Gardening in North Carolina More Rewarding

Any North Carolina gardeners who move out West will surely miss their Zone 8 plants like this Hibiscus ‘Albert Behnke’.

hibiscus-blogI read a comment from fellow garden writer Carol O’Meara asking me what plants were in bloom when I was in Raleigh, N.C., last week.

My answer? Everything.

After my week of visiting gardens in and around Raleigh, I can safely say gardening in North Carolina is probably a lot more fun than gardening in my neck of the woods.

Everywhere I looked, the gardens were lush, green and blooming with flowers of every shape, size and color. There were many plants I didn’t recognize because I’ve never had the chance to grow them.

The sides of every road and highway are so dense with trees and dark green foliage that it’s almost claustrophobic for someone who’s used to wide open spaces and views that go on forever.

Sure, we¬† Zone 5 gardeners can probably grow goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’). But will it grow 8 feet tall, like here at the Gardens of Montrose? I don’t think so!

montrose-gardens-blog1Montrose is the home and garden of Nancy Goodwin, a North Carolina author and talented gardener.

The 61-acre complex includes beautiful gardens, 19th Century buildings, and acres of woodlands. The landscape is dotted with large antique cauldrons and metal urns filled with elegant container plantings.

Something else North Carolina gardeners have that we don’t have is the joy of growing giant pumpkins and selling them at their farmer’s market.

The Raleigh Farmers Market features food, North Carolina specialty goods, cut flowers, dried flowers, fruit, vegetables, gourds, house plants, and these giant pumpkins.


Too bad my carry on baggage was limited to 50 pounds.

My favorite vendor at this market handed out samples of a dozen different kinds of apples, priced at 99 cents a pound, mix or match.

I also liked the vendor who was selling bunches of fresh turnip greens for $1.29 each–washed.

But of all the things North Carolina gardeners have that I don’t have is the pleasure of seeing and hearing their state bird, the Cardinal.

female-cardinal-blog1I caught my first sight of a female and her mate at a feeding station inside the Duke native gardens and couldn’t contain my excitement.

I mentioned my sighting to a North Carolina garden writer also on the tour and said I’d do just about anything to see Cardinals in my backyard.

She said, “Oh we get so many of those at our feeders, they’re a nusiance–almost like grackles.”


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Oh I really want to go see Raleigh now! The apple selection alone has me drooling. Great post – wonderful pictures.

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