Special Event: Breakfast in the Garden

Are you curious about the role of Durham County Cooperative Extension Services? Join us for breakfast at Briggs Avenue Community Garden on Friday, May 31, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. for our 2019 Report to the Community.

Enjoy a fresh garden breakfast, tour the garden, see our new greenhouse, learn about Extension’s work in Durham County, meet our new director, Donna Rewalt, and receive a small gift of appreciation for your support.

Photo by Andrea Laine

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. and a short presentation will take place at 9:20 a.m. The event is free but registration is required so we know how much food to prepare.

Register online or call 919-560-0521.

Briggs Avenue Community Garden is located at 1598 S Briggs Avenue in Durham, NC. Get Directions.

Learn With Us, week of May 19

Composting – Durham Garden Forum
Tuesday, May 217:00 – 8:30pm
420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708, USA
Description:Composting
Rhonda Sherman, Extension Solid Waste Specialist
Rhonda is a leading authority on vermicomposting, with
additional expertise in composting, recycling and waste
reduction. She also brings an enthusiasm to the subject
that is infectious and energizing. Join us to learn more
about composting at home.

Lectures are free for members, $10 for general public. No pre-registration necessary. Contact: durhamgardenforum@gmail.com

Pollinators – Durham Garden Center
Saturday, May 2510:00 – 11:00am
4536 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27705, USA
Description:This POLLINATORS talk will offer information, advice and suggestions about the plants and critters that benefit our flower and vegetable gardens and our yards. Also reviewed will be some of the common pests and the diseases that can be prevented by propagating proper pollinator practices. (Say THAT three times quickly.)

Free/Registration required Contact: 919-384-7526 or http://www.durhamgardencenternc.com

Sign up at the store, online or by phone
Include the seminar title and full name(s) of persons attending

Moss in Lawns

by Flora O’Brien

Don’t get me wrong. I love all things mossy. But recently, probably because of all the rain, I’ve been getting questions about how to get rid of moss in lawns. In the spirit of equanimity I will address this subject.

If you have moss taking over your lawn the problem isn’t the moss, it’s the lawn. Turf grass struggles in areas that are too wet, too shady, too compacted, too acidic, too lacking in nutrients. These are the ideal conditions for moss, though. In order to eliminate moss, you must resolve these conditions.

A moss lawn in Saluda, N.C., November 2017. Photo by Flora O’Brien.

First address the drainage issues. Limiting the amount and frequency of lawn watering would be a first step. Slowing or redirecting the flow of water by restructuring the topography might help. You could add topsoil or install terracing stones. Placement of a French drain or similar strategies will also work.

To manage excessive shade you might have to limb up or remove trees and large shrubs. Keep in mind that the roots of trees drink large amounts of water so removing them may add to your problems. You could expand the diameter of mulch under trees and around beds. You could also try planting a grass more tolerant of shade but all of them need some sun.

Dense, compacted clay soils like we have in this area will not support turf grass for long. Yearly aeration is recommended. Leave the plugs where they lie. They will decompose and add to the soil’s fertility.

Let’s talk about fertility. First take a soil sample. It may recommend the application of lime to raise the pH and suggest a fertilization regimen. When you mow the grass leave the clippings in place to feed the soil. Good cultural practices like regular mowing, fertilizing and watering will produce the healthy lawn that will resist the growth of mosses.

How about the moss that’s already there. For small patches, dig them out, including an inch or so of the base soil and plant them in another spot. Then add new soil, seed or sod. The entire lawn could be raked dislodging the moss, new soil added and the area reseeded. There are products on the market made especially for killing moss in lawns but if the underlying conditions are not corrected, the moss will return.

Now here’s the thing. If you have wet, compacted soil in the shade you are not going to have a successful lawn without major expenditures of time and money. So why not just let the moss establish itself? You will have a year round green carpet that never needs mowing, watering, fertilizing, spraying, or plugging. It is true that mosses don’t tolerate heavy foot traffic but you could add stepping-stones or pathways. Then find a small, dry area in the sun and plant a pocket of lawn there.

