Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

The Fourth Annual Spring Egg Hunt at the
JC Raulston Arboretum is running seven days through April 5. 
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St., Durham, NC. http://gardens.duke.edu/events.  
Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Thursday, April 2, 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Thursday, April 2, 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Tuesday, April 7, 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Course meets for 6 sessions
Tuesday, April 7, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Course meets for 2 sessions
Plants of Distinction: The Terraces Preview
Thursday, April 16, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM

Saturday, April 18, 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Course meets for 3 sessions
Saturday, April 18, 10:45 AM to noon, and 1-2:15 PM

Plant Propagation: Dividing a Plant 
Tuesday, April 21, 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM

Sarah P. Duke's letter donating $20,000 for a public garden to be built in her name. Image courtesy of Duke University Archives.
The Women of Duke Gardens
Tuesday, April 21, 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Durham Garden Forum: Small Fruits for the Home Garden
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Tuesday, April 21, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Course meets for 2 sessions
Wednesday, April 22, 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM
Thursday, April 23, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Thursday, April 30, 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Thursday, April 30, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

JC Raulston Arboretum
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.http://jcra.ncsu.edu

Fourth Annual Spring Egg Hunt
Monday, March 30 - Friday, April 3, 10:00 am–3:00 pm
Saturday, April 4, 2015 – 10:00 am–2:00 pm
Sunday, April 5, 2015 – 1:00 pm–4:00 pm

Plantsmen's Tour:  "The JCRA's National Collections"
Tuesday, April 7, 1:00 pm
Mark Weathington, Director

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture:  "In Search of Overlooked and Exceptional Native Plants"
Thursday, April 9, 7:30 pm
Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Raulston Blooms!

A Garden Festival for All Ages
April 10-11, 9:00 am–4:00 pm

North American Rock Garden Society (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture : "Plant Hunting in Northern Vietnam"
Saturday, April 18, 10:00 am
Sponsored by the Piedmont Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society in Cooperation with the JC Raulston Arboretum

Andrew Bunting, The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College 
"Blight Resistance Chestnut Trees Grace the Coker Arboretum"
will be held on Friday, April 24, at the NC Botanical Gardens.
North Carolina Botanical Gardens
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

LUNCHBOX Series: The Biochemistry of Spring
Wednesday, April 8, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Local Deciduous Trees
Saturdays, April 11 and 18; 9:30am–12:30pm

Book Review: Teaching the Trees
Saturday, April 11,  2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest
Sunday, April 12,  2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Celebrating Trees: A Woodwind Concert
Sunday, April 12, 4:15 PM - 5:00 PM

Home Landscape Design Workshop
Saturdays, April 18, 25; 9:30 – 11:30am

Honey Beehive Tour
Sunday, April 19,  2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

LUNCHBOX Series: Anticipating Fall Color: What, Why, and Wow!
Wednesday, April 22, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

LUNCHBOX Series Restoring the Mighty Giant: Creating Resistance to Two Pathogens 
Wednesday, April 23, noon - 1:00 PM

Principles of Conservation Biology
Thursday, April 23, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

On Arbor Day: Blight Resistance Chestnut Trees Grace the Coker Arboretum
Friday, April 24, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Trees in Our State Forest: Clemmons Educational State Forest
Saturday, April 25,  noon - 2:00 PM

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Forest Hills Revitalizes Clubhouse Landscaping, Adds Butterfly Garden

Over 70 plants were used for the
Forest Hills butterfly garden.
Butterfly garden complete.
Photos by Margaret Rauwald.
By Margaret Rauwald 
FHGC Program Chair, FHNA Board 
Spring is in the air and a major overhaul of new plantings surrounding the clubhouse is ready to emerge showing many new colors and textures with four-season interest. Through the support of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association, it was unanimously voted to fund the new landscape project by replacing a misfit of overgrown trees and shrubs neglected for many years.

The volunteer effort of the new clubhouse landscape was designed and directed by Margaret Rauwald, Forest Hills resident, board member of the FHNA and newly elected board member of the FH Garden Club. Greg Sims, President of Designerlandscapesinc.com was awarded the job and his crew provided all the labor, organic soil, triple-shredded mulch, pruning, and a new drip irrigation system. Their expertise was instrumental in implementing the final design plan.

