Friday, July 31, 2015

August Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

A Juried Print Competition will run from August 21-22, sponsored by the JC Raulston Arboretum and the Triangle Carolinas Nature Photography Association. Photo by JC Raulston Arboretum.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St., Durham, NC.
Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Monday, August 3, 9 a.m. to Fri, August 7, 2015, 1:00 p.m.
Course meets for 5 sessions
Thursday, August 6, 2015, 11:00 a.m. to Noon
Wednesday, August 12, 7:30 PM to 9:30 p.m.

JC Raulston Arboretum
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.
Sunday, August 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 2:00 p.m.
Plantsmen's Tour:  "Treemendous Trees"
Tuesday, August 4, 9:00 a.m. and at 6 p.m.
Mark Weathington, Director       
Friday, August 21, 9  a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, August 22, 7– 8:30 p.m. - Opening Reception
Sponsored by the JC Raulston Arboretum and the Triangle Carolinas Nature Photography Association

North Carolina Botanical Gardens
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.
Pollinator Garden Tours at Chatham Mills
Wednesday, August 12, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesdays, June 10, July 8, Aug 12, and Sept 9, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Tours of Chatham County Cooperative Extension’s Pollinator Paradise Demonstration Garden will be led by Agriculture Extension Agent Debbie Roos and are FREE, open to the public, rain or shine.
Saturday, August 15, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Event is Full: Accepting Wait List Registrations
Saturday, August 29, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m
Saturdays, Aug 29, Sept 12, 19, 26

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Choosing, Using and Growing Edible Flowers

Edible flowers add not only color but tang to many dishes.
There are many types of beautiful edible flowers. They grow on annuals, biennials, perennials, trees, shrubs, and vines.

Annual flowers complete their life cycle—from seed, to vegetative plant, to bloom, to setting seed, to death of the plant—in one growing season. Most annuals need to be replanted each year, but others easily re-sow themselves. Their seed is scattered by wind, weather, and wildlife to “volunteer” the next season when conditions are favorable. Calendula and Johnny jump-ups are two edible flowers that are easy to grow and readily reseed. Gardeners love annuals for their riotous colors. They perform quickly, especially if transplants are used, and provide relatively long periods of bloom. At the end of an annual’s growing season, the entire plant can be put in the compost pile and something else can take its place.

Biennials are typically planted in the fall and complete their growing season the following spring.

Perennial plants live more than two years and, once established, bloom each year. Some die back to the ground in their off-season; others retain foliage year-round. Perennials require more maintenance than annuals. They may need to be cut back during their offseason and divided and replanted as they increase in size. Some of their blooms are tall or heavy enough to require staking. Unlike annuals, which have a lengthy flowering period, most perennials display peak blossoms for a two- or three-week period.

Vines can be an annual or, like shrubs and trees, grow for many years, flowering each year.

Growing edible flowers is essentially the same as growing flowers for ornamental purposes, except that only pesticides approved for edible crops are used. Most flowers require a nutrient rich, well-drained soil with a pH around 5.5 to 6.5. Use the directions in “A Gardener’s Guide to Soil Testing,” found at, to conduct a soil test. For more information, visit the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ website on Soil Testing at Amend your planting bed as recommended based on the results of your test. For more information on soil testing, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension center by visiting http://www.ces.

Use a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to reduce weeds, conserve soil moisture, maintain uniform soil temperatures, and reduce the amount of soil splashed onto the plant during heavy rain. During the growing season, from spring through fall, most plants will need 1 inch of water each week. If rainfall is inadequate, provide needed irrigation. If possible, avoid overhead sprinklers because moisture on the leaf surface for extended periods of time can increase the chances of disease development. Irrigate with a soaker hose or drip irrigation.

Many edible flowers can be successfully grown in containers.

Avoid using chemical pest control, if possible. Handpick harmful insects from the plant instead of spraying. Promote beneficial insects, such as lady beetles and green lacewings, which can help decrease insect pest populations. Growing a variety of flowers provides diversity to support a healthy beneficial insect population and keep pest problems low. Many gardeners locate their edible flower gardens away from other plants to avoid chemical spray drift.

