Finding the exceptional in the ordinary: Goldenrod galls

Mama has a knack for finding four-leaf clovers. We’ll be strolling along, chatting, and she’ll stoop down and pluck one. She doesn’t break stride to stop and search – they just jump out at her. She doesn’t focus on finding the oddity. Instead, she takes in the sameness of the masses until something different catches […]

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens’ Historical Trail to interpret cultures

An outdoor, living exhibit on its way to the UNC Charlotte campus will tell the story of North Carolina through plants and crops crucial to the state’s development. A team representing the University’s Center for the Study of the New South, Botanical Gardens and Urban Institute received a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council […]

Preserving rare plants: In search of Heller’s blazing star

How do you protect a plant that grows only on rocky outcrops at high elevations in the Amphibolite Mountains of northwestern North Carolina? It takes a team.

Finding the beauty in a bagworm

The overall cluster was about the size of my fist.  A woven cylindrical core was decorated with willow oak leaves, some of them whole and others torn.  They had been applied in an intriguingly symmetrical pattern, creating the effect of wings and a tail.  Tiny twigs with swollen buds had also been incorporated into the design, their weight providing a ballast.  The creature twirled and fluttered in the breeze, a sylvan ballerina.

Rushes can restore some ecosystems – and beautify your backyard

“I call rushes the final frontier,” says Paula Gross, former associate director of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. “That’s because I know so little about them myself!” A 19th century botanist described the genus as “obscure and uninviting,” she notes. As with so many other plants, my interest in rushes lies at the intersection of […]

A native plant that adds habitat – and flair – across North Carolina

During a whirlwind visit to Fort Fisher this month, I sped by the historic bunkers and raced through the N.C. Aquarium. My husband and I were on foot, on a mission to catch the next ferry to Southport, but the sight of white-bracted sedge spilling from the humble ditches along Highway 421 stopped me in […]

How to save a girdled tree

I saw it coming. I knew the tree was going to die, sooner rather than later, but I didn’t do anything to save it. Every time I saw the cable wrapped around that oak, I’d throw up my hands and think, “Too late now!” (A phrase made famous in our family by my husband’s father, […]

Sumac shows its glories in autumn

October has been as sultry as summer, but there’s finally the promise of weather that calls for sweatshirts and jackets. Deciduous trees and shrubs across the Piedmont have already started to don their autumn finery. Dogwoods are burnished a deep maroon, and poplars are shedding golden leaves. This time of year, few species are as […]

You can ‘release’ native plants from strangling invasives

T.S. Eliot claimed April is the cruelest month, but for gardeners, I’d argue it’s the busiest. In the Piedmont, it’s our last chance to plant trees and shrubs until fall. The soil is warm enough to sow cucumbers, peppers, green beans and squash, and it’s finally safe to set out tomatoes and basil. Catalogues and […]

Designing your garden for moonshine

Categories: General News Tags: Flowers, Gardening, Nature

Ever notice how the full moon always rises at sunset and sets at sunrise? This wondrous byproduct of planetary alignment gives us long nights of landscapes silvered by the sun’s reflected light. Even in my urban neighborhood, the moonshine casts strong shadows. In the evenings surrounding the Harvest Moon in September, my garden seemed especially […]