The most exciting area to take note of is the left side of the clubhouse where poison ivy thrived under an overgrown evergreen is now a natural butterfly garden with over 70 sun-loving perennials including a dwarf crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei 'Tonto') and variety of evergreens. (See plants listed below.) Families can enjoy this special garden and through the warm months hopefully spot butterflies as they walk to the playground and shelter. This extends to a small new plant area, which flanks the walkway from the parking lot to the main clubhouse doors.

Front of the clubhouse now hosts Liriope muscari ‘Royal Purple’ along the very narrow foundation areas and tucked in for added height is an Ilex Crenata ‘Sky Pencil holly’. Center front are Japanese Hollies (Ilex crenata 'Green Lustre'), Nandina ‘domestica', Gardenia jasminoides ‘Frost proof', and low-spreading Loropetulum ‘Purple pixie‘ takes front row. To add some spring and fall neon magenta color, look for Loropetalum chinense ‘rubrum blush’ with flowers to delight and burgundy foliage turning some to a deep green later in summer. (The young loropetalum and gardenia took a beating this winter so we're crossing our fingers on their revival.) The far ends each host a beautiful Hinoki False Cypress (Filicoides fernspray), an open-branched pyramidal form with gracefully arching branchlets.

No Southern landscape is complete without easy to grow, constant blooming ‘Knock-out Roses’! We added a group of Knockout ‘Double pinks’ next to the existing tall funky evergreen (variety unknown), which was skillfully pruned to bring out its architectural character. (Unfortunately, our recent ice storm did some additional pruning, but it’s still a gem.) Of course we also had to include a Camellia sasanqua--a more sun tolerant variety ‘Kanjiro’--tucked in next to the far right kitchen entrance along with some additional perennials. Small but sure to be mighty in few years is a Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud tree which will add to the burgundy and spring/fall bright neon magenta accents. 
The Forest Hills clubhouse grounds received
key areas of beautification.

Butterfly Garden Perennials: 
No Southern landscape complete
without a few hardy 'Knock-out roses'.

  • Abelia ‘Canyon Creek’
  • Achillea  x ‘Summer Pastels, Paprika’ 
  • Agastache ‘Grape Nectar’ hummingbird mint) 
  • Aster dumosus ‘Woods Pink’,
  • Buddleja davidii ‘Blue Chip & Blacknight’ butterfly bushes
  • Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’, 
  • Delosperma cooperi ‘Ice plant’, 
  • Echinacea ‘Harvest Moon’,
  • purpurea 'Magnus',
  • Sombrero ‘Lemon yellow’ coneflowers
  • Kamtschatium Sedum 
  • Lantana camera ‘Miss Huff’ & ‘Confetti’ 
  • Muhlenbergia capillaries ‘Pink Muhly grass’
  • Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hamelin dwarf Fountain grass’ 
  • Penstemon x 'Red Rocks Beardtongue', 
  • Phlox subulata ‘Fort Hill’ 
  • Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum Black-eyed Susan’
  • Salvia ‘Amistad’ 
  • Salvia leucantha 
  • Salvia microphylia ‘Hot Lips’ 
  • Sedum tectractinum 
  • Solidago rugosa ‘goldenrod’  
  • Verbena 'Homestead Purple'   

Friday, March 27, 2015

68th NC Azalea Festival in Wilmington, NC, April 8-12

2015 Festival poster artwork by Clyde Edgerton.

A SCENE to be SEEN: Celebrate Spring Southern Style at the North Carolina Azalea Festival
Come to Wilmington, NC for the 68th North Carolina Azalea Festival, April 8-12, 2015. For more than 60 years, the folks of Southeastern North Carolina have been throwing the best party in the South and you’re invited! There’s something for everyone among our community’s rich array of artwork, gardens, history and culture. 
See the Azalea Festival's website for a full listing of events: http://www.ncazaleafestival.org/.  
Or, you can download the Azalea Festival app for your smartphone to keep up with special promotions, conversations and giveaways! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vegetable Crop Rotation: Healthier Soil and Less Pests

Triangle weather forecasters advise not planting your 2015 garden till after last frosts, this year between April 1 and April 11. Still plenty of time to devise your garden rotation!
Rearranging (rotating) the placement of plants from one season to the next is a valuable means of outwitting pests and diseases in vegetable gardens and annual beds. Most diseases and many insects are rather specific in their selection of host plants and many survive the winter as eggs or spores in the soil around the plant that was the pests host during the previous growing season. Replanting the same crop in the same space increases the probability of re-infection. Make it more difficult for the pest or disease; move your beans to the other side of the garden and plant marigolds where you had China asters last year. This simple avoidance technique can significantly reduce recurring problems.
Rotation of Vegetable Crops

Vegetables are divided into four groups: legumes and pod crops; alliums; brassicas; and solanaceous, root and tuberous crops. Sweet corn and summer and winter squash do not fit into major groups, but they should still be rotated. If you are growing only a small amount of these, it may be possible to include them in one of the groups (such
as alliums). Otherwise, treat them as a separate group and rotate everything on a five year basis.

