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Posts from the ‘Gardening’ Category

Bareroot Roses: Better Late than Never


Good news, guys! Christmas has come early for me! The bareroot roses arrived in time to get them tucked safely into the cutting garden before the true winter weather blows into town. I’m always giddy to to open up any package from De Wilde (my go-to webshop for both bareroot roses and dahlia tubers). This particular package, however, was especially exciting since it’s contents included lots of lovely garden roses in various shades of creamy whites and pale yellows and pinks… perfect for this summer’s wedding orders!

Given my big(ish) belly and limited flexibility, I harnessed my lustful eyes and kept my order to a maximum of 10 roses. Decisions, decisions. After careful consideration, my top 10 included: Winchester Cathedral, Glamis Castle, Golden Wings, Perdita, Jacqueline du Pre, Claire Austin, Penelope, and Bouquet Parfait (my favorite little soft pink spray rose). The result should (hopefully) be a nice combination of traditional, full and frilly English roses mixed in with several striking varieties of single roses. I always love the showy stamens in the single roses- they’re the perfect foil to the more voluptuous and romantic Austin varieties.

Getting the roses planted was a bit tougher than I thought. Somehow the grass runners had created a complex maze of roots where last summer’s dahlias once stood. Hmmmph. After lots of digging and wiggling, I’m pretty sure I got rid of most of those little buggers. I hope you’ll pardon the disheveled look of the border’s edges… it was the best I could muster up for today.

The finishing touch was a sprinkling of dried cow manure at the bottom of each hole and a mound of earth covering the base of the rose (which will hopefully keep the bud union nice and cozy warm during winter).

Although these varieties will certainly be most versatile when it comes to weddings and such, I won’t lie and pretend that another handful of beautiful ladies didn’t catch my eye. The more dramatic deep reds and burgundy violets of several varieties were almost too much to handle. Tradescant, The Prince, Minerva, Fallstaff, Eglantyne, and Crocus Rose… just you wait!

For now, though, I think I’ll have my hands full trying to get a sizable shipment of spring bulbs into the ground before everything freezes up and makes working the soil and planting (even more) uncomfortable. I’m a little late this year, but I couldn’t resist giving the garden a much deserved end-of-the-year treat! :)

Skiff of Snow

Well, guys, it’s happened!

We’ve had our first encounter with the cold kind… a skiff of soft snow fell from the sky and cloaked the remaining garden flowers in a thin blanket of white. What surely must mark a turning point in the weather patterns is at once both a beautiful surprise and a strange reminder that there’s no going back. No heat wave or warm spell can bring back the flowers. From here on out, it’s a non-stop cold cruise straight through til spring.

That’s not to say that winter is necessarily a bad thing. I get as excited as the next gal at the thought of pulling on my boots and playing in the snow, going for frosty forest walks, and drinking copious amounts of coffee and hot chocolate. Not to mention the upcoming holidays and all the crazy festivities that have become synonymous with the year’s end. With these seasonal changes comes an exciting energy, a beauty totally unique to winter.

It was fascinating to see such stereotypical summer blossoms like as poppies and cornflowers dusted with tiny flakes of snow.

Their normally bright and buoyant petals frozen in place.

The snow didn’t stick around for long, in fact it was gone before I knew it. I’m glad that I could seize this special opportunity to run outside and bask in the beauty of the first “snow”. The quotation marks are to cover my butt just in case any seasoned locals might laugh at my casual usage of the term snow… but, hey, any amount of frozen white stuff is good enough for this Californian chick.

Here’s to letting go of the growing season and turning a new chapter. Here’s to looking forward to winter wonderland adventures!!! :)

Life After Death

Good evening, guys!

I hope the garden guardians will forgive me for not doing any outdoor work today. Eek! The atmosphere was less-than-inviting, and I wanted to give my body a little breather after yesterday’s heavy digging and lifting. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more promising. Maybe the hormones are getting to me, or maybe it’s dealing with the end of another beautiful season of plenty… but I’m experiencing a bit of an emotional dip in the midst of all the dinginess and death taking over the garden. It’s hard letting go.

