I want our garden to resemble a natural environment as much as possible but the roses don’t seem to quite fit. I try to incorporate roses in the garden anyway. I love roses and I think any garden without roses is not a complete garden. Any readers who don’t like roses and think that they are a pain to take care of, please do not take offense. It’s just my personal take on it.
There are periods, before the roses bloom in late spring and in between blooming (for the re-bloomers) when there are nothing to see but green leaves. I need plants to give some color to the trellises and the area adjacent to the rose bushes. There are a few plants I found that work well for our garden and make the garden look more natural.
The first choice, as recommended by many professional gardeners, is Clematis. They intertwine with rose branches and flower here and there between them. For mid-spring, Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ is really lovely.
Peony is another good companion for roses. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the name of the white one above. But the flowers large and quite fragrant.
A new wave of rose buds have started to emerge now, not as profuse as in late spring. I’ll keep seeking rose companions and in the meantime, the echinacea and garden phlox are in full bloom.
I didn’t expect to stay away from posting for almost a month, time flies. With the weather swinging like a pendulum, I find myself spending more time getting the garden in order. By the end of the day I was too exhausted to do anything else. But I can’t let summer passes by with out posting about roses.
The rose bushes in our garden are doing well this year. With rain early on and cooler than normal temperatures, it’s a perfect combination for roses. The first round of blossoms are just about to fade and just in time for the arrival of the heat and humidity. Now it’s time to snip off the spent flowers and feed them again.
They present their representatives, below, to vouch for the caretaker that has kept them well fed and healthy. That is why she has been MIA for a month.
The Earth gives us sanctuary and sustains us in all things. Aside from being a provider, she is also a designer, inventor and teacher among many other things. She is kind but can never be tamed. That last is quite likely what saves us all from ourselves in the end.
I find April to be a very uplifting and romantic month for me. Leaves sprout and start to unfurl, seedlings are pushing themselves through the soil to the surface and early flowers are blossoming. Birds sing loudly to make their territory known and start their courtship. Some birds have already built their nests. Aside from these life-affirming activities, the Academy of American Poets also designated April as a Poetry Month beginning in 1996.
Many great writers and poets have taken an interest in nature. Many of them are favorites of mine such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, John Donne and who could forget Shakespeare and Rumi. There was even a book on Shakespeare’s Gardens published last year that I immediately ran out and bought.
The Poetry month also reminds me of my mother. We would go out to the market on the weekend in search of plants invoked in poetry to add to our garden. I still do now but mostly the most fragrant ones. What flower is more apt for the Poetry month than the Poet’s Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum).
And the ode to it by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)*
Twas midnight-through the lattice, wreath’d
With woodbine, many a perfume breath’d
From plants that wake when others sleep,
From timid jasmine buds, that keep
Their odour to themselves all day,
But, when the sun-light dies away,
Let the delicious secret out
To every breeze that roams about.
Walking through a garden, any garden, relaxes me and raises my sense of marvel and my envy of nature. Nothing can duplicate what one has seen at that moment even just an hour after. Nature gives us art, poetry, philosophy and most of all is life sustaining. Those who understand these facts will always try their best to preserve nature, but those who don’t will always try their best to destroy nature for profit.
Ruining the environment doesn’t stop at the border and the effort to slow this self-destruction rests on our shoulders, the ones who love nature and see poetry in every path we take through nature. As Shakespeare put it ‘One touchof nature makes the whole world kin.’ (Troilus and Cressida, Act 3 scene 3)**
Winter is my time for basement gardening. Where we live we have to put our tropical plants in the basement for the winter. It’s a lot of labor to go through twice a year. We take them in when we know that the night temperature will drop and stay below 45°F, usually around late September or early October. Then take them back out in spring when the temperatures will stay above 45°F at night. It was easy when they were small but it gets much harder once some of them grow taller than us. But it’s always a pleasure to have them around. They keep me going in winter and give us fresh herbs even when the ground is covered with snow outside.
Tropical plants that are taller than us in addition to Kaffir lime and the Ficus, are the Water Jasmines (Wrightia religiosa), of which we have two, one over six feet tall and the other is around 1.5 foot tall. I grew both of them from seeds. I did try air layering once but that plant survived only a couple of years.
They never flower when they are in the basement. I guess it’s not quite warm enough and perhaps not enough light. The taller one gets very finicky with temperature changes too. It drops 95% of its leaves when we first take it outside or when we bring it back inside. Leaves and flower buds come out again after a month in full sun. The tiny white star-shaped flower has a light, soothing fragrance. Each flower blooms for just one day but there clusters of replacements ready to bloom in its place.
When they are outside and in full bloom, various types of bees, honeybees included, come for the nectar during the day and the moths take over at night. Its seed pod is also interesting, it looks like a wishbone. Once it’s matured the pods split open and release seeds with a silky thread attached that the wind will catch and carry to a new place. That is how I propagate it, by the seeds. The plant grown from a seed takes a few years before it will flower. Air-layer and cutting are recommended for faster flowering.
Water Jasmine is easy to grow in a pot, as I do. It needs a warm temperature and plenty of sunlight to bloom. It can be planted outside in USDA Zone 8 and up. If planting outside it can be used as a hedge. It can also be trained to create a Bonsai.
It seems to have no known pests when growing outside, however Spider mites are the main problem when growing indoors. I use an insecticide soap to get rid of them and mist the plant with water weekly. I’m looking forward to germinating some of these seeds in March and hope to have a few more to create Bonsai from.
A Good Time For Planning: Flowers For Pollinators I
Snow came down two days ago accumulating just three inches. Today the garden is still covered with snow and the temperature dropped down to just above 10°F. It’s a perfect winter day for bird watching through the patio door. Since the ground is covered with snow and the sources of water around here have turned to ice, they congregate around our feeders and heated birdbaths. It’s also a good day to start planning for the next growing season.
The plant catalogs have been piling up. I have picked out a couple of new vegetables I want to try and am now looking for flowers that bees and butterflies will like. A new Cosmos ‘Cupcake’ looks very tempting. I have already put 200 crocus in this autumn. If they haven’t all been dug up by the squirrels and chipmunks they should blossom when spring arrives. Any new plants I choose I make sure will benefit all pollinators, not just honeybees. If I have to pick and choose however, flowers for the bees will come first.
Here are some plants that work for our pollinator garden and I start with flowers:
These are just some of the flowers I managed to photograph with honeybees on them. There are many more flowers that they like- crocus, snowdrop, Black-eyed Susan. Next post will be on herbs and vegetables that I allow to flower, both as a pollinators food source and as the next season’s seeds.
I try to grow a couple of new plants every year. One of the plants I added to our tropical collection last year was Yellow Jasmine ‘Revolutum’ (Jasminum humile). I didn’t expect it to bloom this year especially during the winter. All the tropical plants reside in our basement under daylight fluorescents that stay lit for 12 hours each day. The furnace provides just enough heat for them too. I expected it to go semi-dormant like the other tropical plants, but to my surprise….it bloomed.
I have spent time sweeping the leaves up and pruning branches off the other plants in the basement. Then, two days ago, I spotted lovely bright yellow flowers. They have a very subtle scent, not as strong as other jasmine. A lovely treat. Now I have good reason to go to the basement more often than just to water the plants or to do laundry.