Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Roses

As expected February was the month with the least roses flowering in my garden. There are two reasons for this: One is that all roses planted in the ground are recently pruned, so they have not been able to produce new flowers yet and secondly time-wise I was not able to continue to fertilize the roses growing in containers, which made them stop producing blooms. Still there were some rose flowers in my yard, which I would like to share with you.

I think the most beautiful rose this month has been 'Alexander Hill Gray'. The flowers are so elegant in terms of their form. That they come in the palest yellow color imaginable only underlines their understated beautiful appearance. 

On the photo above you can see the same bloom earlier, when it was more in the bud stage. Still already a beauty in my eyes. Unfortunately the rose continues to mildew and is even suffering from black spot.

'Pope John Paul II' after a rain shower. At times the rain drops look like diamonds on the fresh dark red leaves of this rose. This was the only spray that the rose was having, because it grew at the end of a new basal cane, which begun to form in the autumn. I cut the spray for the house because it looked simply too awkward to have just one on the whole bush. 

'Old Fashioned Girl' is blooming happily away in its small terracotta container. The rose is growing on our terrace and gets a lot of warmth from the radiating heat from the concrete. I assume that coaxes her into bloom. I don't like the red specks on the flower petals so much, but as the weather is warming up...

... the flowers look like this. Pure perfection! There is just one flaw: The rose is said to be fragrant, but I can't detect the slightest hint of perfume. There is still a small chance that it might show up when it gets warmer and/or when the rose is getting more mature.

The last rose that I can present to you is 'Marie Pavie'. This one had produced a complete flush of blooms in the winter so I decided to not prune it but rather enjoy the blooms. I pulled all the old leaves, though, so in the moment the bush looks rather wired, but it is producing leave buds, where the old leaves have been sitting so I hope it will be pretty again soon.

That were the roses that bloomed in February in my garden. I know it is not much, but I am happy about each flower that I am getting at this time of the year and I hope you enjoyed looking at their photos, too. I hope next month I have more rose photos to publish.

See you in the garden!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This and That

Even though it is winter my Southern California garden never sleeps. Of course, certain plants take a brief break, but something is always blooming or at least actively growing. That is one reason why I love living here so much. Come, have a look what is going in my yard!

I have two of these urns since about a year or so and liked them the way they were, plain and without anything growing in them. But suddenly this winter I had a change of mind and decided to plant them with annuals. I have chosen white pansies 'Delta Premium Pure White' and dusty miller 'Silverdust' to evoke memories of ice and snow, which, of course, we don't have here.

Here you can see the top of the urn a little closer. The pansies have grown in quite nicely and so did the dusty miller. I am really pleased with this plant combination.

A few days ago my banana-shaped rose bed in the front yard looked like this. The roses were more than ready to be pruned. Yes, I know I am late for my climate zone, but I simply don't have as much of a chance to garden than I would like to and my yard and I just have to put up with that fact. I guess nothing bad will happen because I pruned late in the season, except that the spring flush will be a little bit delayed.

This is how the bed presented itself after I was done pruning the roses. I actually enjoy doing this chore, but here in Southern California we have not only to prune but to de-leaf the roses, too, which can be very time consuming, depending on to how many leaves the rose is still clinging on. I am happy to report that now I am almost done with pruning my roses that are planted in the ground. I don't talk about the ones living in containers, though!

Now that the roses are pruned you can actually see how big the alstroemeria 'Little Miss Sophie' has become. What I really like about it, is that it has formed a nice mound. Many alstroemerias become very tall and leggy here in SoCa and besides the lovely blooms don't look that appealing as to me as a plant, but this one acts differently at least so far. If you look closely you can see that it even tries to bloom through the winter. The alstroemeria is surrounded by four penstemons 'Pinacolada Violet', which also want to flower. Unfortunately they are a favorite of the slugs and snails.

The verbena 'Aztec White Improved' is looking pretty good in the moment. It just started to bloom a couple of days ago and this way brings a little bit of life into the relatively bare bed right now.

Close-up of the white verbena blooms. They are tiny, but because they come in masses they do have quite an impact. I planted lavender colored verbenas last year and had no luck with them at all, but the white ones look promising so far, don't they?

Some pruned roses appear almost like sculptures, like this 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' in the front yard. I have to admit that for a brief time I like this sparse look. If I wouldn't know better it is very hard to imagine that this rose bush will transform itself into a dark green leaved beauty with many lovely silvery pink blooms soon. For me that is almost as much of a miracle like a hatching butterfly.

In the back yard my cymbidium orchids are in full bloom now. I especially love this greenish-white variety.

Here you can see my wine red/pink cymbidium in the foreground shadowing the green/white one. Too bad that I don't know the names of the varieties. I have these orchids since many years now, they even moved with me from the Bay Area down to San Diego. Despite their exotic extravagant flowers they are "no fuss", easy to grow plants for me here in San Diego. They just need to be watered regularly and fed once in a while. Last year I thought about dividing them, but in the end didn't have the guts. So I just potted them up and they seem to be enjoying that. Actually the wine red/pink one had six more flower stalks then you can see on the photo, which I cut off to take indoors and to give away to friends. This orchid is blooming so prolifically.

Close-up of the wine red/pink orchid flowers. Aren't they beautiful?

