Sunday, November 28, 2010

... and the Winner of the Wine Tray Is ....

Congratulations to Ron S!!!!

Ron (I think I know which Ron you are, but I want to be sure.)  Will you please contact me to give me your address, and your tray will be on its way next week.

Thank you (again) to everyone who reads this blog and takes the time to leave comments and send notes.  Your feedback helps keep me motivated, and I appreciate every word.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Snapshot

This was Alice and Dorothy early this morning, sitting together on the dining room window sill watching birds in the trees beyond. 

I LOVE the fact that we adopted two kittens together this time ... and I cannot imagine ever doing it any other way in the future.  (They are seven months old already.  Can you believe it?)  These two little ladies have been such a blessing to this household of senior, geriatric and special-needs pets.

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Restoration of the Rose Garden at Ben Lomond Manor

Ben Lomond, a beautiful stone manor house built in 1832, was once the centerpiece of a very prosperous plantation in Manassas, Virginia.  On July 21, 1861, the property was taken over by Confederate forces after the First Battle of Bull Run, and the house was filled with wounded soldiers.  The house sits only a mile from the site of the battle.  As the nation prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, preparations are in place to style Ben Lomond house as it would been while the Confederates were there. 

Built of native stone, Ben Lomond once wore an outside covering of stucco scored to look like cut stone blocks and a much-larger porch.  This building now houses offices for the Prince William County parks.

Notice the subtle signs of the styling to come. There is a stretcher being stored, for now, beside the staircase.

The woodwork in the house is especially detailed.  I love the lowered window sills and the beautiful paneled jambs.

The workmanship on the stairs and newel posts was especially fine.

I found it fascinating that this house has the same 'bug catcher' light fixture that we had in our foyer.  It must have been THE thing to do at the time when updating an old house.

Why are there two fireplaces next to each other, you ask?  At some point, a wall between them was removed to turn two smaller bedrooms into one large bedroom.

I visited Ben Lomond in early November, in the rain, to meet with Park Service officials to coordinate the restoration of the lovely rose garden behind the manor house.

All of the blooming rose photos in this post were taken by me in May 2009.

This garden, approximately 100 feet square, was created from the rose collection of Jim Syring, and was designed after a garden in France.  Almost all of the roses here predate the 20th Century.  Many of them are extremely rare, and a few are totally unknown in commerce today. 

This plaque is in the center of the garden.

Our first order of business in the restoration of this garden is to get the weeds and grass and overgrown perennial companion plants under control.  The weeds will be removed by a contract crew in the next few weeks.

In this photo, I see perennial geranium and artemesia that are completely smothering roses, along with Bermuda grass and germinating winter annual weeds.

I barely notice roses in this photo.  The Lamb's Ears and salvia have practically taken over.  Notice the bed in the upper right corner that has been weeded. 

After the weeds are removed and the companions whipped into shape, we will begin work to identify and catalog the roses that remain in the garden.  Well-meaning volunteers have planted roses to fill holes in the beds, often using roses that are completely inappropriate for this garden.  'Knock Out' is a nice modern shrub rose, but it doesn't belong in a historic garden ... period.

Other roses in the garden are rootstock from roses whose grafts of the original variety have died.  This rose is Rosa eglanteria, aka 'Sweetbriar Rose'.  It has lovely pink flowers in the spring, loads of orange hips in the fall, leaves that smell like green apples ... and it has to go. 

Rosa eglanteria, photographed in May 2009.

R. eglanteria has such a lovely flower!

And a beautiful crop of hips.

Other roses are in their correct location, and correctly labeled, but they are suckering and overrunning the roses adjacent to them.  Two of the worst offenders are 'Tuscany Superb' and 'Tricolore des Flandres'.  These two roses have formed little colonies, each containing probably at least 75 offshoots, which must be thinned out and returned to their original boudaries.

The tangled colony of 'Tuscany Superb' had finished blooming when I photographed it in May 2009. 

'Tricolore des Flandres' is another rose that will happily sucker its way across the garden.  Suckers are easy to control, if dealt with once a year in the fall.  They become a much large problem if neglected and allowed to reproduce the way these roses have been.

We are working with the original list of roses and a transcription of the planting plan to help us restore the original design of this garden.  We have a powerhouse group of volunteers to lend a hand, including a Who's Who of rose experts in our area.  I am humbled to be in their company on this project.

