By Karen Busby
Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
SALISBURY — Nearly two years ago, the Master Gardener Volunteer Association at the Rowan County Cooperative Extension decided to embark on an extensive new project — the Pocket Gardens.
Extension Master Gardener volunteers Shelia Armstrong and Sherry Walker spearheaded the project and visited many other extension offices across the state to glean information and develop the concept of demonstrating to the public how to grow a variety of plant material in small “pocket” gardens.
Many gardens are planned for the future, including an herb garden, tropical treasures, tree fruit orchard, plant garden, and a four season garden. At present, the Sensory Garden, Sloop Garden, Container Garden, Vegetable Garden and a Lantana study are all under way.
The Sensory Garden was installed beginning in May 2011 with plants that appeal to our sense of smell, touch, vision and hearing. Starring in this garden is a double knock-out tree form rose surrounded by purple heliotropium. Amsonia “blue star” bloomed earlier in the spring but its featherlike leaves wave gaily in the breeze now and in the fall will tum golden yellow.
Lavender “Hidcote” is blooming and smells divine. The bronze fennel has grown enormously and is ready to receive the swallowtail butterfly’s caterpillars that ate it to the ground last summer. A yellow twig dogwood comus stolonifera, “Fiaviramea” is planted in a green container in the garden and is blooming, but the really interesting parts of this plant are the brilliant yellow branches that stand out during the winter season.
The fire red blooms of the Crocosmia are just beginning to form. White and pink specimens of “Gaura” are waving their flowers whose nickname is whirling butterflies. A new variety of Black-eyed Susan called “cherry brandy” is sporting deep red blooms. Fragrant basil, gardenia, lemon verbena and pineapple sage are inviting you to linger near them, take a deep breath and relax.
Several varieties of salvia dot the garden with their delicate red and white flowers. When you visit the Sensory Garden, don’t miss the Eucomis, a pineapple lily called sparkling burgundy that has flower spikes that look exactly like a pineapple. A Tifblue blueberry is showing off, as well, with many fruits ready to pick. Godley’s Garden Center provided many of the specimens in this garden.
Currently, a vegetable garden is a work in progress. With help from the Woodson Foundation and Johnson Concrete, an attractive array of wooden and stone product planters are featured here. They are planted with a huge variety of vegetables and will be replanted during each season with new plantings. Brussels sprouts, celery, tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet potatoes and peppers are just a few of the veggies growing currently.
A lantana study with 34 named varieties has been installed by the new Master Gardener class of 2012. Many of these compact varieties could take the place of smaller annuals in your garden. The study will demonstrate which ones will act as perennials and reward you with a return performance year to year. Visit the emerging Pocket Gardens at 2727 Old Concord Road and take a notepad to jot down some plants you want to try in your landscape.
Karen Busby is an Extension Master Gardener volunteer with Cooperative Extension in Rowan County.