Pam Beck

When is an Azalea a Rhododendron?

Rhododendron austrinum 2 JaKMPMThe tube-shaped, golden-orange flowers of the Florida azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) show the warmer side of the color wheel. (photo by Jessie Keith)
When is an azalea a rhododendron? Always! The American Rhododendron Society website  explains: “Rhododendrons and azaleas belong to the genus Rhododendron in the heath family (Ericaceae). Other members of this ornamental-rich family include heaths [Erica spp.] and heathers [Calluna spp.], blueberries [Vaccinium spp.], mountain laurels [Kalmia spp.] and many other […]

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The African Violet, America’s #1 Houseplant

A myriad of colorful African violets await adoption at your local garden center.A myriad of colorful African violets await adoption at your local garden center.
African Violets (Saintpaulia hybrids) are America’s favorite houseplants according to the African Violet Society of America (AVSA). The beloved African violet’s immense popularity is most likely due to its irresistibly fuzzy rounded leaves, wide spectrum of cheerful reblooming flowers and ability to thrive in typical household environments. These members of Gesneriaceae, a large […]

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Growing Fall Greens

Rows of the pretty kale Brassica oleracea 'Lacinato' are lined up for fall.Rows of the pretty kale Brassica oleracea ‘Lacinato’ are lined up for fall growing.
“Eat your Greens!” is a familiar directive to consume some form of the Mustard Family, formally referred to as Brassicaceae or Cruciferae. And, what a large family of leafy vegetables it is! Its members, called brassicas or cole crops, include many adored (or abhorred) leafy edibles such […]

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Craig LeHoullier’s (aka NC Tomato Man’s) Top Six Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are always popular at the North Carolina State Farmer's Market in Raleigh.Heirloom tomatoes are always popular at the North Carolina State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh.
I hated tomatoes as a child. You couldn’t get me to eat one, even with sugar sprinkled on it. The only tomato-based products that passed my lips were ketchup on a hamburger or watery spaghetti sauce. Then I married a wise man who insisted that our […]

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Great Summer Bulbs for the Garden

DSC_0143 (2)Colorful late summer drama provided by bananas, cannas and elephant ears in a private Indiana garden.
Late spring is the perfect tome to add summer bulbs to landscape and container plantings. Why do we wait so late to plant the bulbs, tubers, and corms of various elephant ears, all sorts of lilies, gladiolus, oxalis, dahlias, and everything else deliciously summery from bananas to cannas? It is because  in most parts of the United States […]

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How to Grow Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the most heat-loving of all garden vegetables! (Photo by Llez)
Since North Carolina leads the nation in sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) production, and I have lived in the Old North State for 33 years, you would think that I would know a thing or two about growing edible sweet potatoes – this essential staple of Southern cuisine.
Honestly, the only edible sweet potatoes […]

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Fragrant Winter Flowering Shrubs

Because of our unseasonably mild January in the Southeast, the bees and I are swooning over an astonishing number of fragrant winter flowering shrubs in the garden.
But, why would Mother Nature spend so much effort creating intense fragrance for mid-winter flowers?

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Add Viburnums to Any Landscape

V. Opulus - Photo by Pam BeckThough the fruit is called a “drupe”, it doesn’t droop at all. These red V. opulus berries really shine in the landscape.
What exactly is a Viburnum? Viburnums are trees or shrubs, evergreen or deciduous, that may be diminutive three-foot globes or grow 60 feet tall. Their leaf texture varies from smoothly shiny to velvety, and, their leaf edges may be serrated, […]

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Japanese Maples for Southeastern Gardens

You’ve seen them exquisitely depicted in the finest gardening books, admired them in arboretum collections, and envied them in private landscapes. However, because of their delicate appearance and high price you may just wistfully sigh and pass by the Japanese maples dotting your local garden centers.
Stop. Go back and take a long look at the luxuriant Acer palmatum. Misunderstood, and much maligned, Japanese maples for southeastern gardens prove themselves to be hardier in the southern Atlantic states than you may […]

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Aug 8-9: 2012 Summer Green Road Show in North Carolina

CLICK HERE to read Pam Beck’s full summary of this event.
Sun Gro Horticulture’s District Manager of Southeastern Retail Products Scott Pace and Black Gold Community Expert Garden Writer Pam Beck were featured speakers for at the 2012 Summer Green Road Show in Hickory, North Carolina at the Hickory Metro Convention Center.

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