You can sort of see, in this photo I took from a second-floor window of the Manor House, that the garden is a series of concentric square beds.

Identification of the roses will be a challenge, since most of them are once-blooming Old Garden Roses.  We will soon make a first attempt at IDs, using the rose list and planting plan and what we know about growth habits, foliage, prickles, and other characteristics.  Come spring, when the roses are blooming, we can confirm our initial identifications, and work to ID any roses we couldn't identify this winter.

'Cardinal de Richelieu', a Gallica rose, is correctly labeled and easy to ID when in bloom.

'Henri Martin', a Moss rose, can be ID'd from buds or prickles, in addition to his lovely flowers.

The garden has engraved labels for each rose, but many of the labels are either in the wrong place or are thrown randomly into the beds ... having been stepped on or hit by a lawn mower.

A lovely rose with no label.

We have a target date of May 14, 2011, for the completion of the first phase of the restoration.  On that day, Ben Lomond will host an Open House and Living History Encampment, so the garden must look its absolute BEST.  We plan to have finished the weeding and control of the companion plants, removal of the inappropriate roses, and reduced the size of the invasive roses.  We will label the roses we can absolutely identify, and remove the labels from the roses that are labeled incorrectly.  Hopefully by then, we can obtain some replacements for missing roses and have them planted to fill in some of the empty places.

The restoration of this garden will be a multi-year project.  Our ultimate goal is to return the garden to its original form, with as many of the original plants as we can find, and to keep it in optimum condition for the many visitors who come to Ben Lomond each year.  I'll come back with updates from time to time, as we proceed with this project. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Maggie Marks a Milestone

I first introduced you to Maggie in THIS post from October 2009.  She is my miracle cat, and the miracle keeps getting better and better.

Sweet Maggie, relaxing in a sunshine puddle.

Today is the 7th anniversary of Maggie's first visit to South Paws Referral Clinic, a day she would have died if she hadn't received the specialized care the staff at South Paws gave her.  (My post about South Paws earlier this year, with a look at their comfortable, homey decor, is HERE.)  She was a very sick kitty, requiring two days in intensive care, and 24/7 care at home for days afterward.

Test after test after test was performed on Maggie, and we found that she has Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), which is an autoimmune condition where her body's immune system attacks and destroys her own blood cells.  When we first went to SouthPaws, she had less than 25% of the red cells she should have had ... and was down to 10% of her platelets.  To control this, she has lived on varying doses of steroids and cyclosporine (a human anti-rejection drug) to control her rogue immune system.  Contrary to the expectations set forth by her doctors, she has thrived and is now looking forward to celebrating her 10th birthday.

Over the years, Maggie has spent many an afternoon in this carrier going to and from veterinary appointments.

Last spring, probably as a result of her prolonged use of cyclosporine, Maggie developed Hodgkin's Lymphona (which is very rare in cats).  She had surgery to remove a large cancerous lymph node in her neck, and received 4 rounds of CCNU chemotherapy.  Again, contrary to the expectations of her doctors, Maggie is in remission, and is as healthy as can be.

If I'm sitting still, Maggie is probably in my lap like this.

For the past year during her oncology check-ups, Maggie has had blood tests done to monitor her IMHA.  Each test has come back completely normal ... something that had never happened since she was diagnosed in 2003.  At her last check-up a month ago, her oncologist told me that she theorizes that Maggie's chemotherapy treatments may have destroyed the rogue lymphocytes that were causing her anemia.  She also told me that she wants to wean Maggie off of her medications, and see how she progresses.

"Mom, can you stop taking my picture and let me sit in your lap?"  (Yes, these are Desert Storm-era fatigue pants that I'm wearing.)

This week, I gave Maggie what we hope will be her final dose of cyclosporine.  I will continue to give her steroids twice a week for the next month, when we will do blood tests to make sure everything is still stable.  If her bloodwork is good, we will reduce her steroids and try to get her off of them, too. 

Can you tell that Maggie really wants me to pick her up?

