Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Company in the Garden and a Few Updates

Summer is here, and it is a busy time with watering, weeding, staking and pruning.

Sweet Pea, a polyantha rose

My one delight right now is Basye's Purple Rose. It has so much to recommend it: the gorgeous wine color of its blooms, their attractiveness to bees, the ease of care (I never deadhead).

However, this rose is not a pretty bush. Being a rugosa hybrid, it suckers on its own roots, and my plant has four naked canes about three feet from each other with some short branching at the top. I grow it interplanted with herbaceous perennials which conceal its ungainly growth habit yet allow me to enjoy its vivid blooms.

Most other roses are resting.

But not my indomitable April in Paris which seems to be covered in blooms no matter what the weather throws at it

It is a time of year when I try to go out as much as possible to look at the summer blooming perennials. What interests me is not so much their flowers, but who might be enjoying them alongside with me.

Now it might be carpenter bees buzzing angrily around a Hot Lips salvia because they keep falling off its slender stalks.

Now it is a honey bee busily collecting nectar from geranium Rozanne...

... or a leaf-cutter bee (?) crawling from flower to flower on a a mound of thyme.

The flowers are too close together to fly apparently.

Now it is a fuzzy gold-colored Valley carpenter bee, the largest bee in California, nectar-robbing a California native penstemon.

It is much too big to fit inside that little flower...

The bee makes a slit in the throat of a flower to get to the nectar. Because it does not go inside the flower, no pollen is collected, and pollination does not occur. That is why it is called "nectar-robbing".

Just about the only flower in my garden that is large enough for a carpenter bee is a rehmannia.

 The bees crawl happily inside, gather nectar and then wiggle out backend first. On their way out they appear not to see when the flower ends and fall right out buzzing loudly in protest. It happens every time and I love watching it every time.

The bees are not the only thing that keeps me busy. I brought 13 roses home from the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden to grow on and give back in the fall. Most of them need a bit of care, and a few are nothing but short leafless sticks.

Most were potted up and watered well. Keep your fingers crossed :).

I complained on a rose forum about lack of growth on Beaute de l'Europe, a French import from Vintage Gardens. Well, I have no complaints now. The moment the weather got hot, it took off and has been trying hard to get out of its pot. It keeps blooming too.

Here is a closeup of a bloom. It is still a young rose, and I am very interested to see what it will look like when it matures. The swirls of peach and warm and cool pink look very promising. It does have a resemblance to Mme Berard.

My William Shakespeare 2000 which refused to grow this spring and got pruned hard in retribution, is showing sings of new growth. Some basal breaks have appeared too.

Unfortunately, despite my feeble attempts to protect the canes (I just don't have enough time to deal with it properly), most remaining canes got badly sunburned. They still grow and I will  not cut them for now, but I wonder if sunburn will eventually turn into canker...

In more pleasant news, I finally have a well-pollinated pluot tree (a post on agonies of pluot pollination here)....

Splash pluot
... tomatoes are beginning to show color...

Red Zebra

...and blueberries have been ripening for weeks :).

It is a happy time in the garden.


  1. Stunning pictures of the different bees in your garden and you know them all by name.......Must be exciting to grow up 13 roses just from almost leafless sticks. I can imagine you are looking forward to see the flowers. The flowers of Basye's Purple Rose are stunning, such a shame it does not form a nice bush.
    Wish you happy rose gardening!

  2. What a wonderful post! Your photos are outstanding and all of your blooms just lovely as are your pollinators.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

  3. Hi Masha
    Stunning photos again, especially the macros. I love the rose Sweet pea... haven't seen it before and now again, I have another rose to put on my wish list.
    Have a lovely day!

  4. You bought many roses! I often see such roses: without leaves, bad stems, etc and am afraid to buy them because I think they will die or I will not be able to cure them. Of course your summer is hotter than our and I hope all your roses will be OK, Masha.
    Love geraniums and the bees working there. We have no bees :(( because the spring frost killed many of them, it's very pity. But bumblebees and flies are enough.

  5. Agree completely with everything you said about Basye's Purple. I lost one, but the second one, placed in better sun and less dry conditions, is doing very nicely....and suckering!

  6. I just love your photography (not to mention your roses) :)

  7. How wonderful it all looks! My first flush of roses is just getting close, maybe next week it will start.

  8. It's always such a pleasure to visit your garden, and to see honey bees makes it all the more wonderful! We have yet to see any this year and I worry that their decline is reaching our area in a big way this year!

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  9. Incredible photography!...Love the mountains, really love the sweet pea...

  10. would love to have you link your garden posts to Fishtail Cottage's garden party!!! (Thursdays ~ but I keep the party open thru the weekends) hope to see you! xoxo, tracie

  11. Marsha, I love your garden! I also love bees. I plant many native plants to attract them. I don't know what happened if our awful winter got to them or if all the GMO corn fields that I have around finally took a toll on them but all I have this year is a handful of bumble bees. Love your photos

  12. Great shots of the pollinators! Your Roses, as always, look wonderful. And how nice to have home-grown fruits! The view of the mountains is lovely.

  13. Masha, you are an artist! Your roses, bees, and your artistic pictures and narratives are amazing. You have pushed me to discover the new world of roses. Thank you!

  14. Hi Masha, first look at your post - the Rose title got me! Love your photography and all your types of bees! I just posted a blog about my bee hive in an old tree - I just love watching them too. I too love and grow many roses, both heritage and modern and it is wonderful to see many of your varieties that I am not familiar with. Will keep checking in.
    Roz - Bloomfield Cottage, it's a lifestyle


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