Posts Tagged ‘prattling on about roses’

Some time last year, I was chatting with one of my patient’s relatives, who was an expert gardener.  A muckety-muck specifically in tomato circles.  (I didn’t know such things existed.  Now I do.)  My tomatoes have been hit and miss over the years, and sometimes I’ve been blaming the weather.  (Last year’s hail comes to mind.)  What he told me is that I should never take the tomatoes out until after Mother’s Day.  I didn’t start from seed this year, because I’ve been brokenhearted by that process (and annoyed at the expense/effort/yield ratio).  I went to Echter’s….and they don’t have the flavors I want, but I’ll bet I get good tomatoes this year.

It is the day after Mother’s Day.  And this is what I did: 

Four tomato plants:  Lemon Boy (because that lemon one Seed Savers does is the best tomato I’ve eaten in my life, and maybe this is close), La Roma, and Supersweet Beefsteak.  I got zip for tomatoes last year, so I’m banking on varieties that’ll grow, and put them in one of my best and newest, full sun beds.  I put them with three varieties of basil and a Greek oregano.

For the past two years, I’ve put herbs up on the deck and for the past few years they die of thirst and heat.  I know some will reseed and have runners and that may or may not work forever, but I’d like to not have to buy new herbs every stinkin year.  So I bought some of the most basic herb varieties and I’m putting them in the ground instead of pots this year.

I have no idea what I’ll do with the deck.  (That is so far the only photo I’ve gotten of Beau, the newest Jonjak, in focus.)  I’m going to see if the miniature bell pepper seeds from 2011 will sprout, but beyond that, I’m all ears as to ideas.  I may just need to go with cacti.  Twice a day watering when I do 12 hour shifts is not enough water.

I put pea seeds in, very late.  Detroit Dark Red beet seeds went in last week, so they got that rain.  Some chives for Chase, who says he’ll eat them.

There’s a sort of dilemma with the north end of the yard.  I planted several strawberries and two raspberry bushes three years ago.  We have gotten a few strawberries, and last year we didn’t get to them before the bunnies.  No raspberries yet.  It’s our third year, and we have raspberry bushes that could eat a small to medium sized rodent.

That, of course, was the plan.  Hints at flowers on it, so I am hopeful for fruit this year.  It would mean a lot to Mark.  The strawberry plants have sent runners all over the place, and there are strawberries that are now valiantly fighting the weeds off.  Also my plan.  I’m so excited to see it starting to work.  I don’t have a photo of the first strawberry of the season, because I put it in my mouth.  😀  Delicious.  I do have probably a few bowls of yet-unripened fruit yet.  The more we let the cats on the deck, I hope we can keep the damn squirrels and bunnies from my fruit.


In the newest bed, I put some sunflower seeds as well as four varieties of peppers:  Anaheim, Mariachi, Holy Mole and Lipstick.  Just to see which variety takes off.  Anaheims did well for me last year, Mariachis grew but didn’t fruit.  I also put in (and hope I don’t regret), common mint, a small common rosemary, lemon balm and English thyme.  I know the thyme and rosemary will become trees if I let them, and the mint could potentially eat the entire bed if I let it.  My evil plan is to have herbs all season (even when hot), and try to encourage the runners to go OUT of the garden and blot out the thistles.

I have the squash bed to go, which was tomatoes, carrots, peas “bed” (area, really) from last year.  It’s got thistles so thick in it, you need a machete.  It has carrots growing from last year that I didn’t find….and maybe a potato that came back.  Another day.  Maybe this weekend.

One area that is starting to look absolutely beautiful is the area under the steps, which is visible by the hottub.  The hostas came back even larger this year (planted 2011), and the hen and chicks are coming up strong.  Mark is cementing the steps, and that, with the mortared wall he did in 2010 (and added to a month ago), it’s beginning to look really gorgeous.

It looked lush and beautiful under there, no matter how hot it got last summer.  The plants are even stronger-looking this year.  It’s beautiful right next to the hot tub.


