Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Roses

Despite August being the hottest month of summer, this year most of my roses continued to flower, instead of stopping the bloom production and just going into survival mode until it cools down. Why is it different this year? I will never know for sure, but there are some components that might have contributed to a nice rosy August. First of all the month was not as hot as usual for our neck of the woods, even though we definitely had a couple of very hot days, where some rose flowers even fried. Also many of my roses are now planted in the ground for the third or the fourth year and I think, they have developed a fairly good root system, which gets them through the heat.  In addition to that this year I fertilized my roses not only in early spring, but after the first big rose flush was over. I really believe that did the trick. My soil seems to be so poor in nutrients that the roses simply need a second serving of fertilizer before the summer kicks in. In the following I post some photos of roses that had flowered in my garden this month.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

'Baronne Edmund de Rothschild' is a new Hybrid Tea rose. She is growing on her own roots and is doing well so far. Do you notice the white reverse on the back of the rose petals? I think, this can become a very pretty rose once it is more mature.

'Irresistible', the famous miniature rose. It almost died on me, but now comes around and grows quite nicely. This is her first bloom. It is always very exciting for me to see the very first bloom of a new rose in my garden.

'Herbie' another new miniature rose. The first blooms looked quite promising.

'William Shakespeare 2000' is another rose that seem to love the heat. I am glad that it is not mildewing anymore. The leaves have some insect damage as you can see but in an organic, no-spray garden this is not avoidable. I can live with this usually pretty well. 

'The Prince' so far I can do what I want my camera is not capable to capture the color of this rose accurately. Imagine the bloom is much darker than my photo shows. I love this rose for the deep bluish red color, but this is one of my rose varieties that fries easily in the heat.

'Sweetness' withstands the heat very well. It pumps out one gorgeous perfect rose after the other and is still completely disease free. If it has one flaw than this is that the repeat is not as quick as I would like it to be, but it is understandable that the rose needs some time to recover after one flush of these very big beautiful blooms.

'The Crocus Rose' is also a new own root rose. It mildews like crazy, but still made it do produce its very first bloom. I like the flower a lot. Hopefully the mildew subsides!

'Bewitched'. One of my most reliable Hybrid Tea roses for providing me with very fragrant cut flowers. She is re-blooming very quickly for a Hybrid Tea rose after one flush is over.

Climbing Devoniensis. This rose is still in a container, but the blooms that it delivers are getting bigger and bigger. I love everything about this rose, the subtle elegant color, the for a Tea rose relatively strong fragrance, the floriferousness except that it is susceptible to mildew so far. 

'Georgetown Tea' another one of my Tea Roses. The elegance of the unfolding buds of this variety is hard to beat in my opinion. I love the delicate dark veining of the back of the petals.

'Mister Lincoln'. This Hybrid Tea rose continues to churn out very fragrant, red, high-quality bloom on long stems. They are really great for cutting. It is a very good Hybrid Tea rose in my climate, but I have heard that it really needs the heat to bloom well.

'Memorial Day', fully open flower.  I like the ruffled petals quite a bit, but I am sure it is not everyone's cup of tea.

'Memorial Day' at an early opening stage. This rose has an incredible strong fragrance.

My 'Icebergs' are also quite heat tolerant. You can always count on the 'Iceberg' roses here in Southern California. They may get powdery mildew at times, but their ability to bloom is not affected by that.

'Our Lady of Guadalupe' producing clusters of blooms and blooms and blooms. It is truly a great rose in my garden.

See you in the garden!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Birdkeeper's Cottage in St. James's Park, London

Today I would like to show you some more photos from our recent trip to England. After visiting Westminster Abbey my husband and I decided to walk back to our hotel through St. James's Park. I spare you any photos of Westminster Abbey, since better shots of this famous, majestic church than we were ever able to take have gone all over the world recently during the TV coverage of the wedding of Prinz William and Kate Middleton. Anyway, after getting a little deeper into the Park we suddenly came across this:

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

Isn't this the most adorable cottage with an incredible beautiful traditional cottage garden? And all of that in the middle of a public park? I really think this is only possible in England. I do salute the Brits for their love of gardening and their garden passion. I do not know much about this lovely historic cottage and its gardens except that in 1837 the Ornithological Society of London presented some birds to the Park and build the cottage for a birdkeeper. Nowadays the cottage feels almost like coming right out of a fairy tale.

