Friday, December 31, 2010

Road Trip to the Monastery

Two friends of mine care for the rose gardens at the Franciscan monastery in northeast DC.  This past Wednesday morning, I went there with them to see their rose propagation operation in the Monastery's greenhouse.  I fell in love as soon as I walked in the door!

The greenhouse wasn't much to look at from the outside.

But the inside was amazing!!! These old steel-and-glass greenhouses are so beautiful!

This greenhouse is 110 feet long, divided across the center by a glass wall so growers can keep different conditions in each half if needed.

I'm an Architecture Junkie, I admit it.  I always seem to be staring and marveling at the way structures are put together.

Isn't it imaginative how bamboo was used here to create a shadier area.

One side of the greenhouse held hundreds of banana plants being stored for the winter.

The empty benches you see will soon be filled with pots of roses, as the baby cuttings grow enough to be planted into larger pots.

I saw this sweet vignette on the end of one of the row of benches.  How lovely to give thought to an arrangement like this, in such a utilitarian space.

This milk jug, with its little poem, was sitting on one of the work benches.  It is such a cute and imaginative way to remind volunteers to check on the plants while they are in the greenhouse!

Long before I was ready, it was time for us to load up and head for home.  If we waited any longer, we would be caught by the dreaded DC traffic.  As I left, I had to get one more photo of the beautiful turquoise door.

I hope you enjoyed coming along with me.  As cold as it's been here in December, hanging out with garden friends in the warmth and sunshine of a greenhouse (especially a greenhouse with as much personality as this one has) is fuel for one's soul ... how appropriate for a monastery, don't you think.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Reminder for the Women Here

Just a quick note this evening to ask, "Is it time for your mammogram?"

If it is, what are you waiting for???  Mine was yesterday.  It was uncomfortable, and I hated almost every minute of it ... but I know it's essential and I toughed it out.  (The technician was fast and fabulous, but a certain measure of discomfort is just a part of the procedure.)  I even had a smile on my face afterward.  (Taking a page here from our dear Blue Ridge Gal's playbook, and doing mirror shots in odd places.  Say Cheese!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday Snapshot ... Snow

It snowed off and on all day here in Hartwood yesterday.  We only have a couple of inches to show for it, probably because we were on the edge of this particular storm system, and the snow flakes themselves looked a lot like dust.

I snapped this photo as I was walking to the garage yesterday afternoon.

Today, the wind is howling.  I plan to stay inside, unless the sun comes out and warms the greenhouse enough for me to go work out there.  Spending time tending plants in a sunny, warm greenhouse is my best defense against winter cabin fever.

Stay warm, Everyone.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Christmas

What do you do on the day after Christmas?

Here at our house, today is a day to rest, read, and watch football. 

It is wonderful to decompress like this, after a solid week of Christmas preparations.  All of our boxes and bins of decorations were brought down and sorted early, but nothing was put in place until just a few days ago.  Our Christmas tree is in the bay window in the Family room. 

We chose shatterproof plastic ornaments at Home Depot for the tree, all in red and green and silver ... even up close, you can't tell that these ornaments are plastic!  Alice and Dorothy (the kittens) are too full of mischief to risk our collection of glass ornaments this year.  Perhaps we can use them next year. 

Our daughter bought a white tree for herself, and it is in our upstairs landing.  She decorated it with hot pink and silver ornaments (you guessed it ... plastic).

Our Family Room mantel was the first thing I decorated, with (plastic) bead garland, (silk) poinsettia trees, and real magnolia from the tree in our front yard.

The large painting above the mantel doesn't leave much room for decorations, and these little trees from Big Lots are perfect!  Their bases are tied up with burlap, just like real trees.

Our (still unfinished) staircase, is draped with artificial greens, jewel-colored bead garland, plastic ornaments, and more magnolia leaves. 

I made all of the bows you see here and on the tree from ribbon I got at Target ... a 100-foot roll was only $10!  (I have a whole lot of ribbon left.)

