Sunday, July 31, 2011

July Roses

Summer is not the best season of the year for roses here in Southern California. It is simply too hot, there is too little humidity, and no matter how hard I try to hand water my roses to give them some extra dose of water it never seems to be enough for them to produce blooms that are really at their best. This summer is partly an exception, because it has not been as hot as it usually is here at this time of the year. The roses immediately respond to these conditions and were producing quite some lovely blooms.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

I will start with my new favorite rose 'Charles Darwin', a David Austin rose. This one is new to my rose collection and only this month it had produced the first fully developed blooms. I just love, love, love this rose. Only since this year I have become interested in yellow roses again, after dismissing them for a long time in my own garden. Somehow for me it is hard to find a yellow rose that is going well (means without to clash) with the soft, mostly cool colored other roses that I have. 'Charles Darwin' fits the bill perfectly. Some people have nasty things to say about its color like being an ugly "mustard yellow", but I strongly disagree with that. The roses also changes color quite a bit from the opening stage to when it is almost dropping its petals, which I find very interesting to observe. Talking about petals: 'Charles Darwin' lasts relatively long on the bush and in the vase, which certainly can not be said about all David Austin roses. In my garden it has been very healthy so far. I grow it own-roots and my one gallon plant came from Chamblee's Rose Nursery.

The photo is taken by my husband, just want to give him credit! I think the background of the dark blue/violet agapanthus makes it quite dramatic and emphasizes the lovely shade of yellow of the rose even more.

'Sister Elizabeth', another David Austin rose. This one is supposed to stay on the small side in terms of its mature size, which is welcomed by me since many of the David Austin roses become very tall here in California. I can see this rose planted in front of another bigger rose with "bare legs" or even in a tall container on the terrace. The color of 'Sister Elizabeth' is a very clear cool pink that does not change into the apricot color range with warm weather. Fragrance is nice, too. It has only one drawback in my yard. It got plenty of powdery mildew. This rose is another young one, so it might grow out of it.  

'White Meidiland'. I am not quite sure what to think of this rose. I purchased it after seeing it at a befriended Rosarian's garden and liked it there a lot. At that time I was looking for a good white rose (actually come to think of it I am always looking for a good white rose) and it had a nicely formed, full, pure white blooms, and was very healthy. In my garden the flower shape does not impress me so far (it is a little bit more irregular and informal than I had it in mind), it got powdery mildew and the white flowers have a pink tint. Since this rose is also still very young there is hope. So I am hoping...

'Pretty Jessica'. This rose has exceeded all my expectations! It is just a couple of weeks in the ground but blooming like crazy. It gets maybe a little bit more shade than it would like to, but still does not really complain. The foliage has been completely healthy even at times when other roses got powdery mildew and the flowers have a very nice from, globular with a darker pink center changing into a lighter pink at the outer ring of petals. The fragrance is fruity, strong, and very pleasant. When I stick my nose in a rose bloom like this I am wondering why I should ever grow a rose that is not fragrant when I can have the ones with scent. This adds just such a wonderful dimension to the pleasure of rose gardening.

This one is 'Cymbaline' an older David Austin rose. I happen to find it quite amazing in terms of the color and the fragrance. The color is described as a very unusual dove gray (right now it has more apricot undertones, but when the weather was cooler, it was truly dove gray) and the myrrh scent is almost overpowering. I grow this rose own-roots and it came from Vintage Gardens. It is still living in a two gallon container, so I can not say too much about the shape of the rose bush and the size yet, but it seems to be wanting to grow into a tall rose more upright rose.

'Pope John Paul II'. After the first flush had been pretty much ruined by thrips, the rose returned back to its  former glory with the second flush. It comes with a great fresh lemon fragrance. I think this hybrid tea rose is a must have for all lovers of white roses at least in warm climates.


'The Prince'. On my monitor the color of the rose is too much of a bright red in comparison to the original, but  at least the lovely form of the rose is captured. This is the darkest crimson red rose that I have and I dearly love 'The Prince'. Disease resistance is also not too bad for me. It needs afternoon shade in my climate otherwise the blooms fry.

'Overnight Scentsation', my first Mini-Flora rose. The blooms come in a clear medium pink color and the scent is truly, well scentsational. So far I am very impressed. I am curious to see the mature size of this rose here in Southern California. 

'Marie Pavie' is blooming so prolifically it is unbelievable. I am growing her in a spot with quite a bit of shade and she really seems to like it there. I guess in full sun the blooms would fry. This rose has a very strong spicy scent, which wafts. That is very rare in Southern California, because we have so little humidity to carry the fragrance through the air.

