Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Enjoying Autumn

Autumn undeniably has reached my San Diego garden. After a scorching hot summer temperatures have finally cooled down and the garden slowly goes into recovery mode from the long hot and dry months. We even had an inch of rain, lately.




On some days the weather has been just glorious, absolutely perfect for gardening and I decided to work on the central bed in the backyard, called the White Garden Bed. Unfortunately, as you can see, there is not too much white about it right now, because hardly anything is blooming. 



But I tried to change that and fertilized the roses in this bed one more time this year. I know, it is late in the season even for Southern California, but this bed gets a lot of sun and the soil is still warm, so the roses hopefully are able to utilize the food that I put down for them and will produce one more rose flush.



So out came the organic rose fertilizer, alfalfa meal and compost and my husband and I got to work. You may have spotted the hole in the ground in front of the left cycad already,...



...I intended to plant this alstroemeria Princess Lilies 'Claire', there. Poor 'Claire' has been sitting in my pot ghetto way too long and has given up flowering, but if I am lucky, she starts again before winter sets in.



The freshly mulched bed looks so much better already and even though the alstroemeria, now planted in front of the left cycad, is small...



...it has quite a bit of an visual impact, I think.



Still the bed appears "empty" to me, therefore I decided to make it my focus in the next couple of months and try to fill it with perennials and annuals.



One of my 'Iceberg' roses clearly indicates that it is autumn by growing hips and flowers together at the same time.



Other roses like 'Charles Darwin' fit into the season by simply taking on a wonderful warm and rich autumn color.



Moving on to the front yard. I feel the front yard has suffered the most from the hot summer and I had to cut back plants quite a bit to remove dried up leaves and branches. In the moment it looks a little bare.

The photo above shows the view from the walkway to the front door. I am really pleased with the height that the obelisk, placed to the right side in front of the garage wall, is adding to the scene. The hummingbird wind chime hanging inside the obelisk is new and I like how it picks up the color of the blue glazed terracotta containers that are scattered throughout the front yard. It also adds some color and visual interest at that level of height. Our front door is still decorated with Halloween banners and...



...these cool pumpkins to the right and left side. I was happy, that I found some more unusual pumpkins than the "normal" squeaky orange ones,...



...since bold orange is really not my color and I think the different colors and shapes of these pumpkins make for a far more interesting display.



Don't you think that these pumpkins have the most amazing textures? I really hope that they will last for a while and beautify our entrance to the house in the autumn time.



This is a close-up of my new hummingbird wind chime, which you could see already hanging in middle of the obelisk four pictures above. Looking at it more closely, I am not sure if it is not too much kitsch. I hope that the weather will wear off a little bit of the sheen and let it become more matte, so that it looks less flashy. On the other hand it didn't cost a fortune and if I feel it is "too much for me" in the long run, it is not a big deal to remove it. I was astonished to find though, that the wind chime itself makes a surprisingly pleasing and soothing sound that really adds something special to the front yard.



At one of my trips to a big box store lately, I got stopped in my tracks by these beautiful stocks. I didn't intend to buy a plant, but simply couldn't pass them up. Besides the very lovely flowers they smell absolutely incredible. So I allowed myself to take two of them home and replaced the purple petunias with them, which didn't survive the heat of summer.



I find the soft pastel colors and ruffled blooms of the stock quite wonderful...



...and they fulfill my desire to have some flowers other than roses blooming in the front yard at this time of the year.



I was surprised to find stocks blooming in autumn though, as I always think of them as spring flowers. They may have been forced in the green house...



...and for that reason I am a little bit worried about how they may fair outside and how long the blooms will last, but I for sure will enjoy them as long as they are with me. Since they are planted in the front yard, usually I pass by them a couple of times a day and sometimes you will find me stopping and going down on my knees, taking a whiff. I only can say their fragrance is truly heavenly! They are definitively one of the many little autumn delights that my garden has to offer at this time of the year.

I hope you are enjoying the autumn as well.

See you in the garden!

Christina



Thursday, October 30, 2014

September Roses

Yikes, I better get this post out before the end of this month, because otherwise I have to skip it and blog about the roses that were blooming in October already!

So here it is: We had miserable heat waves throughout September only interrupted by a few slightly cooler days in between. Of course, that has put a lot of stress on the roses, but some have been soldering on and continued to flower. Altogether though I don't recall having as few rose flowers as I had this September in comparison with previous years. I guess the ongoing heat combined with the severe drought is really taking a toll on my rose bushes. It really makes me a little sad.



One rose that really stood out, was 'Mary Rose', a shrub rose bred by David Austin (United Kingdom, 1983). 



I really love the light pink, big, cupped blooms,...




...which appeared in abundance on my rose bush even during the heat. 




The foliage of this rose is a nice matte medium green, which goes so well with the light pink flowers and seems to even enhance their beauty.



'Mary Rose' is growing in a big container on my terrace, so that I could observe her disease resistance, growth habit, flower shape and color over a couple of months. So far the rose has been relatively healthy, just a speck of powdery mildew at times. The bush seems to want to grow in a compact and bushy way, which I really like. The rose has past the test and will stay in my garden. I hope to plant her into the ground soon. 




'Moonlight Scentsation' is a little bit of an iffy rose for me, but every now and then I get one of these outstandingly pretty blooms like the one above. 




Another rose, that has earned its permanent place in my garden, is 'Sweet Chariot' especially after its performance this September. I am also trying to find it a spot in the ground.



'Heritage' blooms just barely opening...



...and later on. After some initial hick-ups I have come to like the color and the bloom form, but the flowers only last a very short time on the bush, before they drop. The rose also gets powdery mildew very easily when the conditions are right. I am not sure if it will stay in the long run.



