Monday, September 1, 2014

Gardening in the Heat of Summer

I will say it right away, summer is not my favorite time of the year in San Diego. It is way too hot to garden comfortably outside except very early in the mornings and late in the evenings. On the other hand there is so much to do in the garden. At this time of the year I am mainly busy with hand-watering, weeding, deadheading roses, fertilizing and mulching. Unfortunately I hardly find the time to plant anything new.

Most people assume San Diego has a very mild and temperate climate and that is true when you live directly on the coast, but many people, like us, can't afford to buy a house there and are forced to move more inland. With every mile away from the coast temperatures seem to rise and in the summer time you are reminded every day that you are living in a desert. But enough complained, I am happy that I do have a garden and just try to make the best out of it at any given time of the year.

This lovely clay statue was made by a friend and given to us as a house warming present after we bought our first house in Menlo Park, California. I couldn't find a good place to put it for a long time until in the beginning of summer I decided to give it a try in my Hybrid Perpetual rose bed. The roses are casting quite a bit of shade there on the ground, so that the lilac scabiosas, that I had originally planted in this location, didn't grow and gradually declined. I surrounded the statue with impatiens 'Super Elfin White', which seem to be surprisingly happy there and I like how they and the white statue lighten up this area. 

This is hardy geranium, commonly called cranesbill, 'Rozanne'. The plant is non-stop in bloom from spring until up to now and will probably go on until late autumn. It is such a grateful variety.

When I saw this Martha Washington geranium, pelargonium domesticum, 'Regal Elegance Purple Majesty' in spring, I had completely fallen in love with its color and had to have it. At $ 16.99 for a three gallon container it came with a quite steep price tag, but I gave in, because I knew it would complement the David Austin rose 'The Prince', which is growing nearby, perfectly. I thought that Martha Washington geraniums would only flower in spring, but this one keeps going although less profusely and the flowers are smaller than in spring.

This white flowering cyclamen (unknown variety) is gracing our front door. Nothing special about it on the first glance, except that it starts to bloom in the heat of summer. Can you see the little flower bud peeping up? My understanding is the cyclamen are only flowering when the weather has really cooled down in autumn in my area.

I think that the foliage of this cyclamen looks so pretty.

Fungi growing in the mulch. In the summer they can appear from one day to the other. I have read that fungi only grow in healthy soil, so I embrace them as a good sign.

I am gardening in a dry, arid and hot climate, where one would think slugs and snails wouldn't be such a big deal, but let me tell you that is wrong. Even in the heat of summer these little critters are quite a problem in some parts of my garden.

I am so in love with this chartreuse colored coleus 'Wasabi'. I think, the color is just fantastic! It is another of my spring acquisitions that I haven't shown on my blog, yet. I wouldn't expect a coleus to grow well in my climate, but this one does. Besides its obvious beauty, this plant is special to me for an entirely different reason. When my eighty two year old mom, visited me in spring I dragged her to a nursery and she found this plant and pointed it out to me. So whenever I look at the coleus it reminds me of her and our nursery visit, which is really nice. Thanks mom!

Something is wrong in this picture. Do you see the big variegated leaves at the base of rosa 'Chandos Beauty'?

Close-up of the leaves from the photo above. I am not a vegetable gardener, but to me it looks like a vegetable.

Even though the foliage is fairly pretty, it had to go since it is stealing nutrients from the rose. Turning to the vegetable growers of you out there: Do you know what it really is? I am sure the seeds came from our worm bin, which contains kitchen scrapes, when I spreaded the worm castings underneath the rose bush.

Rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard' in severe need of deadheading after its second flush.

Aaaah, so much better already! After a good feeding with Biostart organic rose fertilizer, alfalfa meal topped off with compost...

... it is gearing up for its third flush.

'Pierre de Ronsard' is certainly one of my favorite roses in the garden. The flowers have a beauty that is hard to beat!

In August, seemingly out of nowhere, this plant is arising its snake like head from the ground.

Fairly quickly it begins to open its buds...

...into these lovely blooms.

More and more buds are opening...

...unfolding themselves...

... until finally this beauty emerges. The plant still has made no leaves, yet. It is an amaryllis belladonna and was supposed to be the white flowering variety 'Fred Meyer Whites', but obviously it it not. Anyway, this pink variety is very pretty, too.

Summer is also the time when the agapanthus blooms. This dark blue variety is called 'Storm Cloud'. I have the impression that it is not flowering as profusely as the light blue more common varieties.

These six little plants of geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' I also bought in spring already and believe me, they have looked better then. 'Biokovo' has light pink almost white flowers and I thought it might be a nice perennial addition for my White Garden Bed. If you squint, you might see two tiny blooms in this picture.

