Thursday, April 16, 2015

Saint Francis Without His Head

Did you notice the statue in this photo of the front Rose Border from my post earlier this week?

It is one of my very favorite things in the garden ... a little unexpected bit of perverse whimsy.

It belonged to the prior owners of our house, and it may have even belonged to the owners before them, too.  They told me that they would get rid of it before they moved out, because it was broken.  (St. Francis's head was laying on the ground beside him at the time.)  I scooped it up right then and there, and I told them that I loved it exactly the way it was ... broken head, chippy paint, and all.

At first, I put the head onto his little bird-feeder dish so it wouldn't get lost before I could repair it.  It kinda grew on me like this, though, and I decided to leave it.  Now, I can't imagine him any other way.

edited on 4/17/15 to add:  A kind reader left the following message on the Hartwood Roses Facebook page a little while ago.  "Your headless statue - what a hoot.  I think he's St. Fiacre, patron saint of the garden.  He's carrying a basket.  No animals are on him, as would be for St. Francis Gail."  

He's right ... carrying a basket ... no animals ... Saint Fiacre it is!  I'm really glad to know this, because I have been keeping an eye out for a St. Fiacre statue for a while now ... haven't seen one that I like yet.  Who would have thought that I already had one that I love so much.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Reading the Clues

I keep my knitting/crocheting projects in this vintage milk crate between the leather chairs in our family room. 

Evidence suggests that Maggie walked by it and brushed past the crochet hook at some point during the day on Tuesday.  

Don't have to be a trained detective to figure out clues in this mystery.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Spring has definitely arrived.  Garden work has become Job One, as I weed and prune and mulch.  It feels wonderful to have my hands in the earth again, after what seemed like a never-ending winter trapped indoors.

Waterlogue image of a clump of heirloom daffodils our the front yard rose border.

The Rose Border in our front yard is the first rose garden that I designed and built after we moved here in 2007.  It contains about forty roses, a mix of Noisettes, Chinas, Hybrid Musks, Hybrid Perpetuals, and a few shrubs thrown in for good measure.  It has never been right, as weeds took over quickly, roses outgrew their spots, and deferred maintenance let little problems turn into big ones.  I tell folks that I have learned a lot about gardening in this old farm soil since I did this garden.

This is an early photo that I took with the roses in full bloom, young and still looking nice.  It wasn't this way for long.

I don't have any true 'Before' photos, before I started this renovation last week.  I was more interested in getting things done, instead of documenting the horror to blog about it.   The best I can do is to show you the mat of weeds and the stumps of seedling trees (that were taller than I am).  The weeds are now pulled, and the tree stumps have been dealt with.  Multiply this by ten or more, and you have an idea of how awful it was.

It was SO much worse than this, as the roses were suffocating with weeds that were taller than they were.

Most of the weeds are pulled at this point.

Just a little clump of crawly weeds left to go in this section.

Much better!

Originally, the front edging of this garden was a single row of bricks laid on the ground, and there was no barrier at the fence line between the garden and the pasture beyond, which let Bermuda Grass and all sorts of other creepy weeds in.  The new front edging is made of concrete paver stones, and I laid the curve of the bed a bit wider than it was before.  The back of the bed is defined with 4x4 timbers from our stash of salvaged fence posts.

Landscape fabric is next.  Landscape fabric underneath the mulch has been VERY successful at keeping weeds at bay in the other places where I have used it.  (See the installation in the front Hybrid Tea garden HERE and the English Garden HERE.)

It takes a while to mark and cut holes for the existing roses and clumps of daffodils.

There are 75 pieces of edging at the front of this garden.  It's going to take a while to trench and set all of them.

With the landscape fabric going down,  the blank background made it easy to see the solution to the problem of the rose spacing.  I am moving the front few roses forward about two feet, and it's looking a lot better already.

The arrows show the patched holes where the roses were, and the dotted lines lead to where the roses are now.

I also see where there are a few places in the back of the garden where I can fill in with some roses out of my pot ghetto.

I'm running new irrigation line, too, because the old one was damaged in too many places.

Even though I still have a long way to go before I can say that I'm finished with this, it feels really good to step back and see the amazing improvement that has already been accomplished.

My husband helped for most of the day on Saturday, clearing weeds and vines and trees to free this Crape Myrtle, on the left.  He also limbed up the oak tree, on the right, to give the garden underneath of it more sunshine.

This is the part that's finished except for mulch.

This shows that's there's still more left to be done ... but it's looking amazing so far!

