Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Define Help

I've been so busy out there.  Everywhere I look, everywhere I turn, there's weeding, tidying, deadheading, transplanting to be done.  Today, I enjoyed a sunny, cool, full day in my garden.  I was out there from morning till evening and it really was lovely.  Nevertheless, I am trying to meet a deadline.  Easter is so early this year.  For the first time ever, our beds won't even be mulched in time for our celebration.  We are still planting!
There's another reason we are behind.  This year, we are doing everything ourselves.  I am very uncomfortable hiring help for what is, to me, a personal hobby, interest, passion.  I don't trust strangers stomping in my flower beds.  However, once or twice a year we do hire help; it is often at this time of year precisely to help us with the mulching.  But hired help, even hired landscaping companies, do things their own way.  Last year, the men mulched over all of the stone paths in our beds.  We are still unearthing them a year later.  Also, unfailingly, they take out plants I have bought and planted.  One year it was my coneflowers and Turk's Cap. Last year, a landscaping crew pulled twenty or so bluebells.  They didn't look too great, it's true, but that was because they were just returning from their long winter's naps.  I couldn't believe it!
At the same time, the crews do work hard, especially in our hot summers.  I'm not mad (anymore).  But I prefer, as does my husband, that we take care of our own gardens.  How protective is too protective?  I can't quite decide.  Is waiting until desperation strikes unreasonable?  Personally, I don't think so.
Today, I finished planting for Easter.  I added dianthus, coneflowers, coreopsis, cosmos, a few daylilies, some impatiens, one cute little spiderwort, gomphrena, just to name a few.  I also worked on our little vegetable patch.  I hope to share photos of our tidy, planted, unmulched beds in my next post.  For now, this weary gardener shall leave you with a sign of Spring.

Monday, March 18, 2013

When the Going Gets Tough . . .

It's depressing, sometimes, starting a bed all over again.  Early last summer, this round bed, approximately ten feet in diameter, was filled with with flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds.  As summer faded into fall, I finally had to admit that the plants, the three duranta, the esperanza, even the basil, looked more scary than pretty.
The past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time at our local nursery.  At first, there was only a small selection.  It was still too cold, the chance of a hard freeze persisted.  This past weekend, they set out a lot more; I had plenty to choose from.  But I was scared.   I don't want to keep starting my beds over again.  I want to enjoy the satisfaction of a mature garden.  Of course, I will always be on the lookout for new and wondrous additions, but to have the bones set for a good, long while would be nice.
I've been noticing that the most beautifully enduring plants are my roses.  They are beginning to show off for spring.   I decided that I will add a few roses to the round bed and plant around those.  We had one already, a Clotilde Soupert, and now I set the Papa Meilland in another section.  I think I will add two more before it's all over.  In the meantime, I've been adding plants that shouldn't grow too large.  The bed is divided into five sections surrounding a middle circle.  This weekend I planted plenty of dianthus (the usual, not amazon variety), shorter varieties of salvia, a row of tiny floss flowers, and -- I hope it's not a mistake -- yarrow.  I've never planted yarrow before as I understand it can be invasive.  But butterflies love it and our nursery offers a variety with mixed colors.  I am hoping that this hybrid won't be so bad.  If it is, I will be pulling up yarrow for the next few years.  But the roses will be there, so there should be a good foundation.  Once we finish the bed, which should be this week, I will post a photo of it. 
We like our garden to up to standard by Easter, when we want our family and friends to be able to enjoy it.  The deadline is good for us.  There has been a lot of gardening going on around here!
In the meantime, it helps to see a few areas doing well, to enjoy a lovely bloom here and there.  It makes it all worthwhile.
I wish you all a good week and happy gardening!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Berry Happy Picture

Have you ever planted something ridiculous?  Or planted it in a ridiculous spot? 

I don't think that hollies of any sort can ever be truly silly, especially hollies planted in their native areas.  Where we live, yaupon holly carries the day and possumhaw is right there with it.  Possumhaw is deciduous.  In winter, the females brazenly flaunt their fruit on bare branches for all the world to see.  I love the berried twigs, so bright and cheerful as they offer up a late winter's snack for the birds.  Evidently, those berries are not the tastiest and the birds save them for last.  Fermented, they make the birds a little loopy and one can only wonder if that's the birds' intentions!

While yaupon and possumhaw grow widely in our area, we did not have any on our property when we moved in.  Therefore, we planted a few, but we did not plant them together.  I don't know what I was thinking, really, except that I wanted to enjoy the one possumhaw from our back patio.  I planted it right at the end of a short path, so that I could enjoy an unobstructed view of it when I looked in that direction.  It does look rather ridiculous, a little, naked holly tree all by itself at the edge of the field.  It's rather hard to plant around it, situating it as I did, but one of these days, I might figure something out.  In the meantime, I smile every time I look at it. 


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Rosy Outlook

I usually love winter.  I love all the seasons, but this winter has been uncommonly dismal in our garden.  There were so many things that needed redoing that I forced myself not to plant anything new and our weather -- one day cold, the next day warm, the next day with pouring rain, the next with high winds -- did not favor what was already in the ground.  Fortunately, everyone has a few heroes in their gardens, those stalwart, fearless plants that take challenges head on and still manage to look good.  In our garden, the heroes are the roses.  None of the shrubs are bursting with blooms, but many are offering a sample of the glory yet to come.  It's as if they are trying to appease me.

Mutabilis is fabulous.
Maggie -- this tough, found rose roots readily from cuttings.
Duchesse de Brabant -- another easily propagated antique
Souvenir de la Malmaison -- one of my very favorites
And then a few lovely unknowns (= I can't remember)

We have lots of roses on our property; I would say about 70 (so far), give or take a few.  We planted each and every one and propagated many from cuttings.  We do have knockouts in certain areas; otherwise, until a week ago, all of our roses were antiques.   Last week, I bought my first hybrid tea, Papa Meilland.  It was a Hall of Fame rose and is described as being long-stemmed with large, deep red, strongly fragrant flowers.  It's sounds awesome, doesn't it?  If there had been a similar antique available that day at the nursery, I would have gone right by it.  However, as chance would have it, I am now eagerly awaiting the first blooms of this new venture.
I will leave you with a wink from a cheerful little rose, Martha Gonazalez.
I believe she is saying, "Don't fret; Spring is nigh!"