It's summer! Well, the days are suddenly too hot for much mid-day gardening. The hoses are on all the time, and the big irrigation whooshes through the night.
Late Flowering Rhododendron
Wednesday 17th November
I've been out all day hiking, and on the way home I called in to my plantsman friend's place - he has given me three Kalmias, with pretty pale pink flowers. He also showed me his rows (and rows and rows) of peonies. I really like the big single or semi-single ones. No - I really liked them all, and 'liked' isn't the word. Nor is 'envied', but it comes closer... Growing these plants out in the open is obviously the answer - mine get squashed into cluttered rose gardens and swamped with annual cornflowers and perennial lupins etc.
Leonie Viennot Rose
But wait - I drove home, slowly down my driveway, and noticed the cherry pink rhododendron flowering, and scatterings of pink roses in the distant Shrubbery: Madame Leonie Viennot, launching herself along the fence-line, Pink Grootendoorst near the little path, and Blush Noisettes surrounding the little courtyard.
So I know that my garden, too, is beautiful, and I rework one of the Ten Commandments: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's rows of peonies'. In a flash of pride I take some pink rose photographs in the Shrubbery - quickly, before my inspiration (and the light) fades.
Sarah Van Fleet and Vanguard (a beautiful fruity rose rather like Abraham Darby) are still unhealthy with rust. This is my first job for tomorrow - cleaning up forget-me-nots, weeds, restraining Madame Leonie (she doesn't have a scrap of modesty), removing rusty leaves, and spraying those two naughty rugosas.
Roses in the Back Garden
I've also checked the rose archways. Sombreuil is brilliant this year - quite tall, with lots of fluffy creamy white flowers. I'm thinking about chopping down the second Souvenir de la Malmaison - this seems harsh, but I can't really accept balled, rotting flowers early in the rose season. I don't think I'm doing anything wrong, either - I think it's the rose.
Lupins in the House Garden
Thursday 18th November
I'm going swimming first thing today, during which time I will plan and plot my next rose moves - literally (Reine des Violettes) and figuratively (a quick detour on the way home to the rose nursery). And I'm buying a serious fungus spray for those rugosas.
Here's a quote about Vanguard: 'Unfortunately, this favorite plant is quite susceptible to a variety of diseases and pests, many of which can be controlled with good cultural practices.' Thanks to Backyard Gardener for that advice! It's time I entertained some 'good cultural practices' - as well as playing deceased composers (Albeniz and Scarlatti) on the piano, that is.
It's late to start the gardening day, now the mid-day sun is beaming down. I have the following new roses: Golden Showers to climb the last archway, two Prosperos to sit underneath the Etoile de Hollandes, and a Gruss an Aachen, whose fluffy flowers I love. It is designated as a random orchard rose. As soon as I've had a coffee I'm going outside. The irrigation drippers are already on. Death to rust, by the way...
A Couple of Hours Later...
Blast - it's far too hot to be very vigorous. I've planted the new roses, though. Rusty the dog has been crunching hazelnuts, shell and all. I hope his digestive system can cope...
Saturday 20th November
Yesterday was my big day out in the mountains - an amazing trip, one of those 'you-had-to-be-there' trips, impossible to describe adequately to non-hiking friends (I've tried). I've been thinking about it all day today.
Midnight Blue Iris in the Hostas
I haven't done any gardening yet - it's pleasantly raining (well, more like dribbling). There are even more roses to enjoy, and some lovely and quaint flower-foliage combinations which I've tried to capture on the camera. The big bearded irises are doing well, though several get tipped over by the irrigation and end up inside in vases.
Ingrid Bergman Red Rose
Lots of 'Yippee's...
Yippee for the bright (yet deep) pink rhododendron in the driveway, one of the last to flower in my garden. And yippee for the gardener (me) who sensibly planted it in semi-shade so it doesn't scorch and wilt in the early summer sun.
A further yippee for the gardener (me again) who acquired the Ingrid Bergman roses so cheaply and planted them out in the open by the water race. What a stunning, rich, velvet red! I guess they are hybrid teas - must check, not that it matters...
I haven't planted my new Kalmias yet, but I know where they're going. The friend who gave them to me tells me they're poisonous to sheep - as are a lot of the plants I grow, he adds sternly. Oops. But the only plants my sheep can get at are those old fashioned roses.
- Stu Lamb :
- Dear Stu lamb is such a nice lamb to have around.
And, by the way, Stu the pet merino lamb is weaned - he's finished having bottles. He is getting far too tubby, and is well old enough to graze successfully on grass. Dear Stu - your sheep graduation day has arrived. Congratulations, and thanks for being such a fun lamb to look after.