Container Gardening with edibles, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Edibles and Ornamentals: From Barney Bryant at BB Barns Garden Center

(The third “garden tour” of BB Barns employees. Hope it gives you inspiration. Check out Ellen’s garden, and Chris’ garden too. Enjoy!)

Twenty-six years of trucks have rolled into BB Barns Garden Center, carrying everything from tropical plants to trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials. We’re talking literally thousands of plants a year. You’d think, for co-owner, Barney Bryant, the excitement of these daily arrivals would’ve waned. Not so. Barn, as he is fondly called by friends and family, says very definitely, “I am passionate about people, plants and gardening,”  The nursery, located in Asheville, North Carolina, is a destination garden center, and it encompasses all three in that order. People. Plants. Gardening.

Barn, a certified plant geek, is still thrilled by the new cultivars and the old favorites. In his newest garden, one he calls a celebration of sun, Barn has returned to his mountain roots, growing dahlias and edibles side by side. A native of Franklin, North Carolina, he remembers his grandmother overwintering dahlias in her root cellar where it was cool and damp. He overwinters them in his garage, tucked away in vermiculite in dark boxes, where watering is limited to once a month. As the weather warms, the dahlias are pulled out of their dark winter homes, and by April 20th, they’re ready for planting. “Dahlias,” Barn says, “are great because they’re insect proof, and deer proof.”

BB Barns Garden Center, Red dahlias and coleus, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

‘Taxco’ and ‘Chiapas’ dahlias with ‘Mardi Gras’ and ‘Under the Sea’ Coleus. Before the dahlias emerge in early summer mixed greens are queen of this spot. While the dahlias are still blooming, lettuce, arugula, and other greens are seeded in for a fall crop here.

BB Barns Garden Center, Dahlia Border, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

The dahlia border; ‘Veracruz’ dahlias with ‘Little Lamb’ hydrangea paniculata and Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce

BB Barns Garden Center, Yellow Gardening tub, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

It’s possible to match your gardening tubs with your garden. Yellow gardening tub, yellow dahlias.

BB Barns Garden Center, corner of house used for herbs and veggies, transplanted and still blooming, Cinthia Milner

The corner kitchen: Right outside of Barn’s kitchen and next to the patio where he enjoys entertaining, are climbing cucumbers, and climbing spinach, Malabar spinach is a warm season spinach. It loves heat, and since it climbs, it is the perfect edible for a small garden. Used in salads and cooking. Moon vine, an annual vine that blooms in early to late fall, is climbing up behind the edibles. The dill is supported by the ‘Casa Blanca ‘Asiatic lilies that are just opening.

Casa Blance Asiatic lily

‘Casa Blanca’ Asiatic lily, highlighted by ‘Taxco’ dahlia, their sturdy stems could hold almost anything up, even heavy dill.

Barn loves to cook and garden, so it only makes sense that he combines the two. His taste in gardening leans toward an English cottage garden. His taste in cooking is more likely to lean toward his native mountain fare where vegetables were homegrown and home cooked. The garden reflects both.

His English garden approach is seen in his use of vines. “The English,” Barn says, “love their vines,” and Barn believes every garden should mix annual vines in with the perennial ones.

BB Barns Garden Center, Clematis 'Henryi', Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Clematis ‘Henryi’ and Thunbergia or Black Eyed Susan vine growing together on the edge of the house opposite the corner kitchen.

BB Barns Garden Center, Bergenia under soffitt, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

In keeping with the English Cottage Garden, no spot is left un-planted in Barn’s garden. No, this is not an edible, though it leaves look tasty. It is an ornamental bergenia, or pigsqueak. The common name belies it great use as a groundcover in dry shade (this is growing under the soffit), its beautiful magenta blooms in apring, and lovely burnished colors in fall.

BB Barns Garden Center, Kewensis with aralia, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

If Barn were asked for a favorite plant, he’d be hard pressed to give you one, but this Kewensis (Euonymus Kewensis Wintercreeper) would come close. A great dwarf groundcover that grows slowly, forms a thick mat, and attaches itself to walls. In front of it, Aralia ‘Sun King’ for a splash of lime green, and sweet box that is yellowing a bit. No garden is perfect, not even the owner’s garden!

BB Barns Garden Center, Malabar spinach, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Close-up of leaves of Malabar spinach. Barn says to use the young leaves and steam in lemon basil butter for 10 minutes. Simple and good.

BB Barns Garden Center, Malabar spinach and honeysuckle vines growing up the new arbor together, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

A new garden celebrating the sun, edibles and ornamentals. Growing up the arbor is Climbing Hydrangea, (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris for winter interest), Rosemoor’ Clematis (blooms May-September), and until those fill in the Malabar spinach is front and center. A perfect combination for those who love to cook and garden.

