Garden Of Roses…

Indeed, I think you should approach them as though they were textiles rather than flowers.  The velvet vermilion of petals, the stamens of quivering gold…

-Vita Sackville-West
In Your Garden
May 28, 1950

 

SONY DSC

I have been waiting all year for this.  Waiting for the perfect opportunity to purchase my roses.  They will be the staple of my garden forever more.   I knew the perfect place to go, and if you live around you should check them out.  Vita always gave suggestions to nurserymen, as she called them, and as I have become quite a connoisseur of the big names around these parts I will do the same.   The place for roses, without a doubt, is Wiegand’s Nursery in Macomb, MI.

I say this because they have a most well organized selection.  Organized by hybrid teas, old English, Floribunda and the climbers.  Each bush stands against a white picket fence.  What perfect staging!  Someone was clever enough to know the color of the blooms will stand out better.  Their position along the white picket fence also brings to mind the beautifully overgrown gardens of yesterday’s American dream.    Somewhere the Dining Sisters begin to sing in their usual perfect harmony, and all is right with the world.  Sigh…

Anyway, I ventured to this particular nursery because I knew I would find perfect specimens.   Each rose is clearly labeled.  You needn’t bend down to look at tags, but instead the information for each variety is displayed at eye level.

I walked along the pathways of old world romance and waited to be spoken to.  I didn’t have to wait long before I came face to waist with this, the most gorgeous rose I had ever seen. This floribunda Moon dance (above).  Its head did not waver or fall but stood erect, staring at me.  It’s petals did not fall at the touch of my hand.  Its color, a creamy white like churned butter, and its fragrance sweet.  All the leaves were intact and healthy, not one of them disturbed in the slightest.  Then, like a tidal wave, others spoke up.

SONY DSC

Floribunda, Sheila’s Perfume (above) was recommended to me by one of the staff.  I was a bit overwhelmed and told her I was going to plant similar colors that would eventually melt into each other as their colors fade to white, as most do.  I liked the two toned petals of yellow and pink so I added this to my collection.

SONY DSC
Floribunda, Tuscan Sun (above) joined soon after.  I liked it’s big full blooms, and I thought planted  within range of Sheila’s Perfume it would make a nice blending effect.  It starts out with the same pink as Sheila’s Perfume then ends with a peach.   With the Moondance behind them I think they will make a striking show.

SONY DSC

On the opposite side of my garden a white climbing rose will work its way up the fence.  Having a pink climber at home, I had to remember they bob their heads downward when they bloom so I told myself to not be discouraged by this sight at the nursery.  They are not wilting for lack of care or water, they are merely wanting you to see them better.  They have formed this habit of pointing their heads downward, because they know someday they will be a mighty towering thing and will have to look down at you.

I then was intrigued by a rose that is grotesquely named, but fortunately, its flower is not.  It’s called Ketchup and Mustard…

SONY DSC

 

SONY DSC
Beside the Moondance, this bicolored beauty spoke to me in a very strong way.  I was disgusted with the name, but I put that aside.  Its coloring was quite beautiful, and attracted my eye.  Let’s instead refer to it as Sunshine’s Kiss.   Sounds much better than Ketchup and Mustard.  Gag me!  The name reduces a garden to a flimsy hotdog.  Not exactly what I meant before by achieving the American dream.   Anyway, last but not least I picked up a yellow to blend with the unfortunately named.

SONY DSC

Floribunda, Julia Child.  See the white climber in the background.  Like the moon aglow on a starry night.

I emerged from this adventure an hour later covered in blood (the thorns) and sweat.   I choose all Floribunda’s because they are hardier for Michigan.  I felt I had gone about my task carefully.   When I was done I drove away completely satisfied with all of my choices.  Not a drop of regret.  These roses will be in my garden for a very long time, hopefully forever if I can do my job well.   Wish me luck!!

Tell me, what is your favorite rose?

…And as always, thank you for reading…

Advertisements

Snatching Velvet in the Night

Their beauty is beyond dispute.  No velvet can rival the richness of their falls; or, let us say, it is to velvet only that we may compare them.