American Horticultural Society. (2004). Southeast: Smart Garden™ Regional Guide. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Croasdaile Garden Club Hosts Auction and Luncheon, April 14

Croasdaile Country Club is located 3800 Farm Gate Ave, Durham, North Carolina 27705.

The Croasdaile Garden Club will be hosting its annual auction and luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at the Croasdaile Country Club.

There will be lots of good food and good items to bid on. The Croasdaile Garden Club uses the auction proceeds to donate to Habitat for Humanity, Durham Rescue Mission, SEEDS, Riverside High School, CASA, Mount Merrell/Durham Central Park, Interfaith Food Shuttle and TLC.

The price per person is $16 all inclusive. Guests can use their credit or debit cards for the luncheon. They will need to bring their checkbooks for the auction items.

For details and Reservations contact Connie O’Neal (919) 383-7957 or oneilc74@yahoo.com.

North Carolina “Save the Honey Bee” License Plate Initiative by BeeAwarenessNC

To spread awareness about the plight the honey bee (our state insect), BeeAwarenessNC designed a NC “Save the Honey Bee” specialty license plate. The DMV requires 500 completed orders to be turned in by the end of March 30. (One hundred more orders are still needed!) 
The plate will then go to the NC legislature to be passed as a bill. At that point, the Save the Honey Bee plate would be a featured as a permanent DMV specialty plate option. Funds from this plate will go to support BeeAwarenessNC's Honey Bee Habitat on Grandfather Mountain (completion date 5/2015) and for Honey Bee research at NC state. Click the “order license plate” tab above to fill out the DMV application today.
Visit BeeAwarenessNC.org for other their initiatives.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Flower Arrangement That Brings a Renoir Landscape to Life

The Inspiration: ‘Pathway Through High Grass’ (detail),
by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 
Photo: The Art Archive/Alfredo Dagli Orti/Art Resource, NY. 

The Arrangement: Allium, ranunculus and other spring flora
evoke the mood of ‘Pathway Through High Grass,’
by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Vintage Glass Bottles,
similar styles available at westelm.com. Photo by
Stephen Kent Johnson for WSJ, Flower Styling by Lindsey Taylor,
Prop Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart.
By Lindsey Taylor          

As much as I love a quaintly snowbound winter, I’m more than ready for Mother Nature to turn up the color dial—ready for spring’s fresh greens, for bulbs of blue and purple poking their heads up, followed by early white blossoms of star magnolias and the yellows of witch hazel and cornus mas. Don’t get me wrong: The thick cover of white that surrounds my house is lovely, but right now, it’s as if I am living in a blank gessoed canvas that’s waiting for its brush strokes.

To quell my restlessness, I turned to the Impressionistic landscapes of French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), who, with his contemporaries, was considered radical for working outside, “en plein-air,” documenting idyllic scenes found in nature. The piece that truly woke me up from my hibernation was “Pathway Through High Grass,” painted between 1876 and 1877, which depicts a pair of figures—one carrying an orange parasol—navigating a trail through a green and yellow meadow. For this month’s arrangement, I attempted to re-create the painting’s dashed-off feeling using a spring palette of flowers.

I casually clustered eight vintage glass bottles, collected from flea markets over the years, to channel Renoir’s unlabored approach. An ode to spring needn’t feel large and important the way a sprawling, massed arrangement in a single, grander vase might. To me, spring is really about savoring fleeting moments—and the interplay of the bottles’ colors in the light captured that.

I chose daffodils, fritillaria, hyacinths, muscari and allium to parallel Renoir’s field of grass with its pops of white, periwinkle and purple. Chartreuse viburnum blossoms and blooming white spirea—its leaves echoing the bottles’ hues—brought the canvas’s yellows and greens to life.

