Open Days Program – My Fairy Garden in the Woods

Beautiful mature specimens and paths that wind into secret views—a passion for collecting plantscreating layered textures with antiques. 

DSC02488A garden that will make you feel like a kid again—exploring a secret magical place.

Welcome to the charming collector’s garden of Garden of Jean and Wayne Mitchell. 

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YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED to: Open Days

Saturday May 17 and Sunday May 18, 2014

Wayne is an avid golfer and enjoys relaxing with his wife and their family in the garden.

Meet my friend Jean Mitchell, the most gracious hostess.  When not in her garden, Jean is a friendly welcoming facevolunteering at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center.

Gracious hostess Jean Mitchell

Gracious hostess Jean Mitchell.

Entwined Life:  What do you call your garden?

Jean Mitchell: Long ago, neighborhood children named my acre and a half woodland garden, “My Fairy Garden in the Woods.” 

 How long have you been gardening at this location?

 Since 1963.

 What to you consider your gardening Style?

 Informal Whimsical Woodland.

 What kind of conditions do you garden in?

 Rich woodland soil, but lots of roots and rocks. Very shady conditions. Hilly terrain.

 Do you have any challenges in your garden?

Shade and large trees which make it difficult to dig holes because of numerous roots and rocks. Rabbits, voles and deer like to eat foliage.

What is the first thing you added, removed or changed in this garden?

Azalea beds were the original theme to the garden. Many of the original azaleas still remain and are now over 50 years old. The biggest change that occurred in the garden was the removal of many trees that were felled during Hurricane Fran in September 1996. This allowed an abundance of sunlight in many of the garden areas for the first time in the garden’s history, and reinvigorated our interest in gardening.

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 Do you collect plants and if so what?

Yes! I’m so lucky to be able to get many of my plants at JC Raulston Arboretum where I have volunteered since 1996. Native plants that like shade are my favorites.

 What are favorite garden tools?

 I love the mattock and shovel for my planting and gardening, and the rake for the leaves.

 How much time do you spend working in your garden?

 A couple of hours almost every day.

 What is your mulch preference?

Ground up Autumn leaves.

 Anything new added to your garden?

 A Butterfly metal sculpture by Grace Cathey in Waynesville, NC.

What is your first memory in a garden?

 Helping my mother plant flowers.

What is it that got you started gardening?

Each of my sons were given an azalea bed that they tended.  Back then my passion was collecting antiques.

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 How many Gardens have you had?

 Two—one on Ann Street in Cary and our present garden which we have now had for over 50 years!

 Where do you go for inspiration?

The J.C. Raulston Arboretum

 Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, Pa  and

Butchart Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia

Do you have a favorite Garden Book?

I enjoy all garden books!

Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?

I have many, including my dear friends Mitzi Hole & Suzanne Edney.

DSC02499Describe where you most often sit in your garden….

The blue bench on the backside of the house.

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

 Nothing! I’m happy and at peace with my garden the way it is.

 Do you have ‘garden wisdom’ to share? Or anything you’d like to say about your garden?

 My favorite expression is Dr. J.C. Raulston’s motto, “Plan and Plant for a better world.”

 Or anything you’d like to say about your garden?

My garden is my peace and passion; a place where I don’t think of anything but my immediate surroundings.

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Long ago, neighborhood children named my acre and a half woodland garden, “My Fairy Garden in the Woods.”  An antique wrought Iron gate welcomes as you enter into native Sassafras, Bower and Hydrangea lined paths leading to a 3-tiered water fountain. Further on a white Victorian style gazebo beckons to sit a spell and listen. A magnificent Climbing Hydrangea scrambles to the top of a huge Tulip Poplar.  Many collector shade plants line meandering paths that lead to a crooked Straight Creek.   A glade of native fringe trees winds to the side.   Many rare and unusual specimen trees, shrubs and perennials acquired from the J. C. Raulston Arboretum share beds with antiques cleverly placed along paths in this charming collector’s garden. 

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Come Celebrate with Jean and Wayne Mitchell!

