Sunday, March 19, 2017

Calla Lily Arrangement

As I went through the garden doing my Sunday morning stroll today I noticed that my calla lilies (zantedeschia aethiopica) are finally blooming and I knew immediately that they would be the ideal blooms to use for a little flower arrangement.

At the end of the process I was pleased with the arrangement above, but getting there was quite a struggle. First I thought I would be able to cut five blooms, but it turned out that one of them was already over and another one had too many blemishes to be used as a cut flower.

Having only three blooms to work with presented quite a challenge because they looked lost in a bigger vase. Like in my last bouquet (see the post here) the solution was to cut the long stems of the flowers down quite a bit and use plenty of greenery (five calla lily leaves) as a foundation for the blooms.

I realized that my final arrangement resembles the way a calla lily naturally grows. Mother nature always knows best!

The strong architectural presence of a calla lily bloom always fascinates me.

And the leaves are not less captivating with their beautiful veining.

Usually, I like more romantic bouquets, but I find that calla lilies call for simplicity and restrained to not disturb the beauty of their clear lines and understated elegance. So a simple modern glass vase seemed to be a good fit.

To me, the arrangement has a bit of a Zen-character which inspired me to accompany it with a sound bowl with a simple wood striker. When I bought the bowl I had been told that it is very old and from Nepal. That might be true or not, but it definitvely has a wonderful sound.

I love in this shot how the light shines through the leave of the calla lily and illuminates the white flower.

Pure elegance.

I can get lost looking at these beautiul leaves.

The flower seen from a different perspective, revealing the yellow spadix.

Calla lilies are truly pieces of art.

After a long time I like to participate in Cathy's very popular "In a Vase on Monday" meme, where she encourages us to pick something from our gardens and bring it indoors to be enjoyed up close. Please go over to her blog and see what she and other people have filled their vases with this week.

Wishing everyone a good start into the new week!

See you in the garden!

Warm regards,


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Being in Love With Stock And More...

Last year almost accidentally I stumbled over a few little containers of old fashioned matthiola, better known under the common name stock, at a big box store and brought them home with me. Somehow these plants weren't on my radar before, but that really changed once they were planted in the garden. I fell in love not only with all the available colors and bloom forms (there are single ones and filled varieties available) but in addition to that with their fragrance which is absolutely divine.

This year I couldn't wait for the stock to come back into the nurseries and as soon as they were available I secured my share. Contrary to last year this time I potted all my stock up in containers to be able to move them around in the garden and just plop a container down wherever I needed a little bit of spring color.

I placed one container close to our front door and sometimes when the conditions are right (means there is enough humidity in the air) and I pass by I get a wonderful whiff of the delicious perfume of these plants.

In general, I love pastel muted colors and this very pale apricot hue is one of my favorites colors that stock is available in.

But this post is not just about stock. I also would like to catch you up on the happenings in my garden over the last few weeks and show you some photos.

One cool morning in February I found the peppermint geranium leaves covered with natural dewdrops. Don't they look like they have gotten a dusting of powder sugar? These leaves also release a wonderful and fairly strong peppermint scent when rubbed between fingers.

I use them often as a filler green for single roses in bud vases. The velvetiness of these leaves goes very well with the beauty of a single rose.

Talking about roses, mine certainly enjoyed all the winter rains that we were having and sometimes their leaves looked like clothed in diamonds after the rains had ceased and the sun came out.

Do you remember my excitement when I found the first self-seedling of one of my hardy geraniums (see the post here)? Well, my enthusiasm has gotten quite a damper. The plant grew like crazy, but only produced insignificant tiny flowers that you had to almost search for with a magnifying glass. Well, by now it is ripped out and found its way into the compost bin. I guess this is why we need professional plant breeders...

One storm tore so much at my Queen Palms that it ripped off a whole palm frond, which landed on the backyard lawn. These fronds are huge! I put a regular size garden chair at the end of the frond so that you get a better idea of its size.

Back to the front yard and the stock. This container is beautifying a column of our decorative wall, which is the very first thing that you see when you walk up to our front door. I really like the dark blue of the container together with the different colors of the stock.

This year I didn't buy any pansies or violas because our last winters were so mild and then we had heat waves very early in the year, they did seem to last only for the blink of an eye. So this year as a substitute stock is bringing the first spring color into my garden.