For the final brush stroke, I added two bright-orange ranunculus to mimic the flowers in the painting’s foreground and match the parasol that frames the central wanderer. Fancy taking a stroll in this verdant landscape? I’m ready.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Art in Bloom" Festival at the NC Museum of Art, March 19-22

<em>Art in Bloom</em> Stories in the Garden
Art in Bloom Stories in the Garden; 

The NCMA’s inaugural festival of art and flowers. Floral designers from across North Carolina and beyond bring springtime into West Building by interpreting masterworks from the permanent collection in 45 breathtaking flower displays.
Related events require separate tickets. For all related events, see below. 
Please note: On Wednesday, March 18, the permanent collection will be closed for installation of Art in Bloom. Also, during the four days of Art in Bloom, tickets will be required for admission to the permanent collection in the Museum's West Building. East Building and the Museum Park will remain open and free to visitors.

$10 Members; $15 Nonmembers; Free for children 6 and under

Thursday, March 19, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, March 20, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, March 21-22, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

EVENTS in the Series: (see the full list at the Museum's website: http://ncartmuseum.org/calendar/series_parent/art_in_bloom)

Master Class with Shane Connolly, Royal Florist
Master Class with Shane Connolly, Royal Florist;

AIFD Presents <em>Ikebana: Classical to Modern</em> with Kyoko Petersen
AIFD Presents Ikebana: Classical to Modern with Kyoko Petersen;

<em>Art in Bloom</em> Wine Tasting
Art in Bloom Wine Tasting; Friday, March 20, 5:30 p.m.

Art in Bloom Lecture: Flowers in Art through the Ages; Sunday, March 22, 3 p.m. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In the Garden: Black Spot on Roses

The fungus Diplocarpon rosae or "black spot" can infect first-year
rose canes with the right wet conditions, even during 
North Carolina winters. Photo by J.S. Corser, Durham Co. EMG. 
Black spot is a common and serious rose disease often reaching epidemic proportions in a season. The disease is caused by the fungus, Diplocarpon rosae. It is most severe after long wet, warm periods in the spring. Symptoms occur on rose leaves as circular, black spots surrounded by a yellow area. Infected leaves often drop from the plant. Infection continues throughout the summer months. The immature wood of first year canes develops raised, purple-red irregular blotches. Plants become stunted and produce fewer, paler flowers. By mid-summer severely infected plants may have lost all of their leaves.

Prevention & Treatment: The spread of black spot can be reduced and future infections minimized by following these cultural practices:
  • Plant Resistant Varieties: (See the following list)
  • Maintain Good Sanitation: Sanitation practices are critical in reducing future disease development. In the fall or winter remove all old leaves on the ground along with any mulch that has been contaminated with infected leaves. Replace with a fresh layer of mulch before new rose growth begins in the spring.
  • Remove & Destroy Infected Canes: Canes affected by black spot have dark or reddish areas (lesions). Severely infected plants should be pruned back in the winter or early spring to within 1 to 2 inches of the bud union, according to variety and cultivar. During the growing season, remove and dispose of infected leaves as they appear.
  • Keep Leaves Dry: It is best not to syringe plants with water, and do not use overhead irrigation, especially not in the late afternoon or early evening. Soaker hoses are an excellent way to water roses and to conserve water. Promote rapid drying of leaves by planting roses in the full sun. Space new plants far enough apart to allow for good air circulation.
Use fungicide sprays to control black spot effectively, even on resistant varieties. A rigorous fungicide program must be followed during conditions that favor disease development for susceptible cultivars. Select one of the following fungicide sprays, if disease is severe enough to warrant control: chlorothalonil, mancozeb, myclobutanil, propiconazole, or copper fungicides. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

Black Spot - Resistant Roses:
  • Hybrid tea: ‘Pride N Joy’
  • Floribunda: ‘Sexy Rexy’
  • Grandiflora: ‘Prima Donna’

Durham Garden Center offers free classes for backyard chickens, cool vegetables

Get the scoop on backyard chickens at the Durham Garden Center,
March 14. Photo by backyardchickens.com/forum.
Durham Garden Center is offering two free courses to the public this Saturday, March 14. Durham Garden Center is located at 4536 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27705.  Registration is required; sign up at the store OR email Ann at ann3dgc@gmail.com OR call (919) 384-7526

