Gardening in the Valley

Black Mountain News

We are extremely proud to have a monthly  column in The Black Mountain News.  The column is titled Gardening in  the Valley and the author is a member of the committee.  Typically the column is the third Wednesday of each month.  So pick up a copy of the paper.



Also want to thank Rhonda Reedy for her behind the scenes management of the column and working with the paper.   For being a relatively new member, she has already done so much for  our committee.

Committee  members interested in writing an article, please contact Rhonda.  If  you are wondering what to write about, select  a month and we can offer  you some suggestions. 

Current Column

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Help your garden change into its Fall wardrobe


A perennial problem for fall is what to  wear!  It is too cold for this and too warm for that. The same is true  for plants – what to plant now and what to dig up now for  over-wintering?

The plant containers  in the historic district of Black Mountain have an opinion on this  difficult subject, they love changing their wardrobe this time of year.

Depending  on the street and the weather, the 42 hand-built containers will sport  red, yellow, apricot or pale pink tulips in the spring. They are now  dressed for fall with pansies, violas, and other seasonal plants, the  tulip stems will appear in late winter to remind us spring is on the  way.

In addition to dressing up the containers,  members of the Black Mountain Beautification Committee are adding fall  color and planting hopes for spring blooms to the 24 garden sites  throughout town. Bringing beauty into winter gardening is often a  challenge and adding bulbs to a garden in the fall is a way to plant  anticipation.

Bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips, and  alliums, are known as True Bulbs and have a papery skin or tunic on the  outside, much like an onion. The tunic helps protect the bulb from  drying out when it’s resting or waiting to be planted. These bulbs must  be planted in the fall or early winter, before the ground freezes, to  bloom in late winter and spring. They require a long period of cool  temperatures to spark the process that causes them to flower.

Botanically  the tulip is a perennial, but in our plant zone the tulip is used as  more of an annual. The daffodil, however, is a perennial that is  liberally planted in the garden sites in town and can be counted on to  bloom and reproduce more bulbs throughout the years.

While  tubers, rhizomes and corms are also bulbs; to true horticulturists,  they are not true bulbs! True bulb or not, they are perfect for the  gardens in this area. Tubers have growing points called eyes that are  located all over the tuber. This makes it difficult to know how to plant  them. A good rule for the green thumb: if in doubt plant sideways. The  tuber best known in this area is the dahlia and the perennial challenge  for the gardener is, “Do I dig up and over-winter the tubers or do I  leave them in the ground?”

Depending on the first frost and the availability of the “shoveler,” I have done both.

“If  you do not want to dig, wait until the first frost, cut the plant back,  and mulch generously, about 2 inches," said Jessica Klarp, known to  many in Black Mountain as the Dahlia Diva. "You should also be aware  that the new growth could be bushy as the tuber creates more eyes  therefore more stems.”

Just be warned, a hard  frost, soggy ground, or critters could wipe out your tubers. But worry  not, Klarp donates her dahlia tubers to the Black Mountain Garden Show  so you can always rush to the show in May and purchase more. Be early as  they sell fast.

Alas, space is limited. Corms and rhizomes will have to be addressed in a future column.

Happy fall gardening.


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