Posts Tagged ‘David Austin Roses’

It’s Raining Men…..

April 18, 2012

Well, no. But it’s raining which is making me mouth “Hallelujah”.

It’s been quite a while of no rain, and a high level of fire danger here in the south.  So, at 3am…the patter of rain, and a few flashes of lightining are welcome….so welcome.  The air smells good, vital, fertile, and I can only imagine what it is doing for my small garden.

I left “French Cuisine For All” outside yesterday, along with the wicker and cushion chaise lounge, but I can retrieve it when the sun comes up.  I made a cassoulet yesterday….white beans, a large ham bone, onions, allspice, garlic, broth, parsley and put it all in a heavy, cast iron lidded pot into the oven for 6 hours at least.  It was wonderful and so easy.  Slow and low cooking and I didn’t disturb it except to check the level of liquid.  Husband, dogs and a few cats gave it ‘paws up’.

I’m still lurching around with the vertigo, but I think I am turning the corner on this stupid ailment.  My stomach is pretty messed up, though, and I can’t keep solids down for long and live on Glucerna, Boost and a random Coke.  My husband is doing the lion’s share of grocery shopping, stopping every night after work, and this is such a help.  He also fills the dishwasher, attends to the cat litter and dogs, and I wonder how long I can keep this help going?  LOL!  No, I rather be doing this myself, because when I can, I know I am back to normal. 

This spring is so beautiful, and I am so sorry that friends like Margie Chester, who died in Novemeber, are not here to see it. The roses, regardless of the lack of rain, have popped out in glorious splendor, and the new David Austin roses are looking just about to set blooms. The blackberries are plumping out, looking so promising, and the blueberries are doing the same.  This is quite the miracle to me as I do nothing for them except pick and eat each year.

 The tomato seed ( I figured out what I planted.)…Brandywine…..I over fertilized with chicken manure, but they have finally ignored my overfeeding and are growing surprisingly well.  The 9 hens I have are producing eggs, too many for us to use, unless we find some new dishes, and the wet “French Cuisine For All” should help  when I dry it off.  So far, we give the eggs away, husband gets one omlet or so a week, and I generally don’t eat eggs.  The dogs do, and though I have tried to keep the new pup from raiding the henhouse (Daphne has already killed my beautiful white hen) I am giving them an egg every once in a while.

I have a stack of chores to do, lists of them, and await the day when I can do so without lurching around.  I think the rain will help, dissolving that nasty pollen that seemed to start this Spring of my Discontent.

Lady Nyo


It is Blackberry Winter

One last shot across

The bow of an emerging Spring.

Winter does not play fair.

It will not give up the ghost

Exit with a dignified bow

Preferring to show its rotting last tooth.

The blackberries are blooming

Frills of white collars surrounding

Kernels of lusty fruit,

Fruit black as midnight

Sweet as a baby’s kiss,

Unavoidable staining of hands and mouths

To be shared with a snake or two down below.

The Easter planting is done

The earth knows Winter’s game

And blankets seed

With dark, moist soil

Cozy enough to shelter tender life.

We will make blackberry wine

From Blackberry Winter.

The present chill will

Sweeten the fruit

And we will give a toast

To Winter’s frayed glory.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

Fall cometh and gardens need work

October 23, 2009
looking outside the front door into the garden

looking outside the front door into the garden

West side of front garden

West side of front garden

East side of front garden

East side of front garden

Chessie coming through a flower bed of zinnias

Chessie coming through a flower bed of zinnias

It was so wet and humid this summer, we didn’t do much in the gardens.  We have three separate gardens, and they all have different purposes.  They are not large gardens but they have enough work and plantings attached to them to make us pay attention.

I like fall plantings anyway, and clearing away the summer foliage gives a sense of the design and structures in the gardens.  You can see what you have and what possibilities there are.

This fall is very early, there are only a few species of trees changing. We need a harder frost I believe for all that to happen, and though we only have random maples this far south, the sumacs and dogwoods, the scyamores and willows have their own magic of color.  We have some species of oaks that turn russet and some trees turn downright purple in foliage.

But we have only a red maple in the front garden besides a large apple tree to root everything else around them.  So our plantings are generally topiary, made up of bushes and of course the ivy that has grown over the very high wood fence.  That makes a wonderful background for beds and and vines on trellis.