Cold Hardy Vegetables and How to Grow Them
Saturday, March 14th, 10 -11 a.m.
Presenters: Faye McNaull, Lynne Nelson, Durham County Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
Get the jump on starting your vegetable garden with cold hardy plants. Durham County Extension Master Gardener volunteers will describe how to grow vegetables in pots, planters, raised beds or on-the-ground gardens. In addition, you will learn ways to enhance your soil, prevent disease and pests, and the secrets of companion planting.
Keeping Backyard Chickens
Saturday, March 14th, 2 to 4 pm. 
Presentation by Lissa Lutz, EMG.
Love the taste of fresh eggs and the sound of hens peacefully clucking away in the background? Then it might be time for you to start your own backyard flock. Learn how to build a coop, select and care for chickens, and enjoy the bounty of fresh eggs, all in accordance with Durham County regulations.
Lissa Lutz has been a Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer for 17 years. She shares her back yard with a flock of hens and duck.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A "Call to Blooms" by a North Carolina Beekeeper

Beekeeper Lynn Wilson presents honeybee awareness
and ways of "bringing nature home"
at the DCGC 2015 Joint Meeting.
Editor's Note: The following is a transcript of the presentation made by Beekeeper Lynn S. Wilson at the 2015 Joint Meeting of the Durham Council of Garden Clubs. Within her remarks you will find excellent recommendations for plants that attract honeybees, literature on the philosophy of beekeeping, contact persons at the Durham Beekeepers Association and an overall ecological call to bloom and promote bee populations across North Carolina and the US.
Call to Blooms
By Lynn S. Wilson
Journeyman Beekeeper, Secretary for the Person County Beekeepers Association and volunteer interpreter at the NC Zoo Bee Exhibit
Thank you for your concern about bees, and I thank your National Garden Club website for introducing me to Doug Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home. Doug Tallamy has brought me one step closer to going completely wild and natural.  
Now what motivated a retired Records Manager for Durham Public Schools to search for endless adventure in honey bee hives? I like honey and I like garden-fresh food. But there was something else. I wanted to be a better observer of the natural world. There’s nothing like having 50,000 stinging critters in your yard to make you watch where you step ... especially when the dandelions and clover are blooming!
Let me share three visions and a conundrum.  
VISION ONE. NC State Entomologist Dr. John Ambrose died recently but he had already planted his vision: Two honey bee hives in every back yard.  
Okay, Dr. Ambrose, how are we going to keep that many honey bees healthy? Beekeepers are a lot like gardeners and doctors ... we are learning that we need to keep our focus on healthy bodies, healthy bees and healthy plants ... in other words ... preventative medicine instead of pills and pest management. You know that most sick plants are not suffering from insects or disease. Most problems result from things like overwatering or drought or winter damage. When bees are well-fed they can fight off the Varroa mites, the Small Hive Beetles, and the viruses carried by the mites. When bees have a natural diet of pollen and nectar they can even withstand pesticides better. How many blossoms do bees need to get the essential pollen and nectar?  
Flight Path raised over $18K on Kickstarter.com
to create a honeybee sanctuary at Seattle's Sea-Tac airport.
Flight Path raises healthy local bees on neglected airport land
and presents a year-long art & education exhibit for 34M people.
VISION TWO. The second vision comes from Dr. Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota. Dr. Spivak recommends that we plant ONE acre of bee forage for every honey bee colony. Now how many urban window boxes do we need to fill up to provide an acre ? But, wait a minute! What if we can get the RDU Airport, to plant bee forage as Chicago O’Hare, Seattle’s Sea-Tac and Lambert St. Louis have already done. What about all that brown hedge row under powerlines ... couldn’t we plant bee forage there instead of using herbicides? What about all those roadside beautification projects that Garden Clubs and NC DOT sponsor? Are all of those plants good bee forage? Is the American Tobacco Trail lined with bee forage? Are we thinking of our street trees as summer cooling, water storage, carbon offsets AND pollinator forage? And, good news, planting just one deciduous tree with a 30-foot wide canopy offers the equivalent of an acre of forage.
VISION THREE. The third vision is Doug Tallamy’s vision... Bring Nature Home. Tallamy says that humans have taken all but about THREE TO FIVE PERCENT of the wild natural spaces in the Lower 48. We can bring nature back by bringing it to our own backyards. The test is not JUST whether there are birds and bees in your backyard, but can they REPRODUCE there?   
What brings LIFE to a landscape? Tallamy asks. Can we learn to observe what is happening in our own backyards and relate it to the ecological balance that keeps air in our lungs, water in our cups, and food on our plates? Our garden paths need to get us where we’re going AND provoke us to watch more closely, ask more questions, and contemplate the dynamic beauty of interdependence.  
CONUNDRUM. That brings me to my conundrum. Honey bees are NOT native bees. Over 4000 species of indigenous bees pollinated North American plants for millions of years before the arrival of the honey bee 400 years ago. Tallamy says that we need to plant natives that co-evolved with our native bees. So what do we plant to help both? How do the honey bees affect the native bees?   
  • There is some evidence that honey bees cause native bees to forage less efficiently, but no evidence yet that this has reduced native bee populations. 
  • There is some evidence that exotic bees prefer exotic flowers which gives those flowers ... which may be serious weeds... a competitive advantage. 
  • And at least ONE honey bee virus has jumped to native bumble bees. 
  • In Europe there is still a NATIVE honey bee but large scale migratory beekeeping and trading in queen bees has exposed the NATIVE honey bee to inbreeding...leading to the loss of genetic traits shaped by natural selection. The NATIVE honey bees are mating with commercially-managed bees reducing the gene pool. 
VISIT TO THE HIVE. When I start thinking about something this complicated, I start checking the weather. Would this be a good time to inspect the hive?  