Perhaps that’s why the small signs of life I see popping up here and there come as a very welcome and pleasant surprise. A seedling sprouting, a new stem growing thick skin in preparation for winter, seeds scattered across the dirt floor of the borders. It’s reassuring to know that, when it comes to flowers and plants, there is, indeed, life after death.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up up in the grief of another season that’s come and gone rather than look ahead to the bright future that spring will bring. Although the next months of inclement and uninviting weather will be difficult, a little extra indoor time offers up ample opportunity to plan for next year’s garden. So many new seeds to consider, new aesthetic inspiration to be found online, more time to chit-chat with my flower friends and get giddy while sharing our big ideas.

I still have so much to do in the garden, it’s a bit daunting. I’ve procrastinated for so long- putting off ordering spring bulbs and bareroot roses, weeding the borders, digging out the dahlias- that thinking about all of the work is somewhat overwhelming. Really, though, I should look at it as a new opportunity… fluffing up a flower bed in order to create new life. Doing away with the old in order to make room for the new.

Although most of these volunteer seedlings probably won’t survive the winter, their presence is comforting.  They keep me company and give me hope while cleaning up the frost-ravaged foliage and clearing away the spent annuals. It must be reassuring for the dying flowers to see the future already taking shape… to know that their seeds are viable and their memory will live on :)

Have a lovely evening, friends, and I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow!

Snowflakes and Dahlias

Hi there! :)

Winter has officially rolled into town. As I’m typing, delicate flakes of “snow” are falling from the sky. While it’s not cold enough for any of the snowflakes to stick around,  it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that I’d better get my gardening butt into gear. Luckily I was tempted by some rays of sunshine earlier this afternoon and got going with digging up the dahlias.

The flowers and foliage looked brown and sickly, but the stalks of the tubers were still a healthy-looking green. This is always a good sign that the plants are in good shape and ready to be brought inside for the winter. As long as the frost doesn’t penetrate the ground, the tubers should still be safe.

While going about the task of digging up the tubers with the help of a gardening fork, I was grateful that I had already taken care of tagging and labeling. Once the foliage and flowers die back, it’s difficult to tell what’s what. Amazingly, even the tubers grown from cuttings had developed into mature and massive clumps. I dipped each tuber into a bucket of water in order to get most of the residual dirt off of the roots before bringing them inside. The bigger tubers will get sprayed down with a garden hose.

I don’t know about you guys, but I found a fair amount of these pesky little guys hiding within the soil surround the tubers. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the tiny, translucent balls are the eggs of an earwig. While the creepy crawlies aren’t incredibly harmful for the plant, they do like to nibble on the petals… which, as any flower grower knows, is super annoying. Ridding the tubers of any pests, diseases, and weeds are all good reasons to clear off as much dirt as possible when bringing the tubers inside for the winter.

Since I’m moving at a slower pace than usual, I’ve only gotten about one quarter of the tubers out of the ground… and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the dip in temperature doesn’t do any damage. As long as the weather isn’t ridiculously cold, I’ll keep on keepin’ on tomorrow and Friday until all of the tubers are safely tucked into their basement bed for the winter.

Wishing you guys a cozy evening… or afternoon, and sending you lots of warm wishes! :)

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Well, it’s time to say goodbye to the dahlias, folks!

After quite a stellar performance, the growing season has, at last, come to an end. Albeit, not quite as dramatic as last year. No blankets of white. No abrupt frost that caught the cutting garden (and me!) by surprise. No, this year ended gracefully and with dignity. A long awaited night of frost put the dahlia plants out of their misery and gave me a wake-up call that it’s time to get to work in the garden. Winter work. Woo-hoo!

Although the dahlias ended up looking like this…

… doesn’t meant that there weren’t still some super troopers left in the garden!

You might expect to see some of these guys clinging to life, but others might surprise you just as much as they did me.

The garland chrysanthemums, though oddly shaped and missing a petal or two, seem unscathed by the sub-zero nights. Surprisingly enough, the cornflowers have also continued to put forth new buds. Their vivid blues and purples are a welcome addition to the winter border… it will just make cleaning everything up a bit more difficult.

The scabiosa plants are displaying all of the various stages of maturity… tiny buds, full flowers, and seed heads. The small pixie lupines are also seemingly quite confused. Thanks to their endless supply of delicate flowers, these beauties will most definitely be making a come-back in the garden for 2014.

