Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1 - Blooms

Roses can be wonderful, and they can be frustrating.  If I had to choose just one rose that was the best bloomer last year, you would probably be surprised at the winner.  I know I was.  That's because for a couple of years I was frustrated with this rose.  So much so, I almost got rid of it!  I'm so glad I didn't.  Because this year, it was covered with blooms nonstop.

The #1 rose for blooms for 2011 in my garden goes to Carefree Celebration.  It was spectacular in spring.  It was spectacular again in the fall.

Carefree Celebration

Why did I ever think about getting rid of this rose?  Well, it fades to a funny color.  One that didn't really appeal to me.

But this year, there were so many blooms, I didn't notice that.  At all.  All I noticed were blooms, blooms, and more blooms.

I hope it blooms that way again this year.  But even if it does, it may not be the winner again.  I have some more roses that are maturing, enough to possibly knock Carefree Celebration off her throne!

Carefree Celebration grows in zones 4b through 10, to around 4 to 5 ft high and wide, and is disease resistant.


On another note, I have been awarded the Liebster Blog award from Wisteria and Roses.  Thank you, Bama Girl.  This award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers.  Liebster is German for 'favorite' and I was honored to have been named.  In accepting this award, I must pass it on to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers.  My favorite subject is roses, so I want to give this award to the following rose lovers:



I was also nominated for the Versatile Blogger award from Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, Graphicality-UK, Gardens Eye View, and Blogging in Myrtle Glen.  I want to thank each one of them for thinking of me.  The rules to accepting this award are:

1. Add the Versatile Blogger Award.
2. Thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
3. Share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
4. Include this set of rules.
5. Forward this award to 15 fellow bloggers, and inform them with a comment on each of their blogs.

So, here's a little bit about me:
To finish my bachelor's degree, I went to night classes and worked during the day. (#1.  I'm a hard worker.)  I first decided to major in geology, but there was not a college near me that offered that degree, so I changed to computer science.  Computer science got too time consuming, and classes for a teaching degree were only offered during the day, so I changed to math.  Then I changed it to business, because that was what everyone told me was most logical.  But business classes were not fun to me, so I changed again to Speech.  (#2.  I'm very versatile!)  (#3.  Majoring in English never entered my head.)  And finally, just when I was going to change my major again (!), I was told that because of the "sunset rule" I would begin to lose credits.  I knew I had more credits than necessary to graduate, if only they were all in one field.  So, I talked to my professor and he came up with a plan for me to graduate by taking only two more (of his) classes.  (#4.  My teachers always liked me.)  I graduated with a very liberal arts degree, which is affectionately known in our family as "The Smorgasbord Degree" (#5).  My mother always said I was stubborn (#6.  I like to think of it as determination instead.), and I guess I am because I don't know many people that go to school for 20 years for a 4 year degree.  (#7.  Maybe I'm not so smart after all.)

And here are the 15 blogs I am awarding the Versatile Blogger Award to:


Monday, January 30, 2012

2 - Pretty Pairs

Companion plantings can really compliment a rose, but can a rose compliment another rose?  You bet!  Here are two different combinations of roses that I found particularly pleasing this summer.  I bet you can come up with some beautiful combinations, too.

This pair of Iceberg and Showbiz are contrasting:

While this pair of Julia Child and Bright Lights coordinate perfectly:

Yes, roses paired with roses can be a beautiful thing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Top 3 - Scent

Scent is a must-have for some people that grow roses, a non-issue for others.  If you are looking for a rose with a beautiful scent, you may want to try one of these.  Of course, scent is a funny thing, not everyone smells the same thing.  So, if you want a rose mainly for its scent, you may want to smell it before you add it to your garden.  My favorite roses for scent are:

Buff Beauty

Buff Beauty is a Hybrid Musk, grows in zones 6 through 10, and spreads horizontally.  It can grow up to 10 ft in some areas.  Before I added Buff Beauty to my garden, I always admired pictures of it.  Now that it's in my garden, I have to say it's more beautiful and charming than the pictures depict.

