Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Horror!

I am going to tell you a horror story.  The horror of this story is that it may happen to you!  If you grow just one rose, please read this.  If you grow more than one rose, be certain you know this!

Normal new growth

Red on new stem growth of a rose is not a bad thing.  It's one way the rose protects its new, young, and tender growth from becoming sunburnt.  It's a rose's sunscreen, so to speak.  So don't panic if you see red stems and leaves.  But if the growth is abnormally small, numerous, and usually red or even black - what is known as 'witches broom' - then you need to take a good, hard look at that rose.  Or ask a knowledgeable rosarian to look at it.

What causes witches broom in different plants varies.  It can be fungi, bacteria, viruses, or mites.  Sometimes, a witches broom can be used as a dwarf cultivar, or desired by bonsai propagators.  But not in roses!  In roses, it is usually a symptom of a deadly, spreading disease called Rose Rosette Disease, or RRD.

Normal new growth

RRD is spread by a tiny (microscopic) mite.  These mites travel by gusts of wind.  When they land on a rose, they burrow down into the rose and the rose will show signs of the infestation.

RRD is usually deadly to the rose.  Unfortunately, while an affected rose lives, it is a host to the mites, which continue to spread to other roses by the wind.  It won't just go away on its own.  There is no cure.  If you have a rose with RRD, you need to remove the rose.

Normal new growth

Now, don't panic!  You don't want to get rid of roses without cause!  All the pictures shown here are of new, normal, red growth on the roses in my garden.  These pictures are not of RRD!  (Thankfully, I didn't have any pictures of infected roses to show you!)

Also, herbicides may cause damage that mimics RRD.  Overspray from Round Up is notorious for causing abnormal growth in roses.  Because of this, I have learned to never, ever, use Round Up near my roses.  Be aware of any herbicides sprayed around your roses.

Ann Peck, of, has written an extensive e-book on RRD.  Please click HERE to look at it.  She has lots of information, including pictures, and other symptoms of RRD.  I believe this is the best source of RRD information you can find anywhere.  Ann, we are grateful for your work.

Normal new growth

My intention is certainly not to dissuade you from growing roses.  I love my roses and take delight in looking at them daily.  But I am also aware.  And if any of them should ever show symptoms of RRD, I would take action immediately.

I hope this horror never comes to my garden.  I hope this horror never comes to your garden.  But I do hope you are informed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Time in a Bottle

What time is it in your garden?  No, that's not a trick question.  It's a design question.  If you could miniaturize your garden to fit into a bottle, what time would your garden represent?

Gardens aren't generally designed for a specific time frame.  Plants are timeless.  But when I am thinking of a new garden area, it helps the garden's cohesiveness if I focus on a time in my mind.  The time is a wide range, and definitely not historically correct.  It's certainly not a specific garden design era.  But it's what's right in my imagination.  And that helps me to identify what look is right for my garden, and what may not be.

I like to think that my garden would represent a time of long ago.  A time of ages past, when people had time to relax, wander the garden, and delight in its senses.  I want my garden to be evocative of a gentler age.  When ladies walked with parasols, and gentlemen took their arms.  When secret meetings took place behind a rose bush.  When children played outside, and used their imagination.

My dream is to have a garden that tells people to slow down, take their time, smell the roses, delight in the little things, and to linger.

I think the roses impart a sense of romance.  Scents silently weave a magic spell.  Statues could be at home in another era.  Embellishments on benches help achieve this look, too.  All little things, but I hope as a whole they make the garden flow.

What about your garden?  Is it futuristic?  From the wild, wild, west?  The Ming dynasty?  The Roman Empire?  Or maybe your garden is a wonderland of mystical beings, in a time not measured by man.  Do you think of a specific time/place when designing your garden?  Tell me, what time is it in your garden?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Significance of Halloween, and Easter

Halloween and Easter hold great significance for me.  One is the first, the other is the last.  Usually.  No, I'm not talking about religion.  I'm talking gardening.

About the time I started purchasing my own clothes, I realized that Easter was the last.  I would buy a cute little sleeveless number, and almost every Easter the same thing happened.  A final cold front.  I would end up shivering in my sleeveless dress.  It didn't take too many years for me to realize I needed to buy a dress that had a sweater or jacket with it just in case.

As a gardener, that still sticks in my mind.  As tempting as it always is to start planting in the spring, I try to wait until after Easter, because I know we will usually have a cold front some time around that date.

