How to Have the Best Green Thumb in the Mountains

As we all wrestle with the challenges of some extra time at home, we may begin to see the creeping of weeds and the overflowing of garden beds around us. Now is the perfect time to tame those wild plants and create the masterful pallet of a beautiful garden. And before you react with “I kill every plant I touch”, we’ve got some simple tricks and tips to banish that phrase from your vocabulary.

Select Local Favorites

While you’re driving around on your normal day-to-day errands, take note of the flowers in bloom in neighboring yards or growing wild on the side of the road. Often, we completely overlook the beautiful plants and flowers already in abundance in our area. Be smart with your selections by choosing native plants that already thrive in the area. Around Lake Lure, you may notice Bee Balm, Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, and Flame Azalea scattered throughout the brushes and ridges. Especially in July, you’ll begin noticing in many yards the blooming of Hydrangeas – not native flowers to the NC mountains but have become a staple to this area, much like a range of Azalea bushes. If you need to see some localized guidance, walk through the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.

Choose Mountainous Survivors

The mountains carry a range of varying sun exposures. Some are sun-blasted constantly throughout the day, while others are buried beneath towering trees that keep around the clock shade. Be conscious of which plants need which sun conditions. If your home is nestled back in the shade of the trees, consider mountain favorites such as the Primrose, Impatiens, Fuchsia, and Torenia. If your home is exposed to the sun throughout most of the day, try plants such as the Begonia, Daylily, Geranium, and Dahlia. There are also the Goldilocks plants of the world that prefer a bit of sun and a bit of shade to make it just right. These plants need sun in the morning followed by an afternoon of shade such as the Hydrangea, Peony, American Snowbell, and Azalea. Knowing where and when your yard gets sunlight will help guide you in your plant selections.

Make Year-Round Choices

As you plan your garden, remember that blooms are not year-round, so be sure to mix in plants that cascade and last all year – including the cold winter months. Blueberry bushes are actually very resilient with the bonus of flowers in spring, berries by summer, and vibrant red leaves by fall. Oak-leaf Hydrangeas are also great choices that stretch beyond the summer months; you will have blooms from this bush through autumn. Bluebeard is another shrub that tends to flower longer and leaves a large range of vibrant bush in the off months. Most flowering shrubs are a great choice for year-round gardeners with longer-lasting flowering seasons and growing to cover larger spaces in your garden. Be aware of the size of each plant you choose and space them out appropriately throughout your garden for year-round maximization.

Talk to a Professional

A professional doesn’t necessarily mean a landscaper – try engaging with your local nursery staff when you go to pick out your new plants. Instead of going to the gardening section of a large department store, opt for the smaller local nurseries that are solely dedicated to supplying plants. Not only will you be assuring quality products, but a staff that is both knowledgeable and readily willing to give you guidance as well. Some good local choices are Painters Greenhouse in Old Fort and Linda’s Plants & Shrubs in Hendersonville.

Planning for Garden Visitors

Either you love the sound or look of hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, or you don’t. If you don’t want to be walking through a sea of wildlife near your home, plan accordingly to place the animal attracting flowers and plants further away. Some plants are more fragrant and alluring than others to wildlife and it is important to know the distinction as you plan your garden. Plants such as Butterfly Bushes (appropriately named), Lavender, and Hollyhock regularly attract butterflies. Bees will appear at almost every flowering plant, but especially like Hyacinth, Lilac, and Bee Balm. Hummingbirds love brightly colored flowers, particularly those that are red, such as Bee Balms, Daylilies, and Petunias. And while these animals are often found in gardens, there are other forms of wildlife that appear who are not as welcome such as rabbits and deer. Rabbits tend to go after produce the most, but are also particularly fond of Marigolds, Pansies, and Petunias. Deer go after Hostas, Daylilies, and Roses. There are some plants that are deer and rabbit resistant, so be sure to ask your local nursery staff members for guidance towards those choices.

Update Your Tool Shed

You don’t need a wide array of shovels, rakes, scissors, or tools to be a good gardener, but having a few key ones certainly helps. The number one essential is gloves. Nobody likes getting pricked and stuck by thorns or nettles and even the harmless-looking plants can cause irritation. Not that there is anything wrong with getting your hands dirty, but gloves allow your hands to be properly protected from cuts and irritation. Another tool to simplify your everyday gardening is a hand trowel (think of it as the baby shovel). The hand trowel allows for direct and easy access to digging up soil for planting or getting rid of stubborn weeds. The third tool you should make sure to have are secateurs (a fancy name for clippers). For those of you who love fresh blooms and bouquets on your table, secateurs are essential to cut your blooms off the plant. Secateurs are also used to help trim and prune back plants allowing for new growth or shape. There are many other great tools that could help you refine your gardening techniques, but these three above are the essential choices, even for a gardening novice.

Here at Rumbling Bald, we are grateful to have superb maintenance and grounds staff that keep our property pruned and preened to perfection year-round. But all our blooms and beautiful beds would be worthless without the help of our Garden Club. The Garden Club is made up of our RBR Members who have a passion for gardening and a desire to help beautify our community. They diligently choose, plant, and care for these beautiful plants, which are often one of the first greetings as you enter the resort.

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