Planted freshly in the ground the geranium is stretching itself already a little bit and seemed to like it better there than in the container.

You almost need a magnifying glass right now to find the geranium 'Biokovo' in this photo. They are planted to the right and left side of the cycads. They are supposed to grow 12 - 18 inch high and 18 - 24 inch wide, so I think that soon they will have more impact. The rose in the middle is 'Moonstone', a white flowering Hybrid Tea rose with a pink center. I hope that the geraniums will complement this rose nicely. 

Even though the roses do struggle in the heat of summer and don't bloom that profusely, occasionally they still can be magnificent like 'The Prince' accompanied by salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue'.

See you in the garden!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

July Roses

My apologies for coming in late with my monthly rose post. Summer just seems to fly by in a blink of an eye. I can't believe that we are having already the 17th of August. Anyway, lets have a look back at the roses that were flowering last month.

July has been a notoriously difficult month for growing roses in my garden over the last couple of years. It is simply too hot here in San Diego inland for the roses to thrive and bloom well and I never seem to be able to keep up with all the deadheading, watering, and fertilizing that is needed to satisfy them.

This July many of my roses were between their second and third flush already. So far I was better than last year with fertilizing the roses, which means I did it more on a regular basis and it has paid off. Last year I had only two flushes on many roses whereas this year I seem to get at least three or even four on most of my repeat flowering varieties. In my garden there seems to be more and more evidence that fertilizing the roses regularly is key to keep the bloom production going. Just feeding them once in spring is simply not enough for continous blooms way into autumn!

Following are some shots of the roses that were blooming in my garden in the last month:

'Belinda's Dream' was by far the most floriferous rose in my garden in July. 

This rose seems to like the heat that this month brings with it in our climate and the blooms look very pretty. 

'Irresistible' was gracing me with one of her perfect flowers. 

From my Hybrid Perpetual roses 'Grandmother's Hat' was the only one, which was able to flower in the heat. The blooms crisp quickly at the edges, though. In general I am getting the impression that this class of roses is not best suited for our Southern California climate. 

The soft pink blooms of 'Scepter'd Isle' are always special to me.

'Moonstone', a Hybrid Tea, produces certainly some of the most beautiful blooms out of all of my roses. 

It likes the heat and flowers well, but it continuous to mildew like crazy in my no-spray garden.

The foliage looks really bad for that reason and I am thinking of getting rid of this rose,...

...but because of the pretty blooms I didn't have the heart to shovel prune it. 

'The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild' has incredible lovely flowers. I grow this rose still in a two gallon container only, where it can't develop its full potential, but so far it looks very promising.

'Heritage' is not too long ago planted into the ground, but so far I am rather underwhelmed by this rose.

It blooms take on a muddy, washed out, pale apricot color and shatter very quickly in the heat, the bush mildews a lot and it throws out the famous octopus canes that some David Austin roses are known to produce in a warm climate. Maybe not a keeper, but I will give it some more time to get established.

'Bewitched' is showing off the perfect Hybrid Tea bloom form. 

As in June 'Chandos Beauty' was putting on a show in July as well. 

Each bloom is perfect and...

...they come with a quite strong fragrance.

'Chandos Beauty' is a good cut rose...

... and flowers with the warm apricot center just make my heart sing.

I haven't shown 'Lavender Crystal' for quite a while.

I believe that this rose has stayed so tiny because it is growing in a small container.

Nonetheless the flowers are quite something with their pale cool lavender-blue color.

Another rose that I didn't show photo off for a long time is the Mini-Flora 'Overnight Scentsation'.

As the name indicates the fragrance of this rose is quite strong and lovely.

'Marie Pavie' is blooming in the heat with no complains, but...

... in these temperature the flowers are spent pretty quickly.

One rose that I find very interesting is 'Cymbaline', one of the earlier David Austin shrub roses, bred in 1983. It is supposed to bloom in a light pink color, but the heat brings out more brownish-apricot tones in this rose. It comes with a strong myrrh fragrance.

This photo is taken of the same flower as above but later in the day. You can see that the color has changed from this dusty, brownish-apricot to a more warm clear apricot. I find these subtle changes in the coloration quite fascinating.

Before I end, I would like to thank all of you, who left a comment on my last two posts. I can hardly find the time to blog anymore, so I made the decision to rather work on my next post than replying to comments. I hope you can understand that. But even though I didn't respond anymore, please know, that I love reading what you have to say and that I appreciate your comments very much! In the future I will try to continue to answer to comments, which contain questions and hopefully chime in here and there from time to time.

See you in the garden!