I found a lovely little grey cactus thing at Echter’s today and got it just because.  It might be well suited to the front yard, which also is desperate for attention.  But I like the look of it right where it is, in the sage green pot on the stone.  Mark is hoping to do the entire walkway, which is a massive undertaking.

It would really be nice if I felt good enough about the garden and deck area to host another shindig in June, for friends and family.  I’m also thinkin of hosting an Akea party, and it’d be nice to have that at least partly on the deck, too.  Our living room is too small for social space.  But the deck works very well for it.  Last summer, it was really cool to have my family go poke around my garden with me.


Last but not least, I give you a photo of my black-purple iris, which finally bloomed this year (its second).  It’s the kind of flower that deserves the word ‘lugubrious’.  (I can’t think of any other noun…no person, place or thing…worthy of an adjective like that.)  This is my lugubrious iris.  My little garden and I are not worthy of it.  But I will try.

p.s.  I walked very slowly through Echter’s not-for-dabblers rose collection today.  I stuck my face into several flowers and swooned a few times. Roses are my favorite flower to grow.  I didn’t buy today.  But I have more evil plans…


The very best part of May, when I was growing up and in grade school, was the quarter mile WALL of lilac bushes at St. Bridget’s school.  You could smell it a long way coming, and all day in school when the windows were open (which was often).  A task was always given to one or two girls (always girls) every day to pick lilacs for a May altar*, which was set up in a front corner every classroom.  Typically, this was a reward for doing best on a test or a spelling bee or something.  I got to go pick the lilacs fairly often because I was a good student, but an especially good student in May.  Lilacs are my very favorite flower, and they only exist in early to mid-May.

(And I won second place on the Northern Illinois Regional Spelling Bee in 8th grade.  Alan Cox won first place.  (Alan has his own Wikipedia page now.  I think this is cool.  I get to still be one of his FB friends, too.)  I went down on the very first word I was asked to spell, which was ‘quietus‘.  Quietus.  I mean, really, have you ever used that word in your life?)  (And in the interest of full disclosure, Alan and I were the only two kids that showed up that Saturday morning.  So, technically, I was last place, too.)

On my very first visit to Mark’s house, three years ago, I noticed he had a gigantic lilac bush in the front of the house.  That would have been sometime in June, and the lilacs themselves were bloomed out, but I just stared at it.  ‘Taking it as an omen’ would be a strong phrase for the feeling, but it was almost that.

The bush is taller than the first story of the house, but only half of the plant is blooming.  I find this bizarre, and curious, and am thinking I should feed the plant something.  (Wonder if it would find the incessantly barking dogs next door palatable.)

I love to grow roses, too.  Cut roses are lovely and all, but what I really like is growing them.  Red roses are lovely, but there’s a zillion rose varieties, each with a different personality.  My Pop-pop had a wall of huge rose bushes and climbers in his back yard.  We didn’t go to Philadelphia often growing up, but I do remember them towering over me.  And I remember that his trick was to use eggshells and coffeegrounds in his soil, to help them grow.  I do the same.  Whenever I find a place that I get settled in and becomes a home instead of just a ‘pad’, I plant roses.

I put two hybrid teas in wine barrel pots out front….a dark burgundy variety called Lasting Love, and a cream/burgundy mix, Double Delight (which is one of my favorites, and I’ve grown it before, hardy and fragrant)  The Lasting Love bloomed already, and the bloom is already looking ill….transplant shock, no doubt.  The Double Delight has one solid cream colored bloom on it (which is strange, also transplant shock, I think), which is wonderfully fragrant.  Now that they have their permanent home, hope they both do well.

I’ve got two climbers to put in:  Fourth of July and Joseph’s Coat, both of which I’ve grown before.  Both did well, especially the Joseph’s Coat.  I’ve got serious work to do to put great soil down in a huge hole, and hoping I have time to do it sooner rather than later.  When I suggested a place for one of the climbers, he said, “Will we be able to see it from the deck?”  As in….won’t it be small down there?

Silly man.  Don’t you worry about that, honey.  I’ll make sure it doesn’t eat the house.

*  I like having lilacs for Beltaen for the same reason.