Have you ever tried sprucing up your yard with some thoughtful landscaping but the results ended up a bit wilted? Yeah, me too… which is why this month we have the pleasure of hosting a passionate gardener, landscaping expert and AP resident Terri MacMahon on our blog.  You’ve undoubtedly seen Terri walking around the neighborhood. You may also remember her from her previous blog post about her mouth watering recipe for Tuscan Salmon.

Terri MacMahon in her beautiful custom kitchen by Stroud Custom Homes.

Either way, Terri will be sharing her invaluable gardening tips and tricks that will help transform your outdoor space into a breathtaking oasis. Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or just beginning your journey into the world of plants, Terri’s insights will inspire and empower you to create a garden that not only enhances the aesthetics of your home at Arlington Place but also brings joy and tranquility to your everyday life. So, grab your gardening gloves and let’s deep dive into Terri’s expert advice on landscaping and gardening at Arlington Place.

Text and photos courtesy of Terri MacMahon. As you can see, Terri knows her way around a camera just as well as she does a garden! If you’d like to see all the images she contributed for this article then be sure to check out the photo gallery, Terri’s Garden. You can learn more about Rachel Tipton and Harbourside Garden Co. by visiting their Facebook and Instagram pages, calling them at (252) 745-0010 or by paying them a visit in person at their garden center located at 15495 NC Hwy 55 in Bayboro. 

You’re Not in Kansas Anymore

After killing all the hydrangeas, gardenias, and a few other things I planted in my main flower bed I headed back to Harbourside a bit frustrated. I’ve got over 30 years of lessons learned gardening and never expected such disastrous results. When I shared my disappointment with Rachel she asked me the most important question you need to consider when landscaping down here, “how much sun does it get?” The flower bed faces south so it gets sun almost all day.

I told her I wasn’t that concerned about the full sun because I could always compensate for overexposure in NY by giving hydrangeas and other shade plants extra water. She replied, “You’re not in Kansas anymore… or NY.” I highly recommend following the sun recommendations provided on the plants you choose and ask advice if you have any questions.

Whenever I planted something in NY I’d always dig a huge hole, fill it at least 1/3 full of peat moss and compost, mix in a little dirt, put the plant in, fill it with water, then back fill the dirt. I have sandy soil so Rachel recommended only mushroom compost or cow manure for nutrients and moisture retention. If you have clay soils then pine bark and manure are recommended.

In NY I never fertilized my bushes or flower beds but I’ve learned down here it is needed. Holly Tone, Palm Tone and Plant Tone work all worked well for me.

Roses, Camellias, and Azaleas Provide Color All Year

My primary goal planning my landscaping is to have something in bloom all year and I start with the bushes. Roses here bloom from April through December and do well in full sun. Make sure you don’t get the leaves wet or you will end up with black spots.

  • Knockouts are durable and easy to care for; the red and coral roses have done better for me than that the yellow ones.
  • Drift Roses are also hardy; they bloom in clumps rather than individual flowers.
  • Hybrids are more delicate than the Knockouts and Drift roses, but the flowers are fuller and are often fragrant. I love my Dolly Parton, Peace and Fragrant Plum roses.

There are two types of Camellias, both are evergreens:

  • Sasanqua Camellias bloom from October through April. They are more sun tolerant and the flowers are more delicate. My favorites are October Magic and April Remembered.
  • Japonica Camellias bloom from February until April and prefer more shade, the flowers are fuller and more detailed. I love my Jack, White by the Gate, Seafoam, and Governor Moulton.

Azaleas bloom everywhere here in the spring! They come in different sizes and colors and the Encores will bloom again late fall. Beware, the deer LOVE Azaleas and ate mine through our fence.

Other Bushes and Trees That I Love

  • Forsythia announces early spring with branches full of yellow flowers, mine is in partial sun. Red Buds have delicate pink flowers in the spring followed by beautiful heart shaped leaves. They don’t seem to like direct sun, my weeping one had to be relocated from a south facing location to the east side of my house. Beauty Berry gets tiny flowers in the spring that transition to clusters of beautiful purple berries until the winter. Mine has done well in partial sun.
  • Baptisia Australis is a beautiful purple perennial flower bush with lots of flowers on stalks that bloom April through May in full sun. Butterfly Bushes come in many colors, tend to be hardy, and flower from May through the fall in partial sun. Hibiscus is an annual that come in various colors that bloom from May through the fall and tend to do well in full sun. Hydrangeas remind me of snowballs on stalks that bloom from May through September and comes in many colors. Limelights are more sun tolerant but the others require more shade. They are followed by Gardenias which smell amazing but need to be protected from direct sun. They bloom May through June. Confederate Jasmine is a climbing bush full of delicate white flowers that bloom in May and June. Their fragrance is absolutely heavenly, I have one in a pot by my front door.
  • Rosa Sharons are beautiful and tend to grow like weeds in full or partial sun in many colors of single or double flowers all summer long. Myrtles have either green or purple leaves with flower clumps in various colors, they are very hardy here and bloom in the summer.
  • Holly trees are hardy evergreens that provide a pop of color with red berries in the winter, mine is in partial sun but it tolerates sun. Euonymus is a variegated yellow and green evergreen that grows rapidly, mine are in full sun against brick. Fatshedera has variegated yellow and green star shaped leaves that require shade. I’ve had a weeping one in my EZ Breeze for years but they can be planted outdoors too.
  • Elephant Ears have huge leaves on stalks that sway in the wind. They prefer partial sun and can tolerate the cold. I have one in my EZ Breeze that made it through the winter.
  • I did not have luck with the weeping cherry blossom tree I planted. It didn’t bloom the second year and eventually died.

