Thursday, December 23, 2010


NEW SIGNS! We have new signage to help everyone navigate more easily around the gardens.  If you can't get out soon to see them, check out the pictures on our Facebook page  Pitt County Gardending.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Descends on the Arboretum

The Winter Solstice is upon us.  We have finished most of the clean up work/mulching that needs to be done at the Arboretum.  One thing we DID NOT do was to cut back the lantana.  Even though it has died back for the winter, we leave the stems attached to protect the crown of the plant.  When we see new growth in the Spring, we will trim the dead stems back to the ground then.

As a side note, if you happen to be awake around 1 AM you'll be able to see the start of a rare phenomenon:  a total lunar eclipse occurring during the solstice.  The full moon will appear as coppery red according to  Read the full article here: Amazing Spectacle.  If you miss this, you'll be able to catch it again December 21, 2094.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Are you looking for a unique gift for the gardener on your list?  Here are two things to consider:
1)  A year membership in 'Friends of the Arboretum'.  Friends enjoy several benefits including discounts to local gardening centers, access to hundreds of gardening books in our library, newsletters, and a special invitation to shop early at our annual plant sale.  Memberships start at $20 per year and are tax-deductible.

2)  Tickets to an upcoming event "Love, Peace, and Pearl Fryar" which will be January 29, 2011 from 9 AM to Noon at the Pitt County Agricultural Center Auditorium.  The morning will begin with refreshments and a chance to visit our sponsors booths.  Then from 10 AM to Noon, Pearl will speak, answer questions, and create topiaries.  Visit to learn more about this inspiring individual.  The cost is $10 General Admission/$5 for Friends of the Arboretum.

Call 252-902-1709 for more information about either of these.
Why not gift yourself, too?

Monday, December 6, 2010


These lovely arrangements and wreath were created by one of our Master Gardener Volunteers.  She used cuttings taken
 from the Arboretum consisting of magnolias, junipers, 
hollies, dusty miller, and roses.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


The Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolia) is a native plant.  You will find it in the Arboretum's Certified Professional Plant Area.  It has dark green leathery leaves with a cinnamon underside.  The leaves can be cut and used in holiday wreaths, garlands, or in centerpieces.  This evergreen tree can grow up to 50-80 feet tall and 30-40 feet wide.  It is suggested that the lower limbs be left all the way to the ground to hide leaf drop which occurs in the spring and fall.  If the Southern magnolia is too large for your own yard, you might consider planting 'Little Gem' which grows 12-20 feet tall and 12 feet wide.  It's leaves have a bronze underside.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Ilex verticillata - Winterberry Holly
Join the Pitt County Master Gardener Volunteers at 10:00 AM on Thursday, December 2nd, for a free Walking Tour of the Arboretum.  The focus of the tour will be "Good Plants for Winter Decorating".  Meet under the Green Roof Shelter in front of the Ag Center.  The tours last about and hour and will be given rain or shine.  Click on the MAP link on the right for directions.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


"Not what we say about our blessings, but
how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving." -

W.T. Purkiser

Saturday, November 20, 2010


This week in mid November at the Arboretum you will find many deciduous trees in their full fall color glory.  Below is a list of the colors that are predominant and which trees best display that color.

YELLOW:  Ginko biloba - Ginko
YELLOW/ORANGE:  Carpinus caroliniana -  American Hornbeam
ORANGE:  Acer saccharum - Sugar Maple
RED-ORANGE to RED:  Pistacia chinensis - Chinese Pistache
RED: Cornus florida - Flowering Dogwood
REDDISH BROWN:  Quercus alba - White Oak
BRONZE RED:  Zelkova serrata - Japanese Zelkova
RED/PURPLE:  Acer palmatum - Japanese Maple
ALL FALL COLORS:  Lagerstroemia indica - Crape Myrles

Hurry out to see these colors because soon they will be gone!

Friday, November 12, 2010


If you visit the Arboretum this week you will see that our hybrid witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia, is blooming.  Its showy yellow flowers compliment the changing colors of the other deciduous trees in the Certified Plant Professional area.  More details about witch hazel can be found by clicking here.  

Friday, November 5, 2010


What's in bloom this time of year?  Osmanthus heteropyllus, holly leaf osmanthus, blooms in the fall.  Its extremely fragrant white flowers are a delight.    This evergreen shrub can be found in front of the brick wall between our compost area and the herb garden.   Its spiny-edged, glossy green leaves resemble a true holly, but the leaves are opposite on the stem.  This shrub can grow large, but is easily kept in bounds with selective pruning.  They have been noted to be somewhat resistant to deer munching.

