Saturday, April 20, 2019

Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the feeder

We were delighted to see a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at our bird feeder yesterday and today.  They're such amazing birds.

I'd only see one once before, here at our bird feeder in the mountains; my gardening companion hadn't seen one before.

For now, we still have our feeders up, both seeds and sugar water for hummingbirds.  There are bears in our wider North Asheville, Town Mountain, and Sunset Mountain neighborhoods, but don't seem to be in our particularly urban bit so far, on a regular basis.

Here's a photo from

Rose-breasted Grosbeak


Friday, April 19, 2019


Yesterday, at the end of my class about Designing with Native Plants, there was a question about Phlox.  What species did I recommend?  Hmm.

Well, we've added several now to our woodland garden, but my gardening companion acquired them, so I wasn't sure of the species that we'd added -- certainly there were at least four different "sorts" -- whether species or cultivars.

We have lots of native species in the Eastern U.S., as well as cultivars that do well, too, to choose from, too. 

Check out this Wikipedia list.

And, yikes, here's a nursery person's list of favorite species and cultivars.

Just a few of our native species here in the Eastern U.S.:  Phlox stolonifera, Phlox carolina, Phlox divaricata, Phlox subulata, and Phlox paniculata.

Phlox stolonifera (image from NC

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Designing with native plants

Of course, adding plants of whatever sort is really what I encourage, but native plants are my favorite plant palette as are the ones of my gardening companion.

Teaching a class at the NC Arboretum today had me adding the sidebar of the updated presentation,- "Designing with native plants" along with pushing up (on the side bar, too) my favorite "Home Gardening Fundamentals" references, that include Julie Moir Messervy's Home Outside: Creating a Landscape that You Love.  

What a wonderful book, as are her others! 

And Gordon Haywood's book about
Creating a welcoming garden, equally brilliant.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Crested Iris (Iris cristata)

Iris cristata is a favorite in our spring garden;  we had large patches in our Piedmont garden, thanks to one of my favorite SC Botanical Garden volunteers.

Here's a post from 2010 that I wrote about him (and how I appreciated that he shared his Iris cristata with us).

The small clump that we brought with us here is now in full flower, so I'm reminded of him this evening. 

He was the best sort of volunteer; even as he became increasingly unsteady with Parkinson's in his later years, he kept showing up week after week to help in so many ways across the Garden. 

Thanks, Rodger.

Our Iris cristata now in the mountains

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Silene virginica (Fire Pink)

Another post about Silene virginica (Fire Pink).

Such a great plant!  It's right by the front door.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Adding plants and preparing for travels

A lovely Silene virginica to plant
A native Viola
We only have a few weeks here before we're off for traveling.  My gardening companion is in full swing, snagging various Phlox species to plant, a Silene virginica, and a native Viola, in addition to some colorful annuals to add to our porch pots for our summer folks to enjoy.

I'm trying to use up all of our "staples" -- wheat berries, rye berries, dried fruits, and nuts.  We'll be away for four months in Quebec this summer, and I want to leave a clean slate in our pantry hutch for our summer residents. Ditto, in terms of freezer space, too!

So, I baked whole-grain rye sourdough bread today (started yesterday);  I'm channeling the wonderful whole-grain bread we bought in Freiburg last fall.  These loaves have fruits and nuts added, so a bit different, but they're delicious.  They'll be a nice thing to have in the freezer as we count down the coming weeks.

I'll be away in Ireland for 3 weeks in late April to mid-May;  my gardening companion will be heading toward Quebec with Woody, and our Ireland HomeExchange partners will be here, followed by me for a week and then by our summer folks.

I'm grateful that we have the opportunity to do this.

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Monday, April 8, 2019

A perfectly-hued tulip

ColorBlends, a wholesale bulb company has been a generous sponsor of the Garden Bloggers Fling.  Two years ago, attendees could choose among a variety of their color blends.  I'm not sure which one I choose, but it included a range of pastel colors.

This one was one of them, currently flowering in a pot in the raised bed garden.  Beautiful!

A search for "tulips" brought up a variety of posts over the years.  

It seems ironic on a day that I'll be talking about gardening for pollinators that I'm writing a post about tulips, but tulips have been a favorite since long before I was a gardener.

The first post that the search pulled up started with the phrase:

Sometimes, my screen around "plants that work for a living" includes plants that bring joy.

Woody and I were enjoying the tulips at Biltmore Estate in this photo from 7 years ago.

So much fun to revisit my tulip posts!

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A gardening post on my sister blog:  Places of the Spirit, remembering a garden in Umbria.

I reposted this piece from April 4, 2018.

Puttering in the garden

I love the sense of adventure and delight that’s part of being in the garden each day. What’s new, what’s flowering, what shall I add or tend?
Away from my own garden, I had a lovely time tidying up here in our HomeExchange garden yesterday- simple weeding of bedstraw and foxtails and discovering what’s been planted.
I’m going to plant the window boxes and containers, too, as thanks for our extra time here. They’ll be here around mid-May for the summer. Perhaps some succulents and drought tolerant perennials!