Here is a photo of the walkway to our front door. In the very front is rosa 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' which became less and less vigorous over the years. I pruned the rose hard to see if it would rejuvenate, but unfortunately, it didn't and was not able to produce any basal shoots again.

I also pruned my Verbena Bonariensis back quite severely and with this plant, it worked. It came back nice and strong and I am so much looking forward to seeing it in bloom again. It is only its second year in my garden (I bought it in late summer last year) and therefore I don't know when it will start to bloom.

Two commentators on my blog said that Verbena Bonariensis will reseed freely. Well, that is not the case in my garden (hardly anything reseeds here and I blame the strong root competition between the seedling roots and the always present palm roots, but, oh wonder, two little seedlings of Verbena Bonariensis made it.

At least that is what I think these little guys are. I will dig them up and see if I can grow them on to more vigorous plants in containers first and then transplant them back to other areas of the garden. I loved the two Verbena Bonariensis plants last year in my garden and would like to have more of them.

Another plant that is doing well this year is the daylily 'Gentle Shepherd'. The fans have nicely multiplied in this plant but I have to say I have a second one which has only made it to grow from two fans up to three.

Walking towards our front door you can see that all roses are pruned and I am done with the spring clean-up waiting for the garden to explode into new growth.

I would love for this part around the cycad to be underplanted a bit more and hope that I will get to it this spring. I will move the small pelargonium located on the right side of the cycad, right in front of the blue container to another part of the front yard and I am contemplating to plant a blue flowering ajuga there instead, which has done very well in my backyard.

Some more shots of the stock. This pale lilac variety is also one of my favorite colors.

We really had torrential rains at times here in the last couple of weeks, but altogether the stock flowers held up to it surprisingly well. Only the white ones showed some browning of the flower petals. I find that white flowers, in general, react always the most sensitive to rain.

Here we are looking at my relatively newly planted bed to the right side of the house. The rose in the front is 'Cymbaline' an older rose bred by David Austin. It was planted in August of last year, meaning in the heat of summer and I am so happy that it survived. Especially since I lost the 'Crocus Rose' here that I planted prior to 'Cymbaline'.

Rosa 'Cymbaline' is happily leaving out and the best is that it is even producing basal shoots from the base of the bush.

This is one of my two 'Climbing Iceberg' roses in the front yard by the garage. It is a joy for me to see how vigorous it is leaving out this year. 

I will end this post with three more photos of the stock. The magenta tone is also very nice.

Close-up of a newly developing flower spike of a soft apricot colored stock. 

I have read somewhere that stock doesn't like the heat so much so we will see how mine will last since we are just having our first heat wave right now with temperatures of 82 degrees Fahrenheit/28 degrees Celsius today. But from tomorrow on it shall slowly cool down again, reaching 71 degrees Fahrenheit/22 degrees Celsius by Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday we are even promised a little bit of rain again. 

Even though my stock was reasonably priced buying annuals gets expensive. I wonder if stock could be sown successfully directly onto the ground, which I would be very tempted to do if there is a chance that it could work. I know I don't have the patience or space to grow it on in containers, but if it would be possible to sow it directly on the ground I might give it a try next year. 

How about you, are you also a fan of stock? Or is it not your favorite. Does anyone of you my dear readers have experience with growing stock from seeds? Especially with sowing it directly onto the ground? I would appreciate if you would share your experience.

Wishing everyone a nice rest of the week I hope wherever you live spring has reached you by now or is only an arm's length away. 

See you in the garden!

Warm regards, 


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

February Roses

As expected there weren't many roses blooming in my garden in the month of February, as a matter of fact, this is the month where I have the least blooms for seasonal reasons. And that is OK since even the roses need a break once a year to regain their strength to produce their wonderful spring flush. But the garden had already plenty of rose buds to offer, which I really enjoyed looking at. Even though they are all rose buds, they appear in so many different shapes and forms depending on the rose variety, which I find quite fascinating.

We had plenty of rain in February which after the five years of drought in California is absolutely delightful. But with the all the rain accompanied by plenty of gray days powdery mildew and rose rust, the for our area most common rose diseases, were on the rise. In my no-spray rose garden I don't do anything about them just observe the roses closely and in the long run ruthlessly get rid of the rose varieties that are disease prone in my climate.

Rosa 'Belinda's Dream' produced beautiful roses despite the weather, but through all the rain the outer rose petals became brown and mushy. So I cut some rose flowers at an early stage and brought them indoors to enjoy up close.

