Thursday, April 30, 2009

Where Did All These Roses Come From?

I am not really a rose fan. I had several rose bushes years ago but I was never very good at growing them. Unlike my friend Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings, mine only looked happy for a short while each year. They seemed to take a disproportionate amount of work for the return so one winter my dad dug them all up for me and I gave them to one of my day care moms. This week as I walked around the garden I discovered something. Roses. All over my yard! How did they get there? It seems that over the last several years I decided that many of my design and function problems could be solved by roses...most of them climbing varieties.

Climbing Cecile Brunner began blooming a few weeks ago and is almost finished. Cecile's job is to cover the fence near the compost bin and provide a backdrop for the plumbago.

Climbing Rosa Flower Girl, on the wedding arch, is a dependable long bloomer. She got a fairly severe pruning this year and has responded by sending up lots of new growth. She used to make do with a trellis but wanted to be taller so earned the spot on the arch. Her job is to disguise the abutilon's scraggly trunk.
Climbing New Dawn, chosen for a fence corner with a bit less sun than most other roses would require, has just this week opened the first of what looks like dozens of buds. Her job is to keep the bird-killing cat who lives next door from jumping over the fence. So far this is not working out as well as I'd hoped. But she is getting bigger and may soon be making me happy.
Climbing Berries and Cream mixes with a solanum jasminoides on the trellis behind the fountain. She is another dependable bloomer and helps hide the fence...a leftover job from before we had the fence replaced a few years ago. That old fence was decrepit and needed hiding.

A mini rose given to me as a gift in a four inch pot many years ago is beginning to open. She was not happy in the four inch pot nor progressively larger ones but for several years this mini-flowered rose has been very happy in the front door bed, requiring only a late winter pruning and bit of deadheading. In return she blooms a bit all summer. She doesn't have a job aside from reminding me of my good friend who gave her to me. Behind her you see a glimpse of Rosa Demitasse. I'm not sure what her job is...I think she was one of those nursery purchases that happen to me. Seduced by pretty blooms and healthy leaves I give in and then I need to find a home for some poor thing that deserves it's own spot.
I guess I've made my peace with roses and ended up with the ones that work for me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April 2009

Today Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites everyone to post about what is blooming in their particular part of the world. Visit her to see a list of posts that allows you to tour the world and see what is in bloom in April 2009!

The very first Berries and Cream of the year has bloomed just in time for Bloom Day. This rose becomes less 'Berry' and more 'Cream' as the weather heats up.

The white Banksia roses are in full bloom on the back garden arch and also on the back fence.
The Comet Pink chrysanthemums I cut back severely have bounced back this year.

Climbing Rose Cecile Brunner is very sweet and is, after a couple of years, beginning to fill in this area of the fence nicely.

Yellow columbine was a big step for me...I used to keep yellow as a winter flower color but avoided it during the rest of the year. I liked the way it brightened up our dreary winters but thought it was too bright for me otherwise. This soft yellow columbine has changed my opinion and I am slowly mixing in some other soft yellows.

The borage in the garden has begun to bloom and we enjoyed a bit of it in our Easter salad.

The Meyer lemon is blooming and I'm hoping for another crop of lemons next winter. My tree is in a pot so has stayed fairly small but we usually get a nice amount of fruit.

Several scented geraniums have begun blooming, including this sweet one under the plum tree.
Cranesbill Biokova is one of my favorite filler plants. It spreads easily and makes great passalong gifts. It fills in quickly and stays nice looking in all areas except those that get hot afternoon summer sun.

