Annuals in the Southern Garden

Two of my Favorite Annuals
Johnny-jump-upViola tricolorjohnnyjumpup
Full sun or part shade. Self sow. Can be invasive but oh so sweet for late winter color with their cheery purple/yellow faces.

spicyglobebasilSpicy Globe Basil—cultivar of Oscimum basilicum minimum—Elegant rounded edging to front of border, also great container plant. Plant after last danger of frost. Edible and harvested like other sweet basils.

What’s growing in your garden? What are your favorite annuals?globebasil


Splendor of the Grass—Lawn Care Tips

In the interests of the guys among us, my husband offers these Grass Tips for cool-season tall fescue lawns in the transition zone of North Carolina:
• aeration and overseeding – core aerate and overseed with turf type tri-fescue blend used in transition zone of North Carolina at a rate of 8 to 10 lbs per thousand square feet
• water – keep seedbed/soil wet but not over saturated to point of standing water
• seed germination ¬– can take anywhere from five days for first sign of growth up to fourteen to thirty days to germinate
• first mowing after reseeding – make sure seedbed/soil is dry before mowing, always keep mower blade sharp-most importantly at this stage, and set mower on the highest setting
• apply starter fertilizer to stimulate seed germination, development and color
• most important fertilization time to promote root development in the transition zone of North Carolina
• late fall/early winter is when the lawn’s root system is most actively growing
• fertilize with 50% slow release and post emergent weed control to help thicken lawn, suppress spring disease issues and provide early green-up
• apply crabgrass pre-emergent fertilizer to green-up lawn and control weed germination
• spot spray germinated weeds by hand and repeat application in five to six weeks
• use a few drops of dish detergent in any liquid form of fungicide, pesticide or herbicide for an inexpensive sticker agent to keep treatment on blades of grass
• maintain mowing height at 3½” for optimum results, this will help soil retain moisture and keep sun from germinating weeds in among the grass
• the earlier you start mowing in the season the better weed control you will have
• apply last fertilizer treatment of the season in May with post-emergent weed control
• water lawn in early morning before evaporation is at a peak
• water deep and infrequently, not light and every day
• turf type tri-fescue lawns need one to one and a half inches of water a week
• a blue tinge to your lawn means lack of water/high humidity and lack of air circulation can lead to fungal diseases such as dollar spot and brown patch
• apply granular lime as needed in July based on local soil test recommendations

How’s your lawn looking? Any tips you’d like to share?lawncare

Seagrove Pottery—A North Carolina Handicraft Tradition

NC Handiseagrovecraft Tradition—Seagrove Pottery

Seagrove, NC is known as the pottery capital of North Carolina. Proud North Carolinians boast “the world”, too. The pottery community encompasses not just the small town of Seagrove, but over 100 potteries near the North Carolina Pottery Highway, including Star, Robbins, Whynot and Happy Hollow. Visitors from around the world venture to Seagrove, home to the NC Pottery Center. The Seagrove area boasts the longest continual history of pottery making in the U.S. Visitors can also explore the rural backroads and visit potters in their workshop studios.

seagrove3The Seagrove pottery tradition traces back before the American Revolution to English and German immigrants who produced functional, glazed earthenware. The area prospered due to the high quality of clay and access to main transportation routes until the advent of modern food containers. Whisky jugs were an important source of income until Prohibition. The industry revived due to Northern tourist art connoiseurrs. The Jugtown Pottery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Seagrove Pottery Festival is held each year, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Local families—Cole, Auman, Owen, Teague and Albright—are 8th and 9th generation potters who continue North Carolina’s ongoing pottery traditions.

Seagrove has something to offer both the serious collector and the casual buyer.

