Monday, August 3, 2020

A neighbor’s passion vine

With warmer temperatures this summer, Passiflora incarnata seems to be thriving here in the Asheville basin.  Two of our neighbors have robust vines, with lots of flowers, as do others in the neighborhood.

It’s a host plant for gulf frittilaries, a semi-migratory butterfly that often didn’t make it to the Piedmont in colder years, in the two plus decades we lived there.

But the plant itself seems to be fine in the last couple of mild winters here in the mountains of Western North Carolina — it won’t survive a return of the polar vortex, but who knows what our weather may bring in the coming years.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Working on a narrative about Quebec

I have two years of posts about our house in Quebec, many about our gardening adventures. 

Editing the first segment this evening which was an independent non-blog narrative (this is after I've finished laborious cutting and pasting from blog posts, along with other saved narrative pieces into new Word documents) reminds me of how our gardens ground us in the world.

I'm not sure how I'll form all of the posts into a coherent story, but it's a story that's worth sharing, I hope.

I. know I'll enjoy revisiting our story of somehow acquiring a cottage in Quebec. 

I find it serendipitous and remarkable, reflecting back to our two summers and two winters in our magical place that we steward and the landscape that my gardening companion has transformed.

Nor our cottage, but inspired by it:  painted in an acrylic class last winter

A small painting that I did last winter, thanks to a painting class sponsored by the Heritage St. Lawrence folks.   Our cottage is this color.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A wildflower Wednesday pick: Silphium perfoliatum

I planted Silphium perfoliatum (cup plant) a few years back in the pollinator-friendly planting that I call the pocket meadow.

Here's a photo from three years ago, showing a still "young" plant to the left of the ginkgo.

At the Garden Blogger's Fling in DC, I'd been amazed at the size that these plants get (my fellow Flingers also warned me of their self-sowing tendencies....)  Yikes, I thought, so I've been dead-heading them, too, and asking our summer folks to do so in the past couple of years.

Regardless, it's an impressive plant and one that I've enjoyed having, so an excellent candidate for Wildflower Wednesday.

This year, still in Asheville in mid-June, I cut it back by a half, reducing its size.  Happily, that seems to have worked nicely, so it won't loom over the front meadow quite so impressively (nor seed as profusely, either).

It's just now starting to flower.

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Thursday, July 9, 2020

The skies opened

We've been in thunderstorm times the last few weeks, especially in the late afternoon.  Today's was a doozie, but the moisture (for gardeners) is always welcome.

The video of the downpour hasn't appeared.  Just think hard rain.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Favorite recommendations for pollinator-friendly gardens

I like to promote these as they're adaptable, easy to grow native perennials,  often with multiple good species to choose from within a particular genus.  (This is a list to accompany a presentation for a Pollination Celebration in Asheville GreenWorks Bee City program).

Herbaceous perennials (average to dry sites):

Asclepias tuberosa    Butterfly Weed
Baptisia sppFalse Wild Indigo
Coreopsis spp.  Coreopsis
Echinacea spp.  Coneflowers
Eupatorium perfoliatum   Common boneset
Helianthus spp.  Sunflower
Liatris spp.  Blazing Star
Penstemon spp.  Beardtongue
Pycnanthemum spp.  Mountain mints
Rudbeckia fulgida   Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia spp.  Black-eyed Susan
Silphium spp.  Prairie dock; compass plant
Solidago spp.  Goldenrod
Symphyotrichum spp.  Asters
Thermopsis villosa  Carolina false lupine
Zizia aurea  Golden Alexanders

Herbaceous perennials (moist sites):

Eutrochium spp.  Joe-Pye Weed
Lobelia spp.  Lobelia, Cardinal flower
Phlox spp.       Phlox
Monarda spp.   Bee-balm
Vernonia spp.  Ironweed

Friday, June 26, 2020

Delighted to see growing vegetables

I planted tomatoes and peppers, along with squash and bean seeds, thinking they'd be a nice bonus for our veggie-gardening prone summer renters.

Well, it looks like I'll be harvesting the tomatoes, beans, and squash myself.  I've already harvested LOTS of basil that I planted for the second set of renters, now looking for another place as we're still here.
Beans, squash, and tomatoes are looking good

I'm basically OK with this. It's a familiar summer warm-season gardening dance, even as the darn collards and kale persist (not to mention the beet greens).

