Saturday, January 7, 2017

Notes From the Garden

It feels like I haven't blogged about my own garden for ages. So I thought why not start the new year with a post about just that?

This nice big hole was staring at me for quite a while until I found time in December to finally plant something into it.

The rose to the left is rosa 'Belinda's Dream' a gorgeous light pink rose and the ground cover to the right is a white flowering campanula.

I had intended to plant a blue flowering iris in between those two plants because I thought these colors would go well together. The problem is, though, that the irises that I grew from rhizomes and planted first in containers so that they could develop a decent root ball before they go into the ground have all lost their labels. Did something like this ever happen to you? But I remember that all irises had colors in the blue and lavender range, so if the one that I have planted doesn't turn out to be blue, it still will most likely fit in color-wise with the existing plants.

This poor iris got really neglected, but...

...after it was cleaned up it didn't look so bad anymore. The root ball is certainly nicely developed, just as I intended. I hope it is strong enough to fend for itself growing in palm root competition.

Freshly planted in the dark, rich soil it feels almost as if the plant is giving a sigh of relief, being released from the pot and able to stretch its roots.

If you step further away, the plant looks rather small, though. It is obvious that it has quite some growing to do. Go little iris, go!

The ones of you who are following my blog regularly, know that I love roses and you will hardly find a post about my own garden in which not a rose is sneaked in one way or the other. And this post is no exception.

I am very excited about this little rose. Its name is 'Gruss an Aachen', an older Floribunda, bred 1909. I got this rose as an own root rose in the beginning of last year and it didn't have a good start and I thought a couple of times I would loose it. But then somehow it came around and this is its first fully developed bloom. The shot above was taken in the early diffuse morning light.

This image was taken later in the early morning sunlight. I love to observe how the roses are changing colors depending on the light conditions.

Here is a full bush picture. The rose is still small, growing in a two-gallon container, but by now I am fairly confident that I won't loose it anymore and that it will grow into the lovely plant that it is meant to be. 

I kept track with my camera of the opening of the bloom. I am very fond of the fully petaled rosette flower form with the teasing light salmon-pink center.

The last photo shows the completely open bloom. Isn't this a beauty? Rosa 'Gruss an Aachen' is known for its color variations and I am curious to see what this rose will come up with in my garden in the future.

Last year I planted some Leucojum vernum, 'Spring Snowflakes' as a substitute for snowdrops, very late in the season and the bulbs never bloomed and as a matter of fact, not all bulbs bothered to show even up. This year though this cluster of five bulbs looks very good and I have high hopes that I will get some blooms.

Another exciting thing to report about: My first self-seedling of a hardy geranium. I have only two varieties of hardy geraniums in the garden: 'Biokovo' and 'Rozanne', so this one is most likely a child of these. The plant looks pretty strong and the leaves are relatively tall. Now the really interesting question is, what will the blooms look like? Can't wait to see them.  

In the front yard, I pruned this Pygmy Date Palm hard, I almost feel that I mutilated it a little bit. The reason is that its fronds constantly block the walkway to the house and it can be quite annoying when you permanently run into palm fronds when you try to get to your front door. Hard pruned or mutilated, in any case, the palm will grow back quickly and will rectify any pruning that is overdone.

These two containers at the base of the palm are white flowering lantana, the label says: 'Trailing White 1', even though I couldn't really find a white lantana variety with that exact name in a quick internet search. I only found 'Trailing White', so that is probably what it is.

Anyway, lantanas are supposed to be very drought tolerant and are flowering a long time, so I thought I will try them out. These two will most likely not have an easy life growing at the foot of this palm, but if they survive, I think they will make a nice pair with the blue flowering penstemon that is already established.

Lantana is supposed to be very pollinator friendly which is another plus in my eyes.

The pure white flowers are rather small, but they come in masses so that they have quite a visual impact.

This is one of my 'Verbena Bonariesis' plants. I started the winter clean up in the front yard already and cut it back to about a few inches above the ground, but I am unhappy with the look. So I would like to turn to you other active gardeners and ask if I can cut it completely back to the ground. I am relatively new to this plant and I have never cut it back before. I certainly don't want to kill it by cutting it back to hard.