Monday, November 1, 2010


On this month's free walking tour, Master Gardener Volunteers will show you how to take hardwood cuttings to  propagate trees and shrubs.  Meet under the Greenroof Shelter in front of the Ag Center starting at 10:00 AM this Thursday, November 4th.  Click on the map on the right side of this page for directions.   Tours are held rain or shine and last about an hour.  Bring any other questions you may have about starting your own plants.

Friday, October 29, 2010


in Mixed Border
The Arboretum is a great place to visit before you begin planting.  In our Certified Professional Plant area, the Mixed Border, and around the Ag Center Building you will find plants that do well in our climate.  Additionally you will see how large some trees and shrubs may grow from their small 1 gallon pot.  You may visit the Arboretum from dusk to dawn any day and do a self-guided tour.  Or join Master Gardener Volunteers on the first Thursday of every month starting at 10:00 AM for a Free Guided Walking Tour.

Before planting, take a moment to read Planting Techniques to help get your purchases off to a good start.

According to the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association these are 
Fall-planting benefits: 
·         Landscapes established during the fall months conserve North Carolina’s precious resources by requiring less water during the establishment period;
·         Trees, shrubs, perennial flowering plants, and turfgrass are well adapted to planting in North Carolina during the fall months — especially if those plants were grown locally in North Carolina;
·         Landscapes established during the fall months exhibit superior growth during the following years.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Muhlenbergia capillaris
 As seen earlier this week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The fall clean up at the Arboretum has produced a lot of leaves, spent flowers and stalks from perennials, and summer vegetable plants that have stopped producing.  All of these are added to our compost bin along with coffee grounds and vegetable and fruit waste from the Ag Center Kitchen.  We have a three bin system.  The first bin holds all the new waste.  After it has decomposed some, it is turned into the middle bin.  Finally, it is moved to the last bin when it is dark in color, crumbly, and has an earthy smell.  It is then available to amend the soil in our gardens.  Instructions for making your own compost can be found by clicking here.  It is a simple way to reduce what goes to the landfill.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on Saving Seeds

A few weeks ago, Master Gardener Volunteers led a tour group through the Arboretum and gave them a chance to collect seeds from perennial and annual flowering plants.  If you would like to try saving seeds, read this "Seed Collecting and Storing" to pick up some helpful hints.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The containers around the Ag Center at the Arboretum have been changed out for their fall/winter arrangements.  We have 12 large winter proof containers.  Gone are the warm season annuals and in their place are plants that will provide color, texture, and structure over the colder months.  Our containers have a variety of plants one might not consider growing in a confined place.  In two we have Hetz Midget arborvitaes (Thuja occidentalis 'Hetz Midget') which have been in the same container for several years.  Other evergreens we have grown are the Sky Pencil Holly (Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil') and Emerald Green arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green') both which were subsequently planted in the beds around the Ag Center after they outgrew the containers.  These evergreens are the focal point of the containers, the thrillers.  Surrounding these tall plants we have planted fillers which are compact, bushy plants such as pansies, dianthus, heucheras, to name a few.  To complete the look you will find spillers such as Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia).  

Additionally, several Extension Master Gardener Volunteers assisted 'Uptown Greenville' in selecting plants for large planting beds in Greenville along Evans Street between 4th and 5th Street.  Planting Day is Tuesday, October 19th starting at 2 PM.  If you would like to be involved, click here Uptown Planting Project .

Check out all these new plantings for some inspiration.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


A large group of Master Gardener Volunteers was busy this week tidying up the perennial beds, the Wildflower Garden, the Vegetable Garden, the Mixed Border and the Children's Garden.  In addition to removing plant debris, pulling weeds and treating fire ant mounds, time was spent cutting back some perennials that have finished blooming for the year.

Our Wildflower Garden is mainly populated by the seeds left behind from this year's flowers.  Dried flowerheads of the gaillardia (pictured), rudbeckia, and salvias are left over the winter.  The birds enjoy the seeds and there are more than enough to fill the garden next spring.  Annual vines that cover the Rabbit Hole in the Children's Garden produce seeds used to replenish next year's plants.  Some of the vines grown are:  Purple hyancinth bean  (Lablab purpureus), Love In a Puff  (Cardiospermum halicacabum), and the Moonflower Vine (Calonyction aculeatum). 

People that came out today for the monthly Walking Tour were able to take home some of the seeds from our plants.  If you are interested to learn more about saving seeds, read this article for some quick tips.