There's nothing to complain about -- when you have fresh young succulent basil growing.  I like to grow it in containers or flats as a cut and come again herb -- keeping the leaves and stems succulent and tasty. 

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hmm, an "upgraded" theme layout for Blogger

Well, my favorite sidebar gadgets have disappeared in my former layout, but I guess I can figure out how to link the presentations and plant lists (from Google Drive) to my website, I suppose. But hey, I'm doing this now as a volunteer. Really, I'm not happy to try to create new links to my website, etc.

I'd just updated a link to a pollinator presentation that I'm doing on Saturday for our Pollination Celebration, part of National Pollinator Week, here in Asheville.   So many thanks to my garden blogging friend, Janet Davis, for permission to use her wonderful pollinator photo montage in my presentation:

I also need to explore alternative themes and layouts in new Blogger themes;  undoubtedly there are nice ones out there.

An old schoolhouse above our road
As I come to terms with probably not being able to make it to our cottage this summer (maybe fall?), I'm remembering all the special places that are part of our experience there.  Our cottage is a renovated 1920 schoolhouse.  This image is of another one, never renovated, on the 2nd rang about our house in Quebec.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Why aren't the collards bolting?

Please, can't the collards bolt?  I am enjoying them, but.... I'm truly tired of greens.  We've been eating them since March, enjoying the parade from spinach to mustard to kale and collards.

The kale and collards are still holding up.  (Thankfully, the purple mustard bolted -- harvested yesterday).  Uh, surely it will be soon that the collards and kale will bolt?

I have lovely basil, parsley, thyme and chives growing vigorously, as are the climbing squash, pole and yard-long beans. The tomatoes and peppers are doing well, too.

I still have a full bed of beets with greens in the lower bed, below the house, not to mention Swiss chard in my upper beds, but both of them are easier to use than kale or collards, easily cooked and tender, like spinach.

So, please, in late June, isn't it time for the collards and kale to flower?

today's view of my raised bed vegetables
this evening's collard harvest (where are the cabbage white caterpillars?)  the butterflies are flying

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Thinking about gardening

I was touched to be included in this roundup:   58 of the very best Landscaping and Gardening Blogs, Influencers, and Instagrams

A bumblebee hawkmoth on Vernonia in a past summer

I don't normally pay attention to these sorts of things, but clicking through, the writer has done a really nice job of collecting various sites. I'm surprised that she found my Natural Gardening blog out there, as I'm hardly a media-seeking-followers kind of blogger.

I'm doing a program tomorrow about "Creating a Naturalistic Landscape" for the NC Arboretum (via Zoom, of course). There are 22 folks signed up -- remarkable, it seems to me for paid education programming, but thinking about it, I'm paying similar amounts for writing classes and other programming, so why not, I suppose, for those of us fortunate enough to be able to do these things. We're privileged, indeed.

It's been interesting to contemplate, as I've totally "rebuilt" this presentation, with largely new images and message "slides." The NC Arboretum has an excellent Blue Ridge Eco-Gardener program of whom many have heard me talk about other topics -- I wanted something new to share with them.

It's been diverting to rebuild a familiar message into a new version.

And as I've be doing free programs for a local nursery and as a profile about me and promoting pocket meadow appeared in a newsletter for Conserving Carolina, a local land trust, I've been doing a lot more benefit landscape consultations.

I'll be doing another free (by registration program) for a local non-profit at the end of the month, for Asheville GreenWorks Bee City's Pollination Celebration. Just click on the link to register and see the other offerings, including my gardening companion's program about Interactions between Plants and Pollinators: Highlights from the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

He's developed his program from "scratch," too -- it looks wonderful, based on what I've seen on his iMac!

How nice is that?

Sunday, June 7, 2020

A profusion of greens

One of our neighbors gave us a nice bag of sugar snap peas yesterday.  Yay, I thought.  A break from greens.   My pea seedlings had been foraged by squirrels (and birds), perhaps, so I don't have any of my own.