This is actually one of my disappointments this winter. Do you know what this is? These are Paperwhite Narcissus. What is wrong with them you ask? They all came up blind, meaning none of them carried any flowers, only leaves appeared. I don't know what the cause is, but I assume the competition with the palm roots in my front yard didn't leave them with enough energy to produce blooms. Any thoughts of you, my fellow gardeners, what I can to do still get them to flower, or at least next year?

On this photo, you see my small side bed on the right side of the front yard. There is nothing very impressive to notice on the first glance, but you have to know that both roses are relatively new and they have grown tremendously. To the left side is rosa 'Charles Darwin' and to the right is rosa 'Cymbaline'. I am really expecting great things from them this spring. 

We are back to the back yard and looking at the South facing fence. You may notice the big hole in the middle. There was once a rosa 'Baronne Prevost' growing, but I always had problems with this rose. It was suffering severely from powdery mildew and never really did anything. If it flowered at all the blooms stayed small and were just very few.

So this winter I finally had enough and decided to take it out. The location is not ideal but I will try to plant another rose there, that hopefully, that will fare better.

By the way, to the left side of the hole, you see rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard', which has become a real monster. I would love to have another big healthy rose joining it and beautifying the fence that I share with my neighbor.

It may sound odd to you, but big holes in my garden are always giving me great joy. It is the joy of anticipation, of good things to come. For this hole, I am contemplating to plant  a second rosa 'Charles Darwin', which has been completely healthy in my garden so far or to go with rosa 'Mary Rose'. The latter has shown some powdery mildew infection this year, so maybe I stay clear of that one.

To end with something more exciting for you (hopefully) then a photo of an empty big hole I leave you with an image of rosa 'Heritage'. It is hard to believe, but the rose is still producing these amazing flowers.  Did I say I love roses? Maybe you share this love with me, too. 

Hope the new year is off to a good start for you!

See you in the garden!

Warm regards,



  1. Las rosas todas me gustan, tengo varias en el jardín, las tuyas se ven preciosas. Saludos.

  2. I love your roses.

    With that rich soil of yours I bet your irises will do just great. I look forward to seeing what colors they are.

    I have a trailing purple lantana and it does great. Your white one is stunning.

    Happy January ~ FlowerLady

  3. Well, I like your big holes, dear Christina :) A lot of new plants in your garden and that's so positive. In a month I will do the same :)
    I can't imagine why those paperwhites don't bloom ... maybe you should plant the bulbs in a pot.
    Gruss an Aachen is a gorgeous rose. I lost one and hope to manage to find a new plant someday ...
    Have a lovely sunday, Christina ! Happy gardening in 2017 !

    1. Dani, new plants are always good in my book, too ;-)!
      I don't think that when I would plant the Paperwhites in a container that they wouldn't get enough winter chill and I assume that therefore they won't bloom either. I also think that it would get too hot in a pot for the bulbs to survive with our high summer temperatures, but maybe I should just try it out.
      Ooooh, you had rosa 'Gruss an Aachen' in your garden?! So glad to hear that you found him to be a gorgeous rose. I had never seen this rose in person before I bought it and it is always kind of a gamble since photos can never truly convey how a rose looks in reality, let alone the advertising photos of the rose industry.

  4. Dear Christina,
    The paperwhite narcis is not an easy one to get in flower for a second time. Also important is to take the faded flower of before it can make seed. I know that it's not nice to see the yellow/green leaves of the bulbs later in the year but wait with taking it off untill it is really brown and dryed. A lot of narcisspecies don't like it when they are planted to close to eachother. It's the same way of growing what the farmers of the tulips do with theire bulbs. I hope you will understand what I mean, my english is bad (fun). Your gardenvieuws are great and I love your rose Heritage. It's always difficult to buy a rose from a photo that is so true. The color of the roseflowers is also depending on what soil you have in your garden and kind of fertelizer are you using. The terrible thing is that on every rosephoto you see the form of the flower is different and the color is different. The best thing would be to see it in flower in a garden somewhere and then make your choice. Goodluck and warm wishes

  5. Every hole is an opportunity to grow a new rose! I like gruss an achen. It has a fantastic colour. I think salmon pink. But maybe it is different in your warmer climate. Hope to see your irisses flower soon. Groetjes Hetty

  6. I envy your roses - they don't do well in Florida. I have to buy mine. Lovely garden.

  7. Your garden year looks like it's off to a good start, Christina! I've not had great luck with Verbena bonariensis and understand that it can be short-lived. As it's supposed to self-seed freely, I've left my plants unpruned to this point to allow them the opportunity to self-seed. I'll cut the plants back if/when I see some evidence of new growth at the base.

