Frost Watch

       5:30 AM the thermometer reads 37 degrees. That is a drop of 1 degrees in the last hour.Looks like the weatherman missed it, no frost this morning.
       The forecast last night included a frost/ freeze warning. That caused us to spend a big part of yesterday covering annuals, moving pots under cover, and setting up sprinklers to frost protect large plantings. Now it appears this work was an exercise which was not necessary.
       I was 80% sure it would not frost this morning. Yesterday was warm in the upper 60's. The wind was light. There were not enough cooling factors to drop us down to the freezing point. I could have chanced it and skipped the frost protection .But you really can not chance it. There is no way I could have rushed out just before sunrise and protected all the plants we have out, no way. So here I am watching the thermometer and happy to report 37 degrees in Cashiers, 1 hour to sunrise.
Planter Combo
The planter above should be interesting with comfrey in the middle,setcreasea ( I would have prefered to use persian shield), and pansies on the edges. The leaves of the comfrey will need thinning during the summer and the pansies will likely disappear. I will follow up on this post in a month.

Comfrey is an important herb in organic gardening. It is used as a fertilizer and as an herbal medicine. The main species used now is Symphytum × uplandicum or Russian comfrey, a hybrid between Symphytum officinale and Symphytum asperum.

Tradescantia pallida is a species of spiderwort more commonly known as wandering jew, a name it shares with the closely related species T. fluminensis and T. zebrina. Other common names include purple heart and purple queen. 

Persian Shield:

Overview of Persian Shield: Persian Shield - Strobilanthes dyerianus

It is easy to see how Strobilanthes (pronounced (stroh-bih-LAN-theez) got its common name of Persian Shield. Its most striking feature is its colorful leaves, which have an iridescence that gives them an almost metallic look. Persian Shield is a native of Myanmar, formerly called Burma, not Persia. Strobilanthes is a sub-shrub that is evergreen in hot climates. It is also a very popular houseplant because it tends to bloom during winter.

Impatience Still Being Grown

light frost this morning but no damage...
I took this picture yesterday at a commercial greenhouse. The plants in the foreground are Impatiens walleriana.
    I was surprised to see Impatience in production because last summer a strain of downy mildew destroyed  this species  throughout the eastern US.  I had heard there would be no impatience grown this year, but as you can see plants will be available. My thought is that it would be a good idea to not plant impatience this summer.
Rainy Day at the Asheville Herb Festival 
6" of rainin three days
Despite huge rain and flood warnings the 24th Asheville Spring Herb Festival went on at the Asheville Farmers Market.
There was a good size crowd

and 60 herb growers from the Carolinas and Tennessee.
   The most interesting plant variety we ran across was Napolitano ( I believe the label in the picture is spelled incorrectly) Basil Ocimum ( also called Italian large-leaf basil). It  is said to be the best variety for pesto. The large leaves can be harvested all summer long growing to 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide. We Came up with the idea of making basil wraps.
     Basil is truly an incredible herb. It is enjoyed for its rich and spicy, mildly peppery flavor with a trace of mint and clove. Basil is an annual herb belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae (Labiatae) and like others in this family, basil can be identified by its square, hairy stems. There are over 40 known varieties of basil of which Ocimum basilicum or Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown. Ocimum is from a Greek verb that means "to be fragrant." The foliage is easily bruised; just brushing against its foliage releases its wonderfully spicy fragrance. Varieties can grow to a height of 2 1/2 feet and are about as wide. Foliage colors range from pale to deep green, vivid purple and even purple laced with goldish yellow foliage. Texture varies from silky and shiny to dull and crinkly. Flowers appear in summer as whorls on the ends of branches and are either white or lavender. Some of the unusual fragrances and flavors include: cinnamon, lemon and anise. Basil is native to India and Asia having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. Being a member of the mint family, it is not surprising to see it recommended for digestive complaints. So instead of an after dinner mint, try sipping an after dinner cup of basil tea to aid digestion and dispel flatulence. Herbalists have recommended basil for years for stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation. Basil has been described as having a slight sedative action, which would explain why it is sometimes recommended for headaches and anxiety.
Another good basil we saw was  Ocimum basilicum
"boxwood"  boxwood basil.  This variety has small leaves and is ideal for edging.
For more information about the festival check out

The pictured violet has showed up in a planting of Japanese ferns. The violet and fern look good together. I have some reservations about allowing this plant into the garden. Violets can be invasive and it is my mission to eliminate 4 out of every 3 weeds in the garden. 

  If anyone know this plant I would appreciate your opinion otherwise I think the new guy will have to go.



(our home's name)
We added concrete garden tiles to our entrance wall.The artist is Caryl Castleberry a talented sculpture who lives and works in northern California,  Glenn Ellen Ca. near the Napa Valley.
Her website shows more of her garden sculptures and tiles.

                               Moving Day


        Despite what seems like endless bad weather our spring projects are getting under way. Today we moved a flock of 7 bantams from their winter quarters at our house back to the coop in the Chattooga Club's community garden where they will spend the summer. Their coop now becomes the home for this year's chicks who are now a month old. We are trying some guinea hens this year. They are  said to be good at eating insect in the garden and not scratching up beds.
We are planting out lettuce, chard and kale plugs.
In the nursery the seedlings are getting started.

And a new addition this year  are flats  of micro greens,and
we are testing for the different varieties of greens again this year.

The last day of April and things are looking good. There is no frost in the 10 day forecast. Time to plant.
The picture below is of yellow root and sedum growing together in a raised planter. Both can take the heat and cold as well as dry conditions. They make a good combination. 

4-20-2012 ... 33 degrees... Is this the end?

    Yesterday we had 1.6 inches of rain, 70 plus degrees temperature, and  wind gust of 25 mph. This morning the mercury is a shade above freezing, dogwood winter.
So will this be the last cold snap? Shall we go full bore or wait for one more cold snap. My thought,  go for it? Plant no begonias or marigolds but anything that can take some cold lets get  going.
    After the rain passed Marcia and I went down to Lonesome Valley  to check for water damage. The waterfalls were pouring off the rock faces in the canyon.
The streams along the trails were running full. Lucky for use there was no sign of erosion. The water was crystal clear.
The grass in the valley benefited from the rain. It washed in the 5,000 pounds of
of time release fertilizer we applied to the common areas two weeks ago. We use time release fertilizer to reduce loss of nutrients into the streams on the property.

Back at Canyon Kitchen, LV's open to the public restaurant featuring chef John Fleer, we have made some changes. New pots, a holly tree hedge between the building, and the parking court,

and the bruin garden which will be a mix of annuals and perennials.

Also in the background you can see a track hoe which is installing a new Bocci
Ball court in the community garden. A little something to keep the chicken entertained.
So we have a lot going on, a lot to do, but it would be best not to rush thing.
I think lets wait 2 more week for annuals.

                             Spring Wildflowers

  The wet and mild winter with a late cold period has set the stage for a good wildflower season in the Smoky Mountain National Park. This month should flowers will be looking good all month, and if you miss them at one elevation
you can go to a higher elevation. For example if you miss Spring Beauty blooming at 2,000feet elevation the first week of April you can likely see it
 at 5,000 feet the third week of the month.

Look for flowers near water. Check at the ranger stations for bloom locations.

JOHN McCarley

PO Box 524
Cashiers, North Carolina 28717
United States


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