Bzzzz May 31st, 2007

I recall years ago hearing Stephen Covey for the first time.

He had just come out with his hit book First Things First and was doing the corporate circuit, where I was invited to hear him at one of my big-name corporate client’s offices. I remember so vividly his big line “You can’t rush on a farm!” His point being that some things just have to be planned for and take time. It’s true. It’s not often in the gardening and farming world that you can rush or get instant gratification. But when it comes to container plants and window boxes, you can really cheat!

I ordered a sky pencil holly from Wayside Gardens a few weeks ago expecting to get the instant gratification I longed for in recreating a potted arrangement I recently saw on my travels. What I received were two little, itty, bitty, tiny plants that would not do the trick.

I mean, really. The photo in the catalog showed the tree at 8′ tall! What I received wasn’t even 8 INCHES tall.

Happily, I spied one hiding in the back of a bunch of shrubs at my local garden center. I sent Ben, my son/yard boy back to fetch it. I was able to drag it home and THAT VERY DAY start the arrangement I longed for.

Sky%20Pencil%20Arrangement%20May%2030%202007.jpg

To illustrate the point, here are the two sky pencil hollies. The one on the left is the sad little specimen that I ordered and will have to wait YEARS to reach a respectable size. The one on the right is the example I fetched home from the garden center.

By the way, these really are supposed to reach 8 FEET tall. I have no idea where they will eventually go, but I figure I have time to plan for that.

In other news…

–I clean out the bluebird houses tomorrow. After waiting for two weeks, we have concluded that the five eggs are no longer viable and have been abandoned. I feel very sad. I also am embarrassed that my first official report to Cornell will be of a failure. –Squirrels have discovered my bird feeders. I bring them in at night, but the fuzzy fellow have the temerity to belly up to the birdfeeder buffet during the daytime. Sarah (dog) and Miss P (cat) are on the job of providing a dis-incentive for that undesirable behavior. –My orchids are doing beautifully. Fingers are crossed. –Spinach has pretty much played out. Lettuce is still going gangbusters, so Harry has something to eat. –We desperately need rain.

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Bzzzz May 30th, 2007

May is definitely a good rose month around Calvert County. Everything is happy and blooming and the Japanese beetles don’t arrive until June 1. (Yes, I have predicted their arrival date.)

roses may 30 2007.jpg

There is a vigorous and continuing debate in gardening circles about roses. There appear to be two opposing camps. There is the camp that says roses are difficult, finicky and require lots of work. And there is the camp that says roses are easy-as-pie-what-are-you-whining-about?

Frankly, I think it all depends on your particular temperament and how much are you are naturally inclined to like roses in the first place.

Myself, I am VERY MUCH inclined by nature to adore roses. NOT THE KIND you get from the florist, which are generally ick and sick. I like a big bushy plant of crazy flowering roses that seem nearly wild.

I also believe that the camp to which you dedicate yourself–the roses are great or roses are evil camps–depend very much on your experiences.

Some of my very earliest memories are of my grandfather’s abundant rose garden. The whole family would gather at their house on Rush Street in Norfolk, Virginia, for Sunday dinner and story telling. Grandpa would hang around for a while until he couldn’t stand it (the grown-ups) any longer and then retreat to the garden and spend the afternoon deadheading and hand watering the roses. I distinctly remember sitting on a fence and watching how peaceful and happy he seemed all by himself while the relatives were hooting and telling stories.

Since I’ve been old enough and (reasonably) responsible enough to plant and care for roses, I have had the happy luck to have planted mostly antique roses.

I first learned about these old roses when I read a book many moons ago that included a chapter about “rose wranglers.” These are rose enthusiasts who seek out and secure old, non-hybrid roses growing neglected on old farms and fields–sometimes with permission and sometimes by stealth. These rose wranglers made the whole rose culture seem fun and exciting. Their enthusiasm for the cause convinced me there is merit to the old ways of roses.

The antique roses I’m growing include a beautiful pot-grown Katharina Zeimet, with its abundance of tiny white flowers that repeat bloom all summer long. The Antique Rose Emporium website says this shrub rose was discovered in 1901. I have had it in a big pot on the patio for about three years, where it has grown to its full-grown 3′ – 4′ size.

new dawn rose may 30 2007.jpg

By the driveway I am growing the climbing New Dawn, again from the Emporium, discovered in 1930. I let it languish and trailing on the ground for a couple of years while I tried to figure out what to do with a climbing rose at that spot. Then I found these 6′ high rose trellises from Jackson & Perkins. My dad, thankfully, assembled them for me last July 4 weekend and they have already taken over the structure. I still need a more permanent solution.

There are also these extremely vigorous shrub roses that have grown to 6′ high in about four years. I have long ago lost the tag and really need to sort through the Emporium’s catalog to recapture the name because EVERYONE asks about this beautiful, repeat-blooming rose.

I am desperately seeking a Cecil Bruner (the non-climber) to add to my rose container collection, but, alas, I have thought of this too late and must wait until another time.

Do I have any hybrid roses? Yes. I planted some baby doll roses in the Colonial garden last summer. They, too, are blooming and beautiful. I will see how I like them next summer and whether they prove to be as hearty as my old friends.

If you want to learn more about antique roses, I recommend the site hosted by my favorite antique rose grower, Antique Rose Emporium. You can visit their info site at Antique Rose Info.

And if you run across Cecil Bruner, please send her my way. Pretty please?

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