Monday, December 31, 2007

Taming a monster

I'm always reading about gardeners who will not hesitate to get rid of a plant that they don't like or one that is just not performing like it should. I really admire this trait because it is one that I do not possess. It takes an act of Congress for me to give a plant the heave-ho, especially one that is perfectly healthy.

Case in point - the rambling rose, aptly named "Rambling Rector." I guess I've had this rose for about 10 tens years and every year I keep telling myself that it must go! It is a disease-free rose, very easy to grow but it has two drawbacks. The first one is that it is a once-bloomer, meaning that it blooms in the spring for a week or so and that's it. The second and most important deterrent is that it is a monster! The pergola that it adorns is a rather large one - about 20 feet in length - and this rose has rapidly devoured every inch of real estate. You can hardly see the other roses that share it.

This is what it looks like in the spring - glorious blooms, yes - but a tad overwhelming, wouldn't you say?

So, I've finally bit the bullet and for the past weeks, I've been pruning this sucker down. It is not an easy job. The thorns are vicious and it is practically impossible to get access to some of the canes on top of pergola. Today was mild so I was outside working on it again. I took the top photo that shows about 40% of it removed.

Now, my next quandary is whether or not to replace it with another rose or just try to keep it in check. I already know the answer to this and I should just stop kidding myself. Rambling roses are not meant to be pruned in this manner. This rose needs a huge tree to scamper up or a nice pasture or large expanse of lawn to show off in. I will of course try to save it so maybe I will replant it at my mother's house out in the country where space is not an issue.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A new gardening journal

One of my presents this year was a new gardening journal. Ten years ago, it took a while to find the perfect one and fortunately the company that sells it still has it in stock. This one displays one day at a time so you can see a ten year history of that day on one page. I started my older one in 1997 and incredibly, I will finish it at the end of the month.

Keeping a gardening journal is something that gardeners are always urged to do but you wonder if it is a worthwhile activity. Believe me when I say it is! It will become a goldmine of information for any gardener, reminding you where you obtained a particular plant, what plants have failed and survived in your garden, comparing bloom dates and general weather observations. It will become an indispensable educational tool and one created by yourself! It can sometimes be a depressing document as well (did I really kill that many plants?).

Alas, I am not the best record keeper and I am often lax in keeping mine up to date. I still manage, however, to jot down general observations if I fall behind. In addition to gardening information, I find myself noting social events as well, such as who we had dinner with, appointments, movies we watched, etc. If you have a poor memory like I do, your journal can be instrumental in determining when significant events occurred. Just a few weeks ago, I needed to know when we had some electrical work done. Where did I find the information? In my gardening journal of course! But I digress.

I can think of one thing that would make a gardening journal more convenient and that would be an index. When I get a question or need to find information about a plant in my garden, I know I can locate it in my gardening journal but finding that one piece of information is not always easy. Being a librarian, you would think that I would do something about it but I haven't.

I suppose if a person didn't want to fool with a paper journal, they could use their blog as type of journal. Wouldn't this work? Heck, you would even have a built-in index. Hmmm....

Well, no matter which method you choose (and why not do both?), it is a worthy endeavor and you'll be glad you did it in the future.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Garden themed ornaments

Some bloggers are sharing their garden related Christmas ornaments and we have quite a few. This is just a small sampling.

That last ornament is just one of many that Michael and I cross-stitched many years ago. I think we spent an entire winter doing those ornaments.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gardener's Bloom Day for December

I almost didn't make Bloom Day today. Today's weather is a typical example of winter weather here in the South. It started out cloudy and almost warm (in the upper 50s). By the time I ran several errands and got home it was close to noon. I noted that the overcast skies would be perfect for photos so grabbed the camera and headed outside. After about 40 minutes, I noticed that the skies were looking ominous. All of a sudden, a big gust of wind came up and before I knew it, raindrops were falling. We've had a cold rainfall all afternoon and the temperatures keep falling. There is even a possibility for snow flurries overnight. How exciting!