We've eaten greens for months.  Kale, collards, mustards, and chard.  I'm thankful to have them, but I'm thinking this harvest will go into the chest freezer, to be eaten next fall, perhaps.

my current raised beds, after harvesting greens

Maybe my neighbor would like some collards and kale in return?  The cool season greens, in spite of our current heat keep growing.  And the cabbage white butterflies don't seem to laying enough eggs to do much damage yet.

I harvested a big bag of collards and kale this afternoon, thinking I'll freeze them   We've been eating kale and collards for months now (the purple looks like it's going to bolt.  Well, please do, I think, as I harvest leaves.)

A lot of greens!

Chard and beet greens will be quite fine until we hopefully leave for our northern garden.

The tomatoes, peppers, squash, and beans are coming along nicely.  The basil is sulking, but I have seedling in containers that seem to be flourishing.

I'm grateful for the fresh vegetables and herbs that I'm able to grow in my raised beds, so it's ungrateful to complain about the surplus of greens in these troubled times.

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Pale Indian Plaintain and creating naturalistic landscapes

I managed to distract myself this afternoon by working on an update of a long-presented theme: Creating a Naturalistic Garden.   I've called this "Gardening for Nature" or "Creating a Natural Garden" -- etc. in the past. I've talked about this now for decades, promoting native plants in naturalistic landscapes.

A recent physically-distanced walk with a gardening friend had us happen upon an unfamiliar native (to me).

Working on my program this afternoon, looking at Larry Mellichamp's great book about Native Plants of the Southeast, I realized what it was: Pale Indian Plaintain (Cacalia atriplicifolia), now it's
Arnoglossum atriplicifolium. A lovely plant -- I wish I had room for it in the pocket meadow.

From Larry Weaner's wonderful book: Garden Revolution

And here's a link to one of many places to acquire it:

Finally, a link to piece about a recent pocket meadow program that I did.  The young Americorp volunteer did a nice job.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Penstemon smallii

We acquired this native a few years back, from a vendor at one of Botanical Gardens at Asheville's plant sales.  It's flourishing now.

A wonderful native penstemon

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Chamaelirium luteum (Fairywand) and Piedmont rhododendron

Here are a couple of Wildflower Wednesday candidates.  Fairy Wand (Chamaelirium luteum) is a standout in our wildlflower border right now. We only have one plant, but it’s lovely.

Equally nice is the Piedmont Rhododendron (Rhododendron minus), which has been in full flower for several days.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

Spiderworts along a fence

Our historic neighborhood, and the gardens around its various eclectic houses, is now awash in mid-spring flowers.  The gardeners were out this morning as I walked through the neighborhood, both experienced and newbies.  Welcome, all, I thought.

This row of spiderworts, Tradescantia spp. -- it could be some robust Asian species that I'm not familiar with, of course (our native species is much more dainty in appearance, normally, (but maybe the gardener fertilizes!)  has been delighting me for a couple of weeks now, as I walk by.

Small bumblebees were collecting pollen as I walked by.  Lovely.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Piedmont rhododendron

We have a problem area in our landscape;  it's an area that gets overflow gutter water in heavy rains from the 100+ yr old apartment next door.  (The gutters seem to be old, too.)

We've lost a sassafras tree there (maybe more than one), and various other small trees that we've tried there too.

Currently, the Fraser magnolia, mountain laurel, and Piedmont azalea (rhododendron) are doing well.

It's a delicate balance between managing the water flow and keeping soil fertility (and soil organic matter high).  My gardening companion is good at managing this -- he keeps tweaking the conditions in this spot.

I'm so glad to see this Piedmont azalea looking good; it was not looking good last fall!

Rhododendron punctatum and Fraser magnolia

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Old stone walls

I live in an historic neighborhood, the oldest in our mountain city.  Victorian and Queen Anne-style houses from those early times line several of our main neighborhood streets.

But there are many smaller houses, too, Arts and Crafts bungalows, worker's houses, and "four-squares," -- simple block houses with four rooms on the main floor, four rooms on the upper floor.

So we're an eclectic neighborhood that was founded in boom times in the late 19th century, flourished until the Depression, and then descended in more difficult times in the 1950's and 1960's and 1970'.

