Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pruning a climbing Tea

I’ll start out by saying that she used to be bigger than this and much prettier. 2012 was a bad year for ‘Maman Cochet, Climbing’. I used to only blame the squirrels, but as of today I blame the gardener, too, and I’ll be frank. This rose scared me. Tending to her even in my timid way meant getting shredded, and I was afraid if I cut her too much she would die. “Teas don’t like pruning!” is a constant refrain out there on the rose internet, and the only reason I took pruner in hand today was that I know a real, live person who grows MC, Climbing who prunes her side shoots the same way as other climbers - and does it twice a year to keep her in check even in Zone 7B North Carolina. She says she's no expert, but she's smarter than me! Thanks, Meredith.

She was thin, rangy and had had a lot of dead wood cut out of her at summer's end.
Looking back from the arbor, you can see her canes were going everywhere, and it was advisable to duck when venturing through her area.
There was still lots of dead wood on top of the arbor. Timidity really prevailed after the last cutting binge when live wood looked just like dead wood. Uh-oh.
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The wood trellis is 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Her canes flopped toward the house and seemed to be eager to devour my neighbor's house. To the right she reaches another 5 feet beyond the trellis, and to the left over the arbor she goes another 8 feet easy. And as to height, my guess would be 17 feet and waving.
Looking up into that mess, all I knew to do was try to follow the canes to the base and start cutting above the third budeye.
I saved this side for last. These canes are reaching out at me big-time. Side shoots break all along her canes and then grow 8, 10, 12 feet long... and then they do the same.
At one time the growth over this arbor was a thing of beauty. I knew in my head that the old wood of climbers needed to be cut out regularly, but my head was good at ignoring what she couldn't figure out how to deal with.
There are half a dozen really long canes from the arbor hanging over the A/C unit.
More long canes reaching to the back and over both sides of the fence.
There are a bunch of side shoots up there.
You literally cannot touch her without getting stuck. More accurately, hooked and sharply.
Amazingly, the thought never crossed my mind to apply the loppers to her base.
My head and shoulders had to go up in there, step by step on the ladder. Gives multi-tasking a whole new meaning.
Mommy, what did you do?
I think your scrolling finger is going to cramp up. Sorry.
Oh, that looks painful. Poor baby.
This was my questionable area. The rules say don't shorten the main cane, only the laterals, but those canes to the left hang out five feet past the trellis over the grill and in a few months will have long laterals hanging off them. I tried sending them in a u-turn but already knew her stiff canes wouldn't do that. So I nipped one at a sprouted budeye and told it that it was now officially the new main cane. The others I'm still thinking about.
The bird netting did a decent job of dissuading the squirrels from making her the fast-food stop on their fence-highway. I found one dangling by his toenails (literally) but was too lily-livered to finish the execution. Turns out he got away, but he must have warned his buddies. After that, I didn't see many squirrels on Mama's trellis.
There are many, many swollen budeyes on those short laterals, so I'm hoping she will bush out like all the other pruned roses.
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Her center portion over the base took a real hit last year. I'm hoping it wasn't because a clematis vine was growing up into her canopy. It wasn't a monster clem, only six to eight feet tall.
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I just plain had to chop her long main canes over the arbor. What else could I do? They don't do well hanging down toward the ground, and the roof is not an option.
The bungee is temporary :)) She still wants to eat the orange house. I should let her.
The white rope is my version of a pulley system to hoist her heavy, prickled canes up high enough to walk under. I know someone who leases big cranes. I'll have to give her a call.
She doesn't look too bad, ya think?
When I was shortening laterals at the right side of this photo, I was finding perfectly live, long canes already cut off, and I was ticked that I had cut something that was alive, thinking it was dead. Then it hit me. They were the cut laterals from over the arbor! Still sad but definitely necessary. I was pulling canes out by the yard.
All neat and tidy. And no torn flesh on my body. I was so smart this time. Of course, I wore the gauntlets but also long sleeves - a first! The shirt got hooked lots of times by prickles that wouldn't let go. So glad it wasn't my arms. Gosh, that's so painful.
Oops. Looks like I missed one.
I'll keep you posted as the laterals grow out. I'm thinking she'll need a comb-over for a rather big bare spot.
This one pile is about the size of a twin bed. I know absolutely that I cut off 40  really long canes, probably more than that, but stop and think about it. She must been struggling to find enough energy to support all that growth. And not succeeding. Which was evident in her sad condition.
So I have a strong feeling that Mama Cochet does not hate me now. I feel like she’s glad I showed her the tough love that she’s been needing and suffering without. Here's to a glorious spring! after the forecast of below-freezing temps this weekend. The groundhog was flat wrong, but I'm praying he was right.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Wife the Gardener