Header picture: container gardening and rhubarb growing over the steps

Transplanted in Cedar Cove

I watch Hallmark’s tv series, Cedar Cove. I download it on my Kindle after Hallmark has aired it on Saturday night. Nothing bad  happens in Cedar Cove. The worst conundrum is a love triangle, and I mean of the platonic kind. Who will love who? The characters are all gorgeous and smart, the scenery worth the hour viewing time, and the town idyllic. Right after mom died, I curled up in my bed, under her blanket, and watched 6 episodes. Soothing my brain with 6 hours of daily life in Cedar Cove where the climatic question hanging over the Pacific Coast rock outcroppings was if Grace would mess up her relationship with Cliff (it seems rather inevitable) was the necessary medicine of the day.

One thing strikes me, though, about Cedar Cove. There is always this pull toward Seattle, a ferry ride away. Job offers, girlfriends, ex-wives, children, all are a boat’s journey across the water. Often the characters must decide whether to stay put in Cedar Cove, or answer the call of money and possible fame in the big city. Making the sacrifice to stay in Cedar Cove requires they give up their sure success, their big dreams, the one thing that has always propelled them, be it career or great love. No big fish, big pond for them if they stay. In Cedar Cove all the fish are pretty much equal. And, that seems to be the charm of the series–everyone is included–and no one is regarded as less than or more than anyone else, with the exception of the few antagonists.

I have a huge desire to escape to Cedar Cove (and I mean literally, not just on my Kindle), but I am forced to consider if I haven’t already found it in my quaint life. How closely does my life resemble that of the characters of Cedar Cove? Pretty darn. My scenery is no less stunning. I am surrounded by mountains, and trees. I live in a rain forest and the county I live in is called the Land of the Waterfalls. Beautiful sunsets and sunrises accompany me on my drive to work and back.I walk everywhere I need to go–the grocery store, the coffee shop, the movies, restaurants, clothing stores, church. It has a wonderful sense of community and privacy. Not to mention, aside from an outrageous water bill, the cost of living is low. The downside? So far, I haven’t met the Cliffs or the Jacks of Cedar Cove, but let’s be honest, sitting at home doing jigsaw puzzles or playing rounds of SET alone, isn’t exactly trying. But, who knows? Maybe my town is overrun with good looking single guys with tortured pasts. In the words of the kid from Angels in the Outfield, “It could happen.” .

My point, in all this estrogen run-on sentence structuring is this: Perhaps my Cedar Cove is right where I am. Perhaps your’s is too. Cliche obviously, but cliches are cliches for a reason. They’re often true.

Recently, a man who is a pretty big deal in the horticulture world stumbled across my blog and contacted me. I suppose finding his name in a garden post inspired him to say hello. It was unexpected, and a nice surprise. I admire his work. He is the big fish in the big pond. To use the metaphor, he’s in Seattle. His email caused me to wonder if Seattle wasn’t the place for me too. If I am, to quote an old friend’s mother, “withering on the grape vine of life?” (She used that little cliche when we were hitting 30 and still not married.)  As for the characters of Cedar Cove, the lure of Seattle is there for me too. Am I missing something by staying put in this small place of plants and mountains?

My two years in Brevard have allowed me ample time to get to know the dog care lady, the bakery owner, the coffee shop owner, my neighbor with the hot dog truck (Aggie introduced us!), the priest of the Episcopal church and his wife, the owner of the two women’s clothing stores in town (of course), and the owner of the real estate company, and two restaurants. I know the town architect, most of my neighbors and the all the local cats and dogs. I am also well acquainted with our neighborhood pet bunny rabbit  (that I am desperately trying to get a picture of). I placed my fall mums on the porch today (Cascade orange, if you’re wondering). I am headed after the pumpkins next week. My neighbors notice when I am gone. They know Evil Kitty and Aggie (the pets). They know what time my College Son comes home (long after I’m asleep). And they know when my grandchildren are here I am unavailable. .

My boss thinks I’d be happier if I moved back to Asheville (our Seattle), a good 45 minute drive over a mountain and through a valley from me. But, he’s an extrovert, and his social calendar (of which I have happily been a part) is forever full. But, for this INFJ girl ( the solitude and the personal connections that are forming in my mountain town are compelling. Heck, my landlady is my best friend in this sleepy place, and in case you’re interested, the neighbor behind me is having a time of it with her oldest son. (We discuss this situation while I water my containers in the evenings, both of us convinced he went off to Seattle when he should have stayed in Cedar Cove. She’s a fan too. Knowing thyself is forewarned and forearmed.)

I circle back around after traveling in my mind’s eye over the mountains to the place where I’m told success lies. I find I am compelled to stay put. The connections that are forming in the shadow of mountains and waterfalls hold more interest for me than whatever it is a place like Seattle can claim.  All my life, I did think I wanted Seattle, but I have discovered I really wanted Cedar Cove. How lovely to have ended up here while on my way to the Big City/Big Lights.

Since, it’s been a post of cliches, I’ll throw out another one. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Thank the Lord for traveling mercies.