Digging Deeper Vol. 14

Bring In Fall Plant Wish List Now

We just got our copy of the fall catalog from Plant Delights Nursery near Raleigh, NC, so it’s definitely time for you to finalize plans for fall and winter renovations or additions to your landscape and get your plant wish lists down to the staff at Head-Lee Nursery as soon as possible.  Owner Bill Head told us that he already had one truck loaded with trees and shrubs on its way from the West Coast, and he expects to place the rest of his orders by early next month, just as soon as he returns from a long-awaited vacation.  Remember, fall and early to mid-winter is the best time for planting in the Southeast, which allows new plantings to adapt and establish themselves in a new environment before they have to do battle with our more recent extremely hot and dry summer growing conditions

These deadlines are very important if you are wanting to add special, hard-to-find plants or more unusual species and new introductions to your garden.  Many of these types of plants have to be trucked long distances, so Bill has to plan his order carefully, being certain to get everything he can determine his customers need all in one shipment.  To counter the already tremendous rise in freight costs, he reduces its impact on retail prices to you by spreading it over the largest possible volume of saleable plants to be ordered from each supplier.

To update from our last “Digging Deeper” visit together, now is the best time to jot down your ideas for renovations, take pictures and make note of your problem areas while they are still fresh in your mind.  Bring your plans, plant wish list, pictures and rough dimensions of those areas that need improvements down to the nursery and let the staff help you get your plants on order and work out solutions for all your problems. 

Plant Delights Nursery Offers Specialty Plants

As I mentioned in the beginning, we just got our fall catalog from Plant Delights Nursery, where extraordinary horticulturist and plant hunter Tony Avent has been searching the world, USA and especially the Southeast for the rarest and best native, hybrid and exotic plant materials available.  Tony gathers plants, seeds and cuttings from all over, brings them to his nursery in North Carolina, trials them there for several years, determines the best offerings for our area, builds up his stock supplies and adds them to his catalog.

Plant Delights Nursery is not for everyone, but if you are a “plant nut” like myself, you will want to check out the website, www.plantdelights.com, and perhaps request a catalog.  These plants are top quality, rare and field-tested in a growing environment very similar to ours.  But unless you appreciate the value of rare and exceptional quality plants, there are no “cheap” offerings here.  You get what you pay for, and most of these specialty plants are sold in 4-inch pots and cost $10-and-up per each.  The catalog and the website are filled with Tony’s witty garden-writing style, superb plant photos and tremendous horticultural knowledge and advice. 

Book Applies Permaculture In Fruit/Berry Orchard

My latest gardening book purchase is “The Holistic Orchard:  Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way,” by Michael Phillips, a farmer, writer, orchard consultant and speaker, who resides at his “Heartsong Farm” in northern New Hampshire, where he and his family grow apples and a wide variety of medicinal herbs.  This book “provides all the basic information that’s needed to create and maintain a living orchard as seen through the eyes of a long-time holistic grower, who knows that producing healthy fruit is not about manipulating nature, but about supporting a balanced orchard ecosystem.

“Detailed insights into orchard design and on choosing the best varieties for your climate are included, along with a step-by-step instructional calendar to guide growers through the entire orchard year.  Rooted in the author’s many years of organic gardening experience, this book blends ideas from soil science, holistic heath, permaculture and traditional fruit growing into a powerful new approach to orchard design and care.

“In his powerful first book, “The Apple Grower,” Phillips completely changed the dialogue about healthy orcharding.  In “The Holistic Orchard,” he further explores:  the connections between home orcharding and permaculture; the importance of native pollinators; understory planting with shade-tolerant berry bushes and beneficial insectary plants; and safe, homegrown solutions to pest and disease challenges.” 

Sustainable Agriculture Conference In Greenville Oct. 26-28

Phillips, the author of these books, will be one of the guest speakers at the 27th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), which will be held Oct. 26-28, 2012, at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Greenville, SC.  Visit the CFSA website, www.carolinafarmstewards.org. for membership and conference registration details.

CFSA “ is a farmer-driven, membership-based, non-profit organization that helps people in the Carolinas grow and eat local, organic foods by advocating for fair farm and food policies, building the systems family farms need to thrive, and educating communities about local organic horticulture.   Our key programs are:  Education, Advocacy and Food Systems.

“Founded in 1979, we (CFSA) are the oldest and largest sustainable agriculture organization in the Southeast.  For over three decades, we have successfully united farmers, consumers and businesses to build a just, healthy food and farming future.” 

Take Close Look At Our Moonflower’s First Blooms

Finally, we thought you might enjoy viewing pictures of the first flowers to open on the Moonflower (Ipomea alba) vine that twines around a trellis at one side of our front door.  We grew our plants from seed, and this “morning glory” relative chooses to bloom in late evening into night, hence its common name.  Even though it is an annual, it is often a perfect choice for a “white garden” whose flowers always display well at night when the moonlight is bright.

One photo features a flash-illuminated view which shows the exquisite details of its brilliant beauty, and the second (without flash) shows the flowers glowing in the radiance of a nearby streetlight, simulating the moonlight.  Also intertwined on the same trellis are several Black-eyed Susans (Thunbergia sp.) for daytime color, which have yet to begin flowering.  Enjoy.  

By Guest Author Randy Peele

As has always been the case with my garden writings, I would like very much for all of you to interact with me in “Digging Deeper.”  Recommended topics, critiques, opinions, questions, etc. all are encouraged and welcomed, and I look forward to hearing from you by e-mail at email@headleenursery.com.