Ebb Tide

Ebb Tide is a floribunda and grows in zones 5 though 9.  Mine is grown as a standard (tree rose) and its scent is up high, where I can easily smell its lovely fragrance.  Its purple color is darker if the weather is cooler.  To see more of Ebb Tide, just click HERE.

Julia Child

Julia Child is a floribunda rose that grows in zones 5 through 10.  I have her placed close by my front door, and I've had visitors remark how wonderful it is to be greeted by a scented rose.

Normally, I would have named Souvenir de St. Anne's and Francis Dubreuil as one of the Top 3 for scent in my garden, but both of these roses were mentioned in my Top 5 Old Garden rose post.  And I explained in that post how their scent played such a big part in their getting to the Top 5.  So, now you can count yourself lucky - because you get a list of 5 beautifully scented roses for the price of 3.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

4 - Companions

When you start growing roses, you may start by just growing roses.  Their blooms are so beautiful, they are pretty just by themselves.  But one day you may realize that they would be complimented by some companion plantings.  So, today I'm going to tell you my favorite four companion plantings for roses.  They made the cut mostly due to their long bloom time, but also their shades of purple or blue that compliments any color of rose you may have.

Salvia with Sunsprite
I have several different types of salvia, and I love them all.  They weave themselves in between the roses, and they make a beautiful pair.

Catmint with Mutabilis
Catmint (Nepeta)
Not only is catmint a great companion to roses, it has beautiful foliage, too.

Scabiosa with Belle de Crecy
This plant is still blooming in my garden!  Any plant that blooms in the spring and is still blooming the next January has to be a favorite!  Of course, mine took a little break when the high heat and drought hit us this past summer, but started back up when the roses started blooming again.  Now, that's a great companion!

Asters with Cupcake
Like salvia, there are several types of asters, and I love them all.  What a nice backdrop to any rose's portrait.

I hope you enjoyed a look at some possible companion plantings for roses.  I bet if you plant these with your roses, they may become a favorite of yours, too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back to Roses - My Top 5

I was reminded (thanks, David) that this is a rose blog.  I haven't been talking about roses much, because they are dormant right now!  So, please forgive me.  For the next few days, I'll talk roses!!!

If you are new to roses, you may not know that there are different classes of roses.  I won't go into all the different types, but one class is the Antiques, or old garden roses.  I grow all types of roses, but I love the Antique roses because they usually require less pruning, have a history (I love a good story), and most are quite fragrant.

Way back in September (September 20th, to be exact), Chris of The Redneck Rosarian asked for a list of our favorite top 5 old garden roses.  My answer was (in no particular order):

Mrs. Dudley Cross
Mrs. Dudley Cross
An old garden Tea, she's a lovely lady, starting out yellow and blushing to pink.  The way her petals change colors makes her quite charming.  Want more information?  I've done a post on her HERE.

Lady Hillingdon
Lady Hillingdon
Another old garden Tea, she's quite the radiant beauty.  Her blooms are quite big, almost floppy, with a golden color that really stands out in the garden.  She'll grow up to 6 ft, in zones 5b through 10.

Perle d'Or
Perle d'Or
A china/polyantha with tiny little blooms, she makes me smile each time I see those ribbon-like petals.  Considered thornless, or almost so.  Zones 6 through 9.  Will grow to 6 ft tall, or can be kept small as a container rose.  She's also designated an Earthkind rose.

Souvenir de St. Anne's
Souvenir de St. Anne's
A Bourbon, this was one of my very first roses.  Her scent wafts through the air, and I am charmed by her loose form and clear pink color.  You can read more about her in my garden HERE.

Francis Dubreuil
Francis Dubreuil 
Either an old garden Tea or possibly a Hybrid Tea named Barcelona (there is some dispute), Francis is a sentimental favorite of mine, and a favorite, too, for its scent.  One whiff and I was hooked.  Read more about this rose HERE.

