cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, crocus rose david austin english roses

Dream of David Austin English Roses

If you’re my College Son you’re currently enjoying 72° days with 66° nights in Costa Rica. If you live on the East Coast, you’re currently enjoying a blast of Arctic air. The lovely rose pictures below are for those huddled by fireplaces and wood stoves, not those donning sunglasses and snapping selfies with the word “Epic” tagged on them. So make a cup of tea, sit back, feet up, in your favorite chair, near the heat, and relish the pictures while dreaming of summertime and roses.

This first one is so lovely it makes my heart hurt. It is The Lady Gardener, a David Austin English rose released for 2015. I think its petals look like paper mâché, and its color like a creamsicle.

cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming lady gardener david austin rose

David Austin English Rose | The Lady Gardener | Shrub rose | 3 1/2′ to 4′ tall, 2 1/2′ wide | blooms 4″ across | Tea fragrance with hints of cedar and vanilla

The Lady Gardener was named to raise awareness for Plant Heritage, a national council for the conservation of plants and gardens in England. David Austin maintains the national collection of English roses in their rose garden, located at their Plant Centre in Albrighton, Shropshire, England. The Lady Gardener makes its stunning debut this year, after 8 years of trials, prior. It is so worth the wait.

I spoke with Michael Marriott, the company’s senior rosarian and technical manager this week, not in person, but via phone. He in England at his desk, and I in my car, hoping my cell phone signal would not die, or the heat in the car quit, since it was a whopping 10° outside. In my warm, fireplace-roaring, toasty-comfy house, I can lose cell signal, and while friends and family generally just let the line go dead, and catch up with me later, Mr. Marriott scheduled an hour of his time to answer my questions about the beautiful David Austin English roses. I really didn’t want to see the dreaded “call failed” notification on my IPhone.

My fascination with David Austin (the breeder), and his English roses began at South Turkey Creek with my purchase of Constance Spry, a climbing rose that I used as a climber/shrub over the vegetable garden fence (literally over it, the one rose sprawled up and over both sides). In the world of it-must-repeat-bloom, this rose wouldn’t make it with today’s garden center customers. It blooms only once a year, but that “only” time is perfect, making it more than worthy of the garden space. Besides, I have made my views known on the whole bloom-all-dang-summer topic.  Luckily, most of David Austin roses are repeat bloomers (in my Brevard, NC zone 7a garden, generally 3x a growing season, each time pretty spectacularly), and so folks can have their cake and eat it too.

Mr. Marriott answered a ton of questions for me, but my favorite answer was to this question, “What characteristic are you primarily breeding for?”

“The rose must be beautiful,” he said. “If a plant isn’t beautiful, then there’s really no reason to have it in your garden, is there?”

Absolutely agree.

I’ll share more of the interview with Mr. Marriott later, but for now, while the Arctic air keeps the doors barred, enjoy these lovely beauties, and dream of David Austin English roses.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming david austin english roses constance spry

Constance Spry doing her one-time blooming pretty fabulously.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, maid marion

Maid Marion | Another 2015 release | Fragrant (myrrh, fruity) | 3′ x 3′ shrub | Repeat bloomer

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, Susan Williams-Ellis

‘Susan Williams-Ellis’ | 135 petals per bloom | Blooms May to frost (pretty much non-stop) | Fragrant | 4′ x 3′ | Very winter hardy | Really, are you still going to get a Knock-Out Rose?

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, heathcliff, thomas a becket,

En masse ‘Heathcliff’, ‘Thomas a Becket’, ‘Jubilee Celebration’

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, lady of shallot

‘Lady of Shallot’ a favorite in my small, picket-fence rose garden | Can be a climber (6-10′ tall) or shrub 4′ x 3 1/2′ | Fragrance (spiced apples) | Super disease resistance in my garden that gets 66″ of rain annually

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, 'tess of the d;urbervilles'

‘Tess of the d’Ubervilles’ | Blooms summer to frost | Crimson color | Climbs to 6′ or shrub of 4′ x 3′ | Old Rose fragrance.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, wisley 2008

‘Wisley 2008’ paired with asters. Blues and purples make good companion plants for roses that have no blue.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking, yes, they’re beautiful, but they’re roses. So much trouble, so much headache. Stop. Just keep dreaming and determining the perfect spot for your rose, and I’ll get on that subject later. Head’s up: its good news for you and your future roses.

