Garden Photo of the Day

Weeding is a joy in June’s North Carolina garden

Mossy pathways are changing to their spring green

Today's photos, and revelations, come from June Smart down in Monroe, North Carolina. June says, "Weeding my gardens is a source of great joy for me. Yes, you heard me correctly. My delight ranges from seeing tiny blossoms underneath the foliage of the Solomon's Seal and hosta shoots emerging in early spring, to studying the intricacy of an aquilegia blossom, to finding new shoots of a plant that is beginning to colonize, maybe presenting itself as part of a layered group of several plants. There is always something new to discover when I am focused on my work in the 12 to 18 inches directly above the soil. Weeding in the spring, before all the newly-emerging foliage flushes to full size, is the best time to find weeds, and to get to know how well my plants made it through the winter. So, excuse me while I step outside to enjoy some more weeding!
   Additional information:  I have lived in this home 16 years, and retired from public work 2 years ago.  About 6 months after retirement I began to address the erosion issues on my property with walls to divert and slow the rainwater, and 3 detention pool areas. I also began amending the soil, and deciding to focus on an evergreen shrub border inside the fence.  The border is now in place, with some 30+ starter-size shrubs.  
Many of my original shrub plantings were relocated to become part of the border along with the new shrubs. Doing all this myself has been much of the pleasure. This border will be deep, and have graduating layers of height when mature.  My desire is for a small patio perennial area surrounded by a shrub forest with only a few pathways through it.  I am proud to say I use everything my property gives me – good soil, challenging soil made better, rocks, falling limbs, falling leaves each fall. Everything can be improved and incorporated.  There is still much to do to keep moving toward my goals, but maybe it is not too early, in the life of my garden, to share some photos with my fellow gardeners." I feel like going outside to weed right now, June. That says a lot about your persuasive abilities…. Be sure to share summer photos, too–everything is lovely now!

Keep sending in photos, everyone! Whether you've never shared before or you've been featured multiple times, we want to see your garden! Email me at [email protected]. Thanks!

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Green, white, and pink

Just out of the ground a few days – will soon be very full

Light through the fragile new foliage

First day in bloom

Aquilegia and 'Gumpo White' azalea

Carolina allspice buds

Dicentra blooms early here

One of my first azaleas, name unknown

Tender new foliage on the vinca

Phlox paniculata from my mother's garden

Tiny blossoms of the Solomon's seal

View Comments


  1. Nurserynotnordstroms 04/21/2015

    June this is all lovely and I don't see a slug or snail hole in any of the pristine leaves. We are having a snail problem here. I just read yesterday that they think the snails are on the pallets when they are shrink wrapped and shipped,I had not seen any snails in my gardens until two years ago. What you are doing in your gardens to amend the soil is definetly the right combination. I am so happy you are retired and enjoying your gardens they are beautiful. Please send in more photos when everything is up fully and I so appreciated your enthusiasm.

    1. junesmart 04/21/2015

      I removed all the crushed eggshells from around my plants about 18 months ago, after adopting two plant-eating and stick-eating little dogs. Eggshells seemed like an item they might begin to eat if the garden's stick production slowed. I trained the dogs to leave the plants alone, but was concerned the eggshells may still seem tasty. As I scraped the old eggshells from around each plant, I found very large numbers of tiny snail shells underneath, and removed them also. Months later, I read about land snails being attracted to calcium sources. I have noticed no more snail shells as I garden, but don't really know when I ceased to see them. It does make me wonder if the calcium in the eggshells was attracting the snails. Now I just use a ring of sand at the base of plants that appeal to the snails. Thanks for enjoying my gardens with me.

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 04/22/2015

        A ring of sand,hummmm I have been putting my used coffee grounds around my tasty(to the snails and slugs) plants and so far it's worked wonders. I moved some pots off of the terrace yesterday and lots of slugs were hiding there. But the Sand is a great idea. Thank you for the tip I will give it a try. Happy gardening??

  2. user-1020932 04/22/2015

    June, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who enjoys weeding,,, it's the only time I am able to go slow enough to examine each plant as I go and to notice the tiny things in the garden. Your plants/garden all look great and i enlarged each photo and not a single weed could be found! happy spring, they are saying 34 here tomorrow night, my place will look like a ghost town with sheets everywhere

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/22/2015

      The cold weather is all my fault, Jeff. I mistakenly suggested that Columbus might get through to May without a freeze, but now we're forecast to go down to 30 tomorrow night. I'm so sorry that I'm a jinx.......out come the towels and sheets, in come the plants that are trying to harden off!

      1. NCYarden 04/22/2015

        Good luck to you guys with the approaching chill. An unfortunate stress indeed, especially this late. Maybe a slight enough breeze will keep the cold from descending. Fingers crossed.