Here is one example of the little informal plonks that I get so much joy from. The roses are 'Belinda's Dream', the dainty small pink flowers are from hardy geranium 'Biokovo' and the little sprig of green filler is from a store bought bouquet that I posted about here

I noticed that usually the green fillers last much longer in florist bouquets then the flowers themselves and I think it is a good idea to reuse them in arrangements consisting out of flowers cut from my own garden again. That comes especially handy in my case since I don't have so many plants growing in my garden whose foliage can be used as filler greens in garden bouquets.  

Rosa 'Marie Pavie' had set the most buds already and I am sure she will be my first rose this year to break out into her spring flush. The fresh light green buds together with all the healthy new foliage of this rose are a joy to look at. 

I love how the buds of 'Marie Pavie' stand out against the gray backdrop of my Queen Palm trunk. 

Bud of rosa 'Bewitched' revealing already its saturated clear pink color. 

Another shot of rosa 'Bewitched' caught in the moment when the sepals of the bud peel back already. Now it won't take long anymore until the rose bloom will fully open. 

This is one of the new rose babies from last year, rosa 'Gruss an Aachen'. It also seems to be wanting to be an early bloomer, but unfortunately, the rose has suffered from powdery mildew quite a bit last month. 

The rose that was blooming the most already is 'Madame Alfred Carriere'. I am just so in love with this one. And the fact that she is able to bloom in the winter time makes her even more precious.

I find the cream-white blooms with the blush pink shading are simply irresistible. There is just one catch in my garden. The rose is planted in quite a bit of shade and therefore is turning her blooms to face the sunlight, which is away from the garden. So what I get to see mostly are their backs. But even in this perspective, they are very beautiful.

To me, the flowers of 'Madame Alfred Carriere' have a very old fashioned feel. They are a little informal and appear almost translucent. They are also wonderful as cut flowers (see my New Year's bouquet of 'Madame Alfred Carriere' here) but they don't last all that long in the vase. That can be forgiven though since I get so many blooms that I can replenish my vases easily.

Rosa 'Pope John Paul II' is also producing new buds already. This rose was always one of the healthiest in my garden, but it is not responding well to all the rain. Unfortunately, for the first time, it has some rose rust. So I guess if you are living a wetter humid climate this rose might not be the one for you.

Next up is rosa 'Grandmother's Hat'. Do you notice the exceptionally long and big sepals? I think they give the rose buds a very elegant appearance. 

This is rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison'. I want to grow this rose so badly, because I have seen absolutely wonderful photos of its blooms, but it doesn't look very promising. Also new to my garden from last year so far it is a very puny little plant to begin with and it is suffering from black spot, which is a little unusual for my area. When I got the plant as a rose band there were two cutting that had rooted in the pot. By now one seems to have died and the other one seems to be a weak one, too.

In addition to all that is being said before, I would like to share that this is already my second trial with this rose. This first rose band died after a short time. Even though in general Bourbon roses, the rose class this rose belongs to, should thrive in my climate, but 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' does not seem to follow this rule.

I am curious, dear readers, what is your experience with growing rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison'? Is this rose doing well for you or does it give you trouble, too?

Quite the opposite to the previous rose, 'Rhodologue Jules Gravereaux' is doing excellent in my garden. The flowers of this Tea rose are always exquisite and I am looking forward to seeing this bud fully open.

The last rose that I am featuring in today's post is 'Captain Christy', one of the rare old Hybrid Tea roses. 

And here you see the rose in the bud stage. I love how the rain droplets are lining up on the edge of the biggest sepal. 

'Captain Christy' also has a more informal bloom form which I think is very charming and its light pink color is one of my favorites in the rose kingdom. Sadly, the plant itself is a weak grower, which I tried to nurse along in a container for a long time, but the vigor doesn't improve. Mine is an own-root rose and I think to cultivate this one successfully it needs to be grafted on a more vigorous root stock.

I am sure that next month I will have already quite a few roses blooming and I am looking very much forward to that. We are expecting a very warm week with highest temperatures reaching 83 degrees Fahrenheit/28 degrees Celsius, which will push the rose buds to open up very quickly.

Thanks for your visit, I hope you have enjoyed my monthly rose report and read it with interest.

See you in the garden!

Warm regards,


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