rose obelisks are in place!!

I love my David Austin English Roses. But even the ones which are NOT climbers are truly vigorous growers. The ones I chose ALL seem to have a very rangy growth habit.

I started out a few years ago with fleur de lis trellises from Achla Designs. They come in two sizes.

For a couple of years they worked nicely. But the roses outgrew them completely. And I do prune my roses.

So these trellises have been moved to assist other plants. They are brilliant to stake tomatoes with, especially if you grow tomatoes in large pots like I do. They give this tepee shape which beans and tomatoes like.

I hunted for obelisks for a while. Some seem quite flimsy and others overly expensive.

I settled on the Jardin Round Obelisks from Gardener’s Supply Company.

I assembled the first one during a heatwave. Big mistake. Mostly for me wrestling with a large rose bush in the heat.

You have to put it on a section at a time as it comes in pieces. But as is the case with trial and error, I learned after assembling the first one that I needed to basically tie up the rosebushes as much as possible with garden tape. (It’s made out of green vinyl, and I use it for things that I stake or need to have tied during the growing season.)

The first obelisk I put together still seems a little wobbly to me and I need a good soaking rain to push it down into the ground more.

But I have now assembled four of these obelisks and I did have to trim my roses back (and some canes broke too) to get them on but now they have more freedom growing through these and are less restricted as was the case with the trellises I was using.

I really like the uniformity they present in the garden and I think they add a nice element. They also are not going to drive me crazy having to look at them in the winter when nothing is growing.

I will be honest and say it took me 2 1/2 or 3 hours to assemble and place three of these yesterday. (and if you buy them make sure you are wearing gauntlet gloves when assembling them and wrestling with the rose bushes to place them!)

I also had another kind obelisk thing I tried that was shorter and more squat that also came from Gardener’s Supply that was an epic fail. It arrived defective and missing parts and it’s a little finial top didn’t even fit the thread it was assigned to. It’s called the Jardin Birdcage Support. Save your money and don’t order it. It’s cheaply made and went into the recycling.

Of course in the middle of all of this I discovered a rabbit’s nest under a shrub. I wasn’t looking for the nest they literally started screaming at me because I was too close to the nest. And yes baby bunnies sure can holler!

Gardening is always an adventure!

Now that the temperatures are becoming more temperate it’s time to get back to the business of weeding and cleaning up my flowerbeds. Because fall planting season is just around the corner.

Happy gardening!

august and garden chores

David Austin Rose “Mary Rose”

It’s August. August in the garden in general means early mornings, pace yourself, and you can only do so much.

As I get older I have a hard time with humidity. So until this morning I have not been out in the garden very much in the last week or so. The combination of hot and humid has left the garden somewhat bedraggled.

I got out there in the garden early this morning because I had to focus the sprinkler on specific planting beds – because if you don’t get up and do the sprinkler early it’s useless the water just evaporates as the heat of the day sets in.

I also had to check out a Japanese maple which is suffering from heat stress. I can only pray at this point that the plant will make it and it looks so awful because one day it was beautiful red and healthy and the next day the leaves started to look shriveled and shrunken

I had forgotten the Japanese maples in fact have a widespread but fairly shallow root system. I did have a Japanese maple do this decades ago and I thought it was a goner and cut it down and it sent up new shoots from the roots the following spring. So I am going to leave the tree be and see what happens next spring. Hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to me.

Today was also a day to deal with my roses. I love them and always have. Today was the last drench of systemic feed, systemic insecticide, and systemic disease control for the season. Depending on how things go it will also probably not be a bad idea for me to give them a drink with seaweed extract and a little Epsom salts and or pulverized banana peels in a week or so.

People like to get all uptight about chemicals. I am a cancer survivor I use them judiciously. Roses and other shrubs and trees need them once in a while especially now that we have to deal with the spotted lantern fly (which in nymph form does like roses.)

I use the Bayer 3 in 1 Rose and Flower Care on my roses. It contains the three chemicals that are found to kill spotted lantern fly after they ingest it.

Bayer does not compensate me in any way for mentioning this product. I mention it because I use it. In spring when the roses get their first dose I use the granular version. From June forward I use the drench. I will note that I do not really spray for bugs or disease since I use this product.

The seaweed-type fertilizer I use is Irish Organic Fertilizer. It has the sea weed but it also has goodness from Irish peat bogs. Humic Acid and Moor Water blended with organic seaweed. (Read more about it HERE.) I will also note I use this inside with houseplants as well all year round. Orchids in particular love it.