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/22/2015

          Thanks. At least it has been quite warm, so the soil is warm and should radiate some heat for out ghost towns! Happy gardening!

          1. greengenes 04/22/2015

            Oh... so sorry about the cold! We have been through this here in the pacific northwest. But we are hoping that it will start to get warmer. Sheets are a good thing! Yes, towels too! They work great! I have even cut up sheets to cover rows in the raised beds...its all part of gardening... but gee wiz... youre beautiful succulents! Ouch!

          2. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/22/2015

            Good morning, Jeanne. I think Jeff has it a bit better down south in Tennessee. I should know better than to get fooled here in Ohio. I measure everything by the late freeze we had in March 2005. It was WAY below freezing, and even the trees and shrubs we frozen solid and had to push out brand new growth. Now that was tough! This will be a blip on the radar. You guys have had an early spring and then back to super chilly. I guess I prefer it a little chilly so that the spring flowers last longer. Enjoy your day!

          3. junesmart 04/22/2015

            Polar fleece fabric is lightweight and insulating, washes and stores easily after using it for protection against late freezes. And the fabric stores reduce the price per yard once the weather warms!

    2. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Ghost towns are the sign of good, protective gardening! It's hard to think of a freeze damaging new spring growth. I'm amused that you were searching for weeds in the photos - you really ARE serious about weeds! And it's good to know you like to slow down and truly appreciate your gardens.

  3. greengenes 04/22/2015

    good morning June! your place is lovely! I am sure it even gets better when all the deciduous trees bloom out! Its so different from here with all our huge evergreens and understory brush. I so agree with you and weeding. I find plants I had forgotten about and there is a connection to the plants once again! ITs such a wonderful time of the year! Iam glad you are enjoying retirement this way! Have a wonderful spring!

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Thank you, Jeanne! Finding forgotten plants is like receiving gifts. Sometimes I see what appears to be a second or third season perennial, and have no recall of placing it in the particular location where I find it. As much as I move plants around, to find the place they will be happy, these surprise plants must catch a ride in the soil I am intentionally moving, when I transplant something I DO remember relocating. Your huge evergreens sound like my dream! I would love to see pictures of them.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/22/2015

    Love your attitude,'re like a human macro lens...immersed in the exquisite details we sometimes overlook! Sounds like you are enjoying your newish retirement and have found that you can be as busy as you want to be when involved in gardening. Your shrub forest project sounds wonderful and will only get better and better with the passing of time.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Yes, staying busy, and having something to look forward to, may be the secret of life! The details of a plant's growth and beauty are a part of that for me, and for many gardeners. There are so many beautiful home gardens in my city, and I know the owners only by the look of their gardens as I drive past. But seeing gardens up close is a treat.

  5. NCYarden 04/22/2015

    Good morning, June. Yay for Spring in NC! Your garden is beautiful and refreshing. As much as I don't care for weeding, I completely embrace your methods. Getting down and pulling them is without a doubt the best and most effective way to eliminate them, as well as putting us in touch with our adored plants. My wife on the other hand, I believe, secretly likes weeding much like yourself, and I am forever grateful for the "odd" behavior. I certainly have to compliment you on the pristine ground beneath your beautiful plants. It's exciting to hear of your mixed and evergreen border. Can't wait to see the progress. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy the beautiful weather we're having this week. It's a great time to be out in the garden.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Refreshing is one of the feelings this garden provides for me. As 'odd' is you may jokingly think your wife's love of weeding may be, she sounds like a great gardening partner. Yes, spring in NC is wonderful - we are in a magical area of the southeast. I will certainly share photos of my shrub borders as they mature. Unlike perennials, it will be a multi-season maturing process. Patience is really what gardening teaches us.

  6. pegmccann 04/22/2015

    Lovely -- my kind of place for sure. I, too, enjoy most weeding, it's meditative in a way, relaxing and mindful, and also helps me become acquainted with the plants. The plants in low-maintence areas are nearly strangers to me. Thank you for posting.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Peg, you truly understand the best part of weeding - mindfulness. Weeding takes me away from the planning, and lets me just enjoy what I have already. Birdsong is my background music!

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/22/2015

    Okay, June, you have NOT won me over, at least to weeding! But you have won me over to your awesome attitude and wonderful garden. What a joy. I guess I don't mind weeding, but I never go out to weed. I survey my kingdom and fend off the interlopers! Love all the mature trees on and surrounding your property and your garden looks awesome. Thanks for sharing your delightful perspective and attitude. Cheers!