(If you’re wondering about the header, it is Crocus Rose.)

So, find a favorite? Have other roses you love? Or are you terrified/exasperated by roses and refuse to plant them? Please share with me below, and let’s chat. Garden chats are always good for the soul.

The Definition of Success and the Top 5 Posts of 2014

This is my definition of success: doing what I love.

If my life adds up to a combination of the work and people I love, then I consider that a successful life. So far, so good.

Here’s a few pictures of that success to date.

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--definition of success

My “boys” over the holidays

 

I’m guessing every mother would start with her kids, and rightly so. These are mine, two awesome men. My main goal as a parent was that we’d all survive it, and come out on the other side still liking each other. Again, so far, so good. (I’m leaving the reflected light from the Christmas lights in this picture because the oldest thinks it looks like a light saber that he’s about to kill his brother with. Men and their Star Wars.)

 

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--definition of success

YaYa’s 2 favs

Here, I claim nothing. I did nothing to deserve these darlings. This is an example of life throwing you a freebie every once in awhile. Another precious girl is coming in May, expected to arrive on the 4th. (As the eldest son and father of this soon-to-be-child says, “May the 4th be with you.” Again, men and their Star Wars.)

So, if you live long enough, I do wish grandchildren for you.

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--defintion of success

A duaghter-in-law helps keep the testosterone level.

 

My daughter-in-law is an inspiration to me. I read this quote once and thought of her. It speaks to success, so it fits here. “Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.” —Diane Sawyer That sums up my d-i-l perfectly.

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--defintion of success

I’m a gardener, a horticulturist. a blue collar girl. I am proud of these titles. and I never get over the excitement I feel when I tell someone what I do. The awe-factor is still there for me.

As I evaluated 2014 today, it had its ups (a precious granddaughter born in Feb., a fun plant trip in Jan.), and horrific downs (my mother unexpectedly passing away on July 28, too soon for her to leave us), but I am still on course, which for me means staying forward. It also means a Goliath-sized perseverance, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Nothing happens easily. Success is hard work made to look easy. That’s my quote. Feel free to use it.

On that note, my top five blog posts from 2014 are listed here if you want to re-read them, or perhaps read them. These are the posts that seemed to resonate with folks the most. Thank you for reading my scribbles here. I love you muchly.

#1 Advice from a Blue Collar Girl 

#2 One Good Mama and One Bad Mama

#3 Why You Need a Landscape Designer

#4 Getting Off the Treadmill Without Going Off the Grid

#5 Why I Hate Encore Azaleas

Happy New Year, and may what’s looking for you in 2015 find you. 🙂

 

Why I Love being a Garden Coach, Aside from My Awesome Boot Collection

I seriously love being a garden coach. For one, it gives me reason to have an awesome boot collection.

Here are my new boots from Altar’d State. I only wear them on sunny, dry days in the afternoon. Here’s my totally waterproof and stylish (yes, those boots exist) Rockport boots. (These made the trek down the Oregon/California coast with me. I looked darn good standing in the Pacific Ocean in them.) My Land’s End snow boots (in black, not brown, hate that red stripe on the brown), and my LOWA boots which I admit I did not want to drop the cash on, but will also admit that they are handy in cold, wind, rain, sleet, and snow. Plus, all the guys are completely jealous of them, so they were worth the cash for that alone.

Boots aside, I love being a garden coach because I love strolling through gardens chatting with folks. I mean, come on. What a great way to spend a day. And, my folks are every bit as diverse as the plants we discuss. I never want our hour to end.

I want time to stand still while the 37 year-old autistic man gets his courage to ask for the instructions to be repeated again. He must be brave to say, “Will you go over it again?” I want to shout with delight, “YOU did it! You asked for what you needed.” And, yes, I will. I absolutely will go over it all again. And, so we do. How we measure ‘on center’ for planting. How the roots should be broken up to look like the spokes on a wheel when placed in the ground. How we determine color according to bloom time, and what deadheading is.