The Tropical Plants

We are fortunate here to be able to grow Palm Trees and tropical plants that do well in full sun! I love my tall Cabbage Palm and Segue Palms that have grown well for me as well as a few Wave Palms. There are many types of hardy varieties of grasses; my favorite is Dianella, Flax Lily which has green and white leaves. I like my green and white spiky yucca but they are a bit temperamental, I have killed a few. Flapjacks are one of my absolute favorites!!! I bought a few and they have proliferated through the years. I have grown them in pots so far and keep splitting them. This year I’m trying a few in the ground. Variegated Ginger has beautiful green and yellow leaves. It dies back in the winter but mine have come back the last few years.

Perennial Flowers: the Next Layer

Once the framework of trees, evergreens, and bushes has been established I add my perennials. All of mine are in full sun. They come back every year but bloom for a short time.

  • Daffodils, Tulips, and Amaryllis start the new season, followed by Irises.
    Shortly after the yellow Tickseed – Coreopsis – starts blooming in late April through June, then the rust and yellow Gaillardia Aristata starts blooming.
  • Red Hot Poker flowers are one of my favorites and bloom May through the summer.
  • Lantana is very hardy and blooms summer through the fall. If you plant good mums in the fall they will also bloom again in May. They are followed by Agapanthus that provides an absolutely beautiful burst of little purple or white flowers that ends up being a spiky ball of green that remains until it dies back. Verbena has done very well for me too. They are clumps of flowers that I use in flower pots that attract butterflies.
  • The summer brings many varieties of Black Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, and Guara with wispy strands of little flowers that follow the wind.
  • In the fall the mums start blooming again.

The Annuals: For Me an Affair in Pots

I read once that you should consider your flower pots an opportunity to have a short term affair with various flowers throughout the year. Annuals work great in pots and any place in your yard where you’d like full color all summer.

  • Most of my pots are in full sun. I wait until late fall when the pansies come out and put them in my pots to provide color until April or maybe May. I include some snapdragons as well. They won’t make it through the winter but usually will bloom in the fall and spring. I’ve experimented with lots of flowers in pots, my favorites include: Mandevilla, Dipladenia, Geraniums, Petunias, Million Bells, Salvia, Vinca, Scaevola and Blue Daze. I planted a hibiscus tree in a large pot with Blue Daze and Scaevola last spring that I keep on my front porch. I brought it in when the temps dropped and they all survived. I also absolutely love Anemones with their balls of white or purple flowers that bloom all summer in partial or full sun and attract butterflies.
  • For shade pots I love Coleus, Torenia, Caldium, Begonia, Sweet Potato Vine, Impatiens and Creeping Jenny.

Wrapping Up

If you’re still looking for more information don’t forget to reach out to Rachel and her team at Harbourside Garden Co. located in Bayboro. You can also find great information at the NC State Extension Gardening page. Here’s a slideshow of Terri’s amazing photos she contributed for this blog. Click on any image to enlarge and truly experience the beauty of Terri’s garden. You can also view these images in gallery format by checking out the Terri’s Garden gallery.

  • Yucca
  • WhiteByTheGate
  • Seafoam
  • Red-Poker-2
  • Red-Bud-6
  • Petunia-2
  • Pansy
  • Pansy-3
  • October-Magic
  • Lantana-4
  • Jack-Camellia-2
  • Iris-3
  • Hydrangea-9
  • Hydrangea-8
  • Hydrangea-3
  • Hibiscus-9
  • Governor-Moulton3
  • Governor-Moulton-5
  • Ginger
  • Gardenia-4
  • Gardenia-2
  • Gaillarda-Aristata-3
  • Forsynthia
  • Flap-Jacks-2
  • Fatshedera-2
  • Euonymus
  • Elephant-Ear-2
  • Dolly-Parton
  • Daffodils-2
  • Confederate-Jasmine-Full-Plant
  • Cleome-2
  • Cana-Lily-3
  • CabbageRose
  • Cabbage-Rose
  • Butterfly-Bush
  • Butterfly-Bush-2
  • Blue-Daze
  • Beauty-Berry
  • Baptisia-Ausrealis-2
  • Azelia
  • Azelea-3
  • April-Remembered
  • April-Remembered-2
  • Aphrodite
  • Amarylis-2
  • Agapanthus
  • October-Magic