Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Skylar, the Doberman: The Big Shake

All dogs love to shake their body from time to time, especially when they are wet to get the water out of their coat. Skylar, our red Doberman Pinscher, is no exception. My husband recorded one of his shakes after Skylar had played in the water at the beach. There is a lot going on! Please click on the video to see it in slow motion.




Hope you enjoyed watching the video as much as Skylar seems to enjoy his shake!

Wherever you are I hope that the winter is not too hard on you. Here in Southern California we are having a heat wave caused by Santa Ana winds and temperatures are supposed to rise up to 89 degrees Fahrenheit/32 degrees Celsius today! Really unbelievable even for San Diego!

Christina



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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January Roses

May I present to you the first new rose bud of the year 2016? It belongs to rosa 'Bewitched' an older, tried-and-true Hybrid Tea rose, bred by Lammerts (United States 1967). The photo below was taken on January, the 31st in between rain showers. When I say new rose bud, I mean it comes from a rose that is planted into the ground and has been pruned this winter and is not part of a rose that is flowering through the winter season here, but that has not been pruned by January. Still I am cheating a little bit, since this rose was planted into the ground in October and has only been slightly shaped at that time.

I had hoped that the flower of 'Bewitched' would be fully open by the end of last month, but that obviously didn't happen. In any case it started the new rose season in my garden and is a promise of many lovely rosy things to come.



Just on a side note: Boy, did we have a storm on Sunday. I think it was the strongest storm that I have ever experienced, since I am living in California and with winds estimated to be 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph, it was really not fun. From some roses the leaves seem to be ripped of, but other than that there was surprisingly little damage in my garden, for which I am extremely thankful. The storm also brought some rain with it, I guess in my garden an inch or so came down, which is such a blessing.



The photo above shows the bud of rosa 'Bewitched' again one day before the opening photo of this post was taken. 



But besides some exceptions like 'Bewitched', this January most of my roses looked like rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard' above. Deleaved and pruned they are just a shadow of themselves in comparison to spring.



Rosa 'Old Fashioned Girl' is a rose that would keep flowering through the winter, if I let it. It is growing in a very protected location and had a full nice flush in January. Too bad that I didn't take a full bush shot at that time.



'Old Fashioned Girl' again, showing proliferation. Even though considered a fault in a rose bloom I think there is some beauty to a bloom like this, too.



Most of the roses that weren't pruned in January, yet, had pretty unsightly foliage and just looked tired, like the two 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' roses on the photo above. They continued to flower, but were really not a joy for the eye, so it was definitively time for them to get a hair cut.



Rosa 'Iceberg'. Love the red tint on the petals that occurs when temperatures are relatively low. 



Here is an image of the full bush of 'Iceberg', growing happily since years in a big container. 



My other rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard'.



Rosa 'Moonstone' had many lovely, huge, globular flowers in January,...



...but my joy about the flowers is really spoiled by the rust that plagues this rose. Can you see the rust on the back of the leave situated directly above the rose bloom? I am seriously thinking about replacing this rose with a healthier white one, maybe another 'Pope John Paul II' or I can also imagine to try out 'Sugar Moon'.



That is how my Hybrid Perpetual rose bed appeared in January, after the roses were deleaved, but not pruned yet. I have taken them down more by at least a foot or so, after the photo was taken.



Rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' was the second rose carrying a new bud already in January. I love how the water drop is trapped in the tips of the sepals of the rose bud and almost acts like a magnifying glass.



Here is the rose bush to which the bud from the previous photo belongs too. Rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' is one of my new acquisitions that I got delivered in the beginning of January from Chamblee's Rose Nursery. Of course, it is a fairly small plant still, but it is making plenty of new leaves already. I am very excited about this rose, since I ordered a band of this variety many years ago, but it died within weeks. Many consider 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' to be an exquisite rose and I hope to enjoy her first open flower soon. Of course, I will try to fetch a photo for you to see, too!

Today I picked up the organic fertilizer that I ordered over the San Diego Rose Society and I am looking forward to feeding the good stuff to my roses as soon as possible. Honestly I can't wait for the spring flush. In about eight weeks from now on it should start.

Wishing everyone a good rest of the week!

See you in the garden!