As Asheville started to recover, slowly, in the late 1980's and early 1990's downtown (about the time we started visiting downtown), that when our neighborhood gradually started recovering, too (although we totally didn't know about it then.)

It wasn't until our serendipitous (and unexpected) house purchase here in 2008 that we discovered Montford and other neighborhoods in Asheville.

So I was sad to see a venerable piece of a beautiful stone wall collapse in the rains that we've had recently.  The walls surround a beautiful old Victorian house at the intersection of Chestnut and Cumberland avenues.  I hope the long-time owner has the resources to repair the wall -- the original stones are beautiful.

They're covered with mosses and lichens --not replaceable.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Thinking about gardens and gardening

This is a re-post from March 5, 2017,  reflecting thoughts about gardening and creativity, a topic for this afternoon's presentation.

Early on in my garden blogging days, I remember a fellow blogger asking a question.

Do we create gardens that we aspire to?  Or, do we create gardens that reflect ourselves?

I'm firmly in the second camp, having created gardens now in two places (with my gardening companion) that thoroughly reflect our preferences and sensibilities as gardeners (and being native plant folks by background).

As I realized the connection between my own creativity and gardening, I started to encourage folks to think about their gardening styles and expressing their creativity through gardening in some of my presentations and workshops.  Fran Sorin's book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening was a catalyst, over a decade ago, in my thinking.

Hmm, I thought, that's what's been my end round back to being creative again, it's gardening.  And almost 1,850 blog posts later, I'm realizing that writing is my first creative love, although I continue to love gardening and art.

I truly enjoy reflecting on nature and gardening on a regular basis, and getting ready to do a talk tomorrow on creativity and gardening, I was rather surprised to look over the titles of blog posts over the years (looking to see if I'd written about this before).

Both the diversity and similarity of posts struck me, as did the seasonal rhythm of the topics.  It's almost spring now, so the emergence of spring empherals and early flowering native shrubs and trees are part of the vocabulary, as are the vagaries of spring temperature.

This year is remarkably early. That's part of the equation of a changing climate. But I'm also continuing to enjoy the swelling sassafras buds outside the upstairs window, harvesting the overwintering kale as it's starting to bolt, and planting sugar snap peas, with a hopeful thought that maybe I'll be able to harvest a bowlful, before summer heat sets in.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Pocket meadows

I did a free presentation yesterday for an excellent local nursery: Reem's Creek Nursery in Weaverville, just outside of Asheville about creating a native pocket meadow.

At the last minute, we decided to record it, as a friend from Bee City USA asked us about whether we'd planned to record it.

So why not, we thought?  Yikes, I thought.

But, if you have any interest in my thoughts about "pocket meadows" -- well, just click through.  It's one of my regular presentations and has lots in common with my pollinator-friendly gardening talks.

The first 3 minutes don't have my presentation going (a bit of a glitch), but it's fine after that, I think.

You'll need the password below to access the video.

Password: 9y#%f&*+

bee on  Aster


Saturday, May 16, 2020

A garden's promise

A duplicate post from Places of the Spirit.

Last year's early plantings in Bic in June

Friday, May 15, 2020

Using native plants in your landscape

I really loved this piece from the New York Times by Margaret Roach, the former garden editor at Martha Stewart Living, and now very active at A Way To Garden.

She lays out lots of good points about why to use more native plants!

Here's a view of native columbine and Robin's plaintain from a few weeks ago in our garden.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

A pileated woodpecker

We've had a pair in our back woodland forest for awhile, now.

This morning, the male hung out on the oak below the house;  with a decent camera and lens, I'd have a better photograph.

But this one from my phone will have to do.

A pileated woodpecker in our back woodland
 So nice to see this morning.


Saturday, May 2, 2020

A lovely diversion: warm season vegetables

It's been great to be able to focus on new Zoom presentations about plant-related topics.  Not only did I need to get much more familiar with Zoom (a good thing), but also diverting to think about warm season vegetables, too.

mid-May vegetable beds (oh, and look at the white rose behind!)

I extracted warm season vegetable content from my normal year-round vegetable gardening program, added a bit more about growing favorite "summer" vegetables, and generally redid a program for what I did this morning.

