Peak Behind the Garden Gates –

Garden Conservancy Gardener Cecil J. Dykes is offering us a peak behind his garden gates…

Jayme B: What do you call your Garden?
CJ: English Garden-Woodland Paradise.

My gardens are 20 years old.  When I first moved to Raleigh in 1985 I lived in an Apt and had a small garden around my patio and many pots. I moved in with Bryar at his house on Mineshaft Road in North Raleigh in 1989 and gardened there until 1992 when we moved into our current house. On Mineshaft I we had lots of flowering shrubs, a rose garden and terraced perennial gardens.  When I lived in my Apt.,  I took care of the gardens of Eric Ennis when he lived on Oakwood Ave. and the garden of Bill Caligari and Ames Christopher on Elm Street in Oakwood.

What is your first memory in a garden?
Getting into trouble for transplanting a piece of my mother’s sedum plant at the ripe old age of about 4.

What is it that got you started gardening or on a career path?
My mother’s love of gardening and the outdoors.

Do you have a favorite Garden Book?
A Year In Our Gardens by Allen Lacy (writer) and Nancy Godwin – Montrose – Hillsboro, NC – a Garden Conservancy Project.

Where do you go for inspiration?
JC Raulston Arboretum of course!

Do you collect plants and if so what?
Cold Hardy Palms and Shade Loving Plants

Anything new added to your garden?
Every year there are new plants added, most recently a White Flowering Cyclamen coum and always JCRA give-a-ways.

Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden…CJ Dykes
I have a rocking chair in an alcove under the steps, which go up to the deck, next to a large fountain in my shade grotto under the deck. That vantage point allows me a 180 degree view of all of my sunny mixed borders where the bees, anoles and butterflies entertain me non-stop.

Any favorite garden tools?
I have a short handled square bladed shovel that I use on and on all year to dig holes. I have had it for more than 20 years.

What is your mulch preference?  I use Pine Bark mini nuggets on my planting beds and Cypress mulch on my walking paths due to it’s durability to foot traffic.

How much time do you spend working in your garden?  2-3 hours almost every sunny day we have here unless I am out of town.

How much time do you spend just enjoying your garden?

I will sit for 4-6 hours at a time just drinking coffee, wine or just reading a good garden book or magazine, and watching the many fauna enjoying my gardens occasionally being lulled into a short refreshing nap by the sounds of nature.

If money were no object what would you add or do differently?

I would have had a professional come in to terrace the back yard so the patio, gardens and pathways could have been more level and have a nice, decorative professional grade aluminum 6 foot tall fence put up around the entire back yard.

Do you have garden wisdom’ to share?

Spend quality time in your gardens for you can learn much and live a fuller and happier life.

What do you do to have such lush Pulmonarias?
The Pulmonarias like moist but not wet woodland soil in a partly sunny to shady position.  I pretty much plant them and forget them.  Squirrels and rabbits will eat the leaves occasionally.  I have one called Raspberry Splash that has dark pink flowers instead of blue.  I also have P. rubra that has plain green leaves with red flowers but it has always been weak.

CJ & Bryar invite you to visit their private garden will be open April 13 & 14, 2013… this tour benefits the Garden Conservancy and JC Raulston Arboretum

English Garden-Woodland Paradise
The mature (20 year old) gardens are made up of several garden rooms. At the front you will find a formal French-style parterre and rose garden. Heading to the right you will pass a mixed tree/shrub border housing many rare/unusual genera. You then pass through the formal gates into my own secret paradise of gardens surrounding the back of the house. These gardens are made up of mixed shrubs, palms, and perennials. You will also find heavily shaded garden under the deck. At the back of the garden you walk through formal columns into a ‘Woodland Paradise’ comprised of many woodland trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers… Cecil J. Dykes


Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

2 thoughts on “Peak Behind the Garden Gates –

  1. Nancy Simonsen says:

    What a delightful peek into CJ’s garden! I enjoyed the very informative interview. All in all, you have created a really enjoyable preview of the Garden Conservancy. Thank you, Nancy Simonsen

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