To prolong the bloom period, remove spent blossoms weekly. Use Table 1 to help plan for year-round color and interest in your garden and your menu. See the entire growing guide with flower chart with: 
AG-790 Choosing and Using Edible Flowers 
Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Friday, July 24, 2015

South Durham Farmers Market this Weekend...Quilting for Kids, Music and More

Make a watermelon, blueberry and feta salad
this weekend with fresh produce from the Durham Farmers Markets.
Photo and recipe from Little Dairy on the Prairie:
at the Market
Did you know that watermelons are both a fruit and a vegetable? They are the product of a seed-producing plant and have a sweet taste, yet they are also related to the squash, pumpkin, and cucumber families. They are a great source of hydration (about 92% of the watermelon is water) and their sweetness makes it impossible to have only one slice. Mix some sweet and salty togeth...
er in this Watermelon, Blueberry, and Feta Salad. You can pick up almost all of the ingredients for the salad at market - watermelon, blueberries, feta, and basil.

Musical Guest
Jeep Apel will be joining us on Saturday - a man and his guitar. He will be playing some classic rock and other hits. Come out to market between 9 and 11 for him to wow you!

For the Kids...
This week, we are having a "Kids Quilt Corner". No, they won't actually be sewing a quilt, but they will work alongside each other to create a beautiful array of art. We will have a rainbow of sidewalk chalk and different squares for the kids to choose from. With all of the talent from the children, the boxes will come together to look like a fancy patchwork quilt.

See you this weekend!
Jessie Kadolph, SDFM Manager

Check out the vendors at SDFM on their website:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Professional Arborists: Locate One in Your City

Need a local arborist to diagnose, prune and remove sickly trees in the yard?
Do a location search in the International Society of Arborists database: 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Summer Bouquet Inspired by an Alex Katz Painting

 The Inspiration: Alex Katz’s 2014 painting ‘4 pm’
 Photo: Alex Katz/Gavin Brown’s enterprise/VAGA,
 New York, NY, Photograph by Thomas Müller
By Lindsey Taylor
WSJ, July 15, 2015

Every summer since 1954, the Brooklyn-born painter Alex Katz has migrated north to the town of Lincolnville, Maine, where he paints large-scale, pared-down landscapes inspired by the countryside. Now 87, Mr. Katz, best known for portraits whose unpainterly flatness anticipated Pop Art, is more popular than ever—through Sept. 6, he’s the subject of a wide-ranging retrospective, “This is Now,” at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

The Arrangement: Feathery white astilbe adds
an evocative softness to a midsummer’s day bouquet,
based on American artist Alex Katz’s 2014 painting ‘4 pm.’
        Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson for WSJ,
Floral styling by Lindsey Taylor, Prop styling by Nidia Cueva
Choosing his work as my jumping-off point for this month’s arrangement seemed a significant floral challenge. His style appears to offer little to work from, no gesture at all. But, the longer I looked, the more I began to appreciate how his zoomed-in focus had a moody, mesmerizing quality that engulfs the viewer, and I saw how I could interpret it.

I chose “4 pm” (2014), a large vertical landscape with elegant brushwork so characteristically reductive it barely registers, coupled with an almost cartoonlike flat line. I loved the palette of chartreuse-yellow, creamy white, grays, brown and a hint of blue for the house.

I happened to have an upright, angular ceramic vessel with similarly emphatic lines and citrus-yellow tint, but what exactly to put in it? A flowery arrangement with showy blooms didn’t feel right: It needed to feel modern and simplified and, above all, mid-summery.

So I went with a selection of just three plants: a dark purple fountain grass that echoed the dark branches in the painting, to frame the left side of the arrangement; white astilbe to suggest the shimmering effect of the water and sky; and the silvery-tan feathery seed heads of the early blooming pulsatilla.

My goal was to mimic the tremulous, late-afternoon light in Mr. Katz’s canvas, with a similarly limited range of colors, reflecting the haze that often settles in the sky on a hot July day.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fond Farewell to NC Extension Agent Michelle Wallace

Michelle Wallace (middle) accepts a 2011 financial gift
towards the Briggs Ave. Community Garden project
presented by Council Co-Presidents Marty Warburton
and Jean Gurtner.
Editor's note:  The Durham Council is deeply saddened that Durham Co. Cooperative Extension Agent Michelle Wallace will be moving to Ohio this summer! We have so many fond memories of working with Michelle on the Brigg Ave. Community Garden since 2011. Our best wishes to her on her future career endeavors--what a fearless executive leader!  Few can lead an energetic volunteer organization (can you say herding cats?!) to the efficiency and productiveness that Michelle did.

