Sunday, June 28, 2015

silk road

 Silk Road is much happier this year in the sheltered courtyard, but still with some sun/wind damage. Not shredded like last year, though.

 This is not the mild moist climate that it would prefer. Quite fragrant, but not as fragrant as...

Lilium leucanthum. Which is also not as happy as it could be in this climate. Maybe I'll have to stick to Russian Sage. 

Backlit by the sun.

Monday, June 22, 2015

quick pics before the day's heat

I had a vacation day today, and I got out before the sun was up to take a few photos. I didn't want to spend too much time photographing when there was work to do before the 100+ degree heat sets in. I gave 'Abraham Darby' the shovel today, when I saw how miserable he looked, with 'Eden' right next to him putting out new buds. I couldn't take it anymore. Not even photos to document his departure. It's a bit sad. Then on to getting a drip system up on the 'Bishop's Castle' rose, mulching the vegetables, blah, blah, blah.

First the bad. My lilies aren't doing very well, despite the very rainy spring we had. Lilium leucanthum is the first to bloom, but fewer flowers than the years past. The 'Casa Blanca' lilies have yellow leaves. This is just not lily country. Time to get over it.

On the other hand, 'Silk Road', transplanted from the wind alley to the courtyard seems to be doing adequately well. Soon to open. Last year, the first flower opened June 27, only to have the flowers and buds shredded by the wind on July 1. Thus the move to the courtyard. 'Scheherezade', also an orienpet hybrid, is also growing well. More on that later, during bloom time. 'Black Beauty' planted in the shade of a Mugho pine is struggling. Maybe a move is in store for that one.

'Silk Road'
 The sedum bowls are looking good.

Salvia pachyphylla 'Mulberry Flambe' is starting its show. 
It's not as impressive of a show (yet?) compared to last year.

 The Perovskia is starting its blue filmy goodness. It's a weed here, spreading like crazy from underground rhizomes, as well as seeds. But easy beauty is hard to come by here. So it's in nearly every yard. I noticed, however, that my neighbor just RoundUp'd all of his in his front yard. 

 I'm surprised that 'Madame Isaac Pereire' opened a few blooms yesterday in 103F heat.

Blooms are a bit heat damaged on the edges, but not bad, not bad at all. Oops...sun's coming out. Got to get work done before it becomes a fiery inferno out there.

The lesson: plant what is adapted to this climate. Why can't I get that in my head?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

100 degrees

 Now is the time to see if my research and gambling have paid off. The last few days (and the next few days to come) have been close to 100 degrees. What's working? Some gambles have paid off, some have not. 'Bishop's Castle' (above) is doing okay. The flowers fade in the heat and sun, but it is otherwise doing okay. Very mild fragrance. Maybe a bit more than acceptable payout on the gamble.

'The Alnwick Rose' has continued to open flowers in the heat, but the flowers so far have only lasted 2 days. Still has the delicious fragrance.An acceptable payout on a gamble.

 'Winchester Cathedral' continues to open flowers. The fragrance is odd. The flowers are smaller than the first flush, and now tend to have a tint to them instead of being pure white, making them look dirty. This one has opened white, though. Also an acceptable payoff.

'William Shakespeare 2000' was included in the David Austin catalog as tolerating hot/dry. I suppose I shouldn't be so critical, but I had hoped the flowers would last longer than 2 days in the heat before looking like this. This is the gamble that didn't quite work out. It is even worse with 'Abraham Darby' which is just awful (bad odds when I planted it, so not much disappointment).

'Falstaff' opened a second flush yesterday. Flowers are much smaller than in cooler weather, and don't hang, but are still beautiful. My nerve endings tingle as if to say there is a fragrance, but its not discernable to my consciousness. 'Falstaff' had the worst odds to gamble on, comments being that it doesn't do well in the heat, but it has done better than expected. Good to excellent payout.

I planted 'Bolero' because it was said to do well in heat, and be floriferous and fragrant. It's been a misery all spring, with either thrips or botrytis damaging the flowers. With the heat, I finally get a couple of nice, fragrant flowers.  I'm still not sure if it is worth it. It was one of the roses with the best odds, but has been the worst payout.

There are others that just aren't in their cycle for blooming, but they have done well in last week's or last year's heat. 'Marie Pavie' is growing with no regard for the heat. 'Radio Times' bloomed well last week, and is starting to put out new growth. 'Madame Isaac Pereire' is putting out growth and buds like it didn't do in cooler weather.  'Glamis Castle' is growing and budding, but no flowers yet. 'Old Blush' has a few flowers on it, but they are in their heat-floppy form. Not much fun to photograph. I guess most of my gambles were pretty good.

