Tag Archives: North Carolina

Crape Myrtles and Southern Gardens

I grew up on the Southeast coast of North Carolina. The weather is humid and subtropical. The winters are very mild and the hot summer days are often followed by short rain storms. I did not realize how much the ocean breezes cooled the air until I moved about an hour-and-half inland to attend college. The summer air was so humid and thick you could cut it with a knife!

The good side, as a gardener, is I could grow so many tropical species down there! Now I am two-and-half hours from the coast and the winters are just a bit colder but not by much thanks to climate change.

Crepe Myrtles are a very popular tree or large shrub throughout the South. The flowers originally came in shades of red and pink but now there are whites and lavenders and purples. There are also a few sections with burgundy foliage, also.

NCSU has a very nice list of the cultivars with descriptions of flower color and growth habits:

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/lagerstroemia_indica.html

A few photos for Crape Myrtles around Raleigh, North Carolina.

I call this color watermelon. These are in my neighborhood.

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A pink Crape Myrtle in Cameron Village Shopping Center.

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A young group of mixed colors near Cup-A-Joe.

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And a beautiful purple Crape Myrtle in front of The Reader’s Corner.

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This beautiful red one on Oberlin Road has a very nice shape.

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And a white one photographed late in the evening.

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Crape Myrtles need to only be pruned to removed crossed limbs or damaged or low hanging limbs. Some varieties have beautiful bark that can peel in beautiful strips which revel shades of red and brown.

Unfortunately, most landscape crews do not know how to prune this heavy blooming plant. They tend to prune crape myrtles as if they are herbaceous perennials.

This promotes an awful water- sprout type growth.

These are weak stems which may eventually split the main trunk where they are attached. This type of pruning creates a look of a pollarded tree. Its not attractive or healthy for any tree.

Just say NO and don’t.

No! No! No! If you are in doubt that your Crape Myrtles need to be pruned. Just don’t do it. They will look better with a more natural shape anyway.

This is a properly pruned crape myrtle.

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This pruning allows the a more natural shape to develope which allows the beautiful and colorful bark to be seen.

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🙂

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Filed under General Gardening, Plants

Pollen invasion and the new growth of Spring arrives.

The temperatures have become steadily warmer and have really fueled growth in the garden. One negative side effect, as least for me, is the onslaught of pollen from the wind pollinated pines and oaks. I have had to deal with the allergies every Spring my entire life!

When it rains during this time I can breathe for a few hours as the rain cleans the air temporarily! You can see how it coats everything.

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Side walks are covered for a week or two and the rain washes it into the low areas.

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I would like to just stay inside and pray for rain during all of this but their is work to be done!

One of the first chores in the Spring is to search the lawn for seedlings from garden plants. The lawn grass usually doesn’t wake up from its Winter nap until later in Spring so you can easily spot seedlings such as Spiderwort.

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It’s also a good time to move shrubs that have out grown their spaces.

This Gardenia ‘First Love’ is now shaded by a nearby Asian Magnolia that has grown rapidly the past few The plant came apart into three plants! So now I have three!

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The path from the patio to the bird feeders is experience a rapid growth of wild strawberry and evening primrose! It should be amazing in May when the pink evening primrose is blooming!

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And the Kerria are in bloom.

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On the Coast, where I grew up, I remember older gardeners would tie up the foliage of Spring blooming bulbs to get it out of the way. This still allows it to nourish the bulbs for next year. I thought I would try it!

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A good example of how plants spend their first year putting down good roots before top growth is this perennial sunflower. Last season it grew about knee high and produced only a few blooms. This Spring there are about five shoots coming up so far. It should reach five or six feet by Fall and be loaded with blooms!

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Filed under Design, Gardens, General Gardening, outdoors, Plants, Seasonal Maintenance, Weather, wildlife

Tomatoes!

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The tomatoes are performing exceedingly well this season. I chose one large variety, Better Boy, and one smaller, cherry tomato type, Large Cherry Red. Each year I add a few bags of Miracle-Grow Garden Soil in each raised bed to improve the soil. It has a time release fertilizer which slowly releases nutrients over about a three-month period.

There are a few common problems that gardeners may encounter. Here are some tips I use. I water on a regular cycle to help prevent splitting. Blossom-end rot can sometimes be a problem, too. Most sources state it is caused by a lack of calcium. I help increase the calcium in the soil by watering with a milk jug after I have finished the jug. I fill it with water. Shake it to mix the milk residue with the water than water around the base of each plant. Sprinkling egg shells around the plants can also help increase the calcium and decrease blossom-end rot. You may also select varieties that are resistance to diseases. This is usually indicated on the tags by letters:

Tomato Varieties and Disease Resistance

Tomato Variety Resistance Growth Type

ACE VF DET
YELLOW PEAR IND
EARLY GIRL VF IND
BETTER BOY VFN IND
CHAMPION NFT IND
LEMON BOY VFNT IND
CELEBRITY VFFNT DET
FLORAMERICA VFFAL DET
HEATWAVE FFAL DET
ROMA VFD DET
BEEFSTAEK VFN IND
BRANDYWINE IND
BEEFMASTER VFN IND
SWEET 100 VFNT IND
SUPERSWEET 100 VF IND
CHERRY VFAL DET
GRAPE SDET
PATIO VF DET
LEGEND LB DET
SUNGOLD F,FF,T,V IND

The letter codes after the variety name mean resistance to the following:

V – Verticillium Wilt

F – Fusarium Wilt

FF – Fusarium Wilt Races 1 and 2

N – Nematodes

T – Tobacco Mosaic Virus

L – Septoria Leaf Spot

A – Alternaria

St – Stemphylium

LB – Late Blight

Growth Type:

Det- Determinant, IND – Indeterminatn

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Filed under Food, Gardens, tomatoes