Sunday, September 8, 2013

Almost End of Summer

Actually, I can't believe that we are almost approaching the end of the summer already. Where has the time gone by? Even though many good things come with the summer, here in Southern California it is not an easy season neither for the garden nor the gardener. Highest day temperatures have been consistently anywhere from the 80ties to the 90ties over the last couple of weeks. Most plants suffer in this continuous heat or at least don't like it and need plenty of water to get through it. That means for me that I am hand-watering, and hand-watering, and hand-watering, despite that we have sprinkler systems in most parts of the garden. Still it is simply not enough and some plants, like the roses, benefit very much from deep-watering once or twice a week. Also most of my containers have to be watered daily in this weather. To be completely honest with you, by now, like every year, I am pretty fed up with my watering duties.

Despite that I still try to water as much as I can time-wise, because when the roses are watered and fertilized in my climate zone most of them continue to flower through the heat of summer. The blooms don't last that long though, in some varieties only a day, so there is tons of deadheading to do as well to keep the garden looking good.

In the following I would like to give you some impressions of what has been going on in my garden in the last couple of weeks. 

'Marie Pavie' is one of the roses that actually seems to like the heat and is pumping out one flush after the other. She is having a blue hardy geranium 'Rozanne' as a companion to grow with, which also doesn't seem to mind the warm weather. I love this combination. Both plants are fairly easy to grow in my garden.

Usually summer is not the time to do bigger garden projects, because it is simply too uncomfortable to work in the heat. But on 4th of July my husband and I decided that it is finally time for 'Madame Alfred Carriere', a tea-noissette rose, to go into the ground. You can see her in the foreground in the big terracotta container in the middle of this photo.

She was supposed to go into the very left corner of our backyard, between the metal fence and the wooden fence, right behind 'Georgetown Tea' (rose bush in the foreground), a pink Tea rose.

I had hired the gardener to pre-dig a nice big hole and my husband enlarged it the morning before we planted the rose. Usually in our bad soil I prefer a size of three feet width and two feet depths for a new planting hole for a rose. I completely discard the original soil, which is mostly stones and exchange it with organic rose soil.

While my husband was digging I pruned off the long canes of 'Madame Alfred Carriere', just to make her easier to handle for us. Here the dolly is already waiting to roll her over to her planting hole.

  And in the planting hole she is!

In the photo above shown from another angle. I think she looks fantastic already and seems to enjoy having her feet in cool soil instead of the hot terracotta container. 

This photo doesn't picture it very well, but 'Madame Alfred Carriere' is filling in the corner behind 'Georgetown Tea' nicely. I know that I am taking a little bit of a gamble with 'Madame Alfred Carriere', because she can be prone to powdery mildew in my climate, but you never know until you try. I have seen an absolute breathtaking specimen in another garden not too far away, though. So I keep my fingers crossed that mine will develop into a lovely white flowering rose and not into a mildew monster.

On the picture above I have captured a bloom of 'Georgetown Tea'. I love the frilliness of the flowers of this rose. Always reminds me of ballerina tutus.

On the photos further above you see that 'Georgetown Tea' has only a few flowers at the time I took them. That is mostly due to not enough water and fertilizer. So after planting 'Madame Alfred Carriere' I fertilized 'Georgetown Tea' generously with fish emulsion as an emergency fix and then organic rose fertilizer and alfalfa meal for more long term nourishment. Then I just have to wait and see what happens with both roses. Well, actually I have to water as well...  But I have to tell you that 'Georgetown Tea' broke out into a flush of blooms and 'Madame Alfred Carriere', too. Now they are back to their green selves and I have to feed them, again.

This hydrangea was planted in the ground just a few month ago and I saw it flowering for the first time in my soil. When I bought it as an unnamed hydrangea at one of the big box stores the flowers were huge and blue, but in my alkaline soil they turned out to be pink, which is a little bit of disappointment for me. With all my pink blooming roses I am always looking to introduce other colors to the garden.

Here you can see a full bush shot of the hydrangea. The color of leaves is turning a little bit into a light green and I guess that this is either due to the heat, not enough water or lack of nutrients. So I intend to feed it and check if the soil feels too dry around the plant.

This is catmint 'Walkers Low'. I planted two of them just a couple of weeks ago and they do amazingly well in the heat. I am very surprised that I haven't seen this plant in the neighborhood at all, because in my garden it seems to be so easy to grow. Another plus it that it attracts a lot of bees.

'Pierre de Ronsard', started its second flush a few weeks ago even though it is not fertilized. I simply love this rose.

This pictures of 'Pierre de Ronsard' was taken from the side and you can see that the rose has grown to a very decent size. I have to tie the long canes up to the fence since they make mowing the lawn very hard for my gardener.

This sad little thing is 'Sir Henry Segrave', a rare early Hybrid Tea rose. I thought he hadn't survived our vacation and was debating with myself whether to just throw him out or keep him and pot him up to see if he comes back from the roots. If it wouldn't be such a beautiful and rare rose I wouldn't have bothered, but in this case I don't know if you can acquire this rose anywhere commercially nowadays since it came from Vintage Gardens nursery, which is closing very soon. So I thought it would be worth to try to rescue it. Being busy like I am I didn't even get to pot the rose up, but made sure it was well watered and...

... a few weeks later there were new leaves. Even though this was wonderful I know better than getting my hopes up too high. In my experience, when a rose is damaged to this extend, it is very difficult for it to survive. The slightest glitch in watering, too less as well as too much, will push it over the edge and it will die, so I try my best but hold my breath!

Even though I don't get to blog as often as I would like to, I have been wondering how the summer for other gardeners and my fellow garden bloggers has been going. I am sure you had your share of ups and downs as well. I would love to hear from you, so if you can spare a moment, please leave a comment on my blog.

See you in the garden!