Friday, October 1, 2010

WHAT'S IN BLOOM - Swamp Sunflower

If you are searching for some bright rays of sunshine after several days of rain, you need look no further than the swamp sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius.  It is just coming in to bloom in the Wildflower Garden at the Arboretum.  The cheerful yellow blooms often stretch up over 10 feet tall and will be in bloom for several more weeks.  This is a native plant that does well in rain gardens, clay soil, loves the sun, and mulitplies readily in the garden.  Butterflies and bees are attracted to it.  More information can be found at this link.

To see more fall blooming plants, join the Extension Master Gardeners this Thursday, October 7th for a FREE Walking Tour of the Arboretum.  The tour begins at 10:00 AM, lasts about an hour, and is given rain or shine.  Meet them under the Green Roof Shelter in front of the Ag Center for the start of the tour.  Click on the MAP link in the right hand column for directions.

Monday, September 27, 2010


The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services along with the Pitt County Cooperative Extension Center is offering a pesticide collection day for residents in Pitt and surrounding counties from 10 :00 AM to 2:00 PM this Thursday, 9/30, at the Pitt County Agricultural Center.  Any pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc.) that are in original containers and are clearly labeled may be brought in. There is NO CHARGE to the public participant for this service; however, they CANNOT accept products with unknown identities, products that are unlabeled, or products not in pesticide containers. If you have any unlabeled products, please call 902-1704 to discuss these items prior to collection day. 

This is a great opportunity to clean out your garden shed/garage and safely dispose of unwanted pesticides.

Friday, September 24, 2010

WORK DAY AT THE ARBORETUM - Dividing Daylilies

Next week the Master Gardener Volunteers will begin the task of dvividing perennials in beds that are becoming overcrowded.  One of the perennials that needs attention are the daylilies.  After a time daylilies form too large of a clump and may not flower well.  It is also a way to move some favorite varieties to other areas needing some fresh color next spring.  A good guide to follow for dividing clump-forming perennials can be found at this link.  Last year we held a "Dollar Daylily Sale", but do not have enough plants available to sell this Fall.  By next year we may have enough to again host this popular event.

Friday, September 17, 2010


The vegetable garden at the Arboretum has been cleaned up for the season.  This week crimson clover was planted in the raised beds.  Read this article to learn how cover crops help build rich garden soil.  Our vegetable garden contributed well over 700 pounds of produce for the local food bank.  We grew a large variety of food in a small space.  The crimson clover will grow over the winter until we are ready to till it under in the spring and begin planting again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

WHAT'S IN BLOOM - Muhly Grass

Many ornamental grasses are coming in to bloom this time of year.  At the Arboretum one that draws attention is Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass).  Pictures cannot capture the graceful elegance this brings to a late summer/fall garden.  

A quoted description of this grass describes its beauty: " One of the most striking perennials we saw was muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris.  Our collective heads were turned on a bright October day when we saw a mass planting of muhly grass backlit by the early morning sun. The delicate, wispy plumes shimmered an iridescent pinkish-purple that made even the most flamboyant flowers look tame by comparison."   (read the full article here......).

The Fall Extension Gardener Newsletter also has an article on ornamental grasses.  Click on the 'Coastal Plains' version for gardening advice for Pitt County. 

You will find muhly grass in our Wildflower Garden and Fire Hydrant Garden at the Arboretum.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Friends of the Arboretum are invited to join other Master Gardeners for free tours of  five Master Gardener Volunteers' home gardens.  The sole aim is to do some garden hopping, explore with each other, share ideas and have some fun. Be prepared to see our gardens...weeds, warts and all!

We will have two days of visits: Thursday, September 16 and Friday, September 24. RAIN OR SHINE!  We will visit 3 gardens on the 16th beginning at 9:00 AM (2 gardens in the morning, lunch at the place of your choice and the third garden in the afternoon).  On the 24th, also starting at 9:00 AM we will visit 2 gardens (both in the morning) and lunch at the place of your choice if you wish.  You are welcome to come one day or to come both days.  If you are a Friend and plan to join us, please RSVP to .