Of course the lavender has no problems with the heat.

Monday, June 15, 2015

five yummy pinks

The question in my garden is always the same: Design or Collection? I initially wanted an elegant garden with a limited plant palette, to show off my design skills. However when confronted with a budget, the design was limited (I can't spend more on the garden than I did on the house, can I?).

Then, came roses. I knew I wanted roses for a number of reasons: sentimentality, fragrance, long season, flower size, connection to history both local and world, how well they seemed to perform in my neighbor's gardens, and probably a few other things I've since forgotten. I really wanted white roses, which were my favorites in the photos, or deep red/purple roses, which would look great in my house. But my research and subsequent findings said that pink was the way to go for heat tolerance and fragrance, particularly for those quartered cup-shaped roses that unstitch me. So in my backyard I planted a number of varieties last year, thinking that I could choose the best, for that limited palette garden. Yes, in retrospect I realize I was only trying to fool myself.

The first one I chose was 'Madame Isaac Pereire' for whom I have lusted for years, and failed 3 times for various reasons. Full flowers, wonderful rich head-filling old-rose scent (like Turkish delight!) arching almost climbing branches, to 8 feet tall. Here is one of the first blooms.

But then there is 'Evelyn' whose famous fragrance is heady with the smell of peaches (my favorite tree fruit).  Stingy with the flowers, I'm told, and a bit (or more) of a diva, but others have called her a non-stop bloomer. Mine is just planted, and this photo is of the plant at the ABQ rose garden. Long gangly growth from what I hear, but this plant is very compact and bushy.

I bought a 'Radio Times' rose, even though some have called the growth gangly and thorny, but a heat tolerant blooming machine. So far the bloomiest of my new roses, and a strong scent redolent of lemons. Lax growth from what I hear, but mine isn't big enough to tell.

I had heard that 'The Alnwick Rose' aka 'Alnwick Castle' was scented of raspberries, and tolerated the heat. Indeed it seems to enjoy the heat this year. To my nose, the fragrance is more raspberry than rose, reminding me of raspberry jello, or my spouses favorite: raspberry chiffon pie. It is so fragrant that even the buds are deliciously scented, and open, I can smell a single flower from 5 feet away. Alas, the flower's cup shaped form doesn't last, and the inner petals are too small for my taste, and the branches stark upright.

Many people have called 'Bishop's Castle' one of their best bloomers in the heat, and with a fragrance that wafts. Mine just opened and has a fragrance of old rose, dipped in honey, like baklava (which I love to make).  Growth is said to be floppy but vigorous, I think the color is rather ordinary, but it has bloomed in 90 degree heat like this.

None of them have shown much disease, but blackspot and rust just don't occur here. But how to choose one for a limited palette design? I think I'll just have to settle for a collection.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

garden cheer up

My first motorcycle lesson did not go well. I couldn't gain control of the turning (my bicycle accident at age 12 which caused nerve damage probably made me hesitate to lean into the curves, even though I recovered physically from the nerve damage). I dropped the motorcycle three times and two of them I still don't know how that happened. The one I know, is because I forgot to put down the kickstand (what idiot does that? I ride a bicycle for goodness sakes!). I lost my head and turned the throttle instead of squeezing the clutch, which sped me off to never-never land (the instructor congratulated me on how I was able to hop off the bike at the same time I grabbed the brake, while the motorcycle was still moving, and managed not to fall or hurt myself). It didn't help that I'm barely big enough to reach the ground with my legs, or that my hands are too small to quite reach the clutch and the front brake on the handlebars. The worst part was that I partially dislocated both my hips (the seat being too wide for me) and made it through most of the first lesson that way. Youch. I'm not old enough for this! I left the class in the middle of the morning, barely two hours into it. The instructor offered to give me special tutoring on his own time, but I'm debating. I did get 100% on the written exam. Big whoop-de-do.

So back to the garden to assuage my wounds. At least my emotional ones. When the nausea subsided, I also made myself a nice grilled pesto chicken, arugula salad, and a Tommy Bahama Coconut Cloud. Aah!
 What was sold to me at the upright form of Penstemnon linarioides has bloomed. It is such a pale blue that it is practically white. Not what I was looking for, but the genetic diversity of this species amazes me. Might be worth keeping just for that reason.

 'Bolero' looks good...from a distance. The flowers are always so damaged. They look like a cocoon. Oh wait, I'm supposed to be noticing good things. At least they smell good.

Which is in contrast to the 'Iceberg' cutting that I took last year. The flowers are never damaged, and the fragrance is honey sweet.

 The Mediterranean herbs are looking good. The thyme is about done, but it looked great and fluffy white in full bloom.

