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  • Karen Terhune Duncan

Full Bloom

Our azaleas are in full bloom.

I’ve enjoyed gardening for as long as I can remember. My New Jersey grandparents were avid and successful gardeners and much of what I learned from them translated very well to my NJ yards. Gardening with my mother in Pittsburgh taught me the balance of color and scale. And I grew up cooking from her garden of herbs, lettuce and tomatoes. My Maplewood garden had an abundance of hostas and impatients and hydrangeas. None of that would work in our South Orange home that had deer roaming free. So that garden took on a different, yet still successful, look.

However all to that was in Gardening Zone 6. I now live in Zone 9.

Zone 6 gardeners know that Mothers Day (mid May) is generally the safe zone for planting. My new life in coastal Georgia has altered my gardening calendar, dramatically. In Zone 9 the safe zone for planting annuals is St. Patrick’s Day (mid March) But that’s just for planting new tender annuals. Basically, nothing ever really dies and planting is year round. When I stop in Home Depot (moving to new house seems to require a weekly trip) I usually take a stroll over to the nursery and have been fascinated to see what is being sold - a never ending and changing array of plants and flowers.

In December I bought something called a Confederate Jasmine (I know, I know, it’s a terrible name). It was green but a bit sparse and by the end of January it was climbing up a planter trellis on our terrace, and fully bloomed in February. Pansies are part of the “Christmas” displays and love the cooler, even cool, evenings. I planted 2 beds of them in December and they are still stunning. I think by May they will be goners when the evening temps will get too high. The snapdragons I put in planters in November, lost the blooms in January but never their foliage. They bloomed again in February. I’m told they will just keep coming back. Wow, oh wow.

I didn’t do much gardening at all last summer, our first. I was still dealing with the inside of the house, but this winter I turned to the outside. I replanted the front beds and had some larger shrubs transplanted to the back. Pine straw is what southern gardeners prefer to traditional mulch and I love it! We put in a bird house which is now home to a family bluebirds. Our palm and live oak trees house countess varieties of coastal bird specimens.

The back terrace has pots filled with year round herbs.

I have deer here to contend with but my lessons in South Orange are working and I’ve planted only what they don’t seem to like. Here are some of my new plants and flowers - all new to me - and I am thoroughly enjoying them all!

Shell Ginger


African Iris





Foxtail fern

As as the season progresses there will be blooming Muhly Grass, Camellia, more varieties of Lantana, Nandina, purple liriope, Abelia, sunshine lime Ligustrum, podocarpas and viburnum.

Right now my lime cypress and pansies are flourishing in the front pots. The new date palm is very happy. It's a never ending season of color and learning. For me, its Southern gardening 101. Watch me grow!

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