Halloween is the first.  You guessed it.  It's usually the first cold front of the year around here.  No matter what costume I had picked out for Halloween, I tried to ignore the 80 degree days that lingered on as though summer would never end.  Because on Halloween night, I was usually shivering again, until I learned to be prepared.  

As a gardener, learning to be prepared for the first cold front means getting the bed mulched, saying goodbye to the tender plants, and protecting the vegetable plants.  All of which I have not completed.  Oops!  I need to get prepared!

For Halloween, being prepared eventually became simple.  I had two favorite costumes.  One was a nun costume.  Cheaply made, it was loose enough to be able to pile on the layers underneath.  Plus it was versatile.  A quick change of head dress, and a few minor accessory changes, and I could change from a nun to a witch.  The second favorite costume was a white lab coat, picked up for $3.  A bit of gel in my hair transformed me into a mad scientist.  But the white lab coat wasn't too versatile, and it eventually became "paint clothes". 

I no longer have a need to dress up on Halloween.  We live far enough out that we don't get any trick-or-treaters.  But with my DIY spirit, I am always in need of "paint clothes", and there is always at least one outfit in my closet with that purpose.  Of course, I have many (many!) more "gardening clothes"!

So, now you know the significance of Halloween and Easter.  At least here, Easter is (usually) the last, and Halloween is (usually) the first.  As far as cold fronts go.  

My sisters live where the first cold front shows up around Labor Day.  Brrrrr!!!  What about you?  When will you expect your first cold front?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Little Visit

Look who came to visit my garden!

A monarch butterfly.

Just passing through.

According to, Monarchs are the only butterfly to migrate two ways each year.  They make the round trip once, and their descendants make the same return trip the next year.  They travel up to 3,000 miles!  And, although they stop to nectar, scientists are baffled because, instead of losing weight along the trip, which would be expected, they actually gain weight!

If you want to see a map of their migration patterns, click HERE.

I'm so glad this one decided to stop in my garden!  Fatten up, little one!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning Something New

I love learning something new.  When I joined Carolyn's Autumn Walk Challenge, I expected to enjoy the walks.  But I didn't expect to learn something new.  But that's exactly what happened.

Not only that, but I saw things from a new perspective.  Carrying my camera around made me notice things that I would have walked right past otherwise.

Here are some of the things I noticed on my walks:



Plants.  Some are showing signs of autumn:

Some are showing the effects of the drought:

And some are showing the miracle of survival:

But what did I learn?  Well, look at this:

This sweet little plant is flowering throughout the pastures, waving and nodding to all who pass.  Looks just like gaura, doesn't it?  Actually it is!  I learned that there is a wild native gaura throughout Louisiana, Texas, and parts of Mexico.  I never knew that before!

And I would have never seen its sweet little blooms if I hadn't gone for a walk.  Thanks, Carolyn, for helping me open my eyes to what was right in front of me!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Beauty Behind The Beauty

I keep taking pictures of 'Frontier Twirl'.  Not because this rose is my favorite.  It is pretty, but it has had its share of problems in my garden.

But I can't keep from taking its picture.

Not because of the bloom.  But because of the background.  'Powis Castle' artemisia is behind this rose, and I am in love with its lacy foliage.

Here it is with 'Mrs. Dudley Cross'.

And earlier this year:

And with another lacy plant, Boltonia:

And behind this sedum:

See what I mean?  It's like a heavenly halo!

'Powis Castle' grows in zones 5 through 9, in almost any soil, is drought tolerant, grows up to 36" high, deer and rabbits don't care for it, and likes full sun.

Doesn't its lacy, silvery foliage make the most beautiful background?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evolution: From Dream to Reality

The evolution from dream to reality takes work.  But before that, it takes planning.  And before that it takes an idea!

I have an area in my garden that has not been utilized for 10 years.  I just never go to that side of the house!  Simple enough.  Except, I wanted a garden there.  Something big.  Something spectacular.  Something that would entice me to that side.  Something, of course, with roses.

At first I thought of a walkway lined with rose-covered arbors.  I really tried to make it fit in that space.  But, somehow, it just didn't work.  Back to the drawing board.

Then, you may recall, we slew the dragon, and the gazebo landed back there.  Now, I had another problem.  How to fit the gazebo into the design, or tell Mr. Holleygarden to move it - again.  Easier to figure out how to fit it into the design!

That's when I saw Christina of organicgardendreams' post on Hyde Park.  There, roses are trained to climb wooden poles.  The poles have a chain or rope swaged between each pole.  Eventually, the roses will cover the poles and the chains, for a seamless swag of roses.  A caternary!  I immediately wanted one.  Hmmm... how to fit it in?  Can you see how the idea evolved?

