Saturday, February 28, 2015

End of Month View - The White Garden Bed

On the first glance at the photos there has been embarrassingly little change happened in the White Garden Bed between this End of the Month View post and the one from January.

February 2015

January 2015

This is mainly due to three reasons. Firstly, when I shot the photos for this post, it was a mostly cloudy, overcast day and I took them later in the day time than the ones for the January post, with the unfortunate result that everything looks kind of "brown" in the February photos and the plants are "disappearing" into the mulch.

Secondly, and that is the bit frustrating part, I, with the support of my husband and the gardener, have worked hard on this bed, but that work doesn't show on the photos. All plants are fertilized, a decent layer of new mulch has been put down and a big new hole has been dug to the very right of the bed (not visible on the photo above, it is obstructed by the pool spa). Of course, I would have loved to have filled the bed with perennials and annual spring flowers already, and believe me, knowing that the next End of Month View post was due soon, the temptation was great. But I know, that in my garden I always have to be patient and reasonable and work on improving the soil first, otherwise nothing is going to grow well here in the long run.

Thirdly altogether there was very little time to work on this bed, because I was still pruning and fertilizing the roses in the whole yard and without that being done as soon as possible there will be no rose spring flush in the garden. So this had definitively priority over working on the White Garden Bed.

Are you tired of my explanations and excuses why there is not much change to see on these photos by now? Yes? Then let's actually focus on what has changed.

February 2015

January 2015

Well, the roses have leaved out and have grown quite a bit in comparison to February. If you look at the February photo to the very right you can spot the massive hole that has been dug to accommodate one more rose. I placed a rose in its black plastic container into the hole to see how it would look in this bed and I think this is a good location for it. 

The rose to the very left, 'Pope John Paul II', wasn't even pruned on the January photo, as a matter of fact, it was one of the last roses planted into the ground that I pruned this year. But to my own surprise it has already produced a new basal cane which is carrying a spray of buds and a pristine new white flower is blooming in the middle of this spray already again. 

Here is a shot of the new spray of 'Pope John Paul II'. I love that the buds have a green tint, before they are opening to a very clear white color. 

The photo above shows a closer look at the big hole to the very right of the White Garden Bed that has been dug for the new rose. I always prefer at least 3' deep x 3' wide holes when I plant a new rose, because as you can even see on the picture, my native soil is very poor and contains many rocks of all sizes. The excavated soil gets completely replaced by a planting mix from E.B. Stone, called Rose Grow, which is especially formulated for planting roses. This stuff isn't cheap, but I have very good experience with this soil mix. The roses are really thriving in it in my garden, so it is worth the expense to me. 

February 2015

 January 2015

In these two photos you can more clearly see the difference in the roses. One plant that also has continued to fill out is the alstroemeria Princess Lilies 'Claire', in the foreground in front of the cycad to the left.

Here is close-up of alstroemeria Princess Lilies 'Claire'. Isn't it looking juicy and healthy? You almost want to take a bite...

And if you look even closer at this plant, you can see the very first blooms emerging. I can't remember the exact color anymore, only recall, it was a very light one, therefore I can't wait to see the buds opening and hope that they fit into my white color scheme.

Hardy geranium 'Biokovo' to the right side of the cycad on the right in the bed is still blooming prolifically. It is good to know that this plant has a flowering period of at least four weeks.

Just another view of the White Garden Bed.

Even though I haven't been planting anything new into the White Garden Bed within the last month, I have been thinking a lot about what I could possibly plant there. Since it is a very narrow bed it is not realistic to expect to have an impressive display of white flowers there at all the times unless I exchange annuals on a very regular base. So I thought I would go with Vita Sackville-West's approach in her White Garden, and use silver and gray leaved plants in this bed, which come the closest to white flowers, but are there year round.

I have these two dichondra sericea, 'Silver Ponyfoot' sitting around in my pot ghetto for quite a while now and thought I will plant them into my White Garden Bed and see how this looks. When the sunlight hits their leaves they have an almost metallic shine to them, which I find quite fascinating. Another good thing about these plants is that they are supposed to be drought tolerant.

Hopefully next month I have some more progress to show and I would be happy if you would come back to check in with the development of my White Garden Bed.

I am joining Helen Johnstone's End of Month View meme at The Patient Gardener's Weblog. Please click on the link to see views of other gardens at the end of February.

Wishing all of you a nice rest of the weekend!

See you in the garden!


Monday, February 16, 2015

January Roses

January is the month were I deleaf and prune my roses, so for that reason and, of course, because it is winter even here in Southern California, there are not so many roses blooming.

One exception last month was 'Pope John Paul II', though.

This beauty produced one last generous winter flush...

... which I tremendously enjoyed and...

... I had to wait with the pruning until it was over.

I know, I have praised this rose repeatedly on my blog,...

... but it is such an outstanding performer, that I think it is worth to point out its good qualities one more time. 

Besides that it is very floriferous, especially for a Hybrid Tea rose, it amazes me that each bloom seems to be perfect from the opening of the bud to the stage where it is slightly beyond its prime, as you can see in these photos. 

Even the whole bush is not looking too bad for the winter time.

The two last roses of 'Belinda's Dream',...

...which actually completely stopped blooming after these two flowers were spent.

'Madame Alfred Carriere', classified as a Tea Noisette, in the background to the left and 'Georgetown Tea', a Tea Rose, in the foreground in the middle of the photo, have been a big disappointment this winter. Both roses are exceptions in comparison to all the others shown here today, as roses belonging to these rose classes are supposed to bloom over the winter time in our mild climate, but they obviously didn't.

I fed them with rose fertilizer around the middle of January...

... and even put a whole tray of "homemade" nutrient rich worm castings from our very own worm bin to their feet, but nothing has changed so far. 

They may need a second dose of fertilizer or the drought is to blame for their lack of blooms. 

Another rose that also produced one last gorgeous bloom was 'Moonstone'.

At the same time 'Moonstone' is the rose, that out of all my roses, is plagued the most by rose rust this winter. The photo above shows the underside of a leave of this rose at the time I deleafed it. Deleafing is not my favorite garden task, but for obvious reasons, this one I actually couldn't wait to deleaf and prune!

'Irresistible' also gave me some nice flowers during January. 

Despite the blooms that I am showing in this post, most of my roses looked like 'Pierre de Ronsard, the one on the photo above, last month.

The last blooms of 'Sweetness'...,

... before the winter rest.

Not a great photo, but I am very excited about this bud. It was one of the very first new buds of the year 2015 and belongs to 'Captain Christy', an older relatively rare Hybrid Tea rose. The rose is not a very vigorous grower by any means and I almost lost it due to the heat last summer. I deleafed it (there was nothing to prune, yet!) and planted it from a two gallon black plastic pot into a big terracotta container to keep the roots cooler this year and it has responded by leaving out and producing four buds. I know that rose is still not out of the woods yet, but so far it looks good. 

I hope all my American readers have enjoyed a nice, long, restful President's Day weekend! I certainly did and was happy to fit in a bit of gardening as well.  

See you in the garden!