    1. Kris, yes, the garden seems to be off to a good start this year. All the rain makes such a difference and I am so thankful for that.
      I didn't know that Verbena Bonariensis could be a short lived perennial in our climate. I simply assumed that is was killed by frost in colder climates, but would live on here because of our mild winters.
      Hmmm..., I am not really in the mood to plant this lovely purple beauty new every year. Regarding self-seeding, I don't have much hope for that in my garden, since hardly anything self-seeds here and I want to the plant to grow in exactly the spot where I planted it. Well, we will see... I would love to stay in contact with you and hear what your verbenas will do this spring.

  8. Always love your garden tours, Christina! Such pretty roses....I can only dream of roses this time of year. You have such a gorgeous view. It reminds me of a Grecian Isle with the view of all the pretty rooftops. You are so knowledgeable about plants. I always learn something new. xx Karen

  9. Dear Christina!
    It shows that you enjoy your roses, they look really good. I have tried to find a swedish name for your Lantana, without success. It is beautiful and lookes like a plant I found on google, Verbena Lanai White Blush. Perhaps it is the same. It takes a few months before my garden lookes like yours. We have a lot of snow.
    Have a lovely day /Marika

  10. Dear Christina,
    how lovely that the climate in San Diego allows you to garden throughout the whole year. Here in Vienna it is cold and my whole garden is covered in snow. I can´t wait for spring! I also planted some irises from rhizomes in September last year. I had never had irises in my garden, but since I saw them bloom so beautifully in the garden at my workplace, I wanted to have some irises in my own garden. I hope your irises will bloom in a colour you like and which fits your flower bed. What a pity you lost the labels. I myself do not have labels for the roses I took from cuttings last year either, so I will leave them in their pots till they bloom and I see their colours. I think it is a good thing that big holes in your garden give you joy. Yes, at first it sounds odd, especially since I was thinking about your Baronne Prevost rose that did not thrive there, but as you said, it also means that you can now look forward to another rose that will do much better there. I guess I should also think more like you when it comes to my garden. I tend to leave roses in my garden even if they don´t thrive well. There are two roses in my garden "Nostalgie" and "Barock" which are both not doing well for years now, they are hardly blooming and just look terrible. With rose " Nostalgie it is not only that she is not thriving, but neither do I like the colour of its blooms. It is not bringing me any joy at all, but still it seems that I can´t bring myself to dig the rose up and replace it. I feel even bad about the thought of throwing the rose out, thinking "No, I must give the poor rose another chance."
    Since your climate is so different from that in Vienna and your roses also bloom during winter, I wonder how often once-blooming roses bloom in your climate. Only once a year, or more often?
    Best wishes,

  11. Lisa, many thanks for your comment!
    For many years I was like you and couldn't bring myself to discard a rose that didn't thrive or that I simply didn't like. But my garden is fairly small and I have almost used up all the suitable spots for roses. So by now usually I need to get rid off a rose before I can plant a new one in its place. This situation has helped me to be more strict and to make decisions, if I want to keep a rose or not.
    If I simply don't like a rose and it is a healthy one, I normally give it to a garden friend. If the rose shows constant signs of disease (powdery mildew is the biggest problem in my garden) I discard it, having in mind that there are so many more roses out there that I want to grow that might be healthy in my climate. The joy that I am getting out of a thriving healthy rose is simply so much bigger, than what I get out of a an unhealthy struggling rose that I might now even like. I have also noticed that roses that get fungal diseases like powdery mildew or black spot easily infect the roses surrounding them that are in general healthy if there is not a rose growing close to them that gets the fungal problems. Now that really motivates me to remove the ones that have a very low disease resistance.
    Regarding your question about the once-blooming roses: I have to admit that I don't grow any roses in my garden that are classified as once-blooming roses, because again, my garden is small and I like to get as many flushes out of my roses as possible, but my understanding is that the ability to bloom only once is genetically "fixed" in a rose, so a once blooming rose would also only bloom one time in the year in a mild climate like mine.

