Thursday, March 21, 2013

A glorious day

The joy of spreading mulch today was almost overwhelming. It was a crystal clear, blue sky day after a good rain last night that gave us half an inch of the precious wet stuff. The temperature was amazingly pleasant and on the cool side at about 70F with a breeze. And I had the power of music in my pocket for soothing and invigorating this usually weary gardener in the tedious tasks that we all engage in. Before I started listening last Saturday to an old favorite album on my Android phone via earbuds, every forkful and each loaded wheelbarrow were a discouragement because I knew they weren’t the last one. But now I literally bounce on my way – to the beat. This particular album that I repeat non-stop is so joyful that when done today I sat on the front porch for a while longer, unwilling to go in and turn off the music.

Providentially, the album is entitled A Beautiful Place by Wayne Watson. Yes, it is.
And this pile of free wood chips is getting more beautiful by the day. I reached the summit today, almost six feet high, and now I'm on my way down.
After the hard rain last night I felt sure that I've seen the last of the falling oak leaves, so I was excited to get the blower for my first task today.
Is this a thrilling sight? Or is it just me?
Leaves are wonderful organic material, but they belong in the beds not on the gravel. Messy, messy.
So pretty. And look where the shadow is... at the edge of the patio. The sun is moving north, so the shadow is moving south. Yay!
I've been taking photos steadily since my last blog post - with the messy leaves. Hardly worthy of publication.
This pic shows that a lady gardener can have a tidy garden at the same time as she has clean bathrooms and folded laundry. Like I said...powerful music.
I wish you had been with me today to share the beauty.
Everything looks so much better. Or is it just me?
My spirit was soaring today!
If I could include every new detail in the garden, you would not be able to get your chores done! This is one of my new acquisitions, 'Heirloom', a bareroot, grafted Hybrid Tea rose bought at Aldi for $4.99. She's beautiful already.
Basal breaks are appearing throughout the garden. I'm so excited about this one on 'Mrs. B. R. Cant'. She hasn't had one in a couple of years. The sticks are my anti-squirrel defense which I need to make higher tomorrow.
Here's Mrs BR in her entirety after I severely pruned her in mid-February. That cane on the left may not be viable. I'm waiting to see. She's on Fortuniana rootstock which I don't like but which is probably keeping her alive and able to compete with the tree roots that surround her. Oak is strong but Fortuniana is stronger!
'Polonaise' is an especially beautiful plant in spring.
I don't think I get thrilled that easy, but today was a thrilling day. A basal break on 'Maman Cochet' made my day. The squirrel defense isn't pretty, but it sure is wonderful.
This is 'Naga Belle', new to the garden last November, with two basal breaks! I'm thinkin' the Epsom salts have definitely kicked in.
You know that I love my roses, but I also love my daylilies, and last year they did not have a good year. The gardener dropped the ball and let them down, but this winter she has fertilized them meticulously and in general loved on them a whole lot. They're looking really good. The early ones have flower scapes already. Guess what...I'm thrilled again.
'Bow Belles' got cut in half by my pruning in February. Fingers crossed, I was hoping she wouldn't mind, and judging by the vast amount of new growth all up and down her canes she didn't mind at all. This year she's got more sun, so my hopes are high.
Both of my 'Clotilde Soupert' bushes are greening up nicely. Again, the finished pruning wound up reducing her by at least half, not deliberately. That's just how it worked out, trying to keep her from looking like a mutilated Crape Myrtle. The red spots are on a 'Red Ruffles' azalea behind the rose.
Another new addition to the front garden, 'Darcey Bussell', a David Austin rose. Reputed to be an excellent bloomer and healthy in our hot summer. He's definitely been a vigorous baby since February. This is only half of him. I really loaded the new roses with bananas - sometimes whole ones and sometimes just several peels.
'Souvenir de la Malmaison' has just a few flower buds, but she's dropped most of her old, yellow leaves, so she's on her way.
'Rosette Delizy' is growing like many baby Teas, low and wide, but she's bushier than she was the first time I grew her...and perfectly healthy. She's about four months in the ground.
This shot is pre-blower, but it shows (left to right) 'Mme Lombard' in the rear, two 'Souv de la Malmaison' bushes, 'Darcey Bussell' in back next to and behind the larkspur, and 'Curly Pink', the ever-shrinking one, in front of the larkspur. I think Curly has settled in finally. I was about to put her in a pot to prevent her soon demise. And 'Anda' in the pot on the right.
It's very emotional for me to see 'Le Vesuve' adding to herself instead of subtracting. New canes down low are marvelous to see. Old yellow leaves drop and are not disease. Typical of Teas and Chinas, she's very healthy except for her recent dieback problems, and maybe they're gone.
Another thrill!! New growth on old wood on 'Le Vesuve', pointing toward the half of her that is gone.
'Maggie', planted a year ago last month, is loaded with lots of new basal growth in her middle. She only had a half dozen or so canes before this, going in all directions and about three and a half feet long. There's even a flower bud in there. As I was mulching around her today, I was moaning a bit to myself about all the baby roses that are in my garden, wondering why I can't manage to have more full-grown roses. In a split second Someone reminded me of my initial mission for this blog... to help new rose gardeners in Florida, so what better way is there to show them what growing babies are like? And I said, "Oh. You're right. Thank you." Do you think that means I have His blessing? For the first time I believe I do.
'Sherry Lane Carr' showing her early stuff. She'll still be blooming in July. Such a wonderful daylily, if I do say so myself... since we share the same name. Just switch the L for a J.
'Maman Cochet, Climbing' is slower responding to her pruning, but then the silly gardener forgot her when putting out the sludge and again when spreading the composted horse manure. I have a bag of Black Kow for her and plenty of sludge. She's next on my to-do list.
Here she is again up against the blue sky.
Bits of new growth are popping out more and more. These are less than an inch long.
That's a 1x2 she's trying to get past. What a pretty thing. Pray that the squirrels don't see it.
Is that a triple? I'm getting thrilled again.
'Reve d'Or' on the other hand jumped right on it and is goin' to town!
Even has a basal break! Gotta get more sticks!
Lots of red new growth on 'Reve d'Or'. DH asked me today if she's going to get big again. I said, "Uh-yeah."
It probably seems odd to you that I'm spreading mulch while I still have plants to plant, namely clematis. What can I say? I only have one more day to be finished with the mulch and I was on a roll, didn't want to be flittin' all over the place without finishing the last job, figured I'd just push the mulch aside, try not to make a mess with the dirt, and be done with it. Since becoming a gardener, I've learned that I can only do so many things at one time, and even that many isn't enough because there's always something else that needs to be done right now when you're the only gardener on the place. Such is life.
A cutting. It's still green since mid-February. I think that bodes well for it. Another thrill... it's 'Madame Abel Chatenay'!!!!!!!!!
Clematis 'Maria Cornelia' got her own obelisk after 'Red Cascade' left the garden over the winter.
Another baby Tea, 'Rhodologue Jules Gravereaux'. I'm excited about him, too.
This is compost not mulch yet. Left to right in the ground, 'Clotilde Soupert', Rhodologue behind the pot, three 'Hermosa' bushes, beyond them is 'Duquesa', and leaning to the right a grafted 'Chrysler Imperial'. Get this, I pruned the Hermosas with hedge clippers! And they didn't mind a bit.
Can you find the flower, the only flower in the garden? As I said, I was sitting on the front porch, and what did I see?
This garden is just a thrill a minute, don't ya think? 'Clotilde Soupert, Climbing'. What could be nicer?

