Confessions of a Fair Weather Gardener

Filed under: Carolina Bed and Breakfast, Gardens, Innkeeping, Nature

May Peonies

Peonies in the Garden at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast

It’s raining out today which makes it safe to say I won’t be in the garden, because here at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast I am the inn-house (sorry!!) fair weather gardener.  Don’t get me wrong. I love our garden here at our Asheville Inn. I’m just not the most consistent and faithful of gardeners!

Snowdrops in February

Snowdrops are the first flowers to arrive

It begins in the Spring.  Just when the garden looks its worst, dead and covered with leaves and debris from the winter, the snow drops peep out beside the house.  Shortly they are followed by daffodils and crocuses.  Then the forsythia starts, quickly followed by our cherry tree which blooms overnight in a glorious display which only lasts two or three days (depending on the wind) but is a real show stopper.  On come the red buds and dogwoods.  Blue phlox spreads next to the stairs to the grape arbor and tulips abound.  Then it’s on to the rhododendrons and the wisteria.  Roses come out and the rosemary flowers.  Peonies arrive in May and it’s time to plant the vegetable garden.  As summer moves in the  common daisies start to bloom.  The hydrangea come to life and the day lilies rise by the driveway.  Gerbera daisies and blacked eyed Susans shine in the heat of August before we move on to pansies and chrysanthemums and the beautiful colors of Autumn. We have two camellias here at the Carolina, one blooms in November and the other in February.  They bracket the hellabores and cabbage roses.  It’s a never ending parade of color and life (and I know I have forgotten more than a few that show up).

But here’s the thing: all those plants are so needy.  Deadheading and fertilizing, splitting and staking, weeding and transplanting, you could spend days doing this!

Here’s how I run:  in the spring I love to plant things.  I pick out different flowers and bedding plants and choose the tomatoes and other vegetable for our small plot.  I enjoy the warm sun on my back and the smell of fresh new green leaves. I cherish my early radishes and happily run wire for my peas to climb on.  But then it gets hot and we get busy and instead of itching to go out and work in the garden, I pray for rain as the idea of dragging the hose from spot to spot seems like just one more chore.  And the weeds seem to come on faster than the ground hog who is trying to steal my tomatoes.

Daisies in Summer at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast

Daisies in Summer

Thank heaven for gardeners!

So really this is my confession:  our garden is beautiful and while I can take some credit for the vision, the real execution belongs to a short string of wonderful gardeners who have worked with me to keep the garden going and added to it as well.

First, I have to say thank you to Jay Marino of Pinnacle Landscapes.  Jay listened to me when I talked about flowers and more flowers and  he fought the good fight for shrubs and greens but eventually gave in to me and designed a beautiful North Carolina-style English Cottage Garden.  Memorable in the formation of the garden is the sight of Jay’s gardeners standing with their backs to the “wildflower” section and tossing plants over their shoulders in order to get a random pattern in which to plant them.

We found Amy on Craig’s List.  Her ad said she loved to weed and that is exactly the type of person this garden calls for.  Amy is responsible for turning the eternally wet and shady area next to the hose tap by the house into a lush and verdant fern garden.  She also added edible flowers to our herb garden– so yes, you can eat the nasturtiums which garnish your plate! But then one day Amy got married and had a baby so she left us to care for her own garden (so to speak).

Ferns at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast

Amy’s Fern Garden

Gayle was already working for us as a cleaner and when Amy left, Gayle mentioned that she used to work at the North Carolina Arboretum.  Ahh serendipity!  One of my favorite words and favorite concepts.  Gayle took over and brought mulch to our garden, she fed the plants and flowers, and planted ground cover where the rain washes out the slope to the back porch.  She started working on the front beds which are a trial.  They get full sun all day long and needed some real care from someone who knew what plants would do well there. And gradually the front beds began to give some kind of promise of the beauty in back. But,  like a butterfly, Gayle touched our flowers and then one day moved on to try something new.

And now we have Jolyene and Zoe.  Joylene and Zoe are bringing some restraint and tidiness to my garden.  They like neat beds.  I do have to push back against some of this but on the whole they are bringing crisp edges to the walkways and driveway.  This is needed because while a cottage garden is suppose to look carefree and random, left to itself it will dissolve into a mash of competing plants and overgrown greens.

So really the garden at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast is a community garden, created with love for everyone to enjoy! We hope you will come and enjoy it with us sometime.