It was fun to look through past pictures of the roses now that they're dormant.  I can't wait to see their faces this spring!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Have You Started Yet?

These pictures are from previous springs, because I don't have any spring blooms to share - yet.  But I know spring is just around the corner.  So I've begun exercising.  Have you?  We gardeners have to be very fit to keep up with all that's required of us in the garden.  I've already started weeding, and I'm a little sore!  No wonder - no one type of exercise can do everything that gardening can.  Just compare:

Tai Chi - If you grow roses, you know the exact moves of Tai Chi.  Slow, methodical, very balanced.  If not, you may fall into some of those thorns!  (Ask me how I know.)  And I'm sure we've all been in some flexible positions taking pictures of a bloom at just the right angle.

Walking - I can walk five miles just looking for the lost tools I placed somewhere, but have no clue where!  Not to mention all the walking around looking for the perfect spot to plant that unplanned plant purchase.

Running - Most people don't think about running when they're gardening, but I do.  Chasing after an driverless wheelbarrow as it's bounding down the hill.  Chasing after the dog that has just pulled up a newly planted tree.  I see plant, he sees stick.  Running in from the rain, after lightening starts to hit close by.  Yes, running is very much a part of gardening.

Calisthenics - Sometimes I find myself flat on the ground (don't ask), and it takes about 50 sit ups to get enough momentum to propel myself up!  Jumping jacks come in handy when stepping in a fire ant hill.  One-arm push ups come in handy when you're under a bush trying to get those weeds that are just beyond reach.

Strength Training - Who do you think carts around all those concrete blocks back and forth, never quite deciding where they should go?

Brain Games - Can you remember all the names of your plants?  I can't either, but after looking them up continuously, I can name quite a few.  Plus, I'm learning latin!

No wonder it's so important to get ready for spring by warming up your muscles with some "regular" exercise.  Because nothing compares to the exercise you get in the garden.  The next time someone asks you what type of exercise you do, don't tell them you garden.  They will roll their eyes if they're not a gardener.  Instead, list all these exercises and tell them you do them all - every day - from spring to fall.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


There is nothing that reflects so clearly as a mirror.  Have you ever wanted a 'mirror image' of some areas of your garden?  To increase the size of it without adding more land?

Mirrors have become quite popular as garden ornaments.  And I love the idea of a mirror in a garden.  I don't have a mirror in my garden - yet.  And, actually, I've never even seen a mirror in a garden, just pictures.  But I still love the idea.

It seems that there are two ways to use mirrors in the garden.  The first, is quite easy.  Just hang (or lean) the mirror where you want it.  This look is obvious, but it still gives the illusion of a larger space.  There are a couple of considerations to using a mirror in this way.  You would want to make sure the mirror doesn't reflect the sun too strongly.  It could be very uncomfortable to come around a corner and be blinded by glaring sunlight!  Perhaps hanging the mirror toward the north, with the back to the south, might be the best position, or in a little alcove, or shaded by a tree.

The second way to use a mirror in the garden is the way I would use a mirror in my garden: by the use of tromp l'oil.

I can't remember where (don't you just hate when that happens?) but I once saw a picture illustrating the use of a mirror in the garden.  I had to look very, very closely to see the mirror.  In fact, if I hadn't know there was a mirror there, I would have been completely fooled!

To achieve the look of a tromp l'oil effect, these are the things I would do:

Attach the mirror somewhere along the perimeter of the garden.  I would have two garden paths leading up to, set in a V pattern.  This way you would not approach the mirror straight on, which would ruin the effect if you could see yourself approaching.  I would put some sort of plantings along the sides of the mirror for several feet each way.  I would make sure that the top of the mirror is also camouflaged, either by the use of an arbor, vines, or trees.  You would want lush plantings on either side of your pathways, so that when you were walking toward the mirror, you would see plants being reflected back, strengthening the illusion of additional garden space beyond.

