Saturday, May 23, 2015

rose garden winners and losers

This last week has been a serious trial for roses. High winds, driving hail, cool to cold temperatures, blazing sun, have all wrecked havoc on the roses. So what a perfect time for me to see what did well, and what didn't. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it also depended upon what stage the plants were in their flush.

Winner: Tie between Claire Rose and Belle Story.

Claire Rose got most of my attention, because, well, I've never really liked it. The petals are stiff like paper, and the plant holds on to its deadheads. The flowers are generally not very fragrant. But wow, looking good today (I told her so), and even had a nice fragrance.

I think I just expect 'Belle Story' to be looking good. I shouldn't take her for granted, and if I try to look at the plants with an unbiased eye, the best looking of the Austins today were 'Belle Story' and 'Carding Mill'.
'Belle Story'
'Carding Mill'
Another overlooked Austin, is 'The Shepherdess' which is an older Austin, and not very popular, but every time I look, it has some flowers on it, and flowers which are not damaged, but it nice form. Also has a nice fragrance. I've got to overlook the hype of other roses, and look at this one more objectively.

'The Shepherdess'
I'm also impressed with 'William Shakespeare 2000'. It's much more floriferous at the ABQ Rose Garden than at my house.  Maybe I need to give mine more sun.

'Evelyn' in front, then WS2K, 'The Shepherdess' (right), 'Queen of Sweden' (left), 'Graham Thomas' (yellow).

Hybrid Tea:
Winner: Opening Night's brilliant red flowers were perfection. No photos, since I'm avoiding Hybrid Teas.
Biggest loser:  Memorial Day. Not that it was the worst looking, but it was the biggest disappointment to me. Despite being trashed, it still had great fragrance.

Floribunda: Many looked surprisingly good, but not usually colors that I like (such as the brownish '
Cinco de Mayo'), and I'm not very fond of the "bedding" type floribundas, most of which looked pretty good. 'Bonica' is still going strong. There's a good reason it's so popular. It gets my "winner" vote.

'Sexy Rexy' also looking good. Too bad about the bad picture,

'Moondance' was impressive, looking more like a grandiflora. It's not a small floribunda. Fragrance is very nice, soft rose, rather than the sharpness some strongly fragrant roses have.

'Fragrant Plum' also gets high marks for it's rich non-fading color, plum-lemon fragrance, and undamaged flowers.

Biggest Disappointment:'French Lace' has never looked good this year.

Honorable Mentions:
'Charles de Mills' for the incredible richly colored flowers. Too bad about the scraggly sparse growth, but that could just be because they are young plants.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


 It's 'Eden' time. This is the one down the street. When I saw this peeking over the wall years ago, I knew I had to have one.

 Too bad the flowers are barely fragrant. Even that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But with other roses in the garden that smell fantastic, I can have one that isn't, especially since it will be viewed from a bit of a distance.

 This is the third year (second spring) for my baby.

 It has been faulted for having flowers too heavy for the stems to support.

But I think it is part of the charm. If the flowers were stark upright, it would just be another hybrid tea (beautiful, yes, but not quite as much). And it is the most popular rose in France.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

penstemon linarioides: success!

 Agua Fria Nursery in Santa Fe had these richly colored bright blue/purple Penstemon linaroides!

 I probably should have bought more than three.

I wonder why everyone at the nursery was so cranky? 'cause I was pretty thrilled.

life and death in the garden

 On a sad note, this morning after breakfast, I noticed one of the robin chicks was lying dead on the flagstone. We went out for a bit, came back, and two more were in the same spot, already dead.

Not too much of a mystery, with this fellow in the robin's nest. My suspicion is that this is a brood parasite: a bird that lays its egg in another bird's nest, and the adopted chick outcompetes its siblings for food, outgrows them, and when big enough, pushes them out of the nest, killing them.

I was tempted to knock the nest off it's rest, and destroy the parasite, but they have to live, too. It's the only way that birds with parasitic brood behavior can reproduce. It made me think about what it would be like to have to start life by killing your siblings. Apparently birds don't have those kinds of hangups.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

purple craving

 I haven't been posting much about Penstemon linaroides since I moved into TMH. It's probably because I still miss the ones that I had at Casa Coniglio. Some of it is remembering the old plants through the eye of nostalgia, though. Since I do have some photos of pale ones.

 The new plants are nice enough, but they don't have that vibrant blue-violet that I crave. The pale lavender just doesn't hit the spot.

One of the plants is much more on the pink side. This is sort of similar to the colors of my two rosemaries, Home Depot's pale blue vs. 'Gorizia' lavender blue. This is why I bought another 'Blue Spires' on my last trip to California. Recently, I found a couple more linaroides at Agua Fria Nursery, which are a bit different.

One is strangely upright (and, I'm told, with the same pale lavender flowers, sigh!), but the other (above) has the dark green leaves which my more vibrantly colored ones had before. That's more like it. Looks like it may be very crandallii. I don't think it's P. linarioides, but that's okay if I can get this color. I may have to end up breeding some P. linaroides myself.

I also bought a Penstemon abeitanus, which is "yet another blue mat penstemon" as they guy there called it (which of course meant I had to have it).  It popped out a couple flowers today (above) which are a nice rich blue, but small. Also looking very P. crandallii.    I'm hoping Agua Fria will have more P. ramalayi this year, which is semi-deciduous, and fragile, but oh so beautiful, and also something I regrettably left behind at Casa Coniglio.

Last fall, I brought back a Penstemon heterophyllus Blue Springs from California, and it survived the winter. Now that's some color.

I should probably get my hands on another P. h. 'Margarita BOP' as well. But to be honest, I'd rather have a P. ramaleyi or the rich purple P. linarioides they used to have at Agua Fria. Heck, I'll probably get all of them, if I can. 

 One of the Nolina texana (Texas Beargrass) has put out a flower head. I've seen some on my hikes that were much more purple than this as well. Oh well. I don't have the energy to remember those plants and keep an eye out for seeds, then wait years for them to bloom. The plants from seeds I collected last year are still only a couple inches high. GROW little plants!

 Salvia daghestanica is also starting to bloom, giving me a purple fix.

And the spuria iris 'Belize' that I managed not to kill in transplanting it from Casa Coniglio has put out some flowers. I've got to remember to move it again this fall to a better spot.

 I also had to plant some Salvia 'Caradonna' to get more vibrant purple into the garden.

There are some self-sown violas from last year.

 I've got the Scottish Bluebells, Campanula rotundifolia, reseeding itself with abandon.

Then there's 'Walker's Low' catmint, which is not vibrant blue, but a soft, misty blue, sometimes a more vibrant blue depending on the lighting. I love it anyway.

And there's the very similarly colored Salvia officinalis minimus. which has very different plant form. Flowering is unfortunately very brief, but it does have nice foliage, and it is culinary.

You might wonder why I don't plant more Penstemon strictus, which is dark rich blue. I do have it, and like it, but it is hard to place. It blooms on long stalks, then forms a mat on the ground only a couple of inches high for the rest of the year. Where do you plant something that is 2-3 feet tall in the spring, but 2-3 inches tall the rest of the year?

Monday, May 11, 2015

robin, year 2

Mr. and Mrs. Robin have chosen the same site for a nest. Maybe because I cleaned up the place so nicely. Momma is taking a break. Let's see what's going on...

hmm...can't quite get there....

...I might not be able to fit under the roof to see...

...but I can get my camera there...


...a bit better...

...eggs have hatched!

Looks like 3 babies.