Monday, December 26, 2011

Bad advise for the rose gardener

I’ve been surfing GardenWeb Forums this evening, still in recuperation-mode in the aftermath of my Christmas iron-man-marathon dinner. Digging in the garden all day never made me as sore as standing on my feet all day for three days shopping, cleaning, cooking, and cleaning some more. The dinner was delicious, the family gathering was wonderful, the pressure is gone, and I'm on the mend.

One of the posts that I read on The Roses Forum was quite special, so I thought I would share it with you. The poster was seeking “the most impractical piece of rose advice you've ever gotten”. When I first saw it, it had a huge number of follow-ups (forty-five) since December 23rd (three days ago), so I guessed it must be a good one. It did not disappoint, and the best part was that more than just the bad advise was shared. The replies included the ‘better advise’ that should have been given and a lot of insight from rose gardeners who have learned the right way sometimes the hard way and who don’t mind passing on that precious wisdom to the rest of us. I just knew I was reading gold, so I’m passing it on to you. Click the link above and have a fun read.


A post with no photos? It’s hard for me to do a post without including photos, but I haven’t taken any for days. So I scrolled down my rose photo folders, looking for a rose to feature here. My sentimental favorite came to mind, ‘my boy’, ‘Louis Philippe’, and interestingly enough, Louis was my very first blog post one year ago – almost to the day. You can read it if you click on the link. I can’t believe it’s been almost five years (next February) since I planted this rose and started my rose garden.


Perhaps you can see why I feel the need to brag on him. I think he’s a handsome fellow, but I’m prejudiced. Here he is at various times in the early part of November, a hefty 7’ tall and 7’ wide.





I’m not sure why I associate ‘Louis Philippe’ with my late poodle, Pepper, but I do. Pepper was also 'my boy'. So sweet, and Louis smells like cherry candy, also sweet. It’s a mystery, but I like thinking of Pepper when I think of ‘Louis Philippe’ and vice versa. I miss him.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A volunteer and more

The violas that I grew from seed last winter did not impress me much due to their petite size. (Oh, I know I sound like Goldilocks. The companion plants are either too big or too small…never just right.) Well, the dear things have reseeded, so now I’m impressed.


Did I show you my baby ‘Mary Rose’? She is one of the four David Austin roses I ordered in July from Heirloom Roses in Oregon. She is greener than when she was in the pot a week and a half ago, but she’s not much bigger.


Here’s a closer look at ‘Mary Rose’. Not even a foot tall now, I expect her to be good sized by this time next year. I would think four times bigger for sure.


Azalea ‘Duc de Rohan’ is blooming and will continue until next March. It’s still a small plant, too – less than 2x2, but I only got him last February.


The most cheerful plant in my garden is Dianthus chinensis. It blooms all year in pinks and reds and magentas. On top of that it stays green all winter. Freezes don’t effect it at all.


Here’s the view from under ‘Maman Cochet, Climbing’. Careful now. You could get snagged!


Impatiens looking rather serene and being a fine example for the rest of us.


Monday, December 19, 2011

A gardening brother on the other side of the gulf

I found a blog this evening and immediately thought of all of my Florida garden blog friends. The blog is called TROPICAL TEXANA: Texas Gulf Coast. I dare you to click the link and not think you’re in Florida! So for that reason I'm adding it to my Florida Blog Roll. A quick run-through of this interesting blog revealed that David is the blogger and he doesn’t grow roses. So sad. I had high hopes of finding another humid zone 9 rosarian, but I guess we’re as rare as hen’s teeth. Oh, that reminds me! He has chickens!! I even saw one in David’s house inspecting the Norfolk Island Pine Christmas tree. I hope you’ll check out David’s blog. It’s full of bromeliads and other tropicals that I can’t grow but you southerners can.

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By the way I think the Norfolk Island Pine is a brilliant idea. I’ve been really bah-humbug this year and haven’t put up a tree or decorated. It wears me out just thinking about it, but David’s Norfolk Island Pine inspired me…if Lowe’s or Home Depot has one to buy…now. I need a quickie Christmas redo since I’m having everyone over on Christmas Day and having nothing Christmas-y just doesn’t seem right. Trying to stay mellow and anxiety-free this Christmas season has merely meant opting out for me, and now with days to go I’m feeling like opting back in. I have become really ambivalent about this wonderful season meant for celebrating my Savior’s birth. Sadly and invariably, I experience less savior and more stress. It’s just occurring to me that doing nothing is not the answer to doing too much which I used to do with incredibly disastrous results. Happy mediums have never been my strong suit, being naturally inclined to be either way over there or way over there. Avoiding Christmas Eve conniptions has become my holiday goal, so I have adopted a laissez-faire attitude. Well, I’m only 61, so I’ve still got time to get this right.

I do have some lovelies to share from yesterday’s gorgeous sunny-blue-sky walk through the garden. Here goes.


'Shooting Star' Hydrangea from Publix. Took me two seconds to decide to pay the $19.99.
On the right is 'Polonaise'.


A big fat 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' bud and my new Camelia sasanqua 'Stephanie Golden'


A honey bee enjoying the echinacea and the lovely 'Bow Bells'

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'Le Vesuve' still outdoing herself and 'Etoile de Mai' finally being yellow rather than white. Gee, these photos are way out of proportion. 'Le Vesuve' is big, and EdM is small!