Their Garden: My Fairy Garden In the Woods

 is featured in this year’s Open Days!

Save the Dates!
17 & 18 Cary, Raleigh Open Days

Cary, Wake Forest and Raleigh Open Days
Friday, May 16 | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday, May 17 | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 18 | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit seven private gardens in Cary, Wake Forest, and Raleigh, , NC.

The JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina University in Raleigh will also be welcoming visitors.

Admission: $7 per garden
Discounted admission tickets (6 tickets for $35 general / $21 Garden Conservancy members) will be available in advance at the JC Raulston Arboretum (4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh). Admission to the Arboretum is free.

Open Days are self-guided and proceed rain or shine.
No reservations are required.

Bloom Day – Entwined Gardens

Bloom Day!  Camera in hand, an opportunity to ponder… Above a double Kerria a share from my friend Deb.

A sweet little girl statue that once resided in ‘Big’s Garden in Chatham, Virginia – a gift from Big’s daughter Jane. Continue reading

Hellebore Time

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Under the oaks and pines

A plant grows mighty fine.

Evergreen, shades of pink, burgundy or lime

Blooming ever so sublime

Hurray—It’s Hellebore time!

My friend Kathy's yellow Hellebore peaking through the snow.

My friend Kathy’s yellow Hellebore peaking through the snow.

Imagine, seeing this hopeful sign of spring—just out your window as winter’s wrath has driven you to wit’s end—peaking through the bareness of the last snow.

Or being able to cut and bring a variety of fascinating blooms inside…

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Having many forms—singles, semi-doubles, doubles, anemone-centered—and colors—it is easy to see why there are passionate breeders and collectors of this winter bloomer.

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Hellebores can be successfully grown in shade, but I have some also in sun;  They are drought tolerant and even the deer won’t nibble!   What is not to like?

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They can be cut for arrangements or floated in bowls indoor, or outside, to bring cheer in late winter and delight with hope of spring to come.

Stop by a good nursery and ask for them…  They grow in Zones 4-9.

Having Cabin Fever?   Saturday March 8,  is the last day of Hellebore Festival at Pine Knot Farms in Clarksville, Virginia… the weather is expected to be sunny and high 50’s… so go if you  are anywhere near by!   I have met folks from DC, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina… all beaming with joy for making the journey, wagons filled with Hellebores, hardy Primrose, Hepatica – just to name a few things!

Entrance to Dick and Judy's Garden... Pine Knot Farms.

Entrance to Dick and Judy’s Garden… Pine Knot Farms.

Judith Knot Tyler and her Husband Dick have customers in 49 of the 50 states and will gladly ship!

Magical gardens to meander around their hand-built home.   Plenty of Hellebores and other woodland garden plants for sale.

More next week with tips from Judy Knot Tyler of Pine Knot Farms on tips for propagation and care.

Judith Knott and Dick Tyler
Pine Knot Farms
www.pineknotfarms.com
434-252-1990
434-252-0768 fax

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Lust and Envy in the Garden – Edgworthia

There are certain plants that one encounters which stop you in your tracks… so begins Lust and Envy in the garden.  Edgeworthia – a woody Native of Japan, China & Nepal – has been my plant fetish, for over 13 years.

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Edgeworthia near the Asian Garden at Sarah B. Duke Gardens

I am not sure where I first saw  Edgeworthia chrysantha  Rice Paper Plant.   There are several forms in multiple gardens at JC Raulston Arboretum.

But one must be out in the winter garden to experience.    That “heart be still” moment… was at least thirteen years ago on my first late February visit to Pine Knot Farms in Virginia in search of Hellebores… I fell hard!

Cleverly growing out of a terracotta drain pipe near a walkway – the hypnotic scent an inexplicable delight.  Creamy yellow pompons dangling in the air so unexpected, charming and exotic – you had me at your scent!

Pine Knot Farms... Love at first sight... now a little large for the terra cotta drain, but I'd be affraid to move... it is a Daphne relative!

Pine Knot Farms… Love at first sight… now a little large for the terracotta drain, but I’d be afraid to move… it is a Daphne relative!

