Friday, April 29, 2011

April Roses

On one side I feel my roses never have been more beautiful than in the spring flush of this April. That is mostly due to the fact that many of my rose bushes are now three years planted into the ground and they have become mature enough to develop their full potential. On the other side I have lots of fungal disease problems, especially powdery mildew and blackspot. I believe, that the relatively cool and wet spring that we were having here in Southern California is responsible for that and expect the fungal disease problems  to go away as the weather is warming up.

I would like to share with you a couple of my favorite pictures of roses blooming in my garden from this month, even though some will show the fungal problems that certain roses are suffering from. I feel, I would like to keep my blog "real" and also dare to post the "not so perfect"-shots of roses flowering in my garden.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

'Mme. Ernest Calvat'. This is a photo of a nice bud just opening, but unfortunately 'Mme. Ernest Calvat' is one of the roses that is suffering so badly from some kind of blackspot that I do not know, if I will keep it in the garden. If only the blooms were not so beautiful and the fragrance so strong and pleasing, it probably would have been kicked out of the yard already...

'Baronne Prevost'. The first flush of this rose is already over, but at least 'Baronne Prevost' wants to repeat for me. The bloom is lovely, but as you can see this rose is having some powdery mildew on the leaves.

My 'White Bed" in the back yard is approaching its spring flush peak. From the left to the right you can see 'Pope John Paul II,' 'Iceberg', 'Iceberg', and 'Climbing Iceberg'.

'Rose de Rescht'. This rose is so fragrant, it is unbelievable. I really love the pompom like blooms. The color is hard to capture for my camera, but it is a truly nice cerise. One of my favorite roses right now!

'Grandmother's Hat'. Since I planted this rose in the ground a couple of weeks ago it has really been taking off. I am very fond of the darker pink center in contrast to the pale pink outer petals of this rose bloom.

Another shot of 'Grandmother's Hat'.  As you can see the look of this bloom differs quite a bit from the photo of the one above. One could almost believe that it is a different rose, but it is not. I like that the Old Garden Roses change a lot in appearance depending on the weather, the amount of sunlight that they get etc. Rarely one bloom is exactly like the other. In contrast to that modern Hybrid Tea rose flowers look much more alike.

'Mme. Caroline Testout' looking down on me. This is one of my new bands. The small rose is already showing the characteristically bloom form, very globular, with the outer edge of rose petals scrolling backwards. It is one of the early bred Hybrid Tea roses and I find the shape of the flower, which is so far away from the nowadays favored  "exhibition form", quite charming.

'Pope John Paul II'. This year the first flush of this rose is suffering a lot from insect damage. I have no idea, why they bug PJPII so much this spring. Still I love it. I also like the green buds, especially in contrast to the pure white open blooms.

On the photo above you can see a full bush shot of the 'Pope John Paul II'. Other than the reputation of modern Hybrid Tea roses, which is that they are bare legged, this one is producing a nice bush fully closed in leaves down to the ground. In my yard this rose is very vigorous and bloomiferous.

'Sweet Chariot' is also one of my new bands that is doing particularly well. This little guy has a very strong fragrance and just wants to bloom and bloom and bloom. The small flowers are quite charming and I appreciate the different coloration of the blooms on one bush as they age. There is just one catch. It needs constant deadheading of the little flowers, which I guess can become quite a chore as the rose matures.

Yolande d'Aragon in the bud stage...

... and when the flower is open. This one is also a very fragrant rose.

'Pierre de Ronsard'. This is one of the first open flowers of this rose. Somehow it is very late to bloom this year.

'Devoniensis Climbing'. Showing a very delicate bud with morning dew.

Hope you enjoyed the photos of some of my roses that bloomed this month!

See you in the garden!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

One Comes, One Goes

Look what arrived last week in my garden: This is the incredible beautiful Tea rose 'Souvenir d'un Ami'. I am trying to get a hold of this rose for at least two years now, with no luck. It is rarely offered even by the online specialty rose vendors and was sold out everywhere where I tried to order it from last spring. I have to admit I tried only at rose vendors located at the West coast, because of the shipping costs, but still. Then my good friend Ingrid decided to pass one of her two gorgeous 'Souvenir d'un Ami' roses on to me (see photo below). I could not believe and I still can not that she was willing to give this rose to me. I am so happy to get it. Thank you very much Ingrid! Her husband was even so nice to drop the rose off at my house!