NC State Fair garden vignette, October 2013, Photo by Flora O’Brien.

Sources & Further Reading

https://njaes.rutgers.edu/FS426/

https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/030329.html

https://sampson.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/07/why-does-moss-grow-in-areas-of-my-lawn-and-not-my-grass-2/

This article originally appeared in the EMGV newsletter.

Learn With Us, week of May 12

Herbs – For Garden’s Sake Nursery
Saturday, May 1810:00 – 11:00am
9197 NC-751, Durham
Description: This talk will cover common and interesting herbs that can be grown in our area. Successful herb gardening utilizing both indoor and outdoor techniques will be addressed as well as treatment of pests and diseases that may be encountered. Also mentioned will be harvesting, preservation and perhaps an interesting recipe use or two.

Free/Registration required. To register, email ann@fgsnursery.com or call 919-484-9759

Durhamites It’s Time to Nominate Your Favorite Tree In Praise of the Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)

By Wendy Diaz EMGV

What a beautiful spring it turned out to be after that wet winter, and our native understory trees make the North Carolina spring that much more special. Durham’s Finest Trees is accepting nominations now through October 1 for the best examples of specific tree species in our county. The spring blooming trifecta of smaller trees like the Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis), Dogwood (Cornus florida) and Fringe trees (Chionanthus virginicus) are also eligible, not just our magnificent giants like the willow oak or tulip poplar. 

Eastern Redbud in full bloom. March 28, 2019 Photo by Wendy Diaz
Dogwood. April 13, 2019 Photo by Wendy Diaz

Fringe tree in full bloom on April 24, 2019. Photo by Wendy Diaz

Eastern Redbud

First to appear around early March along the margins of our leafless woodlands, as puffs of pink to light-purple color, is the Eastern Redbud. This tree is often multi-trunked with a rounded crown that typically grows to 10 to 25 feet with a similar spread1, 2. The showy pea-like flowers bloom on bare branches before the tree leafs out.  

Showy pink flowers on the branches of cultivated variety of Eastern Redbud attract honey bees. Photo by Wendy Diaz on March 28, 2019

After flowering, flat bean-like seedpods emerge containing six to 12 seeds. The heart-shaped to broadly ovate leaves are short pointed at the tip and are also attractive. The leaves turn yellow in the fall. The Eastern Redbud does well in full sun to partial shade. The benefits to wildlife are threefold as the blossoms provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies (Henry’s elfin butterfly Callophyrus henrici)3, the tree hosts its larvae4and the seedpods provide food for songbirds. Honeybees also use the flowers for pollen.

Native Estern Redbud self-seed in natural buffer area of our backyard. Photo taken April 4, 2019 by Wendy Diaz

Closeup of self-seeded native Redbud in my backyard. Notice bee in upper left hand corner. Photo taken April 4, 2019 by Wendy Diaz

Many cultivars of Redbud are sold at your local nursery such as the cultivar ‘Forest Pansy’ with purple leaves. One of the most extensive collections of redbuds in North America is found at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh5.  Redbuds do best in moderate to dry soil conditions and tolerate clay soil. Protect their sensitive roots with a wide mulch apron. A new sterile (does not produce seed pods after blooming) variety developed by Dr. Dennis Werner at North Carolina State University called ‘Pink Pom Poms’ has beautiful double pink flowers6. It has Texas redbud genes so it tolerates heat, which is an important consideration due to our rapidly changing climate.

If you remember seeing a beautiful Redbud or any other impressive tree why not fill out the two page Nomination Form. Information on how to estimate the tree size is given on this webpage or the following link https://durhamnc.gov/1580/Durhams-Finest-Trees

References:

1.http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=280440&isprofile=1&basic=redbud

2.https://www.newhopeaudubon.org/wp-content/themes/nhas/library/docs/native-plant-growing-guide-piedmont-nc.pdf

3. https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_ceca4.pdf

4. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=cecac

5. https://jcra.ncsu.edu/horticulture/collections/details.php?name=redbud-

6.  Triangle Gardener March-April 2019,  Beverly Hurley editor,  page 17