Behind the Scenes: Cut Flowers

For the next couple OG columns, I’m going to focus on supremely summertime topics in the garden: flowers, vegetables and fruits. To kick it off, I caught up with Nicole Rosenberger, who owns Turtle Rock Gardens and is part of the Red Roots Farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription program. Her combination of annuals and perennials paints the county in blooms.

When I asked if she brought in any cut flowers for herself, she said: “I always have lots of cut flower around the house–I’ll never get tired of them! I grow them because I love them so much.  I mostly just have the cast offs from making bouquets though, rarely do I go out and make myself my own.”

Nicole grows a regular cadre of annuals, including zinnias (her fave), dahlias, snapdragons, lisianthus, nigella, cosmos, ornamental tobacco, celosia, amaranth, sunflowers, scabiosa, and marigolds. And when I asked if there was something she’d like to try, she said, “There are so many flowers out there I would love to grow but I only have so much space!  I try a few new things every year.”

That’s some pretty sage gardening advice that applies to everything in life: try a few new things every year.

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Behind the Scenes: Poison Ivy

This week I caught up with Chatham County Horticulture Extension Agent Matt Jones to discuss poison ivy. I’m strictly of the opinion that the only good poison ivy is dead poison ivy … or maybe the poison ivy that’s still growing over in your neighbor’s house who you don’t like. LOL. But Matt reminded me there are some good things that come of the weedy native vine.

According to the Smithsonian, “Poison ivy fruits, called drupes, are an important food for birds. Deer and insects eat the leaves. People think of it as a weed but in an ecological sense it is an early successional plant that is mostly found in disturbed areas.”

As a hater of the allergic reaction my husband has to the urushiol oil in poison ivy’s sap, but a friend of nature, I find myself vacillating between leaving it alone at the back of the property and mowing it down like Bill Duke in Predator. Maybe we could get a goat like we saw at the Louvre who’s sole purpose would be poison ivy eater. Hmm …

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And finally, I have it on good authority that Matt Jones will be developing a video for poison ivy this summer. I’ll post it when it’s available, but until then, check out the Chatham County Cooperative Extension Office for all things agriculture and natural resources.

Behind the Scenes: Garden Yarns

I had a nice stroll down memory lane today, recalling how fun it was last spring when my friend Jenny called and asked if I wanted any bulbs. “Come on over,” she said. “Okay!” I replied. She gave me so many irises, ajuga, daffodils, daylilies, and nandinas that she had to follow me home with her trunk filled, too.

This week’s Optimistic Gardener talks about the importance of sharing plants among friends, and the stories those plants have to tell. Jenny’s irises are at least five or six decades and four generations old, and the red cannas Pat Decator is sharing with Denise Effrein are a century old. When I ran into Denise while on a walk, her car was filled with irises (from another friend down the way) and Pat’s canna lilies.

And then there’s Maggie Zwilling–my former supervisor at CCCC, a good friend, and to top it off, a real pistol–who found out I was writing about sharing plants and brought over about 30 gladiolus and rain lily bulbs. There are so many things in life to be thankful for, and good friends are definitely top of the list. Quite frankly, it feels as good to share plants as it does to receive them.

What plants are you sharing? What’s their story?

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Behind the Scenes : Beekeeping

The Optimistic Gardener ran in today’s Chatham News & Record, and we talked about keeping honeybees: The A-to-Z’s of Bees. This week’s community gardener is my friend Brian Flick, who is also helping my husband get his hive up and running. Here are some photos from behind the scenes, taken by photographer Peyton Sickles. Be sure to check out the article in the paper (either online or in print), and subscribe to the CN+R if you’re local.

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