Not a Friend of the Arboretum?  Sign up now before the tour.  Scroll down in the right column for Friend information.    If you would like more information about the tour email or call 252-902-1709.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Join the Extension Master Gardeners next Thursday, September 2nd starting at 10:00 AM for a free tour of the Arboretum.  Summer is winding down, but the gardens still have many interesting things to see.  The Master Gardeners will be busy in the days before the tour tidying up just for you.  Even if you have been out before, the landscapes change with the seasons so you are sure to see something different.  It is also a good opportunity to ask questions about your own garden.  The tour begins under the Green Roof Shelter in front of the Ag Center and lasts about an hour.  It is held rain or shine.  Click on the MAP link in the right hand column.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Even though we don't have a single hummingbird feeder hung up at the Arboretum, we do have hummingbirds.  One of the plants which the hummers will be seen at is Salvia.  In bloom now throughout the various gardens we have:
Salvia guarantica 'Brazilian Sage'
Salvia guarantica 'Black & Blue'
Salvia coccinea 'Scarlet Sage'
Salvia farinacea 'Victoria' Mealy Blue Sage
Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips' (pictured)

Most salvias are hardy plants for this area.  They are easy to grow, not too fussy about the soil they are in, prefer the sun, and are drought tolerant once established.  Many will bloom all summer until frost.  Growing plants which hummingbirds visit is much easier than maintaining feeders.  For more ideas about plants which will attract hummingbirds click here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Last week before our monthly Walking Tour, many of the curators were busy tidying up their areas in the Arboretum gardens.  Getting ready for visitors is a good incentive to weed, deadhead, and clean up debris.  Weeds rob desired plants of space, nutrients, and water.  We find that many weeds like to grow right next to plants we want.  Therefore, we must do a lot of hand weeding.  August isn't the easiest month to work outside, but your plants will thank you for it if you take away their competition.   One notorious invader at the Arboretum is the pictured mulberry weed  (Fatoua villosa).  This is a weed that reseeds readily and with wild abandon if it is left to flower and set seeds.    Read more about this unwelcome guest.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Danny Lauderdale, Director of the Arboretum and one of Pitt County's Extension Agents, was recently recognized by the Pitt County Commissioners for being a national winner in the Search for Excellence in Landscape Horticulture category at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents annual meeting and professional improvement conference held July 11-15 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Danny provided 42 hours of training to North Carolina certified plant professionals which resulted in an increased yearly income of $504,000 for the landscapers.  Click here to read more in the Daily Reflector .

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Join Master Gardeners for a FREE Walking Tour of the Arboretum on Thursday, August 5th beginning at 9:00 AM.   Click on 'MAP' in the right column for directions.  We will meet under the Green Roof Shelter in front of the Ag Center.  Tours last about an hour and are given rain or shine.  Come out and see for yourself what is holding up and doing well during our hot, humid summer.  And see what is NOT doing well during our hot, humid summer.  Come out and learn what might work for you in your own gardens.  Bring your questions, bring your neighbor, bring your hat, and bring your walking shoes. 

Next Saturday, August 7th Master Gardeners will have a table set up at the Farmers Market on County Home Road from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM.  They will be available to answer questions about lawn and garden care.

Friday, July 23, 2010


LANTANA - At the Arboretum we have two types of lantana growing that are perennial plants:  Miss Huff (pictured) and Granny's Backyard.  Both have been a fixture out at the Arboretum for a number of years and over the growing season from Spring to Fall, they gradually become small shrubs.  Lantana are butterfly/bee/hummingbird magnets.  They are also drought tolerant once established and have very few pest/disease problems.  Follow this link for an article written by Danny Lauderdale which details some of the care needed.

Friday, July 16, 2010


In the Arboretum's Butterfly Garden you will find a row of Hibiscus syriacus 'Aphrodite'  or commonly known as Rose of Sharon full of blooms to entice all pollinators.  This shrub can also be found at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. where it and two other types are described as "The elegant floral display of these bewitching flowering shrubs belies their rugged constitution. In the fiery forge of summer sun and heat, 'Aphrodite', 'Helene', and 'Minerva' prove their mettle with excellent dark green foliage and continuous flowering until felled by autumn’s frost."

Click on this link for the National Arboretum website  to view pictures and additional growing information.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hardy Banana Plant

While a lot of plants are looking withered due to lack of rain (check out the NC Drought Monitor Link located in the right hand column under 'Helpful Links'), there is one plant out at the Arboretum that brings a bit of the tropics to Pitt County.  It is the Japanese fiber banana - Musa basjoo.  It can be found in our Landscape for Wet Sites.  This area receives its water from roof runoff.  Even though there has been no rain lately, the hardy banana is doing well.  The current issue of  Extension Gardener  for the Coastal Plains region highlights this plant.  You can also check out some reviews of this plant at Dave's Garden website and see more pictures at the JC Raulston Arboretum site.  While any fruit produced by this plant is not edible, it can make quite a statement.  It does die back in the winter, but grows back faithfully each year reaching heights 10 feet or more.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Feed the landscape, not the landfill is the mantra of this publication on compostingThis time of year you may have lots of green waste in the form of vegetable or fruit peelings, deadheaded perennials, weeds, lawn clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells.  Rather than toss them in your regular garbage, why not start a compost pile?  At the Arboretum we have a 3 bin system as described in the above highlighted link.  During the year the Master Gardener Volunteers add  green waste and brown leaves to the first bin. Additionally, a container is in the Ag Center Kitchen for coffee grounds and other food prep waste to also be deposited into the compost bin.  After it has decomposed a bit it is moved to the second bin, then later into the final bin where it awaits being put back into the gardens to enrich the soil.  Our gardens look great thanks to this free resource.