I took those last two photos before supper this evening, while standing in the yard admiring my work (with a glass of wine in my hand).  I can't wait till May and June ... THAT'S when the real reward will come!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Something New in the Family Room

I just took this photo with my iPad.  It's the unstaged view that I see right now from where I'm sitting in my chair here in the family room.

Ruby and Winnie ... I can always count on finding them right there.

The sofa is covered with a new quilt that I got on clearance at Ikea on Monday.  The colors aren't exactly right for this room, but it is a linen/cotton blend (so it will wear well), it didn't cost a fortune, it has roses on it, and I like it a lot.  Maggie has clawed the crap out of the arms and corners of this sofa, and the dogs nap on it almost all day ... I find that keeping it covered with something that I can wash is easiest.

This room is starting to remind me of a boho hippie hang out ... with its mix of flowered fabrics and oriental rugs.  Now that I think of it, this probably fits my personality perfectly.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

I took this photo of Daniel for Easter 2013.  He's been gone for almost two years now, and I long ago reached the point where I smile when I see photos of him ... remembering circumstances or events with him makes me happy.

I hope a silly photo of his sweet self wearing bunny ears makes you happy, too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blooming in the Basement ... Single Pink China

The cuttings that I took at Monticello's Tufton Farm last October are growing like crazy under their lights on the shelves in my basement workshop.  A few of the cuttings have buds, which I will leave in place so I can confirm that each plant still has its correct identity on the label.  More important than this is the joy that I get from seeing these tiny plants (ones that I started from a stick and a prayer) grow and push out buds and flowers.

The flower that opened this morning is on a plant of 'Single Pink China'.  'Single Pink China' is a very rare rose, thought to be a sport of 'Old Blush'.  The plants themselves are very much alike in the garden ... but 'Old Blush' has semi-double flowers and flowers on 'Single Pink China' have a single row of five petals.  As far as I know, there is no nursery in the US that sells this rose.

Five delicate petals on this flower, with a couple of quirky petaloids that many single-flowered roses have.  I could have groomed those out, but I didn't

It's still too early for me to begin the process of hardening these babies off to life on the outside, as they are only accustomed to my cool basement (around 55 degrees most of the time).  To be honest, I probably could start the in-and-out cycle of taking the pots outside during the day, then bringing them back inside at night, but I don't want to risk forgetting about them outside one evening while nights are still getting to or below freezing.    

My main mission with propagating these rare roses is to distribute them to gardens in other places to help insure that they don't disappear.  With this in mind, eight varieties of these roses in the basement (this one included) will be securely packaged and winging their way to a friend later today.

Bon Voyage, little rose!

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Weekend's "Big Flea" Finds

My husband and I went to the "Fredericksburg Big Flea", a once-per-year huge antique/collectibles show at the Fredericksburg Expo Center, on Saturday morning.  We took our time going up and down the aisles in the show room, but nothing seemed awesome enough to buy until we were in the last aisle.  Here is what we bought:

As soon as I saw the carefully-framed remains of this sampler from 1805, I knew that I HAD to have it.  Even in this condition, the precise stitches are a work of art.  To be honest, I think I love it MORE in this tattered state than I would have if it were whole.

Sarah Murray and her numbers and alphabets.

dated 1805

I have a huge collection of vintage and antique postcards.  My ones of sites in Fredericksburg are matted and framed, and I used to have them hanging in the family room in our past houses.  When I saw a dealer with postcards at the Big Flea on Saturday, I checked the Richmond, Virginia, section to see what he had from Hollywood Cemetery.

Three of the five postcards we bought were unused.

One of President Monroe's tomb, and two of the Jefferson Davis family lot.

One of the Davis postcards, copyright 1905, shows landscaping that appears to contain rose bushes!

The other two postcards are my favorite type to find, ones that were used and mailed and contain a message and an address.  This one shows President Monroe's tomb, and it was mailed to Miss Mollie Knight in Luray, Virginia, in 1907.

This last one shows a lily pond that once was part of the landscape near the entrance of Hollywood Cemetery.  I have never seen this image before, and I am thrilled to have it!  It was mailed to Miss Florence Riker in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1909.

Next time I go to Hollywood Cemetery, I will bring these along with me and I will try to photograph the same scenes.

There was other great stuff at the show, but this is all we brought home with us.  Being in the mood to downsize, declutter, and simplify puts a whole different mood on shopping at an antique show.  I look at things and appreciate them, and only items that I absolutely LOVE make the cut ... which, I guess, is how it should be all the time.

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