It was my first Zoom presentation.  I've been on a number of Zoom programs, led informal garden chats, talked with my family, but -- doing a regular presentation via Zoom -- totally unfamiliar.

Fortunately, having a few of the participant's "live" video faces on my sidebar helped me ground with the audience, rather than just feeling like I was talking to myself.  Curious.

But the Q&A afterwards went fine, as folks raised their real hands with questions and un-muted themselves, and we really had minimal technical glitches. 

I was a co-host along with the lovely staff person from the nursery who sponsored the program.  When she disappeared as she was introducing me, I could just launch right in.

On the sidebar of the blog, there are links to the pdf version of my program along with the handouts. 

Feel free to share them, as you like!


Thursday, April 30, 2020

A dual post

I just posted about crossvine on Places of the Spirit.  It’s made me happy to look at it, so I went to that site first, but it equally belongs here.

Here’s the wonderful inspiration.

Crossvine (Bignoia capreolata)

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Warm season vegetables

I’m anxious to put in tomato and pepper transplants, as well as seed beans and squash, but it’s been a cool April, so I’m sitting on my hands. My cool season vegetables are enjoying the mild temperatures and current rainy spell, so they’re not showing any signs of bolting yet, either.

I’ll be doing a virtual program about warm season veggies for a favorite local nursery, Reem’s Creek Nursery, in Weaverville, on May 2 from 10 - 11 am.

Early May is the perfect time to start swapping out cool-season vegetables (or start a vegetable garden, whether as an experienced vegetable gardener or novice.). We’ll talk about vegetable selection, succession planting, and more.

Join us by pre-registration via this link: — Reem’s Creek has lots of great veggie and herb transplants available, too.

Theirs were what I added this spring to my overwintered greens.

My raised bed vegetable garden, in dappled light.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A black bear visits again

I did this post on Places of the Spirit, as  my two blog sites meld together in these times.  Just click through to read the post.

This post is about a young black bear coming back, and enjoying bird seeds and nectar water.

Enjoying the sugar water in the hummingbird feeder.


Monday, April 13, 2020

Flame azalea in flower

My past dates for posting about flame azalea in flower were May 22 and May 24.  Hmm. Certainly a testament to the early and warm spring.  Perhaps there was a second one nearby that I posted about.  I don't think so, but...

It's been spectacular for a number of years, seemingly happy in this spot.  The flowers have just expanded.  What's also interesting is that the flowers, at least at this stage in their development, are a much deeper color than my previous posts reflect.  Maybe it's the camera/phone, or the light, but the flowers are a darker orange than I'd remembered.

Flame azalea

My gardening companion is happy moving around divisions of native plants in our garden.

Mt. Pisgah view, with cordoned off playground)
Near our house is a community center with a recently renovated playground (the entire facility and landscape was updated quite nicely, thanks to a bond initiative).  We enjoyed this wonderful view taking Woody out after dinner this evening.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

A bear wanders by

Here in Asheville, we have a small population of urban bears, but wild ones come through too, especially in low food years at higher elevations.

This fellow was probably a young male, looking for new territory.

He checked out the bird feeder (fortunately, it was empty).

 Then he wandered towards my raised vegetable garden beds.

Happily, he rejected the purple mustard that he was sniffing.

And went on down the street.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Thankful for my vegetable garden

Even as I try to keep present in the natural world, my access isn't as expansive as it is, as it was in different times.

There are neighborhood walks, thankfully, both in our own and nearby neighborhoods.

But what really has made me happy is how well my vegetables are doing.

I harvested another salad-spinner worth of spinach this evening -- delicious (they're in the far lowest bed, not that visible in this photo).

But I also have a lower bed sown with spinach and beet seedlings that are doing well.  And the other greens (from transplants) are coming along nicely: kale, collards, lettuce, etc.  Maybe if it's a cooler spring, I'll be able to harvest greens from that bed, too (if the local woodchuck doesn't beat me to them).

Where I'm going to get warm-season starts, well,  I'm not sure. Our summer renter (June-September) wants to have a salsa garden: tomatoes and peppers, I suppose.   But our rental agreement was flexible, and maybe we'll be here longer than we think, before we can head north to Quebec (to our cottage there).