Every year I go out and am overwhelmed at what to do.  This year I have help:  Florid and over-the-top ideas and examples but there are some good ideas in there even for small gardens.

I am reading  “Gardening at Sissinghurst” by Tony Lord, and though we don’t have acres and acres to look across, we do have 9 acres of fields and far away woods once the frost has cleared the kudzu and the leaves have fallen.  It’s enough of a vista to please and delight and beautiful even if it isn’t ours to dig up.  We do have enough on our hands if we apply ourselves to our own small property.

I have always designed the property into small rooms….mostly developed by shrubs and plantings with outdoor  furniture.  It takes some pushing around those ‘rooms’ before you get a feeling of comfortable usage, but it is worth doing.  They they should stay put and be further developed by just tending to the plantings and letting them develop the atmosphere of the area.

We have been doing this for decades, and it’s sad that the weather this summer didn’t cooperate, but hope springs eternal.

Today I went out in the rain and pulled many dozens of Iris, intending to plant them in another bed all together.  That is part of the problem with beds, they have to be well tended or at least filled for the best effect.  I have one large bed with a statue of a little boy in the middle on a plinth, and a large crepe myrtle blocking the sun to the back of it.  I will, once again, have to cut down the lovely lavender flowers and foliage, but it over powers the bed.

I dug and replanted all my peonies into the front of the bed and hope that they will give more heads next summer than they gave this time.

I decided that no one needs 30 tomato plants again, so I am planning a permanent herb garden that will take fully 1/2 of the main garden parterre.  It’s already a walled garden, and will share this space with a grape vine.

I am thinking  I am over my rose period and there are other things to plant, but I still have about 30 roses.  They are, unfortunately…scattered over the property and either need to be brought together in drifts of color and species….or hacked out of the earth.  But I can’t do the latter because they are still healthy and give good blooms….especially the David Austin varieties, like “Heritage” and “Graham Thomas”.  I have a tremendously vigorous “Madame Alfred Carriere” growing up the side where the siding is going, so I cut that back severely this summer.  It’s growing again, but at least it will be easier to lay on the ground when the siding gets done.  The bonicas have woven themselves through the archs and pickets in the back and there is no cutting them back.

Roses lose their leaves in the south after the first good bloom in the spring, so they need the underplantings of zinnias, peonies, cosmos, and perhaps iris.  I think I will plant a lot of very low growing roses in the front of beds just for the beauty of them.  Once one does begin to love roses, it’s not something one leaves off easily.  Decades of roses create such expectations that you never get it out of your bloodstream.

The ivy on the surround fences have to be cut severely back in and outside the property and I did reseed the grasses and they have taken well with all our rain.

I will plant tulips again in three beds, (and in all the window boxes) just because looking outside in the very early spring, through rains and  gloomy skies,  there is nothing more uplifting than seeing those brave tulips waving their colors  in the spring winds.  Because there are cats and puppies and a few (very few) kittens buried in my tulip beds, I don’t dig.  I just put wheel barrels of composted soil over the beds to a height of 8 inches or more.  Don’t want to disturb the peaceful dead.

Last night some friends and neighbors down by our beautiful and too -dark park were robbed, at gun point.  I wrote a blog entry about it, and then decided to delete.  They came for breakfast this morning, both of them still in shock and with other mutual friends as supporters.  They were lucky they weren’t killed.

We sat outside in the side patio at first and then in the front garden amongst the 4 o’clocks.  Since it was early and overcast, the multi-colored 4 ‘oclocks were still fragrant and open and I think it helped us all to be outside, safe and drinking coffee, juices and eating pastries.  It was a sense of normalcy where their lives were so disturbed by the sudden violence of the night before.

I realized how much my fenced property has brought me calm and serenity over the years. But it’s also brought me some structure to my environment.  Having the delight of changing the plantings, of cutting topiary  and planting seeds to see how they will look when they are massed together and blooming…well, that is the life that comforts.

The garden catalogs are coming in now, and I was throwing them away, thinking that there wasn’t much more I could plant this year.  But I think I will start to read and buy from them again just because the sheer mystery of what happens when earth touches bulbs and seeds is worth the wait.

It’s the stuff of life.

Lady Nyo

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