NO. The temperature in Hurdle Mills hasn’t been over 45 degrees in about a week. The bees cluster when the temperatures stay that cold. Imagine a 5-7 inch ball of bees. The ones on the inside of the cluster SHIVER to generate heat and then move to the outside to serve as INSULATION. They don’t even take bathroom breaks. We’re talking about some very grumpy bees. More bad news for us is that it’s still cloudy/rainy ... so even if those bees come out briefly for CLEANSING RUNS ... the foragers will still be in the hive. WE would not be welcome.
But let’s walk out into my bee yard. While we’re there, picture your own landscape... and watch your step. Most bee forage is in the trees. Yesterday my bees were in the flowering apricot and the red maples. Then my fruit trees, and the redbuds, hollies, black locust and by mid-April ... tulip poplars, will flower. The tulip poplars are the best nectar source for our Piedmont bees. When the tulip poplars bloom, beekeepers say the honey flow has started. But March is one time of year when bees may also be on the ground. What we’re looking for today are dandelions and red dead nettle.
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip trees) are the best source
of honeybee nectar in the Piedmont of North Carolina.
But you’ve been thinking about your own landscape. Is there food for bees from March through the first killing frost? If you plant mahonia, or flowering apricot or first-breath-of-spring you’ll give the honey bees some forage on sunny winter days when the temperatures climb above 55 degrees and they break cluster. But, better than those exotics, plant a native red maple to provide some forage as early as February. I’ve still got one Golden Rain Tree because there’s a forage dearth in late summer before the goldenrods and asters bloom ... but I’m digging up those little Golden Rain Tree seedlings right and left. Now what pesticides do you use? What time of day do you apply pesticides ... while bees are out foraging ... or earlier or later?   

Bumble bees and honey bees enjoy the herbs. They like the bee balm, the borage, thyme and the mints, especially mountain mint. And as soon as I dig up the beets and potatoes, I plant cover cops like buckwheat. ALL the bees love it.
I planted sourwoods thinking about sourwood honey but then I found out that the mountain sourwoods produce more and better quality nectar than our Piedmont sourwoods. Gallberry hollies are planted as a windbreak on the northwest side of my hive, but they’re a good forage source, too.
Now, what to plant? Plant natives, plant trees, plant herbs and plant food for yourself. Why do I say, plant food for yourself?  
Research now shows that urban areas may be friendlier places for honey bees than farm country. City folks, it seems, are doing a better job of tolerating a few bugs, realizing that most bugs are beneficial and limiting pesticide use. City folks are planting a wider variety of flowers than the farmers whose huge monocultures give bees something to eat two weeks out of the year ... and then the bees have to be moved quickly before orchards and fields are sprayed. The squash and blueberry bushes that you plant for yourself are likely to provide good forage for native bees and honey bees. And let some of that arugula and mustard flower. The bees willl like that too. Just changing a few habits will contribute to the success of our native bees and our honey bees.
Will the Garden Council be at the table with Durham’s new Food Council? That Council is already imagining front yard gardens throughout the City.
As a beekeeper, my premise is that everything I do for honey bees will also help our native bees, but I’ll try to keep my eyes open to the evidence. How are my honeybees impacting the native bees? I hope you are ready to SHARE your landscape with bees and help bring nature home.

