I admit it, I love my gardens. Relocating to Lake Norman from Pasadena, California, I knew nothing about how to design or what plants are appropriate for a Lake Norman garden. Looking around the lake neighborhoods, especially at new construction landscaping because there are so many new homes, I found several prominent themes of gardens:
The “forest” look: These properties were cleared only enough for the house to be built and the rest of the lot remains forest-like with lots of tall pines and hardwoods and perhaps a row of Japanese holly bushes along the front of the home. (Almost a mountain feel).
What I call “the islands in a sea of lawn” look: These lots were cleared be there are islands of trees left clustered together perhaps with some azaleas or hostas but always covered with pine needle mulch. Usually the back of the lot has what we Lake Norman folks refer to as “natural areas” of tall trees such as pines, maples, or “gum” trees. (Liquid Amber to Westerners). They are likely to have well-pruned holly buses, junipers or azaleas along the house itself but not much else. These are very common in brand new construction as they are easy to create and maintain.
The “I once was a farm” look: These are neighborhoods where few trees exist and if they do they are still young. Lots of lawn area in these gardens with a row of bushes along the house. Unfortunately, a bit stark until the trees mature.
The “I want a real garden” look: I am including everyone else in this category. You will find these gardens more likely in older neighborhoods or in some of the spectacular waterfront homes.
There will be beautiful lawns, well-placed ornamental and flowering trees like Dogwoods, Crepe Myrtles, Cherry Trees, myriad varieties of fruit trees and large Maples, Oaks, Pines and smaller Japanese Maples. In the shady areas will be a profusion of azaleas, hostas and rhododendrons. In the sunny spots are such bushes as roses, butterfly bushes, azaleas, jasmine vines, Lorapedalum with beautiful annuals and perennials clustered around them.
You might find a wonderful pond or waterfall and even an outdoor barbecue area. These gardens can be nature friendly enticing birds, butterflies and wildlife.
We inherited an “island” looking garden which I am still converting to a “real garden”. I discovered that the folks at Southern Living have a landscape architectural service. We used Metrolina who improved our landscape design plan and installed the front garden and found them to be terrific. This photo is our front walkway the first spring after it was planted.
If you want inspiration, I highly recomment you visit the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, 450 acres along the banks of Lake Wylie which is now considered to be one of the finest in the entire Southeast and named on of the nations 20 Great Gardens by HGTV.There are 9 themed gardens plus perennial, annuals, daylilies and herb gardens and a Pavillion which houses their gift shop, meeting rooms for annual symposiums, events, speakers, seminars and workshops.
Or, attend the Davidson Horticultural Symposium which is being held on March 3-4 on the Davidson College Campus here in Lake Norman. This year’s theme is “Herbaceous Havens” Creating Garden Sanctuaries.” This event includes tours of gardens, workshops and nationally known experts speaking.
My garden is not ready for any tours, but here are a few of my favorite discoveries:
Encore Azaleas : Awesome explosions of color, and not just once a year but spring, summer and fall! Each of the 23 varieties begins their blooming in spring proceeded by new shoots that will lead to a second blooming in mid-summer to late fall.
If I had only one flowering bush in my yard it would be a Knock Out Rose. Not only are these rose bushes carefree and almost immune to bugs and disease, but they have an abundance of blooms all season long and they are hardy and drought tolerant once established.
We have a Fescue lawn which is an attractive cool season grass that stays green all year long here in Lake Norman although it does suffer a bit during the hottest summer days. We do aerate, lime, seed and mulch each September however once it is fully established I don’t expect we will have to do so every year.
There is one more Lake Norman homeowner must have, no matter how much lawn you have; a John Deere lawn mower!
In Part 2 of my series about gardening and your Lake Norman home I will provide a list of my favorite places to shop for plants and supplies and who has the most knowledgeable staff! Plus I will share with you the horror stories of Japanese Beetles!