Rose Season

Rose Season

Last year my Mother’s Day present from Mr. Bee was this arbor for my roses. The rose vines were so loaded with blooms that they required something substantial to hold them up. You can read about that here.

By the time the arbor was installed, the roses were past their blooming season. So this is my first season for the roses to bloom on the arbor.

Earlier this spring I did some pruning and shaping to get the vines to grow over the top of the arbor. This job required me to dress in a heavy sweatshirt and gloves because both of my rose bushes have a LOT of thorns. The vines just seem to reach out and hold onto me as I pruned, almost as if they wanted to keep me from my cutting. That trimming back has resulted in fewer blooms I think. But they will come back.

The arbor is located in the sunniest area of the yard. Roses require at least 6 hours of sun daily.

This spot gets loaded up with all of the sun loving flowers, like petunias.

The red pots are planted with canna lilly bulbs. Canna bulbs cannot survive the cold temperatures of our winter here in the mid-Atlantic, so I move these pots into the garage for the winter.

My cannas do not bloom but I love their beautiful leaves like these from last year.

My other rose bush, New Dawn is a climber. The vines are full of buds now but none is open yet. I have some vacation plans coming up and I hope I don’t miss this flowering season.

I have to go mark my calendar to remind me not to plan any trips next May.

It’s gratifying to see how the roses have taken to the structure though!

Compost Saves

One of my resolutions this year is to be a better citizen of the planet. For me that means to use as little plastic as possible and to re-use and recycle whenever I can. My ultimate goal is to radically reduce the amount of trash we add to the landfill.

One of the primary ways I reduce trash output is to compost. For those who are not familiar with compost, it is a method of recycling food waste, such as peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, along with yard wastes and other matter. These materials decompose into a rich and nutritious soil conditioner for your plants. And I continually learn of items that can be added to the compost pile, further reducing my trash.

Another important reason to compost is that it helps the environment. Did you know that food waste in the landfill is one of the major causes of the methane gases that are contributors to climate change? By recycling our food waste we can help reduce those emissions at the same time we create rich fertilizer for our shrubs and plants. Talk about a win-win.

So, how do we do it? In our case, we set aside a corner of our side yard for this purpose. This corner already had two sides from our fence, and Mr. Bee was able to fashion two other sides out of fencing and a large piece of slate we inherited. Compost bins are available from garden websites as well. We started composting by throwing in yard clippings and kitchen scraps in this pile. I have added some links below this post for a more detailed method to compost.

For the compost to break down in a timely manner you need both green matter (like kitchen and yard waste) and brown matter.

Brown matter can be manure – which you can buy. But also paper is a good source of brown matter, and specifically shredded paper will break down very nicely. I love dumping out my shredder in the compost pile. And so you “layer” your kitchen waste and your paper. I admit that we do not carefully layer our materials. We dump and stir. I probably take out the vegetable matter every day but do not dump in the paper for months. But it works! We end up with a rich black soil for our gardens.

The first time I lifted up a shovel full of compost, I was dumbfounded that this rich soil came from my kitchen scraps! It almost seems like magic. As you handle the soil and feel its rich texture it is obvious this will be good for your garden. The difference in your flowers and vegetables will be recognizable and will multiply each year.

I recently bought this copper canister at TJ Maxx to hold my scraps until I am ready to take them out. No one would ever know that behind that sleek and shiny exterior rot is running riot. But it’s a good idea to take it out daily. Sometimes I use a plastic produce bag to line the container to make the clean up a little easier.

Recycling your food scraps into compost is such an easy way to create food for your plants, reduce methane gas emissions in the landfill and reduce the volume of trash as well. I hope I’ve encouraged you to give it a try!

To learn more about composting you may want to refer to these sites:

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home

https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/100-things-you-can-compost

Rose Arbor

Rose Arbor

You may recall that earlier this summer I posted about my roses which were having their most prolific year yet.  If you missed it you can read about that here.  This  year there was an explosion of flowers and vines and I suddenly realized I was going to have to provide a better structure.  Otherwise I was going to have a big tangled mess on my hands.  Soon after that post  I met with a local fence and deck company representative and signed a contract for an arbor.   And, finally, this past weekend, the workmen came to build it.

It is probably better to put the arbor up first, then plant your roses, or at least plan where an arbor might go before planting.  However, I was not at all sure I would be able to grow these very persnickety flowers since I get very little sun in my yard.  The site I ordered my roses from specified that most roses need at least 8 hours of sunlight a day.  I found one little corner of my yard that might just possibly meet those requirements and crossed my fingers.

Two years later, I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Can you see that flimsy, struggling support trying to hold up this flourishing beauty?  At least a couple of times a week I had to go out and shore it up with braces and cinder blocks and rope.   It was apparent the supports were not going to last much longer with such abundance.

I intended for there to be a lattice panel on the back side of the arbor,  in addition to the sides.  This is not the type of arbor you can walk through.  There is a lower flower bed behind the roses which prevents anyone from attempting it.   Of course with the iron bench in place, it is even more obvious.  But now I am not sure.  One rose bush will have to be relocated or removed if I do so.  I will have to think about it.   I do like the idea of an enclosed little spot in the garden.  But I have a feeling that moving that rose bush will result in its demise.   Possibly I can get a few vines to criss-cross in the back there.  And that would create the enclosure I want.  I will mull it over, which is how I make all my decisions.

I had to do a little trimming on the rose vines in order to pry them apart from the  supports and each other.  That was not an easy task and I waited until the last minute to do it.  Since August is not the recommended season for rose pruning I hope they survive.  But I can always order more, right?  The construction progress was hard on my grass, but it will come back.

When we bought our house the backyard was a slope down to the driveway, with very few plantings other than azaleas along the fence on the right side.   At first our improvements hardly seem to make a difference.  But the accumulation of small projects has entirely changed the space.  There is so much pleasure in seeing a garden evolve.

I don’t seem to have any before pictures.  It was the early 2000s.  We weren’t taking so many pictures back then.

I’m looking forward to having coffee out here soon!  That morning sun looks so inviting.

 

I’m already thinking ‘what took me so long to do this?’.  But, I remind myself that inspiration takes time and ideas evolve and build on one another.

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?