Gardening: Oh, The Fun That We Will Have

— Pam Eagles, Wake County Extension Master Gardener • December 2016

Gardening - December 2016

Poinsettias with orchids and amaryllis combine to make an unusual and visually striking display.

Hello, Gardeners!

Have your seed catalogs begun rolling in? It might yet be a little early, but what fun when they begin to arrive. Pen in hand, turning down pages, comparing plant colors and habits – gardeners can’t be gloomy after the holidays. We’ve so much planning to do!

A large part of a successful gardening is your soil. When was the last time you tested your yard or garden soil? Did you realize our county extension office will assist us in this critical endeavor? Drop by and grab a soil testing kit, and check the status of your earth. The NC Department of Agriculture’s Agronomics Laboratory tests soil as a large part of the lab’s consumer function. The soil test is free to garden variety consumers April through October.   November through March, there is a $4 charge. We will watch the dates for 2017; last year, testing was extended into fall by one month.

Soil test results will be one of your top tools for gardening success. If your soil is not right, nothing is! It will take a couple weeks to get your results, but what a detailed report you will receive. If you are uncertain what the report is telling you, feel free to contact the local extension office for help. Master Gardeners are on duty Monday through Friday taking telephone calls at the extension office to help with any gardening questions you may have, including soil test results. Telephone calls, emails, photos, drop by with questions – we are happy to help.

Before we know it, garden shows will begin. Are you up for a road trip or train trip? If so, check out the Philadelphia Flower Show.The show will run March 11-19 with a theme of the flowers and culture of Holland. Consider boarding Amtrak in Raleigh and disembarking in Philadelphia for a fun gardening, history and eating weekend. It is a trip I think all gardeners should take at least once.

Another must is the Charleston House & Garden Tour. How about a road trip to Charleston on April 7-8? In addition to beautiful historic homes and gardens, you know there is superior shopping and eating too.

A trip is fun, but so many local events await in the spring. Look for information on gardening interest events in our area for 2017. One I am looking forward to is The Tour D’Coop, Wake County’s finest chicken keepers highlighting their backyard chicks; look for this around May. If you enjoy the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour, you will also enjoy the Spring Garden Tour.

Gardening - December 2016

The annual mid-November Holiday Open House at Homewood Nursery always showcases the many varieties of poinsettias.

Do not forget that Wake Forest gardens will open in the spring too. Who knows, Rolesville may host a 2017 Garden Tour. Watch for details on these and others in 2017. I think one of the best sources for garden interest events is the bimonthly Triangle Gardener publication. It is free to consumers, which is always great. Look for it at your favorite garden center or in Rolesville right inside the front door at Town Hall.

Keep the JC Raulston Arboretum in mind when planning outings. Our area has no better source for garden and plant ideas. If a plant grows in our area, you will likely find a specimen at the arboretum, and when you find it, you might pick up an idea or two of how to use it in your garden.

Of local interest, a garden is in the Rolesville Main Street Park, planted with partial-shade-loving and deer-and-rabbit-resistant plants. Check the trail right over the bridge. The old frog pond has been filled in and planted. Note: When deer are hungry, they will eat anything, but planting to deter deer never hurts.

Remember that when snow falls, shaking it off shrubbery will help ward off damage. If you are still working with falling leaves, mulch them and use as mulch around plantings – or throw them into the compost pile. Keep the birds fed during the cold months, and they will repay you with lovely songs and be a cheerful spot during dull winter days. Also, that amaryllis making your holiday bright can be planted outside in a sunny spot this spring.

Enjoy the holiday season with family and friends. Enjoy a winter of making gardening plans and planning to attend events that interest you.

My best wishes for your holiday season and winter planning!