This is my Hybrid Perpetual Rose Bed, which I planted last year. The roses have grown quite a bit in less than twelve months and this spring I expect them to bloom significantly more than in their first year. From the left to the right you can see 'Yolande d'Aragon', 'Reine des Violettes', and 'Grandmother's Hat'. These were the first roses that I pruned this winter. I think I did it the last week of December. To me it is pretty amazing how much the roses have leaved out already, especially 'Grandmother's Hat'. I can't wait for the gorgeous Hybrid Perpetual blooms to reoccur, again. They were so incredible beautiful last year! I planted two 'Giant Blue' Scabiosa Hybrids (Pincushion Flower) in between them and I am astonished that one is already starting to bloom.

Here you can see the very first bloom of the 'Giant Blue' scabiosa as a close-up! I just love the pale lavender color. Despite their delicate appearance they also make quite good cut flowers. In the front yard in a very prominent space close to the front door I have a scabiosa caucasica 'Butterfly Blue', which has much smaller flowers. It is pretty and flowers a lot, but at the same time it is a pain in the neck to deadhead and when not deadheaded it looks unkempt and unruly. Scabiosa 'Giant Blue' has less blooms than scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue', which means less deadheading, but they are bigger and have therefore the same of even more impact. With limited gardening time I am thinking about how to make the maintenance of the garden simpler in the long run, so I am contemplating to replace scabiosa caucasica 'Butterfly Blue' with another 'Giant Blue' scabiosa.

To the left side of the Hybrid Perpetual Rose Bed I placed an Elephant Foot plant in a terracotta container in between two giant Washingtonia Palms. Nothing, absolutely nothing can survive the root competition in the ground between those palms, for that reason the only way to have something growing in that area is to plant it in a pot. There is nothing wrong with this plant but the Elephant Foot never won my heart. I wanted to give it away like I did with its brother, but it didn't work out, so I left it where it is and still try to decide what to do with it.

The pansies 'Colossus Pure White' that I planted in the terracotta containers briefly before Christmas have grown in nicely and by now completely fill out the pots. Two years ago I planted pansies, too, and lost maybe half of them. I think I planted them too late in the season and it was already too warm, so the tiny root balls of six-pack pansies didn't survive the extreme conditions. This year I was planting them earlier and I was also absolutely diligent with the watering, which means watering them every day a little bit over the first couple of weeks. It worked. I am so glad that I made a second try!

I do like the blue whiskers a lot!

See you in the garden!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

January Roses

I am afraid, I am a little late to come in with a new post, but was just not able to blog earlier. January this year I had definitive less roses blooming than in the previous one, mostly due to the fact that I didn't fertilize the roses that are still living in containers in the winter, I believe. Without proper nutrients they are simply not able to perform and who could blame them. Most of my roses in the ground are finally pruned, so basically I look at bare sticks right now even though some are leaving out already again, but of course, they are not blooming yet. Anyway, I managed to get some photos. Here are some of the roses that flowered in January in my garden.

This little Miniature, 'Sweet Chariot' has quite surprised me. It produced a flush of blooms in January that is could easily go through for a spring flush. I am sure the light wall, which is reflecting warmth and light has caused this to happen but still...


In the photo above you can see the small flowers of 'Sweet Chariot' a little bit closer. Aren't they adorable? And the fragrance is really great.

'Moonlight Scentsation' has graced me with another of its ghostly white blooms. I am totally in love with the unusual white color. The rose comes with a truly great fragrance, too. I can't wait to see it mature a little more. Right now it is still very small and living in a terracotta container close by my kitchen door.

I have read that Tea roses are able to flower through the winter in Southern California so I had high hopes that 'Georgetown Tea' would do that for me, but it didn't happen. The rose is planted in the middle of a group of tall Queen Anne Palms, which shade her quite a bit, so I assume that might be one possible explanation why it hasn't bloomed as much as I would wish. We had some unusual warm days at the end of December and I think that coaxed it into at least trying to produce some flowers. This is one of them. I get never tired of the delicate look of Tea roses. The flower failed to open, but I love it in the stage when I shot the photo above as much as I would have enjoyed a fully open bloom.

'Pope John Paul II' is incredible bloomiferous in my garden. The rose was pruned already when I took the photo, but it managed to produce two new basal canes, which bloomed, so I had flowers on it, even though the rose was bare sticks otherwise. Admittedly the bush looked a bit awkward, so I cut the flowers and brought them indoors to enjoy and they still sit on the table right to the left of my lap top. The fragrance is phenomenal. 

I am excited to show you a photo of  'Alexander Hill Gray', one of the eight new roses that I ordered from Vintage Gardens nursery lately. I wanted this Tea rose badly and for a long time and this is the first bloom that I saw developing fully. It starts out as a very pale yellow and ages to a little bit more saturated color. The beauty of the flower is beyond my expectations, but only time will tell if the rose will do well for me. I have read that it can have a tendency to mildew in some climates and unfortunately I have seen quite a bit of mildew on my young rose so far.

This is 'Old Fashioned Girl' a Miniature rose that has become very dear to me. I love the romantic, like the name says, old fashioned appearance of it. After a little difficult start as a band it now seems to be happy in its new home, a small terracotta container, and is taking off. The rose has been very healthy so far in my garden.

The faithful 'Sweetness' was also churning out a few blooms even in the middle of winter and I was pretty grateful for that. However, the quality of the blooms was not so good anymore, but who cares if you can have roses blooming at this time of the year! 

'Iceberg' was also still spreading its cheerful charm by the walkway to our house. Seeing this photo I wonder how could I possible part with two of these roses, but I did. I guess this is a story for another post...

See you in the garden!