Maggie looks and feels wonderful now.  Her eyes are bright, her fur is soft and puffy, and her attitude couldn't be better.  She is my miracle cat ... the cat who picked me ... and I am thankful every day that we made the decision to treat her when she was so deathly ill seven years ago.  It has been an emotional (and very expensive) ride, and she is worth it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two-Year Blog Anniversary ... and a Thankful Giveaway

Two years ago, I wrote my first tentative words on this blog.  I had no idea what I was doing or what I hoped to accomplish.  I just knew that blogging seemed to be a great outlet for me, and I was determined to make it work.

My first post had no photos, and it was a bit of an awkward introduction.  I had no readers and no followers ... just me and some friends and family as an audience.  I thought this blog was going to be exclusively about roses and gardening, but I am a lot more than that, and I wanted to share it ALL.

In celebration of my anniversary, and as a way to say Thank You for all of you who have come along with me on this journey, I would like to offer a giveaway.

I was at the Habitat ReStore in Richmond yesterday, and they had received a donation of beautiful hand-painted tiles and tile trays.  I did some Christmas shopping, and I picked up a tray for one of my lucky readers, too.

The tiles aren't attached in this photo, so don't worry that they look a bit wonky.

The tray comes in Black or White, the tiles are the same on each, and I can't decide which one I like best.

I think it's only fair to let the lucky winner decide which one to take ... I'll keep the one that's left.

Do you prefer the Black one?

Or the White one?

Each reader can have up to three entries.

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me which tray you like best ... the White one or the Black one.

2. Become a Follower of Hartwood Roses, or if you already are a Follower (thank you!), and leave a second comment to let me know.

3. Tweet, Blog, or Facebook the Giveaway for a third chance ... Come back and leave a 3rd separate comment letting me know!

It's that simple!  The Giveaway will be open until Saturday, November 27th (the actual anniversary of my first blog post) at 9:00 pm EST.  

Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you!  (Have I mentioned lately how thankfull I am when I can send a personal reply for a lovely comment.  I am sad when I try to reply and I find '' for a return email address.  Consider making your email visible ... you just might make some very lovely new blog friends.)

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone, and Thank You, THANK YOU for being here!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Love My Truck!!

I bought it two years ago ... the ultimate Craig's List find ... a 1984 Ford F150 with 81,000 miles, and I'm only the third owner.  This truck can haul ANYTHING. 

This is a full-size truck bed, my friends ... not the shrunken bed one gets with a new pick-up these days. 

Why do I have my own truck, you ask? Because my husband's truck is big, and comfortable, and has heated seats ...

... and its bed is only 5 1/2 feet long! (Which pick-up truck designer thought that this would be a good idea???)

One day, in a fit of frustration at having to borrow my husband's truck, and finding that whatever I wanted to haul didn't fit AGAIN, I asked if I could PLEASE have my OWN truck. The Husband agreed, and it took me about two weeks of scouring Craig's List to find it.

It was perfect!! My mechanic came with us to check it over. He proclaimed it to be in good condition, and told us that he was going to buy it if we decided not to. That's a good enough recommendation for me!

A little bit of carburetor work, some new brakes, and a tune-up, and she was good to go.

I cannot say enough about the freedom that having my own truck represents.  If I find a cool deal on a large piece of furniture, I can hop into my truck and go get it.

Hauling roses to a plant sale?  No problem.  We put on the camper shell (another Craig's List deal), and I can haul 200+ roses, the tables, and my canopy.

There have been a couple of times when we had to take my golf cart somewhere ... and we can use ramps and drive the cart right up into the back of my truck.  It fits perfectly.

(I don't have a photo of the cart actually IN the truck ... you'll have to take my word that it fits.)

Need a little extra workspace outside? Just yesterday, I used the tailgate as a workbench while I was cutting beadboard ... after I took the truck to Lowes and picked UP the beadboard.

(This is more work on my new sewing room. The Big Reveal is coming soon, I promise.)

Did I mention that I love my truck?

Wanna go for a ride?

Linking this post to:


(written by Hartwood Roses.  Hartwood Roses blog.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fall ... literally

Remember on Sunday when I told you that the leaves on the huge oak trees in my front yard would be on the ground before the end of the week?

This is what things looked like on Sunday afternoon.

As if directed by some mystical force, the leaves began to fall yesterday evening.

It's raining today, as it was yesterday, which may hasten the process.

Youngest Daughter is going to have to clear off her car if she plans to go anywhere.

(written by Hartwood Roses.  Hartwood Roses blog.)
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