Monday, June 28, 2010


We are promised a small break in the heat later in the week.  Come out and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Arboretum Gardens and find out which plants are best holding up in the heat and lack of rainfall.  Master Gardener Volunteers will be leading a tour starting at 9:00 AM this Thursday, July 1st.  Meet in front of the Ag Center (see map link on right hand column) for our monthly tour which lasts about an hour and is held rain or shine.


Last week a few Master Gardeners tackled the monthly task of deadheading (removing the faded blooms) the roses.  Removing the old blooms will encourage the plant to rebloom, if it is the type of rose that will rebloom.  Here is a short video covering the basics of Deadheading Roses and you can read more about the benefits of deadheading by going to this Rose Magazine article.

Knock Out roses do not need to be deadheaded to rebloom, but you may prefer a tidier look.  We do not deadhead our 'Home Run' roses, but do for the other Knock Outs.  Some of the roses that are looking particularly good right now are Lady Elsie May, Cinco de Mayo, Ballerina, and the Double Pink Knock Out Tree Rose.  The miniature roses seem to always be in bloom.  Not everything is a success in the Arboretum's gardens.  Two of the bare root roses planted earlier this year did not survive the heat and drought conditions that arrived shortly after planting them.

The rose varieties in the Arboretum's Rose Garden are always being evaluated for their ease of care and ability to hold on and look great with our area's climate.  If you've always wanted to grow roses be sure to stop by to see what might thrive for you, too.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Our daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.) are providing a lot of color right now.  We have many varieties at the Arboretum ensuring a long period of blooms.  Some started blooming in May and some repeat bloomers will continue through the summer.  They are a great perennial flower for this area.  According to the American Hemerocallis Society the daylily is the perfect perennial because it is:
•Available in a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes and sizes.
•Able to survive with very little care in a wide range of climates.

•Suitable for all types of landscapes.
•Drought tolerant when necessary, with relatively few pest and disease problems in most gardens.
•Adaptable to various soil and light conditions.
•Known to bloom from late spring until autumn

The Society's webpage, Daylilies, has extensive information on this great perennial.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


This time of year it would be shorter to list 'what's not in bloom'.  However, two trees that are not that common in home landscapes (although they certainly could be) and are blooming right now are the Vitex agnus-castus 'Chaste Tree' (click here for more Vitex info)  and Koelreuteria paniculata'- 'Beach Master' panicol Golden Rain tree (click here for more Rain tree info).  Wouldn't this combination be perfect for the Pirate fans with one blooming purple and the other golden yellow?  Both grow well here and are something to think about to compliment any crape myrtles you may be growing.  Come out to the arboretum to see them in our Mixed Border and CPP area.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The vegetables are starting to ripen out at the Arboretum.  This week 20 lbs. of squash was picked and donated to the Food Bank.  Soon we will be gathering tomatoes, peppers, beans, watermelon, potatoes, and more squash.  A new section was created this year to demonstrate "Square Foot Gardening".  If you are not familar with this concept, watch this video Introducing Square Foot Gardening to learn some basic steps in starting your own intensive garden plot. 

Friday, June 4, 2010


On behalf of all the Master Gardener Volunteers thank all of you who came out to make our Wine & Garden Party a success.  A special thank you to the Ballance's for opening their beautiful gardens for all to enjoy.  Thanks also to the local businesses whom supported us with monetary donations, food, gift certificates, and raffle items.  All proceeds will be used to improve the Arboretum to continue to make it a useful resource for the community.


Now that we have enjoyed the first flush of blooms from our perennials at the Arboretum, it is time for maintenance work.  Many perennials benefit from deadheading (removing faded blooms) and some may even reward us with new blooms.   We may leave seedheads on some plants if we want them to reseed themselves and provide us with more plants.  Some also may be left for the birds to eat.  This is true for the coneflowers later in the year which the goldfinches will devour.  We are also hand pulling weeds from the flower beds.  Keeping ahead of weeds stop them from competing with our plants for water and nutrients and doesn't give them a chance to spread seeds.  Read this factsheet Maintaining Perennials for more information.  Another valuable resource is Bryce Lane's 'In the Garden' Episode 704 titled Perennial Power .

