Warm and Uplifting

Today is lovely. The sun is shining; it’s warm. It’s an SSSS kind of day (SSSS=short sleeve shirt and shorts). I was able to take a nice walk around the grounds of our retirement community, abiding by the current “social distancing” rules, of course.

For one raised in the south, I welcome the timeless signs of a southern spring: daffodils (or jonquils as my grandmother called them), dogwoods, and azaleas.

These are challenging times, especially for us “old folks,” trying to stay clear of the virus. Having to stay inside, somewhat isolated from our resident neighbors, is not fun. Have you ever heard of “cabin fever?” But a sure cure for the virus blahs is a walk in the sunshine, SSSS, listening to Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee on my headphones, and falling in love all over again with the sure signs of a southern spring.

To my readers, wherever you may be:  STAY SAFE

Posted in End of the Month View, Photo Challenge, Things I See Around Town | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Its Here Already


The evidence is everywhere. One of my neighbors has daffodils in bloom. Dogwoods are about to burst into their whiteness. I saw a crocus. Dandelions have already gone to seed. Another neighbor has azaleas blooming by her patio. Wow! Mid March and there are azaleas in bloom. Tiny new leaves on the bare trees are making their greenness visible.

Could this be a redbud, awakened from its winter slumber?

My Arranger and I are now living in a senior retirement community. With this virus thing touching all aspects of our life, we are focused on maintaining proper separation from our fellows. We’re not going anywhere (buying plants for the porch will have to wait). But that doesn’t mean I can’t take a walk around our grounds on a warm Saturday afternoon and get close to the spring newness I see around me. 

The pines are putting out their new needles, and the rain we had last night left puddles in spots, filled with yellow…pine pollen. Alas, it’s time to begin the daily dusting of the porch furniture.

There is uncertainty about the impact of the virus on our lives, but it is reassuring to know the cycle of life is continuing. A walk in the garden made my day.

Posted in Gardening, Nature, Photo Challenge, Things I See Around Town | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Things I See Around Town: Criminal Activity?

Yesterday I came upon stark evidence that a heinous crime had been committed.

This is unquestionably a case of first degree Crape Murder. A dastardly deed. In plain view 0f the public. Brazen. Condoned by the “Landscape Committee.” Why they probably paid so-called outside “professionals” to do the dirty deed.

I am barely able to consider the pain and suffering these three sturdy examples of treehood had to endure. And closer examination of the evidence strongly suggests that this wasn’t the first time they had been treated to such harsh treatment.

What’s next? Surely they won’t have those handsome evergreens cut down into basketballs.

Posted in Gardening, Things I See Around Town | Tagged | 7 Comments

Things I See Around Town: Is Spring Coming?

Here we are approaching mid-February, and I spied a bit of color on cherry (?) trees in our neighborhood.

It’s not much, but a bit of pink on a drab, cloudy day is a real promise of what’s to come.

Let’s enjoy!

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Turning dirt into soil.

Looking back over 25 plus years of down-in-the-dirt gardening, there are a number of important lessons that have etched a place in my mind.  I hope you will find them worth sharing.

I learned that I could do everything right to introduce a plant into my garden but, if I failed to provide the proper soil, it struggled. Over the years I believe I have read thousands of plant descriptions in magazines, catalogs, and labels. I don’t have hard statistical data, but I am sure that well over 80 percent called for “moist, well-drained soil.” I have never had “moist, well- drained soil.” I don’t know anybody in my part of the world who does.

It took me awhile to realize soil’s importance to plant growth and somewhat longer to put in place a strategy to do it right. I took a course on garden design from Suzanne Edney, a marvelous designer and now good friend, from Apex, NC. During the course we visited various gardens in the NC triangle area, many of which had been developed by area plant professionals. I recognized that most of them were using raised beds heavily infused with soil conditioner. “Soil conditioner” in our area is another name for fine pine bark.

Garden bed featuring Heuchera ‘Caramel’

So I decided if I were going to have “moist, well-drained soil,” I would have to make it myself. Consequently, I made maximum use of raised beds and developed the following basic soil recipe (it also serves as my potting mix).

In a wheelbarrow mix well (I used a four-tined cultivator):

  • 1 (40 lb) bag of commercial top soil (or equivalent bulk top soil)
  • 1/3 (40lb) bag of cow manure/compost
  • cover with 2″ pine bark soil conditioner
  • 3 shovel-fulls of course builder’s sand
  • 3-4 cups Greensand
  • 2 (2lb) coffee cans of PermaTill® (or sharp gravel) (if you have voles)

Greensand is a slow-release, natural iron potassium silicate soil conditioner that contains a host of micronutrients.  Sand and PermaTill®/sharp gravel increase aeration and drainage. I never used a micorrrhizal fungi inoculant, but I now read extensive and consistent recommendations to do so. 

How I wish I had known about turning dirt into soil when I began to garden seriously.

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Sixth Blogging Anniversary

I was pleased to receive a note from WordPress today marking the sixth anniversary of A Walk in the Garden. It’s hard to realize that 602 posts have made it out of my word processor, but here I am looking forward to another year of reaching out to readers around the world.

I am deeply grateful for your continued interest, your comments, and your encouragement.

Having moved to a retirement community some 18 months ago, I am without a garden. But I have my journals, my photo albums (before digital), and my archives on the computer. I just wish I had purchased a digital camera when they first came out. Alas, another regret that I cannot row back upstream.

Armed with the albums and my archives, I will continue the blog, emphasizing lessons learned (both good and bad), dreams of gardens yet unbuilt, and favorite memories of garden visits, friends, and plants. I’m sure I will continue to report on “Things I See Around Town.” I’ll close with one of my favorite photos: a pink tree peony.

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Looking Ahead to 2020

Here we have come to the last of of 2019 and the last day of the decade. It’s tempting to look back at the past’s challenges and victories, but I prefer to focus on the future.

This photo of Camellia japonica ‘Debutante’ perfectly captures my optimism for the future. I am grateful for Gary and Christina for the gift of this flower from my former garden. It points to the potential beauty that we can experience in the next year, the next decade.

To that end, my Arranger and I want to wish all a most prosperous and meaningful New Year. The greatest aim in my prayers is for peace, peace among people and peace among nations. 

Posted in Gardening, Holidays, Things I See Around Town | Tagged | 9 Comments