The wreath on the inside of our front door holds our collection of White House ornaments.  I find this is a very special way to showcase these incredibly detailed ornaments.  There is still a bit of room on the wreath to add more ornaments for a few more years.

We didn't do much outdoors.  It has been very cold and windy this December, and I'm too much of a weenie to spend a lot of time out there decorating.  All I could muster was a wreath on the front door ...

... and Santa hats and wreaths of bells on my concrete greyhound statues.

Our whole family, except for our middle daughter who lives in Montana, was here on Christmas for dinner of tacos, enchiladas, and other non-traditional goodies.  (We do things a little bit differently at our house.)  Flowers on the dining room table were red roses from the grocery store ... all of the ones in the garden are frozen.

I'll bet you are curious to know about our Christmas presents.  My dear husband gave me chrome Crager SS wheel covers, so I can add some personality to my golf cart ...

... and he had a Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg tire cover made for my Jeep!  He designed this logo that we use for Greyhounds Rock, (our nonprofit charity that raises money for canine cancer research)  Isn't he incredibly talented?

One of my presents to him was this giant, red H for the wall of his garage.  It's part of an old advertising sign, it lights up, and it's over 4 feet high!  I was thrilled to find this at Class and Trash while I was shopping there a few weeks ago with Sherry  ... I love this store!!  (For more posts about Class and Trash, and to see what a fabulous store this is, click HERE and HERE.)

I only bought the H ... not the O.

Since all of our decorations went up so late this year, I think I'll keep them up for another week or so, so we can enjoy them for a little bit longer.

What did Santa bring you for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Light a Candle

Laurie, a blog friend over at Heaven's Walk, lost Tessa, her dog and dear companion, over the weekend.

Please take time to go visit and see the lovely photos she has posted as a tribute.  You may need a tissue.

Run free, dear Tessa.  Your mommy loves you and is secure in the belief that you two will meet again at the Rainbow Bridge.

Special family members, like Tessa, will always be remembered lovingly, and missed greatly.  Hug your fur babies ... Alice and Dorothy are in my lap right now, helping me with this post.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday Snapshot ... Christmas Decorating With Kittens.

Yesterday, Alice and Dorothy were cuddled together sleeping on the Family Room couch.  I had no idea at the time that they were resting up for the busy afternoon they had been planning.

Cats are very helpful creatures, and kittens (with their endless energy and limitless imaginations) are particularly helpful.  Alice and Dorothy first hopped on the bins of Christmas decorations to see what to unpack first.

Their paws are too small to lift the lids on the bins, so they turned their attention to the Christmas tree.  Dorothy found it to be quite tasty.

The few ornaments that were on the tree at the time were not arranged to their liking.  Being the helpful kittens they are, they removed the ones that they felt were in the wrong places ... ie., the ones on the lowest limbs.

Action shot of Alice in the tree and Dorothy pouncing on a ball on the tree skirt.

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would find it hard to believe that this innocent little creature could possibly be capable of such mischief.  Not!!

Thank goodness for shatterproof, plastic Christmas ornaments!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pots of Snow

A customer came by yesterday morning to buy roses to take as Christmas presents to a family Christmas party.  She was completely undaunted by the fact that we have had sub-freezing temperatures for a week, and 3 inches of snow, so the pots in the nursery are frozen solid and full of snow.

She and I stood in front of the snowy pots of miniatures (which is what she wanted), discussing each variety.  She left with four roses, and four tags that I made for her, with a big smile on her face.  This made my day!

I loved the fact that she thought to give so personal, and unusual, a gift to her relatives ... and that she came out in the snow to do it.  As you can see, I hadn't shoveled the nursery area at all.  I loaned her a pair of snow boots to walk out there to choose her roses.

After the snow melts, I will take the time to right all of the pots that have been blown over by our recent wind storms, and settle them in a more protected spot for the remainder of the cold winter ahead.  Roses are hardy shrubs, and most of these little guys will be just fine.  There may be a few losses ... but I think they will be better plants for their eventual new owners like this than they would be if I coddled them in the greenhouse.  My own potted roses stay outside, and they are just fine.

