Sunday, January 22, 2012

Days of future past

As a gardener, I’m in limbo, because my garden is in limbo.

'Souvenir de la Malmaison' on January 3, 2012

I haven’t posted (huge apologies for seeming to abandon my blogging efforts) because the past has been strongly present in my garden. No blooms, roses needing rejuvenation badly, the time for pruning being agonizingly far away, crispy being far more prevalent than green, this in-between time seemed to slip this gardener out of Drive and into Neutral. Breadmaking and dear husband took my attention, and the garden couldn’t have been farther away.

However, the last two weekends I was gardening. Thirty-eight daylilies are now in the ground. Hardscaping in the form of cement block edging in the back garden is in place. A plan to revitalize ‘Mme Abel Chatenay’ and ‘Bermuda’s Anna Olivier’ in the front garden is solidified. Christmas bonus cash has been spent on manure compost, pine bark mulch, dahlia and astilbe tubers, hollyhock roots, potting soil and patio pots for veggie seeds and Yukon Gold potato starts. Seeds have arrived in the mail.

The past is beginning to fade, and the future is definitely within reach now. The days are longer now, enabling me to accomplish stuff after work. Temperatures again are Floridian in nature. The roses’ lack of foliage allows me to see how they’ll need to be trimmed and pruned. Endless googling has delivered a viable weapon against my enemy, the squirrel. (There will be a post on that.) The discovery of non-pH-adjusted sphagnum peat moss at Walmart has offered new hope for my crappy calcareous garden soil. We even had .35 inch of rain this week. Everything is moving in a positive direction, out of the winter doldrums and into the hustle and bustle of spring. The daunting task of rebuilding the garden has morphed into normal spring garden labor, transforming my outlook in the process.

Since my gardening apparently will always be a learning experience, there will be googling and posting “Help!” questions on the Antique Rose Forum about how to shape up ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ and ‘Blush Noisette’. Progress in that area and others will be halted until I know what to do, but since pruning is a month away, that’s not a problem, merely something else to occupy evening computer time. The balancing act of life continues with laundry, housekeeping, breadmaking, work, and husband who is recovering nicely from his back surgery on December 29th. Two weeks off from work (last year’s final week of vacation saved for the surgery had to be taken even though the surgery hadn’t happened yet and the first week of this year’s vacation taken to do absolutely everything that DH could not do for himself) was not spent in the garden, but that’s okay. The garden will get done. Spring will return. The future is on its way.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Breakfast is gonna be good

I just took breakfast out of the bread machine. Wow! The house smells so good. Cranberry-Oatmeal Bread. The recipe called for currants, but I didn’t have any of those. It has a teaspoon of cinnamon in it, too. What a nice smell. I’ve been getting a lot of use out of our new West Bend. It was the Christmas present that DH and I gave to each other, and it’s been a lot of good-tasting fun. Even when we have screwed up the recipes. A bit of advise: don’t have two pages of the cookbook open; cover the one you’re not making. However, the breads have come out perfectly. I can’t wait to get up early, and that’s definitely not something I like to do! Yum, yum! I’m going to bed!

Here's the recipe I used, substituting cranberries for currants.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Freeze aftermath

Last Tuesday night was the first freeze this year in my garden, and it turned out to be a hard one – 20 degrees. And since this is my fifth January growing roses, I’m not t all hysterical. After last winter’s devastating December and, before that, the 2010 winter that refused to end I’m not bothered too much by this one. To be honest, perhaps my mellowness is really depression. After all, the wait for spring has now officially begun.

There is only one rose bloom in my garden that still possesses color. Well, I fudged a little on that statement. It’s not in the garden. It’s on my screened porch, having been protected under a tarp with a lamp for heat. It’s a ‘Red Drift’ rose.


My still potted camellia was there, too, so its bloom is also pristine.

Hardly anything that was outside that night is still pristine. I took a walk around the garden today and saw that nothing that was young and new and about to open into a flower has life in it anymore. Amazingly, there are exceptions. These two baby Periwinkles survived while all around them in the pot perished. I wonder how. Perhaps being closer to the soil and not hanging out in the frigid air helped.


My new hot-house Hydrangea ‘Starlight’ looks like it can’t possibly be alive, but I’m hoping its roots are alive even though it’s been in the ground less than a week.


This tiny new basal break on ‘Leonie Lamesch’ didn’t get zapped, but a second look reveals that the deadly menace has chewed off the basal break that I was so excited about only a couple of days ago. I’m going to find a way to stop these tree-rats… if it kills me!


This is ‘Polonaise’ which you may remember is a red Buck rose.


This ‘Polonaise’ bloom deserves to be bronzed for surviving the freeze with at least a portion of its original color.