Now let me introduce you to some Durham beekeepers who would like to partner with you... You know the plants and they know the bees. They can partner with you to make Durham an even friendlier place for bees. Maybe you will consider working together to help Durham become Bee City USA.
  • Liz Lindsey is finishing up the last stages of the NC State Beekeepers Association's Master Beekeeper program. She is particularly articulate explaining the various pressures and stresses jeopardizing the honey bees.
  • Donna Devanney is one of the founders of the Durham Beekeeper's Association. She keeps bees at Duke Garden, Duke Farm and West Point at the Eno, so she has experience beekeeping in public spaces. She was also an important participant in the 2009 ordinance change allowing beekeeping in Durham.
  • At the 2014 July meeting of North Carolina State Beekeepers, I heard a senior from NC State, Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, talk about Bull City Bees ... a model for bringing honeybees to urban areas ... and largest observation hive in North Carolina is now located on the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. I encourage you to visit. 
  • And visit the NC Zoo’s Bee Exhibit too. Other members of NC State Beekeepers and I are volunteer exhibit interpreters one day each month. 

Good resources for more of your adventures with honey bees and native pollinators ...
Durham County Beekeepers:
  • Matthew Yearout-President and Beekeeper for American Tobacco Campus bees Matthew Yearout <yearout@gmail.com>
  • Liz Lindsey-is very articulate on the stresses on bees. Liz Lindsey <liz.lindsey10@gmail.com>
  • Donna Devanney-helped Durham get beekeeping approved by ordinance and keeps bees in public spaces like West Point and Duke Gardens.  Donna Devanney <thebeecharmer@frontier.com>

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Floral Spirits Deliver a Delightful Bouquet

From left: Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes, Grand Poppy,
G’vine Nouaison, Koval Chrysanthemum and Honey Liqueur,
Crispin’s Rose Liqueur. Photo by F. Martin Ramin WSJ.
Styling by Alejandra Sarimento. 
By Matthew Kronsberg
WSJ, March 4, 2015                       

Crispin Cain and Tamar Kaye grow 160 rosebushes—20 different varieties—in Mendocino County, Calif. If you want to experience their flowers, you don’t need to visit, and you don’t need to get a vase; what you need to get is a bottle. Mr. Cain and Ms. Kaye make Crispin’s Rose Liqueur, an intensely perfumed spirit, using a blend of rose petals gathered early in the mornings, when they are at their most fragrant. Small batches of the petals are steeped in apple-honey eau de vie, then pressed. The tannins in the petals tint the spirit a dusky shade of red and also help to offset the cloying quality that afflicts the taste of so much blossom-based booze. Crispin’s Rose also has half the sugar of most liqueurs.

Capturing a flower’s essence is challenging—so far, more than 400 aromatic compounds have been identified in roses alone—but the end results can be incredibly compelling. “The way to best work with florals is to not keep them by themselves. You’re working with [other] flavors that have a savory aspect to them,” said Litty Mathew of Greenbar Craft Distillery in Los Angeles. Ms. Mathew and her husband and business partner, Melkon Khosrovian, make several spirits infused with flowers, including jasmine, hibiscus and California poppy.

The inspiration to use poppies came about during hikes the couple would take in the hills and mountains that surround Los Angeles, where the orange and yellow blooms grow wild. If sickly sweetness is the risk for many flower spirits, poppies, Ms. Mathew found, are “hellishly bitter.” She and Mr. Khosrovian embraced the plant’s bold character, though, and developed an amaro—a bittersweet aperitivo.

The life of a blossom is notoriously short. Preserving that moment in alcohol is one of the more impressive demonstrations of the distiller’s art. Here are a few bottles where the bouquet truly matches the bouquet.

Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes, 22% ABV
This is an international affair—a California company, inspired by a French recipe from 1868, hired a Swiss distillery to produce. The aroma of this spirit may be violet, but the color is a saturated, vivid fuchsia. Yet it dials down the hue and the sugars one finds in many other violet spirits, to make a floral liqueur you’ll want to use in drinks beyond the classic Aviation cocktail.