'Our Lady of Guadalupe' unphased by the heat. My three bushes are in their third flushes and the blooms can take a lot of heat without frying. Unfortunately this year my bushes got some powdery mildew and maybe even downy mildew though, which is really a pity. 

My two 'Pierre de Ronsard' are in their second flush. One which gets more sun and has less palm root competition repeats well, the other one just mediocre. They also had a phase where both of them got severe rust. But for me this rose is a keeper. The blooms are just too pretty to pass up on them. 

The last of the roses that I wanted to show to you today that bloomed in the month of July in my garden is 'Mary Rose'. This is an English Rose that has passed the test of time in my book. It is true that the blooms do not last too long on the bush and, of course, also not in the vase. But they come in great numbers, smell good, and have a very lovely shade of pink. What is not to love about it?

Hope you enjoyed to see some of the roses that were blooming in my yard in July!

See you in the garden!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mrs. Liddle's Private Garden in Sussex, England

 (you can click on the photos to enlarge)

One of the things that I enjoyed most in our recent vacation to England was besides visiting the grand public gardens to see private gardens, designed, planted, and tended to by "real gardeners", which in most cases means by the owner him/herself.

There is a great tradition in England called the National Garden Scheme, where private garden owners open their gardens to the public at certain days of the year. For a small admission that is used for charity you get to see absolutely lovely private gardens of all types and sizes. Very often you can have a cream tea for a little extra money, sit down, enjoy the garden and indulge in homemade scones or cakes and tea or if you like coffee, too. My husband and I had the most wonderful time visiting these gardens. Very often the owner is present and happy to answer questions about the garden, plants or chat about whatever you have on your mind. Most gardeners that we met that way were very enthusiastic and open to talk about their gardens and you could feel the love and passion that they put in their yards with every word that you exchanged. I would wish that the tradition of open gardens would also be more common in the US. It is just so much fun to do it!

This post is about Mrs. Wendy Liddle's garden, which was listed in the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), gardens open for charity, Sussex Gardens 2011 brochure this year (all photos that you have seen so far are from her incredible backyard). One of the in my eyes main attractions of this yard was the perfect integration of art into the garden. The garden and the art seem to enhance each other. On the photo below you can see a sculpture made by Philip Jackson titled "Reading Chaucer" placed in the perfect shady spot in front of a planting bed, with a big tree to the right and a pale lilac rhododendron to the left. The sculpture itself is just stunning, but the placement in the garden made it even more fascinating!

Here you can see the sculpture from the side. If I understood it correctly, the sculpture was a fiberglass model of the original sculpture made out of bronze. It was a loan of the artist to Mrs. Liddle for the open gardens event. Mrs. Liddle admired with this work of art very much and would have loved to keep the sculpture in her garden after the open gardens days were over. I would be so happy for her if she found a way to achieve this, since to me this piece of art seems to be just meant for her garden and she appreciated it so much.

The garden contained many unusual and fascinating plants like this very delicate allium variety that I think was so very charming...

... or this campanula whose flower was almost formed like a narcissus.

Mrs. Liddle liked to plant things very densely so that there was almost not soil to see in between the plants. Sometimes you felt you where totally engulfed by green. This almost completely green bed was soothing and could stand for itself just fine.  Do you see the mirror in between the greenery? Very nice surprise!


Another unexpected surprise catching your eye only when you look closely. Isn't the lily great as a background? Almost like a spotlight that draws your eye to the little sculpture.


Beautiful use of a container on a pedestal. 

 And another pedestal with a very lovely planted pot on top. This was my personal favorite!

There were many interesting containers scattered throughout the garden with lovely plantings that brought lots of color where it was needed.

Beautiful bed in a shady corner of the backyard.

And a flower bed in a more sunny location.

The same bed photographed from a different angle. 

I just loved the orange lilies. They were so vibrant and cheerful.

In this sitting area below my husband and I had our cream tea after we were done shooting photos. It was so nice to sit in this secluded peaceful space. I felt so private and protected.

There was a container with an almost clematis positioned in this sitting area, which lightened up the shade in a very nice way.

To the right side of the clematis in the corner there was this beautiful hanging basket placed to catch your attention.

Another lovely section of one of the many flower beds. I really liked that Mrs. Liddle used a lot of blue flowering plants in her beds.

This was yet one more beautiful combination of blue flowering plants.

Thank you very much Mrs. Liddle for opening your garden to the public, the time that you took to talk to my husband and I, the delicious cream tea and, of course, last but not least for allowing me to feature your lovely garden on my blog.

See you in the garden!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Rose Garden with no Roses to Cut?

