Friday, November 29, 2013

November Roses

This November has been a surprisingly good month for my roses. I believe it is mostly due to the unusual warm and sunny weather for this time of the year that we were having. Almost all the roses that were flowering in October continued to do so and even a few more decided to produce some blooms. Here are a couple photos from this month. Hope you enjoy!

It always seems that there is one rose that truly stands out each month in my garden. This time is was 'Pope John Paul II'.

It is one of the very best roses in my whole garden, if it is not the best.

 The flowers are beautiful at any stage of their life.

They are huge and sumptuous.

The form of this rose is amazing. 

'Pope John Paul II' flowers in abundance and the fragrance is exceptionally strong and pleasant. I simply can't get enough of this rose. It is so bad, I may need to get a second one.

'Belinda's Dream' also did very well in November.

These lovely blooms belong to 'The Prince'. 

The Tea Rose 'Rhodologue Jules Gravereux', photographed as an opening bud...

... and then in full glory.

As usual the 'Iceberg' roses were doing very well and flowering profusely.

I certainly like their cheerful faces. 

'Moonstone' continued to produce wonderful blooms as it did in October. 

It provided the flowers for the bouquet that graced our Thanksgiving table.

'Vi's Violet' opened a new small flush of its little blooms. In the background of the Miniature Rose is a white flowering zonal geranium. I like the combination quite a bit.

Hope everyone who celebrated it had a nice Thanksgiving! My husband and I had a lovely day with some gardening done in the morning and a homemade gourmet dinner later at night. Instead of turkey we decided to go for a duck. It was incredible good!

See you in the garden!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pottering Around

This month I finally found some time to garden in my beloved little green patch. Right now in parts it is not so beloved, to be quite honest with you, because due to time constrains I have severely neglected the garden in many areas and it shows. But what better thing to do than start to get going and do something about it? The weather was mostly splendid for November, in fact it was unusually warm, which certainly helped with the motivation.

Before: The camellia bed needed some serious fall clean-up. The strelitzia nicolai to the right and left were overgrown,  the hydrangeas needed deadheading and the whole bed some weeding and a fresh layer of mulch.

I wasn't too happy with this everblooming hydrangea called 'Penny Mac'. It bloomed just once like any other hydrangea. The flower color was a very ordinary pink, instead of the blue that I was after.

This lacecap hydrangea was an unnamed one that I got from Home Depot. Also nothing to write home about in terms of the flower color.

So off to Home Depot I went and got some nice compost. These eight bags of course were just the start.

After: I cut the Strelitzias back substancially, weeded the bed, deadheaded the hydrangeas and while I was on it decided to cut them back a bit and de-leave them as well. Around the hydrangeas I put soil sulfur and aluminum sulfat in the hope to get blue flowers next year. Since the white flowering camellias, the variety is 'Nuccio's Gem', and the gardenia looked a little malnourished I fertilized them just a tat. The bed appears a little bit boring to me, but it is very hard to keep such a small bed interesting at all times of the year. I am thinking about hanging something on the fence to give it some bling.

Both hydrangeas are showing already new leave buds. 

Aren't they supposed to go dormant and rest for a while? Gardening in Southern California is often a strange thing.

To my disappointment the 'Nuccio's Gem' camellias have not been growing very much since they were planted into the ground about a year ago. I also think that they have set less buds in comparison to when they were still growing in containers. But at least the buds that are there look promising. I am curious when they will start to open this year. Usually they bloomed pretty late in my garden, but this year the buds are showing already white tips.

This is 'Georgetown Tea', like the name says, a Tea Rose, which wasn't flowering very much anymore probably mainly due to the lack of nutrients in the soil. The palms that are surrounding it require that I feed the rose much more than usual, because of the strong root competition. Since Tea Roses are supposed to flower through the winter in Southern California I fertilize this rose year round. All other roses in the ground I stop fertilizing by the end of October.

For a quick fix I watered 'Georgetown Tea' with diluted fish fertilizer. Since fish fertilizer can get quite pricy I use Sea Grow Fish Fertilizer from the Grow More company, which I get for a good price at the annual fertilizer sale of the San Diego Rose Society.

After that I put twelve cups of organic rose fertilizer and some alfalfa meal down before this whole area was mulched with compost, too. Actually my husband was so nice and did the mulching here for me. It always is amazing to me how much compost one needs to spread to achieve a decent layer that covers the soil. It is hard on the back to handle the big compost bags and spread the compost around. On the photo above you can see the rose roughly two weeks after the treatment with the fish fertilizer. The difference isn't dramatic, but it blooms a little more. 

I find the blooms of 'Georgetown Tea' quite charming, but I am not so keen on how the bush looks. I really would love to see more leaves!

This flower of 'Georgetown Tea' is a good example of the drooping way Tea Roses hold their blooms.

These containers clearly have seen better days! They once were gracing the front door and were planted with heuchera 'Key Lime Pie', which were lovely for two to three years, but then perished and now obviously needed to be changed out.

I opted to replant them with geranium Martha Washington 'Regal Elegance Rose Bicolor', which also don't look that great in the moment, but the plants were bought a long time ago and were waiting in my pot ghetto to be transplanted into their permanent home. I assume they will recover and look better soon and will hopefully bloom in spring. The containers will go back to the sides of the front door. The geraniums are already bigger than the heucheras ever were and I think they will be more in proportion with the entry of our house.

This sad looking fellow was once a lovely blue flowering lobelia gracing a pillar in the front yard, which didn't make it through the summer heat. 