You might want to consider putting a garden gate very close but in front of the mirror, so that you feel you needed to stop and open the gate to continue.  It could be very embarrassing to run into the mirror!  This could even be painted on if you're more talented than I.

Can you see where the real plant ends and the reflection begins?

Maybe one day I'll find just the right spot in my garden for a mirror.  But for now, I can dream.

There are a few other things to consider when putting a mirror in the garden:
Regular mirror will eventually lose its silver backing.  But, you may like the black bubbling look created by this.
Acrylic mirror is much lighter, and should be more durable.
Don't forget to watch where the sun's rays are hitting!

I'm joining Donna of Garden Walk Garden Talk for Word 4 Wednesday on reflection, and my mind immediately thought of mirrors.

Do you have a mirror in your garden?  Is it obvious, or have you used a tromp l'oil effect?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Was A Very Good Girl

The way I measure rainfall is with two - yes, two rain gauges.  They have served me well.

But my sweet husband decided there must be a better way.  You know how men are - they always think there's a better way.  Well, come to find out, there is!

This is the weather machine I got for Christmas (told you I was a very good girl).  We just got it put up (yes, it took us a while).

It's going to be so much fun recording the rainfall totals.  Now, if it would just rain!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hot Pink

Isn't it funny how some colors become fashionable, going in and out of style?  Hot pink was a big color in the 60's.  I see it now on occasion, but I don't keep up with fashion, so I have no idea if it's 'in' or 'out'.  But it's very much 'in' in my garden.

I once tried to talk someone into having a black and white garden, with plants that had dark blooms or foliage (sometimes called chocolate),  and plants with white blooms or grey foliage.  I thought it would look beautiful.  I suggested a small pop of color such as yellow, or hot pink.  She didn't go for it.  :(

The two plants flowering with hot pink blooms in my garden right now are the 'Kanjiro' camellia and the loropetalum.  Loropetalums are known as the "fringe flower" and it's easy to see why, as their petals hang down like fringe.  They are members of the witch hazel family (Hamamelidaceae), and you can see the resemblance.

Loropetalums grow in zones 7 through 10, and most of the time they are sheared into a hedge.  An evergreen, it is prized for its dark foliage.  It could be a beautiful addition to a black and white garden - with just a touch of hot pink!

What do you think about the concept of a black and white (and hot pink) garden?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 2012 Garden Book Review

It's time!  Wahoo!  It's time for the January 2012 Garden Book Review (the very first one!) and you are invited to join me!  I promise to read your review, and I hope to find some new gardening books to add to my ever-expanding collection.

But first, here's my review:

The Artful Garden
by James Van Sweden and Tom Christopher

I have garden design books.  Lots of them.  And most of them cover about the same stuff.  You know - foliage texture, the way dark foliage recedes visually, rhythm, etc.  But I never knew how to paint a garden with plantings.  This books shows you how to do that.

Instead of looking at foliage like this:

Foliage in my fall garden.  Pretty, isn't it?
But it's just a small area.

This book tells explains how to use foliage to weave textures the way a fabric artist would.

Photo taken at San Antonio Botanical Garden

My imagination was fueled with the chapter on light and shadow.  Have you ever taken a picture of your garden in black and white?  Did you know what you were looking for?  The color picture of The Madoo Garden designed by Robert Dash on Pg. 95 was the perfect visual of light and shadow.  I immediately began to imagine my garden in black and white - the entire garden, not just parts.  I literally sat straight up, and began to mentally start making changes to my garden plans.  I even went outside and moved some plants!

My summer garden in black and white

The concept of mystery is no mystery to me.  But the concept of enticement was explained so well, I now want my garden to tease me into moving through it.

Photo taken at San Antonio Botanical Garden
I remember when I reached this point, I literally ran to see the fountains
that were placed just beyond sight.

And rhythm?  You may know how to make your garden visitors slow down, or speed up.  But this book takes it even farther.  Can you make your garden dance to a slow waltz?  How about to a spicy samba?  I think I now can.