Favorite Shrubs in the Southern Garden

hydrangeaNikko blue HydrangeaHydrangea macrophylla—Zone 6-9
Part shade. Blue flowers in acid soil, pink in alkaline. My absolute favorite shrub of all time. Takes me back to summer evenings on my grandmother’s porch. A simpler time. So blue it might make you cry for the sheer beauty of it.
carolinaallspiceCarolina allspiceCalycanthus floridus—Zone 5-9
Sun to part shade. Fruity fragrance. Plant where you can enjoy fragrance. Foundation planting or border path in woodland garden.

daphneDaphneDaphne burkwoodii—Zone 4-7
Small, slow growing. Blue green. Fragrant white blossoms. Full sun to light shade. Great foundation plant.

forsythiaForsythiaForsythia intermedia—Zone 5-8
Full sun. Informal hedge border. Give lots of room to enjoy arching branches which turn golden leafed in fall.



camelliaCamelliaCamellia sasanqua—Zone 7-9
Evergreen. Glossy. Must-have for winter blooms. Pick from white, pink, red, to salmon. Full sun.

gardeniaGardeniaGardenia jasminoides—Zone 8-9
Rounded, elegant, evergreen, glossy dark green leaves. Highly fragrant. Can use as border plantings. Quintessential to Southern garden come summer.

mountainlaurelMountain laurelKalmia latifolia—Zone 5-9
Full sun or deep shade, keep soil cool in hotter location. Evergreen, flowers dark to pale pink or white, bloom late spring. Nothing says Blue Ridge Mountains like mountain laurel. Thanks Mike—Carolina Reckoning—for reminding us.

rhododendronRhododendronRhododendron maximum—Zone 4-8
Another mountain favorite. Rose pink or purple pink flowers. Mid summer blooms. Native to woodlands of NC mountain region. Thanks again Mike.

See more behind-the-scenes photos of Carolina Reckoning on Pinterest at

What are your favorite garden shrubs?

BFFs—Celebrating Friendship

Who is your BFF?BFF4

Alison and Val in Carolina Reckoning have this kind of friendship. A friendship with lots of backstory.

BFF3Sometimes there are friends for the season of the road we travel. Other friends are like a bright thread of hope and love that wend through all our days.

I have been so richly blessed with friends to share life’s journey. Here’s to you—you know who you are.BFF5

BFF8I never think of Star Wars or the NC State Fair without remembering my BFF in high school.

I will never forget being with my mommy friends at a MOPS meeting when the first plane hit the World’s Trade Center on 9/11 and the phones starting ringing. And our world changed forever.BFF7

I’ll never forget the friendships of my youth. Or as Anne of Green Gables puts it, “There is no bond more lasting than that formed by the mutual confidences of that magic time when youth is slipping from the sheath of childhood and beginning to wonder what lies for it beyond those misty hills that bound the golden road.”

BFF6A friend who has stuck by my side through difficult pregnancies, a miscarriage and the adventure of raising daughters.

Friends who have come into my life because of the writing journey and how blessed I am for it.

Thank you all for being my friend. You continue to enrich my life.BFF10

I’d love to hear about your own BFFs and what that friendship has meant to you.

BFF2Remember—It takes a long time to grow old friends.

And my prayer for you—May your house always be too small to hold all of your friends.

Garden Fragrances

Garden Fragrances in Carolina Reckoning

Time for a Calgon moment. Feast your eyes. Take a deep breath. And pretend you are in a happy place.








Bourbon Roses

Exhale slowly through your nostrils.

You may return now to your regularly scheduled day.

See more behind-the-scenes photos of Carolina Reckoning on Pinterest at

What are your favorite garden fragrances?

10 Favorite Gardens to Visit

Landscape designer, Alison Monaghan—fictional heroine of Carolina Reckoning—lists her Top 10 Favorite Gardens to Visit.

P1040189Elizabethan Gardens
1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC

Stourhead Gardensstourhead
Wiltshire, England

enidhauptEnid A. Haupt Garden at Smithsonian
Washington, D.C.

Biltmore Gardensbiltmore
Asheville, NC

bodnantBodnant Gardens
Conwy, Wales

Denver Botanic Gardensdenver
1007 York St, Denver, CO

desertDesert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, Arizona

Sarah P. Duke Gardensduke
420 Anderson St, Durham, NC

japaneseteaJapanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA


Bishop’s Garden National Cathedral

3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC

See other garden pics from Carolina Reckoning on Pinterest at

Other than your own garden of course, what is one of your favorite gardens to tour?

What makes it so special to you?