'Charles Darwin' on the other hand is a fairly healthy rose, one getting mildew once in a while. 



It flowers freely...



and the blooms are always a delight. 



I rarely report about 'White Meidiland', a shrub rose bred by Marie-Louise Meilland (France, 1987). That is by no means the fault of the rose. I have planted it in an absolut impossible location for a rose. It is in a lot of shade in severe root competition with a cycad and an evergreen hedge, so the rose is not able to show its full potential, but is doing very well considering these difficult growing conditions.



Not surprisingly the rose is still small, maybe three feet wide by two feet tall (approximately 90 cm x 60 cm), but the dark green glossy foliage is completely healthy. I am hoping, that next spring it will become considerably bigger and will have more blooms. 



'Lavender Crystal' continued to present its unusual bluish-lilac blooms. 



A rose that also bloomed quite well in the heat was 'Frederic Mistral'. The blooms are incredible fragrant and I like the color, but I am not too keen on the form. 



'Auckland Metro' has a special glow in the center of the blooms that I find quite fascinating.



It also has bloomed very generously for me last month. 



I finish with another favorite of mine, 'The Prince'. The shot of the bloom above is taken in full sunlight and is pretty,...



..., but this last picture of an just opening flower has been taken in the soft early morning light and makes my knees weak. I think the color is just mindbogglingly beautiful and the strong old rose fragrance matches the beauty of the bloom perfectly.

Wishing everyone who celebrates it a Happy Halloween! 

See you in the garden!

Christina



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mottisfont Abbey - a Rose Lover's Paradise III

As my own garden is struggling with yet another heat wave and everything seems to look more and more dried out and yellow despite my ongoing efforts to keep things watered, I find myself longing for the lush gardens of England. It occurred to me, that I promised a third part of my series about the Rose Gardens at Mottisfont Abbey a long, long time ago.

So I thought treating myself by writing another post about this extraordinary rose garden and browsing through the literally hundreds of photos that I took there at our visit, now already two years ago. I would be very glad, if this post would bring some joy to you, my dear readers, as well.



We had just entered the second walled garden, when I spotted this incredible pretty gray-leaved humongous plant, which I was completely fascinated with. I assume, it is a cardoon.
Mottisfont Abbey contains three walled rose gardens. I wrote about the first walled garden in two previous posts already. You can find the links to them at the end of this one.



Unfortunately, many roses were not labeled in this part of the garden or the label was so grown in that you couldn't see it without stepping into the border, which, of course, I didn't do. That is a pity, because in the second walled garden, there were many Old Garden Roses, which are in general not so well known by a lot of people and some of the ones, which are growing in Mottisfont Abbey, are quite rare. As a matter of fact in this whole post I could only identify one rose for sure.



I loved the combination of this yellow rose, the white peony and the 'Lady's Mantle'.



At the time when we were visiting many peonies were in bloom and I was blown away by their beauty. 



The silver-gray leaves of the surrounding plants go particularly well with the white flowers of the peony.



This is another dazzling variety, which seem to glow from within.



So lovely!



The long vistas in the garden were quite impressive...



...and the huge borders simply absolutely stunning.



The plant combinations at Mottisfont Abbey Rose Gardens are so skillfully done. It is truly outstanding! Everywhere you look you find fascinating scenes to enjoy.



Another peony variety, that I found especially charming. I also like the combination with the delicate small white flowering plant very much. Does anyone of you know it?



The layering of the plants is so well done in this border. Mottisfont really made me fall in love with catmint (blue flowering plant in the middle of the foreground), which I grow now in my own garden. It is doing very well in Southern California, too.



A lovely rose, that I don't know the name of.



The climbing roses in this part of the garden were often of extraordinary beauty. Here they are spilling into the borders with abundance.



This white flowering clematis was also exquisite!



Many peony blooms were huge and...



...the plants were flowering generously.



This was one of my favorite borders planted along the brick walls. I think the color and plant combinations of mainly roses, foxgloves and irises are just perfect. 



Isn't this scene like coming directly out of a dream?



I had never seen an iris that dark blue/purple before. It looked almost black and had a fascinating satiny sheen.



Close-up of the iris from the photo above. The color was absolutely stunning!



Bearded irises and peonies did particularly well at Mottisfont. I wonder, if they treat them in a special way. This light blue bearded iris variety in the foreground was also a total eye-catcher. 



In this photo you can see, that all the evergreens like yew columns, boxwood hedges, green shrubs give the garden a calm backdrop. They also used quite rustic climbing structures for the roses at Mottisfont, which fit perfectly with the style of this garden.



Another light pink rose beauty. I wonder what the blue flowering companion plant is in the foreground. Any ideas?



I loved this delicate white flowering companion plant. Can anyone of you, dear readers, identify it?



The light pink flowering climbing rose at the wall is 'Blairii No. 1' (middle to the right side of the image), a climbing Bourbon rose bred by Blair, (United Kingdom, 1830).



Here is a close-up of the blooms of 'Blairii No. 1'. I think, that this is an outstandingly beautiful rose and the flower form and cool light pink color has a very special charm. It is supposed to have a very strong fragrance as well, which was impossible to verify for me, because I couldn't get close enough to this rose to smell it.

With this beauty I would like to end this post, but want to let you know that I have so many more interesting and rare roses to show from Mottisfont, that I will continue to blog about this great garden hopefully in the near future.

If you are interested in reading the previous parts of this series about Mottisfont Abbey Rose Gardens, please click on the links below:

Mottisfont Abbey - a Rose Lover's Paradise I
Mottisfont Abbey - a Rose Lover's Paradise II

Thanks for stopping by!

See you in the garden!

Christina