Finally, I decided.  A caternary behind the gazebo!

Thus, begins the evolution from dream to reality:

Start with some posts

Dig some holes

You didn't think I was digging these by hand, did you?

Holes done!  Looks like the work of a big gopher, doesn't it?

In go the poles.  Don't worry - I'll straighten them up.
And please ignore all the mess.  This is a work in progress!

There we go - all straight!

Some may think this is a little too dramatic.  A little too over the top.  But I don't.  I think a caternary would even fit nicely in a corner of a suburban lot.  Or on one side (or both!) of a walkway.  Anywhere you want some vertical interest.  That's what I wanted - vertical interest.

Eventually, it will be a wall of roses behind the gazebo.

It takes some imagination to see what will evolve from here.  Next step requires someone (not me!) to get on a ladder with a chainsaw to level off the top of the posts. Then chains will be added (my job).  And roses.  And, I know, even after that, there is probably another year's (or two) worth of work to complete.  A walkway leading up to the gazebo.  Flowers lining the walkway.  And, upon request of Mr. Holleygarden, a way for the tractor to be able to drive around in there!  Imagine it for a moment.  Can you see it?  I can.

We've evolved from dream to reality.  Now the evolution from reality toward the dream begins.

I'm linking up with GardenWalk GardenTalk's Word for Wednesday meme on evolution.  But I want to know.  What do you think?  Do you just see a mess - or can you see the dream?  Too over the top for you?  Or just what the space needed?  Don't be afraid to say - I don't bite!  You may even have a suggestion I can use.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Backward Thinking

Take a look!  Iceberg is so pretty!  I am so proud!  Proud because I didn't kill this rose!

You see, I've moved Iceberg 3 times.  Three!  I kept putting it in spots that were way too shady.  I think I was trying to brighten up the shady spots with a white bloom.  So, Iceberg was plopped there.  No planning.  Do you think Iceberg was an impulse purchase?  haha - You'd be right!

There's a saying "You'll keep getting the lesson and getting the lesson until you get the lesson."  Which means, you'll keep having the same problem until you figure out the right solution!

With Iceberg, I kept having to move it until I found a sunny spot for it.  And look how happy it is!

So, I guess the lessons I finally "got" were:

1)  Just because you think a plant will look pretty in that spot, doesn't mean that spot has the right conditions for the plant.  That's backward thinking.  (Wouldn't it be nice if we could plop any plant anywhere?  My garden would be fabulous!)

2) Look at the conditions first, then decide upon the plant for the conditions present.  Forward thinking!  (Does this mean less impulse purchases?  Please say no!)

3) If you have a plant that's faltering, check to see if you have the right conditions for it before judging the plant.  (Sorry I said all those bad things about you before, Iceberg.)

Hmm, now, where can I put those plants I bought yesterday???

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Heat is On!

There's a fight brewing.  A fight between me and Mother Nature.  It starts this month, and will last all winter.  What's the fight over?  Blooms!

You see, Mother Nature tries hard to make all the blooms go away in the winter.  And sometimes she succeeds.  A hard freeze here, a snowfall there.  But I'm fighting for an ever-blooming garden.

As I live in zone 8, it's possible, but not always easy.  Who will win this year?  Not sure.

She's doing her best to lull me into a state of bliss.  All the roses are blooming right now, and she thinks I'm not thinking about winter.  Actually, I am pretty blissful right now.  But I know winter's not very far away.  And no one (not even the weathermen, obviously!) knows what weather conditions winter will bring.  So, it will be an interesting year.

Right now, the garden is blooming profusely.  Roses everywhere.  But it's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and I'm not going to talk about the roses.  I'm going to concentrate today on the companions that are blooming right now:



Catmint - no, wait!  That's just a cat!

Here's catmint!  With a hummingbird moth!



Of course, the fall staple - chrysantemums.  I admit to these being a new purchase.  It'll be interesting to see how many years they survive.

And another fall staple - sedum.

And that's just a small sampling of what's blooming in my garden!  Yes, Mother Nature is trying to lull me into a false sense of security that these blooms will stay.  I know that it's not true.  So, I'm going to enjoy them while they're here.  And hope for the best in the months to come through the winter.  And I do have hope!

Because I have something in my garden that just may beat Mother Nature at her own game.  The camellias are budding!

And those are better than any bloom.  Because this is a promise.  A promise of blooms to come.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...