It isn’t just him. It’s too much information for anyone. When to prune what, when to fertilize, how to amend the soil, what is mulch and what kind to use. How to determine sunlight hours, and how those hours determine what plants we’ll pick. It’s a lot of material to remember, and no one gets it all the first time. Besides, he’s learning about more than plants. He’s learning to look out for himself. He’s learning to get his money’s worth. He’s learning to speak up and be heard. That is so terribly important, but even more important, he’s learning to listen. If I correct him, he makes the necessary adjustment. I watch him and learn, and make the necessary adjustment myself.

My personality is quiet and calm, so I’m a good fit to walk in the garden with the young father whose 8 year-old son recently died of cancer. “Everyone wants us to plant a tree to remember him,” he says, pointing to the place in the yard it’s supposed to go. “But I don’t want a tree. I never keep anything alive. What if I kill the stupid tree?” He’s wondering if he killed his son, somehow. If, as his father, he could have done something different, something more. Taken him to the doctor sooner? Asked the right questions? Found a different doctor before it was too late? Was this his fault? What if the tree dies, and just confirms his fears that he did not save his son? He’d rather have his son than the tree, anyway. I suggest a small statue. Perhaps the one of the boy reading a book. Didn’t your son love to read?

“You mean I don’t have to plant a tree?” he asks. He’s feeling so much pressure from God knows where or who. “No. You do not,” I say as firmly as I can, while looking directly into his eyes. You did not kill your beautiful son, and we do not have to plant anything you don’t want too.

My favorite client ever is quirky, and tall, and gorgeous, and artsy, and lives in a pretty conservative neighborhood with her uber-conservative husband who was trying to get in on the garden fun, and so painted a rod-iron staircase magenta. What a complete shock for her (and myself) as party night drew near. But what a dear she was to love him more than the staircase or the party-goers. We got some super funky-fun chartreuse pots, and filled them with purple wandering jew, pink angelonia, and white bacopa (sounds hideous, but it was awesome). Then we added big pots of bright red hibiscus. If you’re going magenta on the rod-iron staircase against the brick-red house, all bets are off and the fun is on. Anyway, the whole family has a slightly, crazy bent that make them my loves for life.

I can’t leave out my boxwood client, whose yard is full of the most gorgeous boxwoods–years old, well established, pruned to perfection, and without a bare or brown spot to be seen, except on the two next to the driveway. He feared it was boxwood blight, which would mean all of them would have to go. He held his breath while I examined. “Does anyone park here that has a bad exhaust on their car?” The gardener does. Of course. The gardener is always the culprit in murder mysteries, why not in boxwood mysteries? Tell the gardener to stop parking where his exhaust is spewing on your pretty boxwoods, and, tell him to prune this out. We had a delightful chat in the perennial garden following our hour, complete with tea, and a very interesting talk about his hemlock hedge, and his last child leaving home for college. Really. Conversation about hemlocks is balm for the soul. Did you know that?

Sometimes, I think my job is so meaningless because I am not writing a brilliant novel, or using some new life-saving surgical technique on a patient, or teaching a child to read. It’s just plants and where and how to plant them, and the cultural care needed for them to thrive. But, if this were not my job, I’d have missed that moment when, the young mom who loves permaculture, showed me her first chicken eggs and her bright, red tomatoes she planned to serve her family. Pure delight. She was beside herself. Plus, she loved my new boots, and oohed and aahed as much over them as I did her fresh produce. We determined, we both love a compliment.

 

I Love Plants. I Should Have Married the Doctor. My Next Husband Will Hate Gardening.

I’m a horticulturist, a gardener, a plant geek. I love plants. So do the people I work with. It’s literally all we talk about. We never discuss movies, or tv shows, or politics or art (unless it is art related to gardening). We only discuss plants and, though it is a pretty-far-off-second, sometimes food.

I once dated a doctor and when he was with his friends, who were also doctors, they only discussed medicine. I thought he was obnoxious. It was impossible to have dinner with these men and their spouses/girlfriends because the men (the doctors) monopolized the conversation with the world of medicine. I wasn’t interested in medicine. I was interested in plants. So, I stopped dating him and found a forester to marry who talked incessantly about plants, too. I thought that would suit me much better, though admittedly, I would be poorer for it. Sadly, sometimes one’s passions trump one’s reason.