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

Here is a close-up of the one and only open flower the rose had at the time when it arrived. As with many Tea roses the blooms nod, which I find quite charming, but it makes it hard to see the beauty of the flower in this picture. Imagine the rose will be tall and the flowers will look down on you so you can admire their full beauty even better. From the photo you can get an idea about the subtle coloration that this rose has. It also comes with a very special bloom form, which is almost star-like, which the photo does not get across, unfortunately.

Since it was one of these unusual hot days (of course it has to be a very hot day when you get a rose, that needs to be transplanted to make it even harder for the rose to survive), I dropped everything that I was busy with and ran out to pot up the rose. When I removed the plastic bag I was shocked to see how small the root ball was and there were almost no feather roots, either.

Below is a close-up of the root ball, so that you can see it a little bit better. It is actually scarily small! But I have gotten already a couple of roses from Ingrid and some of them just come with very little roots. One which was close to the size of the root ball of 'Souvernir d'un Ami' was 'Mme. Melanie Willermoz' and this rose is doing just fine in her container now. All the new growth of 'Mme. Melanie Willermoz' wilted and dried of after transplanting, but it did not take long and she was leaving out and even started to flower, again. So I am prepared to see the same happen to 'Souvernir d'un Ami'.

Here I have potted 'Souvenir d'un Ami' up into a five gallon plastic pot using E.B. Stone organic potting soil. When you get a container for a rose make sure that it is deeper than wide, because roses like to make long tap roots and they need room to grow downwards.  I had to put bamboo sticks around the base of the rose to stabilize her and keep her in the pot otherwise she would have toppled over.

When I was done planting the rose into the container, I put her in a shady area by the side of the house where I grow my orchids. Normally I would never place a rose in this location, because roses need sun to do well, but this is an exceptional situation. I did not want to put the rose through the additional stress of loosing water because the sun hit her hard. She will stay in this place until I see that she starts to actively grow, again. If you look closely you can see already on the picture below that the blooms and the buds are wilting. I have to say I am worried about this rose, but try to stay positive and keep my fingers crossed. Besides I am watching her closely to make sure that she is not drying out, but I also do not drown her in water. Please, wish me luck that I get this rose through!

Since it became pretty clear to me lately, that I own more roses than I can comfortably take care of, I decided to reduce the number of roses that I am growing from currently approximately seventy five down to around fifty. At least that is my aim. In general I am having a very hard time to part with my roses and honestly I do like them all! But some roses do not turn out as satisfactory as expected (for example they are very disease prone in my climate, get too tall or do not fit into the existing color scheme in the garden etc.) and these are the roses that have to go first.

'Purple Pavement' is a Rugosa rose and is one of the roses that simply do not do that well in my garden. Rugosas are known not to like alkaline soil or water, which is exactly what we have here. They also do not seem to agree with very hot climates either. After I have gotten a few lovely blooms this spring 'Purple Pavement' deteriorated when the weather became hot and looked very unhappy. Even the buds dried up and the leaves became an unhealthy yellow color and it shedded quite a few of them. Exactly the same happened last year at this time of the season. So I decided to part with this rose and give it to someone, who loves it. I was so happy when my friend Stephanie wanted to take this rose out of my hands. I felt bad to hand a rose over to her that is not looking very good, but I know that Stephanie has a green thumb and can make roses thrive that are in much worse condition than my little 'Purple Pavement'. So I just hope that she can work her magic on this one, too. Interestingly Stephanie's garden is located just a few miles from mine, but she is growing some Rugosas already, which do very well for her.

Bye-bye little 'Purple Pavement', I hope you do better in your new home and I can visit you there from time to time!


See you in the garden!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Breakfast in the Garden

Last weekend on Saturday my husband and I were having breakfast in the garden. It was only the second or third time this year that we could do this, because we are relatively early risers and this year it has been unusual cold in the mornings so far. But last Saturday the weather was splendid with a vast clear blue sky and even though still a little bit chilly nothing could keep us indoors anymore. We put on really warm clothes and out we went. It has become a ritual over the last couple of years since we have bought our first house to at least have breakfast outside in the garden one time on the weekends if the weather allows. We cherish these quite mornings together very much, watching our plants grow and bloom, reading the newspaper, a magazine or a book and starting the day in a slow almost meditative way.

