Thursday, April 30, 2015

disappointments and joys

 Today was a day of contrasts, a garden emotional rollercoaster. Several great joys and several dire disappointments. I'm starting with the disapointments, because I'd rather end on a happier note. 

The first began as a joy, as I anticipated the arrival of my (week-late) shipment from Heirloom Roses. I've had nice plants from them before, but what arrived looked terrible. Three 'Evelyn' and one 'Velvet Fragrance.' The last rose I received from them 'Jude the Obscure', died. I blame having had it shipped in the fall, and trying to overwinter in the garage. These, however, I blame on the bad packing. Previous plants I've received from them were packed well, but these were just stacked in the box without any protection from one another or the side of the box. I hope that in a year, I'll show pictures of some nice looking plants, but right now, not so much. Similar things have happened in the past. But next year, I may order elsewhere.

My other big disappointment of the day is 'Bolero,' which opened today.  I had high hopes for this rose, since it has done well for so many people across the country, including some hot dry areas. I planted eight of them. Four of them died (I blame the nursery for sending bad plants) but I spent last year rooting cuttings, and have the eight again.

But my 'Bolero' roses have all had crispy petal edges. I thought maybe it had to do with the plants being young, or some issue with the weather. This year however, my 'Winchester Cathedral' has no petal damage (it has mildew on some leaves), and the 'Bolero' flowers are still crispy.

Here's 'Winchester Cathedral' again.

Here's a bud on 'Bolero.'

Even the buds look bad. Yes the flowers smell good. Much better than 'Winchester Cathedral.' The leaves are disease free, glossy. They have put out a lot of buds. The plants are compact. But the flowers? Not so nice. Maybe I'll  replace them with 'Winchester Cathedral' or 'Iceberg'or 'Claire Austin' or 'Windermere' or 'Pure Perfume' or 'Fabulous'. 

Better to move on to the "Joys."

I'm excited that 'Madame Isaac Pereire' has decided to grow. I can't wait until it becomes a 6 foot tall behemoth with its luxuriantly fragrant flowers. There will be a few this year, as the buds are forming.

Spuria iris 'Ila Crawford' opened its first blooms today. I love this iris! These plants were salvaged from Casa Coniglio last year, and were planted on the south side of the new house. The year before, some were planted on the west side. Those on the south are blooming a week or two earlier than the ones that I planted on the west side. Last year, first bloom was May 4, but those plants look at least a week out this year. In any case, these are doing 10x better than at Casa Coniglio, where they weren't getting enough sun.

'Old Blush' keeps getting better and better. 

The 'Walker's Low' catmint has started to bloom.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: 'Green Spice' is my favorite heuchera. This year, the leaves are each as big as my hand. So lovely.

I need another shot of 'Old Blush' to help me get over the sad plants that just arrived. This is an afternoon shot, with the sun getting low. 

Addendum: I contacted Heirloom Roses, and they more than made good on customer service. Thank you!

Monday, April 27, 2015


 Neostylis Pinkie 'Starry Night'  that I bought from the Pacific Orchid exposition in 2011, hasn't bloomed much in the last 4 years. I think it is finally up to speed. It is deliciously fragrant as well, taking the vanilla cream scent of Neofinetia falcata and adding just a hint of the sweet grape Rhyncostylis.

This is a grocery store miniature phalaenopsis that caught my eye and begged me to take home. He's a spoiled thing, now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

that old stud

This rose was given to my by a friend, who received it herself from her great aunt in Louisiana. I've since identified it as 'Old Blush', one of the original stud roses brought back from China in the late 1700's by the Empress Josephine Bonaparte, who was obsessed with roses. It's a stud rose, because it became one of the parents of modern reblooming roses. Before these roses, the European roses only bloomed in one flush in the late spring.

 The flowers don't have a very elegant form (but certainly no worse than 'Knockout') and although they do have a fragrance, it is very slight to my nose. People describe it as smelling like sweet peas, as good a description as any.

This is the third year in the ground for me, and it has grown rapidly, or at least rapidly for this tough climate. I'm told that in Louisiana, it might be eating the house by now.

Here it is in April 2013, languishing in a pot. 

 By September 2013, it had grown quite a bit.
In May 2014.
 Then in August 2014.

And now.

 Flowers start out a light pink, then darken as they age, with exposure to sunlight.

 The bush as a whole, has varying shades of color. Not a rose without its faults, but overall, very satisfying.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

winchester cathedral

'Winchester Cathedral' opened today, on one of the plants that was a cutting I took last year from the old house. 'Winchester Cathedral' seems to grow faster and stronger from a cutting than just about any other rose I've tried, even 'Iceberg'. For such a short time from growing from a cutting, in this ridiculously nasty climate, I think this is pretty exciting.

Although WC doesn't have a crisp white flower (at least this year), the form of the flower is lovely and it has a very unique fragrance. I like it, but I wouldn't want it to be the only rose fragrance I have. It also mildews rather easily. Still, I'm falling for its charms.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


That's more like it.

next up roses

 'Old Blush' is putting out a few more flowers. The early season flowers are the nicest, the flowers lose good form when it gets hot.

'Marie Pavie' and 'Knockout' are neck in neck for the second place. 

 The tiny pale pink bud of 'Marie Pavie' is just beginning to open, against the black stems of Salvia nemerosa 'Caradonna.'

That old stalwart 'Knockout' is starting to open as well. I'm impressed with the fragrance of 'Knockout', even though I still don't like the color. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

veronica liwanensis

Nice plant, but nowhere near as floriferous as the Veronica tauricola that I had at the old house, and not as brilliantly blue. It has green leaves whereas V. tauricola had grey leaves, and it has much more prostrate growth, whereas V. tauricola was more shrubby. V. liwanensis is easier to propagate, and much more rapid in growth. Also requires more water. So far, it seems to have a slightly longer bloom season as well, which is nice since V. tauricola's bloom season was about 10 days. Yeah, I miss my old Vt. Nowhere to be found, though, in nurseries or on the web. Unless I beg the new owners of the house to dig up some if any survived their dog.

the first rose of the season

...belongs to 'Old Blush.' Of course. The bugs seem to he happy that it is open as well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

more la paz

 How can I resist posting more of 'La Paz'?

From the top.

 The whole plant, from one bulb planted in 2012. You could criticize that the plant itself is not much to look at when in bloom, or that the flowers are stuck on the top of tall spindly stems.

But when you get this, as a mass of 14 flowers, who cares? You could probably get a similar show from planting 3 large bulbs in a pot.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

la paz

The first stem has faded on Hippeastrum 'La Paz',  but three others are blooming, and two more to come.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

5 days of glory

That's all I get from the tree peony. Maybe 7 if it's a good year, or if I stretch what is considered "glory" and count the half faded blooms. It's almost not worth it.