There were hundreds of delphiniums and all of them were tall and very vigorous. They simply seem to love the climate in England. How I wish I could grow this plant here in San Diego, but I am very sure that it is simply too hot and dry for it to do well. It most likely will not be anything else here than an expensive annual that you can buy at the nurseries right before it flowers and toss out of the garden a few weeks later.

This photo shows the cottage from a different angle with the walkway to the front door. You can see it is a little bit tattered and crocked, probably because of its age, but all the architectural details give it so much charm. I love the edging of the walkway with lavender. To the left you can see a little bit of the vegetable garden and to the right was the flower garden.

The cottage garden was loved by squirrels, too!

If you follow my blog you may know already that white is my favorite color, so I was totally smitten with this white delphinium. These plants radiate so much elegance and purity. 

Besides delphiniums they were also growing plenty of foxgloves in this garden. I think the combination of the two plants is hard to beat. Even though it rained on and off in the days we spent in London, the foxgloves and the delphiniums looked quite decent and not battered too much by the rain.

If you look closer, you see there is a reason for this. The delphiniums were staked. How much work is it to stake that many delphiniums by hand? I am really speechless that people go through the hassle to do this for the love of gardening. In our times were everything has to be fast and effective mostly at the cost of quality. Seeing this to me is food for the soul. 

Another view of the flower garden part of the cottage garden.

Above you can see the vegetable garden a little bit better. Unfortunately we did not take closer photos of that part of the garden. I guess we had been already tired. But the vegetable garden was as meticulously kept as the flower garden and there was a bounty of veggies growing.

The squirrels were very tame and demanding you to feed them. This little guy was balancing very elegantly on the thin fence of the cottage garden. He came so close I could have touched him.

At a second glance I also saw that they were growing lady's mantel (alchemilla mollis) and oriental poppys in the flower beds, too. They make wonderful companion plants to the delphiniums and foxgloves.

I do not know about you, but I for my part I just could not get enough of the cottage and the garden...

Writing this post makes me almost feeling a little bit sentimental. We had such an incredible good time in England and I am very grateful that we were able to visit this beautiful country. Besides very fond memories I took home so much garden inspiration and ideas, they will nurture me for a long time.  Still I wish that I can go back there some time not too far in the future.

And as for my own garden I might try to sow larkspur as a substitute for the delphiniums, or even buy some of the short lived delphiniums next year if the longing for these beauties overwhelms me....

See you in the garden!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

English Afternoon Tea, California Style

This year somehow we have not been so much outside just enjoying the garden, rather than working in it.  Whereas last year, as far as I have it in mind, we were outside whenever possible and were having almost all our meals and afternoon teas on the terrace on the weekends. I want to get back to that at least for the rest of the outdoor season here in Southern California, which means basically until the rainy season in winter sets in.

One of the highlights of our outdoor living last year has been an English Afternoon Tea that my husband and I did just for the two of us on the Fourth of July weekend 2010. Today I would like to show you some photos of that English Afternoon Tea and the view into the garden from our sitting area where we used to sit most of the time last year. 

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

Life was good! Just looking at the photos I want to do a proper English Afternoon Tea immediately, again. The area of the planting beds by the fence has changed quite a bit because the plants, especially the roses have grown so much. Somehow the beds by the fence facing the open space area behind our property looked much more tidy last year than it does now. Maybe because the plants had not grown into each other as much as they do now? What I do not like seeing the picture today are all the plants potted up in black plastic containers. Most of the once lining up the grassy area to the left of the terrace are banned to my pot ghetto, which is located to the South West side of the house now. I would love to start another rose bed to the left side of the terrace, the roses are already there to do it.

One of the reasons, I guess, why we avoided the year to sit down outside for a quick tea or coffee you can see on the photo above. Roses have taken our seats! This spring we had a terrible problem with most likely rabbits eating the small own-root roses growing in the one or two gallon pots. Therefore I put all my roses up on anything that was available so that the rabbits could not reach them anymore. It is just a little bit inconvenient to clear the chairs and the bench before we can have a seat ourselves.

