Friday, December 23, 2011

Blooming Friday ~ Christmas

It's time once again to join Katerina at roses and stuff for Blooming Friday.

May your holidays be filled with contentment

lots of warm fuzzies

and sweet treats.

I made about a thousand cookies (literally) to give as gifts this year. Gingersnaps are DH's favorite Christmas cookie and a favorite among the people who work in his office too.

Gingersnap recipe

Mix 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 3/4 cup shortening, 1/4 cup molasses, and 1 egg. Add 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and put in fridge at least 1 hour.

Roll tsp sized portions of dough into balls, dip in powdered sugar. Bake at 325 for 9 minutes on nonstick baking sheets, allow cookies to set before removing from sheets to cool. I like for the cookies to have a crisp outside and chewy inside, so they are still quite soft when I take them from the oven.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blooming Friday ~ Delights in December

Delights in December are all in the details.

The beauty of frost forming a dipped-sugar pattern on rose leaves

and sunlight glinting off the ice so that it sparkles like diamonds.

The creek on our farm's boundary is a scene of light browns, taupes and grays

with some green here and there from mature loblolly pines and American
hollies such as this one, leaning over the creek as if to see its own reflection.

The lacy design of the bark of these young sycamores, which would probably go unnoticed in the lushness of spring and summer, commands admiration in winter when it glows in the late afternoon sun.

Indeed the most delightful thing in December have been the warm golden days we have experienced ~ today was warm enough for a short sleeve shirt. The sunlight transforms what would be rather drab

(as you can see I have been mulching some of the beds
with hay for winter, and I'm not yet done cutting some things back

into something enchantingly beautiful. What could be more delightful?

The sun lights up the leaves of the rugosas, making them glow bright green, gold and pink

and sets the bright scarlet foliage of Rosa arkansana

and Rosa virginiana on fire.

The Oakleaf Hydrangea east of the house is still covered in burgundy and crimson leaves. The ones north of the house are still mostly green and will change even later unless they freeze first, which they often do.

The Japanese Apricot tree is blooming, the flowers and their perfume drawn out by the sun's warmth.

They are so sweet.

Wishing you a delightful weekend. Join Katerina at roses and stuff for more Blooming Fridays.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Blooming Friday~ Upside Down

Bees find drinking nectar and gathering pollen just as easy upside down as right side up.

The picture below looks like it was turned upside down, but it wasn't. lol

The flowers of the Hybrid Musk 'Felicia' are just as lovely nodding as they would be facing upwards..

Happy Friday, and join Katerina at roses and stuff for more Blooming Fridays!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Side Garden Additions

The side garden in late April, 2011

I liked the side garden in the spring, but summer and fall was another story. The daylilies didn't bloom as much as the year before, because, being greedy, I divided them into tiny little pieces and heeled them in late in the year.

There were more daylily blooms in 2010

Monarda 'Raspberry Wine' formed a large brilliant patch of color, then burst out of the frame and fell over into the path. DH complained about the bees that ended up on his hands and sleeves when he brushed past it. (Neither DH or any bees were harmed as a result.)

The Bee Balm was better behaved in 2010 than this year,
with Buddleia 'Black Knight, since sadly deceased.

Once the Bee Balm was done blooming in September I cut back the fallen over stalks. This left a big raggedy hole, or more like a garden black hole. One's attention gets sucked into it even though there's nothing to see. Attempts to add late season interest looked like pitiful props. Even Mexican Petunia, a great fall show-off, refused to be coaxed into taking over the limelight.

I had a similar issue with the north side of the bed, next to where the cars are parked, except that was more of a void than a black hole in the sense that I kept looking for something instead of being sucked in.

late April 2011

See all of that space filled with violets? Now I love violets, but love has its limits. They choked out even some of the daylilies and then they look pitiful when it's hot and dry. It's a little too wet in winter there even for rugosas ~ there seems to be an invisible line across which they won't sucker.

Even summer-flowering perennials couldn't quite fill the void.

During the growing season this year I weeded and added a lot of Iris virginiana seedlings for next spring

spring 2011

and Spiderwort divisions all around the edges of the
garden where the water runs after a rain. More daylilies too.

I added Pink Pop Agastache and Azure Sage seedlings to the dry spots. But no matter how much I worked on the garden and added plants and moved things around, the garden just bugged me. Too many spiky plants, too much strappy foliage, not enough bones, and spaces that were empty for too long.

This fall a solution finally fell into place. Many of the roses were blooming again, and the soft colors and romantic swirls of petals against a backdrop of bright fall colors made it obvious what the garden needed more of: roses.



late April, 2011

After RRD made a brief appearance 1 1/2 years ago, I determined not to buy any more roses, not for a long time. 5 years seemed like a good interval. 1 1/2 years is almost 5 isn't it? I ordered 8 new roses from Antique Roses Emporium. 4 Marie Pavie, 2 Clotilde Soupert (I have those both of those already but wanted more of them, and didn't want to wait to start cuttings), 1 Basye's Blueberry, and 1 La Marne. All pretty much thornless and all repeat.

RRD may very well show up again, but I have let plants grow up next to the neighbor's fence line, and ruthlessly cut down any muliflora I find. (Roundup is next to useless for this purpose, the only purpose that I bought it for. It kills the plant but not the roots most of the time.) I have no idea if letting a plant barrier grow up really helps, but at least the garden looks less open to windborne mites that carry the virus.

The Bee Balm will stay ~ it'd be insanity to try to dig all of it out! and less feeding will keep it more in bounds ~ but I wanted to put a rose there too.

I thought about adding another 'Sir Thomas Lipton', or moving some suckers of 'Foxi Pavement' there. But Sir Thomas gets SO big, and although there's some rebloom he puts most of his energy into a big spring show.

'Foxi Pavement' won out because it does well no matter where I put it and it will have wet feet there during a rainy winter. So today I potted up some suckers to put back in the garden in a few weeks.

There's also a spot right of the Marie Pavie rose in the below picture that calls for another rose, either La Marne or another Marie Pavie.

The gap is even more obvious in this picture, especially since I went nuts with the clippers and ended up cutting the Japanese Beautyberries down to about 18". I didn't start out with that intention, it just happened. lol Anyway they rebounded to their former height in one year. I also want to add a couple of Marie Pavies to the right side of this bed.

Marie Pavie is a real charmer: old-fashioned, fragrant, disease-resistant, and a good repeater.

The place next to Marie Pavie really needed filling after Blush Noisette (right foreground) had to be moved.

A vision in full bloom, Blush Noisette was quickly becoming a monster, reaching out to ensnare anyone who came too close in her thorny grasp. Besides, it was only plopped there temporarily because I didn't have a better place to put it at the time.

For the sometimes wet place next to the parking with all of the violets, I put in
two Rosa palustris scandens started from cuttings this spring. I hemmed and
hawed about it, as they will get big (as seen below by the vegetable garden).

but that place really needs something woody and I love this rose. It has a rounded shape, it's graceful, very disease resistant, and has lovely willowy leaves.

All of my roses are independent except for mulching and pruning of deadwood, so RRD is really my only concern. If the roses don't work out I have rooted cuttings of Southern Black Blueberries going all of the time. I take them in March and they are ready to go into the ground the following fall. More St. John's Wort, Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) and Alabama Snow-wreath (Neviusia alabamamensis, kindly given to me by Phillip) are also possibilities. And I have always wanted to try Fothergilla as it's a beautiful four season plant.

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