Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meet the Hartwood Hounds.

Since the nursery is here at our house, I thought it would be appropriate to start to introduce you to some of my 'family'.

This is Emma.


We adopted her in October 1999, and she turned 12 years old this past January. Meeting new people is her favorite thing to do (besides sleeping), and she personally greets everyone who comes in the door.

She raced as “Alabama Emma” in Ebro, Florida, and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her racing career lasted only 5 months – the girl hates to run, so much so that she stopped in the back-stretch during what would be her last race. She then began her second career, with me, as a therapy dog and greyhound adoption representative. Her hobbies include sleeping, growling at her brother, and chasing squirrels.

This is Daniel.


Daniel has been with us since January 2006, and he will be 8 years old in June. His racing name was “Forbes Nakdaniel”, and he ran 81 races over the course of 2 ½ years, all in Florida … at Derby Lane, Tampa, and Naples-Fort Myers.

This boy loves to run. He is happiest when he’s zooming figure-8’s around the back yard with a tennis ball in his mouth. He’s not too sure of new situations, and loud, sharp noises send him cowering to his bed. But, he loves me more than anything, and that’s just what I need sometimes.


If you’re at all interested in adopting a retired greyhound, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have and/or refer you to an adoption group in your area.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Foggy Morning.

Yesterday it rained all day … showers in the morning, drizzle during the afternoon, and two big thunderstorms overnight. Everything outside is clean, and green, and beautiful.

Here are a couple of photos I just took from our deck.

The Hybrid Tea bed in the front yard. Our old dogwood tree is beautiful this year.

The view toward the barn and rose field. When the trees leaf out in a couple of weeks, we won’t be able to see the barn at all from the house.

The ground is too wet to plant today, so I think I’ll spread mulch … or lay cobblestones for the new bed beside the barn. There’s so much to do.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hey, Connie, why are you starting a nursery?

This is a valid question. With the current pessimistic tone of the economy, it seems risky to start any sort of business right now. Here are a couple of my thoughts on the subject:

1. There’s no place anywhere near here to buy good roses. The main sources for roses are generalized nurseries and big-box stores that sell the “latest and greatest” from large growers. Most of these roses are hybrid teas (nothing against hybrid teas, mind you) and they are budded onto Dr. Huey, a root stock that doesn’t perform well in our soil.

2. Nurseries and Big Box stores don’t have gardens. How can the average rose grower see what the potted roses at the store will look like as they mature? Under these circumstances, we have to rely on the photo on the tag, and maybe a short description … both of which are designed to entice you to buy that rose, whether it will perform well in the conditions of your garden or not.

3. There are so many fabulous roses out there you’ve that probably never heard of. Large retailers can’t offer these roses, because there’s no word-of-mouth demand for them. Their stock is driven by the marketing of the large growers who supply them.

My goal here is simple: I want to grow roses that most people have never seen, and get them out into gardens where they can be enjoyed. While doing this, if I can provide a little bit of entertainment, I’ll be thrilled.

I am also trying to create a place for people to come to learn about roses. As the gardens here mature, we plan to have pruning workshops and propagation classes (a nursery that teaches people to propagate their own roses … now that’s different), maybe a guest lecturer or two, and whatever else I can think of to help share my love of roses with as many people as possible. Just the fact that I’m approaching 700 different varieties of roses should catch people’s interest, and make them want to come visit.

I’m not one to toot my own horn. I get very uncomfortable talking about myself, so this post has been a bit of a struggle for me. If you’d like to get updates on events here at the nursery, sign up for our mailing list … the form is on the ‘Contact Us’ page at the Hartwood Roses web site,

What we did around here last week.

Things here in Hartwood are happening fast and furious. Increased daylight and warmer temps are waking up the garden, and make pleasant working conditions for the gardener. Here is a run-down of last week:

Weeds!! The soil here is perfect for growing all sorts of things. This property has been a farm since 1837, so we have better soil here than I have ever seen in Virginia. We also have every type of weed known to mankind … and they grow like, you know, weeds.