The following tribute from the July EMGV newsletter summarizes many of our own sentiments about Michelle and her contribution to the Durham community.
We Start to Say Goodbye to Michelle
By Kat Causey, Durham Co. Extension Master Gardener

It was a warm day in spring in 2006, much like today. Anticipation was building. A trio of candidates was giving presentations all vying for the honor of being the next Durham County Cooperative Extension Horticulture agent. Master Gardeners had been invited to sit in on the presentations. With me on that day were two other Master Gardeners, Theo Roddy and Phil Richards (now emeritus). We were all curious to see the finalists and hear what each had to offer our mostly urban county and its citizens.

As each applicant was introduced and gave their presentations, excitement built. Each applicant had something unique to offer and it seemed like it would be close...until this small, energetic woman got up there and started her sales pitch. She spoke of her employment background, her educational background and began addressing her proposal for and her vision for Durham County. In that proposal, she mentioned a demonstration garden, with the idea to show a deer resistant landscape, vegetable gardening and an orchard. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she got the job. Little did she know at that time that the Extension Service already had a few acres (approximately 50) of land that had been donated and could never be used for future residential or commercial development. From that innocent interview, an idea grew and became what is known today as Briggs Avenue community garden. It has many gardens contained on just one acre, so far. You can see a community garden, an orchard with a pavilion and the deer (and rabbit and groundhog) resistant gardens as mentioned in that interview so many years ago.

To me, Briggs Avenue community garden is part of Michelle's legacy, along with a vibrant, thriving Master Gardener program-a program where volunteers venture out to the public in various formats to spread the research based knowledge of NC State University. Thank you, Michelle, for being part of my growing experience, for letting me see what can happen if you have a vision and the energy to carry it through and enough assistance from your loyal followers. You will be missed! 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Going Native: Native Plants You’d Never Mistake for Weeds

The Going Native website through North Carolina State University provides Durham gardeners a great research tool for managing native plants:
By Bart Ziegler                   

Blazing Star shoots vibrant purple blooms skyward in summer that
turn into striking seed heads in autumn. Photo: GAP Photos/Howard Rice
WSJ, July 10, 2015
Six years ago, “people would ask, ‘Where are the plants? It’s all weeds,’ ” recalled Andi Pettis of her beginnings at the High Line in New York City, where she is the horticultural manager.

What a difference half a decade makes. The native plants that characterize the
High Line—especially the tall prairie grasses and weedy wildflowers that were growing in this country long before the Pilgrims arrived—are the freshest young things among horticulturists.

Last year, Longwood Gardens, near Philadelphia, more than doubled its Meadow Garden to 86 acres to better showcase its native-plant collections of cardinal flower, ox-eye and wild bergamot, among others. In 2013, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden also expanded its indigenous-plant displays; in 2012, Chanticleer, a public garden surrounding a 100-year-old estate in Wayne, Pa., opened a woodland filled with indigenous phlox, columbine and lady fern.

Despite all this official sanction, to the uninitiated, native plants can seem like the Birkenstocks of botany: sensible but dowdy, with uninteresting leaves and tiny, dull flowers. “A lot of people just categorically reject native plants because they look weedy or messy or wild or aren’t showy enough,” said Andrea DeLong-Amaya, horticulture director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.

It doesn’t help that, when it comes to earnestness, native plant evangelists can rival your environmentally conscious cousin who berates you for not having a compost bin. They do have a point, however: Native plants are much better than most imported plants at providing food and shelter for our birds, animals and insects.

So what’s a gardener who wants to be politically correct without sacrificing traditional beauty to do? Gravitate to indigenous plants with a distinctly ornamental side.

The recent $15 million makeover of New York Botanical Garden’s native area, for instance, includes a vast border where handsome American perennials such as bee balm and sunflowers are clustered as if planted in a classic English flower bed, as opposed to a “naturalistic” display. Absent are staples, such as peonies and bearded irises, whose ancestors came from abroad.

