April 2022

Horticulture April 2022

Family:  Rosaceae

Genus/species/variety:  Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’

Common names:  Easter rose, Japanese kerria, double-flowered Japanese rose, Jew’s mallow,

Prefers part sun-partial shade-shade. Flowers pale in too much sun

Grows best in average, medium moisture, well-drained loamy soils that are moderately fertile. Avoid heavy clay soils.

Tolerates: Deer, Heavy Shade, Dry Soil, Wet Soil

May be invasive as it’s suckering habit can be a problem, and unwanted suckers should be promptly removed.

Recommended uses:  Informal hedge/screen, specimen, winter interest

Themes:  Woodland garden, pollinator garden

Collected by: Maureen Loomer, from the Trent Woods walkway. 

References:   https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/kerria-japonica/ https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=249949


Horticulture Corner-February 2022

By Maureen Loomer

“Gay lucidity, Not yet sunshine, in the air; Tingling secrets hidden everywhere…”

— Michael Field, in ‘February’ (1913)

My garden is replete with moles, voles, and weeds.  I wax philosophical on this.  The moles will eat the grubs, and the grubs and voles will eat the weed roots.  The surviving weeds will provide early food for small pollinators and other insects that feed dragonflies, robins, and bluebirds.  So it’s all good.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

     The parade of the seed catalogs has begun, so NOW is the time to plan for spring and summer planting.  The TWGC herb sale and the Tryon Palace heritage plant sale are great resources.   We should start seeing vegetable and decorative plants from local growers at the New Bern Farmer’s Market by late March or early April.  Buying local may be more convenient and less expensive than buying from mail-order houses.  My favorite mail-order suppliers are Bluestone Perennials (bluestoneperennials.com) and Plant Delights Nursery (plantdelights.com), and Prairie Nursery (prairienursery.com).   These suppliers offer guarantees on their plants, and species I cannot find locally.  Their websites also offer information and advice. 

Plant Delights Nursery is located in Raleigh, and owners Tony and (the late) Michelle Avent also established Juniper Level Botanical Garden.  JLBG is again open for visitors!  https://www.jlbg.org/content/visit/gardenDays.php

Ann Simpson mentioned this destination to me at the January meeting.  Road trip, anyone?

Local Garden Centers:  Our coastal communities missed most of the snow and ice that hit the piedmont and mountains, but three (going on four!) storms have made this winter as chilly as I recall.  Of course, those of you from up north would call this a heatwave.   Pinecone has moved most of their stock back to the farm, and Lowe’s has been holding deliveries of tender stock.  Pinecone’s inside shop is full of orchids and a few other indoor plants.   Lowe’s has seeds and bulbs for spring planting.  The dahlia tubers I bought will wait in my shed until I can plant them in a few weeks.  Lowe’s also has daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips growing in small containers.  I will buy some tulips for my elevated front porch but cannot have them anywhere else because of the deer.   Here is a list of “deer-resistant” bulbs (https://www.thespruce.com/deer-resistant-bulbs-2131830).   

Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis):  I have not seen hellebores in our local garden centers yet, but these are a great addition to the garden when year-round color is a priority.  Hellebores are best known for their very early blooming, nodding cup-shaped flowers.  These semi-evergreen perennials herald the coming of spring in shades of white, yellow, pink, maroon and even soft green. The NC Ag Extension Service points out that this shade-loving plant is easy to grow and deer-resistant (https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/helleborus-orientalis/ ) but is also mildly toxic to humans and pets.  Some beautiful varieties!  https://www.bluestoneperennials.com/genus/helleborus.html#:~:text=Lenten%20Rose%20are%20best%20known,maroon%20and%20even%20soft%20green.

Until next time…

December 2021 Horticulture


Common name:  blue flag iris (seed pods).  Probably southern.

Genus/speciesIris virginica (northern) and var. shrevei (southern)

Origin:  Native to the U.S.

Character:  Clump-forming perennial with light-green foliage. Dark blue blooms appear in mid-late spring.  It grows two to four feet tall and is well-suited for massing in front of shrubs or as a spiky accent plant.  Attracts pollinators and is deer-resistant.

Requirements:  Prefers full sun to part shade and will not bloom well if it has more shade than sun. It grows best in moist soils that are not too heavy but will tolerate some brief flooding early in the season and moderate dryness in late summer.

Propagation:  Seeding and rhizomes.