Even though the ground is damp and soft, I have found that it is best not to pull most weeds. Pulling them out disturbs the soil, activates dormant weed seeds by exposing them to the sunlight, and perpetuates the problem. It’s better to carefully use herbicide, let the weeds die in place, and cover their carcasses with mulch. Fortunately, Round-up is now available in a much-less-expensive generic form. Many spring mornings while the air is still, you will find me out with my sprayer murdering weeds.

The Rose Field. With the nursery here scheduled to open in June (more on this later in the week), and 4 events planned for the last week in May, I have to keep a pretty frantic pace to get everything into “Show Garden” condition. The Rose Field has been the biggest project. The paths between the rows get muddy … and weedy … so we are putting down gravel.


Let’s do the math: 19 paths, 4 feet wide and 65 feet long = 4940 square feet. Plus the central aisle: 4 feet wide, 160 feet long = 660 square feet … for a grand total of 5600 square feet of gravel! In order to do this in the most efficient way possible, we hired it out. Two teenage boys can do at least 4 times the work of the average adult. I marked the paths in spray paint, and they shoveled and wheelbarrowed and raked about half of the field in two afternoons. There is no way I could ever come close to what they accomplished.


Here's a photo showing the paths, before and after gravel:

(You have to imagine that the roses are larger, all leafed out and blooming, and the beds mulched and weed free.)

Mulch. Everything here needs at least some mulch. Gardens that were mulched last year just need a light freshening. There are places we didn’t get to mulch last year, and new garden areas, where we have to kill the weeds (see above) lay paper (newspaper, packing paper or brown paper) and add a couple inches of mulch.


(Notice that the roses are now planted at each post of the Arcade.)

Instead of bringing in a tractor-trailer load of mulch (which is probably what this place will end up requiring) we’ve decided to have Steve detour past the mulch place near his office every few days and bring it home a yard at a time. This is a nice manageable amount (probably 2 days worth) and we won’t have to find a place to store Mount Mulch until we can use it up.

Cobblestones! Last year, 7 Hills School in Richmond removed some cobblestones on their property to build a soccer field. These stones are now for sale, with proceeds benefitting the school. I love the character of the traffic side of these stones. They will be perfect to edge the new fig bed I’m going to put along the sunny, south side of the barn.


Take another look at my previous post with the photos of the construction of the Arcade .... notice how the grass gets greener as construction progressed? Spring is here, my friends.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Construction of the Arcade

I needed a structure to use to train some of my climbers. Most of the roses I want in this location are pillar roses (smaller climbers, with relatively stiff canes). These are ideal to wind around posts and grow over the top of a trellis.

With this in mind, here is what I came up with:

The location for this structure (which we are calling “The Arcade” because it has arches) is on the path as you head toward the rose field.


It consists of 10 6x6 posts, 9 feet high, set 6 feet on center.


There are 2 x 10 beams at the top, bolted across both sides of the posts.


Here is the almost-finished product. I designed Gothic arches to go in each space. These provide lateral stability, as well as providing a decorative element. 


The roses I have planned for here are: White Cap, Compassion, Isabella Skinner, Henry Kelsey, Parade, Pink Perpetue, Rhode Island Red, Sombruiel, Pink Pillar and Swan Lake. I hope to plant these next week … as soon as I get some mulch.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

In the Greenhouse …

It’s about time to bring everyone up to date on the progress of the plants in the greenhouse.

Here are a few photos, taken this morning while I was out there potting some of the larger cuttings into gallon pots. There's nothing like photos of roses to put one in a spring-like mood.

These shelves are in the southeast corner. Most of the roses are miniatures intended to be planted in the garden I didn’t want to risk them outside over the winter.

Madeline Spezzano (pink), Love and Peace (red striped), Double Gold (apricot/gold).

Madeline Spezzano, up close.

Little Buckaroo, an old Ralph Moore mini, in full bloom.

Francois Juranville.

Little Buckaroo and Francois Juranville, together.


Old Blush.

An unknown pink polyantha that I rescued from a construction site last summer.

With all the buds and blooms coming along, the greenhouse is a delightful place to be.

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