It was years later, while reading Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden that Mrs. Whaley, a Charleston gardener and author of the book, made the astute observation that it wasn’t always wise to marry someone who shared your passion for gardening. That meant they would have opinions in the garden, and no one wants that. Instead, aim to marry someone who enjoys the garden, funds the garden, but takes no interest in the garden, i.e. they could care less if camellias would be planted that year, or the birches limbed up to allow more light in the perennial garden. Brilliant advice, but I was 20 years in, and the doctor was a confirmed bachelor by then. There was no going back. Reflection did force me to agree with Mrs. Whaley, and while hindsight is 20-20, I realized, conversation aside, the doctor cared little for gardens, and would have happily funded mine while pursuing his passion for medicine without a single opinion regarding the garden.

The forester had opinions in the garden. He was a naturalist who followed a Darwinian methodology of gardening–only the strong survive. I ascribe to the right-plant-right-spot common sense method of gardening, but I already knew what plants would survive in my garden–the ones I wanted. I am the gardener, not the observer, and I stated this during many of our heated “plant conversations” I’d been so keen to have.

We argued over the choice and placement of every tree, shrub, perennial and even vegetable. His stupid cantaloupes were planted exactly where my eggplant was supposed to be nodding their fat, purple heads. As if anyone wants cantaloupe instead of eggplant. He wanted shade. I wanted full sun with areas of dappled light. He wanted conifers. I wanted roses. One sad day of gardening arguing ended with two 25 foot tall Norway Spruces becoming topiaries. The forester and myself did not recover from the shock of that day, and neither did the spruces. When the snows came that winter, our topiaries were pitiful. Their snow-piled limbs hung down their bare trunks defeated and embarrassed to be reduced to that silly state, when only months before their beautiful swaying branches would have accommodated that snow with grace and poise. I couldn’t drive down the driveway without feeling shame when they came into view, because that mishap was mine. What was supposed to be a compromise on dappled light versus shade, became topiaries.

The one thing the forester and I agreed on? The native perennials. We had the loveliest stand of trilliums, trout lilies, Alleghany spruge, lady slippers, phlox, bloodroot and Virigina bluebells. For some reason, in the presence of mayapples, we were united.

Sadly, just about the time we got the garden established and firmly determined our prospective areas (and learned the polite art of staying out of said areas or even mentioning said areas), the forester discovered passions beyond our garden gate, and became the ex. The good news? If any future spouses present themselves, I will heed Mrs. Whaley’s advice. Future spouses will hate the labor of gardening but love the rewards, and be absolutely opinion-less on the subject. Future spouses will view it as a sort of hobby that keeps me out of their hair.

I will gladly listen to a future spouse (or spouses, you never know) rattle on about any subject from Fantasy Football to the History Channel–so long as they absolutely abandon the garden to me–while I continue my daily dialogue with co-workers wise enough to marry first-time-spouses whose passions range the globe, but always detour the world of plants.

Interview with a Container Goddess (Tips for your Winter Pots)

This post is for all you chicks who love to do your seasonal outdoor containers (and a few fellas, as well). The store where I work has a container designer, Brenna Henley, and she’s the best. So, I asked her to give us some tips for our winter pots. I’m a hort girl but my expertise is in trees, shrubs, and perennials, what I call the heavy landscape material, as in, dang heavy to pick up and plant. But, I love my pots, so off to Brenna I go when it’s time to switch out the outdoor containers. (An excellent day is when I get to help her. Now, you can be jealous of me too.) I’ve included some of her designs, and a few others by container savvy friends, and yes, even one of mine. Let’s get started.

1. Timing is everything.

Currently, my pots look pretty awesome. My black and blue salvia has perked back up with the cooler temperatures, and my coleus, despite a few nights in the 30s, still looks good (especially my Keystone Kopper). It breaks my heart to think of ripping these plants out to make room for the new. My inclination is to wait until they die, and then switch out my plantings. Not a good move, Brenna says. Now is the time to replant, when everything still looks good, and we’ve got a couple of weeks before the first real frost touches down. Get roots for winter plantings established before a good cold snap renders us too late. So, no sentimental container gardening. I know some of your zinnias still look good, but follow Brenna’s advice, and be ruthless. Empty out the pots, add some fresh potting mix, and start designing.