I’ve noticed that every great garden – zones 7b to 10b since – has at least one,  so should Entwined Gardens !

Rice paper plant begins to entice in the late fall, after the striptease of leaf drop. Tiny cream buds turn into an ornamental sphere shaped sputnik fleurettes which dangle and dazzle visitors… hanging tight like Sandra Bullock in Gravity through anything winter throws at it… always a curiosity in the winter garden.

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Then, by mid-winter, it bursts forth with the most seductive scent.  Which is why you reach in to your pocket and hope you haven’t spent the gas money needed to get home after traveling far and wide to find it!

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When the seduction that lasts weeks then fades like any romance, the plant sends up it’s beautiful leathery slender ovate shaped blue green leaves and becomes a most wonderful filler plant in the woodland garden.

Edgeworthia gives good reason and show – to long for the winter and then enjoy all year long.

My friend Jeanne's well placed Edgeworthia flanking walk.

My friend Jeanne’s well placed Edgeworthia flanking walk.

Then heartbreak when it ups and croaks – well it is related to Daphne… so the process begins again –  Love turns into Lust and Envy in the garden.

Many plant enthusiasts say you must try a plant at least 3 times before giving up….   Yikes, that can be expensive!  Most of those folks are in the plant propagation and selling business!

My first Edgeworthia conquest grew in a pot for about a year.   No blooms the first year… OK it happens… the plant likes to settle in and expand roots, which can be expected.   I even found a terracotta drain/planter to raise it up while it got some growth on it,  emulating the one at Pine Knot Farms.  Imitation is flattery, so they say.  By raising it up, I could see naked twigs  a distance out my bedroom and living room windows… its wafting come hither scent would lure me into the winter garden with abandon I daydreamed.  I would be wearing yellow chiffon…  although planted in fancy bagged soil, I fear it did not get the appropriate moisture being in terracotta.

A year later it croaked.   I was sad but undeterred… The diaphanous chiffon dress is back in storage.

 I bought another one from the JC Raulston Arboretum… this one – Edgeworthia papyrifera, I planted outside my kitchen window in a raised bed to lift my spirits during the winter months.  It didn’t bloom the first year, two tiny shoots sprung up and I was delighted… then deer munched them all down one night, and the plant never recovered.

Again I sprung for an Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Winter Gold’ from another plant sale.  Planted it again in the raised bed outside my window.   In four years it has remained a single stick.  No buds.   Just the delight of two leaves every year… talk of an unusual plant!  I will say  I defiantly wanted to see it out our  kitchen window to cheer me up in winter, but the packed clay no matter how much I add amendments becomes strangled by the Oak Trees.

“What’s thaaaatt?”  a snooty uniformed visitor drawled? 

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Not the response I would have had – after just enjoying  crab cakes with the good silver for luncheon…. beat   snotty raised eyebrows,  not the lustful look of an informed gardener,

“That looks DEAaaD. Y’all got any Azaleas or Camellias?”

Hasn’t she drunk the Mark Weathington punch “Life is Too Short for Boring Plants!”

Note to self: Next time serve her  pimento cheese sandwiches and only use stainless.  Or better yet – just invite Mark over for luncheon!

I am not giving up… I do have another miniscule side shoot this year.  I spray it with “I Must Garden” to deter any deer munching.  They even munched a spiny Ruscus recently!

 Then I saw it at Homewood Nursery, an end of the year closeout sale… even with “Plant Bucks” – it was more than I would normally spend… the coveted Edgeworthia akebono “Red Dragon” –  Orange/Red Blooms, perhaps not as much scent, but that tartish color enough to make one blush atop those naked stems. I really couldn’t believe there were three to choose from!

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Edgeworthia akebono “Red Dragon” – Orange/Red Blooms before it croaked!

Two years later it croaked, planted near a wall and a walkway with great drainage in morning sun… heartbroken.  My friend Beth bought one of the three and her’s went tennis shoes up too.  Misery loves company.

But friend Amelia’s specimen is as stunning as I had imagined.