    1. Dear Christina,
      you really have a point there and I hope I will learn from you and start discarding roses I don´t enjoy. That´s the thing about small gardens, there quickly comes a point where you just don´t have any space left. I guess in a big garden there is so much more space for experimenting. I just finished reading a book about Sissinghurst garden with some quotes from Vita Sackville-West and she said that you should experiment in a garden. I love the idea but I have the feeling that in a small garden it is more difficult to experiment, because it seems to me that you always need to choose your plants so carefully in a small garden, deciding which of so many beautiful rose varieties might bring you the most joy. In a larger garden you might just plant some roses and if they then don´t thrive as you have expected, there is still enough space in the garden to plant "better" varieties, in a small garden this of course is not possible and if you are not happy with your former plant choices you either discard the plant in question as you do, or as I do think what a bad choice this plant is whenever seeing it, but leaving it there nonetheless. What I also realised is that sometimes, after only a short time your tastes might also be different. When I first moved in my flat with the little garden, I did not know much about roses, I just liked them and so without much thinking bought them and then planted them in my garden. I must say that in terms of health my roses (except the two I was telling you about in my last comment) do quite well. However, when it comes to colour combinations I wouldn´t make the exact same choices anymore. I for example have two red David Austin roses "The Dark Lady" and "Darcey Bussell" and they are both beautiful roses, but with hindsight I think my garden would have looked nicer without them because my other roses bloom in pastel colours and I personally think the reds are not that harmonious in combination with the pastels. In a larger garden it would be easier, because then you could have many borders of different colour themes, such as in Sissinghurst. I really like that idea. With hindsight I also would have planted more roses that are not so commonly seen in gardens anymore, such as old roses. I now prefer old roses to modern roses, but since I did not know about old roses back then, the majority of the roses in my garden are modern varieties. I am surprised to hear that you don´t grow once-blooming roses in your garden. I see your point why you don´t grow them. I am personally so fascinated by the beauty of some old once- blooming roses that I decided to grow them in my small garden. Thank you for answering my question about the once-blooming roses.
      Best wishes,

    2. Lisa, I am also struggling to integrate red roses into my overall more muted color scheme. I found that bluish-red roses do better with all the soft pinks than the warm-red toned ones, so I tried to focus on the first. But even with them I sometimes feel that the contrast with the other roses is too strong for my liking.
      One solution for me is to grow them in containers in my "out of sight" pot ghetto area. That way I get a lovely red rose for cutting from time to time when I need it (Valentine's is coming up ;-)), but I don't have the problem of them clashing with my other roses in my borders.
      Having a garden with different color schemed beds would certainly bring the solution, but my garden is simply not big enough for this, so for now it will only be a dream.

  12. Your pretty roses are just what I needed to see on this rainy winter day!

  13. Oh how I love your roses! I'm anticipating seeing mine this coming spring. I have quite a few Iris and love when they are all in bloom in May. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Jann, I am also already looking forward to the spring flush of the roses. We are getting so much rain this winter that I have high hopes that it will be a good one!
      Irises are for some reasons iffy in my garden, I planted a few more varieties last year and can't wait to see what they will do this year. I love the noble blooms of irises very much and they are very good companions to roses in my opinion. I wish it would be easier for me to grow them, though!

  14. You have a nice view! I always enjoy seeing the beautiful pictures of your David Austin roses, and your Belinda's Dream looks wonderful.

  15. I can see why you love 'Heritage' -- it's a true beauty! You have such an amazing view of the town from your fence. I imagine your Irises will fill in fast--they are graceful beauties, too!

  16. our roses are my favorite colors of roses! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

    1. That should be "Your". I don't know where the Y went.

  17. Notwithstanding the way that a tone of the toys you no doubt buy for your child have age proposition on them, doesn't mean a thing. The age idea is just that, a proposition. A youngster should play with a toy when they are ready to play with it. building blocks toys