With so much death taking place in the garden, it’s reassuring to see a bit of new life as well. Since I’ve been a bit lazy this year in collecting loads of seeds, nature has grasped the opportunity to come full circle. Tiny sweet pea sprouts are popping out of the ground and scabiosa seedlings are even developing right on the seed head itself!

Seeing new life makes me already yearn for spring… but there’s lots to be done before I can get excited about sowing seeds and scouring the internet for new, fun varieties of flowers!


To Pull or Not to Pull

Welcome to the weekend, everyone!

Every time Friday afternoon rolls around, I always sit back, relax, and smile. Working from home, I’m constantly surrounded by an ever-growing “to-do” list and continually reminded of everything that still needs to be done. It’s difficult to ignore an upcoming frost or growing grass, impossible to forget about the ever-present weeds, ground to be tilled, seeds to be sown, and flowers begging to be cut. With a “time is of the essence” kind of job, I don’t exactly experience a typical “weekend”. Rather than block off two days at the end of every week, I try to treat myself to my fair share of relaxation and adventure all throughout the week. So, here we go! Time for the weekend, another mish-mash of work and play.

Speaking of work… I know that there’s still so much to be done in the garden. Every morning I roll out of bed expecting to see rows of brown frozen foliage where the rainbow of dahlias once stood. So far, though, I’ve been proven wrong. While it’s nice to have a handful of flowers to play with every day, winter’s procrastination has put a kink in my cutting garden clean-up plans. I just can’t bring myself to cut back green growth… or maybe I’m just being lazy?

Even some of the roses are putting forth another round of flowers. Burgundy Ice and Terracotta have been especially generous over the past week. The anemone that I so optimistically planted in the middle of June are still producing the sweetest little white flowers.

And the dahlias. Well, the dahlias just won’t give up. I don’t have many to choose from nowadays, no wonderful color coordinated cutting displays, but they’re still there. An orange one here, a pink one there. The perfect recipe for small hand-tied Lonely Bouquets.

The ornithagalums are also still going strong. It’s taking quite a while for each individual blossom to open up, but each plant has proudly produced one or two tall stems for cutting.

And, would you believe it? We’re actually still getting raspberries!

How can I try to clean up the garden, ripping out annuals and cutting back bushes, when there’s still so much life left in the plants?

Perhaps I’ll roll out of bed tomorrow to a field full of frost, but, judging from the recent pattern of events, all I can say is “fat chance!”.

Wishing you guys a weekend full of fun… and not too much work! :)


First Freeze

Hey there lovely ladies and gallant gents!

As I mentioned yesterday, we were blessed (?) with our first blanket of white on Monday morning. Of course, the first day with sunshine and blue skies in the forecast just had to coincide with the first frost of the season. It’s only fair, right? I had to rub my eyes for a moment before I could fully come to terms with the view from the bedroom window. White. Luckily no snow (yet!), but a definite frosty glaze covered the surrounding fields… and my cutting garden. Still comfy cozy in my pajamas, I stuffed myself into a warm hooded bathrobe, pulled on my boots and headed outside to inspect the damage.

Despite an icy coating that looks deceivingly like frosted sugar, everything actually looked alright. Not to be fooled by first appearances, I know from past years that things tend to get messy during the “thawing out” stage. Since I had gone on a cutting rampage the day before and left the cutting garden relatively sparse, I didn’t feel any pangs of guilt or regret at waking up to an unexpected freeze. Rather than stress out about the future of the flowers, I decided to enjoy the beauty of our first frosty morning.

There’s something so peaceful about the early morning hours of a cold autumn day. All is silent, the thick mist hanging in the air makes the world seem so small and mysterious… your own little intimate corner of the world.

Although frost can signify the end of the growing season, there’s no denying its beauty. Leaves lined with crisp white edges, flower heads bowing against the heavy weight of frozen water, the vivid colors of the flowers still peaking through the frosty facade.

Oddly enough, my panic-free reaction to the frosty situation seemed to work in my favor. After keeping a careful eye on the progress of the plants during the defrosting process, at the end of the day most actually seemed no worse for wear. Go figure! The dahlias hadn’t morphed into beautiful shades of black and brown, the annuals hadn’t wilted away, and the fall foliage was still standing at attention.

