Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Going Local-Metrolina Trial Garden Open House

 Last week, the Master Gardeners were invited
to a unique event in a nearby town.
The annual Trial Garden Open House
at Metrolina Greenhouses
allowed us (and hundreds of other folks),
to participate in choosing our favorite plants
from an array of annuals, perennials, hanging baskets
and combination displays.

Metrolina is one of the largest greenhouse and growing
operations with two locations spanning over 1,000 acres of total property.
The company was started in 1972 on an acre of land,
and has grown to become one of the biggest suppliers
to Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart.
You can find out more here.

Although I've lived in the Piedmont for several years,
this was the first time I had heard about this opportunity.
With over 3 acres of plants to choose from,
it was a challenge to pick out our favorites in 4 categories:
1.  Favorite combination planter
2.  Favorite geranium
3.  Favorite hanging basket
4.  Overall favorite.

Several large demonstration gardens were featured,
like this pollinator bed.
There were separate areas for sun or shade loving plants,
hanging baskets and annuals, perennials and 2nd year perennials.
The displays were wonderful for gathering ideas.

So many gorgeous flowers, yes,
but various textures as well.
There were many plants I could identify,
but others that I had never seen before.
It was a real eye-opener.
This salvia was a bee magnet!

It was a fabulous morning for sister and I 
to spend some quality time together.
Here, she is putting her flag into her 
choice for favorite hanging basket.
Afterwards, we went for lunch AND ice cream!
I can't wait for her to retire!

A gentleman from Proven Winners was in a booth,
showing off one of their latest projects.
This planting pot looks like plastic,
but it is actually plant-based.
The whole kit-and-kaboodle can be planted,
or it can be composted and will decompose on its own.
Everyone who attended was gifted a petunia
planted in one of these pots.

It was a bit of walking, 
but we were able to take our time.
What an enjoyable experience.
One I hope we can repeat annually.

Have you ever been to a trial garden event?

Friday, June 7, 2024

Homestead Happenings


Welcome to Homestead Happenings!
It's been a while, but we are back on track
and have a few updates on what's growing on!

The flower beds are bursting with color!
Even this coneflower in the shade is showing off.

With an abundance of rain throughout spring,
the blooms have needed very little coaxing to shine.
Our two pollinator beds near the driveway are filling in.

With Joe Pye weed, parsley and rue planted here,
we hope to have a steady supply of black swallowtail caterpillars visiting.
It's always mesmerizing to watch them make their transformation.

The front beds have been an ongoing project 
over the past year.
Adding evergreens really helped to anchor the space,
and adding more perennials keeps the color changing.

The chamomile in another pollinator bed
is so cheery.
For the first time, I am growing enough to make tea!

Can I just tell you how much I adore having these hydrangeas?
I could not grow them in Florida,
and always admired them in gardening magazines.
A fellow master gardener needed to make room in her garden
for something new, and she gifted me with these,
just for helping her dig them out!
They now line the area all along our driveway
and back in this corner of our lot.
Hydrangea envy no more!

One of the things I like best about them,
is the four season interest they offer us outside,
and the added bonus of being able to include them in 
flower arrangements all summer long.
They also make lovely wintertime displays after they have dried.

What a blessing to be able to have fresh cut arrangements
once again in the house.
The plan is to provide a Friday bouquet for neighbors
all summer long.
Won't that be fun?

Lest you think only the flowers are getting attention,
rest assured that the veg garden is humming right along.
Beets, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions
and a few new additions are enjoying the consistent watering
and ample sunshine.

Our Birdie beds are working out just fine,
and three more were just delivered this week.
That should be all we need for the foreseeable future,
and we look forward to filling them up with goodies.

I swore off of growing squash a few years ago,
as I didn't want to deal with the vine borers anymore.
Well, this cushaw squash is supposed to be
very hearty and I will say that it has taken off without much assistance.
On the opposite side of this bed,
there is one Seminole Pumpkin that germinated.
This variety is heralded as resistant to the squash vine borers,
so I am hoping for good things.
My farmer friend Lynn used to grow it in Florida,
and swears by its reputation.
Good enough for me.

We have so many volunteer squash
(I think it's squash) plants growing.
In the compost pile,

near the chicken run,
and in several other random areas.

A few Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins
in a raised row were planted intentionally.
These seeds were given to me by a fellow gardener
who had come to pick up chamomile plants.
(I took these photos in the heat of the day,
so they look a bit bedraggled.  They will recover.)

It's time to replant some of this washtub.
The curly lettuce has bolted,
and is too bitter for my liking.
The chooks will enjoy it though,
so nothing goes to waste.

A combination of kale, beet greens and lettuce
fills my daily salad bowl.
Can't get fresher than that!

We have green beans, folks!
I spied these tiny beans the other day,
and it made me smile.
A couple of these plants will feed me well.

The garlic was harvested this week,
the latest I've ever done so.
I kept hoping that it would size up,
but it just never happened.
I need to rethink my fertilizing strategy for next season.
Hopefully, this harvest will last us the year.

It will cure in the garage for a couple of weeks,
then be trimmed for storage.
A hefty bunch will be going to sister's house.
That gal can eat some garlic!
I think I need to plant some in her backyard.

What's happening at your place?

Friday, May 24, 2024

Memorial Day 2024


"There is nothing nobler
than risking your life for your country."
~Nick Lampson