Garden log, 5.23.13


Another downpour last night. The blossoms of the peonies and roses have taken a beating and I need to deadhead like mad. Weeds everywhere have grown to a formidable height and seem to multiply like Mogwai. Rain garden looks terrific. Not sure if the rosemary is going to make it in its temporary bed; may need to take cuttings and start some new plants. Rose campion blossoming everywhere, both red and white. Finally got oregano transplanted and ‘Emma Hamilton’ rose potted up with better drainage; Emma isn’t looking too spry but perhaps she will pull through with some healthy doses of worm compost tea. Not that she needs a drink. Backyard smells like heaven from lush honeysuckle on neighbor’s fence. Tiger lily bloomed this morning.

Garden log, 5.14.13


New growth on azaleas looked chlorotic; fed lightly with blood meal. Used growing-season strength hort oil on backyard roses, osmanthus, azaleas, gardenias, camellias, viburnum tinus for spider mites. V tinus looking good after treating black spot with neem some weeks ago. Fed seedlings of senna, linum, zizia, fennel, iris tect, alcea, echinacea p. ‘Magnus’ with diluted fish emulsion. Spotted vole in pile of dead leaves–SO tiny! Sunny; high 72.

In praise of Darcey

My favorite rose in the world, ‘Darcy Bussell,’ is blooming.

darcey bussell bud

The color is a sumptuous, rich wine-red, fading to reddish-violet as the blossoms age.

darcey bussell bud 2

darcey bussell flower 1

Its fragrance is clean and sweet, not too heavy. This bloom is about 4 inches wide; it fills my palm.

I am lazy when it comes to managing roses. I spray them with lime-sulfur in late winter to kill black spot spores, and if things get very grim in the summer I spray them with insecticidal soap. I don’t feed or water them as often as I should, so the foliage is not always as full as it might be. But Darcey behaves beautifully nonetheless.


Monday was glorious; 80 degrees and no rain for a change. I took a housekeeping day to get simple chores done.

I put up some netting to give the Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ and the sweet peas I planted some support. I believe, deep down, that the sweet peas have eluded me yet again but I am trying to keep the faith. The cool weather they like has, I think, ultimately passed us by for good. We may expect a few favorable days here and there between now and April 20, which is the approximate average date of our last frost. On Tuesday, for example, the temperature dropped by about 20 degrees; we’ll see whether that will give them some encouragement to force their companion, the climbing rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ (David Austin), to live into its name.

At present the Gardener is instead greedily taking up the real estate where he is planted and is bullying all the timid perennials at his feet. I pruned out some of the smaller, twiggy bits sprouting at the base of the plant and tied two canes to the gate post. I have read that pegging, or tying the branches horizontally, will force them to bloom copiously. We shall see how that works. Perhaps this is where it gets its name.

I also moved two clumps of daffodils as I begin to clear way for a small summer veg bed. If I followed the rule book, I would wait until all the foliage had died to move the bulbs. I have two problems with this good advice. First, by the time the foliage dies, it will be positively tropical outdoors; the heat and humidity will sap my vigor and enthusiasm before I can even get to the shed, and the mosquitoes at that time will be easily mistaken for Hitchcock’s birds. Second, I will completely have forgotten which clumps are which. Photos are not always helpful at that point. Far better to tackle the job, I think, when one has a clear memory of what variety grows where and can place them appropriately. But please do as I say, not as I do.