Below: Snow Angel heuchera, pink blooming heather, and winterberry. When the heather blooms out, the texture of the conifer is still a nice contrast.

Your pots don’t need to be fancy or your plantings elaborate. Something as simple as this three plant combo in a brown pot is perfect.

2. Designing for winter.

Brenna suggests we get away from the mindset of the heavy bloomers of summer. Not many plants are going to give us that kind of bloom all winter. Sure, we can plant our pansies and violas, but they will freeze when the 20s come roaring through (though if you keep their roots watered, you’ll have a beautiful spring performance out of them once again). It’s best to think of foliage plants for winter pots, and add your fall stuff–voilas, pansies, cabbages, and kales–not as the focal point, but as something you can take out when the cabbage turns to mush after a hard freeze. Some great winter perennials are heuchera, bergenia, sedges, carex, winterberry, conifers, acorus, and ivy. All of these are evergreen and while even they will suffer from a hard freeze, a warm spell in January (if such a thing exists!) will perk them back up. You’ll at least have color all winter, and plants like the bergenia  turn a beautiful, bronzy pink as the temperatures cool. Allow some thought for upcoming holidays. No sense in doing the pots again come Christmas. Think ahead and consider what you could add in December for a little holiday flair (red twigs, curly willow, bows, pine cones and such).

Below: Bergenia, acorus, heuchera, winterberry, muhlenbergia (this is pretty but won’t last through a harsh winter, try ivy if you can’t live without your trailers), red rooster sedge, and curly willow

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Adding what I call the curly q’s adds visual interest. Something I forget to use in my containers but Brenna uses a lot in hers.

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A conifer, like this little white pine combined with periwinkle is a favorite of mine. I am drawn to the starkness of it and it sits by my front door. But, if I am feeling snazzy then I add red twig or yellow twigs.

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If you prefer what I call the village pot (you can get the village in there), then this pot done by my friend, Debbie Neese, owner of Offshoot Virtual Landscape Services, would appeal to you. She’ll have to take out the chard and lamium as temperatures drop, but everything else will hold fine. The colors of the pot and plants are showy together.

3. Maintaining our winter pots.

You still need to water your winter containers. This one surprises folks, Brenna says. For some reason, they assume they can go without watering outdoor containers in winter. Not so. Check them twice a week, remembering that cold winds and cold temperatures pull water out of plants, but root drench them at least once a week. Meaning, water until you see water coming out of the bottom of the container. “I’ve seen more plants die from lack of water, roots drying out, than from cold,” Brenna says. And, please allow for drainage. Don’t put your pots in saucers, or sit level with the porch or ground. Raise them so they’ll drain. You don’t want the soil to freeze and thaw. Fertilize? Not necessary. Anything granular won’t break down in the cold, and using a foliar fertilizer could bring on tender new growth that isn’t hardened off, so skip it..

Below: cabbage, lemon thyme, chard, sedge, and citronelle heuchera

 

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Whimsical is fun.. Brenna did this for an upcoming wedding. The couple cared little if the container was winter worthy, but the cabbage and chard is all that will need to come out after a hard freeze.

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The partner with winterberry and orange pansies.

 

Finally.

Work smart. Don’t fill up ten pots. Do two. And put them near the door where you will go water them, or near the dog’s bowl where you’ll dump the old dog water into your containers. “The prettiest containers are always next to the dog bowls,” Brenna says. Use warm colors, not so much white, just to jazz things up a bit, and give you something to look at in the dreary months. If you decorate for the holidays, add vines, berries, curly willow, red twigs, anything that will be festive and give you a designer look. And oh, by the way, pots are fine outside all winter so long as it is a glazed pot (or concrete). Nothing that flakes will hold up to the cold. Take those inside.

Brenna’s rule of thumb:  Think of it like baking a cake. The anchors (evergreen perennials, conifers) are the cake. The pansies, violas, even spring blooming bulbs that can be tucked into the pots, are the icing.

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Bold colors for a cold winter.

red pots

Red pots with Illicuim ‘Florida Sunshine’ makes a great shade container. Again, bold for the cold.

 

Brenna (1)

Thank you, Brenna!