I'm grateful for spinach, collards, kale, chard and herbs.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020


On my walk yesterday, thankfully still permitted in our "stay at home" city, I admired violets in a median strip.  I'm quite sure they were voluntary, but the homeowner happily hadn't "weeded" them out.  There are lots of violets in lawns throughout our neighborhood, too.  Lovely.

It's much nicer to see violets than the emerald green weed and feed lawns in one of our nearby (upscale) neighborhoods, where I also walk. 

Although one of them had trillium, mayapple, bloodroot, and trout lilies in a front bed, nestled together with variegated hostas.  Remarkable.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Gifts at home

Our native columbines are now in full flower. Remarkable. They seem to be on steroids after our warm winter. It's a short-lived perennial, so these must be towards the last of their resources?  We've never seen such tall flowering stalks before.  Last year's flowers suffered from aphid infestations, so it's a gift to have lovely plants now.

We had brought seeds from our Clemson garden, sprinkled them around, and now have lots of columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) in various parts of the garden, especially this side front area, which is planted with a variety of natives.

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Nature and the garden

It was a gift and a privilege to walk along the Bent Creek pedestrian path in the NC Arboretum this morning.  All of our city parks are temporarily closed, as are the recreation areas in the National Forest nearby, but the Arboretum is still open, for now, for passholders and drive-in parking fee folks.

An unexpected sighting of two patches of planted Oconee Bells had me gasp this morning -- how lovely to happen upon them unexpectedly.

This photo was my hubbie's from a visit to Botanical Gardens of Asheville, now closed for visiting.

Oconee Bells

This was my sighting at the Arboretum.

They have a venerable and iconic story, which I won't retell now.  I shared it with a couple of other of the few fellow walkers that I was encountering as the morning progressed. Thankfully,  it was easy to climb up the slope to practice social distancing, but later in the morning or afternoon, I'm not sure how easy it was.

It was so soothing to hear the sounds of Bent Creek.  Frankly, I was in tears listening to the stream.

I'm again, thankful for the access to nature that I have.  Sending all good wishes for connections to nature that you have, or virtual connections, too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Neighborhood tulips

Walking in the bright sunshine of late afternoon, my spirits lifted. Spring in full swing was totally a help.

This patch of tulips was a welcome sight.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Walking in local neighborhoods

We walked by this lovely gate and garden combination again this evening.  It's not in our neighborhood, but an adjacent one.

A lovely garden vignette

This pot of Virginia bluebells, with the barn wood entrance, has made me happy for two days now.  And this was the same walk I took this afternoon, when the rain stopped -- it's one of my favorite ones, looping up around the Grove Park Inn, back down, and back.

It was eerie to see how empty the Grove Park Inn was.  The front door was open but there were virtually no cars in the parking areas.  I totally get why coming to Asheville in practically shut-down mode wouldn't be attractive, but... it was a dramatic reminder of what's happening in our tourist town.

I was happy to be out, regardless, hardly seeing anyone out walking, and the few folks I saw -- well, we passed 6 feet apart.  It's a different world.

I'm including another photo of me with my Inspired Gardener hat.  It makes me happy, too.  Thanks, Botanical Interests.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A wonderful afternoon in the garden

I woke up worried (I’m an anxious sort, which served me well in my previous work life,  being translated into a very good sense of process and time),

Happily, though, it was an absolutely beautiful day in Western North Carolina and first a walk and then an afternoon spent gardening totally turned around my state of mind, and I felt totally happy sowing beet and spinach seeds, cleaning up the pocket meadow beds of leaves covering their crowns.

The flowering Asian cherries are lovely and the Asian magnolias are unscathed with frost, so far.  A warm spring, so far.  This was on  a walk in a nearby neighborhood.                                            

This afternoon’s gardening was so encouraging. 

Coming in, in late afternoon, I saw my image in the upstairs bathroom.  I was wearing my Inspired Gardener hat, from late year’s Garden Blogger Fling, thanks to Botanical Interests.  It’s my favorite hat in windy weather, that’s for sure, and it made me happy today, to see this reflection in the mirror.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Sorting seeds

Talking with a potential summer renter, who's a keen gardener, I mentioned that I'd look at what vegetable seeds that I had on hand, as she'd be here from June 1- Sept. 30.  Just like last summer's renter, I'll be delighted to have her start planting warm-season vegetables in my front beds, well in advance of when we're planning to leave.