Anyway, back to the English Afternoon Tea pictures from last year. On the next three photos I would like to show you the content of the three tired stand a little bit more closely.

The first plate holds cucumber sandwiches, decorated with black olives, fresh cucumber slices and mint sprigs. 

The second tier presents homemade savory scones with chicken salad containing red peppers spiced with curry served on salad leaves and garnished with dates.


The third tier was filled with the same savory scones but this time presented as little burgers. They are filled with battered baked chicken pieces with tomato slices on top and watercress as a garnish.

In addition to that we had homemade sweet scones formed in heart shapes and lemon poppy seed cake served with fresh whipped cream and orange jam...

...and a bowl of fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, and black berries) to go with them. All these goodies were enjoyed together with a good quality organic Darjeeling tea.

Gosh, when I look at the photo I really think we spoiled ourselves. But why not? I hope we do at least one more English Afternoon Tea this year!

How about you? Do you take the time to sit down and have your tea or coffee in the garden just enjoying all the beauty you have created? Are you doing traditional English Afternoon Teas outdoors?

See you in the garden!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rose of the Month: 'Zephirine Drouhin'

 'Zephirine Drouhin' at the peak of the spring flush 2011 in my garden.
 (you can click on the photos to enlarge)

Continuing my series of posts about a specific rose variety I will feature 'Zephirine Drouhin' today. Unfortunately I was not capable to write a post about one rose variety each month as planed for various reasons. Since I still intend to publish posts portraying one rose variety in particular from time to time I will keep the title for this series of posts in my blog even though they will not necessarily appear each month anymore.

Unfolding flower of 'Zephirine Drouhin' with water drops

'Zephirine Drouhin' is a Climbing Bourbon rose that grows in a wide range of climate zones and seems to be equally loved and hated. Many of the criticism that I have read about this rose is based on her susceptibility for various rose diseases like black spot and powdery mildew, her trait to defoliate, and not to repeat well under certain circumstances.


On the other hand she is loved for her abundance of blooms, her ability to bloom in flushes or even continuously (yes, this is very contrary to the fact that it is also said, that she does not repeat well!), and her strong, incredible, and unique fragrance. I myself am split in two halves when it comes to this rose. I certainly love her in spring, but I am not too fond of her at certain other times of the year. But we will come to that later...

General Information

'Zephirine Drouhin' was bred by Bizot (France, 1868). It is classified as a Bourbon Climbing Rose. The color of its blooms is a hot bright pink. The size of her flowers is approximately 3.5" (9 cm). They have 20 - 30 petals and the average diameter of the large loosely double blooms is 4". David Austin says about her flower shape: "Although the individual flowers are not particularly fine in themselves, they are produced freely." They appear as single blooms or in small clusters of 3 - 5 flowers.

 on this photo you can see a typical clusters of buds

The rose is described to have a strong, sweet, very delicious, damask fragrance and is said to bloom in flushes throughout the season. It is a tall climbing rose with matte, light green foliage. Her height is estimated to be 10' - 15' (305 to 455 cm) and the width to be 6' to 8' (185 - 245 cm). HMF lists this rose to be suitable for USDA zone 5b through 10b. The rose is vigorous and can be grown as a shrub or a climber.

My Zephirine Drouhin in spring 2009, she has grown quite a bit if you compare this photo to the ones from this year's spring.

It also has the advantage of being shade tolerant. 'Zephirine Drouhin' is known to be susceptible to black spot and powdery mildew. It is recommended to remove spent blooms to encourage re-bloom. One of her outstanding attributes is that 'Zephirine Drouhin' is almost thornless. This rose is known to be one of the earliest roses to bloom in the season and one of the last.

You often will find buds, unfolding flowers and fully opened blooms at the same time on one cane.

There are two lighter pink sports of 'Zephirine Drouhin' available: 'Kathleen Harrop' (flowers have fewer petals) and 'Marthe' (has a fuller bloom).

Personal Experience

'Zephrirne Drouhin' and I have a little bit of a complicated relationship. On the one hand she is one of the most fragrant roses that I grow in my garden and not only is her fragrance very strong, but it is also a very pleasant one to my nose not matched by any other rose that I grow. On top of this it wafts, which is very rare here because of our low humidity. She is also one of my most beautiful rose bushes in spring in terms of the overall appearance, not necessarily of the individual flower though, when she is in her first flush. My photo do not do this rose justice. You have to see a 'Zephirine Drouhin' rose in person to really be able to appreciate her beauty. It just can blow you away!