With absolute glee I am reposting this wonderful poem from Jan Bills' website, Two Women and a Hoe. She says the author is unknown, but he definitely knows me!  I’m posting it here as a salute to all of the loving husbands of gardening wives whose reservoir of understanding is so deep and so wide. They deserve a special shout-out.

So here’s to the husbands!!! Especially mine!

My Wife the Gardener

Monday, February 18, 2013

Horses and their poop

DH and I drove out to horsey northwest Marion County for another load of composted horse manure. It is a truly beautiful, scenic trip over rolling hills with fenced pastures to the right and to the left past farm after farm along Highway 27. After last night’s dip into the 20’s most of the pastures were not as lovely as on the last trip, now tan instead of emerald green. I took my camera with me, so you could watch the compost acquisition.

That's steam coming off the manure compost! Never saw that before.
Brown gold is on its way.
The nice fellow driving the tractor has very good aim.
One of the perks of rose gardening... watching heavy equipment.
More steam. Very cool.
Three heaping buckets all tied up. The tarp makes it easier to remove the compost from the truck. His bucket is the size of a long bed whereas ours is a short bed, so we leave him a mess to clean up. Like I said, he's very nice about it and glad to have someone take it off his hands. Probably will need a fifth load.
Since I had my camera, I thought I'd take some pics of the beautiful horses that are usually on the farm, but they must have been inside having dinner.

Down the road a piece I spotted a couple in a pasture close enough to the fence so as not to embarrass my lens. He's a nice one.
He/she decided to mosey over to see who was looking at him.
And then his young friend came over, too.
I like horses... in movies and books, but in person they are very foreign to me, very big animals known to have teeth. Teeth in animals bother me.
But this fellow had such a sweet face.
His look made me wish I could read horse-minds, but probably I don't need to be Freud to figure out he was looking for a snack. Sorry, buddy. I really wanted to stroke his face, but the coward in me prevailed. I left without letting him know my true feelings for him. Do you think he can read human-minds? I get the feeling that he reads hearts though.
Frozen azaleas are not pretty, and they are very sad. I guess it would take a miracle for the rest of the buds to open now... rather than rot. Ahhh, the fragrance of the rotting Florida landscape after a freeze. Not nice.
No sad endings here (did everyone watch 'Downton Abbey' last night? OMG, how could they?) so I'll end with the lovely Reve d'Or from a few days ago. Amazingly, she looked pristine today after the freezing night. Maybe, she'll be fine... in my dreams.
Stay warm… wherever you are.

2/19/13 Postscript:  Dare I say it? Great minds think alike. Yesterday my blog was on compost, and today  Martha Stewart's blog is on compost. She doesn't mention horse manure, but she's got plenty of heavy equipment.  So dare I say that I may have inspired the inspiring Martha? Uhhh... probably not.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dispel not the dream


The arrival of the everblooming rose in the early 19th century was no small event. In fact, it was huge. Queens, most famously Marie Antoinette of France, posed with this earth-shaking discovery for their portrait. Georgia Torrey Drennan states unequivocally that “nothing in the history of the rose has been of greater importance than the creation of the Tea.” I have come upon her book, written way back in 1912, and I’m enjoying it as I would a bowl of luscious strawberries in the shade on a balmy, late spring day. Her writing style, naturally, is of a bygone era and delightfully transports me to her time and sensibilities. Her title page gives the first indication that today’s reader is taking a step back into a much different time.

For the Out-door Garden of the Amateur
"Rose culture may claim to be quite the oldest and the most
highly developed of the many struggles of man with nature."

In particular, right at the first page I was moved by her dedication of the book.
My dear children and grandchildren:-
The loveliest and sweetest of everblooming roses that I am telling you about grow in a garden in the South.
      You will never see the roses nor tread the garden walks. It is a beautiful garden. The roses are always in bloom. The buds never blight and the roses never shatter nor fade. The seasons never change. It is always summer. Daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, and tulips - flowers of spring; lilies and pansies, sweet peas and honeysuckles of summer; chrysanthemums and asters of autumn, in one sweet day of summer are blooming with the roses.
      There is a wealth and tangle of bloom. Weeds are crowded out by many kinds of flowers close beside the roses, blooming as flowers only bloom for those who love and tend them with patient care and thought.
      From the near-by orchard, fruity odours blend with the perfume of the roses. Bees are droning over the old pond pasture, white with clover blossoms. There is a vinous tang in the air from the Concord grapes in the little vineyard. The ambient air is sweet with the spicy breath of pinks and the fragrance of violets bordering the beds where the roses grow.
      Children are there at play. The heart of the happy young mother responds to their flute-like voices mingling with the notes of song birds flitting in and out of the roses climbing over the nursery window. - Tread softly. - Close the garden gate. - Dispel not the dream.

Were I to hold that dedication in my heart each day while I am tending my garden (notice I did not say working in my garden), I am convinced that the dream would be much closer to becoming the reality.

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'Cracker Rose Pink', a found China rose. There's also a red version. This petite rose can be purchased from Rose Petals Nursery.
'Madame Lombard', a Tea rose bred by François Lacharme (France, 1878).
'Madame Lombard' again
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'Souvenir de la Malmaison', a Bourbon of Tea heritage bred by Jean Béluze (France, 1843) and named in remembrance of the garden of Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, at Malmaison.
This silly Florida gardener planted tulip bulbs last month after chilling them in the refrigerator for two months. Imagine my excitement upon seeing them bloom. This one is called 'Happy Generation'.
'White Maman Cochet', a Tea discovered by A. Marshall (Australia, before 1896) and by John W. Cook (United States, 1896).
'White Maman Cochet' again, hanging her head as she is wont to do. Yesterday's drizzle guaranteed that her 5" flower would not stand up for sure.
'Madame Antoine Rebe', a Tea bred by Joseph-Marin Laperrière (France, 1900). Known as a red Tea, yesterday she was definitely this fuchsia rose color at least on this blown flower.
'Madame Antoine Rebe' again, showing more red in this slightly opened bud.
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'Souvenir de la Malmaison' again. It's early in this flush so she's not covered in blooms, but her habit is to just keep blooming and I don't often see her completely covered. Her flowers in this early spring have been very large though, easily 5" when fully open.
'Rosette Delizy', a Tea bred by Clément Nabonnand (France, 1922).She was only a tiny thing when planted last November, but she has grown impressively and is now covered in buds. So thrilling to have her back in the garden.
I thought this photo conveyed somewhat of a bygone feeling with the climber 'Clotilde Soupert', a poly/Tea, dribbling down over the azaleas. Oh, red and fuchsia are an appropriate combination in Florida...just sayin'.

If you would like to download this public-domain book, Everblooming Roses, go HERE. Google has graciously scanned many old books and makes them available in the EPUB version and in PDF. I do hope you’ll settle in amongst your cushy pillows with a cup of tea or hot cocoa and take this trip to Georgia Drennan’s Mississippi garden. You will surely discover the true meaning of everblooming roses and their impact on your gardening life.