Photo taken in Albuquerque, NM

These may be simple, basic garden design principles.  But I will never look at a garden in the same way again.  Do you know what picture your garden is painting?   Garden designers, garden critics, and anyone designing a garden (hopefully before and not after) will find this book useful.  If want to use garden design concepts the way an artist would, don't let this one pass you by.  It has the potential to take your garden from good to outstanding!


Now I want to read your review!

If you'd like, grab the button as your reward for linking in!

Roses and Other Gardening Joys

1) Any book about gardening, gardens, or has a garden influence in it is fine, except:
2) No links/reviews about growing substances that are illegal in the United States.  (I know I don't have to worry about my blogging buddies, but I thought I needed to clarify in case someone new tries slipping one in!)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting Started Early

Rose pruning time around here is Valentine's day.  Well, it's been so nice and so warm and so enticing outside that I started early.

Every spring I go from bed to bed cleaning up each one.  Weeding.  Cutting down old or dead growth.  Pruning the roses.  Mulching.  Slowly I work my way around the garden, but it takes a while.  If I start too late in the year, it gets hot, the weeds are huge, and by the time I make it around the garden, it's too hot to work on my newest project (whatever that happens to be for the year).  So, I've decided that starting early is what I need to do, even though the weather at this time of year is unpredictable.

Some people clean up their gardens in the fall, but I wait until spring to cut down the old and dead growth because I'm an aggressive weeder.  If there weren't dead flower stalks sticking out of some of the flowers, I would think they were a weed and pull them up!  So, today, I came to the asters.  Their dead sticks with dried blooms were sticking up above green growth.  I didn't think I'd mistake them for weeds now, so the dead parts were cut off.

That's when I noticed something.

Asters blooming!  Looks like I'm not the only one getting started early!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I learned in sales to have a 'win' every day.  Something that makes you feel good.  Sometimes, it's achieving a goal.  Sometimes it's just working toward that goal.  Sometimes a hug from a child, a kind word from your spouse, or a smile from a stranger is all it takes to have a 'win' that day.

Gardeners have a 'win' when we find a bloom, a bee, or a butterfly in our gardens.  Or when someone compliments our garden.  Or when we have completed a new bed, found a new plant for our garden, or even just pulled a weed that day.

Have you ever thought about pulling weeds as a 'win'?

That's why I was so excited when Heather at What's Blooming This Week? announced that I was the winner of her CobraHead tool giveaway!  Wahoo!  And I've been winning at getting weeds out of the garden ever since it arrived in my mailbox!

Do you know how hard it is to hold a camera in the 'wrong' hand, and take a picture while weeding?

I like this tool the best for digging down deep beside a deep-rooted weed in order to get the entire root out.  Do you know how long I've been trying to completely dig up some of these weeds?  Leave any portion of the root and they spring back up again.  It's also going to be great at cultivating the soil when I get ready to plant my vegetable garden.

Thanks, Heather!  With my new tool, I can now have a 'win' every day!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Anything Blooming Now?

We've had a night or two of freezes!  The top of the fish pond has been iced over for the last couple of mornings.   Is anything blooming for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day?  Does any plant bloom in winter?

To my surprise, the answer is yes!

Scabiosa is still blooming beautifully.  No damage whatsoever.

Blanketflower is still blooming, but barely.  Most of the blooms were lost to the freezing temperatures.

Salvias still look beautiful.

And do you see what's behind that salvia bloom?

That's right!  An iris is sending up its spring shoots!

This particular camellia is located in a protected area, and still looks good.

And not really a bloom, but the hollies have more berries on them than I've ever seen!

Of course, the pansies are blooming.  Showoffs!

That's all that's blooming today in my garden, so maybe not a lot, but I am quite pleased that my garden still has blooms at all.  Will my garden have blooms all year?  I don't know that answer yet.  Last year February was the hardest month for my garden, which is typical of Texas.  So, we'll just have to wait and see what February brings!
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