Thursday, December 1, 2011

A breathtaking surprise

Since #1 Dear Son needs to borrow DH’s truck on Saturday, I was forced to do some quick adjusting of plans this afternoon. Early darkness has pretty much eliminated evening gardening, but today and tomorrow I’ll be having fun past dusk and maybe even into the dark. Saturday was the day I planned to get my load of black garden-grade topsoil, but leaving work fifteen minutes early today enabled me to get to the Dirt Pile before they closed. Today I only got half of the truck emptied since the hole wasn’t quite shovel-ready. Its bottom still needed to be broken up.

Ugh! Such an ugly bottom! The soil looked just like dark gray mortar mix. Unfortunately, I had no composted horse manure, no Black Cow. I hated the thought of preparing this bed insufficiently. Last Saturday I put a big scoop of powdered soil sulfur in the bottom, watered it in and dumped in a bunch of aged pine bark mulch. So tonight I dug that all in, but it was still yucky. I threw in about four cups of Milorganite (the earthworms are on their way!) and then went scrounging. Found some sphagnum peat moss and then spotted the stack of Black Hen bags. They call it fertilizer since its NPK is 3.0-3.0-3.0, but I thought it would make a good amendment in the bottom that will work its way deeper over time (due to the sieve-like properties of this ground), convert the mulch into food for the microbes, and, hopefully, put out the welcome mat for the earthworms that will break up the compaction. Fingers are crossed. That accomplished, I started moving the topsoil. When I raised my gaze after the final dump of the second load, there was ‘Marchesa Boccella’ in all her glory. I ran into the house for my camera, hoping the darkness would wait.

'Marchesa Boccella' aka ‘Jacques Cartier’ was bred in France in 1842. Her blooms were easily twice the diameter of any I had ever seen before. They were magnificent and four inches across or more. The most beautiful pink buttoned flowers.


And there are still several buds left to open.

But in my excitement – you won’t believe this - I never even thought to sample her fragrance which is famously strong and luscious. It hurts now to think about what I missed.


I’ve only had this rose since February, and since she’s a Damask Perpetual which are known for their black spot susceptibility here, I planted her in a pot and have designated her as an experimental rose. She’s been a pleasant surprise as far as black spot goes, and since the cooler weather settled in, she has really been blooming a lot. This is her second flush but the first with these large blooms. Plus her foliage is quite wonderful. I’m very happy with ‘Marchesa Boccella’. I will really have to start pampering her.


And tomorrow I will have to remember to take a whiff!! Isn’t she pretty?



  1. That is a lovely Rose. How nice to see something so pretty when you least expect it.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. I love this rose and I recommend it to beginners all the time. Your photos show her gorgeous clear pink color quite beautifully. Isn't her little button center adorable?

  3. She is beautiful this time of year. Both of the plants we have are going great guns. I'm so happy you are enjoying something else besides digging! Whew what a job!

  4. She really is sweet looking. I hope she smells as good as she looks! What a nice end to your day.

  5. Beautiful !!! I would like to smell this great rose. Excellent bloom !