Sunday, March 27, 2011

Casualties of War

In my life, I have really moved. I have moved from North to Central Florida, from one side of town to another ( like 5 times), moved into a home from an apartment, moved rooms around inside said home (don't get DH started on that one!), moved furniture and plants from my family homestead in Georgia into said home, and moved flower beds and flowers around my yard more times than I care to remember. (My daylilies seem like migrant birds, following my every garden whim and foible to a new temporary home.) In moving there is always a casualty. A glass pitcher that gets broken, an azalea that just wont take to its being relocated. Sometimes there is a heartbreak and a few tears that come with the loss, if it be a prized piece, but overall I try not to let it get to me. The move to the new garden scheme was alas, not without its loss, but this time, multiple losses. A 3 year old Iceberg, which I apparently damaged a main root, was DOA in mere hours. That loss I can cope, it isn't my favorite rose, and I have two other white roses, one being another Iceberg. The loss that baffled and saddened me was actually a new rose, one which I planted in September. Reine des Violettes was about 18" tall, had decent top growth coming out of the dormant season, so I figured she was healthy. I dug wide and deep around her, trying not to make the same mistake as Iceberg. What I came up with was a root system that was smaller than a tennis ball. Strange, I thought, for such a teensy root system to be on what seemed otherwise to be a happy plant. I transferred her, watered in, mulched, top-watered the mulch, and thought, "Okay this will be good"...wrong. Dead in a day. This scared me since I had other roses still to move. Now I have moved roses a few times, and never had a problem. The Iceberg was my fault, and I take full blame on that, but I have moved a 6' bush across the yard before, and had little more than a bit of wilt and loss of some new growth. But a baby plant? I am still baffled. Sadly I don't have the time to ponder it, because apparently I have more roses in trouble, stress, danger, or something. Three of the other moved shrubs (out of the 9 total I moved) are yellowing and shedding leaves at an alarming rate. When I researched "yellowing leaves on roses" it gives me a wild range of reasons why: water stress, heat stress, salt stress, the roses do not approve of your outfit for that day, etc. I am just riding this one out, and seeing what happens next. If I have to replace more roses, well, so be it. But I really don't want to lose these three. One is Archduke Charles, which I got 2 years ago at the spring rose sale at Goodwood Plantation in Tallahassee (incidentally, you can see the plantation from the hospital in which I was born, maybe roses and old houses my fate from birth) and the other two are newbies from ARE (so was RdV): Mme Issac Pereire and Kronprincessin Viktoria.

So here is hoping that this a "just a phase", and the roses spring (no pun intended) back into action. Otherwise, my "Rose" line item in the budget is about to get bigger.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

The beginning of a new era....or....How I spent my spring break.

Some people spend their spring breaks in Cancun, or some other sandy locale, imbibing mass quantities of anything and everything. But they aren't 30. Being older and happily domesticated, one tends to spend more time on the homefront whenever free time arises. So my spring break was spent killing myself and DH in the back garden. But what a difference a week can make! Refer back a couple of posts for pictures of the "before".

From the back steps of the gate. to the left and right of the gravel path are beds of azalea and daylily, and beyond that are new vegetable and herb beds. The fence and pergola will be clothed in climbing roses and clematis. I am thinking "The Generous Gardener" and SDLM CL mixed with Etoile Violette clematis on the pergola. I am up to suggestions on what goes on the fence. I was also contemplating a pillared rose on either side as well. 

A shot looking across the potager, parallel to the deck. One bed left to build (lower left)

Looking through the pergola, across the rose lawn to the unfinished pergola where "The Lovers Bench" will go. I saw this done in an old plantation garden, and loved the idea of a wisteria or rose (maybe both? is that even possible?) covered pergola with a small bench for two. I have yet to find the right bench, so two chairs will do for now. The entire circle will be surrounded by roses, with the 4 pergolas (yes, 4) anchoring the symmetry. Perennials will fill the gaps and hopefully give a more lush full appearance. Believe it or not, there are actually roses already planted out there. They are just teensy at the moment. 

From behind the HT rose bed. Most of the HT's will be shovel pruned this year for replacement with OGRs that will be bigger, better and not so horribly fickle. A couple might stay because they are the varieties I grew up with and that started my initial love of roses. But even those will be moved to a bed where their odd growing habits won't offend. The rose in the center of the shot is Anna Olivier, which I am most pleased with, except for the ugly way she finishes. 

Looking from the opposite corner, standing in the potager.

The rose that started the OGR frenzy for me. Mrs. B.R. Cant. She got so big so fast I ended up making her a climber. I haven't ever had a problem with her, she gives me great blooms throughout the year, and has taken to her supported role beautifully. planted just in front of her in this shot is Vincent Godsiff, which has given me alot of joy so far this year. It grows literally straight up, and has happy, blousy flowers in abundance, and helps to hide the lower bare canes of B.R. Cant.

Turning to the right a bit to look out over the rose circle. The roses in this picture are all about 2-2.5 years old, and the best performers I have so far. To the left is Vincent Godsiff again, the center is Leveson Gower, which I adore, and the buds to the right are from the spectacular (in my garden at least) Abraham Darby. It reached 6.5'-7' tall last summer, and was an arching mess, but the flowers were worth it. During the murderous pruning spree I went on in December/January, I cut it down to 2.5'. It is now back to 5' but with a much better vase-like shape. Apparently I did the right thing with the pruners for once. 

Babies! I just hope they grow up nicely.

Leveson Gower and Vincent Godsiff playing nicely together. 

Mrs. B. R. Cant

Leveson Gower

So now the next step is to clean, dig, amend and set up the final phase of the garden, an area currently used as the trash pile, once the vegetable garden, and one day soon the second phase of the rose garden. 
We will save that for summer break!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Excited, and tired.

Whew. Everything is going to hurt on me tomorrow. We worked in the yard from 9 to 8 today, and the plan is to be back out in it again for the next couple of days. My re-working of the back yard is taking shape nicely (pics to come soon) and I am STILL excited about it. This is a milestone for me, so this plan must be the right one. Today the two new pergolas went up, the new fences, (this all done by DH) while I excavated and leveled the area for the gravel circle, laid in the brick edging and finally (as it was getting dark) set in gravel. It was a one day revolution for our yard, and it literally looks like a different place. Tomorrow the potager paths get finished, gravel and brick laid, and the beginnings of the new rose bed amendments go in, kitty litter, alfalfa pellets, milorganite, cow poop, and chopped pine bark, plus a dusting of epsom salts and rose-tone for good measure. Then paper, mulch, and wait for orders and shipments of roses. A few will be moved in to place around the new rose circle as well. Then the biggest challenge. The area that will eventually become even more rose beds, at the far left of the yard. This will require serious help and so I am tilling the whole thing under, and solarizing, then amending. Good Lord this is going to be a week! But I am excited to have it done by this weekend for the party (my 30th birthday) and finally my yard will look a bit more ordered, if bare for now, and I can spend more time planting and tending and less time complaining!

Now Im going to go lay on a heating pad....


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sometimes first impressions are the best ones.

Crisis update: The garden, my friends, has at last gained order. Now I don't mean the actual garden, but the one in my head and on paper. The tangible garden currently has trenches, and stakes and squaring lines running across it. But my plan has started to solidify. I believe this is iteration # 38 of the garden design. But for once, I am really happy with the vision in my head. What is funny about it is the fact that the initial idea came the first day we looked at this property, nearly three years ago. I remember saying, " Oh, this space near the house would make a nice kitchen garden, a potager!" Now, lo these three years later, that is the plan. Funny how things come full circle and first impressions are the best ones. And so , the area right off the back deck (see pictures in previous post) will become a potager, with brick lined beds and gravel walk. Then, to break up the expanse, and create "rooms", the picket fence will bisect the yard, with a rose arch in the center, thus dividing the yard into two main sections; the kitchen garden and the "rose lawn". This more narrow, longer area, now running parallel instead of perpendicular to the back side of the house, will allow for more density in the roses, and shallower beds, for ease of pruning, and the ability to get up close and personal with what is blooming! The fence will also allow for more climbing roses, and the ability to pillar a few as well. I am actually really excited about the new iteration, a feeling that is all together new to me. Instead of the usual second guessing, doubting, redrawing etc. , I am now figuring details and planting arrangements. This is a pretty big step for me.

Secondly, I quit worrying so much about the front garden. Also a rather big step. Instead of hemming and hawing about what to put into it, how it will look etc. I decided to let my eyes and my heart guide me. The guided me right to the closest nursery, and back out with a carload of perennials , annuals, and flowering shrubs. Into the bed they went, in groups of threes, soon to be backed up (I left plenty of spaces) with OGRs, both in shrub and climbing form. Sometimes it is best, I believe, to just jump in feet first. I am sure things will probably change, as is the nature of a garden, but at least I now have a better palette to experiment with. It doesn't look too bad for a first try. Salvia faricinea, bush daisy, plumbago, snapdragon, cleome, and daylilies will frolic together with the already planted spirea, and of course the aforementioned roses. A small flowering tree will anchor one end and add some much needed height. Which type I have not really decided, but that will come in time. My thought is, for now, its better than an expanse of plain brown mulch, and considering the neighborhood, it is still the best looking yard on the street. So now, in this beautiful sunny weather, I am off to toil in the garden. Soil to move, grass to dig out, and a whole new plan to be excited about. Enjoy the pics below and hopefully some updates will come soon! (if my back doesnt give out)

Im hoping eventually for a more lush appearance. The addition of daylilies and roses will help. But aren't the bush daisies adorable?

Some things are still in pots, waiting to go in the ground, which will happen soon.

Sort of a rough layout of the new garden plan. Im really very excited!