Native options that are showier, yet still bear the stamp of approval, include Blazing Star, which shoots vibrant purple blooms skyward in summer that turn into striking seed heads in autumn. “It’s such a great plant,” said Ms. Pettis. And despite the endorsement of native-plant godfather Piet Oudolf, unrelentingly plain grasses such as Prairie Dropseed have been giving way to varieties like Little Bluestem. “It turns an orange-rust color, which is very pretty, [in the fall],” said Ms. DeLong-Amaya.

Such efforts seem to be working. Even Lowe’s is promoting the late-summer native Joe-Pye Weed, which despite its off-putting name, blooms splendidly. “Want perennials? Try native plants,” says the chain’s website.
To see four more varieties of spectacular native plants, see full article:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Durham Garden Forum Presents Gardeners Fair, July 21

2016 Garden Club of North Carolina Engagement Calendars for Sale

The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc., 2016 Engagement Calendar is for sale! The photography in the calendar was provided solely by GCNC's statewide membership; calendar photography has its own awards category in the GCNC annual awards program. Council Past President and current First Vice-President Marcia Loudon will have featured a photograph of a bluebird perched outside of her Durham home in the calendar. She won a $25 prize for her photo.

GCNC engagement calendars cost $8. Calendars can serve as dedicated, gardening maintenance calendars -- mark the days in 2016 when to plant seeds, prune hardy ornamentals, fertilize or reseed lawns, scout for aphids and other pests, and other tasks on your work list!

Calendars may be purchased and picked up at the GCNC Fall Board Meeting, District meetings and from the District Directors. The District 9 contact is Vice-Director Andrea Lewis who will have a supply on hand at the District 9 Meeting, October 22 in Durham. Contact Andrea if you would like one sooner.

To receive a mailed copy of the GCNC Engagement Calendar, please use the order form:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Flowers for Honey: What to Grow

Like wine-tasting notes derived from viticulture, honeys are also influenced by plants that bees forage and subsequently have tastes distinctive to these species. Common garden plants and wildflowers with their honey-tasting notes can be found in The Beekeeper’s Bible (Jones, R. & Sweeney-Lynch, S., 2011) with a summary of general blooming times and species photos. (Some species included are international in location, but worth noting for foreign honeys consumed.)

Start planning your next perennial planting with consideration for the honeybees. Here are lists provided by The Beekeeper’s Bible for edible honeys, unappetizing honeys and a list for common garden plants to attract honeybees.

Late Spring/Summer Flowering 
Acacia (wattle, mimosa) – (May-July) Honey very clear and liquid pale
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) – (June-Aug) Honey pale, white or light amber and sometimes described as minty
Blueberry (bilberry, whortleberry) Vaccinium species and cranberry – (two weeks in May through Aug) Fruity and faint buttery finish
Borage (Borago officinalis) – (June-Sept) Pale honey
Bramble blackberry (Rubus fruiticosus) – (June-Sept) Honey medium colored, coarse flavored
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) – (June-Sept) Dark honey, strong flavored by hints of molasses and malt
Canola (Brassica napus) – (May-Aug) Fine clear honey that granulates quickly
False Acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) – (Jun-July) Light honey, good density and flavor
Hawthorn (Cataegus monogyna) – (May-June) Dark amber honey with nutty flavor
Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) Ireland import – (June-Sept) Golden honey thin and sharp flavored
Lavendar (Lavendula) species France and Spain – Pale golden honey, pleasant tasting with fine granulation to a texture resembling butter
Lime Tree (Tilia platyphylos. T. cordata, T. americana) – (2-3 weeks in June thru Aug depending on latitude) Light greenish honey with slightly minty taste
Melilots sweet clover (Melilotus alba, M. officinalis and M. indica) – (June-Sept) Pale greenish-yellow honey with slight cinnamon flavor
Rata Tree Metrosideros species New Zealand – (Nov-Mar) White, clear honey
Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) – (June-Aug) Lemon yellow honey
Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) – (May-Jun) Honey is dark amber and sharp and bitter
Thistle (Cirsium arvense) – (Jun-Aug) Pale, flavorful honey
Tuilip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) – (May-June) Dark amber honey with strong flavor