A winter spinach harvest a few years back, in January

Back when I taught vegetable gardening programs much more than I do now, at the botanical garden where I worked,  I used my programs as a wonderful excuse to buy more seeds (so I could distribute them to the participants, while trying new varieties myself.

Alas, most of my seeds are getting pretty "past date" -- although since I now have plenty of time on my hands (most all of my classes and presentations have now been canceled), I'm planning to test viability of some of the older seeds.

In a previous research life, I worked with seed germination, so I thought it might be fun to test viability of 7-8 year old vegetable seed.  Of course, I've eliminated the obvious ones: onions, leeks, and spinach, which are decidedly short-lived. 

Interestingly, I didn't have any mesclun mix or lettuce, which I must have taken to Quebec either last summer or the year before, or maybe didn't have any.

But I'm going to try sprouting argula, broccoli, kale, collards, pea, and squash just for fun.  All of them are edible as sprouts.

The stay-at-home time ahead may be a welcome time to revisit posts like this one:

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Year-round vegetable gardening

Doing a program on year-round vegetable gardening at a local nursery (Reems Creek in Weaverville) has given me a welcome opportunity to add vegetables to my own raised beds as well as review and talk about a favorite topic.

There were 37 people signed up (for a free program) as of Monday afternoon.  Delightful to see that much interest!

As this talk will be done more as a presentation with props (plants, seeds, etc.), I've moved my presentation images and handout links up to the top of the blog side bar for people to view after the program if they like.

So nice to think about growing and harvesting vegetables in these uncertain times.

early spring beds


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A first native wildflower sighting: bloodroot

It’s always a harbinger of spring.  I’ve written many posts about bloodroot over the years.

Our small plant here in Asheville has been flowering over the last few days.  Delightful to see it, along with all the other signs of spring on the way.

It’s a small plant with small flowers compared to the others that I’ve posted about in the past, but it’s perfectly lovely,  nevertheless.

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Veggies to transplant

I really meant to post this first on Natural Gardening, it’s about vegetable gardening, after all. But Blogger requires me to choose which blog site each time, regardless of the Firefox link I click to access each blog.

So, here are some thoughts about early spring vegetables, posted on Places of the Spirit.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Veggies to plant

Deciding whether to write about a reflection about corona virus to come or veggies to plant, I’m opting for veggies.

I was fortunate to have kale, collards, and spinach overwinter, so that was great.  But the older Tuscan kale was starting to bolt, and I already harvested it.  We returned last fall at the end of September, so I was hard pressed to find any transplants at all — I think I got the one I planted at the local Ace Hardware or possibly Jesse Israel.  They were definitely the last of the transplants.

I sowed spinach seeds right away, though, and have been delighted to have them overwinter without cover.  The spinach plants look great.

But, there’s lots of room for more cool season spring veggies, so I bought kale, collards, and chard at my favorite local purveyor this afternoon.

I’m planning to sow sugar snap peas and mesclun mix soon, too. I opted for now not to add lettuce transplants — lettuce did SO much better last summer in Quebec, I’m not sure it’s worth the space in my spring raised beds.

The greens may well come in handy as a source of fresh veggies, if our grocery trips become limited.  

Who knows?


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Spring is almost here

The Ozark witch hazel in our front garden is in full bloom.

It's lovely, and I'm glad we pruned the stem sprouts before we left for our winter sojourn in Quebec.  It looks much better.  And interestingly, I'm thinking, at some point, the leaves (that had been retained late), finally dropped, so the structure of this small tree can be enjoyed.

It's a focal point in front of the house, so nice to see it!

Around town, there are signs of spring everywhere:  Asian cherries with buds about to burst, Asian yellow jasmine already in flower, daffodils in flower, etc.

The sassafras tree out our upstairs window has decidedly swollen flower buds.   Revisting past posts about Sassafras confirmed flowering dates in mid-March.   Amazing that I've had so many posts about Sassafras over the years.