From My Carolina Home

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Late July in the Garden

It is hard to believe, but I haven’t done a post about my garden in a month.  There has been a lot going on between the Christmas In July hop and the Safelight Project, but I know some of you like to know what is growing and flowering on our mountain.  Today, I’ll show you how my garden grows. I have taken photos of this group several times over the past month, and it just keeps getting prettier. The vibrant red geranium is set off nicely next to the white petunias. That pink variegated coleus is getting really tall now too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Lettuce and garlic are coming up well in the pot on the right. Calibrachoa in three colors planted in two pots bloom only sporadically. The daisies in the back are done.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

White begonias are overflowing several pots on the veranda.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

After having my Summer Luncheon and giving away a bunch of day lilies, one of my guests dug up the white iris in her own garden she didn’t want anymore and dropped them off  on my veranda with a gerbera daisy. Those went into the ground the same day.  I love getting new plants!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The phlox is getting a bit taller, and the color of the flowers got a bit lighter.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Fresh parsley is wonderful for cooking, and this one is doing well with the yellow Calibrachoa.  Some of the parsley went into the shrimp risotto we had for dinner this week, adding a wonderful fresh flavor.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Multiple basil plants are giving me lots of fresh leaves for caprese salads with heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

These are Cherokee Purple tomatoes, cannot wait for them to ripen!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The tomatoes in this pot are coming along too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

These are cherry tomatoes in the front bed, hoping for a good harvest here too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Early in the month, the mornings were crisp and cool, perfect for sitting outside in the early dawn hour, listening to the birds. I found it was a great time to get some pictures of the choir in their natural setting.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Apparently there was a meeting scheduled, but I didn’t get the memo to attend.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There were still plenty of birds visiting the feeder too. This young female cardinal stopped by.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Goldfinches stay here year round.  A male and female were in the tree, looking around and taking their turn at the feeder.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Now that I know what the wood thrush looks like, I have seen him quite often.  Oops, brain glitch, this is a purple finch, thanks, Jan!!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Other mornings dawned foggy, lasting a couple of weeks, giving us humid, and (for us) hot days near 90°F (32°C).

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There are a bunch of apricot gladiolas on the mountainside out back, I think some were planted by the previous homeowner and some may be volunteers. Either way, they are difficult to get to. But DH got out the limb lopper and managed to get some blooms for me to enjoy in vases in the house.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I put them in vases with some of the pinkish hydrangeas and a few tall purple hosta blooms. They look really good with my Stacked Bricks table quilt.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

After those were done, it was time for the yellow gladiolas to bloom, pretty aren’t they!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Our resident skink made an appearance.  Usually he runs away with any movement, but this time I caught him from the veranda while he was hiding below near the hydrangea.  He ran inside the drain pipe, then slowly peeked out to see if the coast was clear.  I think there is a good size family that lives here, and I like that they eat a lot of bugs.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The snapdragons are still going, and I put the white iris in with them.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

White petunias bloom nicely in the front flowerbed next to more snapdragons.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A woodpecker watches as I water the garden.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The hydrangeas are still blooming too.  After I took more pictures of the gorgeous blooms I deadheaded the bush.  This lavendar color is so clear and pure.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I did add some lime to the top in the hopes that I’ll get some more pure pink blooms like this one.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

This one is blue to lavendar on the same flower, such gorgeous colors!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Looks like the African violets are going to bloom again too, unlike me they love the heat and humidity.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The northern flickers are back too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A friend gave me this adorable birdhouse for the garden, and it looks perfect in the big pot next to the front door. I have been a bit disappointed in the lobelias, usually they give profuse vibrant blue flowers all summer long, but this year they aren’t doing as well.  The chocolate variegated coleus is getting bigger, and the begonia is blooming a bit too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

So, that is the garden in July.  The torenias stopped blooming for a bit, I think they got stressed when we were gone to Lexington for a few days.  They are beginning to bloom again, but will take a couple of weeks to fully come back.  I did see the hummingbird one morning while watering the flowers, she came up and hovered right in front of my face.  It was a magic moment, and I watched her in wonder.

What’s going on in your garden?