If you are out at the Farmers' Market on County Home Road this Saturday, stop by the Master Gardener table with your questions.  Volunteers will be there from 9:00 AM-11:00 AM.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Even if you've been out to the Arboretum before, you ought to come out for the Master Gardeners' June Walking Tour.  There are always new plants/trees/shrubs/roses in bloom and the gardens take on a new look with each passing week.  The next tour will be on Thursday, June 3rd, starting at 9:00 AM.  Look for the "TOUR" signs by the front of the Ag Center building.  Click on the MAP in the right hand column for directions.  Bring your questions, bring your cameras, and bring your notebooks for jotting down information.  The tours are given rain or shine.

Later in the day, join us for our first Wine & Garden Party.  Scroll down for more information.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Please join us on June 3rd from 5:30-7:30 PM at Dr. and Mrs. Bill & Lisa Ballance's garden on Blue Banks Farm Road for wine and appetizers.  Here is an opportunity to view their magnificent gardens as well as meet other Pitt County Master Gardeners.  Danny Lauderdale will be on hand to talk about the Arboretum.  You will also be able to purchase raffle tickets for items donated by local businesses. This is a fundraiser for the Pitt County Arboretum so that we may continue to expand and improve its gardens.  Tickets cost $20 and are available at the Pitt County Extension Office, from any Master Gardener, or may be purchased at the entrance that night. 
Call 252-902-1709 if you have any questions.

Mark your calendars: Thursday, June 3rd from 5:30-7:30 PM
ADDRESS:  1940 Blue Banks Farm Rd., Greenville, NC
Click here for a Map to Blue Banks Farm Rd

This event will be held rain or shine!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Thank you all for coming out to the Arboretum last weekend to support our annual plant sale.  Check out this link which may give you some additional information for the care of your new perennials: Perennial Factsheet If you have any specific questions about your new purchases, please call our Hotline or send us an email.  The links may be found by scrolling down the right hand side of this page under 'Ask a Master Gardener.'

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Our much anticipated annual plant sale will be Saturday, May 15th.  Starting at 9:00 A.M., Friends of the Arboretum will have the first opportunity to purchase plants.  The general public will be admitted starting at 10:00 A.M.  The Plant Swap begins at 11:00 A.M.  The entire event ends at NOON.

The Master Gardeners have been busy potting up and caring for trees, shrubs, and perennials from their own yards and from the gardens at the Arboretum.  Some have started plants from seeds or taken cuttings or divisions from their successful plantings.  We will have over 1,000 plants to choose from.  Additionally we will have herbs, heirloom tomatoes, and a few other vegetables.  To get you started in your garden, we also will be selling garden gloves.  You will also be able to purchase a chance to win a beautiful, handcrafted garden bench.

The Plant Swap is always a favorite.  Bring something from your own garden and exchange it for something another gardener brought.  People have also brought garden books, garden yard art, containers, etc. to exchange in past years.  Remember everything goes even if it means going back home where it came from!

You can purchase Friend Memberships the day of the sale.  Or, how about gifting one to your mother for Mother's Day?  The membership is good for a year and comes with other benefits including discounts at some local garden centers and businesses. 

Call 902-1709 for more information.  If you scroll down the right side of this page, you will find a map, a link to the plant sale flyer, and an application for a Friends Membership.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


There will be a demonstration of planting bare root roses at 9:00 am on Friday, May 7 at the Arboretum Rose Garden. If you would like to see how this is done from start to finish, come out and join us. We may also have a demo of shovel pruning and planting a potted rose. Rain date will be Tuesday, May 11 at 9:00.

Friday, April 30, 2010


We always knew our Wild Flower Garden was wonderful, but now it has the honored distinction of winning First Place at the recent North Carolina Master Gardener Volunteer Convention.  Every year this association hosts the 'Madeline Collier Landscape Design Competition'.  We demonstrated how to take a plot of unhealthy turf and turn it into a sustainable, waterwise, no pesticides or fertilizer needed, glorious garden.  A few years ago our Children's Garden won.  Of course, we think all of our Arboretum is a gem.  If you haven't been out lately, May is a good month to visit. There are many things coming in to bloom.  The Kousa Dogwood  (Cornus kousa ) is a real standout.

Our next Walking Tour will be Thursday, May 6th starting at 10:00 AM.  Click on the map in the right side of this page for directions.  Tours last about an hour and are given rain or shine.

