Saturday, December 31, 2011

December Roses

Well, the year 2011 is coming to a close and I am happy to report that I achieved my goal and made it to have roses blooming year round even in December. However, I have to admit that this month was a difficult one for my roses. They have been plagued by any rose disease possible: powdery mildew, downy mildew, rust, and even blackspot, which is rarely seen here in Southern California. Interestingly some roses have been healthy or at least relatively healthy despite the strong disease pressure. This observation got me thinking.

I am an organic, no-spray rose gardener, but I also want beautiful, healthy roses. Since obviously some rose varieties are much more disease resistant than others, in my garden good rose selection seems to be the key for success in growing roses organically. I am afraid that next year my roses have to go through a tough rose evaluation process and only the ones that are healthy or reasonable healthy will be allowed to stay in the garden no matter how seducing their blooms might be.  

Despite the disease problems that I mentioned above some of my roses still made it to produce lovely blooms. Hope you enjoy my last roses of 2011!

'White Meidiland' was able to gift me with this beautiful bloom. It is not all that white as the name indicates, but I like the subtle coloration of the apricot blush petals in the center of the flower. As the bloom got older the rose was whitening up so to speak and took on a pure creme white color.

'Our Lady of Guadalupe', a rose workhorse in my garden even in December. All my three bushes of this variety were suffering from powdery mildew this month, but the ability of the rose to bloom is unaffected by that. This bush in particular almost looks as good as in spring.

What I really like about 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' besides the fact that it is so bloomiferous is that it is also still able to produce a reliable decent flower shape even in the low light conditions of December, which I certainly cannot say of all of my roses.

I think there is no dispute, 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' is simply a very lovely rose! One last photo to prove my point.

'Sweetness' also has been a very reliable, disease resistant bloomer for me this year. The rose smells fantastic even in winter.

One of my 'Pierre de Ronsard' roses was able to give me this cluster of blooms, whereas the other bush is not blooming at all anymore. I think it receives less light.

Another flower of 'Pierre de Ronsard' caught in the perfect moment of beauty.

A bloom of 'Vi's Violet' is a rare sight in my yard. I almost killed this little Miniature rose twice, but it always made a comeback, even though it is still tiny. But if it flowers it is so pretty. I only hope that next year it really starts to grow.  


'Zephirine Drouhin' was not flowering in autumn but has completely surprised me by producing a small flush in winter. The rose just smells divine. This photo was taken by my husband.

After being potted up from a two gallon container to a five gallon one, 'Moonstone' decided to show again how beautiful it can be and teased me with just one flower. The foliage is horrible diseased at this time of the year, though, and therefore I don't know if I will keep the rose despite its lovely blooms. One reason for the disease problem could be that the rose is "container stressed", which means it is sitting too long in a too small container and when it is planted into the ground it might be healthier. I think because of the beauty of the flowers I will give 'Moonstone' a chance and try to plant into the ground as soon as possible and see what happens.  

In any case, overall 2011 was a delightful rose year in my garden and I am very thankful for the beauty and pleasure that my roses have given to me.

I am wishing all of you, my dear readers, a very Happy New Year 2012, with lots of joy, love, and good health!

See you in the garden!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays... what I want to wish you one more time!

I assumed I wouldn't post before Christmas anymore, but my husband and I had a spontaneous photo session today trying to catch with the camera a little bit of what the holiday spirit is like in our Southern California home and garden. We had so much fun and I thought I would like to let you participate in this. So without any further comments some pictures from today. Hope you enjoy!



See you in the garden!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice 2011

Today is winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and besides that this is the longest night of the year it is also the official beginning of winter. I am always in a happy mood on winter solstice no matter what the weather is like, because I know from now on the days are getting longer. But on this day in particular there can be no complains about the weather here in Southern California. At 1:00 pm it was sunny, only slightly windy, and the temperature were 68 F/20 C. Typical California dream weather you might say. But we are getting chilly at night (at least for our circumstances). The lowest temperatures are expected to be 34 F/1 C tonight.

So how is our garden doing on winter solstice? I went out with the camera early in the morning and then again briefly around noon and took some shots to share with you.

I am starting my tour in the backyard looking to the left side of the garden. This is the bed in which I grow only acid loving plants like hydrangeas, gardenias, and camellias. My two 'Nuccio's Gem' camellias want to start blooming early this year, but unfortunately they are having trouble to open their buds. I have no real idea why, except that I am thinking they might have simply outgrown their containers. For now I will try to water them more to see if this helps.

Here is a close-up of one of the camellia buds trying to open.

The 'Queen Anne Palm' - group with 'Georgetown Tea' planted in the middle. To the right in the container an 'Iceberg' rose is growing and then you see 'Zephirine Drouhin'. 'Georgetown Tea' is not blooming through the winter as I had hoped. I guess the rose is getting too little light in the location where I have put her. I am still happy that she is filling out this spot nicely. Looking at this picture I think this area would really benefit, if I would plant something light flowering like impatiens, or cyclamen at Georgetown Tea's feet. Hmm...

From the left to the right: 'Iceberg' in the container, 'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard'. There are a few blooms on 'Pierre de Ronsard' and 'Zephirine Drouhin' was surprising me with...

... a few blooms, too! What a welcome sight! I was complaining that this rose didn't rebloom in autumn, now she tries to please me in winter! We had already some decent autumn rains and I am wondering if this has helped.


Looking further to the right the 'White Bed' comes into sight. The 'Iceberg' roses are still blooming and I love how the 'Dusty Miller' growing under the cycad has filled out the space.