' Zephirine Drouhin' spring flush 2011

On the other hand in my garden she has periods in summer when she can be downright ugly because she gets mildew, or black spot or rust and sheds a lot of leaves for that reason. Of course, the leaves turn yellow before they fall off and that does not help with the appearance of the rose bush. Even though it is said by different sources that this rose is blooming in flushes or even continuously, mine is not. She is in her fourth year now and the re-bloom in summer has become a little better with age, but is still not anything to write home about. It is more a scattered re-bloom than a second flush.

This is how 'Zephirine Drouhin' looked just a couple of days ago.

I can attest that this rose is very vigorous once it takes off, which happened in my garden in the second year, as my photos document. I bought my rose from a local nursery and forgot what the tag said the grower was. She is most likely grafted on Dr. Huey rootstock, since that is usually the case for roses that you can buy in Southern California. Since I bury the graft of my roses, I assume that the rose is growing on her own roots by now, too. 'Zephirine Drouhin' throws up a lot of basal canes, which lets her appear lush and full. She is approximately 9' wide and 9' tall and wide by now and I have a slight suspicion that she might become much taller in Southern California than the size that is usually listed for her in rose books. I grow my rose as a fountain like shrub in a location where she is shaded by Queen Anne Palm fronds part of the day and 'Zephirine Drouhin' seems to like that. The flower color is hot pink, which is almost a little bit too bold for my taste, but the blooms fade quickly under the California sun to a more paler pink.

Basically, I grow this rose for her spectacular show in spring and even more so for her outstanding unique fragrance, which can really transport you to heaven in a second. In my small garden I do not know if I have the space for such a large rose that is only really beautiful, not to say spectacular in spring, which is just a short time of the whole growing season here in San Diego and most of the other times of the year just looks so-so. I also would prefer to see a climbing rose that gives me at least two distinctive flushes per year and is less disease susceptible.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking about replacing her with a climber or tall shrub rose that repeats better and has more healthy foliage year round. But each spring I am asking myself how I could ever even consider taking her out, because she is so breathtaking. I also have to give her credit for starting to repeat a little better over the years and her spring flush goes on for a couple of weeks.

I am curious if she will actually give me an autumn flush this year since she has matured so much more. So for now I most likely will give her another year and see how the repeat is this autumn and will at least enjoy one more breathtaking spring flush next year.

Another option could be to plant her in a less prominent location. Right now she is almost in the center spot of my backyard and there I really would love to have a rose there that performs better. One thing that I am trying this year is to fertilize her three times and also give her more water. Maybe that will improve her performance.

Even though 'Zephirine Drouhin' shows some flaws in my garden I would recommend to grow her if you have a big garden, just for the spectacular spring flush and her special perfume alone.

If you have a smaller garden you still might want to try her since this rose seems to be very temperamental how she behaves (depending probably on your climate and soil condition) and it seems to be somewhat unpredictable where she likes to grow. Who knows, she might do well for you!

Unfortunately, my experience has been that since she is a climber you have to give her even longer than the usual three years to really find out how she is performing in your garden. So you have to be patient with this rose to allow her to develop her full potential, but I feel that if you garden you have to learn to be patient anyway. In my garden 'Zephirine Drouhin' will stay a little longer, at least for now!

 'Zephirine Drouhin' a little bit past her peak spring 2011

Not related to the topic of this particular post, but still very worth mentioning to me is the fact that between the last post and this one I crossed the line of my first ten thousand pageviews (You can find the counter at the sidebar of my blog). So I just would like to take the chance to thank my visitors for reading my blog, looking at my photos, becoming followers, and even leaving kind comments on my blog. If it weren't for you, it would not make sense that I would write and photograph for this blog at all. It is so much fun for me to share my own garden experience here in San Diego, California with you, dear readers, but also let you participate in my visits of other public and private gardens close and abroad. A heartfelt thanks to all of you out there! I am looking forward to continue this journey together with you!

See you in the garden!