These are my own miniatures, destined for the Miniature Garden back by the barn. 

Even in winter, there are orders to go out.  These four are being shipped to their new home tomorrow.  (I'll tidy them up and dump out the snow first.)

Today's 'To Do' list consists of the last remnants of Christmas decorating, grocery list making, and other general preparations for the crowd that will be here next weekend ... accentuated by lots of football watching. 

(The photos in this post were processed in PhotoShop, using a transparent Gaussian blur layer and a bit of color correcting, to make them appear a bit more 'chilly'.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Completing My Garden of English Roses

In October, I introduced you to my idea to create a garden of David Austin roses in THIS blog post.  The garden is designed and planted now, and I thought I'd take this chance to bring you up to date on how I did it.

The whole garden measures 40 feet long by 32 feet wide. This fits perfectly in front of the little cinderblock building beside our barn.  The beds on the outside of the garden are 6 feet wide, and the island in the center is 12 x 20. By the end of next year, I hope to have a picket fence installed to enclose this garden.

Now that I had a blank garden on paper, it was time to see how to arrange the roses. I used a compass and drew circles on a piece of card stock. Each circle is in scale with the potential diameter of each of the roses. This way, I could play with the 'roses' like puzzle pieces, and move them around until I had an arrangement that I was pleased with.I started with the center roses in the island bed. Abraham Darby is in the middle, because he is beautiful and has the potential to be 6 or 7 feet tall and dominate that space. Red Coat and Dapple Dawn are also fairly large, and similar in habit, so they went beside Abraham Darby.  The rest of the island bed is filled at the edges with some of the smaller roses in my collection.

Each of the outside corners of this garden hold roses that have the potential to get big and leggy.  Sir Clough and Cressida will grow the usual Austin 'Octopus Canes', and I have given them room to spread out.  Charles Austin is a climber, and The Generous Gardener is a beast, and each of them can flop and stretch along the future fence.

For the most part, the larger roses are toward the back of the beds along the fence, and the shorter roses are beside the path.  I placed small roses on the fence beside Charles Austin and The Generous Gardener to give me a buffer in case these two roses outgrow their allotted space.  There will be an arbor and a bench in the space between Heritage and Pat Austin, to provide a place to sit and admire the garden.

Many of the roses I have collected for this garden are ones that have been discontinued by David Austin Roses.  Some have been superseded by newer varieties, and others have been deemed to be inferior.  I am a rescuer at heart, and I had to give these roses a try for myself to see if they deserve a place here in my garden. 

The beds themselves are edged with 4 x 4 timbers.  We got these timbers for free this summer from a neighbor who was replacing his pasture fencing.  We were thrilled to get them, and he was glad he didn't have to load them up and haul them away.  There are probably enough timbers here to edge every garden I have!

The roses are all planted now.  My friend Robert came over one day in November, bringing with him his trusty Fiskars shovel, and he and I made quick work of the job.  It's great to have a friend who is such a great hole digger!  The Husband went to work mulching the beds shortly afterward.

Things in this garden are all finished now!  When spring comes, and the roses start to grow and bloom, I'll be really excited to see how everything settles in and matures.

Before you start congratulating me on such a job well done, I must confess that I still technically have some David Austin roses that I must find places for.  I have an order for eight coming from California in March, and there are at least three in the greenhouse that have recently rooted and will be ready to plant next spring.  Fortunately, there is space at the top of this plan for a bit of expansion.

The mulch isn't quite finished in this photo, but you get the idea.

For those of you who are interested, here is the list of all the roses that are planted in this garden:

Abraham Darby
Belle Story
Bow Bells
Charles Austin
Comte de Champagne
Dapple Dawn
Glamis Castle
Happy Child
Lilian Austin
Lovely Child
Mary Rose
Morning Mist
Pat Austin
Peach Blossom
Pretty Jessica
Queen Nefertiti
Red Coat
Sharifa Asma
Sir Clough
Sister Elizabeth
The Generous Gardener
The Herbalist
The Knight
The Miller
The Reeve
The Squire
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