Friday, June 27, 2008

Another survivor

Here’s a favorite potted plant that, like Charlotte, was bought from a vendor I haven’t had dealings with in ages. Back in 2000 or so, I ordered a few roses from Hortico, a Canadian mail order rose company. If I remember, I ordered St Joseph’s Coat, Blush Noisette, and Gloire de Dijon. There may have been two others. They were bareroot, and even in those pre-9/11 days, took some time to make their way to me.

Too long. The St. Joseph’s Coat didn’t make it over the border. The Gloire de Dijon failed. I am certain there were a couple other roses from this vendor that quietly faded away before producing blooms. Those were the days when I eagerly ordered everything in sight, especially roses, dreaming of a big rose garden where old garden types and modern types mingled riotously—an explosion of blooms. I read the rose forums at Gardenweb, religiously buying whatever chemicals they said worked.

Well, those days are long over. I no longer use fungicides or pesticides. I’ve accepted that midge will often destroy second bloom periods. I now know how long it takes a bareroot rose to mature and produce a decent amount of blooms. And thank goodness I read up about Blush Noisette before I planted it.

Blush Noisette is not winter-hardy in my zone. So I planted it in a large container, and every November, I drag it into the root cellar, where it contentedly goes dormant. In April I bring it back out. I use a water-soluble fertilizer and it blooms all summer long. A lovely rose that was bred in the Southern U.S. in 1817.

I find the scent to be best early in the bloom cycle—it’s a classic, winy rose scent.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My dear Charlotte

Do you know anyone named Charlotte? I don’t, nor have I ever. The name Charlotte is one I find frequently in the novels of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope, but never among my acquaintance. I like it, though. If I’d had kids, I definitely would have considered it.

My David Austin rose, Charlotte, has definitely earned my fondness over the years; it has endured, struggled forth from obscurity, and is now one of the most beautiful plants I have. It was purchased from Wayside at least 7 years ago—I know it must have been that long because I only ordered from them once, on the recommendation of one of my gardening mentors. It came as a bare root and just kind of sat there, languishing in the shade of some other stronger roses, for at least 3 years. I figured it was a goner, but it wasn’t hurting anything, so I let it be.

A couple years ago, it actually started growing. A few blooms appeared. Last year was better; a sunny spring strengthened the rather scrawny canes. And now, this year, the heavy blooms are well-supported, on canes that are nearly without thorns. They start out as gold buds and then fade to a buttery yellow as the blooms develop. As you can see, they have the classic quartered old-rose shape when fully open.

Charlotte is bred from a truly great David Austin classic, Graham Thomas. I’m not sure if it’s as good a rose, but it’s proven its worth to me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If you're coming from Blogs of Note

Welcome! Please check out the "Perennial Posts" at the right sidebar. Some of those are my favorite posts over the years. "Least Favorite Plants" is good for a laugh as well as the one on garden objects.

I am happy to include links to your blogs if they are garden-related. Also, check out Garden Rant. That is my group blog, which I share with three well-known garden writers. Lots of fun, and occasionally controversial stuff. (Controversial in the gardening world that is.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Container combos: so two seasons ago?

Could be, but I still like mixing plants in containers. I am very tempted and intrigued by the idea of having a group of containers, each planted with a single plant. The pots would interact with each other, rather than the interaction taking place within each pot.

But I never do it. In fact, this season I was supposed to experiment with monochromatic containers and I forgot about that, too. I may have one white one.

In any case, here are my two favorite combos at the moment. Perhaps just two plants within a container are all that’s needed, as long as the contrast is dramatic enough. At top you see a rather homey duo: diascia and lobelia. Yeah, pink and blue—how corny can you get. But the diascia is really a deep rose and the lobelia is as blue as a plant gets, so it works for me. (The camera has washed them out a bit.)

Then, above—though it’s early days for this basket—you have the classic (and classy) match of sweet potato vine with purple wave petunia. This petunia really does look too blue—sorry, my camera, the light, something.