Amelia's E. akebono Red Dragon!

Amelia’s E. akebono Red Dragon!

Lust and Envy curled through my veins once again this past early spring when I spied it in her garden.  Summoning a “come hither” look to find me stepping gingerly off Amelia’s well manicured paths to be enveloped in light scent and geisha like intrigue… more about plant obsession to come….

 Two years ago, I visited my friend Jere garden.  Jere’s Edgeworthia grows bawdily on a slope near a lake happily as swans & ducks drift bye above and giant carp below in the cool water.  Here and there a turtle pops up its head…  a lovely garden for relaxing.

After hearing of my pitiful ability to grow Edgeworthia,   OK – I was lamenting even whining… Jere  simply bent over, and with a flick of a wrist, twisted out a few stems with long roots and handed them to me…  I had no idea it was that easy!  Jere – I am forever grateful.

Grateful to Jere – for taking pity on me.    I even gave one of the treasured rooted stems away to a neighbor to appease the plant gods…  I am happy to report I now have sticks with buds in the ground in two locations!

 I yearn for the morning when I open the front door and am hypnotically drawn across the driveway to basque in the scent and delight… I will honestly feel that I do have a patient nature, no matter what my husband thinks, and Entwined Gardens indeed has joined the ranks of a great garden!

DSC01475I think this will be the year!!!!

Size Matters

Since my quest began Edgeworthia has become slightly easier to find for zone 7-9 gardens centers –

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Snow Cream’ 12’ x 12’

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Gold Rush’ 6’ x 6’

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Hawksridge Selection’  4’ x  4’

Check out Camellia Forest

They Ship!

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

A Visit under the Oaks

At this time of year chores at Entwined Gardens include raking the leaves and acorns from under the Oaks.  It somehow seems like a never-ending task, but one that always elicits a mixed bag of frustration and wonder, as I visit under the Oaks.

The grove of Oak trees was on the property when my husband purchased this woodland paradise.   He hates the thought (and expense) of  thinning them.   So many hardwoods were cut adjacent to our property when the woods became a golf course community – habitat lost.

But their  limbs have begun to hang over our rooftop,  making the back deck and terrace a constant battleground… and a potential threat of roof damage in some crazy storm.

I know – first world thinking!

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The acorns under foot can be dangerous, the leaves slick…  and with a back that easily twists out of shape… I do get annoyed from the raking and sweeping.

It is not an easy task to establish new plants under the Oaks, as they provide a dense shady canopy for most of the year, so I often grouse (to myself) that I’d really like a more refined view from my dining room and kitchen…  more light would be nice.

Most recommended woodland plants I’ve tried have languished, as the roots of the Oaks are far-reaching – sucking  up any available moisture from the hard packed,  root bound clay soils.

Then  comes the fall when the thick drop of leaves builds up an anaerobic layer, smothering anything below.

To have any success,  I have learned to plant specimens in pots. Should they survive the deer, then  I create a modified raised bed – planting on top of the of the woodland floor adding good soil amendments  around the root ball and  spreading out the  hauled in soil around the plant – yet not too high to smother  the roots of the Oaks.  It’s a learning experience and indeed a delicate balance.

I grumble more as most of the acorns sprout with ease just laying on top of – well anything –  in the pots in the raised planting and across the woodland floor…  while nothing else grows with vigor under the thick woodland floor of  tannic acid…  each spring I have a sea of Oak seedlings.

Oh a good remainder  when raking – to limit the amount of Oak leaves added to the compost pile –  no more than twenty percent  because they take forever to break down and will create an acid, anaerobic mess.

While on the topic of tannic acid, (Plant Geek Alert!)  it  is also found in acorns… this is the true reason that squirrels and Jays hide the nuts… waiting for rain and melting snows to wash away the tannic acid  over time to make them palatable.  It is also nature’s way of distributing the nut seed with squirrels acting as dutiful gardeners planting them in new locations where often they forget to retrieve.

Or, is it Mr. Squirrelly shrewdly planting a tree for ensuring a future harvest?