Gardens Galore



An Iris Adventure for National Iris Day

Today is National Iris Day, and I have been saving my odyssey to revive my purple iris flowers for today. I’ll show the progression of the beds, and give you some hopefully interesting Iris lore along the way.  Did you know that the Iris is named for the Greek goddess of the Rainbow?  She is called the Messenger of the Gods, and used the rainbow to move between heaven and earth.  The flower was named the Iris because they come in every color of the rainbow.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

Last month I was lamenting how my iris bulbs would put out leaves but had not bloomed last year after I divided them in 2015.  I created two beds from one by dividing the tubers.  Their blooming had been getting more sparse each year.  But after dividing them, they refused to bloom at all last spring.  Only the untouched bed produced any blooms.  Time for some research, and I found several sites that predicted I had replanted them too deep.  I thought that couldn’t be the case, really, could it?  They weren’t planted that deep.  But one site had a Q&A section, and the answer to almost every question was ‘they are planted too deep’, and also said not to mulch them.  Well, I had mulched them so maybe the site was right.  They also desperately needed weeding.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

One fine day, I got out the kneeling pad and gloves, and reduced the level of soil over all the tubers.  The tubers need to only be barely covered, with a bit at the very base of the leaf shoot uncovered altogether.  OK, so I did that.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

I know flowers need phosphorus to bloom, so while I was at it, I added a top dressing of bone meal to the soil.  Lucky for me, it began to rain the next day, so they got a very good soaking over several days.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

I have to say, the effect was almost immediate.  In just days, the tubers began to put up flower shoots.  They did so many I was afraid all the flowers would be done while we were in Myrtle Beach for a week.  Did you know that in Japan, the Iris flower is believed to ward off evil spirits?  People will put the blooms in their bath to prevent illness.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

In a few more days, those beautiful purple buds were developing nicely.  In ancient Egypt, the flower with its three petals was the basis of their king’s sceptre signifying faith, wisdom and valor.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

Then, about 2 weeks later, the bud are showing, and more are coming!  In Victorian flower language, sending a bouquet of iris blooms meant you were sending your compliments, or feelings of friendship, faith, hope and valor. The original bed is putting up multiple blooms on some spikes.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

In France, the iris is the basis of their fleur-de-lis design, symbolizing royalty.  Also the second bed is coming along at the same rate.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

The purple iris is a symbol of royalty, respect, and wisdom.  The tubers put out even more buds while we were out of town.  I think the blooming season for them will last a couple of weeks at this rate.  When we got back, there were a few that had opened up, and even more buds developing.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

The root of the iris plant when dried is called orris root, and is used in herbal preparations and perfumes as a stabilizer.  Now, they are blooming their heads off, these in the upper planter are putting out multiple blooms per shoot.  Although I didn’t do anything to the tubers in this bed, I did give them a top dressing of bone meal for the phosphorus.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

Both the reworked beds have the darker color blooms.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

I am really happy that they have begun blooming again.  It is hard to believe the solution was so simple.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

The lighter purples of the upper planter keep going too.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

Those blooms just keep coming, going on more than a week now with more coming into flower every day.  Some of the flower spikes have five blooms on them!

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

Did you know that only the upper petals are actual petals called standards?  The lower purple parts are septals called falls containing the reproductive parts of the flowers.

National Iris Day at From My Carolina Home

The blooms just keep coming now, these are few days later. The second bed is full now, quite a contrast from nothing to this with just a little care.  I don’t cut these flowers, preferring to enjoy them where they bloom.

Irises at From My Carolina Home

The original iris bed is getting full too, with all the green foliage on the mountainside as a backdrop.  A few blooms are spent, but more buds are showing as well.  I think this will go on for several more days, maybe even a week more!

Irises at From My Carolina Home

Do you have iris flowers?  What is blooming in your garden?


Share Your Cup

Foodie Friday and Everything Else



Dreaming of My Next Garden

As we near the end of the holiday rush, it is still weird to have it so warm outside.  But, that only makes me think more of spring and my next garden.  Meanwhile my indoor plants are just maintaining, growing a few leaves but not flowering.  I think they do not get enough sunlight from our southern exposure windows.  I put several in the sun for a while yesterday, that is when the clouds broke up.  I really do need to re-pot those African violets.  As warm as it is, I should do that before it gets colder later in the week.  Yes, that is my begonia outside, still blooming all the way through until now.

Plants in window

I received one of my seed catalogs last week in the mail, and DH gave me a Farmer’s Almanac for 2016 in my stocking. My gardening calendar came last week too, so I am in garden planning mode! One thing I learned last year, my idea of using bakery plastic clamshell containers for starting seeds was a bust. The seeds grew great, but the transplant shock killed them.

stacked greenhouses

This year I will look for some tiny peat pots to put inside the little plastic greenhouses so the baby plants can be moved without damaging them.  All this basil, and only two plants survived in the garden after transplanting.

Basil seeds sprouted

The most exciting thing is my amaryllis looks to be sprouting a new leaf again this year! If it blooms again, it will be the third year it has bloomed. I will watch it closely, and keep you all informed! I need to add just a bit of soil to it.  Click on Amaryllis Rebloom to see the second year blooms from last winter.

Amaryllis 33

Santa brought a new camera, so hopefully my pictures will improve. I love the sharp focus on the subject with the background blurred, and now I can do it!  This little goldfinch was happy to model for me.  It has a huge zoom capability, so maybe I can get the foxes this spring.  Look for more pictures of the garden this year too.


I got a couple of gardening magazines at the magazine exchange recently, now is the time to look them over.  Our local library has a table where you can drop off magazines you have read, and pick up someone else’s.  I also scored a couple of garden books at the library sale on box day.  So many pretty things to grow, what to choose this year?  I know I’ll have torenias as the hummingbirds do love those. Here’s one of those from last summer.  I put them in hanging baskets on our veranda.

Torenia June 2015 - 5

Last summer I divided my irises which were just getting too crowded. I had enough to create a new bed, and I can’t wait to see if they survived the move.  Here they are just after moving them.

Iris newly planted bed ~ From My Carolina Home

I hope my hydrangea will bloom this year.  I have fertilized it and it gets enough water, but it just refuses to bloom.  It is dormant now, and just has some brown sticks to show where it is.  I would love to have a wisteria, but I really don’t have a good place to put one.  The spot that has room and a fence to grow on wouldn’t get enough sunlight.

It doesn’t help that the Cooks Illustrated magazine has lovely art on their back covers.  There were a few of those in the magazine haul too.  Makes me want to plant all kinds of tomatoes, peppers, squash, onions and herbs.


The Almanac says our best planting days in February are the 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th for above ground crops.  I might wait until mid-March as our final frost date here is April 12.  Then the little seedlings would have six weeks to the best transplanting dates of May 1-2.

Are you in planning mode for your garden yet?


June in the Garden

Two years ago, I planted this lovely Easter lily in the garden after it finished blooming.  I was amazed when it actually came up last year and bloomed.  It waited until June last year, and again this year.  No matter, it is lovely. The first bloom opened a few days ago, while the second one waited a bit longer.

Lilies in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home 1

White flowers are my favorites. A couple of days later, both are open and the first one is starting to fade.

Easter Lily ~ From My Carolina Home

Last year, it had three blooms on June 14.


The day lilies are going strong now, with more blooms every day.

Lilies in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home 4

These dark purple day lilies are D’Oro variety.

Lilies in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home 3

These peach blooms with the ruffled edges keep going for a couple of months.

Lilies in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home 2

Now that the irises have finished blooming, I decided that they really needed to be dug up and divided.  I am hoping that doing this plus adding some fertilizer will help them bloom better next year.  Here is how they did back in April.  One stalk had three blooms, one had two blooms, and two more had just a single bloom.  Many of the plants didn’t bloom at all.

Iris 3 2015

They look crowded in some spots, and other places are bare. I dug them all up last weekend. This bed is the original bed, now they are nicely spaced.

Iris replanted bed ~ From My Carolina Home

And there were enough left over to create a second bed of iris. This spot has long been empty as it is very shallow dirt. I have tried several things here, and last year added more dirt and mulch. I think it is just deep enough for the iris rhizomes.

Iris newly planted bed ~ From My Carolina Home

Sitting back to enjoy the evening on the veranda, a lovely view of the valley and mountain ridge in the distance.

June Evening | From My Carolina Home 2

It is difficult to capture the wonder of the cloud formations with the evening sun with my little camera, but you get the idea. Very relaxing on a warm summer evening.

June Sky | From My Carolina Home 1

How is your garden growing?


Late April Sunday Drive

We woke up Sunday to a lovely view across the valley just after dawn.  Fog in the valley shows the layers of hills and mountains so much better than a clear view.

April Dawn 2015 -2

Gradually the fog burned away, and we decided to go for a nice little drive with friends in our little British cars.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 2

We drove a route around the countryside past beautiful mountains and lovely pastures.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 3

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 5

There were shades of green everywhere as the trees and meadows come to life again.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 4

We went by an apple orchard, but the blooms were already done.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 12

Horses saw us coming and strolled from their barn toward the road. I love those old barns.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 13

The clouds were a bit threatening, so we headed for a favorite local restaurant for lunch.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 16

Arriving back home, the azaleas are in full swing!

Azaleas late April 2015 - 1

The light pink azalea that was just buds a week ago is now beautiful.

Azaleas late April 2015 - 3

The island is in full bloom, three white azaleas, and more pinks.

Azaleas late April 2015 - 7

Azaleas late April 2015 - 11

I need just a couple more to fill in that last spot. I planted gladiolas there but they didn’t bloom. Up at the house, the iris blooms have started.

Iris 2 2015

I actually took these before the drive, while the dew was still on the flowers.

Iris 2015

Two blooms and a couple more buds. I plan to dig these up this year and divide them as they aren’t blooming like they used to.

Iris 3 2015

I am so ready to dig in the dirt.  I’ll be picking up my torenias the first of May, and those will go into the hanging baskets.  I have some lettuce and pansies, and I’ll show you those when I get them potted up.  My little bakery box greenhouses are still doing well and the tomatoes are coming along too.

How is your garden doing?


