Botanical Gardens!

Today was an excellent day. Went out to the Raleigh Arboretum for a plant sale. There was some good stuff…and some bad stuff…(I’m doing well. I did not attack one of the well-meaning young people screaming “IS THIS A JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE I SEE BEFORE ME?!” so, y’know. Clearly the therapy is working.) Picked up an arrowwood viburnum, which I’ve wanted for ages–I had one at the house in Raleigh, and it was a lovely shrub for two days and then the deer ate it down to the bark. So now, with a fenced in backyard at my disposal, we’re tryin’ again!

Met up with my buddy Cassie, who provided some helpful advice on my prairie planting.  I am armed with grasses–the plant sale included some samples of prairie dropseed, little bluestem, and switchgrass, saving me from having to buy a stupidly large flat of the things. (Thank god!) She proposed that we go over to the botanical gardens in Chapel Hill, where she volunteers, and which I had somehow never seen.

They were awesome! They had pitcher plants in flower, which I’ve never seen before–such weird flowers! (One wonders how a plant manages when it tends to eat its own pollinators.)  And some just amazing natives–I got to see what a couple of shrubs I had bought on faith look like after…well, quite a number of years, I imagine. (The native azaleas are particularly astonishing. They turn into small trees! Amazing small trees!) And some gorgeous forest trails full of wild ginger and phlox and trillium–just incredible stuff.  And of course, to my delight, they sell native plants every day, so I wound up with a few more plants.  (I am weak. And planting season comes but once a year. And they had things I’ve been wanting to get, like American hazelnut, and things I’d never even HEARD of, like American horsebalm, which is apparently a bit like bee balm, only in the shade. This is a wonderful, wonderful thing. If it spreads even remotely like bee balm, I will be happy. I have a whole shade side-yard that is currently nothing but death and honeysuckle, and while the honeysuckle is on its way out, I need something to replace it, what with nature abhorring a vacuum and all.)

So I came home to the Deathbed, which I had cleared of honeysuckle a day or so ago, and put a southern wax myrtle and a sweet bay magnolia and an American hazelnut. (And digging the hole for that wax myrtle was death. But it was half the price of similar sized plants at a garden shop, so well worth it. I’ve got two others that still need to go into the ground, but I can only dig one massive hole a day.) The rest of the bed is daffodils and weeds, and honestly, it can stay that way–none of them are so dire as honeysuckle, and the mountain mint will eat them eventually.

I was also fortunate enough to run into a gentleman at the gardens who Cassie said was the guy to ask about my plant list problems, and who kindly e-mailed me both a plant list of things found in the Piedmont savannah and a suggested list for a garden plan based on said savannah.  They recommended at least 3 grass species (done!) and 15 wildflowers, and that the grass be 30% or less of the garden to start.  Not sure if I’ve achieved that yet, but my native plant tendencies mean that I actually do have more than 15 of the recommended flowers, although many of them are over in the garden bed. No worries–as I get the prairie planting laid out, I can transplant or divide some of them that will take clay, and the rest are close enough that the pollinators will probably find their way across the driveway okay.

So it was a very good day. And now I am very tired. And must get a Batbreath done before I go fall down.

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