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!!


  1. Loved your funny rose pruning post, it is so identifiable. We had this week spring weather so I started pruning roses too. On a ladder wrestling with the roses and afterwards nasty prickles in my fingers despite wearing gloves. I prune in the same way like you, just doing what I think is right. Anyway your rosegarding looks promissing for coming season.

    1. Janneke, after seeing your wonderful garden on your blog I am thrilled to think you prune just like me - just doing what we think is right. Sometimes I wonder. It's beautiful that rose gardeners are the same everywhere - lovely! Thanks for your constant encouragement.

  2. Great post Sherry and I love that photo of you.


    1. Thank you, Lorraine, sometimes goofy stuff is fun, don't you think? You must be having spring already. I hope you're enjoying the wonder of it.

  3. Oh my! Your to do list is longer than mine. I didn't think that was possible. You garden is looking good.
    I love that last paragraph. Made me laugh.

    1. Yeah, David, it WAS kinda long. That's because I write down even the little stuff otherwise I forget. Glad you laughed. Laughter is good. Take care.

  4. Sherry,I like that your blog gives me a good idea of things to expect with our own roses. The photos are very educational to one with a group of young plants wondering what future growth will be like.

    1. Oh, Don, I'm so glad you mentioned that, because it's been my purpose to alleviate some of the anxiety for new gardeners. As I fumble through things for the first time, I figure even if I make mistakes they will be helpful for rose gardeners out there who haven't done them even once yet.

  5. :) what would we do with out such great husbands!

    Thank you I really love the pathways around each garden bed.

    1. You are so right, Crybrug. You must have one, too. For a while the paths were getting skinnier every year. I think now they're just right. Thank you for noticing.

  6. I'm glad you posted bare root golden showers are fast growers..and now I need to train it up a pillar. How do you like Princess Diana? Haven't found Belinda's dream but I did run across Princess she comparable?

    1. Hi, Janie, the Princess Diana I refer to is a clematis. I don't have a rose by that name, and I'm not familiar with it. I hope you find Belinda's Dream. She's a great rose for the deep south. Re Golden Showers: try to be careful with those young canes. I found out the hard way that they can snap easier than you'd think.

  7. Very interesting posts. I am trying to perfect my irrigation in Webster NY. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks.

  8. Seems like its a lot of things-to-do.. "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."

    Definitely the starting point in cutting seems to be confusing.