I was a test garden for this Irish Organic Fertilizer when it first was introduced here in the United States a couple of years ago, but I buy it all year round at this point. I buy it off of Amazon.

Back to my roses. All in all, in spite of the weather it has been a lovely year for roses. I have some I thought were dead that I basically put in little corners of my garden where I have plant infirmaries, and today I had to add a rose obelisk to one because it had recovered so nicely!

While I was out with my roses, I not only weeded around the base of all of them, but I did some deadheading and I also did some pruning to remove some canes that were causing issue with airflow in the middle of my rosebushes, and/or didn’t look so hot.

One problem I have a constant battle with in this garden are rose borers. And when I cut a cane I seal the top with one of two things: nail polish or wood glue. Yes nail polish.

David Austin Rose “Benjamin Britton”

My new roses that I planted this spring are all doing really well. The champion grower is the David Austin English Rose Benjamin Britton. It is a vigorous and gorgeous rose!

The rugosa roses I planted which were antique and old garden rugosas are coming along. The one I purchased from Antique Rose Emporium in Texas called Mary Manners is the most vigorous so far. It bloomed once in a couple of spots when it was tiny and now it has sent out a lot of growth and next year will be fabulous. It was a vigorous grower when I had it in my parents’ garden decades ago.

David Austin Rose “James L. Austin”

The other rugosas I planted at the rear of the berm bed that runs down the side of the driveway came from Heirloom Roses in Oregon. Blanc Double de Coubert (another vigorous grower that I had in my parents’ garden years and years ago) and Bayse’s Purple Rose are also growing really nicely and I can’t wait for next year!

I chose old rugosa roses because like most old and antique roses they are very disease-resistant and they are so thorny the deer don’t like them yet they are habitats as they grow for other animals like birds. The berm bed rugosa roses will eventually help me back the rear of the bed and next year I hope to add more old or antique roses at the back of that berm. I have my eye on Madame Hardy and Comte de Chambourd.

A white David Austin rose “Winchester Cathedral”

The found rose I planted from Antique Rose Emporium has also been terrific. I have been getting its name wrong all summer so I looked it up on their website. Caldwell Pink and I highly recommend it. It is an old rose and it has been blooming nonstop all summer. It gets these little button size carnation pink blooms that smell heavenly. It is called a found rose because they’re not really sure where it came from but it was found in a little town called Caldwell, Texas.

I should probably note that the roses I plant are not only bare root they are own root. I have mentioned this before because when you pay to buy own root roses they are not grown on root stock. They are grown and on their own root and might be smaller when they arrive but you will have in my opinion a much healthier vigorous plant as time goes on.

I will admit I kind of ignored my roses as it got really hot except for occasional deadheading. And they survived. They either got watered by torrential downpours or when I set the sprinkler. During the worst of the heat I gave everybody a little bit of Epsom salts. I do that about three times during the growing season but you have to be careful how much you use because you don’t want to upset the mineral balance in your soil.

A lot of people in the US when they plant roses plant them in sort of standalone beds. Often it’s only roses in a particular flower bed. I look at roses a little differently. I plant them in the English and Irish style. In other words, my roses are in among the rest of my plants.

My style of gardening is easiest described as cottage garden with shade and woodland garden beds. I definitely have a layered garden and it is also turning into a very nice four seasons garden.

My favorite kinds of gardens are the ones that hold your interest in the middle of winter just like they do in the middle of June. I don’t know if that makes sense to a lot of people but that’s what I like. I like having something to look at 12 months of the year.

Now that the last leg of summer has arrived I pretty much do maintenance until the fall. I have not religiously deadheaded things like coneflowers (echinaceas) and hostas and even bee balm (monarda). I have done some deadheading but a lot of it I have just let Mother Nature take her course.

As a lot of the hydrangea blooms fade and die I will trim them because that’s the way you keep the bushes in check. That little bit of deadheading you do really helps keep the size of hydrangeas to where you can deal with them. The one exception to that rule are my Oakleaf hydrangeas on the edge of the woods on the far side of the deck. I rarely prune those. I love their wild look on the edge of the woods.

I know a lot of people are feeling discouraged in their garden this time of year. August is tough. And what makes it more difficult is we are experiencing climate change. So the extremes have been really extreme the past couple of summers.

But don’t lose hope, Garden a little bit at a time and soon it will be September and the temperatures will get a little more even.

Thanks for stopping by!

