Category Archives: Uncategorized

2 Plants I’ve Been Impressed By – A Native Tree and a Non Native Perennial

Every plant looks great when it’s shown in a catalog, and most plants look pretty great at the garden center when they are receiving tons of care and attention. However, as someone who has gardened for over a decade I’ve learned that lots of great looking plants can fail once installed in the landscape – especially my landscape where I expect them to thrive on neglect! Read on to learn about two plants that have taken a licking and kept on ticking in my yard.

Nyssa sylvatica – Black Gum

Nyssa sylvatica – Black Gum

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Three Successful Plants in my Butterfly Garden

I planted a garden space almost three years ago dedicated to attracting butterflies. My plants provide food, shelter, and a place to reproduce. Read on to learn about three successful plants I used and why.

My Butterfly Garden and Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly Feeding on Lantana
LantanaOne stellar plant for this space is Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’. This plant gets quite large and loaded with a variety of butterflies. Lantana ‘Miss Huff’ is a perennial that offers nectar all summer and fall until the first hard frost. I’ve seen monarchs feeding on it in as late as October as they are migrating south. Continue reading Three Successful Plants in my Butterfly Garden

Museum of Life and Science Herb Garden

Walkway of Museum Garden

I’m always on the hunt for interesting new planting combinations and garden features, especially those that lend themselves to residential scale landscape design. It’s easy to be inspired by magazine photos of estate gardens which have been professionally designed, installed, and maintained, but that type of garden is outside the reach of most people. So, when I find a garden space that I think really works, I like to examine it closely, to see what I can learn and apply in my own designs. Read on to learn about one such space – the new herb garden at the Museum of Life and Science. Continue reading Museum of Life and Science Herb Garden

Perennial Container Combinations for Shade

Container plantings are a nice way to add color and interest to a porch, patio, or landscape. People tend to plant annuals in their containers, which can be expensive and high maintenance over time. I prefer to use perennials for containers that will last for multiple seasons. Read on to learn some examples of perennial container combinations for shade.

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Building a Backyard Teepee

If you’ve been to Duke Gardens recently you’ve probably seen the amazing twig sculptures on the South Lawn. Designed and created by North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty ( the sculptures are both fantastically beautiful and a great space for kids to explore.
Duke Gardens- The Inspiration

The Inspiration – Duke Gardens
As I was watching the sculptures be constructed, I realized that I had an abundance of saplings popping up in my yard (Redbud and Winged Elm), and that they weren’t all that much different from the twigs being used for the Duke Gardens sculptures.

While I knew that I couldn’t make anything as impressive as the sculptures above, I decided to try a simple garden teepee. Using about a dozen 8-10 foot long saplings spaced 6 inches apart I made a circle with a 3 foot opening, which I tied together at the top. I chose a location nestled under a Black Gum and behind an azalea, so the entrance is tucked away and feels hidden. Including planting vines on the teepee the entire project took an afternoon.
The Teepee- My HouseThe Teepee (My House)
I’m hopeful that the teepee will be covered in honeysuckle vine flowers and hummingbirds next summer, and will be a fun place for my kids to play. Have a garden inspiration you want to make a reality? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-619-4460 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!

Plants I Like to Incorporate into a Woodland Setting

One of my favorite types of designs to work on are woodland gardens. Clients with a wooded landscape may have concerns about deer and shade. Fortunately, there are numerous plant options with deer resistance and shade tolerance. Read on to learn about a few plants that I like to incorporate into a woodland setting.

Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Radiance’)

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Adding Statuary to a Garden

Like a lot of design elements, statuary in a garden can be dramatic and interesting or just seem misplaced and odd depending on how it is incorporated into the overall design of the space.  One lesson that I learned in design school is that any statuary elements, including fountains, potted plants, etc. should add to a space that already has a strong planting composition, rather than be the element that makes the composition work.  In other words, these elements can be the icing on the cake, but the cake had better be pretty good on its own.  Read on to learn more about adding statuary to a garden.

My baby giraffe

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