 

The First Job of the Roots is to Anchor the Plant

When I instruct clients on how to plant, I tell them, the first job of the root system is to anchor the plant. Then I go on to explain amendments and changing the soil structure and so forth. They always look surprised. They thought the roots were just there to take water up to the rest of the plant. (I’ll be honest, some don’t even know a plant needs water. And, I never know how to respond to that, except to remind myself that my financial planner has seen that seem blank look on my face.)

“Yes,” I say, “the roots do that, too. But, if the plant isn’t anchored, it doesn’t matter. All you have is a dead plant.”

When I moved into my quaint little rental, the trees needed pruning (badly), the path by the picket fence needed finishing, the weeds needed pulling, the grass mowing, the clematis freed, the landscape fabric pulled up, the bluebells separated, and so, that is what I did. I climbed trees and pruned. I dug bulbs and separated. I found irises buried under years of mulch. I weeded and uncovered azaleas. I dug out 24 Firepower Nandinas and gave them away. (What? Was there a sale?) I pulled out old, over grown and shaded abelias, and weedy Rose of Sharon. I mulched, weeded, planted and transplanted. I have neighbors on four sides. They watched from their porches with a sigh of satisfaction and a load of curiosity. Who was the wild woman weeding at night with a giant flashlight by her side?

Me. That’s who.

After the roots get established, then they can be about the business of absorbing nutrients and minerals, transporting water, storing food and helping with erosion control. Then the plant can grow. But, it takes time.

The first job for people isn’t much different than the first job for roots. We’ve got to establish ourselves before we begin expanding. Or maybe I must. Maybe you’re good with the gypsy life. That’s what the madness of cleaning up the yard was about. Putting down roots. Establishing myself. I wasn’t ready to look beyond my boundaries. I wan’t ready to grow.

I generally tell clients to give their new plants an entire growing season to get established before they forget about watering, especially during a drought. Common sense prevails. A growing season is defined as spring to fall, or the time that temperatures are warm enough and rainfall often enough to allow plants to settle in and grow.

The tree isn’t going to provide you with much shade if it’s so stressed the leaves are falling off. 

As for me, the growing season isn’t so easily defined, though I am taking my cues from the shifting of the light that moves me into a different season. Are my roots established? If you’re wondering how you’re shrub is doing, give it a tug. It shouldn’t have a lot of give. Today, I pulled up a yew (densiforma) with nothing more than a slight jerk. It looked healthy. It seemed fine. But, a gentle nudge and it was sideways on the ground. Is my life so easily disturbed? 

Stability isn’t guaranteed, though. Sometimes, winds are so harsh that no root system holds and giant oaks fall. The same with life. Who knows where I’ll be this time next year. Transplanted again? Maybe. But for now, it seems my roots are pretty well established, and so growth can begin. One step at a time.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

September 15, 2014 and it’s pouring rain outside in my zone 7b rain forest garden. Honestly, despite being a rain forest, we need the rain. This year looks a lot like last. We had a cool August. I went to work most days in long sleeves, and stayed in long sleeves all day. But come September the heat turned up and rain dried up.

Still, a few things remain in bloom. The dahlias are giving a great show late into the season.

Firepot Dahlia

Firepot Dahlia

The marigolds at the NC Arboretum look amazing, as does my granddaughter, Miss Priss.

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Marigolds in the Quilt Garden at Arboretum

This pretty little morning glory says hello each morning. (Wish I could remember the name. But, I do know the grower, if anyone just has to know!)

Variag

Variegated Morning Glory

My new favorite, Henry Eilers. Love the way it peeks out at you.

Rudebeckia Henry Eilers

Rudebeckia Henry Eilers

Coreopsis ‘Enchanted Eve’ is still blooming like mad, and looks great in my containers. It stays 12″ tall, so perfect for fall containers. Part of the Little Bang series. Lots of fun.

Coreopsis 'Enchanted Eve'

Coreopsis ‘Enchanted Eve’

Our hydrangeas at the store still look incredible–here’s the hilltop view (BB Barns Garden Center, Asheville, NC).

Hilltop view of Hydrangeas

Hilltop view of Hydrangeas at store

Hibiscus is still flowering next to my picket fence. This is Midnight Marvel.