David Austin Rose “England’s Rose”

imagine the roses

David Austin English Rose “Abraham Darby”

You can’t smell the roses, but you can imagine them. So on this pretty Easter morning I took a walk through the garden to see what was happening. Some of my perennial herbs are starting to show new growth, bulbs are starting to stick their little heads up, and the pussy willows are all fluffy with catkins.

I decided to push my luck and feed my rose habit.  So I ordered two more roses from David Austin Roses. They get shipped to me bare root, and I have been ordering from them for decades at this point through various gardens.

Bare root means exactly how it sounds. They arrive roots and sticks. You soak them overnight and then you plant. It really is simple.

Roses are just about a garden routine. I love roses and have planted them in every garden I have ever had. I had 50 different kinds in my parents’ garden. And this year I am using milky spore to combat the Japanese beetles. It’s the only thing that works well unless you want to squish them one by one.



David Austin English Rose “Maid Marion”

Over the past ten years roses have been disappearing from a lot of American garden centers. Basically it’s because people don’t want to do the work for the queen of the garden flowers.  I get it but they’re so worth the work.  I prefer planting bare root and growing old garden and English roses.  I don’t plant as many roses as I did once upon a time because I just don’t have the garden space and the uniform light needed for them all the way around. But I could never have a garden without having some roses. 

Roses have also gone out of favor as growers have gone under.  Truthfully if more people, don’t start planting roses a lot of the varieties we grew up with and took for granted in gardens will disappear from our garden and landscape forever. Is the case with many of the hybrid teas.

My roses have sort of survived the cold this winter. A couple look a little worse for wear and I’m not sure how they will do. So to hedge my bets, I have ordered two more bare route from David Austin roses. This year I ordered Maid Marion and Abraham Darby.

If you were thinking about ordering roses to plant your garden have to do it over the next couple of weeks because David Austin stops shipping in May for the year.

Enjoy your Easter….and imagine the roses….



rose smoothie

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Bet the title got your attention, huh? Well this smoothie isn’t for people…it’s for rose bushes.

Yes, as in plants.

I have mentioned that banana peels are awesome junk food for roses. I told you I save my peels and just stash them in a plastic bag in the freezer until I need to feed the roses. Well, since my bushes have had their first blooms and one bush got beaten up by the roofers I decided today was the day.

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I used to dig the peels in around the base of each bush, but given the critter population living with woods and farmers’ fields I have developed a rose smoothie which I dig in around the base with a small spade I use to transplant seedlings.

The formula for the smoothie is I rough chop the peels and toss into the blender with whatever spent coffee grounds I have on hand and a couple of cups or so of very warm tap water. (I never drink flavored coffee and I would never recommend using artificially flavored coffee grounds. I don’t know how the artificial flavor chemicals would affect the plants.)

20140619-141544-51344382.jpgThe consistency of this smoothie for rose bushes should be on the thick side , but pourable. I don’t take my blended outside I pour the goop into a plastic pitcher. I then go around to each bush and dig a few ounces in around the base of each bush. I have a standard sized blender and only a few rose bushes right now, so one batch of rose smoothie is all I need every time I do this.

I will feed my roses this concoction every two weeks until Labor Day.

Now, I know people have this banana peel magic out on the Internet, but I want to tell you specifically how I first learned about this, which is easily twenty plus years ago thanks to a gardening article I read in the Wall Street Journal. Yes, the Wall Street Journal. Some of the best gardening articles I have ever read have been in the Wall Street Journal over the years.

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So in this article the writer was talking about caring for roses and mentioned banana peels. The writer cited as a source a book called Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners by Maureen and Bridget Boland. The book was originally published in the 1970s in the United Kingdom but you can still find gently used copies on Amazon.com today. . I have the book and the companion book Gardeners’ Magic and Other Old Wives Lore by Bridget Boland.

Banana peels add calcium, magnesium, phosphates, silica, sulphur, and potassium. Spent (or used) coffee grounds are rich in similar nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium).

Anyway, if you grow roses, try this. And if you like fun vintage gardening books, find yourself a copy of Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners.

Food for thought as I leave you for the day: do you miss the real gardening shows that used to be on television ? There used to be real gardening shows where hosts including Martha Stewart used to get out and dig flower beds, discuss plants, and so on. They would share tips. Today all it is all hardscaping , fake pre-cast pavers, and outdoor kitchens as far as the shows. No real horticulture. I miss the real gardening shows.

Thanks for stopping by!