Christina


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Saturday, January 30, 2016

End of Month View - Front Yard Side Bed

This year I want to try again to participate in Helen's from The Patient Gardener's Weblog End of Month View meme. Last year I joined by featuring my White Garden Bed and I felt it was extremely helpful to blog about that bed at the end of each month and document the changes. My White Garden Bed has really benefited from being so closely looked at. Unfortunately I fell of the wagon in July and didn't continue to post about the White Garden Bed anymore. Hopefully this will not happen this time around!  



For this year I have set myself a real challenge. I have decided to choose the side bed in our front yard for the End of Month View meme. This is one of my most difficult areas to garden in for the following reasons. The bed is very narrow and therefore difficult to plant. As if this wasn't enough at the left side are growing two mature Queen Palms that suck up a lot of water and nutrients that are meant for the other plants. Because the bed is surrounded mainly by concrete it is getting very hot in the summer.

The bed lies on the right side of our front yard and is part of the first thing that you see of our house and garden. So, of course, you want it to be as pretty and interesting as possible. I hope that if I make a concentrated effort this year, that I can improve its look.

What has happened already is that I took out 'Sweetness', a lavender colored Hybrid Tea rose, that was planted the closest to the Queen Palms, because it couldn't withstand the root competition with the palms anymore. I substituted this rose last month with 'Charles Darwin', a vigorous Shrub Rose bred by David Austin and hope that this rose will be more successful in this location.

On the right side of the bed there was also still some grass growing, which was taken out. The grass was very hard to maintain in the drought that we are having. It was also difficult to mow and edge, since you can't really operate a mower properly in such a small space. Last but not least I always found that it looked out of place, because it was just a tiny patch.



This photo shows a frontal view of the bed with the two Queen Palms. Just last week we had the palms trimmed. Old brown palm fronds where removed and the palms was limbed up. They look a little naked right now, but new fronds will grow in no time and the palms will appear more full, again.



Besides the palms there are only three other plants growing in the bed right now. The before mentioned soft yellow 'Charles Darwin' rose. At this point I am not even sure if this rose is growing or dying. It is a little suspicious that the rose is not leaving out since the transplant in December. But time will tell soon, if it will make it or not.



Then there is alstroemeria 'Little Miss Sophie'. A beautiful dwarf light pink/white flowering alstroemeria.



And in the foreground is the light pink flowering Floribunda rose 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' planted.



In the very front of the bed is a "lovely" utility lid that houses the water meter, which to be honest is a real eyesore. The middle of the lid needs to be kept open since the person who reads our water meter needs to have access to it. But my idea is to plant something that covers the lid from the side, so that it is at least partly hidden and not so in your face anymore.

If you look closely at the photo you can see the mulch and then in the foreground soil that is lighter in color. This is where the grass had been growing that was removed.



So here is my initial plan for what should happen with this bed. First the irrigation has to be checked and if necessary repaired. There is definitively a new sprinkler needed to the right front side of the bed. The remaining grass in the back of the bed will be removed, too. The bed has to be well fertilized to green up the Queen Palms and to provide nutrients for the existing plants to grow despite the competition with the roots of the palms. The alstroemeria will be removed since it goes completely dormant in the heat of summer and just leaves an empty spot in the bed and will be replaced with another rose. I am debating with me if I take out 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' as well, the rose in the very front, because it suffers from powdery mildew each year when the conditions are right and frankly I am sick of that. But on the other hand it is an established rose in this bed and it is a very prolific bloomer. So something to ponder...

Please hop over to see what Helen's garden and other gardens over the world look like at the end of this January. I am sure it will be an interesting read!

See you in the garden!

Christina





Sunday, January 24, 2016

'Gardens Now and Then' Spring Garden Tour 2015: Cozy Casita - I, The Front Yard

One weekend in April last year I woke up and my husband told me that he just read in the newspaper that that day would be the "Gardens Now and Then" garden tour of the Horticultural Society of San Diego, which I am a member of. For some reason I missed that info, but decided on the fly to change my plans for that day and have a look. I couldn't make it there before lunch time and out of the twelve gardens that you could possibly see, I was only able to visit three, but one of them was absolutely amazing. I stayed there for a long time simply admiring the beauty of this garden and couldn't stop taking photos.

In the program for that garden tour, which was organized and sponsored by the Horticultural Society of San Diego and the San Diego Floral Association, the garden was titled as Cozy Casita, which says more about the house, a beautiful 1938 Spanish Mission Style home, than the garden itself, so I had no idea what to expect. But let me tell you to visit this garden was a real treat. It belongs to the President of the San Diego Horticultural Society and his partner and was created over the last 17 years. They certainly poured their love, creativity and hard work into this garden and I am sure on top of that a lot of money, too. I wanted to blog about this garden forever and I am happy that finally the day has come where I can share it with you.



Isn't that a stunning scene that greats you when you are approaching the house? They used a lot of heat and drought tolerant plants in this part of the garden.



I love these blue glazed terracotta containers!



A terracotta bowl planted with succulents can be quite fascinating, if it is done right.



The house itself is beautiful, but there is a lot of garage and very little front yard to garden with, when you analyse the photo closely. But this tiny front yard is so well designed that it really grabs and holds your attention.



Have you ever seen a succulent in this color and form? I actually didn't. I think this is an absolutely fascinating plant. 



Imagine these blue containers wouldn't be there. They are really such eye catchers. 



Here is a look at the second grouping of the containers. The combination of the different shapes, sizes and proportions is so well done. Here was someone at work with a truly artistic eye!



I think this is a container usually used for growing strawberries. Planted up with succulents it becomes a totally cool thing!



A closer look at the small island bed in front of the house. I think it is so well planted and I love the use of the palms together with the succulents. 



I found the color of this succulent quite fascinating!



This gray green palm is so beautiful and another eye catcher in my book.



Totally love this agave. The combination with the blue lobelia really make both plants pop. I wonder though, if the lobelias just have been planted for the garden tour event, since I assume that agaves and lobelias have very different water needs.



Last view of the whole front yard. I think it so incredible well done and maintained. Are you hocked by now? If the answer is yes, then please come back for more. I will try to do the next entry about the courtyard that lies behind the lovely white wall soon. It was equally fascinating. 

See you in the garden!

Christina


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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bits and Pieces from the Garden

For most gardeners in the Northern Hemisphere January is a very slow month. For me it is exactly the opposite. The main chore is to deleave, prune and fertilize all the roses, but as wasn't that already enough for this amateur gardener, it is also a great month for planting new stuff. Planting new plants now gives them the advantage of settling into the ground during cooler temperatures and theoretically of being watered more sufficiently by our winter rains (if we would have any) than at any other time of the year.



Knowing that my gardening time is very limited I usually try to restrict myself and not buy too many new plants in January, but I couldn't resist this daylily even though I tried hard. I accidentally saw it at Home Depot and from far away I thought it was an amaryllis. Getting closer I realized that it was a daylily offered for a very good price, but I left it there.

A few days later I still couldn't get it out of my head and I started to do some research on it. I must have loved it already because I even could remember its name. My search revealed that 'Frosted Vintage Ruffles' is supposed to be a very good vigorous daylily, which reblooms and is fragrant. On the photos that I have found on the internet its color is also not as bright as the sale photo indicates, which is absolutely fine with me, since in general I prefer more muted colors. Daylilies are also supposed to be reasonably drought tolerant, which is another plus. So I thought paying $ 7.98 for three daylilies, usually you pay that for one plant here, what is there to loose and I went back a week later. They still had them so I thought it is meant to be and got it.



I haven't bought any bare root daylilies up to now and I was a little skeptical what I would find, when I opened the bag. But after carefully removing the plastic bag this it how the content looked. Gosh, the poor daylilies were already sprouting leaves! Really time to get them out!



Separating the roots from each other, there were really three very different sized plants in there.



I potted them up and fertilized them with two table spoons of organic rose fertilizer and watered them in with fish emulsion to give them a head start. I put them in a shady place to protect the pale leaves from our harsh sun (yes, even our winter sun can be quite strong) until they are acclimated.

Unfortunately I broke a lot of the new emerging leaves, even though I tried to be careful. But I hope the daylilies will survive that. I am very curious how my bare root daylilies will do. Have you ever grown bare root daylilies? How did they fare for you? Is anyone growing this particular daylily 'Frosted Vintage Ruffles' and is willing to share your experience with it? I would love to hear from you!



One morning a few weeks ago I woke up to this sight. A tumbleweed in our spa?! Yes, we had a storm, but still, how can that thing make it over our six feet fence? That was definitively a first and I felt reminded of a Western movie...



In the spa it looked relatively small, but when I got it out I was surprised how big the tumbleweed actually was. When you see it in relation to the stairs you might get a better idea of the proportion of it.



Looking at it closely you can see how thorny that thing is. I needed gloves to carry it into the trash bin. Quite fascinating how it defends itself against being eaten by any hungry critters. Even more fascinating is how tumbleweeds propagate themselves. The dead bushy part of the plant detaches itself from the roots and gets tumbled around by the wind. The seeds of the plant are still alive and they are distributed far away from the original location of the plant as the wind swirls the tumbleweed around.



A confused iris 'Platinum' is blooming in the winter time. Of course, I am not complaining!



In the center of the photo you see the Hybrid Tea rose 'Chandos Beauty' before pruning. The rose made a lot of blind octopus canes, which means they weren't blooming at the tip of the cane. You can imagine that I wasn't very thrilled by that phenomenon, but as far as I know there is nothing that you can do about it.



It was pruning time anyway, so I first cut back the octopus canes, deleaved the rose bush completely and started to prune. When I was at the point where the photo was taken, I stepped back and looked at the bush from a little further away and decided to prune it a little bit more down.



Here you see the final result. This year I pruned my Hybrid Tea roses harder than last and hope that will result in bigger blooms.



This rose named 'Bewitched', another Hybrid Tea rose, will not be deleaved nor pruned because the leaves are already its new ones. I planted in October last year and shaped it lightly at that point. After being transplanted into the ground from a five gallon container it dropped all its leaves and a few weeks later it started to leave out again. So it has kind of a head start in comparison to my other roses planted into the ground.



When I looked a little closer I was very surprised to see a bud already. I guess, this will be my first new bloom in 2016 from the roses planted into the ground in case the hungry bunnies don't eat it and my careless Doberman Skylar doesn't break it. The leaves of the rose look a little spindly though. I better hurry up and give it some fertilizer...

See you in the garden!

Christina


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

December Roses

Somehow last month the pale pink, pink, off-white or white roses have captivated my attention. I think I will never get tired of these soft muted colors.



The most beautiful rose that was blooming last month, with no doubt, was 'Belinda's Dream'.



I bought this slightly pink Hyacinth forcing glass last autumn and I love to us it as a vase for pink roses. There is something about how the tinted glass picks up the pink hues of the roses.



To me the pale pink very full flowers of 'Belinda's Dream' are irresistible. 



'Mary Rose' with her easy going, unpretentious, happy blooms.



'Mary Rose'



My 'Climbing Iceberg' was also blooming profusely last month.



A rose that didn't bloom much, but managed to churn out a few of her gorgeous blooms, after generously being fertilized a few weeks ago, is 'Georgetown Tea'.



'Georgetown Tea', again. Here is the flower a little bit more open.



I love how the out petals fold backwards in the mature rose flowers of 'Georgetown Tea'. So graceful!



'Moonstone' bud.



Only can admire the elegance of the buds of this rose!



A rare sight in my garden: A bloom of 'Captain Christy'. Unfortunately the rose is still a very weak grower and mildews. But the old fashioned charm of the blooms is quite enchanting. 



'Our Lady of Guadalupe' in the winter morning sun.



Same rose photographed under different light conditions. 



'Our Lady of Guadalupe', once again in the morning sun. This rose is one of my most profuse bloomers and has one the quickest repeat. But it mildews since I have it (probably five years or longer) under certain conditions regularly. I know I can have completely or almost completely disease resistant roses in my garden and even though it is a pretty rose I am considering to take it out and try another variety instead.   



But when 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' is good, it is really good. 



'Marie Pavie' a rose that never fails to mesmerize me with her delicate charm. 



'Pierre de Ronsard' looking down on me against the clear blue California winter sky.



'Pretty Jessica' is not a generous bloomer in my garden, but I love her color, form of the blooms and her delicious fragrance. On top of that this rose is completely healthy year round. 

Hope you enjoyed to see some roses, that were blooming last December in my garden. I know that most of my readers are facing a very different garden reality at this time of the year. Wishing you that winter is not too hard on you or your plants.

See you in the garden!

Christina


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