Friday, September 30, 2011

Company's Coming!

Company's coming this weekend!  I'm excited by the activities we have planned, and the time we will have to visit.  They will get a tour, and be told all about my newest plans for the garden.  I've been working on a new area of the garden for some time, and it is just now beginning to take shape.  And though there is a lot of work left to do, I can't wait to see what their reaction will be, and listen to their suggestions.  I am very excited.  I am so excited that the sad areas of my garden are not even bothering me!  I hope they will look past the damage the drought did and see my garden the way I see it.

Do you want a mini-tour?  Here's a little peek at what they'll be seeing this weekend:


Walking Garden:

Main Rose Bed:

As for the new plans - well, I'll tell you about that soon enough!  For now, you'll just have to wait and wonder!  But here's a little peek into part of the new area:

I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Look, Ma! I'm Blooming!

Do you remember the rose I transplanted that died?  And then later I found it growing back from its roots? 

Well, it has grown at an amazing rate - and now it's blooming!

It's a Souvenir de St. Anne rose.  I love this rose. 

There's just something about the blooms that I find enchanting.

I'm just so proud of my little baby!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Take It Back!

Can you believe it?  For years, I bad-mouthed this rose.  I told everyone I could how disappointed I was with it.  How little the blooms were.  How little it bloomed.  How frustrating it was for me.  Tiny little blooms on tall canes. The scale was just - wrong.

And then, something happened.  It started last year.  I noticed its blooms were a bit bigger.  It was blooming a bit more, if not more frequently.  I started to accept it, even if we weren't quite friends.

But this year, everything has changed.  It has finally won me over.  I am infatuated, if not fully in love yet.  This year, its blooms are large.  They don't look miniature anymore.  They are big enough to hold their own on a tall bush.  They are - dare I say it? - fabulous!

This is 'James Galway'.  And he and I are finally friends.

I purchased James Galway many years ago.  He was the first rose to introduce me to the bigger world of roses, outside of Flower Carpet roses and Knock Outs.  I was now ready to learn, and I wanted a rose from that David Austin guy I had read about in magazines.  That was the extent of my knowledge of roses, and of David Austin.  But I was determined to get one of 'those' roses.  If you don't know David Austin, he is big with a capital B in rose circles.  But this post is not about him, it's about James.

I chose James Galway because of the name.  James Galway was a famous flautist.  And since I had played the flute in high school and some in college, this was the rose for me!  Plus, just in case I needed a reason to seal the deal, he is nearly thornless!  So, it seemed like a simple decision.  I was assured that James Galway could be either a bush or a climber, and I stated "I want the bush kind."

There is no "bush kind" of James Galway.  James Galway is a climber.  Period.  You can prune him into a bush shape, but he will still try to become a climber.  I didn't know that.  I planted him - somewhere - I can't remember exactly.  Because I've moved him at least three times, possibly four since I purchased him.  Not really recommended.  I've even tried to train him around a pillar, but his canes are strong and stiff.

Perhaps that's why he's taken so long to settle into his home (about 5 years in that spot).  And although I've threatened to move him again (!), I will probably just let him stay where he is now.  Even though where he is now means I have to fight his nature of trying to become a climber and prune him heavily each spring and fall.  One year I didn't prune him heavily enough and he grew so large he was flopping over, slapping everyone in the face.  That didn't make for such a nice welcome!

So, poor James has had a hard life.  He has been moved by an indecisive gardener.  He has been pruned against his nature.  And he has been bad-mouthed by his mama.  But in the end, he has flourished.

I'm certain there's some lesson to be learned.  Be patient.  Roses take time to settle in (three to five years is the usual time stated).  Be sure you know if your rose is a bush or a climber.  Don't be so indecisive and quit moving roses around (haven't learned that one yet).  I'm not going to worry about the lesson.  I'm just going to enjoy the rose.  Although if you choose to get a James Galway rose, I would recommend a place in the back of the garden, where he can stretch out tall and wide.  And then be patient.  It will be worth the wait.