March in the Garden

It is finally getting warmer, but we are not out of the possibility of a freeze.  Although this year that seems unlikely, I have seen snow on Easter Sunday in April in years past.  So, I won’t be jumping the season by planting outside just yet, but there are a few things in the garden that have made an appearance.  So wonderful to see the season of renewal getting underway, starting with the miniature jonquils coming up last week.

March 2015 Garden - 1

Only one little plant, but it is mighty, eventually yielding seven blooms.

Jonquils mid March

The crocuses came up and opened so pretty!!  I just love this purple. They came up seemingly overnight.

Crocus 2015 - 1

And the next day they opened. Just one little clump, but aren’t they pretty?  The color is hard to believe, it is so intense.

Crocus March 2105 - 13

I have one lone white crocus, think I need to plant some more.

Crocus white open

This one (below) is coming up next to the crocus. I don’t think it is one of the hostas that cover the bed in the summer.  The leaf looks like a different shape.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Growing leaf

The tulips will likely be next.  They survived the freeze with the plastic cover, and now are coming up strong.  I need to weed this bed next, and add more mulch.

Tulips Midmarch 2015

The irises are just beginning, and will bloom later than the tulips.

Irises mid-March 2015

Inside, the seeds are doing well in their little ‘greenhouses’! The top one has the johnny jump-ups, they are really going!!

stacked greenhouses

Basil seeds are peeking up.

Basil seeds sprouted

Parsley is a bit behind, but still showing signs of coming along.

parsley seeds sprouting

I got out on the veranda last weekend and cleaned up the remaining dead plants and detritus of winter.  I took down the winter wreath and put up the Spring Floral Wreath I made last year.  The chairs and table got a good washing so I can sit outside and enjoy reading.  Sometimes, we enjoy a meal there.  Something is wonderful about our view, a hot cup of coffee, the avian choir in full voice, and the sun coming up over the mountains on a cool spring morning.  Or a lazy warm evening, with something tasty on the grill, a gentle breeze through the trees, and the quiet beauty of a mountain sunset.

Next post, I’ll show you the amaryllis progress.  It has been maddeningly slow, but the wait was worth it!!

How is your garden doing?


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February 2015 Garden

It has been too warm lately, and my irises decided to wake up and start growing.  Unfortunately, the weekend was going to be 8 degrees with snow!

Iris shoots

I asked DH to cover them up, and he had the brilliant idea of using clear, plastic, painter’s drop cloths with boards to hold down the corners against the wind. The little sunlight we are getting can get through the plastic so hopefully will keep them from freezing. I know it isn’t good to leave plastic on for a long time, so I’ll be taking it off as soon as the danger of hard freeze is over.

Iris shoots covered

Good thing we did, this was my driveway yesterday a couple of hours after I got home.  Good thing I left work at lunch!  I know it isn’t as much as some others, but this is enough to be a problem for driving on this mountain.  I found that out the hard way last year!  My Snow Day of 2014 was a bit of an adventure.


This morning the result of the overnight ice formation was actually quite beautiful.  Trees and limbs are coated with ice, and glistening in the early morning sun.


Looking toward the next mountain to the east, more ice glitters in the sun.


Inside is warmer and more inviting.  I am excited that my amaryllis has apparently decided to bloom! This little bud showed up a few days ago.

Amaryllis bud Feb 14

I can’t wait to see it, hoping it will be as beautiful velvet red as the flowers last year.

Amaryllis bud Feb 14 -2

I do have some flowers in bloom. The lovely ladies of my quilt group gave me this pretty red cyclamen.


Down in the basement, the little plastic carton greenhouses are waiting for their seeds.

Seeds stacked

Some of the seeds I ordered have shown up in the mail. I’ll get these going around Feb 25th, have to wait for the right phase of the moon, and not too far ahead of the last frost date.  I hope the tomato seeds arrive in time!


Last fall, I sent in a soil sample to the county extension office.  I got the kit at the Mountain State Fair.  North Carolina offers this service free to homeowners if you get your samples in before the end of October. I wanted to see if my soil was the cause of so few tomatoes and spindly growth of my herbs and peppers last year.


This looks like a difficult report to read, but the pages of information that came with it made it easy. My soil pH is OK, 6.5-6.6. No lime is recommended.  My soil type is mineral, a good one to have for growing things – not sandy or clay.  But, there is a deficiency of magnesium, manganese, and zinc in my soil. So, I’ll look for those and apply sometime next month when it gets a bit warmer. The report says a liquid fertilizer is ideal, which works for me.  I don’t want to dig up all the bulbs that are there.  The recommendations are the same for both tomato crops and peppers/sage crops.  Most extension services offer this service, some will have a nominal fee, and it is worth the time to do it when the information is specific to your garden.  I’ll probably have another analysis this fall, just to be sure that the fertilizer and supplements I put on this year corrected the problems.

Have you ever had your soil analyzed?

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