Before the freeze ‘Louis Philippe’ was peppered with his red flowers, but today there is no red to be seen, just something that might have been red in a past life.


New growth is limp and/or crispy. Perhaps the growth bud at the lower leaf will sprout, that is, if it wasn’t frozen, too.


The daylilies are a sad sight, flattened and looking like some alien monster sucked most of the green out of them. Thankfully, they will simply continue putting out leaves, so this is a hardly noticeable setback for them.


‘Foxy’ Foxglove on the other hand couldn’t care less about sub-zero temperatures. This is one of two still living in the garden that I grew from seeds last winter. They survived the Florida heat and are now relishing the cooler and even the colder temps. In case you haven’t tried these in your Florida garden I can tell to go for it, but forget the first spring – unless maybe if you got them in the ground early, say, in October after the weather breaks. That may give them enough time to develop into a blooming plant in the first spring, but I have a feeling that their second season will still be better. Some of mine bloomed last year (what a thrill!), but it was hot by then, and they didn’t have the height or form that the seed packet represented. This young flower stalk looks exciting.


And then there’s Dianthus ‘chinensis’ who doesn’t care what the temperature is. They bloom and stay green no matter what.


Pentas on the other hand do care what the temperature is, and they cease to be happy – or alive – when they get frozen. These flowers used to be bright pink.


‘Mystic Beauty’, a look-alike of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, had lots of flower buds on her when the freeze hit.


Here’s that bloom cluster four days earlier.


‘Hermosa’ was also ready to show off.


‘Madame Abel Chatenay’ after the freeze and…


before the freeze.


'Madame Antoine Mari’ was not blooming Tuesday but was bearing lots of new growth after her recent move to the driveway bed. Not anymore.


‘White Maman Cochet’ like some other Tea roses is known for her nodding flowers and “weak necks”, but this is a whole different thing.


‘White Maman Cochet’ again.


Do you recognize ‘Le Vesuve’? I didn’t think so.


‘Le Vesuve’ – like all the roses - had no idea it was winter. It seemed like spring to her, so she was making flowers. Lots of flowers.


And new canes.


But look here. I’ve been wondering what kind of weed these seedlings were, but since they sprouted where a larkspur plant had grown last year, I didn’t yank them. There’s a ton of them. Well, I just googled ‘larkspur seedling photos’, and yes!! These are larkspur babies! Hmm, now I wonder if I should thin them…or move some elsewhere. I hope you Florida gardeners noticed that they paid no mind to the freeze. The original larkspur was started from seeds last winter. Click the link for that story.


These teensy seedlings didn’t mind the freeze either. They’re Echinacea babies. They always sprout near the mother plants. Is there anything more beautiful than a faithful blooming plant?


More mayhem.


‘Lilian Austin’ was so lovely the other day.


Faithful and freeze-proof Dianthus ‘chinensis’. I mention the complete name because there are other Dianthus cultivars, and they don’t perform the same as ‘chinensis’. The tall ones will grow for a season if planted as a large plant and occasionally, they return for a second season, but I couldn’t get ‘Sweet William’ seeds to grow, and I’ve never seen 99-cent 4” plants for sale – only the $7 or $8 plants.

Squirrel attack!!! Is it legal to swear on the blogosphere?


My friend, Dianthus 'chinensis'.


Some of the azaleas came through the freeze unscathed. One ‘Red Ruffle’ that I transplanted a few days before the freeze looks great. The one next to it that I moved there a couple of weeks ago is showing an unhealthy gray-green color. Hopefully, that’s not bad news. This Red Formosa in the photo below is apparently more cold sensitive than most. Lots of tips are freezer-burned.


Including flower buds, I’m afraid.


But ’Mrs. G. G. Gerbing’ is fine. Her flower buds don’t look effected at all. She gets covered in February with gorgeous white flowers.


‘Capitaine Dyel de Graville’ was cut down in his prime. This huge flower cluster looked so promising a few days ago.


A phenomenon that I don’t really understand is the defoliation of some Hydrangea macrophyllas and the non-defoliation of others. This grocery-store variety that is several years old and the ‘Merritt’s Supreme’ plants that I have did not lose their leaves, but they’re toast now.


To show how tough roses can be, this is the Davis Austin rose, ‘St. Swithun’. It’s a baby that I put in the ground a couple of weeks ago along with ‘Mary Rose’. No damage at all. Plus, two days before the freeze I planted ‘Graham Thomas’. No damage to him either. Normally, I would place a nursery pot over tender plants, but I forgot this time. Good thing they’re tough. But wait. They’re also not Tea roses which are tender as roses go. It makes a difference which baby rose you leave out unprotected.


