Herbfest 2011 – Coming in May

Story by Lindsey Chester, photo by Marcia Hansen.

Cary, NC- Last year, the Friends of Page-Walker created a new festival in downtown Cary – Herbfest.

My daughter Emma and I attended and she was thrilled to take home a seedling that grew into a large basil plant. The festival is returning on the weekend of May 7 and has expanded to include live performances and demonstrations along with the herbs and gifts for sale.

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Gardening: After the Frost Date

Cary, NC – The Frost Date is the standard (or average) last day of frost in a particular region. This is of interest to gardeners, farmers and horticulturalists because tender plants can survive outdoors after this date has passed. Read more

Invasion of the Giant Cabbages

Story by Matt Young. Pictured above: Allison Hartman, NC’s 2010 Winner – Walnut Cove Elementary, Walnut Cove, NC

Cary, N.C. – I found this interesting, being a guy who likes kids, education ideas, gardening and…well…oddities. Read more

Recycling: I’ve Got Worms!

Story and photos by Leslie Huffman

Cary, NC -Did you know that food is the #1 least recycled of all waste materials? In Cary we are great at recycling paper, plastic and glass. We just put it “in the bin” and off it goes to the recycling plant. But up to 75% of what we throw away is organic material.

The crazy thing is food decomposes all by itself in nature. Read more

Gardening: Time for Lettuce

Story & photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, N.C. – This period of the late winter should be called “Pear Blossom Season” in Cary, because the ever-popular, medium-sized tree is exploding in white blossoms all over town.

It turns out that Pear Blossom Season is exactly the right time of year to plant lettuce and other cool-season salad greens. Read more

Cary Community Gardens Dig In

By Guest Columnist Michele McKinley, Project Coordinator, Advocates for Health in Action (AHA)

Cary, NC – Fresh food, a sense of community and generous giving are sprouting at community gardens in Cary and nearby Apex and Morrisville.  Community gardens can “grow” in different ways, but they all are about people working together to grow healthy, fresh food. By sharing a plot of land, the supplies and physical labor, garden members enjoy and benefit from fresh foods. Many gardens also often donate extra produce to hungry people in the area as part of their purpose. Read more

Gardening: Winter Clean Up

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Daffodil shoots are pushing up from the ground and signs of spring are already evident in Cary gardens.

Warm weekends in January may be your last chance for a winter clean up, so here’s a few tips to get yourself step up right for spring. Read more

Gardening: Dry Season Plants

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree

Cary, NC – Driving around town, it’s easy to see what’s going on in our gardens this month: baking heat.

But several types of low-moisture plants love the hot, dry weather and make a nice addition to the summer garden.

Sedum, the King of Succulents

Sedum comes in many sizes and likes it hot and dry.

Succulents are plants that store moisture in the leaves. For Cary gardens, nothing beats Sedum for thriving in a hot, dry spell. Also called Stonecrop, I must have six or seven varieties around the yard.

There are tall, leggy varieties that make a good show of odd and interesting flowers. And there are small varieties that never seem to flower at all.

All of them love the dry heat of midsummer.

Sedum propagates easily. Just break off a leaf or a stem, let it dry overnight and stick the calloused end in the dirt.

Hens & Chicks


Hens & chicks in a 6" pot

Sempervivum to garden enthusiasts, or “Hens and Chicks” makes a nice ground cover or potted plant.

It comes in a variety of colors and rosette shapes. According to Wikipedia, Hens and Chicks “grow close to the ground with leaves formed around each other in a rosette, and propagating by offsets. The ‘hen’ is the main plant, and the ‘chicks’ are the offspring, which start as tiny buds on the main plant and soon sprout their own roots, taking up residence close to the mother plant.”


While my lawn is half-dead, many varieties of taller grasses do well in the heat and need little care.

From Black Mondo Grass (just 6″ tall) to giant Pampas Grass (over 9′ tall), I seldom (if ever) drag the hose over to give them a drink. Many taller varieties like Zebra Grass add an exotic twist to Cary gardens.

Zebra Grass grows about 5' tall by 3' wide

Also worth mentioning, Liriope is a hardy, happy grass-like plant of medium height. It’s great for edging. Sedge also works well, but can be invasive and, to my eye, is not as pretty.

Other Dry Season Stalwarts

Prickly Pear is another heat-lover, a large cactus growing to shrub-like proportions with interesting flowers and fruit.

Ivy comes in many varieties – small leaf and large leaf, dark green, bright green and almost white – and it will grow in sun or shade, wet or dry. It makes a great ground cover or pot plant, but it has to be clipped back every year to keep it from over-running the neighborhood.

Nandina is a small-leafed shrub. It comes in several varieties and sizes, all with interesting seasonal colors and brightly colored berries. It’s another plant that’s hard to kill and is making a nice show in gardens across Cary during this hot July weather.

Flowering Plants for Heat

French marigolds flower until frost.

A lot of plants just “go to sleep” during the hot weather, but a few flowering plants actually look their best at this time of year.

Geraniums like it really hot and don’t need a lot of water. Ditto Begonias. Marigolds are happy in the heat and have modest water needs. Coneflower gets a little stressed in the summer, but continues to produce flowers through July and August while providing food for the birds.

Plants in Pots

Another way to beat the heat in the garden is to locate a collection of potted plants near a hose. We have a little container garden outside our kitchen window on the back deck.

Cheery Tomatoes in a 3 gallon pot

Small-fruited cherry and grape tomatoes do well in a pot. Fig trees can be kept to a manageable size and produce tasty fruits during the height of summer in Cary.

Pansies like it hot (as long as their feet stay wet) and come in a rainbow of flower colors. Zinnias are happy and prolific in a pot. Sunflowers come in some smaller varieties and look good in mid-summer.

Impatiens add a tropical flair to your container garden but need moist soil.

Almost all the flowering plants benefit from a little liquid fertilizer on a regular basis. I use the dry-crystals in a big bucket (or wheel barrow) full of water and immerse the plants completely.

This article provided courtesy of Whole Foods Market of Cary, Sponsor of the CaryCitizen Scavenger Hunt on Saturday July 24!