In the backyard also lives 'Moonstone', which I recently transplanted into a bigger container. It is squeezing out just one bloom, but what a great one. This rose is so beautiful when flowering, but it is suffering from rust badly right now, sigh...

Looking to the right side of the backyard you see this bed containing my second 'Pierre de Ronsard' rose (on the left of this photo), which is not blooming at all but at least the leaves are relatively healthy. That cannot be said of 'Baronne Prevost' which is growing to the right side of 'Pierre de Ronsard'. This rose is looking plain ugly and is suffering from powdery mildew big time. 


See this beauty instead? This is 'White Meidiland'. I just love the blooms of this rose and her leaves are relatively healthy. 

Before we leave the backyard, please have a brief glance at my cymbidium orchids. The first one (it is a little hard to see, but there are two containers with orchids standing in a row behind each other) is a dark red flowering variety and it is full of flower stalks. I think, I counted twelve and I can't wait for them to open.

Moving on to see the front yard. We slightly enlarged the banana-shaped bed since I have shown it on my blog the last time and I planted two white verbenas to the right and left side, which you hardly can see, but I hope they will stand out more in spring when they have some blooms. I also added four penstemons to this area. The alstromeria in the middle of the bed has filled in nicely and is even trying to bloom at this time of the year. I am really happy that this bed is not "a plain rose bed" anymore, as it has been in earlier times.

This photo shows the entrance of our front yard to the opposite of the banana-shaped bed. I am very pleased with the blue container and its plantings placed on the column. It just gives the area a nice color splash. The rose in bloom is 'Marie Pavie'. It has been a great rose here so far. Strong, wafting fragrance, a good bloomer with completely clean leaves.

Close-up of the cheerful blue lobelia blooming in a container seen in the photo above. 

My other alstroemeria has produced one blooming stalk, too. Her colors are much more saturated then the one in the banana-shaped bed. I actually like them both a lot.

On the left side of the walkway to our front door 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' seems to pretend it is spring instead the beginning of winter. This rose is such a good bloomer, but it was badly plagued by powdery mildew in the last few weeks. I am so glad that we got some rain lately, which took care of the powdery mildew problem somewhat.

This is 'Sweet Chariot' growing in a container in a very protected corner close by our front door. He also seems to assume it is spring. I am so curious to see if all the tiny buds really will open. Notice how clean his leaves are?

This nemesia was sulking not too long ago. I fertilized it and put out soil sulfur and it sprung back like crazy. I certainly could have more of this plant in my garden.

Because at lunch time the containers close to our kitchen door leading into the back yard were bathed in sun light I slipped out and took some more photos. Couldn't pass up this opportunity! Our small 'Meyer Lemon' tree is packed with lemons as you can see and we can start to harvest them again. They are so good, not too sweet not too sour just the right combination of both tastes.

I spoiled myself with planting some white pansies, which I truly love. Each time when I look out of the kitchen door into the back yard, I see this container (there are actually two of them flanking the kitchen door) and it brings a smile to my face.

Another one of my roses that seems to think it is already spring again: 'Old fashioned Girl', a Miniature rose.

This is it from here on winter solstice day. How was winter solstice in your garden?

Most likely this will be my last post before the Holidays so I don't want to miss wishing you Happy Holidays and if you celebrate Christmas Merry Christmas! May you have a joyful and peaceful time!

See you in the garden!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Camellias at Descanso Gardens

Yesterday my husband and I had an errand to run in Los Angeles and since it only took us the morning to get it done, I suggested a visit to Descanco Gardens, which is close by. It was a nice, relatively mild day with a lovely, clear, blue sky, therefore I thought it would be ideal to visit this public garden. Besides other things Descanso Gardens is famous for its rose garden and its camellia collection. I initially was eager to see the roses, only to find out that they were hardly blooming anymore and that the gardeners had started to prune them so I was a little bit disappointed about that, but the camellias alone were absolutely worth the trip. See for yourself!

All photos shown in this post were taken by my husband.

We were obviously not the only ones interested to see the camellias.

I loved the flower shape of this one. Look at the bloom that is hanging down in this photo. Isn't the form adorable?

Camellias come in many colors and forms nowadays and are referred to as "the roses of winter" and rightly so.

To me the contrast between the dark green leaves and the flowers is what makes these plants so very appealing. The leaves sometimes look like polished leather to me.

Habitually I stick my nose into every bloom in reach. And so I did with the camellias at Descanco Gardens. I was surprised to find that some of them are quite fragrant. My own two 'Nuccio's Gem' camellias (a white japonica variety) have no fragrance at all, so I was happy to find out that this is not the case with all camellia varieties.

There is a garden called the "Fern Canyon", which I happen to find an almost magical place.

The ferns are shaded by Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia). These trees have a majestic appearance and the ones at Descanco Gardens are obviously quite old. You can't help it but have to admire the beauty of these giants.

Have a closer look at how beautiful the structure of this tree is. Just marvelous! The Coast Live Oaks are also shading the camellias in this garden. They basically grow in an oak forest. Without the shade from the oaks the California sun would burn the leaves of camellias badly.

Unfortunately we had only very little battery power left in the camera, so we did not take extra photos of the name tags of the camellias in case they were there as we usually do. That is the reason why I can't offer any names to the camellia flowers that you see. Sorry for that!

I always think that white camellias are very special. They are hard to beat in terms of the elegance that they radiate. This one has particularly beautiful, dark, shiny, healthy, green leaves, which go so well with the white blooms.

Some camellia flowers have almost a frilly appearance and look very dainty like the one in the photo above.

If you are into camellias I would recommend a visit to Descanco Gardens at this time of the year, if you are in the area. You won't be disappointed!

See you in the garden!