Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

I bought these bunny ears last week at Target for $1.   It was a simple matter to shorten the plastic headband, and thread a piece of elastic through the fuzzy fabric band to make them fit the dogs.  (Those of you who follow Greyhounds Rock on FB have already seen these pictures ... they're so cute that I have to post them here, too, for everyone to enjoy.)

First up, we have my sweet boy Daniel.  He finished his chemotherapy treatments last month, and he had a great check-up last week!  (To see his story of successful treatment for Lymphoma, click HERE.)

"I'll wear the ears, but I don't have to like it."
Our friends Kim and Andy adopted a new dog in November ... meet Anu, a beautiful, loving-but-skittish, work-in-progress Saluki.  (We were shocked that he let us put the ears on him.)
Anu can melt people with those eyes!
Our final model for the bunny ears is TJ ... Kim and Andy's other dog.  Next week, TJ will celebrate the 33-month anniversary of his osteosarcoma diagnosis and amputation. In that time, TJ has been an inspiration ... showing everyone he meets that there is life after amputation (especially for a dog) and that a physical challenge doesn't have to be a handicap.
I tried repeated to get a photo of Ruby wearing the ears, but she kept shaking them off before I could get the picture.  You'll have to take my word for it ... they were really cute on her.
Happy Easter, Everybody!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Transplanting the Sprout

The little rose seedling from my last post was getting too long too fast, as if it was struggling to reach the light, so this morning I lifted it from the seed tray and transplanted it into its own little pot.

Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.  I needed a tool that was small enough to lift the seedling from its small cell, but large enough to keep and hold an adequate ball of soil to protect the seedling's tender root.  A silver pickle fork looked like it would be the perfect tool for the job ...

... and it was!   Using the fork, I carefully lifted the seedling out of the corner of the cell, and it came out perfectly!  (There is another seed in this cell, so I had to lift just the seedling and not disturb the rest of the cell.)


Downstairs in my basement workshop, I put a small amount of potting mix into a bowl, added some water, and stirred it up (using the pickle fork for this, too)  ...

... filled a 3-inch pot with the mix, and hollowed out a hole about the size of the little seedling's root ball ...

... and used the fork to gently place the seedling into the hole.  I used the tip my finger to firm the mix lightly around the rootball, and then gently watered the pot to settle the seedling into its new home.

Now the pot is under the grow light, keeping company with some of my rose cuttings from the fall.  

More news on this as leaves form and especially (fingers crossed) when/if we get a bud and a flower.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Sprout!!

Remember the rose seeds that I showed you in THIS post from the beginning of February?  I'm excited to tell you that the first sprout showed up this morning!

The flats holding the seeds have been sitting on my kitchen counter for seven weeks.  They're here because this is a good spot for me to keep a close eye on them.
I check them every day (not hard to remember to do this, since they're in the middle of the kitchen).  This morning, I saw this:
The seed that sprouted came from 'White Wings', a beautiful single, white Hybrid Tea rose.
Photo taken in October at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden.
My handful of fat hips.
The sprout is so incredibly tiny ... only about a centimeter tall.
As soon as the cotyledons clear the soil and open completely, I will carefully lift the sprout and plant it into its own little pot.  It will then go to live in the basement workshop under the grow light till the weather is warm enough for it to live in the greenhouse.
Now I'll be waiting impatiently for this baby's first flower. 
This is so exciting!!  More updates to come, of course, as additional seeds sprout ... or whatever else happens.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Snapshot ... Rose Day at Hollywood

Yesterday was a blur.  It was the day that I have been planning for months ... the day that volunteers descended upon the roses at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

Here is a taste of what we did:

Heritage Rose Foundation president Stephen Scanniello, and Hollywood Cemetery board member Peter Toms, working on the Crenshaw Musk Rose.

Delicately pruning a rose that's struggling.

Thinning a very vigorous 'Archduke Charles' rose.

Discussing how best to attack a very overgrown, storm-damaged Tea rose.