Have you ever bad-mouthed a plant, then had to take it back?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back in the Gardening Groove

I've explained that when the summer temperatures exceed 100 degrees F, I take a little break.  Even though the break was longer than usual this summer, I still waited until temperatures started falling to get back to working outside.

The temperatures now are in the 90's (feels so cool!), and I am back in the gardening groove.

I am rewarded by the plants blooming cheerfully, happy now that the heat wave is over.  The colors in the garden are saturated, not washed out by the harsh sun.  The plants that have survived this summer are stronger, and growing little leaves that tell me they will be here again next spring.

Fall chores become a joy.  These chores allow me to look closely at each plant, expecting one final flush before tucking them in for the winter.

My mind is busy, thinking of plans for new areas.  I have grand ideas, and have to scale them down to meet my ability and budget.

My body is happy to be working outside again.  My hands ache from pulling weeds.  My arms and legs have scratches from the rose bushes (I'm certain they are trying to hug me in appreciation).  My face is slightly sunburned.  My muscles are tired.  I fall asleep fast, and sleep deeply.

Some may think aches don't sound joyful.  But to this gardener, they are wonderful and welcome.  It means I am creating the garden of my dreams.

Monday, September 26, 2011


If you ever come to visit my garden, I hope you come when the roses are in bloom.  (Of course - I would freak out if someone actually wanted to come see my weed-filled garden!)  Anyway, hypothetically, I hope on your way to my front door you stop for a moment to admire Ebb Tide, and drink in her fragrance.  You see, I have Ebb Tide planted as a standard near my front doorway.  In case you are new to gardening, a rose standard is just a rose on a stick.  Sometimes they are referred to as tree roses.

Why would I choose to purchase Ebb Tide as a standard?  First, because it is such a prolific bloomer.  What a happy, cheerful rose it is!  It is always one of the first roses to bloom in the spring, and blooms repeatedly throughout the summer and fall.

I also liked the fact that it is dark purple.  (It is more smoky in cooler temperatures.)  I don't grow a lot of purple roses, and thought this color was the perfect compliment to pair with my golden front door.  I grow Julia Child on the other side.  She is the perfect sunny yellow to match my door.  (The rose, not the person, though I bet Julia Child was a sunny person, too.)

The most important quality, though, is Ebb Tide's fabulous fragrance.  Because Ebb Tide is on a standard, the blooms are up close where their scent is quite noticeable.  Its lovely aroma floats on the air with a wonderful perfume that is very welcoming.  I love to linger there, filling my senses with its fragrance.

Oh, there are many reasons Ebb Tide makes the perfect standard to welcome visitors to my front door.

But really, the reason I bought it was because it was on sale!  I knew nothing of this rose except it was a standard, it looked pretty on the tag, and did I mention - it was on sale!

But if I had known Ebb Tide before I purchased it, I would have bought it based upon all of the above.  Prolific bloomer, sensational scent, beautiful color.  Sometimes you just get lucky!

I am also lucky enough to live in a zone where the winters are mild enough I can plant my rose standards in the ground.  And I now know what to look for in a standard.  I think fragrance is the most important quality, since the rose is lifted to nose height.  Since I've been spoiled to Ebb Tide's fabulous perfume, I could never buy another rose standard without an alluring scent.

This rose makes the traditional 'lollipop' standard.  Some people prefer a climbing rose grafted to a standard, so that the rose canes hang down, blooming from top to bottom.

My standard was in bad shape when I purchased it (the reason it was on sale), and I have babied it for a few years now.  The two words "standard" and "poor" should only go together in the financial world!  Of all the things I've done for it, a hard pruning is what it responded to most.

Do you have a rose standard in your garden?  Does it have a scent?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Problem - A Solution

How it Should Look:

The Problem:

The Cause:
Don't let that sweet smile fool you!

The Solution:
Mr. Froggy and I hope this works!

Do you think this will solve the problem?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Other Lesson I Learned From Chef Ramsey

Chef Ramsey is probably not all that inspiring (sorry, Chef).  I was probably just in a philosophical mood the day I watched him.  I realized that passion was important in anything attempted.  But I also realized something else.