Rosemary is not tender apparently.


But daylily leaves are.



And rose blossoms definitely are goners in a hard freeze.


Since I will not have any any pretty photos to post for some time, I guess I will be forced to do the year-end photo recap of last year’s garden. I was kind of thinking if I procrastinated long enough no one would notice that I hadn’t done one, but nature has conspired to make me do it. I also didn’t do an anniversary post. Gee, now that I think about, it’s generally not a good thing to forget one’s anniversary. Well, Happy Anniversary If only sweat were irrigation. You appeared on the scene one year ago on December 28th with fear and trembling. Fortunately, the fear only lasted for a little while, but the fun has persisted to this very day. Thanks, everyone, for adding to my fun and for being so friendly. You’re the best!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

 I love books. I love books with brilliant photographs in them. I love holding them and thumbing through them. When I was a kid, I played library and glued little paper pockets in the back of my books and made cards for each book with my own Dewey Decimal System for cataloging them. I went to the library all the time, checking out the maximum number of books allowed. Curiously though, by some quirk of my personality I rarely read the books that I checked out. Equally odd, I was always late bringing them back. I think the late charge was just pennies per book way back then, but that wasn't a deterrence even though they were my pennies. I think I must have always believed that in a few more days I would read the books… but I never did. Perhaps someone can offer some free psychoanalysis for me in this area.


Not only do I love books, I also love buying books and I love bargains. So several years ago I was delighted to find the website, A few years later it was purchased by Ebay. I’m sure that was because it was such a prosperous company.


I buy on, and I sell on, but it’s been a while since I’ve had the time to list for sale books that are gathering dust on my shelves. Today was the day, because Florida has been beset with truly frigid temps, way too frigid for me to go outside today. Yesterday I was silly enough to spend a couple of hours outside in the brilliant sunshine under the sapphire sky taking photos of the garden in 40 degrees and 15 mph winds that must have dropped the wind chill under 30. I haven’t been that cold in decades. Inside it’s warm and toasty under my fuzzy blankie on the sofa.



So today I was loading a couple of dozen ISBNs into my Sell My Stuff  page to list the books I’m done with for sale. For a wacky side note it’s a bummer and a shock when the ISBN is not there or brings up the wrong book. I guess I must have some bootleg books. I’ve also got duplicates! Back in my rose-book-buying frenzy, I think I was buying every book that was 75 cents with the word roses in the title, and since my memory isn’t what it used to be…


Yes, you heard me right. Seventy-five cents! For books in excellent condition. Plus $3.99 shipping, but if you buy multiple books from the same seller, shipping on the 2nd, 3rd, etc. books is discounted by the seller. Of course, sellers can price their books (and DVDs, CDs, textbooks, video games and audiobooks) at whatever price will move the item (the website guarantees that prices are no more than half of the list price), so there are many books priced higher, but finding a book that will interest you for cheap is very easy. Real easy! Too easy? When I dove into rose gardening with zero background on the subject, was my library since the local one was sadly deficient in gardening books, let alone books on roses and books on soil and organic gardening and garden design. was a lifesaver for my bank balance as well as my garden. Without the following photos taken yesterday would not have been possible.

(Left) 'Marchesa Bocella' and (right) 'Polonaise'

(Left) 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' and (right) 'Le Vesuve' 

(Left) 'Lauren' and (right) 'Gruss an Aachen'

(Left) 'Madame Abel Chatenay', (center) 'Clotilde Soupert', (right) 'White Maman Cochet'

(Left) 'Reve d'Or, (center) 'Borderer', (right) 'Rita Sammons'

'Pinkie, Climbing'

I did mention the freeze, right? Don’t worry, the roses are fine except for tender flower buds and new growth that are now hanging limp on the bush. The hardest hit plants in my garden were the hydrangeas. Flowers from my recent blooming purchases and leaves on several older bushes that hadn’t realized it was winter are mush. The smell of rotting greenery hung in the air this morning. The saddest damage is on ‘Penny Mac’ and  Hydrangea Variegated that for some odd reason were both budding out. New growth was sprouting all over the place. In fact, I was about to post on the GardenWeb Hydrangea Forum about this unseasonable new growth. Now my post will be to ask these questions, will these frozen leaf buds rebud in the spring or will I need to prune them hard below these buds? Freezes are so cruel in Florida. Here in Ocala we get more that our zip code should allow. Apparently, it got down to 20 last night. Winter is so unkind. These photos are all that's left of the hope of these hydrangeas. They are no more.

(left) Hydrangea 'Shooting Star' and (right) Hydrangea 'Penny Mac'

Hydrangea 'Variegata'