Removing an invasive mulberry tree from a rose.

Clearing weeds and grass from the base of this rose.

I took very few photos.  Some of the volunteers and cemetery staff had their cameras in action during the day, and I can share those pics with you as soon as I get them.

It was a wonderful, wonderful day.  It's great to have a plan come off exactly as planned ... and even better when everyone has such a great time while it's happening.

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Perfect Timing

"When should I prune my roses?"  I get asked this question all the time.  The practical advice is to prune roses in early spring when the Forsythia is blooming. 

I took these photos while I was at Hollywood Cemetery for a meeting earlier this week.  Our Rose Work Day is tomorrow ... timing turned out to be perfect, considering we chose this day months ago.  Mother Nature could have given us all sorts of problems, but she has behaved herself and has provided optimum conditions for rose pruning.
The cemetery and I are absolutely ready for tomorrow.  Can't wait to meet all of the volunteers and get this done!
(My own Forsythia isn't even showing color yet ... which means that timing for pruning and working in my own garden will also be perfect when I can get to it starting next week.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is That What I Think It Is?

I was behind this truck in traffic this morning.  It looked at first like the driver had a couple of dogs in the bed of the truck.  When we stopped at a light, I realized that they weren't dogs after all.

Is anyone else giggling at the fact that this is a "Ram" truck ... in more ways than one.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Extra, Extra ... Hollywood Cemetery Newspaper Article

The newspaper article about my project with the roses at Hollywood Cemetery was published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday.  Thank you, Tammie Smith, for writing such a wonderful account ... reading it makes me blush.  Here is the text of the article, sprinkled with my own photos of the roses that make Hollywood Cemetery such a special place.

One by one, Connie Hilker has eyed all 130 or so roses in Hollywood Cemetery, making notes about the condition, type and growth habit.

On Saturday, she will lead a volunteer effort to provide some much-needed TLC to the roses, many of which are older varieties not readily available elsewhere.

"Mrs. B. R. Cant' growing in President's Circle.

“Some of them are struggling. Some of them are thriving. Some need only their dead wood removed, and that’s really all that should happen to them,” Hilker said. “Others are going to need a little bit more, and that’s why I’ve been visiting each one, photographing them and making notes.”

An unknown red China rose.

Hilker knows her roses. She is owner of Hartwood Roses, a Fredericksburg-area display and educational garden specializing in rare and historic roses. To say she loves roses is an understatement — she has 800 varieties. She got out of the retail business to spend more time teaching about roses.

A particularly graceful Tea rose on the Howe plot.

She has been coming to Hollywood Cemetery for the past 10 years to check out the roses, which is one reason she jumped at the chance to help when Kelly Jones Wilbanks, development director at the cemetery, came to a Richmond Rose Society meeting looking for volunteers.


“All she really wanted was someone to come and do the work. Then I talked to her, and realized that they didn’t have an inventory of what they had, and I volunteered to start the process,” Hilker said.
That was last summer. During the fall, Hilker met with Donald Toney, grounds foreman/supervisor at the cemetery.
“He’s been here since 1967. … Through December and into January, he made a list of every rose he could find on the cemetery grounds. Then he took that list and put it on a map of the cemetery,” Hilker said.

This beautiful rose is probably 'Radiance'.

The roses are mapped by section and lot location. The parklike cemetery covers 135 acres. Among the people buried there are American presidents, Virginia governors and Supreme Court justices.

One of my favorite of Hollywood's roses, a once-bloomer in the Hazen plot.

Because Hilker is familiar with many of the roses and has photographed some of them during the past 10 years, she is able to spot omissions. For instance, one rose she knows is or was there is not on the map. But she has a photo she took on a previous visit.
“Is it not on his list because it doesn’t exist anymore? Or is it not on his list because it’s leafless and it’s growing in a crape myrtle?” Hilker said.

'Duchesse de Brabant', a Tea rose, in the Armistead plot.