I don't know if it's just me, but I have always been a bit bothered by playing around in my garden.  As if that's just not good enough.  I should be doing something worthwhile.  Something to change lives.  Something for someone else.  Not just pulling weeds.

Don't get me wrong.  I have volunteered my time and talents.  I have donated monies.  I have tried to make this world a better place, and the people in it a little better off.  But still, I've always felt a little guilty spending so much of my time on a personal pursuit.  A personal pursuit that would mean nothing after I was gone from this earth.  The saying is "As the gardener goes, so goes the garden."  Or something like that.

But you know I mean.  The garden can not live without the maintenance and attention of the gardener.  Weeds will take over, plants will die, chaos will reign.

Why would I spend so much time and effort - my passion - on something that will not live on?

Then I watched Chef Ramsey.  And I got it.  Passion is for all people, and for all things.  It's o.k. to have a passion to make the best sandwich.  To put your love into making the dressing taste incredible with selected spices.  To have the bread hand made with love and experience.  To determine exactly which meats will give it that certain taste.  To add the right amount and type of vegetables.  To make a masterpiece of taste in an item so common as a sandwich.  And a sandwich only lasts 30 minutes - or less!

That's when it hit me.

It's o.k. to have a passion for gardening.  To spend time - even a lifetime - attending to a garden.  Planting just the right plants.  Designing a pleasing yet functional space.  To watch each bloom, each butterfly, each bee in their own life's pursuit.

I know gardeners that have looked back and thought "With all the time and effort I put into my garden, I could have changed the world."  And all they felt was guilt.  Remorse.  Emptyness.

But the other lesson I learned from Chef Ramsey was:  it's o.k. to have a passion and pursuit for something dear to only you.  Even if that something may not last forever.  Just like it's o.k. to pursue the perfect sandwich, it's o.k. to be a passionate gardener.

Have you ever felt guilty for spending so much time and effort on your garden?

OK, I'll get off Chef Ramsey now.  That's probably all I learned in those 30 minutes anyway!

(And in case you're wondering, the photos are not of my garden.  They were taken at the Botanic Gardens in Albuquerque.) 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Illumination: What I Learned from Chef Ramsey

In case you've never heard of Chef Ramsey, let me introduce you.  Gordon Ramsey is a chef with several different television shows.  The scenario is usually simple:  a restaurant is failing, Chef Ramsey comes in, makes changes, and saves the restaurant.  A true Superhero in the cooking world.

Anyway, we hate most everything on television these days, but for some reason found ourselves watching Chef Ramsey one day.  He is an acquired taste.  In my opinion, he curses way too much.  More than anyone I've ever encountered.  I wonder if that's truly his personality, or if they highlight all those curse words for dramatic effect.  Consider yourself warned.  But that's beside the point.

The point is what Chef Ramsey really does.  You think he's changing the restaurant.  Sometimes he'll change the menu.  Or it could be the decor he updates.  Sometimes he replaces furnishings.  Most of the time there is new signage.  You think that these are the changes that make the difference.  That one little change can make all the difference.  And in a way, that's true.  But it's not any of those changes that make the difference.  Those things are completely superficial.

What Chef Ramsey really does is renew the passion of cooking in the restaurant owner, manager, or chef.  Read that sentence again.  You see, a renewed passion is all it takes.  That's the one little change that makes all the difference.

Gardens takes work.  Weeding, mulching, planting.  Soil, compost, plants.  Texture, foliage, color.  Statues, pathways, landings.  All those things seem like the key to what makes a garden work.  But in reality, those things are superficial.  What it really takes is passion. That's what's really going to make a difference.  All the rest will come out of that.  It's the passion that's important.  When I realized that was the lesson, it was an illumination.  A ray of light in my mind's eye.

I want to remember that lesson.  I want to remember my passion for gardening.  Thanks, Chef Ramsey.  Just tune down the cursing, o.k.?

I'm joining Donna at Garden Walk Garden Talk for her word meme on Illumination.
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