Midnight Marvle

Midnight Marvel

Toad Lilies!!

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This digiplexis is just too dang pretty for words. It is in my employer’s garden and I will have it next year or die for want, even though it is an annual for us (zone 8 plant).

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Digiplexis

And finally, Erica does our grounds at work. I couldn’t resist this last shot of fall on the way. The solidago, grass, and mums reminding me that despite the heat, fall is coming.

Fall is coming.

Fall is coming.

So what’s blooming in your garden? Get out the camera and show me, or participate in the Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day done through www.maydreams.com.

No More News Today; I’m Going Out to the Garden

I can’t watch the news, anymore. The Lord did not give me a heart of steel. I am a sponge when it comes to broken hearts and broken worlds. There is only so much any of us can listen to or watch, and stay sane. Enough said. It is out to the garden I go. Or in today’s case, it is out the garden center I go. The place where beauty actually overtakes evil.

The light shines into the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Here are two of my new favorites at the garden center. I will side note here to add that if you go to a big box, you might find these, MIGHT. But, if you did find them, they would not look like this. Point made. Support your local, independent garden retail center

Number one new favorite:

Coreopsis ‘Enchanted Eve’ part of the Lil’ Bang series (which is the dwarf of the Big Bang series, like ‘Mercury Rising’). This super cool guy named Darrell Probst (no, I never met the guy but his plants are awesome) is the breeder. His thing is breeding coreopsis for lower zones (down to zone 5) and color (he has introduced a true red coreopsis).  Height on this one makes it perfect for containers or landscape, 8-12″ and 12-18″ spread. Blooms early summer into early fall. Zone 5-9 and cooler climates will have more red in the center. Don’t you feel better just looking at this and thinking of all the great places to plant it? Me too.

Coreopsis 'Enchanted Eve'

Coreopsis ‘Enchanted Eve’

Second current favorite:

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’ done by the same guy. (He is very busy.) Part of the Permathread series, this one gets 12-18″ tall, similar spread, and zones 5-9. (The zone thing is evidently a big thing for him, living in MA, a zone 5.) A wine red color.This one just makes my heart so happy it hurts.

Coreopsis 'Red Satin'

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’

Joe Pye Weed hybrids are selling like mad in the garden center, everyone wants one. Little Joe, Baby Joe, and this guy, ‘Phantom,’ whom I adore. It stays compact, 31″ high max, 23″ wide, not all that flopping around. Not to mention, its blooms are perfect. No, that is not our garden center in the background. If it was, we’d open a bed and breakfast and take reservations. My phone died before I could take a picture. This is an internet shot. Wherever this place is, with the view in the background, what a heck-of-a-place to garden. Here’s a link for a comparative study done on the pye weed by the Chicago Botanic Garden. (I know, that is the last thing you want to read, but the pictures are incredible.)

Joe Pye Weed 'Phantom'

Joe Pye Weed ‘Phantom’

And, in my own garden, Sweet Autumn clematis. It can be so weedy, but how pretty is this? Up to 30′ tall with a similar spread, this baby can tolerate a lot of shade. And, it blooms now, late August through September. It is also deer resistant, but let’s talk deer for a half of second (or they’ll hear us and come running and there will go my clematis). I’ll say this once. DEER DON’T READ OUR PLANT TAGS.

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Sweet Autumn Clematis

If you feel the need to return to the news now, go ahead. I’m going to walk Aggie while drinking my coffee. (A definite balancing trick, “Squirrel!”) I’ll pray today for the violence to recede, for gardens to take the place of war-torn lands, and swords to turn to plowshares.

Isaiah 2:4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

Blooms for You Shade Dwellers

Oh, how we all want those full-sun blooming flowers in our cool, shady yards. One poor customer is so desperate for them that she plants full-sun perennials in containers, and then wheels them around all day on plant coasters, following the thread of sunlight that moves spot-to-spot in her dappled yard. I say, embrace the shade.

On that note. We’ll not waste a minute for you shade dwellers. Here’s a shade-loving perennial that blooms!