The more or less complete list of bloomers for April is:
Solanum jasminoides
Solanum rantonnetii
Wax begonias
Climbing Rosa Berries and Cream
Climbing Rosa Cecile Brunner
Rosa Flower Girl
Dutch Iris
Bearded Iris
Spanish Lavender Wings of Night
Cranesbill Biokova
Abutilon Pink Parasol
Polygala dalmaisiana
Banksia rose
Meyer lemon
Lavandula pinnata buchii
Bush mallow
Scented geranium Citrosa
Scented geranium Rosa
Salvia May Night
Salvia Dancing Dolls
Comet Pink marguerite
Anisodontea Elegant Lady
A. Hibiscus Bits
A. Very Cranberry
Culinary thyme
Rosemary Tuscan Blue
Garden Peas
Nepeta Walker's Low
Dwarf Carnation Evermore
Felicia amelloides~2 varieties
Yellow Columbine
Salvia greggii
White carnation
Heuchera Lillian's Pink
Chrysanthemum paludosum

Thursday, April 02, 2009

My Wisteria~The Oldest Plant In My Garden

Here is the story of my response to many of the comments I received on my previous post I am offering my suggestions and warnings for those contemplating wisteria ownership.
We moved to our house 28 and a half years ago. One of the first things we did (after ripping out a hideous bottlebrush) was to plant a one gallon wisteria near the fence. Actually we planted it after digging out a section of concrete so the wisteria could be seen from inside the house right from the start. We had a wisteria at our previous home and I loved the totally exuberant kick-off to spring it provided. It was happy from the beginning and grew quite a bit the first year. I loved the way it crawled over the fence providing a green backdrop to the garden and keeping neighbor children from climbing over at the same time. I may have grown up in Ohio where backyards flow one into the next but I had lived in California long enough to treasure the privacy of my first real backyard. I have no memory of how many years it may have taken to begin blooming but I know it wasn't very many. Wisteria is a vigorous grower and it stretched along the fence quickly, eventually growing up into 25 foot tall privets that grew 30 feet down the fence line and then hanging down from the tops in long strands. This fence borders the side yard path from my front garden to the back and needs to be accessible... at least for someone who might be pushing a wheelbarrow. So one of the first things I learned was that you can't really hurt a healthy wisteria. I prune any branch at any time of year that might be in my way. And I make the cut close to the main branches so it doesn't just send out a new shoot two weeks later that will need attention. And it will do that. I also thin branches out all summer if the plant gets too bulky, with a good thinning done in the late fall. Cutting back all the branches to a short length is to be avoided as many of the flowering stems will be lost. After the neighbors took down their overgrown privets I began keeping the wisteria limited to the fence at about a 35 foot length, with just a bit allowed to drape over the entry arch. For about two hours of pruning a year I am rewarded with copious blooms each spring. And I enjoy continued bloom all summer thanks to a bit of a fluke. I had read that the seeds of the wisteria plant are toxic. They are produced in a pod not unlike a bean and having young children I decided I should pick the pods off as they grew. My wisteria would continue to bloom most of the summer, although not nearly as abundantly as it did in the first spring bloom. Many years later I read that this is a technique for encouraging continued bloom...which I just happened to luck into! I have since also read conflicting opinions concerning the toxicity but don't feel the need to personally test that out. A second advantage is that, left to ripen, the pods will eventually burst and shoot seeds quite a few feet away from the plant...sometimes with a fair amount of force. With the vine in such a central location it just seems prudent to eliminate as many of the pods as possible.
Although some growing recommendations will say acid soil is needed for bloom my soil is quite alkaline. My wisteria is planted on the east side of a north-south running fence between houses so the branches receive morning sun on into the afternoon but the roots are, for the most part, not in the hot afternoon sun. It is quite drought tolerant receives some water when nearby pots get watered but I actually only soak the ground there once or twice a summer. A strong support system is needed, such as a sturdy fence or pergola. I planted my wisteria on a fence that was 15 years old. We replaced that fence about 3 years ago...I often joked that the wisteria was in reality holding up the fence. At that time I pruned my baby back to about 20 feet, did a rather brutal thinning and draped the vine over the cement. I told the fence guy I would understand if something got broken but that this plant was rather special to me. He did a wonderful job building around it and a day later we were back in business! Another advantage to growing the wisteria on the fence is the chance to enjoy the structure of the vine all winter when its leaves have fallen.Right now my wisteria is doing it's part to provide a gathering place for dozens of bees at a time all day long. And it smells wonderful on top of everything else! In my opinion an empty fence is a terrible thing to waste... and a wisteria might be just what you need to help fill that 30 foot long blank space.