Garden Conservancy Gardener Rita Mercer invites us to enjoy the Thyme in Rita’s Garden…
Jayme B: What is your first memory in a garden?
RM: My first memory was in the forest behind our house in northern S.C. We played at the creek, where we saw native honeysuckle (azalea), dwarf crested iris, green-and-gold, dogwoods, redbud, mayapple, etc.
What is it that got you started gardening or on a career path?
When my husband and I moved to Apex, we purchased a house under majestic oaks. I wanted the woodland to be like the one I played in as a child.
Do you have a favorite Garden Book?
I love anything written by Pamela Harper. Her writing style makes me want to garden like she does.
Where do you go for inspiration?
To my nursery of potted plants….”This would look beautiful beside the purple oxalis!”
Do you collect plants and if so, what?
Right now I am collecting epimediums as they seem to like my acid, somewhat sterile soil. I also like trying new herbs like lemon basil, variegated marjoram, lovage (sub for celery), different varieties of thyme.
Anything new added to your garden?
What!! You’re asking ME that?!?!? Of course…always. Because I had to replace a huge, older stand (9 to be exact) rhododendron… I have newly added Hydrangea ‘Invincible,’ Stachyurus, Helleborus ‘Ice Follies’ and ‘Grape Galaxy,’ boxwood ‘Golden Dream,’ and a dwarf Pieris.
Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden.
I enjoy sitting on my deck (which is up in the trees) and looking down on the garden…a bird’s eye view.
Any favorite Garden tools?
My perennial shovel.
What is your mulch preference?
Leaves from my many trees that I shred and then spread. The plants love it.
How much time do you spend working in your garden?
Winter and spring are intense because of the number of leaves that fall. Mulching continues thru early summer, and then I really get to enjoy the garden. There is a little cutting back to do, but when you enjoy WORKING in the garden, it’s actually a pleasure.
How much time do you spend just enjoying your garden? And what type of things…
OK, I sort of answered this above. I also enjoy giving tours to those who wish to learn about shade gardening. And then there are those times I invite friends to have lunch in the garden back under the pines…very special. I enjoy weeding.
If money were no object what would you add or do differently?
I would have an elevated gazebo near my elevated deck. It would be completed screened in to keep out all bugs (especially mosquitoes). There would be electricity to it for night lighting and music. To get to the gazebo from the deck, we would construct a wooden bridge…this bridge you would walk under when you meander thru the garden. Hope my fortune increases soon!!
Do you have garden wisdom’ to share?
Everyone’s garden is different. A plant that you can grow beautifully may languish in my garden. So, after a couple of years in one place, move the plant. If it still does not make you happy, then dig it up and give it to a friend. If it does well there, then visit and ooh and aah and enjoy its beauty there.
Rita’s Garden – Apex, NC
Looking up into this shade garden at its peak in April is a spectacular sight. Rita’s Garden is a relaxed and informal woodland garden, embellished with stone terracing and wooden decks and arbors. The garden is planted with an amazing array of shade-loving perennials, shrubs and trees—from pass-along plants, to rare and unique weeping specimens. Sun-lovers in pastel shades are prominent around the large pond at the entrance to the property. Later in the summer, a display of hot-colored flowering and foliage plants make the sunny hangar gardens (located at the west end of Cox Airfield) a haven for butterflies and hummingbirds. – Rita Mercer
A vist to Rita’s Garden will inspire and benefit the Garden Conservancy and JC Raulston Arboretum.
Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife
Garden Conservancy Regional Representative
JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer