Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Accidental Love

Roses are my first love.  I specifically chose to grow them because I have the right conditions for them.  Full sun.  Acidic soil.  Conditions too hot for blackspot most of the summer.  They can take our heat.  Most of them like our mild winters.   And they give back - blooming through most of the spring, summer and fall.  Roses are hard workers, and it's easy for me to love them.

Camellias are my second love, but they were an accidental love.

Being from the South, I had seen camellias in gardens here and there.  And yet I never really thought about them for my garden.  Why not?  Well, I was busy filling my garden with roses!  And other summer blooming plants as well, of course.  Plants that smiled up at you in the garden centers, begging you to take them home, plant them, and give them a chance.  Camellias bloom in the fall, winter, or early spring.  I hadn't yet thought about having something blooming in the garden during those times.  Camellias like good soil.  I have no good soil.  Camellias like shade in our scorching summer sun.  I don't have a lot of shade.  Camellias like to be protected from wind.  We get a lot of wind here, and not a lot of areas are protected.  Other plants have rows and rows given them in the garden centers during the height of planting season.  Camellias may get a small corner in an out of the way area of the garden center, if at all, and during the off season.  We were strangers, not having yet met.

Then a couple of years ago around this time of year, there was a death in our family.  And I received two camellias as gifts.  They were given by two different people, but with the same explanation: camellias bloom during this time, and they felt a camellia would be a nice remembrance, as well as a fitting gift for a gardener.

Since that time, I have added a few more camellias to my garden, and started learning more about this fascinating and beautiful plant.  I now go out of my way to acquire more camellias.  I go to nurseries that carry them.  I look for places to add them in the garden.  The ones I have, I try to make happy.  I amend the soil.  I try to plant them in the right sun/shade conditions.  I water them regularly.  I worry about them.  And when they bloom, I'm happy.

And a little bit sad, too.

A terribly tragedy brought camellias into my garden.  Now I think it would be tragic if my garden were ever without them.

I'm joining Donna at GardenWalk GardenTalk for her Word 4 Wednesday meme on Accidental.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Luck of the Draw

Sometimes, you just get lucky.  One of my favorite Christmas memories was the time I won the lottery.  Well, not really.  But, kind of.  In a way.  A small way.

It was the year the Cabbage Patch dolls were so popular.  Remember them?  People were paying big bucks to acquire one.  People were fighting over the few shipped to the retail stores.  And every little girl wanted one.  Including my oldest daughter, who was around 5 at the time.

I had given up getting a Cabbage Patch doll for her.  I wasn't even trying.  But, luck was on my side.

My mother and I were out shopping a couple of Saturdays before Christmas, when we walked into the local five and dime.  We were looking for some simple little item.  But when we walked in, we saw stacks of Cabbage Patch dolls!


My mother asked if they were for sale, and yes, they were, but there was a catch.  The store was having a drawing for the chance to buy one.  One lucky winner would be drawn every hour, on the hour.  Must be present to win.  The next drawing was to be held in just a few minutes.

Sign us up!

We gathered around, along with the other 30 or 40 people that had signed up and stayed in the hopes of winning an opportunity of purchasing the most coveted gift that Christmas.  Of having some little girl's dreams come true.

"Number 53!"

I looked down.  I had number 52.  So close.  But, of course, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  "That's me!  That's me!" I heard someone say.  That someone was my mother!

My mother gave the Cabbage Patch doll to me so I could give it to my oldest daughter that year.   I guess, like in horseshoes, I was close enough!  I don't know if my daughter remembers getting that doll on that Christmas so long ago.  But I remember.

I feel just as lucky to have 'La Marne' in my garden.  I added this rose to my garden this past year, not really knowing much about it.  I won the rose lottery on this one.  A rose that blooms continually, and not just a bloom here and there, but all over.  I've never seen a rose this young bloom as much.

La Marne made it through this year's drought, and did it cheerfully.  Although, with our scorching summer temperatures, it did appreciate a bit of shade in the afternoon.  I actually have two in matching raised beds, and the one rose that received sun all day with no relief suffered much more in this drought. But, as you can see in the picture below, they are both blooming profusely now.

La Marne can get up to 6 ft tall, grows in zones 6 to 9 (possibly 5), is blackspot and rust resistant, and is designated an Earthkind rose.  I've read it makes a beautiful hedge, and I can imagine that it does.  It's almost thornless, and can be kept at around 3 ft, so it would be a good rose by the front door, too.  Unfortunately, there is little to no fragrance.

This is one rose I would recommend, if you're not concerned about fragrance.  I bet your La Marne will last a lot longer than the Cabbage Patch craze!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The weather is still nice here, so I'm still venturing outside to talk to my roses.  Except when I went out to see them today, they seemed to be talking back!  Looking closer, I saw where all the noise was coming from - not from the roses, but from honey bees!   (You didn't really think my roses talked, did you?)

The bees were having a feast!  For an appetizer, they chose this cheerful, but unknown rose:

The soup course came from James Galway:

(I think the fly is an uninvited guest!)

Souvenir de St. Anne offered up the salad course.

The main course was supplied by Julia Child:

But, the most popular dish of all was the sweet blanketflower dessert!

You can see the pollen on this bee's back leg if you look closely:

As for the humans, we are still eating (a little) out of the garden, too!

Eggplants will make a great side dish.

We have lettuce up and ready, but the tomatoes are small, and mostly green.  Winds blew most of them off the vine.  I'll wait until they turn red and in a few days, we'll enjoy a fresh salad.

If you stop and think about it, it's amazing the number of creatures one garden can feed!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Big Reveal

Did you know that Knock Out roses are controversial?  Well, maybe the average person doesn't sit around knocking Knock Out roses, but a lot of rosarians do just that!

Why?  Well, it's complicated.

First, let me explain to you why I love Knock Out roses:

1)  Very blackspot resistant.  Amazingly so!  I was made aware just how much one rainy fall when all my roses looked absolutely horrible, except the Knock Outs.  They looked great!  The difference was quite impressive.

2)  Widely available.  They are easy to find.  Sometimes the hardest part of growing roses is getting the roses!

3)  They are easy to keep.  I give these roses no respect.  I  prune with electric hedgers, plant them too close together, put them in shady areas, and generally treat them like an unwanted guest.  But they take it and keep on blooming.  Which is what I expect of them!  I wouldn't treat my other roses like that!

So, if they are such great roses, what could be the controversy?  Well, a very smart woman once told me "Your greatest asset is also your greatest liability."  If you think about that, it starts to make sense.  Let me show you:

1)  Very blackspot resistant.  They are so well known to be blackspot resistant, that people forget these are roses.  And roses can be picky.  There are some areas of the country that, for some reason, these roses didn't get the memo and perform horribly.  And it's not immune to other rose diseases, either, so again, every garden is different and this may or may not be the right rose for your particular place.

2)  Widely available.  This is a big part of the controversy.  Because they are so widely available, other roses are getting pushed out.  Many garden centers offer no other choice of roses.  And if other roses are not sold, it affects everyone from the hybridizers to the rose suppliers.  And eventually to the roses, so many of which are rare or extinct already.  It also seems there is a Knock Out used in almost every landscape.  Rose lovers know there are so many other roses to choose from, but it's difficult to find them.

3)  They are easy to keep.  What could be bad about this one?  Well, in rose talk, this is a "landscape rose".  Meaning, a rose that looks pretty (and is easy to keep), but does not evoke that sense of love and wonder that a rose should and could.  A rose that you fall in love with.  A rose that you want to sink your nose into.  A rose that you want to build a garden around.  A rose that takes your breath away.  Rose love.  Rosarians are not keen on roses that don't give you that sense of rose love.

My Knock Outs surprised me this year.  The drought and heat affected them more than any of my other roses.  They looked absolutely horrible, and are just now beginning to recover.  I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to replace them.  I have several Knock Out roses, and while I may not have a true sense of rose love for them, I do have respect and admiration for their hard working nature.  If my Knock Outs had not recovered, I'm not sure if I would have replaced them with more Knock Outs.

But, thankfully, I don't have to make that decision right now.  Because they have recovered.  And they are blooming, once again revealing their reliability.

Do you have an opinion about Knock Outs?  I'd love to hear it!

And in case you were curious, I finished painting in the bedroom.  Here's a tiny peek:

What do you think?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Crossing the Line

This weekend I'm crossing the line.

If you haven't noticed by now, I love orange roses.  From peach to rust, and everything in between, I have an affinity for orange.  But I may be going a bit too far!

Pat Austin

This weekend I'm painting my bedroom orange!  Ha!  It tickles me just to write those words!

Not a sweet peach, and not dayglo orange, but a dark burnt orange.  Still, I'm crossing the line.

If I had any intention of ever selling my house, I would not paint any of my walls the color orange!  That is just too bold for most people.  White, beige, and tan are acceptable.  Not orange!  But, I don't have any intention of selling, so why not?  This color makes me happy, and so I'm going to be bold and brave and courageous.

Bengal Tiger

There's a line in gardening, too.  If your realtor says something like, "Nice home, but you need to remove about 100 roses before we put it on the market", you know you've crossed the line.  Or if people come to tour your garden and all they can say is "Wow, this must take a lot of work!", or if you build a permanent, unusual garden feature that may not be to other's liking, you have crossed the line.

I've crossed the line in my garden.

But what would Sissinghurst be without its famous White Garden?  Or Arley hall without those towering trimmed trees?  Or Versailles without its - well, everything!  OK, Versailles is way over the line!  And I'm not just talking about formal gardens, either.  For example, I've seen Starr Gideon Kempf's Sculpture Garden in Colorado Springs, and it crosses the line, too.  Big time!

About Face

We rarely show our personality in our homes because we're stopped by convention.  An orange wall is not conventional.  We rarely show our personality in our gardens, either, because we're stopped by this same sense of convention.  A lawnless garden is not conventional.  It crosses a line.  Knot gardens cross a line.  Prairie plantings could be considered unconventional.  Even clipped hedges may be a line some wouldn't want to cross!

Perle d'Or

Some think I cross the line with so many roses in my garden, but I don't think that at all.  Well, maybe I go up to it, but I don't cross it!  I don't spray my roses.  And I don't cry over a little blackspot, just like I don't cry over dead daffodil foliage.  They are treated like any other plant (well, almost), so I consider them inside the line.  Don't argue with me here.

But, I knew I had crossed the line when I started the catenary.  It's a feature most would not want to keep.

Like orange walls.

Tell me, have you crossed the line in your garden?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Looking Back

Want to see something pretty?  Most roses are pretty from the front, but this one is different.

This rose is best seen from the back!

The back of rose petals is called the reverse.  This rose is 'Prairie Sunset'.  A pale butter yellow on its reverse makes the hot pink color on its front stand out.  As the sun's rays stream through the petals, the lighter reverse makes this rose glow.  I can't seem to keep my eyes off this beauty.  And my pictures don't really do it justice.

Prairie Sunset grows upright, up to 6 ft. tall, and grows taller than it is wide.  Slight scent.  Should be hardy to zone 4.  Occasional blackspot.  Which is sad, because this rose is beautiful and a bit surprising with its contrasting lighter reverse.  I recommend you place this rose in the back of the garden (where you can hide some of the blackspot on its leaves).  But be sure you put it where the light will shine through its petals.  You don't want to miss that golden glow.  It's like a shining jewel.  Oh, how I wish you could see that in my pictures!

I also wish it had a different name.  Prairie Sunset is pretty, but Dr. Buck got carried away, naming at least a dozen other roses with some form of Prairie in their names.  This includes one called Prairie Sunrise.  Prairie Sunset, Prairie Sunrise - very confusing for someone with a simple mind like me!

Still, I certainly understand the Sunset part of its name.  I do think it resembles a beautiful, glowing sunset.  Don't you?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pattern and Texture: Beyond the Bloom

Donna at GardenWalk GardenTalk has asked us to talk about Pattern and Texture for her Word 4 Wednesday meme.  I am very interested to read what others have written, because this topic is one that we gardeners could talk about indefinitely!

Texture and pattern are usually talked about in a design sense.  When you look beyond the bloom.

So, if you want a mini-design lesson on texture, one of the best I ever read is here:
The Secret to a Beautiful Garden by the Renegade Gardener
Please take the time to click on his link.  It's a bonus lesson from me to you.  (And, no, I don't know him, and he doesn't know me.)

So, that's texture.  Now let's talk about pattern.  No design lesson here.  Instead, I'm going to tell you about one of the smallest patterns you will see in a garden, but one that I love to look for.

Anyone that has grown a plant close to a window or in half shade knows that the plant grows toward the light.  This phenomenon is known as phototropism.

How plants do this bending is remarkable.  The cells on the darker side of the plant actually grow longer than the other side.  What allows them to do this is a hormone that breaks down the cell walls so that the cell can expand without breaking, thus allowing the plant to turn and bend.

And not only does the entire plant slowly bend toward the light, but each and every leaf turns to where it can get the most light.  Like a class picture where even the child in the back has his face toward the camera, each little leaf raises his neck just enough to smile at the sun.

That's the tiny pattern that is both beautiful and amazing to me.  Next time you are out in the garden, look closely at your plants.  You will see each little leaf showing his face, smiling to the sun.

I can almost guarantee you will smile back.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bloom Day in Photos

It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!  Is anything blooming in my garden?

Oh, yeah!

Hope you enjoyed the look around!

Monday, November 14, 2011

All of the Above

Are you interested in growing roses but can't decide on just one?

Perhaps you want a yellow rose?

Or a pretty pink?

How about one that's rose colored?

Do you want one that will take your breath away when it's perfect?

Or one that's beautifully less than perfect?

If you said yes to all of the above, I have just the rose for you!

Mrs. Dudley Cross.  She starts out yellow, and slowly blushes pink until it covers her whole face.

Her ruby red canes add another layer of mystery and charm.

She's one of my favorites, perhaps because she is so very interesting.

If you're interested in Mrs. Dudley Cross, she is an Old Garden Tea rose from 1907, almost thornless, growing up to 6 ft. tall and wide.  She has a nice rounded bush shape.  She is a southern lady, growing well in zones 7 through 9, possibly 10.  Disease resistant.  Blooms repeatedly.  Tea scent.

A charming, mysterious lady.
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