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!

winter gardening

gardeningAhhh, I know all of you, you were hoping for a winter gardening post.  Hoping that in the midst of all this I may have discovered something amazing outside this morning.

Nope.

Just a little winter gardening humor from a friend.  After all, it is like the freaking Tundra out there…. so there is no winter gardening.  Only a fervent wish for all my plants to survive and thrive in the spring. Once spring gets here, that is.

Inside is not much better.  My rosemary plant has given up the ghost and so has my beautiful bay leaf tree and the Mandevilla vine I inherited from the previous homeowner is not faring much better.

My inner gardener is VERY frustrated with this winter.  And I say that knowing that a very cold winter is actually not the worst thing for the garden. Except right now is the ugly phase of the winter garden.  Everything is ice, snow, frozen mud and cold.  And it is too early for the snow drops to emerge. I hope all my hostas make it through the winter, but only spring will tell me that for sure.

So I think I will pick out my virtual herb garden for the spring today.  I tuck herbs in everywhere I can – in pots, in beds, along paths. I love Colonial Creek Farm for the things I cannot source locally.  And I might look for one more rose…..a climber for the side of the house….David Austin of course.

It is time to begin the plant wish list for spring.

I go to my favorite nursery sites and I choose what I want and print out the order list.  I am not ordering today, but I want a list of what cultivars intrigue me. I know, I know I am creating plant wish lists….but it makes dealing with the Tundra temperatures so much easier that way!

After that I will peruse my copy of Suzy Bales’ The Garden in Winter.  It was one of the books she sent to me and I think today is a day where I have to find my love of my winter garden again.

Grumblingly yours,

The Frustrated Gardener in Winter

 

 

 

 

dreaming of gardens yet to come…

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What do you do on a gray and rainy winter’s day?

Why dream of gardens yet to come of course!

I can’t wait for the weeks and months to fly by until I can dig in the dirt again!

I thought I would share with all of you a few of my favorite mail order plant resources:

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

Colonial Creek Farm

Bridgewood Gardens

David Austin English Roses

White Flower Farm

Do not misunderstand me, there’s nothing to replace the awesome experience of a fabulous local plant nursery. However, if you are a gardener like me who looks for plants that are not part of a regular nursery’s roster, you need to have other sources as well.

It is wet and damp and cold outside….my garden needs these winter days in advance of spring. So while my plants sleep, I plan.

What are your gardening plans for spring?