Gardening in Raleigh: Any Tips?

lois(PA Zone 6)January 20, 2013

I might have to move from PA to Raleigh and the thought makes me a bit nervous. Fire ants, scorpions, snakes, Kudzo, heat... How do you cope with all that? Does your pest control person become a regular visitor? How do you prevent fire ants from taking over your house? How do you garden, knowing that every time you start to dig a hole, you could be stirring up a fire ant nest?

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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

Don't panic. Here in TX, I have never had fire ants in the house.
There are several proucts on the market that take care of fire ants. The queen may move to another place. So you keep putting "stuff" down and at least move them to someone else's yard.
You will learn to work in the heat. Early morning and late afternoon.
Unless it is a poisonous snake, just take a shovel or something and chase him out of your yard.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:43AM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Thanks plantmaven. You're right, I probably am panicking a little at all the unknowns. There are many benefits to living there too, but right now I only see the financial benefits and not many gardening ones. :o)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 5:38PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

HI Lois, my mom is in eastern NC and they deal with fire ants every once in a while. You'll learn to recognize their nests and then there are ways to treat it.

Raleigh is a great city. They have an amazing Natural History museum, art museum and the JC Raulston Arboretum. Plus not far from there are some great nurseries. My mom and I try to hit Raleigh every once in a while (we were just there and in the area late last season) to pick up a carload of plants.

If you do wind up moving there, you'll enjoy the farmers market with the fruits/veggies and lots of nurseries and the Sara P. Duke Gardens not far from there, and then you're also not too far from Charleston, SC where there are great garden tours and some very interesting plantations. As much as I love the PA area (went to college in PA and visit gardens in eastern PA), Raleigh is a favorite of mine too. I think you'll find many positive things in Raleigh that will help you get through the anxst of a possible move. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:08PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Two words: PLANT DELIGHTS! Oh, your eyes will pop at the prices but the plants are fantastic, the gardens are even better, and you will learn so much in just one visit.
My husband reports that they are a little short on good eateries though :)
You aren't far from fantastic Chapel Hill, the home of Camellia Forest, and Niche gardens.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 1:29PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Thank you so much for your replies. I think I am finally adjusting to the idea a little.

I guess another adjustment will be the landscape. I have lived on the edge of the Amish country in PA for 20 years, and the views of the rolling countryside and farm lands just take my breath away.

Where should I look if I want to live in a more rural area near Raleigh? How long would my commute to Raleigh be if I wanted to live in the countryside?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 9:55AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

You could probably live rural near Raleigh and have a 10 minute commute to downtown. It's not a large city by any means, and it is beautiful. I think you will really enjoy it, although I am familiar with where you live now, and it is truly beautiful.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 11:06PM
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I live in Cary (15-20 minute drive from the heart of downtown Raleigh). Our biggest gardening problem are the voles and moles. We did have a snake come sunbath in our backyard from a nearby creek two summers ago, which creeped me out a little bit, but it definitely seemed more scared of us. The heat is definitely a problem in the summer, but like someone else mentioned, you garden in the morning or later in the day. I have never seen a scorpion in North Carolina. That doesn't mean they arent here, somewhere, but pretty uncommon at least where ive lived in NC. We have a really long growing season, and there are lots of great gardens nearby as others have mentioned. Good luck with whatever you do!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 8:39PM
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I thought I should also mention that when my husband and I moved into our house five years ago there were only five holly bushes out front shaped like lollipops. Since then we have added approximately 17 garden beds all around our property and have never uncovered or disturbed any fire ant hills. We have found regular black ants from time to time, but nothing more worrisome than that. I am telling you all this because the problems you are so worried about shouldn't really be concerns as far as gardening goes. At least they haven't been problems for us, as of yet.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 8:50PM
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Hi, Lois. I live in Chapel Hill but hail from Iowa. I am familiar with long views of rolling countryside. North Carolina is very pretty in its own and much more diverse way and Raleigh, within the beltline, is very beautiful filled with old and varied houses and lush, green gardens.

There are ant and snakes, and, yes, moles and voles but it depends on where you live. They aren't epidemic by any means. Your real nemesis is bound to be The Mosquito. As for the heat, it only really gets horrid about 4-6 weeks of the year. That too depends on your tolerance.

You will find that you can grow all kinds of lovely things that you may not be accustomed to: magnolias, crepe myrtle, giant hibiscus, daphne, camellia, etc. But you will have to be very careful about which bulbs you select and which peonies you grow -- and how you plant them.

Lilacs will make you homesick.

You will struggle to grow oriental poppies, delphinium, and larkspur but some years you will be successful! And now you can grow wisteria.

In this area, our soil is generally heavy clay and I think typically alkaline. North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension has all kinds of resources (including information about the imported fire ant) that you might find useful:

Best wishes.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:34PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Thank you everyone for all the great information. It's good to know that poppies and larkspur will be a challenge. What about hollyhocks?

Are there any areas that are safer than others? I currently live in a very small town and I can walk a 3 mile curcuit and arrive home after dark without feeling nervous. What areas around Raliegh are the safest?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Hi lois!
I wish you best of luck with your move! I was from Pittsburgh and in August we moved to Nashville . But believe it or not , Raleigh was one of my husbands choices along with Nashville and we chose based on his job. But anyway, I hear Raleigh is gorgeous and not far from the ocean!
I also panicked about the different bugs, and they took some getting used to . I still inspect the garage before I step in for centipedes ! Those things give me the heebie jeebies ! also, I had to learn what brown recluses are. Yuck !
I know you will have days when you miss Pa, but it's such a new adventure and there's so much to explore! I miss Pa a smidgen but I love love love our home here and the weather is incredible . While my family back home has been dealing with snow, we've had days in the 50 and 60s and only a dusting of snow one time. Daffodils are blooming and the spring birds are singing. Just lovely. I think the thing I miss about Pa is my old garden but I know l
will have a beautiful one here.
Anyhow, lots of luck to you!! I hope you keep us posted on your move.
One pleasant surprise here, is when I lived in Pa , I always wished to see eastern blue birds , but never did. Here in Tn, our next door neighbors have blue bird nesting boxes so I get to see them just about every day! Sometimes God gives you those little things in your heart when you take chances like these. :)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:01PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

bluebirds are one reason why I want to find someplace rural. We have lots of bluebirds here in the Amish country in Pa because of the open farmland. Lilyfinch I am sure you will have a beautiful garden in Tn. The garden here in pa is one thing I wont miss because each new garden I plant is just a different expression of the garden I always have in my heart. I am already thinking of what I will plant; roses and hydrangea, camilla, a peach tree and apple tree, raspberries, etc. Guess thats what makes me a gardener, I'm already thinking of what I'll plant when I haven't found the house or even the county yet where I'll be.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 11:29PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Lilyfinch, thanks for your comment about God giving you whats in your heart when you take chances.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 11:34PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Youre welcome Lois! I can't even begin to tell you all the little "winks" from God we have had.
I also don't know where we will be settling but I am dying to cover a pergala with wisteria! And lady banks rose is gonna go somewhere in this dream garden of mine. I wonder if a structure could handle the both of them together ... Probably not!
When will you be relocating?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 12:13AM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Well, we travelled down to the Raleigh area to check it out, and all I could think of was it reminded me of South Jersey, LOL. Sprawling suburbs with one one really doing any active farming anymore (at least where the realtor took us). Creedmore seemed a little more countrified, so we will see what we can find there. It appears to be a harsher climate than what I am used to. Harsher in terms of hotter and dryer. But I am sure I will adapt! Thanks everyone for all the information and support!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:01PM
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