Happy Halloween 2017!

May you receive only treats today. We have a gorgeous day here in Durham, bright, sunny and cool. Being a young woman in the 80's, here's a photo of one of my favorite Halloween decorations. This is in my neighbor, Dorrys's front yard. Cheesy, but happy decorations at the Happy Cottage. It's almost 4:00 p.m., so shadow play is everywhere. Beautiful camellia and dogwood in another neighbor's front yard. Our Yuletide camellia is starting it's show. After the trick or treaters and neighborhood block party. 9:30 p.m.

Garden Lessons Learned in 2017

Enriching the soil: May 31st, I posted "Two small additions to the garden with big impact". Well, the Red Riding Hood Penstemons are doing great. In fact, they have already spread. On the flip side, the lovely dwarf blue phlox, from the Flame series is definitely no longer with us. This was planted in another area of the garden which has a tough time due to the western exposure. The heat and dryness took them out sometime in July. This only makes me more determined to help the site which is so barren now. I have some Beverly Sill Irises that make it there, but not much else. I'm going to try the no dig method of permaculture in this corner. Stay tuned for a future post. The Red Ridin

Summer Staples for Extended Bloom in the Summer Heat, Zone 7

As we approach the end of the flower garden season for 2017, I've decided to summarize some of my garden lessons learned in the next few posts. Here are some of my favorite performers for mid to late season blooms: Cosmos, Salvia coccinea (pink), Black and Blue Sage, Chinese Aster, Scabiosa columbaria ochroleuca, Echinacea, Butterfly bush, Perennial Lantana. This Cosmos re-seeds each year. It attracts pollinators as you can see. I have these in almost full sun in a garden bed filled with mushroom compost. Once they get going in mid-summer (late June or early July) they will continue until frost. The only maintenance I do is pull up the dead plants after the seed heads have exploded.

Plants that can take Zone 7 Dryness and Heat

Twenty-three days without measurable rain fall. On Oct. 7th glorious rain came down on Durham in the evening. I haven't posted photos for most of this period. The abnormally dry conditions caused a drought in my garden spirit. We've been watering periodically to keep things alive, but not necessarily attractive. I have some photos of a few plants that continued to look great during the dry period. The lead photo is a massive lantana hedge that has been here for at least fifteen years. This is low maintenance with the exception of keeping it in bounds thru trimming. I cut it to the ground before winter and mulch it for protection from the cold. The orange coreopsis isn't too perturbed

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