Through The Garden Gate of Karen Woodfin – Matthews, North Carolina
“When I see the perennials that I have planted come back to life after the dreary winter, it seems my yard is putting on a show for us! I love when we have guests over and they comment about how our backyard looks. It’s so worth the effort we put into it.”
Featured Gardener: Karen Woodfin
Location: Matthews, North Carolina
Years Gardening: 18
How much time do you spend gardening? For instance, would you consider yourself a daily daisy, weekend wildflower, spring and summer succulent, or occasional orchid?
I would consider myself a spring and summer succulent! I love to get out in the Spring and get my hands in the dirt. The whole process of planting something and watching it grow and thrive, whether a vegetable or a flowering plant, is just amazing.
Describe your garden(s) or gardening activities:
When I first started gardening, 18 years ago, I just randomly chose plants and planted them. No rhyme or reason to my choices. Most of the flowers I chose were annuals, but I did plant some gladiolas, which I still have after all these years. I have since gotten a little wiser and now have many perennials planted around my house and mixed in with my vegetable garden. When the winter comes to an end and these plants come to life I can’t help but be so in love with Spring time. Roses, asiatic lilies, glads, and azaleas are a few of the beauties.
It’s also the time that I get outside and plant my vegetable garden. Due to a deluge of rain last year which destroyed my garden, I was very cautious this year and only planted a few tomato plants, some basil and zucchini. I try to grow anything we eat organically. Fortunately, the weather has been good and I have been able to get quite a bit of tomatoes for freezing this year. I use them throughout the year to make my homemade salsa!
Indoors, I have violets that I have been growing for a few years. I have found that they do best in violet pots (pots made specifically for violets). It is basically a porous pot sitting inside another pot. You pour water in the outer pot and the inner one absorbs the water through the walls to water the plant. Recently, I succeeded in propagating one more plant from just one leaf of another, too. Pretty cool!
What about your garden(s) or gardening activities has given you the most pride?
Believe it or not, I actually enjoy getting out and weeding my flower and vegetable gardens (before the summer heat sets in). Gardens, most of the time, will give you a major payback for your investment of time. The presentation of both the flowers, vegetables and greenery can add so much life to a yard. When I see the perennials that I have planted come back to life after the dreary winter, it seems my yard is putting on a show for us! I love when we have guests over and they comment about how our backyard looks. It’s so worth the effort we put into it.
What about your garden(s) or gardening activities has been the biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges for me over the years is keeping my roses from getting black spot disease. I have done pretty well at keeping it at bay by staying ahead of it and applying the correct spray/sprays before it gets out of hand. Many of the products at the garden store are made to take care of this problem – just stay on top of it as it can get out of control quickly!
What advice would you give to a novice gardener who is just starting out?
Just do it. Read online about your planting zone. Ask advice from experts at the nurseries. Especially, if you have children, a garden is such a learning tool and they get to experience seeing their food grow in their own yard! If you are gardening in NC clay, work hard at enriching your soil with good dirt and compost. Good soil is one of the main keys to having a garden. It’s not hard to do and after a few years of consistently adding nutrients to the soil, you will be able to grow just about anything in it. Also, if you are wanting flowers, make most of your garden perennials. They cost more at the beginning, but once you plant them, that’s it! They will come back year after year. Annuals are good, too . . . but, I like to use them as extras.
What are your two favorite “can’t live without” gardening tools or products?
Seriously, I really like Miracle Grow. As a non-professional gardener, I like that it is good for just about everything I grow. And, it works. The two other things I must have are my gloves and a good shovel. Sounds pretty basic, but that’s how I like it.
What’s your next project?
My next project is to research and find plants for my front yard that can tolerate a lot of shade. With two huge oaks, not a lot of sun gets through to the ground. The trees have doubled in size and we have lost some of the sun we once had there.
How does your garden and/or gardening enrich your life?
Getting outside and working in the garden gives me time to clear my mind and do a lot of thinking and praying. I think it is one of the reasons I garden. Gardening was also something my mother enjoyed so, when I am out there weeding or planting it makes me think of her and how she loved doing that exact same thing.
Besides the obvious of enjoying the beauty of it all, gardening brings me back to what is real. What really matters. Gives me a different perspective on life. I become more grateful for what I have.
A very special thank you to Charlotte Photography for the stunning photographs!
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