The only blooms I could find today were roses and camellias. I did note some interesting foliage so I'll include them as well.

Camellia 'Mine-no-yuki' (aka 'Snow on the Mountain') -

A promising bud on the shrub rose 'Erfurt' -

A cluster of roses on 'Weeping China Doll' -

More pink roses, this time 'Lyric' -

And now, the foliage. This is the yucca 'Golden Sword' (complete with weeds underneath):

Here's a wonderful plant that every gardener should have. It is called Italian Arum. Some claim it is invasive but I've never had that problem. The foliage, which appears in the winter, is very striking. In spring, white flowers appear and are followed by bright orange berries. It then goes dormant during the summer.

Miscanthus -

The leaves of the Kerria are now bright yellow -

Notice the color of this maple - bright orange and yellow leaves and some are black. I've never noticed this variation before.

I thought the leaves of the hydrangea "Amethyst" were especially beautiful -

And here is another view with some Siberian Iris foliage -

Crytomeria Japonica (Japanese Cedar) -

And finally, my lichen and leaf covered bench. It looks kind of lonely doesn't it?

Monday, December 10, 2007

What is a 'master gardener' anyway?

I received my acceptance letter into the Master Gardeners program a few days ago. My first class starts in mid January. I've been trying to do this for years but have had work schedule conflicts which prevented me signing up. So now I'm asking myself, "What exactly is a master gardener?" I know I take classes and probably get a piece of paper in the end saying that I'm a certified one. I must then contribute 40 hours of community service, possibly answering people's questions on the telephone at my county's extension office or perhaps working on a landscaping project. And I hear that there may be field trips - that sounds fun! The thought though of being a "master" at anything is kind of unsettling to me. Sure I love to dispense advice on my web site and blog about gardening related matters but I get nervous when people start looking me up expecting the ultimate answer on what is corrupting their tomatoes or blemishing their dahlias. Maybe I will have all these answers after I take the courses (I doubt it though, my comprehension and retention levels are not that great). If anything, it will be nice to have a "connection" with my local gardening community and since I do serve on my local Beautification Board, the designation might be nice. And, I'm sure that I'll learn some new things about plants. I will probably be sharing what I learn here. It should be interesting...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

8 happy thoughts

I've been tagged by Lisa at Shower Fresh Garden to list 8 things that make me happy. Actually, this might be relaxing because this sure is a stressful time of year. Getting ready for our big party this weekend, wrapping up things at work (only two weeks until my long break!) and dealing with getting our plumbing problems fixed is taking a toll. So, thinking about good things might be a good thing.

Here are the rules:
When tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Post these rules before your list, then list 8 thoughts that make you happy. At the end of your list, you must tag and link 8 other people.

1) Chocolate (any kind!)
2) Reading - It seems that I don't have time to read as much as I'd like but I do love getting into a good book.
3) Movies - especially old movies. The film noir era of the 40s is my favorite.
4) Gardens - not just real gardens but photos of gardens. I can spend hours looking at garden books and gardening magazines.
5) Cats - They comfort me.
6) Birds - Not always a good combination with the above but I do enjoy watching them, especially in the winter. My favorites are the cardinals, goldfinches and hummingbirds. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a cardinal in the garden with snow on the ground and branches.
7) Baking - mostly a winter activity. Love trying new recipes.
8) The comforts of home - I love being at home, inside on a rainy day, just lounging in my sweat pants and flannel shirt watching tv, reading or maybe in the kitchen baking. My favorite times are the rare occasions when we get snow and get a few days off from work. Those are magical times for me.

Now, time to get back to the real world! I'll tag the following bloggers:

Pam at Digging
Chuck at Whoreticulture
Christopher at Outside Clyde
Annie at Transplantable Rose
Lost Roses
Sky at Between
Carol at May Dreams