 (you can click on the pictures to enlarge)

We have very light garden furniture that you can easily move around in the garden and we pick different locations where we set up our breakfast table, depending on if we want to sit in the sun or shade or near a special plant. Previous Saturday we settled in front of 'Zephirine Drouhin', which is almost in full bloom right now. This rose has such a strong citrus fragrance it is truly amazing. When we were having breakfast we were blessed with her perfume wafting over to us in waves. Wafting rose fragrance is very unusual in San Diego inland, because there is very little humidity, which means fragrance is not carried well through the air. 'Zephirine Drouhin' is the only rose in my whole garden, and I have many fragrant roses in the yard, which is capable of embracing you with her perfume even though you are a couple of feet away from her. I have noticed that she smells the strongest in the morning and the fragrance becomes much weaker over the course of the day.

We feed the birds regularly in our back yard and we enjoy watching them at the feeder. Our breakfast table was positioned not too far away from the breakfast station for the birds and we were able to observe them and take photos. On the picture above you can see a House Finch, who is relatively common here in our area. I love their orange breast and head.

My husband was able to shoot this, in my eyes, amazing photo of a Mourning Dove, which is just flying away.

Briefly after we were done with the breakfast, one of our neighbors stopped by to show us her new puppy. Her full name is Anika, but she is called Nika. Little Nika is just six weeks old. She is a purebred Visla, which is an ancient Hungarian hunting dog bred. She will become very long legged and elegant when she is an adult dog, but right now she is just one of the cutest puppies that I have ever seen.


Not only for us it was a chilly morning, in the beginning Nika was shivering, too, so she was wrapped up into a baby blanket to keep her warm and cozy.

It did not take long and she was more interested in her surroundings and wanted to be put down to the ground...

... to explore the world on her own!

Don't you just love her flopping ears?

Going full speed!

She can already pose like a show dog. On the photo above you can get an idea of what an elegant, proud, and naturally graceful dog she will become. We had a lot of fun getting to meet Nika and see her checking out our garden. There is something so joyful about watching this little puppy getting to know the world.

After Nika and her human mom left my husband and I got back to our routine, which means that often after we are done with our breakfast we do a brief garden tour together. I could do a long one, but my husband is not that much into gardening and gets impatient easily, so I have to keep it short and sweet and just point out the momentary highlights of the garden to him. So today I show you what they were on last Saturday.

Naturally at this time of the year roses are the stars in the garden. My 'Iceberg' roses are starting to bloom in the back yard, too. They are already in full swing in the front yard, where we have a warmer micro climate that allows the roses to flower earlier than in the back yard.

Scabiosa flower. This is a particular large blooming variety. Sorry, I am not able to tell you the exact name of the variety. I must have lost the name tag, if it ever came with one.

We went on to the front yard where 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' is blooming her heart out. Can you see that she is making a lot of basal growth to the left side of the bush? I am so happy about that, since she was not doing this at all the last year. To her left side was growing a huge 'Burgundy Iceberg' rose, which was encroaching 'Our Lady of Guadalupe's' real estate. Now 'Burgundy Iceberg' moved to another home where it is cherished and 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' gets the space that she deserves and is obviously enjoying it. I am really pleased that she is on the way to build a nice, full, round, well balanced bush.

In the same bed a little bit closer to the house 'Sweetness' is planted. She is also blooming very prolific this year. When I had a closer look at her I noticed that the new leaves are becoming smaller than the older ones. I drew the conclusion that she needs to be fertilized again to bloom to her full potential. As you can see on the photo above there are 'Queen Anne Palms' growing very close to 'Sweetness' and I am sure that the roots of these palms eating a lot of the nutrients that are meant for 'Sweetness', same goes for the water, too, of course.

If you go further around the house and pass the garage to the right and reach the walkway to the entry of the house you see another 'Iceberg Climbing' in full bloom.

The last exciting thing that we discovered is a bloom on 'Belinda's Dream'. The flower is really huge for that the rose is only growing in a two gallon pot. You will not believe how heavy this bloom is, due to the many petals of this rose. I am expecting great things from 'Belinda's Dream' once it is planted in the ground!

Are you having breakfast outside from time to time, too? It is so worth it in my opinion. If you do not do it yet, maybe you should try it in the future...

