Friday, May 26, 2017

clematis 'jackmanii' and 'betty corning'

When we moved into The Modern House, I discovered a clematis buried under an overgrown honeysuckle. It was a tiny thing, with stems that broke with every windstorm. That first year, it gave a couple flowers which enchanted me. I tried to make a point of giving it a little TLC,  although it still struggled under the honeysuckle. I pruned back the honeysuckle and it did a bit better, and when the honeysuckle was removed for re-stuccoing, I realized that I didn't really want it back even though I loved the fragrance. I wanted more clematis. So I planted 'Betty Corning' next to the existing tiny vine of what I assumed was 'Jackmanii'. Out from under the honeysuckle, the 'Jackmanii has grown quite a bit, although nowhere near what I see in some photos from people in milder climates.

Some photos of plants with the honeysuckle.

The honeysuckle was so scraggly, it had to be removed!
'Betty Corning' in her first year.

 And some more recent:

'Betty Corning'
'Betty Corning'

The younger flowers are more red.

I think they make a nice pair.
Some wind damage from the wind storm yesterday, but still okay.

'bishop's castle'

'Bishop's Castle' was the one of the first of the roses I planted in the garden, and the first Austin I planted in the new garden. It is still a favorite (one never has a single true favorite). I had seen this blog entry from hoovb's blog "A Piece of Eden" and was so taken by the appearance that I had to get some, never having seen them in person, or smelled them.

This could have been a big newbie mistake, as I've learned after growing a number of roses, some of them based on beautiful photos. But having had just removed my big backyard lawn, I wanted, no needed, something to plant in it. I bought three bare-root own-root plants from David Austin roses in Tyler, Texas, in January 2015. They arrived in a plastic bag, without any of the sawdust, wood chips or peat moss to retain moisture. I was a bit shocked, but they did have enormous roots 2-1/2 feet long. I got to work, planting them, even digging in the dark to get them into the ground.

April 23, 2015: I had to put a flag next to them so that I wouldn't step on them by mistake.

June 13, 2015, the biggest plant looked like this:

July 24, 2015:

Last year was hot and dry, and the spring bloom wasn't much. By fall, I realized that they needed more water and the monsoon rains had arrived. 

September 4, 2016:

I previously posted this photo, from a few days ago, with 'Bishop's Castle' on the right. 

This rose spoiled me into thinking that all roses would grow like this. They don't. They haven't. But 'Bishop's Castle' has made me quite happy. 

This year, the plants have been blessing me with candelabras of flowers, some with more than 24 buds on them:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Clematis 'Rooguchi' was planted last year. It's taller this year, but clearly is going to need some establishing time.
This is the second set of flowers this year. It's a little bug eaten, but still a very cool flower.

salvia transylvanica 'blue cloud'

It might look like just a less floriferous version of Salvia nemerosa in the photo, but Salvia transylvanica 'Blue Cloud' is still very attractive. It has much bigger leaves, about 7" without the stem, and this plant is 24" tall. I planted it as a tiny 2-1/4" pot last spring, and it steadily grew to produce one stem blooming in the late fall until it was frost-killed. Many more stems this year, and a great color. If last year was any indication, it should bloom until fall. Maybe not as many stems in bloom at once than 'May Night', but I expect a much longer season.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Echinocereus reichenbachii

I don't always keep good records. Sometimes I plant things and forget what they are, or even when I planted them. I know I bought a couple of Echinocereus reichenbachii last year from Agua Fria Nursery, and one of them is the pure species and one is a cultivar with particularly regular white spines, but for the life of me, I can't remember the name, other than it was rather cute.

Here's the species:

These are already starting to cluster, and in a couple of years, I expect the show is going to be spectacular.

And here's the named variety:
 It does have slightly nicer spines, but much less attractive flowers. They only last a couple of days, anyway.
I bought them because I missed the one I had at my old house (Echinocereus reichenbachii var. caespitosus). Then I worried endlessly that the pink color would ruin my color scheme of purple and white. But these bloom at the same time as the pink roses, whose color they match pretty well. Whew. Disaster averted.

coming together

It's been slow getting the garden together. After all, I do all the work myself, and I work full time. Then there is the planning, and all the changing of my mind. "I want this...oh wait, but what about that?" Then there is also the slow growth of plants here, and the tough climate that I always complain about. This spring was horrible for the roses, and only a couple are looking good. But overall, the garden is coming together. Looking at my Pinterest page, I realize that what I'm going for is "English Garden in New Mexico." Kind of a contradiction in terms isn't it? But I think it is coming together.

Most of the time, I just see the incremental changes in the garden, and notice all the things that need to be done. But this afternoon in the garden, I looked up and saw it with new eyes. I thought "Hmm, that's about what I wanted to do with the garden!"

