing of two to three inches of organic material, such as well-rotted compost or shredded leaves. Shredded leaves can do double duty as both a soil amendment and mulch. Carefully dig individual holes for the plants between the tree roots and add organic material to the planting holes. Position the tallest plants nearest to the trunk, cascading down to the shortest plants in the front, to avoid hiding small plants behind taller ones and to ensure adequate light for all. To minimize soil compaction and disturbance, install the plants closest to the tree first and work your way outwards toward the drip-line. Finally, if you used something other than shredded leaves as your soil amendment, add two to three inches of organic mulch between your plantings to conserve moisture, taking care to keep the mulch away from the tree trunk.

Monitor Soil Moisture

Trees vary in their competitiveness for soil moisture, so plan on actively monitoring moisture levels while your new plantings are becoming established. In the beginning, ensure your new plants and tree receive one deep soaking each week equivalent to one inch of water. Once established, you can reduce the watering frequency to once every two weeks. During periods of inadequate rainfall, you may need to supplement and water more often.

Underplanting mature trees can transform a garden space into a lush, shady oasis. Understanding and meeting the needs of your tree’s root system is the first step to realizing your vision and ensuring the ongoing health of your mature tree.


Brown, Deborah L. (2013). Gardening in the shade. University of Minnesota Extension Service. Retrieved from

Browning, Sarah. (June 2011). Planting under trees. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service in Lancaster County. Retrieved from

Evans, Erv. (2000). Gardening in the shade. NC State University, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from

Meyer, Mary and Sparks, Kelsey. (January 2006). Planting under trees. University of Minnesota Extension Service. Retrieved from

Ripke, Kathy. (2006). Planting under existing trees. University of Minnesota, Department of Horticultural Science. Retrieved from

Roach, Margaret. (June 2008). 10 thoughts on successful underplanting. Retrieved from

Roman, Don and Sellmer, Jim. (March 2003). Landscaping and gardening around walnuts and other juglone producing plants. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Horticulture. Retrieved from

Taylor, Doris. Planting under a tree. Fine Gardening, 105, 40-43. Retrieved from

Thursday, June 13, 2013

2013 Gardener's Fair: Ask the Experts, July 16

Doris Duke Center and White Garden at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
The 2013 Gardener's Fair: Ask the Experts will be held during the Duke Garden Forum Tuesday, July 16, 2013, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Doris Duke Center. This event is sponsored by Sarah P. Duke Gardens and the NC Cooperative Extension. Admission is free. 

Featured Booths

• Stone Brothers and Byrd - Garden Tools
• Barbara Albertus, manager of the Durham Garden Center - Hottest New Plants
• Michelle Wallace, Durham County Extension Agent - Container Gardening
• Marilyn Cox, owner of  I Must Garden - Repellants
• Sara Smith, member of Duke Gardens’ propagation team - Plant Propagation
• Rhonda Sherman, solid waste specialist in the NC State Dept. of Bio and Ag
Engineering and Lynne Nelson, Extension Master Gardener - Vermicomposting
• Donna Devanney, president of the Durham Beekeeping club - Beekeeping
• John Monroe, owner of Architectural Trees - Trees
• Triangle Orchid Society - Orchid Care
• Beth Kelly, owner of The Plant Lady - Shade Plants
• Laura Webb-Smith, Storm Water Educator for the City of Durham - Rain Gardens
• Emily Brogan, owner of  The Rock Shop - Mulches, Compost and Stone
• Master Gardener Volunteers of NC Extension - General gardening questions
• Susan Walter Sink, the Tarheel Foodie, LLC - Cooking demo
• Lisa Treadaway, owner of  The Little Herb House - Herbs, Growing and Using
• Byron Schermerhorn of Wild Birds Unlimited - Feeders, houses, equipment

Homemade Fire Ant killer recipe

Fire ant stings create blisters on the hosts they bite!
The following recipe for fire ants killer was given on WPTF "Weekend Gardener."

One of our own NC garden club members, Anne Clapp of Raleigh, shares the radio show with Mike Galey which airs on Saturday mornings. Our thanks to Anne for t
his helpful information!

Poison for Fire Ants:
5 pounds of white corn meal
3 cups of sugar
1 package of cherry Jello
3 Tablespoons of acephate. (The acephate is an active ingredient in Orthene. Acephate, as a separate product, is available at some of the independent garden centers or farm supply stores.)

You make a ring of the bait around the fire ant hill about 2 feet away from the mound. The bait mixture can be stored in a plastic container for six months.

In the Garden...

An Eastern yellow swallowtail feeds
from the pollen of an Asiatic Lily (Lilium).
Epiphyllum orchid cactus.

The lily and cactus are two of many spectacular plants in the eastern Durham garden of Dennis Dickerson. Photos by D. Dickerson.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Anytime Webinar: "Protecting Gardens from Voles, Moles, & More"

A vole steps up to his salad bar.

The webinar recording of "Protecting Gardens from Voles, Moles, and More" is available online anytime at:

Voles and moles indiscriminately eat garden vegetation and dig damaging holes to plant root systems.

This program was created by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, School of Natural Resources.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Facebook page facilitates discussion for Council Members, Triangle Gardeners

The Durham Council of Garden Clubs launched their Facebook page this Spring! We are excited to give our members and the Triangle area gardening public an opportunity to comment and share ideas on the news we publish.

As much as this Blog helps to get our word out, Facebook is even faster, has richer photo capabilities, special event notices, and an easy-to-read format you might like much better!
Be sure to "Like" and follow our page (or "Like and Hide" our page) in your favorites so you can quickly join the discussion.

We would love your support and are happy to return such for our advertisers and Triangle gardening businesses!