-Vita Sackville-West
In Your Garden
June 26, 1949

SONY DSC

I have thought of planting Iris for a long time, but they are rather expensive.   Out my kitchen window my neighbor’s come up every year and taunt me.  They rent the house and I know she wouldn’t mind, or notice for that matter, if I slipped over there in the middle of the night and split a couple of the neglected rhizomes for myself. Their dog, however, might pose a problem.  I doubt his barking would allow me to do this unnoticed.

Is it naughty of me to speak in this manner?  Perhaps.  But what if I told you I would be helping the iris bloom all the better by doing so?   You see, Iris rhizomes multiply at such a rate that they should be split every three years.  Knowing this, and knowing that others probably have forgotten or neglected this task, I thought about asking friends and neighbors if they would trade me an iris rhizome for one of our dahlia tubers from Italy.  Do you think that trade would suffice?  I should think so.

SONY DSC

 

 
On my walk this morning I passed a house whose front yard needed a little weeding, to say the least, but it had these gorgeous Victorian purple Iris growing. They are in a rather awkward spot, but I’m sure before the weeds took over their position seemed logical.  I think of all the Iris I’ve seen, I like these the best.  I know of few of the other neighbors in the hood (don’t call it that) have their eyes on some of the other plants on this property.   When the day comes that the owners move and the demolition trucks show up, that’s when we’ll make our move with shovels and picks.

Anyway, if someone is kind enough to trade with you or give you some iris rhizomes, let them finish flowering before putting them through the trauma of being split.   Then, once you plant them, leave a tiny bit of the rhizome above ground so the sun can warm it and tell it what to do.   Vita advises that the plant, “will push itself up even if you do cover it over; but why give it that extra bit of trouble…”

SONY DSC

 

 

Short and Sweet Woodruff

There are things we grow in our gardens and forget about, and then remember suddenly, as I have just remembered the Sweet Woodruff, that meek, lowly, bright green native of Britain, so easy to grow, so rapid in propagation-every little bit of root will grow and extend itself-keeping weeds down and making a bright green strip or patch wherever you want it.
It is not showy.  Its little white flowers make no display, but it is a useful carpenter for blank spaces, and it certainly makes sweet bags for hanging in the linen cupboard to discourage the moth or to put under you pillow at night.

-Vita Sackville-West
May 14th, 1950
In Your Garden

SONY DSC

I read about these late one night and was intrigued by a certain useful quality the Sweet Woodruff possesses.   So intrigued and attracted, that I headed to the nursery strictly to get my hands on some.   I’ve since planted it all over my flower beds and under trees, so my supply is great and my harvest will be plentiful.

SONY DSC
Vita advises that if you cut the leaves in autumn, which, if they grow as rapidly as I’m told, I would just cut their long stalks of leaves and hang them upside down as you would a spice.  They will not have a scent until they are dried.
After which, you can make them into little sachets which smell of freshly mowed grass and lingers for years.  Imagine the lift you’ll receive when in the dead of winter you’ve forgotten what grass looks like let alone smells like!  Slip it under your pillow to remind yourself.  You’ll sleep peacefully knowing that spring is always right around the corner.
 

 

Ghosts…

The cool weather we endured throughout February and March this year suited its arrangements perfectly, for a warm spell during the early months tends to hurry it up, and then the flowers are liable to damage by their two enemies, frost and wind….Avoid planting in a frost pocket, or in a position where [flowers: in this case the blooms of a magnolia tree] will be exposed to the rays of a warm sun after a frosty night…

-Vita Sackville-West
The Joy of Gardening : 1958

FullSizeRender (4)

They instantly became like ghosts; covered in white sheets like children on Halloween.  Their protection of white waved and beckoned in the rain and wind which threatened and warned. I assumed this shroud of comfort would get them through the worst of it but when I awoke this morning, the frost, although anticipated and prepared for never came.
The lilacs I cut for the encore of winter was all in vain, and instead, I only ironically hastened their death.  To think, I tore off their leaves in the cold violent wind and smashed their stems while shaking my fist at the sky – it was all for not.
When I uncovered them this morning the lilacs bounced gleefully in the morning sun – and like prisoners finally given their freedom after proven innocence, the flowers laughed at me and smirked at my efforts of authority and wisdom.

SONY DSC