So...English Garden in New Mexico. Almost everything except the roses is a low water-use plant. Sure, there are some areas that need to grow in more, and some areas need to be reworked because of a combination that didn't work, or plants that didn't do well. And I really wanted white roses rather than pink, but I've discovered after a number of trials, that there really aren't many fragrant white roses that tolerate the heat and winds here without looking bad. But overall, that's the look I was going for, and a garden is never really done, is it?


I was inspired by a number of images. Here are some of the inspiration images from the web. There were, of course, a gazillion (well, maybe less) other photos with similar themes on my Pinterest page.

I'm not sure who designed this:

This is a design by Fernando Martos Perez de Ayala. I love, love, love his work.  

This is the Lurie Garden in Chicago, designed by Piet Oudolf.

The 'Iceberg' roses in the front courtyard are also growing in as I hoped they would, although the lavender and the catmint are not getting as big as I expected. Maybe not enough sun for the catmint, since it does just fine in the back. In this sheltered courtyard, the white roses are protected from much of the wind, but even then, their season of beauty is relatively brief.

Here's the inspiration, from Velvet&Linen blog.

I'm pretty happy with how things are turning out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

stranger in a strange land

Sunset on one of my evening walks
It's been almost 17 years since I moved from California to Albuquerque, and yet there are times when I still feel like a stranger in a strange land. My friend's children who were infants and toddlers when I moved here are now young adults and this is "home" to them as they have had no other. I can be walking around a familiar area, perhaps going to a restaurant in Nob Hill, or hiking up a familiar trail, or even walking around in my own backyard, and suddenly I am struck by the wrongness of it. "Where am I, and what am I doing here? Shouldn't I be going home yet?" is what I think in the brief seconds of disorientation, as if I have been on a vacation that has lasted too long. A month ago, I went on a business trip to Denver, and when the plane touched down I thought "ahh, back home..." but when I stepped off the plane, I had that brief almost unconscious sense of "Oh wait, I'm back here...this away place where I've been living."  Then this morning, walking around my backyard, I worked on a few things that needed to be done, like trimming the Nepeta 'Walker's Low' back and deadheading the roses, but feeling almost like I was working in someone else's yard. These were the wrong plants. What were they doing here? Or maybe they were the right plants, but they were not growing in the right way (why do they look so sad?). Or maybe they were the wrong plants growing in their own right but strange way. The light was way too bright, and somehow the wrong color. Where were MY plants? Where was MY sky? Where were MY trees? Maybe I was having a migraine. Or a stroke. Or a mental breakdown.

I saw the star jasmine that had surprised me by surviving through the winter. It had opened its first flower this morning, and as I bent down to sniff the single tiny flower, it struck me that I was homesick. This was a plant that was practically a weed in California. How could I be homesick after living here for so many years? It's not that Albuquerque doesn't have it's beauty. It does have its own sometimes stunning, rugged, even otherworldly beauty. I think my brain was focused on the "other." The brain is a strange thing. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

goodbye sumac

'Tuscarora' with  spuria iris 'Betty Cooper', rose 'Marie Pavie' and Origanum dictamnus
I don't even have a "before" photo for this one. I had planted Rhus lanceolata to replace the thirsty aspen outside of my bedroom. Unfortunately I realized this year, that I replaced a nasty suckering tree with another nasty suckering tree. At least this one was a low-water use  tree but when suckers began appearing in abundance in every crack in the concrete slab outside my bedroom, I knew it had to go. So out it came. I've planted a Lagerstroemia 'Tuscarora' instead. I'm feeling a little guilty since it is not a native tree, and I've tried to keep the trees I plant native, but nothing native seemed to fit this narrow spot. I debated the Fragrant Ash (Fraxinus cuspidata) but I'm allergic to other ash, and was worried about this being outside my bedroom window. I also thought of Desert Willow (Chilopsis) but Desert Willow tends to be a wide spreading low branching tree, and the trunks tend to descend as the plant gets larger. This would block my pathway. Similarly with Forestiera. Pinon was considered, but is a broad based pyramidal tree which wouldn't fit the spot at all. I could also have chosen a Chinese pistache, but I think it would be too large. It could have been an option though, and I do love the fall colors. Oh well, the crape myrtle will have red fall leaves also, just not the glowing color of the pistache, but it will have coral red pink flowers in the summer which will fill that part of the summer when there is very little blooming. Not that I need something blooming all the time...well, heck, yes I do.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I was ready to remove all of my 'Evelyn' roses when the first blooms opened like this May 5.

Of course the misshapen blooms, but I also despise yellow. I planned on removing my three bushes.
But then this happened:

Then I knew I would have to keep her. 
If only I could get her to grow a bit more.