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Thanks, Tim. Some of the weeds are such lovely plants that it is often hard to discard them. The large forest trees do provide cool shade, making it even more comfortable to be in the garden during the summer's heat.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/22/2015

        I think it was Loree Bohl on her Plant Lust blog who made a post, "Friend or Foe." Sometimes it is hard to tell those weeds from wanted seedlings, and you are right, not all weeds are ugly; perhaps just in the wrong place! Happy Gardening.

        1. junesmart 04/22/2015

          A good explanation! I am being very cautious with weeding this spring, in hopes some of my ornamentals from last summer are offering me voluntary seedlings this year. I am not yet able to recognize their immature seedling looks, but will watch them carefully, in case they are in fact weeds.

  8. CCCDDD 04/22/2015

    I name my weeds after people or things that are annoying me at the time.Makes weeding quite enjoyable as you yank them out.
    Hope to see more of the shrub garden as it matures.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      I will share photos of the shrub garden as it matures.

    2. MichelleGervais 04/22/2015

      Ha!! That's funny! I'm going to try it......

    3. Nurserynotnordstroms 04/22/2015

      That comment was funny made me laugh out loud

  9. GrannyMay 04/22/2015

    June I love your positive attitude and your gardening philosophy. I can just picture your shrub forest with meandering paths through it, surrounded by the mixed evergreen shrub border - it sounds delightful! Anticipation is truly what keeps us investing hard work and money into our gardens and the delight of finding new shoots and buds is all the reward we need.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Thank you, GrannyMay. We just had our second day of sunshine after quite a few consecutive days of rain, so you know I have been outside most the day! You are right about the rewards of gardening.

  10. thevioletfern 04/22/2015

    Oh, you have the Woodland garden I aspire to only with trees! I had to plant mine. You have made me want to weed on my knees - I know there's creeping charlie creeping everywhere out there! You definitely need that patio to sit and enjoy your beautiful garden oasis. Beautiful Allspice.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Kathy, your trees are growing, even as we speak. I planted my own trees for my previous gardens, and it was nice to have the precise trees I had chosen. Yours must be the same. I will look for pictures of your garden on GPOD.

  11. perenniallycrazy 04/22/2015

    I just love a woodland garden and yours is lovely June! Can't say that I go out to the garden with the sole intention of weeding, but hey, "live and let weed!" It can't be a bad thing. I hand water my garden and that is the time I watch out, observe and pull out the weeds. We lay compost all over the yard every spring and this has thankfully kept the weed population down - a tip that our garden designer recommended before we planted up the garden.

    Happy weeding everyone!

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Your annual compost technique is definitely a work-saver, in addition to feeding the soil. Weeding while watering is one of my favorites, but it's still a bit cool for that here. And we have just had much, much rain, so the ground is waterlogged. Waterlogged is okay, because it will be dry soon.

  12. schatzi 04/22/2015

    Beautiful! Woodland gardens have a special charm. I agree with you on weeding - it is meditative and lets you get closer to see things. I just wish there were fewer of them in my garden! Good luck with the late frosts, Guys.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Thank you. Woodland gardens have always been my favorite. Well, it really is hard to choose a favorite - all gardens appeal to me. It is a challenge for me to sit still when in my gardens - it is like asking a child in a toy store or candy store to not touch anything!

  13. GrannyCC 04/22/2015

    Lovely woodland garden June. it looks a delight to walk through. I tend to notice weeds when I am showing people around my garden!! love to see summer views when I imagine it is quite full.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Thanks, Catherine. It really is a delight to walk through our gardens, and there seems to be something new and different each time.

  14. terieLR 04/22/2015

    Hi June, Your woodland looks so peaceful. I can imagine hearing the birdsong on this spring day. Through the years I find that less weeds come to those who tend them ~ especially in shade gardening. I noticed your moss paths, indicating coveted moisture. It truly does seem that you have access to all the right elements. Thank you for the beautiful photos and keep them coming please!
    We are experiencing those low temperatures once again but thankfully foliage is still tucked under cover here in our NY woodland. Hosta noses are just barely peeking upward.

    1. junesmart 04/22/2015

      Thank you, Terie. You've had a cold winter, and it must be hard to wait for spring. Yes, there is plenty of moisture in my gardens. Adjoining the back of my property is a small waterway that is the north end of a protected wetlands area. Mosquitos can be challenging some summers, but tolerating them is a small price for being able to have these woodlands. The moss appeared on its own, is quite hardy, and is very pleasing to me. You're right about tending the weeds reducing the quantity. How will I entertain myself if there are no more weeds someday?

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 04/22/2015

        You will have more time to buy more plants. He he he?

  15. user-7007327 04/22/2015

    Beautiful green haven. Greens always make you feel cooler.

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