Coming soon will be our annual plant sale.  More information can be found by scrolling down the right to the section about the plant sale.  Be sure to read this Sunday's (5/2) Look section of the Daily Reflector.  Jackie Drake wrote an extensive article on the Arboretum titled Gardening You Can Do .

Saturday, April 24, 2010


At the Arboretum we have two cisterns which we can use to water plants when needed.  One large one catches the rain water off the Ag Center building.  It has a pump attached to retrieve the water.  A smaller one sits by the Green Roof Shelter.  It simply has a spigot at the bottom which a hose can be attached to.  At your home you can set up a simple rain barrel.  Most home improvement stores and some local nurseries are selling ready made barrels.  However, if you can find an old 50-55 gallon plastic barrel, you can make your own.  Here are two sets of instructions with details for this easy project:    How to Make a Rain Barrel or Rain Barrels .  So get busy and start collecting the spring rain that has been forecast for this week.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


We have begun mulching the beds at the Arboretum.  We use the free mulch from the Pitt County Landfill off Allen Road.  It is free for you too.  Call 902-3350 and then select #1 for the Scale House to find out if mulch is availabe and what hours they will load it for you.  Pitt County turns your yard waste into wonderful mulch and all you need is a pickup truck or trailer (or a friend with such).  Remember to take a tarp because the mulch has to be covered when leaving the landfill.  According to the Department of Agriculture:  "Mulches are a labor saving device for the gardener. A layer of mulch will help prevent the germination of many weed seeds, reducing the need for cultivation or the use of herbicides. Mulches also help moderate the soil temperature and retain moisture during dry weather, reducing the need for watering. Mulches protect the soil from the impact of raindrops that can cause crusting. Crusting can prevent the germination of seedlings."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


It is easy to find things on the internet about gardening.  It is a little more difficult to find gardening information for us specifically in eastern North Carolina.  A new category has been added on the right side of this blog page titled "PUBLICATIONS".  Here you will find a list of helpful information just for you.  The first one listed is Extension Gardener Newsletter.  After going to this site, click on 'Latest Issue' and then choose 'Coastal Plains' where you will discover relevant information for us here in Zone 7b.   The newsletter is published quarterly.   Also, be sure to sign up as a FAN on the new Facebook page  'Pitt County Gardening' as lots of new information will be posted there.

Friday, April 2, 2010


We have a new source of gardening information just for you here in this area.  If you don't have a Facebook account, sign up now at .  It is free.  Once you sign in, do a search for Pitt County Gardening and become a fan.  You'll have access to current gardening news and events.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


The Bradford Pear trees are in bloom at the Arboretum and across the county.  While the trees make a statement on the landscape with their white blooms showing us the first signs of spring (something we all have been waiting for this year!), you may want to think twice before planting one in your yard.  First, the flower is pretty, but their scent can be offputting.  Given the way their limbs grow out of the tree trunk at a very upright angle and the large number of limbs, as trees mature limb breakage may occur.  This has happened at the Arboretum.   Additionally, it is listed an invasive, exotic tree for the Southeast as noted at this link:  Bradford Pear .  There are several other, more desirable blooming trees.  Come out for our Walking Tour this Thursday (4/1) starting at 10:00 AM and see for yourselves.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Join Master Gardeners on Thursday, April 1st starting at 10:00 AM for a walking tour of the Arboretum.  Some trees are flowering, the perennials are beginning to come alive, the cool season vegetables are thriving, and daffodils and tulips are brightening the landscape.  Come out and get ideas for gardening you can do in your own yard.  No need to sign up, just show up.  The tour begins in front of the Ag Center under the Green Roof Shelter and last about an hour.  Click on the link of the Map on the right side of this page for directions.  Tours are given RAIN OR SHINE!

Monday, March 22, 2010


The Arboretum roses have all been pruned.  Your beautiful Knockout rose has probably started to bud out, too. Now is a good time to cut it back to improve its blooms for this year. Here is a short video on how to prune shrub roses:  How To Video