I have a bunch of other containers that largely depend on tallish plants like elephant ear and canna, with other plants clustering about. Sadly, some plants have already failed, and the major elements have yet to show their stuff. In a week or so, I’ll have something worth posting about. Or not.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What rain does to roses

Previously on this blog and on Garden Rant, I have commented on what a great season for roses it's been. Can I take that back? Our great April sunshine and May rains created a floriferous crop, but now a mid-June rainy season has outworn its welcome.

Too much water on rose buds and blooms causes them to "ball", i.e., turn into sad little droopy balls. The excessive dampness can also promote diseases such as blackspot and mildew. And physically, the really hard showers simply beat the blooms into the ground. In such a case you just want to cut what you can and let it develop inside, where it's relatively safe (though our cat is also an enemy of cut flowers).

Like anything, gardening is wrought with danger and heartbreak. Many I know have given up on their first flush of roses and are hoping for better rebloom after the next sunny spell. It's a mixed blessing. I am happy not to worry about watering. But no more wine in the garden until this lets up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Name this rose

Ok, now that I have more readers, I am wondering if one of you can ID this mystery rambler. It was on the property when we bought it, and was referred to as a tea rose by my neighbor—I am pretty sure that is not an accurate description. It has a semi-double form and starts out a deep pink, lightening as it ages. There are many, many buds on each stem.

It’s also a very thorny rose and seems to love neglect. When I cut a few sprays, they tend to wilt easily. There is a small amount of rebloom. Of course, you really never get all that much rebloom from most roses, except the modern shrubby ones.

Oh right, scent—a mild, peppery fragrance.

I wouldn’t say it’s driving me crazy, exactly, but I would like to know what this is.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Glad I kept some roses

During the early period of my gardening, I struggled with the largish bed of white roses that had been left by the previous owner. They were all supposedly low-maintenance shrubs but they were attacked by midge (one bloom cycle per season, therefore) and died back nearly to the ground one winter. A hybrid tea in the middle was made hideous by blackspot every year, while some kind of old shrub in the back was covered in mildew.

I eventually got rid of them in favor of lilies and perennials, but I did keep a red climber and added this Abraham Darby (top), a Charlotte (another David Austin) and a Louise Odier (old, above). This is NOTHING to what a true rose freak would have and much less than many ordinary gardeners, but so far I think these are just the right amount of roses to have. Also, we have some pink ones in the alley (below). No one knows who planted them or what they are. And I have a couple roses in containers, including Blush Noisette, another nice heritage variety.

None of these roses receive any care except a digging in of rosetone (organic) once or twice a season. The alley one doesn’t even get that.

I don’t why people complain about David Austin roses; I love the two I have.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An—ti—cipation (channeling Carly Simon)

Since I wrote this, the roses have started to explode, and I have much more color. More on that later.

Even gardeners around here in what some of you may still regard as the frozen tundra of Western New York are surprised when I tell them my garden is still almost exclusively green in early June. They have peonies, irises, poppies, and all those other plants that bloom in late spring.

Whereas I don’t even have a columbine to show yet, though they’re close. There are also impressive candelabra of rose buds, showing thick pink and yellow seams. Oh yeah, the rhodie on the side of the house is in full, and the ones in front are beginning to show a bit of color. Otherwise, it’s a green, green, green world here at GWI.

I love the green, though. Especially the ferns and the emerging foliage plants. The pond perimeter is filling in nicely with frosty lamium, creeping Jenny, painted fern, dicentra (which has been blooming its head off since late April and will continue to do so all summer), columbine, low campanula, and other stuff—very little of it flowering at this point, except the dicentra.

In the sunny bed I have 1 (one) clematis bloom and one (1) Louise Odier. But it’s nice in a way. All is fresh. The real show happens in mid-summer with the lilies and other summer bulbs and annuals, such as elepahnt ear and (hopefully) dahlia.