 Oregano 'Kent Beauty' is getting into its most glorious stage. Those pink and green hanging bracts get me every time.

I absolutely love the way 'Falstaff' is turning out. 4 new big basals. Much more wind and heat tolerant than I expected, given the dark red/purple color which absorbs high altitude sunlight and fries most flowers. This flower is about a week old and just has some edge crisping. Lots of new buds forming. 

I just planted this new rose, 'Constellation' which is unusual in that it is a miniature rose that is said to be strongly fragrant. I have indeed found it to be nicely fragrant at the nursery, and have been wanting to try it for 3 years now. It opened with a yellow center yesterday, which has faded today. Ick yellow. Yay fragrance.

 My new planting of Salvia argentea is blooming. It's still little, but it will get much bigger in the years to come.

 Another divergence from the positive things. Dahlias have not done well for me, which is a big surprise since they were as easy as weeds for me in California. This one is 'Grand Finale' which I've been lusting after for years. Supposed to be 4-5 feet tall and doesn't bloom until very late. Mine? Nope. Flowers opening now, and the plant barely has two leaves on it. I'm blaming it on the bark mulch.

 'Bishop's Castle' is an Austin rose that is supposed to be a rose that stands up to the heat and is fragrant. I just planted it this year, and it seems to be tolerating the heat surprisingly well.

 This being the first year, I can't expect too much. The buds are tiny, but they open to decent sized flowers. Maybe next year will be more impressive. This year 'Radio Times' beats it for beauty and fragrance.

 'Winchester Cathedral' is putting out a second flush. I'm still amazed it has done this well from a cutting I took last year. I think the fragrance is odd, like a combination of face cream and wilted grass (dare I say "decomposing" grass?). Not much "rose" fragrance to me.

'Winchester Cathedral' is a sport or mutation of the pink 'Mary Rose' and a couple of my flowers have a pink stripe in it. This one looks like the light pink sport of 'Mary Rose' called 'Redoute'.

 The 'Goldrush' apples are getting larger.

 The 'Trionfo Violetto' beans are starting to climb.

 'Scheherezade' lily is getting enormous this year.

 'William Shakespeare 2000' is trying to get on my good side by putting out some flowers, with a heavenly fragrance. Too bad this flower is deformed. It will probably fry tomorrow. He is also putting out 3 more basal shoots (one of those things that rosarians live for). He may get a stay of execution. For now.

 It's always good to take photos of plants even when they are not looking their best. That way you can compare them later, when they look fantastic. I expect that next year this 'Madame Isaac Pereire' will be looking much better, since it is putting out 3 new basals. I find that rose bushes look pretty sad the first 3 years here, before they get big enough and bushy enough.

 It will be worth the wait. Madame is so deliciously fragrant. Even though it is said to be the most fragrant rose ever, it's not the strength of the fragrance that gets me, but the richness. It's that quintessential, unmistakable, rose fragrance.

On the other hand, 'Alnwick Castle' has a very delightful fragrance which is rather un-rose-like. How is it that this barely colored bud has more fragrance than most roses have fully opened? It smells almost exactly like raspberry Jell-O to my nose. 'Alnwick Castle' is working on its second flush which is promising to be better than the first (which was only one flower).  This bush sat all last year with three scraggly prickly stems, and bloomed one bloom at the top this spring. Then suddenly it put out three big lusty basals, and a number of buds. Moody creatures aren't they?

 'Radio Times' second flush is as big as its first, 3 blooms on a tiny 8 inch plant. I really should pinch off the buds and force growth. But I can't stand waiting to smell the rose-lemon toe-curling fragrance. This flower has been 4 days in 90 degree weather, not just the usual intense high-altitude sun, but also rain, and still manages to look, well, perfect. WS2K should take note.

 Oklahoma redbud is looking its glossiest best. Yes, the leaves are just as shiny as the photo shows. The Texas redbuds are growing like gangbusters as usual, but with matte and more pointy leaves. Oklahoma is not better than Texas (or vice versa), just very different. Planted at the same time, my Texas is about 15 feet tall, whereas Oklahoma is about 6 feet tall. I mentioned the differences in a previous post, so no repeating here.

 I always forget to show any photos of Campanula rotundifolia because I take it for granted, and the plant is rather weedy looking. But the constant bloom from April to November is impressive.

Ahh. Nothing like a walk (carefully and painfully) around to garden to deal with motorcycle woes. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

eden second act

The roses' first flush is over, so dead-heading time is here. The dried and faded flowers of 'Eden' have surprising color, so I rescued a few from the compost bin. Also surprising is the fragrance from these dried flowers as I popped them into the bowl. Possibly more than the fresh full blooms.