Rosewater Anyone?

Rosewater Anyone?

It’s been a long time coming but finally I have the rose bush of my dreams.

I was pretty sure I couldn’t grow roses in my shady back yard.  Roses require a lot of sun, usually about 8 hours.  My yard is bordered by large trees, which I love even though they don’t allow much sun to penetrate their foliage.  There is only one little awkward corner in the back yard where the house and the driveway come together where the sun’s rays are not obscured by structures or by shadows.  There I have had some luck with a few sun loving flowers, such as canna lillies and morning glories.

Finally, I could no longer ignore my desire to have a rosebush and though it wasn’t ideal, that awkward corner was the only spot in my yard where roses had a chance to flourish.  So I would plant my rose there.

I bought the Cecile Brunner rose which does tolerate light shade.   The first two years seemed to bear out my misgivings about growing roses in our yard.  There were only a handful of blooms.  But the stems were lush with leaves.  And then this year, there was a sudden profusion of blooms!  I’m not kidding when I say I did a double take when I looked out the window a few weeks ago.  I beheld a glorious rosebush that seemed to have bloomed overnight.

And the smell!  The bush fills the air with its fragrance. Sometimes I just stand there and inhale.   I’ve been cutting stems daily for bouquets for the house.   Even as cut flowers the scent perfumes the air inside.   It’s hard to describe the pleasure they bring.

After the arrangement wilted, the fragrance lingered in the petals.  I didn’t want to waste those sweet smelling petals and decided to see about making my own rosewater, which I have been hearing so much about.   I looked up “rosewater recipe” and found this one.  It could not be more simple.

After steeping the petals for 10 minutes, I ended up with this golden liquid.  You can’t really tell from the picture but there is a thickness to the water.

I used it on the back of my hands and now they feel supple and soft.  And they give off a subtle rose scent.

Apparently rosewater has been around for a long time, thousands of years, and has many uses.  This article from Elle was quite interesting.  Although, I must admit I can’t see myself using it as mouthwash.

I do not have a spritz bottle, but I do plan to get one so that I can spritz rosewater around on linens and pillows.  I love natural scents.

Of course the best scent of all is to have a big bouquet of beautiful roses in every room.  You could just put bowls of petals around too.

I deferred my dream of growing roses, thinking I was being practical and realistic.  But there was so little at stake to just give it a try.  I’m not sure why it took so long to realize that.

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.

Emma Goldman

 

Make an Indoor Garden Tote for houseplant and flower care

Have you ever seen some of those stately homes that have a room for flower arranging?  The potting room, as it’s called, has shelves for all of your vases, a big counter, even a sink?  And of course that’s where you would keep your flower shears and frogs and the necessary tools for arranging beautiful bouquets.

Well, I can only dream of such a room.  But I do have a place for my tools for flower arranging and for grooming my houseplants. Some years ago my sister gave me this little garden tote.

 

Continue reading “Make an Indoor Garden Tote for houseplant and flower care”

The June Garden

During the years that my husband was on active duty and we moved around, I learned a lot about gardening in different regions of the country.  Different regions have peak seasons it seemed to me.  I moved from North Carolina to Boston one summer and I was struck by how beautiful gardens were in August in Boston.  August gardens in North Carolina are usually struggling, gasping for water and relief from the relentless heat.
In the DC area, where I live now, late spring/early summer is the time for our best garden.  We had a nice rainy spring that we humans complained about but the flowers loved.  And, we have not had a lot of super hot days so far.  Those are perfect conditions.

A few years ago I discovered Monarda or Bee Balm.  These spiky flowers provide beautiful color and drama in the shade garden.  They are vigorous spreaders and I have to thin them out or they would take over.  My hydrangea is complaining about the lack of space for her fluffy blooms.

The lacecap hydrangea has shot up also, almost obscuring the birdhouse.  The bird parents like it though, since it provides a little cover as they go to and fro.

I don’t get to sit down much during these busy gardening days.  But I love my time working among my plants and flowers.  It all goes by too quickly.

How is your garden doing these days? 

Front Yard makeover progress

We have owned our home for 17 years and the curb appeal of the house has always been an issue.  Within the first few years we updated our walkway to a more attractive flagstone.  We removed ivy that I swore was going to come in the windows and strangle us.  We added some landscaping.  Then the oldest child went to college followed by her 2 brothers and landscaping was no longer top priority.  Until now.
We have a small, narrow front yard which gets a lot of shade from surrounding trees.
This side of the yard is so small and it slopes toward the driveway.  Trying to make this area look landscaped was so frustrating.  The only planting that always looks great is the oakleaf hydrangea to the left there. 
I’m sure you are looking at those scraggly bushes under the windows.  No matter what I plant here (and it has been plenty) nothing will flourish.

This tree is a 40 foot Sweet Gum tree, towering over our one story ranch house.  The proportions are all wrong and I have wanted to cut it down for years.
Finally, last summer I talked Mr. Bee into getting it cut down.


The tree company did a good job of taking away all of the debris and grinding the stump, spreading fill dirt and sprinkling grass seed.  I filled in with plants from my back yard and deck and bought a few.  Since this was late summer, it wasn’t a good time to run out and buy a ton of plants.  Plus, I wanted to be deliberate and have a plan. 

Here is how it looks today, a stark and desolate patch of ground.

But that is about to change.  April is a good time to plant shrubs and perennials around here. In preparation I have been studying pictures of small front gardens to get some ideas on how I would like for this area to look.
This is what I am thinking.
I really love the full, but tidy way the plants are arranged in these photos, although I wouldn’t go for the topiaries.  Of course landscaping is always complicated by considerations of weather and sunlight requirements.  Even though the tree is gone, the area is shaded by another tree in the middle of the yard and by the house at certain times of the day.
And it would be nice to have the majority of the plants be evergreen.  I hate the desolate look during the winter.  There’s a lot to consider but I am excited to finally be able to create a more welcoming landscape in front of the house.
With list in hand I will soon be headed to the garden center.

Do you have plans for your garden this spring and summer?