Grand Poppy, 20% ABV
First things first: While the Eschscholzia californica variety of poppy is used in herbal medicine, any effect you feel from drinking this will come from alcohol, not opiates. This gently bittersweet spirit combines California poppies with a meadow’s worth of other organic botanicals including dandelion, blessed thistle, burdock and geranium, to make a bracing but highly sippable spirit that works just as well neat as it does replacing the Campari in your Negroni.

G’vine Nouaison, 43.9% ABV
This London Dry-style gin from the Cognac region of France features the flowers of the Ugni Blanc grape in its blend of botanicals. The blossoms, only open for a few days each June, are distilled with a grape (rather than grain) spirit before being combined with distillations of other plant-derived flavorings including cardamom, cassia, ginger and juniper. The floral flavors, subtle here, come across more forcefully in Nouaison’s sister spirit Floraison, wherein the sweetness of the flowers outshines even the juniper.

Koval Chrysanthemum and Honey Liqueur, 20% ABV
As with chrysanthemum tea, the aroma of this liqueur is subtly herbal and rather soothing. Chicago-based distillery Koval infuses their own white whiskey with two types of chrysanthemum before sweetening it with Wisconsin wildflower honey.

Crispin’s Rose Liqueur, 25.4% ABV
It takes the equivalent of nearly a dozen and a half heirloom roses to make each 375ml bottle of Crispin’s Rose Liqueur, and the precise blend of breeds is a closely guarded secret. Whatever the recipe, the flowers are as distinct in character as wine grapes. “Some are more bitter, some are more astringent, some taste like soap and some taste like candy,” said Ms. Kaye. There’s the Don Juan, which Mr. Cain described as “beyond just smelling like a rose. It also smells like raspberries and chocolate at the same time.” Another rose in the blend, said Ms. Kaye, is the Othello, which “smells like Hawaiian Punch.” Needless to say, the liqueur made with them smells like nothing else on the market.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Council Joint Meeting Celebrates with a Call to Bees and Blooms

Beekeeping and a passion for all things bees filled St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Durham for the March 3, 2015, Joint Meeting of the Durham Council of Garden Clubs. The hall was abuzz with more than 60 garden club members representing all ten member garden clubs of the Council.

Tables were laden with yellow and black d├ęcor featuring homemade soaps of honey, marigold and oatmeal made by Council President Marcia Loudon; a bee trivia board game; scrolls of fascinating bee facts; as well as breaded bee hives decorated with forced Forsythia branches and bees made by Marcia, incoming Treasurer Martha Sanderford and a wildly creative crew of Heritage Garden club members. The most prominent decoration of all was undeniably 2nd Vice President Jean Gurtner who sported a white beekeeper suit and helmet festooned with whimsical bee slogans. The suit was later raffled and won by Garden Makers GC member Mary Jo Muzzey, who then donated it to guest-speaking nonprofit organization BeeDowntown.
The Joint Meeting's first order of business was the presentation of the slate of the 2015-2017 term officers and its vote for approval. New officers will be installed at the May 6, 2015 Council meeting. The 2015-2017 officers will be: President - Ardith Pugh (Heritage GC); 1st VP - Karen Bordeaux (Croasdaile GC); 2nd VP - Marcia Loudon (Heritage GC); Secretary - Bonna Robbins (Daylily GC); Treasurer - Martha Sanderford (Heritage GC).

Honors were given to two Council members whose service has always exceeded Council needs. Laurie Renard (Homestead Heights GC) was presented a Life Member to the Garden Club of North Carolina for her years of service to the Durham Council, and she was most recently recognized for her service award from the Maple Court Residence for Veterans. Not present, but also honored was Pat Cashwell (Heritage GC) with National Pin for her work on Blue Star Memorial the Council erected in front of the Durham Veterans Affairs hospital http://goo.gl/PmDEcM.
The Joint Meeting's educational program featured dynamic beekeeping presenters Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, a third-generation beekeeper, senior at NC State and prime mover in the development of BeeDowntown (www.BeeCityUSA.org) on the American Tobacco Campus, and Lynn Wilson, Journeyman Beekeeper, Secretary for the Person County Beekeepers Association and volunteer interpreter at the NC Zoo Bee Exhibit. (Several of Leigh-Kathryn's and Lynn's bee topics will be featured on the Council's Blog and Facebook pages in days to come, so please refer back. See the Durham Beekeepers website for certification programs and other classes on beekeeping (www.durhambeekeepers.org.)