During one of my latest visits to Home Depot I spotted a nice batch of white flowering zonal geraniums (of course, they didn't bother to name the variety properly) for just $ 4.48 per plant. Usually I am not into zonal geraniums, but this one won me suddenly over with its nice white blooms and the healthy soft dark green leaves. I am not sure if it will continue to flower through the winter here, but it certainly would be nice.

The blue container also belongs to the front yard. It was holding the rose to the left, a miniature named 'Vi's Violet', which was just not doing well in the summer heat in the location where I had positioned the container. So I transplanted it into the terracotta container and it will now live in the backyard, which has some cooler areas. To substitute for it I placed another geranium Martha Washington 'Regal Elegance Rose Bicolor'. The blue container will go back to the location where the rose wasn't doing well and I hope the geranium will tolerate the heat better. I intend to show you some photos of how all the newly planted containers featured in this post will do in the front yard, soon.

My pot ghetto is still way bigger than it should be and I am making a serious attempt to reduce it by planting plants or giving them away. There is nothing wrong with these two agapanthus 'Midnight Blue', but I have decided not to plant them in my own garden. They have an unusual dark blue flower, which is very attractive, but I don't have any space left in the front yard and in the back yard I don't want to plant for strong contrast anymore but rather go for a muted, light color palette. So these went to a friend's garden, who is doing a garden makeover and needs plenty of new plants. 

As it sometimes happens, this rose has lost its label, but I am relatively sure that it is 'Chandos Beauty', a Hybrid Tea rose, which was quite hyped about. It hasn't done too much for me so far, but it seems to be a very healthy plant. So I thought I would transplant it into a bigger container and hopefully see it bloom soon, so that I can identify it for sure.

It went into a twenty inch diameter terracotta container and will now hopefully beautify our terrace in the backyard.

There is always more to do in a garden. When I was in one of my favorite nurseries lately I couldn't pass up these beauties. They are primula obconcia 'Libre White' and I was told that they would bloom in December/January in our climate. That would be great since this is a time in my garden where it is looking pretty bleak and any flower is welcome.

By the way, this is my one hundredth post and I just crossed one hundred thousand pageviews. Thank you all for visiting my blog!

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

See you in the garden!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Old Down House, Horton - Part II

This is a follow up post to my previous one continuing to show you around in the lovely cottage garden of Old Down House. Click here if you wish to see part I first.

After my husband and I left the surprisingly beautiful potager, we were returning to the main garden, having tea and cake, and hoped that the crowd had become less. This wasn't the case, but we enjoyed the rest of the garden tour, anyway.

This was the view of the main circular lawn that presented itself to us coming back from the potager. One of the many things that I liked about this garden was that it had ample of opportunities to sit down and take in the garden and its lovely surroundings. I wondered if all the little cozy sitting areas were only placed for the open garden event or if the furniture were there permanently. Either way it reminded me that I need to get some more garden furniture for my own yard.

I will make a round on the circular lawn and show you the different garden beds surrounding it interspersed with close-up photos of the plants found in the beds throughout this part of the garden. 

In the bed above there are not too many plants flowering, but because of the variety of plants and leave color it was still quite interesting to look at.

I loved, loved, loved this white hardy geranium. Even though I garden in a totally different climate zone hardy geraniums seem to do quite well for me, too. I just can picture this one in my 'White Garden Bed'.

If I remember correctly close by the white hardy geranium was this oriental poppy growing. Isn't it wonderful together with the lamb's ear?

To me this oriental poppy was the most beautiful plant in the whole garden!

Who wouldn't love to sit down with a cup of tea in front of this garden bed?

A closer look at the bed behind the sitting area from the photo above.

I can't help but admire the dense planting of the beds. There was literally no soil to see, but plants were not encroaching into each others space either. The gardener seemed to exactly know how big each plant would get. I am almost never able to foresee the mature size of a plant in my garden, although I am studying the plant labels for the size of a plant quite diligently!

The symmetrical use of the boxwood spheres facing each other in the two beds brings definition and calm into the design. Imagine they weren't there, but otherwise the design would be the same. I think the beds would appear much more restless.

The edging of the beds was perfect in this garden, as we have seen it in many other English gardens, too. It gives such a crisp feel. I really think that visually it makes a big difference in the overall scheme the garden looks.

Another garden bed filled to the max with plants. Whoever gardens here is a master in the art of staggering plants.

 As I said already this garden offered ample of seating, it even had a swing! 

This beauty was used repeatedly throughout the beds. 


Blue was a preferred color in the beds, which I really liked.

Another example of a small bed planted with many blue flowering plants. 

A very delightful corner of the house. I really love the white clematis. Maybe I need to get one for my own garden as well. 

As usual for English Gardens there was a lot of attention paid to detail. Even this little niche was lovingly planted with white dianthus. 

Here is another example for paying attention to detail. Just notice with what a variety of plants this container is planted. 

See the plant label holder? So unobtrusive, but still functional.

One more shot of my favorite blue flowering plant in this garden

Another oriental poppy. The way the delicate flower leaves unfold always fascinates me.

A beautiful bearded iris in a soft apricot color with a contrasting bright orange beard.

It was difficult to leave this charming garden, I could have spent much more time there, but we had one more private NGS garden on our list that we wanted to see that day, so we still had something to look forward to.

Even exiting the garden was a pleasure! This was the very last thing that you saw before you left through the garden gate. I always thought that it greatly matters what you see when you enter a garden, the first glimpse that creates excitement and the wish to explore the garden further, but clearly the last impression is equally important.

Hope you enjoyed touring this private English garden with. I will write about another one in the near future. 

See you in the garden!