Maybe I jinxed the whole situation by secretly wishing for the frost to come along and make the process of cleaning up the cutting garden a lot less guilt-ridden and painful. Oh well, I guess you don’t always get what you wish for!Instead, I got to enjoy a wonderfully crisp autumn day, full of sunshine, bright foliage, and blue skies. I suppose the dahlia tubers will just have to stay in the ground for a little while longer :)

Misfits and Oddballs

Good evening, everyone!

As the growing season is coming to a definite stopping point, buds refuse to mature and blossoms tend to look a bit… well, quirky. The last of the dahlias are always something of an odd bunch of friends. Misshapen and deformed, they pack a whole lot more character and personality than their early blooming brothers and sisters. Some might say that they are meant to be dead-headed or ignored, but I disagree.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I happen to find these oddballs and misfits every bit as fascinating as their more well-rounded, symmetrical predecessors. Sure, they’re missing a few petals. Yes, their centers are blown. But the faded shades of peach, copper, pink, and beige rival the vivid colors that once filled the borders of the cutting garden. Perhaps you’ll agree with me that there’s something special about the last flowers of the season.

True survivors of rainy days and cold evenings, the half-heads and open centers of these gallant fighters are fun to look at.

Even the normal looking buds are a fraction of their usual size. Dinnerplate dahlias no more, these beauties are much more modest and petite.

Fearing that I’ll wake up one morning to a blanket of white frost, I spend a bit of time each afternoon picking all of the flowers that I can. I no longer worry about cutting away side shoots and buds… they probably don’t stand a chance anyway.

My army of misfits and I wish you guys a lovely evening! :)

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Good evening, flower friends!

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day, and it’s not thanks to any girl… or guy. It’s thanks to the golden-toned flowers still popping up in the garden. They’ve braved the wind, rain, and chilly temperatures in an effort to bring a tiny splash of warmth to these late autumn days. I feel so fortunate that the last few flowers in the garden have helped to ease the painful transition from autumn to winter.

Bright and cheerful feverfew, dahlias, crown daisies, sunflowers, fennel flowers and the very last of the cosmos are sending us all some sunshine on this dark and dreary day.

I’ve cooked up a little plan for these fearless flowers… a little something that will hopefully compensate for our recent lack of sunshine.

My little flower project won’t infuse you with much needed vitamin D, but it should at least help to warm the spirit.

Until tomorrow, I’ll leave you with these up-close and personal glamour shots. I hope they can add a hint of happiness to your day! :)

Homecoming Bouquet

Hi there, flower friends!

Long time, no see! I’m so grateful for your patience during my three week Californian get-away, and today I have a special treat for both you guys and myself! Against all odds, it seems as if the cutting garden has not only survived the overwhelming odds of late autumn frosts… but most of the dahlias, lupines, sweet peas, roses, and other thriving flowers have stayed strong during our bout with the dreaded St. Jude storms. Some look a bit frazzled and tattered, but most seem healthy enough to put forth fresh blooms right up until the first frost… whenever that may come!

Imagine my surprise when I returned home to find the cutting garden still full of colorful flowers. I was sure that the dahlias would have been reduced to mush, the cosmos a bunch of brown twigs, and the foliage nothing but dried leaves… but no! What a wonderful homecoming it was to see the ornithogalums still standing tall and the rainbow of dahlias helping to give the grey day a splash of color.

In honor of this miraculous occasion, it was only fair to give the pretty flowers their moment in the spotlight. I dressed up in my most storm-proof gear, fought against the gusty winds, and snipped some dahlias, lupines, sweet peas, anemone, roses, ornithogalums, coral bells, mint, and hydrangea foliage before heading back inside.

Lots of other colors are still in full bloom, but today I found myself drawn to the pinks, burgundies, eggplants, creams, and lilacs.

After arranging the unlikely combination of fall flowers, I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the unexpected treat of fresh flowers from the garden gracing the dinner table.

Although I’m sorely missing my loved ones back home, I’m super excited to be back here with you guys, ready to take on some fun projects, cook up some tasty recipes, and keep having fun with flowers! :)

I hope you and your gardens are doing alright… hopefully no crazy damage from the storms. What about flowers? Are you guys also enjoying a late crop of flowers?