Because roses are leafless and bloomless this time of year, some of the identification will have to wait. Hilker said others may have cataloged the roses, but that information is not in the cemetery’s records.

A Tea rose, probably 'Madame Joseph Schwartz'

So far, about two dozen people have volunteered for the work day, Hilker said. “We’re going to divide them up into groups. Everybody’s going to have a section of the cemetery to work on and a list of roses within that section.”
Most of the volunteers are people who simply like roses and want to help, but Hilker also has asked some rose experts to come and help mentor.

'Archduke Charles', a beautiful China rose.

“All of the roses that are here, for the most part, are old roses, but you never really know,” Hilker said. They also have been able to survive with very little care. She has seen some decline over recent years because of the summer droughts.

'Rosa moschata' ... the Musk Rose ... an ancient rose that grows in Hollywood's Crenshaw plot.

“My real interest is preserving old roses and teaching people about them,” Hilker said. “Part of that for five years was propagating and selling the old roses. But most people don’t know about them. You can’t go to a store and get them. You really have to go to a specialty nursery or know someone.”

'Autumn Sunset' a rose that once grew on the Augustine lot.  It suffered and eventually died from prolonged drought.

(Click HERE to go to the original online version of this article.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013


You already know that I was at Hollywood Cemetery on Monday, finishing the assessment of the existing roses in preparation for our volunteer Rose Work Day on March 23.  While I was there, a photographer from the Richmond newspaper trailed along behind Donald and me while we worked.  I just found out that six of the photos were published on the online version of the paper. 

Here they are:

This looks pretty darned glamorous, doesn't it?  We do lots of staring at the map, riding in the Gator, walking around, making notes, and doing the best we can to have enough information to prepare for putting the volunteers to work next Saturday.
Now I'm wondering if the interview that I did with the reporter is going to be published ... if it is, I will let you know.
photo credit goes to Daniel Sangjib Min of the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Few Things That Caught My Eye

Hollywood Cemetery stuff again.  This project has become pretty all-consuming, as we are less than two weeks away from our big volunteer Rose Work Day.  Monday's weather was beautiful ... perfect for spending the afternoon with Donald (the grounds foreman), whizzing along in his Gator, locating, photographing, and evaluating the remaining roses on our list. 

Whenever I'm at Hollywood, I find sculpture and monuments there that are totally amazing.  It's hard, sometimes, to keep my concentration on the job at hand ... it's so easy to get distracted by all the beauty in the stones and statues around us.

I had to stand on a wall to get this shot.  Such high relief, with the cross on the top of this crypt and the roses strewn about, as if scattered by a loved one.
The wear and patina on this monument, with the roses tucked into the rolls of the scroll, was amazing in person.
This is the top of a tall monument.  Look at the detail and delicacy of the tassel on the left.  I'm not surprised that the two on the right are damaged, and am completely amazed that the one has survived for over a hundred years.
Look carefully at this bouquet, and imagine the skill that was necessary to carve it ... unbelievable 3D high relief, with roses, Lily of the Valley, ferns, Morning Glories, lilies, delicate stems, and a ribbon tying it all together!
I have photographed this little dove dozens of times.  There's just something about the simplicity of it, combined with the weathering and patina, that draws me in every time I see it.  It is in the Crenshaw plot ... a plot I visit almost every time I go to Hollywood.
For the rose history lovers among you, here are some images of the famous Musk rose.  This rose was thought to be extinct, until this specimen was discovered in the 1980s.
This rose is a treasure, and it needs a good bit of TLC to get it into shape.  The crown is a tangle of old, dead, and crossing canes, and the base is a mess.
On Rose Day, I will put one of my very best, most experienced volunteers to work on this.  It will be time consuming, but very rewarding to see a treasure like this put into shape to grow and bloom and thrive.
Speaking of Rose Day ... there's only 10 days to go!  I'm so excited to be doing this!!!
There's still time to volunteer to help, if you're interested.  (hint, hint)
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