'Anda' is always really red, and 'Clotilde Soupert' is pinker than ever.


'Mme Abel Chatenay' still blooming but starting to lose leaves for her dormancy, and the incomparable 'White Maman Cochet'


Surprisingly the echinacea is still blooming, and I just bought seeds for more varieties.
On the right 'Climbing Maman Cochet' is getting huger and huger.


'Reve d'Or' - Flowers are so big this time of year, but I think I missed most of her recent flush.

Silly 'Louis Philippe'. This one is in too much shade. Wouldn't you know, he's blooming on his shady side. I guess he likes socializing with the Impatiens. Have a peaceful week before Christmas, all. I know I'm trying to.

Friday, December 16, 2011

‘General Gallieni’

I haven’t written much about ‘General Gallieni’ because, well, he’s been really, really slow to become himself. ‘General Gallieni’ is a Tea rose bred in 1899 in France. He was planted in my garden in May of 2009 and still isn’t much to look at. He took forever to get up off the ground. I think it was this last spring that I moved him a few feet over. I have suspicions about the spot he was growing in. Nothing seems to thrive in it. Now he is about four feet tall and fairly vase shaped. For a two-and-a-half-year old tea rose that’s rather diminutive, at least in Florida. I can’t say whether this is typical of the rose or peculiar only to my garden.


This evening after work I dashed out at 5:45 with flashlight in hand and noticed these striking flowers, and then I noticed more of them. The General is actually having a flush – his first! It was starting to drizzle, and the weather report mentioned 36 degrees at some point, so I decided to snap a few off.


These are the most difficult flowers to photograph, even more so in the outside light. In the summer they look exactly like stained glass and are gorgeous, but the light must glare off the General’s petals because they simply can not be captured - not by me anyway.


The substance, that is, the thickness of the ‘General Gallieni’ petals is unlike any other rose in my garden. Maybe Hybrid Teas have thick petals, but I’m not used to Teas and Polyanthas having petals this thick – at least I don’t think I am. I’ve learned that thick-petaled flowers are not fragrant flowers, and so GG is not noticeably fragrant beyond a sort of clean smell. Another characteristic of the petals is that they seem translucent. The stained glass likeness is really remarkable.


According to the authors of Tea Roses: Old Roses for Warm Gardens, 'General Gallieni' may be “dark red, pink or yellow or come in combinations of these colours…the total range includes near black, purple, maroon, poppy and brick red, coppery pink, buff, orange, lemon, gold and chrome-yellow.” Whew! All in one flower!


The flower shape of ‘General Gallieni’ is something else altogether. How often do you hear of a beautiful rose having petals that are “bunched together in irregular clumps”? Again, the Australian writers of Tea Roses state that in ”one flower, the petals can be rounded, pointed, spoon-shaped (even to the handle) or sharply folded lengthwise, producing flowers that can be tufted, muddled and shaggy.”


They quote Mr. E. E. Pescott’s comments in 1928, “The blooms are very irregular and misshapen, but, somehow, the rose, the bush, the unusual shades of the flowers, always seem to appeal to the fair sex. I have known many ladies say that they must have a bush of that rose in their garden.”


Well, I sort of like being referred to as the fair sex, and I’m definitely one of the ladies that wants this rose in her garden. I have a thing for red and yellow roses and for yellow and red roses. I miss ‘Rosette Delizy’ who happens to be the General’s offspring. Oh, and then there’s ‘Leonie Lamesch’ who splashes the garden with these same colors.


Some rosarians must have fragrance in a rose for it to grow in their garden. I on the other hand am captivated by the pretty face, the striking color, the fat flower. I often don’t even remember to try a sniff anymore. These flowers are so unique and lustrous that fragrance doesn’t seem to matter much.


Speaking of fragrance, I just dipped my nose into one, and there is a scent but not the usual one. So I looked back at the Tea Roses book. Here’s what it says, “Their fragrance is a dry Tea, with carnation  and ‘disinfectant’ undertones.” I’d go along with that.


A rose with individuality is just up my alley. ‘General Gallieni’ will be staying in my garden, and I’ll be paying him better attention, watching for him to become the vigorous rose that the Australian ladies wrote about, “strong in colour, rough-hewn in shape and worthy to be named after a military man.”


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Darkness is almost suffocating

My work days have been extra long for a couple of weeks, and on top of that there’s been Christmas shopping straight from work on two evenings this week. I was thinking this evening while cleaning up the kitchen – I’m officially tired. There are still plenty of flowers in my garden. I know they’re there because all week I have seen them while running out to the car in the morning. Unfortunately, that’s been the only time I’ve seen them. I feel like when I get home someone has slipped a bag over my head. My eyes widen at the thought of not being able to go outside and see what’s there, straining to fend off the dark somehow. Last evening while taking Ellie out, I took the flashlight with me to catch a glimpse of newly planted ‘Mary Rose’, but the weak shaft of light offered only a mere confirmation that she was still there. I couldn’t see if there were new leaf buds, more leaves and not even more height. But these are some of the roses I see in the morning.

'Madame Abel Chatenay' still pumping out big blooms

'Clotilde Soupert'

'White Maman Cochet'

'White Maman Cochet'

'Bermuda's Anna Olivier'

Hydrangea 'Sister Theresa'

'Marchesa Boccella'

When the light gets so dim that the camera can’t focus, the desperate rosarian uses the flash... but it's not the same. I miss my roses!!!