I am Catherine Bollinger, an avid life-long gardener, amateur naturalist, and professional writer for over three decades, earning my living as a technical writer and editor in North Carolina during those years. Now I do a bit of freelance writing and editing, and give occasional lectures to groups interested in aspects of piedmont gardening. Along the way, I’ve earned three degrees from Duke University: BA, MEM, and MALS.

I have gardened in the Piedmont region of North Carolina for 50 years. I grow everything I can, and never tire of talking (or writing) about plants, which is why I started this blog. Welcome to my green world.

If you would like to quote from my copyrighted blog entries, reproduce a photograph, or contact me about a writing/editing assignment or speaking engagement, please send an e-mail to: piedmontgardener AT gmail DOT com.

Please Note:  As much as I’d like to answer every gardening question you have, that would be a full-time job all by itself. Although I welcome your comments about entries in this blog, I cannot answer specific individual questions. Thanks for your understanding.

  1. #1 by Kit Flynn on January 30, 2011 - 3:07 pm


    I love this blog! I have asked the Durham Master Gardeners to send me their web addresses for their favorite blogs for the March Newsletter and shall add this one to the list. Kudos my friend!


  2. #3 by Marcia E Herman on January 11, 2012 - 9:31 pm

    Hello Catherine,

    I was happy to find your lovely blog via my tick work. We share a love of gardening and writing. I thought you and your followers might be interested in a small book I will be publishing very soon on herbal teas from local plants, “Sipping My Garden.” It is beautifully illustrated by a friend out west and Emma Skurlink.

    The gardening catalogs are pouring in and I am always looking for new plants to grow that can be used to make tisanes. Thanks so much, Marcia

    • #4 by piedmontgardener on January 12, 2012 - 5:46 am

      Hi, Marcia.

      Good luck with your book project. Happy gardening!

  3. #5 by seahunter on July 25, 2012 - 11:59 am

    Hi Cathy,

    I have spent about an hour wandering through your wonderful blog and reading. My mom always used newspapers around veggies in her garden to quell weeds but hold moisture. Have you tried this? I use newspapers between my raised bed and use mulch from the store around my plants and I make my own compost. I also borrow lots of horse manure from a GF who is happy to share with me, which helps me amend the soil. (she has two horses which keeps a good supply for me!)

    I have a small plot in my backyard for my vegetables and some herbs and have a makeshift chicken wire fence around it to deter deer, which are plentiful where I live. (but have lots of different kinds of flowers in my yard!) I also have blueberries, figs (which I just harvested and am making my own fig jam this year), and blackberries.

    As far as tomatoes go, I always opt for the heirloom pink variety. Most of the time, the local garden supply store has Belgium pink tomatoes but this year they had a German brand that I have tried. I am getting a wide variety from them, which is strange but not unheard of for heirloom tomatoes. I love the pink variety most because they are typically lower acid, fewer seeds, and lots of tasty meat! So far, I have canned 11 quart jars of tomatoes! God willing, I will can another 12 quarts.

    I have always watered my veggies and plants late in the afternoon/evening. Mom always told me that when you water at dawn, there is too much evaporation, so that\’s what I\’ve been doing all these years. Then I read what you said about this method causing possible fungal problems etc. What you said made sense… so I will try this next year. I fear if it tried it now, that it would confuse my plants and cause them more distress. I\’m not sure though and am definitely NOT a morning person. LOL

    Just wanted to drop you a line and say hello! And tell you about some of my love for gardening as well.

    Your sister in life,

    • #6 by piedmontgardener on July 25, 2012 - 12:17 pm

      Hi, Carolyn. I agree that you should probably keep your routines the same for the rest of this gardening season. They seem to be working for you, so why mess with a good thing? :)

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. #7 by Marcia E Herman on July 25, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    Note about canning low acid tomatoes: I have always heard one needs to be careful. Without researching it right now, I wonder if you know what the latest is about this? I believe I remember that adding a little vinegar can make it safe. We generally can “regular” tomatoes and save the heirlooms for fresh eating. They are so delicious. I start all of mine from seed. This year I had Bella Rosa, Chocolate Stripe, Potato Top, Kelloggs, and several others. What a year for tomatoes, with all this rain!

    I enjoy everyone’s writing.

    • #8 by piedmontgardener on July 25, 2012 - 3:45 pm

      Hi, Marcia.

      I disavow all knowledge of canning, having forsaken the practice over 30 years ago. I’ve been freezing my excess tomatoes for decades. I find the flavors remain more true, and I don’t have to turn my kitchen into a sauna.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. #9 by gnatseyeview on February 12, 2013 - 12:16 pm

    I live in the Piedmont as well, and love my little “kitchen window” garden. The Piedmont is a great place for growing all sorts of plants, but veges are my favorite.

    • #10 by piedmontgardener on February 12, 2013 - 4:16 pm

      Welcome, Nat! I agree that the Piedmont provides ideal growing conditions for many plants. While I share your love of veggies, I find that the native plants of our region also provide much enjoyment. Happy gardening!

  6. #11 by Terry Blatchley on March 22, 2013 - 5:26 pm

    Hey Cathy, I enjoyed working with you today. Thanks for sharing your vast knowledge!

    • #12 by piedmontgardener on March 22, 2013 - 5:32 pm

      Hi, Terry!

      I’m always happy to talk shop with a fellow plant lover. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  7. #13 by Jan rogers on January 18, 2015 - 4:03 pm

    Love your blog! I’m new to the area and am learning so much. I am a beekeeper and am wondering if you are too or if you’ve ever entertained the idea of keeping bees.

    Thanks for the blog!

    • #14 by piedmontgardener on January 18, 2015 - 5:08 pm

      Welcome, Jan. I have never found the time to add beekeeping to my already infinite gardening to-do list, but I love having hives nearby. In past years, a friend kept his hives on our property. And now, my next-door-neighbor is keeping hives. My yard/garden is blessed with abundant bees — both honeybees from nearby hives, and a number of species of native bees. Having hives nearby insures nearly 100% fruit set on my fruits and veggies — a win-win for all. Thanks for stopping by!

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