Last weekend I wanted to cut some roses for our dinner table to make a lovingly cooked meal by my husband even more special. So in a good mood I went out with the secateurs in my hand and guess what, I could hardly find a rose that was suited for cutting. What a bummer!

The only bouquet I could come up with is the one that you can see on the photo below, containing five roses. The two clear pink ones are 'Bewitched' and the three white ones with the pink center are 'Pierre de Ronsard'.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

There is nothing wrong with this bouquet, and as a matter of fact I love it and am quite proud that these beautiful roses are coming from my own garden, but what bugs me is that I had to search quite a while for some roses suited for cutting purposes and these five were the only ones that I actually could find. It is not the first time that this happened to me that I had to declare a rose state of emergency in the middle of summer. You would assume that with approximately seventyfive roses planted in the ground and in containers that there is always a rose to find for cutting, but nope, often it is not.  Something is clearly wrong here!

That brings up the question: why is that so? First of all a lot of my roses are still very young, since I buy most of them as teeny tiny bands and it takes at least three years for these roses to get established. To show you an example: on the photo below you can see a band of 'Stephen's Big Purple', which will hopefully become a beautiful purple hybrid tea rose in the future.

Secondly I am growing a couple of roses that are unsuited for cutting, like some of my tea rose, which often have flower stems that are simply too short to fit into vase. Some of my roses do not last in a vase. They do not last on the bush either, but there it does not matter so much. I think one mistake that I am making is that I am not fertilizing often enough. Organic fertilizers do not last that long in the ground and need to be renewed I think at least three times in one growing season. Right now I am on my second round of fertilizing the roses, which clearly takes place a little late. When I compare my fertilizing regimen with the ones of the top rose exhibitors of the San Diego Rose Society it will not even bring a tired smile on your face. Obviously I still get a couple of decent roses, but not that many!

The rose of choice for cutting, of course, is the hybrid tea rose or a grandiflora rose, which are bred exactly for this purpose and have long stems that hold up the bloom well in a vase. I realized that I have only two roses of these classes planted in the ground which are already established: 'Sweetness' (I did a post about this rose some time ago, if you want to read it click here) and 'Pope John Paul II'. 'Sweetness' is just between flushes right now and there is not a single flower stem to find in the moment (see photo below).

'Pope John Paul II' on the other hand has a decent amount of blooms, but unfortunately most of them are damaged by thrips, an insect that leaves behind brown edges on the rose petals. You can not see it so clearly on the photo, but believe me the roses up close do not look very appealing. Unfortunately a white rose is really ruined for cutting purposes when these insects have infested it. In the garden seen from a distance it still can look OK:

The two other hybrid teas I frequently cut from are still growing in five gallon containers: 'Mister Lincoln' and 'Bewitched'. Since I robbed 'Mister Lincoln' of all its flowers lately and it is working on the next flush in the moment, ... narrowed it down to 'Bewitched'. And yes, I knew I could rely on this rose. She had about eight flowers in all kind of states of opening. Two of them were perfect for cutting. On the photo below you can see the bush after I cut two blooms of.


I wanted to cut at least five roses altogether and so I looked around and found three more on my 'Pierre de Ronsard', a shrub rose, which is producing his second flush. The flush is a little bit puny, so I thought if I cut of three more blooms it does not matter. On the picture below you can see 'Pierre de Ronsard' after I cut off three of its blooms. The re-bloom is truly pathetic, isn't' it?

 So there you go I finally got my little bouquet together.

Reflecting about how to improve the situation in the future I would like to plant more hybrid tea roses in the ground so that they get strong and vigorous and will give me great roses for cutting. Also some of the English Roses bred by David Austin might be suited for cutting, therefore I will try to plant some of those first, too.

My dream would be to have a separate cutting garden, where I only grow roses for cutting purposes. Like a vegetable garden this part of the yard would not have to look pretty all the time, but is a "working garden", which fulfills the purpose to provide me with cut flowers. Again, this is one of those moments where I wish that I would have a bigger garden (even though sometimes I can not keep up getting all the necessary work done in my small garden already!). - But wait a moment I have a small area at the one side of the house in the back yard, which is not landscaped yet and houses my pot ghetto right now. Maybe I could use it for this purpose. Hmm...., I have to think about it!

Have you ever been in my situation? How do you make sure you have roses for cutting when you need them even though you only have a small yard? 

See you in the garden!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Garden Happenings in July

Since I am back from England it has become quite hot here in San Diego inland with temperatures being in the low to mid 80s in the daytime and I am pretty busy deadheading and watering, watering, watering. Other than that I can only do small projects mainly on the weekends, because there is just no time left for more.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

I love this photo of 'Grandmother's Hat' dropping her petals early in the morning of what will become a hot summer day. I feel it represents summer so well.