National Flip-Flop Day — June 21

The Glass Slippers of the Southimages1

Alison Monaghan—fictional heroine of Carolina Reckoning—is part beach girl/part Cinderella. She has an extensive flip-flop collection. And “they’re all her favorites.”

images11Flip-flops are a thong sandal so named by Americans and Brits since the early 1970s. An example of an onomatopoeia, the word derives from the sound that is made by walking in them.

In other parts of the world, flip-flops go by different appellations. In India— the “air sandals” are known as Hawai chappal. In Japan, zori. Hawaiians call them slippers.

images4Flip-flops can be traced to the ancient Egyptians. One pair, discovered in Europe and composed of papyrus leaves, dates back 1500 years and was worn in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus Christ.

Can you say wow? Who knew?images8

Flip-flop Factoids
1. Masai flip-flops are made of rawhide.
2. The Japanese and Chinese use rice straw.
3. Made of wood in India. Ouch.
4. In Mexico, flip-flops are constructed using the yucca plant.
5. The strap hasn’t always been between the first and second toes.
6. Ancient Roman citizens wore the sandal strap between the 2nd and 3rd toes.
7. In ancient India, only a “toe knob” separated the 1st and 2nd toes.
8. The modern flip-flop emerged in the U.S. as soldiers returned from World War II bringing the Japanese zori.

images10The flip-flop became popular in the 1950s and was redesigned to fit in with the bright colors common to the postwar American culture. In the 1960s, Californians adopted the sandals as a necessary wardrobe element of their beach lifestyle. Since then, flip-flops have become an essential footwear not just for beach or casual occasions. Girls decorate their sandals with charms, beads and jewelry.

Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to be photographed wearing flip-flops while vacationing in his native Hawai’i. Sales of flip-flops exceeded sneakers for the first time in 2006, a remarkable feat considering the low cost nature of the sandals. As Americans embrace the less is more, casual lifestyle, flip-flops promise to be an enduring element of the American dream.images3

images7What are your favorite flip-flops?

Share a picture at

See for more flip-flop photos featured in  Carolina Reckoning.

Groundcovers in the Southern Garden

Alison Monaghan—Master Gardener, landscape designer, garden docent at Weathersby Historic Park, fictional heroine of Carolina Reckoning—gives her top groundcover recommendations for the Southern garden.

Shade Garden Groundcover
wild gingerWild GingerAsarum europaeum—Zone 5-9
Glossy heart-shaped leaves, evergreen perennial, semi to deep shade, spread but not invasive, beautiful combination with lacy texture of ferns in woodland, naturalized garden.

Lily of the ValleyConvallaria majalis—Zone 3-9lilyofthevalley
Deciduous perennial, white bell-shaped flowers, fragrant, partial to full shade, plant where room to spread in colonies for beautiful woodland garden.

sweet woodruffSweet woodruffGalium odoratum—Zone 4-8
Semi-evergreen to deciduous perennial. Best in part shade to deep shade. Will invade if not situated in naturalized setting. Starlike flowers.

English ivyHedera helix—Zone 5-10english ivy
You can’t kill this stuff. Very invasive. But beautiful in formal, Southern gardens. Partial to full shade. Great for slopes where hard to grow anything else. Evergreen.

hostaHosta—Zone 4-9
Southerners love this stuff. Deciduous perennial. Partial to full shade. Greens, gold, blues, variegated. One can never how too many in a garden. Grown for its foliage. Wonderful border plant.

Ferns—Zone 4-8ferns
Deciduous, plant in woodland setting. Frothy frond foliage texture contrast beautiful against hosta. So many ferns, so little space. Pick your favorites—Maidenhair, Lady, Japanese Painted, Hay-scented, Wood fern, Cinnamon fern, Christmas fern

Sunny Garden Groundcover
lamb'searLamb’s earStachys byzantina—Zone 5-10
Semi evergreen. Prolific. Leaves wondered feltlike silver gray fuzz. I love combining these against other blue/purple flowers and spring bulbs.

PeriwinkleVinca minor—Zone 4-8
Evergreen perennial. May require some afternoon shade in hot Southern climate. Can trim with lawn mower to keep in check. Blooms same time as daffodils. Periwinkle

See for more photos concerning Carolina Reckoning.

What’s your favorite groundcover?

Send a jpg to and I’ll share your photo.