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


QUESTION:  I have bees burrowing in my lawn.  What can I do about it?
ANSWER:  First, keep in mind that bees are pollinators and needed in our gardens.  The type of bees that make nests in the lawn are not ones that are out to sting you.  They tend to make their nests in areas that are sparsely covered with turf.  Having a healthy, dense lawn is a good defense.  Keeping the area well watered might also discourage nesting.  More details about this bee and methods of control can be found at Bees in Turf.  To get your lawn in tip top shape, call the Master Gardener Hotline and request a year round schedule for the type of turf you have.  Additionally, come out to Lowe's at the Thomas Lanston Road location on Saturday 3/20 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  Extension Master Gardeners will be available to help you with your garden questions.  Danny Lauderdale will be giving a Lawn Care presentation at 1:00 PM.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Tempting as it may be, it is best to hold off planting for a bit longer.  The days have certainly been warmer and some stores are starting to sell all the pretty flowers and yummy looking tomato plants.  However, for us here in Pitt County the last frost date can be as late as April 15th. Keep in mind that some warm season annuals, herbs, and vegetables can be injured if the temperatures get below 40 degrees.  So if you plant now be prepared to keep a close eye on the thermometer.  Follow these steps in Protecting Your Plants from Frost should low temperatures be in the forecast.  It seems to be quite a lot of work which can be avoided by just waiting a few more weeks.  You can call our hotline for a chart showing the best times to plant your vegetables.  This is a good time to evaluate what went wrong/right in last year's garden.  This ariticle reveals some Gardening Chores to Do Now.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CLUB SODA vs. FIRE ANTS: Fact or Fiction?

There is a new internet rumor going around that pouring club soda on fire ant mounds will destroy them.  Sound too good to be true?  Sorry, but it is just a myth.  Read  Chemical and Non-Chemical Control and Organic Fire Ant Control to find out the best ways to control fire ants.  As alway, follow the directions exactly as printed on the product.  Timing, temperature, moisture, and method of broadcasting may differ with each method used. 

Friday, March 5, 2010


QUESTION:  Why haven't there been any 'questions of the week' lately?
ANSWER:  Blame the rain, snow, wind, and cold which seems to be keeping everyone indoors staying warm and dry instead of outdoors digging in the dirt.  Hopefully, Spring will soon be here and keep our Hotline phone ringing.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Do you want to draw more birds, butterflies, and other wildlife to your backyard?  You could simply hang up a bird feeder, install a birdbath, and plant nectar producing flowers.  However, if you want to take it a few steps further, go to this recently created website for some ideas on how to make your landscape more inviting:  Going Native

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Its that time of year when people start heading outdoors to do yard clean-up.  Before taking your pruners to your crape myrtle, take a moment to read these enlightening articles on CRAPE MURDER and TREE TOPPING.  Remember, just because you see something done in a commercial landscape or in your neighbor's yard, doesn't mean it is the best thing to do.   We've begun to do maintenance pruning on our shrubs and trees out at the Arboretum.   Come out and look at our gardens.  It may helpful to see how big things can grow.  Chosing the right plant for the right spot is a great way to curtail extreme pruning chores.  If you have any pruning questions, call the Master Gardeners' Hotline (see the hours and number posted in the right column).

Saturday, February 13, 2010


We receive many questions about when to prune and proper pruning techniques.  A brief summary can be found in this fact sheet:  Pruning Shrubs.  If you would like to receive an illustrated copy of pruning techniques, please call our Hotline Number listed on the right under the heading of 'Ask a Master Gardener' and ask for our 'Pruning Trees & Shrubs' handout.

Monday, January 25, 2010


February is the time to start planting your early vegetables.  Click on this link for detailed information on Home Vegetable Gardening.  Soon it will be time to start your seeds for your summer garden. You may be interested in expanding your gardening horizons by building a small greenhouse.  Simple plans can be found at Backyard Greenhouses.  If you want to make something on a smaller scale, watch this short video showing some simple Cold Frames which might work best for you.  Won't it feel good to get out and dig in the dirt again?

Monday, January 18, 2010


Beat the winter time blues and blahs.  Come out to the Greenville Convention Center February 5 & 6th to get a jumpstart on sprucing up and/or adding to your landscape.  There is a great line up of speakers, lots of vendors, and colorful displays that are sure to inspire you.  Plus you can bring your questions to the Extension Master Gardener booth.  Visit the website at for all the details.

Friday, January 8, 2010


It should be no surprise that according to the NC Drought Monitor (Click on the link in the right column under 'Helpful Links' to see the diagram) no county in NC is under any alert.  But we all know how quickly that status can change.  So while you are keeping warm inside and planning your future garden plantings, it can be beneficial to learn about GreenScaping.  GreenScaping encompasses a set of landscaping practices that can improve the health and appearance of your lawn and garden while protecting and preserving natural resources.   The 5 basic steps to follow are:
1) Build & maintain healthy soil.
2) Plant right for the site.
3) Practice smart watering.
4) Adopt a holistic approach to pest management.
5) Practice natural lawn care.
More detailed information can be obtained by calling the Hotline and leaving your name and address and requesting the GreenScaping brochure.