The deer eat acorns and don’t seem to have a digestive problem.  Then again the deer seem to eat just about anything, except poison ivy or just plain ivy!   Dang!

The sprouted acorns cannot get raked,  so this becomes a zen like meditation of tugging them out one by one.  There  are hundreds each year! It always amazes me how quickly they can put out a tap-root of several inches long once they get growing as temperatures become mild in early spring.

Last year I had an indoor mini forest of Oaks growing in a large pot of Aspidistra – cast iron plant – which we bring in for the winter.  It was amazing that 15 or so acorns sprouted and developed leaves!  Note to self: to look for photo.

So in the midst of raking, hauling and grumbling,  I am reminded to pause, look up and ponder…

OakWonder… good for the back, good for the soul – the majestic Oak.

Today with milder temperatures  under a Carolina Blue sky,  I laid down in the leaves to take the photo, resting and hoping to capture some frolicking squirrels, as they perform aerial feats of delight, soaring from tree to tree, but no suck luck.

I am reminded that these giants are also woodland habitat to Woodpeckers, Jays and lodging for migrating flocks.

Squirrel NestMajestic crooks are protected nurseriesfor the baby squirrels called kittens.

Shelter also for butterflies and host plants for moths.

All in all – grateful for their beauty,  the  shade for our home.  The Oak flooring we walk on, and Oak furniture we use.  The delicious wine that is aged in Oak barrels…

Grateful for the Oak table our family gathers around.

Now back to work…

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Thanks for taking the time to visit under the oaks…

Leave a comment on your what your favorite Oak …

Grady Garden – A beautifully woven horticultural textile retreat…

Under the high shade of these tall pines, is the relaxing garden of Pat & Perry Grady.

I love to visit a garden and  sit  in the chairs or benches along the way… to pause and take in the views.   There is usually a reason a bench or chair has been placed in a particular spot… if for no other reason than to just contemplate what goes into a garden, or an EntwinedLife.

The Grady Garden has many charming places to sit, if only for just a minute or two… to notice the rather steep grade, listen to birds, then quiet; enjoy the majesty of the tall trees – the rustle of wind, juxtaposed to the interesting textures on the ground.  Then the eye catches a glimpse of color off in the distance  which beckons on to explore the next visual delight to explore.  A beautifully woven horticultural textile retreat  high above the stress of the hectic world.

Grady lng view yellBut don’t be fooled… from my observations this is a tough challenging location… the shade, the heavy mesh of tree roots unseen which will greedily suck up the water needed to establish any new plant additions… let alone the fortitude and strength it takes be able to dig a hole though the tangle, worthy for any new plant addition! (especially at today’s dear prices) and hope for its survival.  Another challenge is defining paths  – there is quite an elevation change both front and back,  and the constant maintenance to tidy the leaves and pine needles before  the signs are put up and visitors welcomed  – is a task of patience only Zen Master gardener will rise above. Yet, this all looks so easy woven together.

We honor you dear gardeners for sharing your private spaces with us!

Pat, how long have you been gardening at this location?

29 years

What is the first thing you added, removed or changed in this garden?

Added shrubs and took out a few trees

Do you collect plants and if so what?

Anything for shade

Any favorite garden tools?

Rake

How much time do you spend working in your garden?

About 6 hours a day

What is your mulch preference?

Pine bark and pine straw

Anything new added to your garden?

Arbor in back yard

What is your first memory in a garden?

Living on the farm and having a row of zinnias and gladioli planted in my mom’s vegetable garden

What is it that got you started gardening?

Being outside

Grady Chair

Where do you go for inspiration?

Just take a walk in garden and visit other gardens

 Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

J C Raulston Arboretum

 Do you have a favorite Garden Magazine?

Carolina Gardner

 Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?

Ann Clapp

Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden

Front porch

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

More gardens and paths

Do you have garden wisdom’ to share? 

Just work and enjoy

Grady Birdhouse benchPat & Perry Grady look forward to seeing you during ‘Open Days Tour’…  You’re more than welcome to try out all the chairs and benches and relax.

DSC00767Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer