Tuesday, March 31, 2015

End of Month View - The White Garden Bed

And finally the spring blooms of the plants, mainly the roses, have brought some much needed white color into the White Garden Bed! There is quite a bit of change to observe between the March and the February photos and I am so happy about that.


March 2015

 February 2015

Besides the fact that some plants have started flowering recently, I made some small changes to the bed as well. I placed my white statue that was formerly beautifying the Hybrid Perpetual Rose Bed into the White Garden Bed and like it there quite a bit. I also planted four new plants, two heucheras 'Venus' and two dichondra sericea commonly called 'Silver Ponyfoot', in the center of the bed, which albeit tiny also make big difference to me.



Here is a close-up of the white statue. It was made by an artist friend of us and was a house warming gift when we bought our first house here in California. Needless to say that it is very dear to me!



This photo offers you a closer look at the heuchera 'Venus'. I am completely in love with this small plant because of its silvery-white foliage and the beautiful veining on the leaves. It is supposed to produce creamy-white flowers in the spring, which would also go well with my white color scheme. The plant label said, that the heuchera would like partial sun or partial shade best, so it is planted in ideal light conditions, but I wonder if our climate is not too hot and dry for a heuchera to be happy. Time will tell! For now the plant responded to the transplant from the container into the ground well and I enjoy it as long as I can.



Both dichondra sericea 'Silver Ponyfoot' are struggling after transplanting them into the ground and that is mainly my fault. These plants were sitting in pots for over a year and when I removed the black plastic container the roots were completely pot bound. To loosen them up I serrated the root balls in various areas with a knife, but I might have over done it a bit.



The other one, looks much worse, leaves are even dying in the center of the plant. My gardener said that this plant is growing like a weed in his home town in Mexico, so I hope that indicates that it is a tough plant that will come around and survive.



Here is the trio of the newbies to the White Garden Bed: The white statue and the heuchera and the dichondra sericea. I love how the silver color of the dichondra is picked up by the heuchera and vice versa.


March 2015


February 2015 

The photo of the center of the White Garden Bed shows, besides the flowering roses, two more things that are standing out by the end of this month. One is the flowering alstroemeria Princess Lilies 'Claire' in front at the foot of the left cycad (Sago palm). And the second is that the left cycad is producing a new layer of fronds. 



Last month I was still wondering what exactly the color of the alstroemeria would be and I am very pleased about this creamy white nuance that the flowers have been taking on. The plant blooms obviously profusely and could take the heat wave that we were having recently in a blink of an eye. I am starting to get the feeling that this one is a real gem. 
  


Zooming in even closer, the beauty of the flowers is even more evident. The little dark "freckles" on the blooms are so charming!



This image shows the center of the cycad, and you can clearly spot the layer of the new fronds in the middle of the plant. I can't tell you how glad I am about that the cycad is able to produce a new top layer of fronds, because I think the plant hasn't done it for about two years and the older layers of fronds have become quite ratty looking and are badly burned by our hot sun. This is not so obvious on the photos, but trust me, it is truly the case. Can't wait to cut the lowest layer of fronds off!


March 2015


 February 2015

The last wide angle shot of the White Garden Bed taken from the left side looking over to the right. The roses from the left to the right are: 'Pope John Paul II', 'Chandos Beauty', 'Moonstone' and 'Auckland Metro', all Hybrid Tea roses. The one that truly stands out is 'Chandos Beauty'. This rose has been doing fabulous this spring and just looking at it makes my heart leap. 

That being said, 'Moonstone', the rose in the middle of the cycads, really sucked this month. It got infected with rose rust so badly that I decided to partly de-leaf the rose. The new shoots were then severely plagued by powdery mildew and have been partly removed as well, including the flower buds. Therefore there are only a few blooms on it. That 'Moonstone' can get rust and powdery mildew in my garden is nothing new, but getting it in spring this badly is. I am seriously considering to remove it, since it is taking up such a prominent position in my backyard and I am sure, that I am able find a more healthy rose for my organic non-spray garden.   



Here is a close-up of 'Chandos Beauty'. This rose has been almost completely healthy this spring, despite the fact that it is living in the same conditions like 'Moonstone'. 


from the left to the right: Pope John Paul II, 'Chandos Beauty', alstroemeria Princess Lilies 'Claire'

Writing this post has made me realize, that besides one little glitch, I am just saying 'Moonstone', how satisfied I am with the White Garden Bed in the moment and I will enjoy it as long as it lasts. Of course, I still do have some plans to improve it, though. Please stay tuned! 

This is my contribution to Helen Johnstone's End of Month View meme at The Patient's Gardener's Weblog. Thanks for hosting it, Helen! Please click on the link and find out what other gardeners have to show at the end of March.  

See you in the garden!

Christina



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February Roses

February seems to be already such a long time ago, but I still want to post a recap of what happened in my garden in terms of the roses, as I do for each month. As usual for that time of the year rose blooms were sparse, but I still got some nice flowers from the roses living in containers and one rose planted into the ground, my 'Climbing Iceberg', decided February was the new spring and produced a whole, albeit mediocre rose flush.

This year I was particularly late pruning and fertilizing my roses. Normally I start these tasks in the beginning of December and I am done with them by the end of January. And even though this year I also started pruning in December, I only finished it by the end of February (our new dog takes up a lot of garden time, you know...). To be honest with you, I didn't even get to all of the roses in containers, some are still untouched, which is a shame.

In prior years I pruned a rose and immediately fertilized it with organic fertilizer, but this year I gave some roses a longer time to rest before I put fertilizer down. The idea behind it was to allow the roses to rejuvenate instead of encouraging them immediately to leave out and produce new buds again, after a very tough year 2014 with all the heat and drought that the roses were going through.

I think that was a very serious mistake, since to me it looks like the organic fertilizer was not broken down by microorganisms and available to the roses when they started to leave out at their own leisure. I have the impression that in my poor soil this way the roses were starving, when they needed food to be able to produce new leaves and set buds properly. Lesson learned: Next year I am going back to my old way, again!

Let's have a look at some photos that I took last month.



As it is common each month, there was one rose that stood out with its beauty in February in my garden, was kind of the star of the crowd, and that was 'Captain Christy'.



This is a relatively rare early Hybrid Tea rose, bred by Francois Lacharme (France, 1873).



The parents of this rose are 'Victor Verdier', a Hybrid Perpetual, also bred by Lacharme in 1859 and 'Safrano', a lovely Tea rose, bred by Beauregard in 1839. Considering his parents 'Captain Christy' is a first generation Hybrid Tea rose. It is kind of exciting to me to own a rose of that era in rose breeding history.



'Captain Christy' looks very different in comparison to the modern Hybrid Tea rose from nowadays and for me certainly radiates a very special charm.



The light pink delicate large flowers with the darker pink center are of exquisite beauty. I am so happy that this rose is blooming for me again, since I almost lost it last year due to the very hot summer.



Many roses planted in the ground where already setting buds in February, which is kind of early in my garden, like for example this very healthy 'Chandos Beauty' Hybrid Tea rose.



As I mentioned in my intro to this post, 'Climbing Iceberg' was the first rose in my garden that started to produce a spring flush. The rose didn't leave out fully and the flush wasn't a profuse one, though. On top of that unfortunately the 'Climbing Iceberg' was already plagued by powdery mildew. So altogether not the most prettiest sight and I prefer to just show you one bloom and leave it at that!



Another rose growing in a container that delighted me with its blooms was 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh', an English Rose bred by David Austin, United Kingdom 1988.



I just love the cupped, old-fashioned bloom form and how the color fades to a lilac pink as the blooms gets older. This is the only rose that I know off, that does that to this extend.



'Rhodolugue Jules Gravereaux' in my eyes is an incredible beautiful Tea rose,...



...that was giving me some early blooms in February as well.



I love this rose also in the faded stage, shortly before the petals drop. 



The picture above was taken during the time when I was fertilizing my roses. The rose to the right of the pygmy date palm is 'Pierre de Ronsard' and to the very left, partly hidden by the dolly with the fertilizer bag, is 'Belinda's Dream'. The gray, yellow stuff at the feet of the roses is the fertilizer, a combination of biostart and alfalfa meal. You can see that 'Pierre de Ronsard' is leaving out sparsely, which unfortunately seems to be an ongoing theme with almost all my roses this spring.



The flower bed above, for some unknown reasons, I think I have never shown on my blog so far. It was originally inhabited by a pygmy date palm, which grew so big, that it is was obstructing the view from our family living room into the garden. The palm was removed and the stump was grinded and then I planted the shell pink 'Heritage' there, another David Austin rose. In the background I have placed some calla lilies, zantedeschia aethiopica, which have grown in nicely, but haven't bloomed much this winter. As evident on the photo, 'Heritage' also has some trouble to leave out properly.



This image shows my Hybrid Perpetual Bed, containing from the left to the right 'Yolande d'Aragon', 'Reine des Violettes' and 'Grandmother's Hat'. Obviously the first two roses have problems to leave out fully as well, only 'Grandmother's Hat looks pretty decent, almost completely clothed in new leaves.



Here I am presenting a close-up of 'Grandmother's Hat's foliage. The leaves are so healthy, for me it is a joy just to look at the foliage itself. Many roses had problems with powdery mildew and rose rust already last month, but 'Grandmother's Hat' could successful fight of the ugly fungi with bravery.



Zooming in even closer, here are the first of the many buds of 'Grandmother's Hat', showing a nice color at the time I took the photo, even though it was only February. I can already give away that 'Grandmother's Hat was the second rose to produce a spring flush in my garden. I didn't get disappointed with her like with the above mentioned 'Climbing Iceberg' rose, but this is something for another post.



A rose that also showed great promise last month was 'Auckland Metro'. Here is a cane with a bud. You can see for yourself how healthy and robust the new leaves are.



Lastly a bud of 'Neptune', a lavender Hybrid Tea rose, even though it doesn't look much lavender in the bud stage.



Here is the same bloom of 'Neptune', just a little bit further in the opening process. It continued to develop into a huge beautiful lavender colored bloom in the beginning of March, which I intend to show you when I blog next time about my March roses.

I am wishing everyone a happy spring!

See you in the garden!

Christina



Sunday, March 15, 2015

White Cymbidium Orchids

My white cymbidium orchids have bloomed recently and even though they are already only a faded memory by now, I wanted to blog about them because they have been so pretty.



Here I have cut only two flower stalks for the house, but what an impact they have. White perfection!



I really can't get over, how beautiful and blemish free the blooms are.



Two years ago I bought this white flowering unlabeled cymbidium orchid for a very reasonable price at Traeder Joe's.



The blooms were almost spent when I got it, but I couldn't resist the white beautiful flowers.



 Last year it was just sitting in my garden doing nothing, but this year, with no care except one dose of fish fertilizer prior to the winter time, it decided to produce four lovely flower stalks.



The individual blooms are marvelous. 



The cymbidium (two stalks were cut for the vase already) was still growing in its original ugly plastic container...



...and it was more than time to pot it up into a much nicer terracotta container. I think it also needed a little bit more space to grow, even though I remember vaguely that I have heard that orchids bloom better when they are pot bound.



Usually cymbidium orchids last a long time on the plant and in the vase, but this variety is an exception. Its blooms were spend much faster than my other two varieties. Still, it is well worth growing, don't you think?



After enjoying the vase from the opening photo of this post for a few days in front of the fire place in our family living room, I was ready for a change and placed it into a niche located in our formal living room.

I really like the still life effect with the orchid blooms in front of the vintage mirror, that I bought in Albuquerque, New Mexico a few years ago. The large candle stick was a lovely birthday gift from a dear friend and the handmade clay vase, that looks like a cow horn, lying to the feet of the orchids, was a souvenir that we brought back from our last trip to England. So many lovely memories...

If you got into the orchid mood and want to read a previous post that I had written about a different variety of cymbidium orchids earlier on the blog please click here.

See you in the garden!

Christina



Saturday, February 28, 2015

End of Month View - The White Garden Bed

On the first glance at the photos there has been embarrassingly little change happened in the White Garden Bed between this End of the Month View post and the one from January.

February 2015


January 2015

This is mainly due to three reasons. Firstly, when I shot the photos for this post, it was a mostly cloudy, overcast day and I took them later in the day time than the ones for the January post, with the unfortunate result that everything looks kind of "brown" in the February photos and the plants are "disappearing" into the mulch.

Secondly, and that is the bit frustrating part, I, with the support of my husband and the gardener, have worked hard on this bed, but that work doesn't show on the photos. All plants are fertilized, a decent layer of new mulch has been put down and a big new hole has been dug to the very right of the bed (not visible on the photo above, it is obstructed by the pool spa). Of course, I would have loved to have filled the bed with perennials and annual spring flowers already, and believe me, knowing that the next End of Month View post was due soon, the temptation was great. But I know, that in my garden I always have to be patient and reasonable and work on improving the soil first, otherwise nothing is going to grow well here in the long run.

Thirdly altogether there was very little time to work on this bed, because I was still pruning and fertilizing the roses in the whole yard and without that being done as soon as possible there will be no rose spring flush in the garden. So this had definitively priority over working on the White Garden Bed.

Are you tired of my explanations and excuses why there is not much change to see on these photos by now? Yes? Then let's actually focus on what has changed.


February 2015

January 2015

Well, the roses have leaved out and have grown quite a bit in comparison to February. If you look at the February photo to the very right you can spot the massive hole that has been dug to accommodate one more rose. I placed a rose in its black plastic container into the hole to see how it would look in this bed and I think this is a good location for it. 

The rose to the very left, 'Pope John Paul II', wasn't even pruned on the January photo, as a matter of fact, it was one of the last roses planted into the ground that I pruned this year. But to my own surprise it has already produced a new basal cane which is carrying a spray of buds and a pristine new white flower is blooming in the middle of this spray already again. 



Here is a shot of the new spray of 'Pope John Paul II'. I love that the buds have a green tint, before they are opening to a very clear white color. 



The photo above shows a closer look at the big hole to the very right of the White Garden Bed that has been dug for the new rose. I always prefer at least 3' deep x 3' wide holes when I plant a new rose, because as you can even see on the picture, my native soil is very poor and contains many rocks of all sizes. The excavated soil gets completely replaced by a planting mix from E.B. Stone, called Rose Grow, which is especially formulated for planting roses. This stuff isn't cheap, but I have very good experience with this soil mix. The roses are really thriving in it in my garden, so it is worth the expense to me. 


February 2015

 January 2015

In these two photos you can more clearly see the difference in the roses. One plant that also has continued to fill out is the alstroemeria Princess Lilies 'Claire', in the foreground in front of the cycad to the left.



Here is close-up of alstroemeria Princess Lilies 'Claire'. Isn't it looking juicy and healthy? You almost want to take a bite...



And if you look even closer at this plant, you can see the very first blooms emerging. I can't remember the exact color anymore, only recall, it was a very light one, therefore I can't wait to see the buds opening and hope that they fit into my white color scheme.



Hardy geranium 'Biokovo' to the right side of the cycad on the right in the bed is still blooming prolifically. It is good to know that this plant has a flowering period of at least four weeks.



Just another view of the White Garden Bed.



Even though I haven't been planting anything new into the White Garden Bed within the last month, I have been thinking a lot about what I could possibly plant there. Since it is a very narrow bed it is not realistic to expect to have an impressive display of white flowers there at all the times unless I exchange annuals on a very regular base. So I thought I would go with Vita Sackville-West's approach in her White Garden, and use silver and gray leaved plants in this bed, which come the closest to white flowers, but are there year round.

I have these two dichondra sericea, 'Silver Ponyfoot' sitting around in my pot ghetto for quite a while now and thought I will plant them into my White Garden Bed and see how this looks. When the sunlight hits their leaves they have an almost metallic shine to them, which I find quite fascinating. Another good thing about these plants is that they are supposed to be drought tolerant.

Hopefully next month I have some more progress to show and I would be happy if you would come back to check in with the development of my White Garden Bed.

I am joining Helen Johnstone's End of Month View meme at The Patient Gardener's Weblog. Please click on the link to see views of other gardens at the end of February.

Wishing all of you a nice rest of the weekend!

See you in the garden!

Christina