Late Flowering
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) – (July-Sept) Lightly flavored honey and pale amber
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium and Epilobium species) rosebay, willow herbs – (July-Sept) Pale, white subtle flavor with tea-like notes
Fuschia species – (July-Sept) Honey is light colored, but very mild and insipid
Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) – (July-Oct) Pale colored, slightly strong almost spicy flavor
Heather (Erica) found in the UK – (July-Sept) Honey is a deep brown, port wine color
Ivy (Hedera helix) – (Oct-Dec) Honey is grayish white with delicate odor and bitter flavor, granulates quickly
Sunflower (Helianthus anuus) – (July-Oct) Light amber honey with subtle citrus undertones

Early Spring/Long Flowering
Almond (Prunus dulcis) – (Feb.) Honey generally regarded as being of poor quality, mostly used in the bakery trade
Apples Malus species – (April-June) Huge varieties of cultivars, Honey light amber with good flavor, granulates quickly
Avacado (Persea americana) – (March-April) Dark amber honey with strong flavor of caramelized molasses
Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) – (All year blooming) Strong amber honey
Clovers (Trifolium hybridum, T. repens) – (May-Oct) Honey is pale and gently flavored with the scent of the flowers
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – (March-Sept) Golden coarse-grained honey
Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) – (March-May) Good honey from early source
Gum Tree Eucalyptus species – (April-July) Distinctive honey flavor and odor; E. polyanthemos is dark amber and very dense; E. meliodora produces pale and thin honey
Holly (Ilex aquifolium, I. opaca, I. glabra) – (April-July) Pale colored and finely flavored
Leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida) – (Nov-April) Honey strongly spicy, an acquired taste
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) found in New Zealand – (Sept-May) Full-bodied, herbaceous, sweet tasting honey
Maple Tree Acer species – (April-June) Honey pale yellow or greenish, mild flavor, sometimes regarded as indifferent
Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) – (March-Sept) Honey varies from white to amber with smoky scent of molasses or brown sugar
Needle Bush Hakea and Grevillea species Australia – (Blooming all year depending on species) Sweet clear honey
Oranges Citrus species – (March-April)  Delicious honey, pale and dense with distinct fruit taste and echoes of blossom
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – (March-Nov) Medium-bodied honey with thick texture
Thyme Thymus species – (May-Sept) Honey has intense aroma and aromatic flavor
Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) – (April-June) Honey is light amber in color, smooth and very sweet

Unappetizing Honey
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) – (May-June) All parts of plant are toxic, honey believed poisonous
Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) – (May-June) Honey very strong flavored unless blended with lighter honeys
Ragwort Senecio species – (June-Nov) Rank, bitter tasting honey
Rhododendron (Rhododendrum ponticum) – (Spring and summer flowers depending on species and location) Honey poisonous
Spurge Euphorbia species – (Flowering dependent on location and species) South African species produces bitter honey, burning sensation in mouth

Common Garden Plants to Attract Honeybees
Apiaceae, carrot family:  Angelica archangelica and lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Asteraceae, daisy family:  Cosmos, chicory, fleabane, globe thistle, ox-eye, shasta daisy, sunflower, yarrow
Boraginaceae, borage family:  alkanet, borage, viper’s bugloss
Brassicaceae, cabbage family:  candytuft, charlock, golden alyssum, honesty, mignonette, rockcress, sweet rocket, wallflower
Campanulaceae, bellflower family:  bellflowers
Cannabaceae, hemp family:  hop (Humulus lupulus)
Dipsacaceae, teasel family:  scabious, teasel
Elaeagnaceae family:  oleaster
Fabaceae, pea family:  broom Cytisus species
Grossulariaceae, gooseberry family:  currant
Lamiaceae, mint family:  marjorum, mint Mentha species
Liliaceae, lily family:  grape hyacinth
Limnanthaceae, meadowfoam family:  poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii)
Lythraceae, loosestrife family:  loosestrife
Malvaceae, mallow family:  hollyhock, mallow
Onagraceae, willowherb family:  evening primrose
Polemoniaceae, phlox family:  phlox
Primulaceae, primrose family:  polyanthus
Rosaceae, rose family:  cotoneaster
Rutaceae, citrus family:  bergamot
Valeruabaceae, valerian family:  valerian

Jones, R. &  Sweeney-Lynch, S. (2011). The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses. New York, NY: Stewart, Tabori and Chang; First edition