Bare roots can be purchased in spring and fall.  Potted trays available May/June (Prairie Moon Nursery).

It can be confused with the Eurasian Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), which reaches four feet in height and will not grow in water.

The yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) is considered invasive in some parts of North America because its rapid spread allows it to out-compete native species, but it can still be an attractive part of the wetland garden when controlled (maybe in a container, even sunk in a water garden).

                        by Maureen Loomer
October 2021 Horticulture Specimen 
Common Name: Society garlic, like my September selection, is not a NC native plant but one that you may like for your perennial garden.
Genus/Species:  Tulbaghia violacea
Character:  Delicate, sweetly fragrant flowers on deep green stems that smell of garlic when crushed. Various sources suggest it can bloom as early as late spring and may continue till frost. 
Origin:  South African grasslands
Size:   Forms clustering mounds like ornamental onions, up to 20 inches tall.
Lifespan:  Perennial, like ornamentals can be grown from seed, but it is easier to divide existing clusters.
Photographed in her garden by:   Maureen Loomer
Requirements: Full sun and well-drained soils. 

Horticulture Corner-November 2019

By Maureen Loomer

You can’t always get what you want   

But if you try sometimes, well, you might find   

You get what you need

–Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

                 Okay, so I can pretty much guarantee that the Rolling Stones were NOT referring to the challenges of gardening in eastern North Carolina when they wrote the lyric that I chose for this month’s subtitle.  This month, though, a lot of us wax nostalgic for what we may have admired in the past but lack in our current gardens.  My sister Margaret has finally decided (after five years) that she is declaring “no mas” in her battle to raise sweet-peas, and a recent conversation I had with Marcia Sproul included our mutual frustration with peonies.  Marcia had them in her old garden, and I admired them (and hollyhocks, and delphiniums!) on many visits to Maine and Colorado. Although friends in Winston-Salem grow them easily, I had chalked up my failure to our short, warm winters.  In my research, I stumbled on a website http://www.southernpeony.com/ featuring advice for choosing cultivars more likely to be successful here, as well as tips for care.  So, Marcia, this is for you!

While there are many plants that thrive best after a long, bitter winter, I’ll gladly do without them in favor of our long growing season and brief cold snaps.  And that long growing season gives us a wider window for getting our garden work done. Bluestone Perennial Nurseries https://www.bluestoneperennials.com advises that folks in the Plains and Midwest should have had their spring-flowering bulbs in by early October, but we in the south can safely wait until early December.  Plenty of time to cut down foliage and divide existing bulbs.  I will replace some of my Blue Flags with the “bees and butterflies” collection I purchased from Bluestone that is all yellow (!) eranthis, crocus, hyacinth and alliums. If you love bulbs (especially alliums and dahlias, do check out Bluestone Perennials and Plant Delights https://www.plantdelights.com.   Wendy at Pinecone Garden Center has been to Plant Delights (Raleigh) and has had the same luck with Bluestone that I have.  Mary Florence, you will find lots of exotic alliums!

For those who admired my dahlia blooms from the October meeting; yes, the plants are still blooming prolifically.  My cousin in Illinois is very envious!  This is their second year, and they are planted in my (not-) cutting garden which has rich soil that tends to remain moist, and a southeastern exposure with 8-10 hours of sun.  I have not seen any in Lowe’s this year, but you can order them from their website.

Those of us with herb gardens are preparing to enjoy our last harvests.  Saying goodbye to my mints, thymes, and sages is always a little sad, but I know they will be back in the spring.  My Pesto Perpetuo is in a container that is somewhat sheltered.  The late Madelene Hill and her daughter Gwen Barclay reminded us in Southern Herb Growing that “basils return to their fathers with the first frost”, but I may be enjoying bruschetta through November.  I have a new oregano (Cuban!) that is reportedly more tender (but not as tender as basil) than the woody ones I know, so I am bringing it in for the winter.  Will let you know how it does in the sunroom. 

We can expect our Christmas Cacti (Schlumberger) to start blooming in November.  My experience is that these plants are harmed more by over-watering and over-heating than by benign neglect.  I keep mine in my three-season sunroom where they are right next to the window with a southwest exposure.  I water when I think of it and fertilize once a year.  The ONLY time they move from their spot is for a brief trip to the living room while in full bloom.  Here is a photo from last year.

Email me with suggestions for this column or if you can present at a meeting!  I am still looking for volunteers for January, February, and April.
Until next month….
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