March 2022

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Dear reader,

Welcome to March! If the old adage is true about lambs and lions, we are in for a real ride at the end of the month. I'm typing this newsletter from my back deck and it is already pretty warm out at 10:30 a.m. But these mild prevernal days are always a welcome sight, especially to those who live farther north where winter seems to drag on. But, I don't believe we are done with the cold temperatures just yet. (Also, as I type this, I have a kitty who's having emergency dental surgery. So, please excuse the lateness and brevity of the newsletter.)
I hope you'll find useful information and inspiration below. Send me your gardening questions and let me know how I can help with your gardening goals and dreams. My spring schedule is filling up quickly. Thanks for signing up, and if you've enjoyed this, please share it with friends.

See you in the garden,

I’m Reading

Not a gardening book, but nonetheless important to me and to my gardening/life philosophy, Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. It's a book about stepping off the hamster wheel of chronic busyness, overworking, and constant productivity and making time for things that really hold meaning in our lives, like family and gardening. I first heard about the book on an episode of On Being with Krista Tippett. It's not a life hack or how-to book, it's an invitation to take back our days and enjoy more moments doing what's important to us. I'll let you figure out what the 4000 weeks represent.

I’m Thinking

Why do you garden? Someone recently asked me this question, and I couldn't answer at once. There are the obvious answers: I love gardening. Gardening makes me happy. It's fun! Gardening is good exercise... But deep down, I believe I garden because I have to. I mean I really have to. I cannot imagine not gardening, and yet, during a difficult time in my life, I couldn't garden. There were painful memories associated with being in a garden. That went on for many months until I finally made my way back into my garden. The very thing that healed me at that difficult time was dropping to my knees and letting the earth ease my grief. I garden for so many reasons. Mostly because it's life-giving and soul-making work. Please, tell me, why do you garden? I'd love to hear your answers.

Monthly Maintenance Calendar

  • Begin to clean up garden beds
  • Add a light layer of compost to beds before mulching.
  • Time to mulch beds while the ground is warming and moist, just as new growth appears above ground.
  • Dig out difficult weeds like wild onions before mulching. Annual weeds can be weeded or smothered by mulch (if they haven't set seed!).
  • Plant summer bulbs/tubers/corms like lilies, crocosmia, gladiolus, tuberose, and dahlias closer to the end of this month
  • Perennials can be planted now. Wait until after the last frost date (typically April 15) to plant tender perennials and annuals.
  • Divide and transplant perennials.
  • Fertilize camellias and other shrubs in early March. A soil test is always a good idea as it provides specific guidelines for your garden.
  • Prune Clematis jackmanii to 6". Other types require different pruning.
  • Replace invasive species like Nandina, burning bush, and butterfly bush with our beautiful native species: Fothergilla gardenii, Itea, Clethra, witch hazels, many viburnums, and native azaleas. There are so many to choose from! Also well-behaved non-natives can be good, too: camellia, kerria, gardenia, and hydrangeas.
  • Lawns? Sorry, I have little knowledge (or interest) of lawns, but I can suggest something. Take an area of fescue and turn it into something more pollinator friendly. Start small! Even a few native plants will attract bees and butterflies.
  • This is not a comprehensive list. For more maintenance tasks info see
  • Wake County Public Library is offering several in-person and virtual gardening workshops. Info here

I’m Visiting

My sister in Florida! Thanks to Covid and life, I haven't visited my sister in Florida for a while. I recently spent some time with her and we made a trip to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville. The year-round plants there are often considered tropicals or tender perennials here in zone 7B. Beautiful groves of bamboo (so many different species!) towered over our heads as we walked through. A massive grass labyrinth by the Visitor's Center drew me in immediately. I was surprised to see our native Trillium cuneatum; I didn't expect to see spring ephemerals there. I thought the climate may be too hot, but no—they were all along the woodland garden. Magnolias, camellias, and azaleas were in full bloom--so colorful and a nice prelude to what will be coming here soon. And palms of all shapes and heights. If you're ever in the Gainesville, Florida, area, Kanapaha is worth the visit.

Until Next Month...

The Sunflowers
by Mary Oliver
Come with me
into the field of sunflowers…
Their bright faces,
which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds -
each one a new life!
hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,
is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come
and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.


Garden Oops! Saffron Crocus

Early Thanksgiving morning, I opened the pantry to get out everything to make stuffing. As I pushed aside cans to find the packages of bread crumbs, I came upon these lovely lavender flowers in the back and thought: What the heck is this? Then, I remembered: Saffron crocus. Oops. A couple of months ago, I bought a wide variety of …
Garden Oops! Saffron Crocus

Why Six Seasons?

Six seasons in my piedmont North Carolina Garden
Seasons, cycles, and time have always fascinated me. I enjoy learning how other cultures have experienced these phenomena in diverse ways. In the U.S., we have the four-season astronomical model that’s based on the equinoxes and solstices. Some countries use a meteorological definition for seasons—four seasons each containing three complete, undivided months. Some cultures have six seasons. Some have only …
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