See you in the garden!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Walkway to the House

The flower beds to the sides of the walkway leading up to our front door are one of the most prominent areas in our garden, simply because you pass them often a couple of times a day and also every visitor coming to our place is reaching our house through that area. Unfortunately in our yard this is the most challenging gardening area you can imagine. Why? Because first of all the beds are really ridiculously small. Not our fault by the way, we bought the house with the hard scape already done. Who ever laid out the front yard was for sure not thinking about how to plant this area, there is way too much concrete there in relationship to the overall space available. Therefore the plants have hardly any room to stretch their roots. Secondly in these beds grow two pigmy date palms (p. roebelenii), which provide severe root competition for any other plant, which want to make herself at home there, too. Thirdly this area is facing South-West side and it gets really hot there even in spring already not to talk about the heat of a Southern California summer. So all the plants that grow there must be very tough.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

I have planted two 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' roses in this part of our garden, which you can see in the photo above and one 'Iceberg' rose, which is hidden by the cycad on the right side of the photo and to my big surprise roses all do well, given that I take good care of them in terms of watering, fertilizing, and mulching. My experience with roses in general is that they are much tougher than their reputation, but you have to find the right varieties that grow well in your climate. My newest addition to this part of the garden is actually not a plant, but the two blue glazed terracotta spheres underneath the pigmy date palm. In this area nothing is growing so close to the palm and I find that the spheres are a perfect way to add color and interest to that previously problematic part of the front yard. I am really in love with them!

Close-up of one of the picture perfect blooms of 'Our Lady of Guadalupe', with the blue sphere as a back ground. I love the contrast between the silvery-pink of the rose and the strong clear blue of the sphere.

The two blue pots that I had previously placed underneath the pigmy date palm (see my post about them, if you click here) moved to both sides of the front door and bringing interest and color to the entry of the house. On the photo below, you can see one of them with the 'Key Lime Pie' heuchera in bloom. The tiny flowers are a very unobtrusive light creamy-pink color and are giving the heuchera a very delicate charm.

When you walk up to the front door on the left side I have planted three more of the 'Key Lime Pie' heucheras into the ground, which are also in bloom right now (see photo below). I like the effect of the repeated use of one plant as is often recommended in garden design books more and more and feel there is really something to that advice. Somehow a plant is becoming much more impact that way and the overall atmosphere is not feeling restless especially in a small garden.

Same heucheras, but seen from the front door perspective.

Hidden behind the cycad that you can see on the right side on the photo above is an 'Iceberg' rose, which is just about to start to bloom (photo below).

The photo below shows the pigmy date palm with one of the 'Our Lady of Guadalupe roses from the other side walking towards the front door. In front of the rose are pink dianthus blooming. I had planted a couple more of them scattered into this area of the garden, but unfortunately one after the other succumbed death through a fungi, which leads the dianthus suddenly to wilt and then they dry up. Sometimes not the whole plant dies, but just part of it, unfortunately that looks so ugly that you have to remove it anyway. After the first year I decided that there is a little bit too much pink in the front yard and I am slowly trying to introduce more blue or at least lilac-blue to this area to build a nice contrast to the pink 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' roses. This year I planted salvia 'Black & Blue', which produce blue and black flowers (not seen in the pictures). Somehow the salvias have a hard time to grow in, but hopefully they will take off soon.

Top part of the 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' rose. To me it is still fascinating that this rose is able to churn out so many perfect blooms.

Close-up of the dianthus that you can see in being planted in front of the rose two photos above. By the way they smell incredible strong and lovely!

A couple of more pictures of 'Our Lady of Guadalupe blooms in different stages of opening.

The last rose that says goodbye or hello to you depending if you are leaving or approaching the front door is an 'Iceberg Climbing' rose planted to the left side by the garage. It is just starting to bloom magnificently. I like to plant pink and white roses together and think of thems the perfect planting pair. The white saves the pink roses from being to "overly sweet" and "girly" in my opinion.

One last pictures of the blue spheres and the pink 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' roses. Looking at the pictures for this post and writing about our walkway to the front door I realized to my own surprise that in the moment I am quite happy with the way this part of the garden looks right now, despite the challenges that this area has presented to me as a gardener. Three years of tinkering around with plants, planting and replacing them if necessary has paid off for me and I really feel rewarded right now with beautiful blooms. Of course there is always room for improvement and I am working on it!

Hope you liked to walk the path up and down to our front door with me!
See you in the garden!