Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Despite a dry winter and a cold spring, it has been a good year for the garden.


The roses have done very well.

Maréchal Niel

I have added more perennials...

Campanula primulifolia

...and potted lavenders:

I have worked hard to improve my photography skills.

Insects and wildlife proved especially challenging :)

We went on a few trips, and even though we stayed close to home, there was a lot to see: an amazing plant collection of the Berkeley Botanical Garden....

...wildflowers in Santa Teresa Hills... 

...the lovingly tended gardens at Carmel Mission....

....and the colorful collection of dahlias at San Franicsco's Golden Gate Park.

I found time for a few visits to the Heritage Garden in San Jose to admire their wonderful collection of roses.

Général Schablikine

I always enjoy this garden and am grateful to the people who maintain it. There are many more roses there than I could ever hope to grow, and they are beautiful any time of the year. 

Hips on 'Sappho'

Other than gardening, this year has been very mixed for us. I am not at all sad to see it go, and am looking forward to the coming spring and new beginnings. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

It's wet and chilly here, and I have been staying inside much of the time.

Pat Austin

A few roses are still blooming, but most blooms are ruined by overnight frosts, wind and rain.

Angel Face

Most of the rose pruning is done, but many other garden chores are still on my list: dormant spraying, weeding, refreshing mulch, propagating, and vine pruning.

We have been busy getting ready for Christmas and meeting up with friends and family.

Chrysler Imperial

I know you are probably looking forward to the holidays too. I hope you have a wonderful and happy time, and a great new year too. Merry Christmas!

William Shakespeare 2000

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pruning in Company

It's rose pruning season here, and luckily, the last few days have been warm and sunny.

A barberry branch
None of my perennials has been cut back yet (and a few are still blooming), and the roses have grown tall and still have most of their leaves and even a few buds. Working on plant after plant in the warm sunshine, I have discovered quite a few little creatures that keep me company in my winter cleanup.

A bumblebee on an arbutus unedo

Someone has been eating my roses...

Katydids leave holes in rose buds. Sometimes entire leaflets are eaten too.

...and someone else my daisies :(

There is still nectar in my strawberry tree's flowers.

And amazing views can be enjoyed from the vantage point of a rugosa leaf.

I am never alone in the garden.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Repotting Dame Edith Helen and A Windstorm

I am sorry about my continuing absence from the blogosphere: I have had lots of issues to deal with. In the garden, I have been busy repotting some big roses and dealing with the effects of a recent windstorm.

Mme Bérard drooping in the rain

At first, I didn't plan on growing any roses in pots: too much work watering. When I bought my first band sized plants from specialty mail order nurseries, I put them all in the ground (I had lots of room then).

Some springtime roses
My success in growing own root plants in hard rocky clay with lots of competition from surrounding trees and shrubs has been variable. Some roses (teas, tea-noisettes, some Austins and hybrid musks come to mind) took off right away...

Maréchal Niel this spring

 ....but others languished (pernetianas and other hybrid teas seemed particularly miserable). It seemed that a lot of these latter varieties were unable to develop a strong enough root system to push vigorous growth and bloom. The more interested I became in pernetianas and classic hybrid teas, the more imperative a solution to that problem became.

Heinrich Wendland was very unhappy in the ground but is recovering in a big pot

After all, I wanted some decent plants with maybe a few blooms on them :), and not a sad lot of scrawny naked sticks in the ground. The obvious path is to graft weak roses onto a vigorous rootstock. However, grafting requires tools, skill, time and patience, of whichI have none. The only choice for me was to try to grow them in pots.

Rose pots on the patio

I have been very happy with the results. Roses grow very fast in pots offering me almost instant gratification - only months between a tiny rooted cutting and a decently blooming young rose. I am still working on figuring out drainage and fertilizing schedule, but most of about a dozen plants I grow in pots permanently have done really well. Some of them have by now grown so much that they need repotting.

A three-year old Dame Edith Helen in an unglazed clay pot this spring. The top is noticeably bigger than the rootball, and I wondered if it was becoming potbound.

I bought Dame Edith Helen, an own root classic hybrid tea, for its gorgeous fragrant blooms. Its seller, Vintage Gardens, describes it as a low growing plant, "shy of bloom". I have heard someone mention that they grew three plants of it together to try to create some size :).

It was therefore surprising to me to find that, given favorable growing conditions, this rose is very capable of  attaining a good size and blooming exactly in step with my vigorous grafted hybrid teas. It also developed a very good rootball.

Two cubic feet of fresh potting mix later, here it is in its new and bigger home. A young plant of Surville is next to it.

I have also been busy cleaning up after a recent storm that brought lots of rain and wind. It seemed to me that leaves from most neighborhood trees ended up in my yard, clogging gutters and drains. Thankfully, our trees were undamaged but a few big roses fell over.

Gardeners in northern climates have to hard prune their roses because of winter damage to the canes. Those of us in warm areas where nature does not keep rose growth in check have the dubious luxury of endlessly debating whether or how to prune our roses depending on their class, rootstock, gardening practices and anything and everything else. But sometimes the weather dictates to us warm region gardeners as well.

My Rosette Delizy, a tea rose, has never been hard pruned. It grew nice sturdy canes that branched on top, then branched some more and some more again. It became very top-heavy. Not any more :)

I had to cut it back by more than half before it managed to stand up again. We'll see how it will do in spring...

But Lady Hillingdon still looks good