One little project I am working on is to fertilize all the roses for the second time in the growing season. In parts I have to spread organic compost beneath them again. It would have been better, if I had been able to fertilize them earlier, since my roses are looking a little tired by now and are not blooming as profusely as they could, but better now then never, right? I am feeding them again alfalfa meal and Bio-Start an organic fertilizer that is recommended and sold this year by the San Diego Rose Society. This fertilizer is much cheaper than the E.B Stone organic rose fertilizer. I am curious to find out if it is also as good as the latter. I am completely done fertilizing the roses in the front yard and most of the roses planted in the ground in the backyard are fed already, too. But then I still have to get to all the roses in the containers...

One of my cycads is working on its own project. After two years of just sitting there it is finally producing a new layer of fronds. It is just about time because the old fronds have become yellow and brown and do not look that great anymore. Soon the new layer of fronds will replace them visually and I can cut the old ones of.

Here is a bigger photo of the "White Bed", taken just a few days later. You can see how much the new layer of fronds has already grown. Cycads do not grow continuously and have long periods where they just rest, but when they produce a new layer of fronds then these cycads do that at an amazing pace. The 'Iceberg' roses are working on their second flush this year.

Same bed photographed from the other side. Can you see the very small silver leaved plants in front of the second cycad to the right?

I believe this plant is called artemisa 'Silvermound' and I think it is very pretty, but somehow it does not like to grow in my garden. I would have wished that by now they had filled in like the 'Dusty Miller' surrounding the other cycad to the left. I planted the artemisa 'Silvermound' in December last year and they just have started to put on a little bit of size, but still do not look happy. I will wait a little longer, but if they do not behave they get replaced with something else. I am running out of patience...

My gardenia 'Veitchii' was blooming so beautifully and profusely, but now is coming to an end or is just taking a "breathing break", I am not quite sure, yet. It is supposed to be an ever-blooming gardenia, though, whatever that means. By now unfortunately I only get very occasionally a bloom like you can see on the photo above.

'Yolande d'Aragon' is still repeating very well. I find the flowers so sumptuous and lavish. Again another symbol of the of summer to me.

Because I ran out of organic rose soil when my husband and I were planting 'Mme. Ernest Calvat' (click here to see the previous post about that) I had to drive to the nursery. Even though I am on "plant buying stop" until I have reduced my pot ghetto I could not leave without this alstroemeria 'Little Miss Sophie'. I was so smitten with the white flowers with the very pale pink stripe in the middle of each flower petal. Most alstroemerias that I have seen here in California are much more bold, which is not so much to my liking. Interestingly when I googled this one I found out that it is bred in England in Chichester in the county of West Sussex, an area that we just visited when we were on vacation. What a coincidence!

What also came with me from the nursery visit are these herbs. To the left two Sweet Italian Large Leaf Basil plants and to the right Curled Parsley. I am looking forward for these to grow and later spice our dishes. For some reason I have had trouble growing parsley here in San Diego previously. Maybe it is simply too hot for parsley? I am curious to see how this one will fair.

'William Shakespeare 2000', still a relatively small rose in a two gallon container, is really willing to bloom, but I would wish that he also would show more willingness to be disease resistant. The rose is still mildewing quite a bit, but so far it does not seem to affect its ability to flower. I so hope that it will grow out of this problem.  

A rose that has already grown out of its mildew problems is 'Green Ice', a miniature. I got this rose from my Rosarian friend Stephanie. Thank you so much again, for this cute little guy, Stephanie! It has given me already so much pleasure.

This is 'Storm Cloud' a tall, very dark blue late flowering agapanthus, which just has started to come into its own in my garden. On my monitor the color is not captured properly by my camera. It is darker and more purple/blue in reality.

Here is another shot of the same agapanthus. I am so in love with the color!

One more photo of 'Grandmother's Hat'. She is one of my favorite Old Garden Roses and I am surprised that she can take the heat so well. Her petals are thin, but she is not crisping as much as I thought she would.

'Zephirine Drouhin' is repeating well for me for the first time this year. The citrus fragrance is truly outstanding, but the whole bush is not looking so pretty right now. There are a lot of yellow leaves and the tall bush (at least 8' x 8') looks a little bit unruly.

The 'Endless Summer' hydrangea is still going strong. I am very pleased with this plant, so much so that I got two more hydrangeas: 'Penny Mac' also a repeat flowering one and 'Nikko Blue'. I am very curious to see how they will turn out.

Close-up of a hydrangea flower. They are so perfect and pretty. 

There are many more things happening in the garden right now, but I will finish for today! Hope you are having a great summer!
See you in the garden!