The garden was a beautiful place today. And I'm so glad I was in it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Climbers & compost & pots

I can happily report that things in the garden are improving and that after two freezing nights things are even better than expected. Lots of items have been crossed off my list of things to do this spring. All in all, I’m getting very excited about the coming gardening year. Of course, who knows what plague or pestilence lies ahead, but it’s been a delightful and easy winter.

I am not a list person. I prefer chaos while marching to that idiot drummer in my head, but last January I was so scatter-brained and overwhelmed as to what exactly needed doing that I took DH's advice and made a list. My goodness, I felt so much better afterwards, and it was a simple thing to simply do what was on the list. No stressing whatsoever.
After doing 'Maman Cochet, Climbing' last week I felt braver about tackling my other climbers. This is 'Duchesse d'Auerstadt'. She's almost as old as MC, but as you can see, she's an entirely different animal. However, she was still (and always has been) a mess.
The clippings removed from her just filled a bushel basket, but getting rid of the deadwood enabled me to get her centered and tied on the rebar.
She has lots of red new growth which made me very happy. Maybe this year - her fifth - will be when she leaps.
She's always been a bit "airy" so I have clematis 'Venosa Violacea' growing on both sides of the arbor. They're invisible now after being pruned back. The rectangular pot (which used to house 'Serratipetala') is now home to Purple Coneflowers that sprouted in the gravel of the front circle. This is the only spot I had left, so I hope they like semi-shade.
For two years 'Pat Austin' has been a drooper, but this year she's holding her canes upright. Now that's definitely progress!
Composted horse manure. Isn't it lovely? Perhaps I should be totally honest and say semi-composted, because that's what it is - not really done, but whatever. I love the way it makes the garden look - like a beautifully made bed.

Most daylilies have been clipped back due to the recent freezes. The larkspur volunteers are looking like mini-evergreen forests, and the garden looks half empty - for now.
It only looks like there's a lot of empty space, and I've learned not to fill it, because roses like 'Rosette Delizy' get bigger and daylilies get bigger and salvias get bigger. The trick will be squeezing in the potted Purple Coneflowers.
The Christmas Amazon gift certificate from #1 son and DIL got me this perfect 7.5' obelisk that clematis 'Princess Diana' badly needed. She outgrew her old 4-footer.
So after Sunday's success with the Duchesse on Tuesday I decided to tackle 'Reve d'Or'.
I really hated bothering her, but she makes passage through the sideyard rather dicey which makes me chop on her. So I determined to deal with her properly.
You may not be able to see it, but she takes up just as much space in the neighbor's yard. Thankfully, he doesn't live there. DH fixed the fence that had sprung apart.
I know I've said this before, but I had no clue where to start cutting. I felt like a rookie dentist having to pull his first tooth - without novacaine... for the patient.
Her canes were everywhere and went everywhere. Side shoots had side shoots, and main canes had been previously shortened as per aforementioned chopping. I went back and forth many times trying to decide the best cuts to make.
I had never used a ladder on her before which was dumb. The ladder makes the job possible.
It also gets you right smack in the middle of those not-as-lethal-as-Maman-Cochet's thorns. However, ladder-work is much more painful than it looks. When it's done, probably because I lock my knees, stepping down must be done v-e-r-y slowly and carefully until I'm sure those knees are going to hold. And then it feels like someone beat me with a rubber hose.
And here is the result. I know... another scalping job. I can handle a naked bush after pruning, but I'm not used to the naked climbers yet. And I surely do hope this is what they're supposed to look like!
Finally I get to utilize the three strands of plastic-coated clothesline that I installed five years ago. When she was young, there was nothing to tie to the lines, and when she bulked up, she was too heavy to pull/push into place. The bird-netting is squirrel deterrent.
But now her naked canes, devoid of long side shoots, were easy to put in their proper places.
She, too, has lots of new growth popping out everywhere.
Her width is about 16 feet, and her height is pushing 8 feet. You can barely see my rebar contraption to which I tied the clothesline. I attached to the fence 1x2's that I had drilled and inserted 10-foot rebar into which holds the rose away from the fence. In Florida it's easy to push the rebar two feet into the ground, especially amended ground.
Nothing hangs over the fence now. I wonder how long it will take her to become a trespasser again.
I was hoping to be done while the sun was still on this side of the house to show you that her base will have sun on it now - for a while anyway - and hopefully, it will encourage basal breaks. This is an amazing sight to me. I just hope I can keep her in check.
This is 'Nur Mahal'. She got a new teepee recently because her old metal trellis rusted and fell over with her in it. She was a good ten feet tall, so I pruned her back by two-thirds to get her out of the trellis and make her bushier. DH was positive that I had killed his favorite rose. I assured him she would live, and today I was proud to tell him about all the new growth that she has sprouted. The knitted trellis is for the clematis that is growing with her (on the right side). Clematis leaves hide bare rose legs. I'm not sure if I'll wrap her new canes around the teepee or what. I tried that once before with 'Prosperity' and wound up basically with a huge bush. Don't have room for that, so we'll see.
Take THAT, you dastardly squirrels!! 'Duchesse d'Auerstadt' has precious new growth at the base which had to be protected from the chewers, so I made a cage to keep them out. I think when the canes outgrow the cage I'll wrap burlap around her that I bought last year for this purpose. I'm resigned to the fact that a garden can't look chic while squirrels are around.
How nice that the incessant wind lately has swept the gravel paths mostly clean of oak leaves. All of those pots are the Purple Coneflower echinacea plants that I dug up but didn't want to part with - my compromise to deal with their bullying roots. Now I have to make hypertufa saucers to sit them on so they won't root through the bottom of the pots. I transplanted others to places along the fences a safe distance from roses and daylilies.
My latest clematis order just arrived last week from Brushwood Vines, bringing my total to 18. 
Here's my pot ghetto consisting of hydrangeas, Angelonias, rooted rose cuttings, and a 'Gold Medal' grafted rose recently scarfed from Lowe's. Oh, and a petunia. The colorful pots on the left are waiting for the roses since there ain't no more room in the ground, except for 'Gold Medal' and 'Pope John Paul II'. All these pots have been coming into my kitchen on freezing nights. (It's easier through the side door.) Fortunately, there haven't been many this year. I do hope we're done with those and tonight is the last night for them inside..
This was a curious cane from RdO. Looks fine, and was supporting a long cane to the left with new growth.
Flip it over, and you see it's totally chewed/rotted. It broke off before I could cut it.

Isn't she lovely in the morning sun?
Before I went out to prune RdO, I commented to DH how impossible it was for me to see the canes, looking up into the sun or even just the bright sky. Green, brown, who knew? So he suggested I wear my sunglasses. He's so brilliant! So I got my eye-doctor glasses for when he dilates my eyes. They're polarized and completely cover my regular glasses and worked like a charm. So I thought I'd show you what you need to do in this situation. That's when I saw how sunburned I was which I then told DH. He said you didn't have your hat on? I said you didn't tell me to. hehe
See ya in the funny papers!!