Toadlily 'Purple Beauty'

Toad lily ‘Purple Beauty’

Adorable, right? This is Tricyrtis ‘Purple Beauty’. It’s in my very shady perennial border and loving it. About 36 inches tall, I keep it toward the back of the border. It has long stems that are covered with these little orchid-like blooms. They really are appreciated up close better than far away, but since I am generally up close in my garden, I don’t mind.(There is a Toad Lily that arches, and looks great growing over rock walls.) 

If they dry out, their leaves will brown and they won’t produce as many flowers. Keep them in a moist, shady area and they’ll bloom right through frost–beginning in late summer.

Hardy down to zone 4a for some cultivars, others 6a–so check your cultivar with your nursery. (I’m 7a and mine lived through last winter, which is saying a lot since most people barely survived last winter sitting indoors in front of their fires.)

The best part about this perennial?  You don’t have to plant them in containers and wheel them around your yard, chasing wisps of sunlight. 

The Knock Out Is Knocked Out (I’m Talking Roses Here)

Knock Out roses have been the rage for so many years that they are now synonymous with the word rose.

Homeowners have fallen in love with roses again, because finally there was a rose that could take anything you threw at and survive–a testament to the somewhat troublesome species of roses. Star Roses (the company who sells Knock Outs) put the landscape in landscape roses, or if you prefer the shrub in shrub roses.The Knock Out blooms all summer (meaning it has 5 cycles of bloom), escapes most typical rose issues, and you can prune the heck out of it come spring or fall without the nagging question in your brain, “Is this the right time to prune?” Honestly, the Knock Out is as easy as a butterfly bush. And, that, dear people, (despite my dislike of that rangy butterfly-infested shrub) is saying a lot.

But all good things must come to an end, and so it seems the Knock Out rose is losing its popular appeal. After all, there’s only so many you can see before you begin to think, blah. Then there’s the whole issue with rose rosette disease. An adorable client, who lives in one of the many Cliff’s developments around here, planted 22 Knock Outs in his landscape. (The Cliff’s Developments completely baffle me. I believe people play golf there, but who knows?) My client so loved his roses, and then, the rose rosette disease happened. All 22 were dug up and burned.

(Just an FYI, the reason you do not plant 22 of anything, even if you get them at Home Depot at 19,99 each–which I don’t recommend–is because you have just planted a mono-culture. Meaning, some disease or pest can come along and well, wipe out the whole planting. Diversity is good in people and the landscape. If my clients had just thrown in a couple of ‘Admiration’ barberries, they’d still have something to look at. Live and learn.)

But, moving on, because me? I never liked a Knock Out. So, I say good riddance. But, I do love a rose, and here’s my new favorite, It puts the Knock Out to pure shame. The leaf color alone makes me swoon. The rose blooms are not as bright as a Knock Out, but Knock Outs always screamed a little too loud for me anyway. And, so far, this rose is clean as a whistle. No black spot, no Japanese beetles, no powdery mildew (and I live in a rain forest). NOTHING BUT PERFECTION.

Side note: I never, and I do mean never, do anything about diseases on my roses. I garden organically and well, in my book, only the strong survive. The wimps hit the compost pile. I’m a busy girl. If anyone is going to get pampered, it is me. The roses must figure out how to shine on their own, without me dumping daconil on them. I do dead head.

So, here’s the featured plant of the week. The Kashmir Rose, part of the Easy Elegance rose collection. First up a picture of it blooming so you can just die happy right where you are.

Kashmir Rose

Kashmir Rose

photo 2 (3)

Kashmir Rose

I’ll quote the company because I love when rose people write about roses. They get so Shakespearean.

Resembling a hybrid tea rose, the velvety red blossoms are as soft as cashmere and beg to be cut for the vase. With an evenly rounded habit Kashmir fits perfectly into today’s urban landscapes. Try this bold accent plant in the border, foundation or as a low hedge, hugging paths and walkways.

Notice I did as instructed and planted by a pathway and my picket fence. Though, I did not read the instructions until 2 minutes ago. A lucky move on my part. Here’s the leaf. How clean is this thing?

photo 1

Kashmir Rose leaf (new growth, but old growth looks the same)

 

And, here’s the neighbor’s Knock Out, about 200 yards from the Kashmir.. If it were mine, it would already be in the compost bin.

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Knock Out Rose

 

Simply put. The Kashmir rose has knocked the Knock Out, out.