Friday, June 20, 2014

This is Why Cats Get Stepped On

Alice loves to lounge on the stairs.  At a glance, her striped fur kind of blends in with the pattern on the carpet, especially if I'm moving quickly going down the stairs, and I have nearly stepped on her on many occasions when she's like this. 

Now that I look at this photo again, I can use it as a good example of another facet of old house reality ... so many unfinished details.  The stair skirtboard and the treads are finished.  The balusters on the stair rail are stripped and sanded and ready for primer and paint.  The other half of the balusters are in a pile on a shelf in my basement workshop.  (I removed half of the balusters in 2007, to make it easier for the floor finishing crew to work on the stairs.)  The mitered return ends of each stair tread are in the workshop, too ... sanded and varnished and ready to be reinstalled once the balusters are put back into place.

All of this will be finished one day ... I keep telling myself this ... it's my own little personal pep talk.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Antique Surprise

The 'Just In' page on the Old Covesville Store web site is one of my favorite places to waste a few minutes of time online, drooling over the incredible pieces that arrive there during the week.  Many of the most special things are sold almost immediately ... this is no surprise, since Covesville's prices are just as amazing as their merchandise.  While scrolling through last week's offerings, this caught my eye:

It is a Hepplewhite cellarette (liquor safe) from the late 1700s.  Do you recognize the design in the inlay on each of the sides?


This was one of the pieces that sold immediately, so I can't be tempted by it.  I can, however, marvel at the skill of the cabinet maker to cut and piece veneer into such an intricate design.

I guess someone 200+ years ago probably loved roses as much as I do ... and the lucky new owner of this must love them, too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spray Day

Every other Monday, I break out my trusty Mantis Spraymate 12-gallon sprayer to spray my roses with fungicide.  Blackspot is a fungal disease that is a huge problem in this area, and many of the roses I grow are susceptible to it.  A quick spray of fungicide every two weeks is all it takes prevent most blackspot infection on my roses.

I use Honor Guard, a super-concentrated systemic fungicide ... available HERE.  (For smaller gardens, I recommend Bayer Advanced Disease Control, which is a fungicide-only spray, available at Lowes and at specialty nurseries.)

In addition to helping protect the roses from blackspot, Spray Day also gives me the chance to be up close and personal with each rose in my garden.  Most of the time, each rose receives a quick spray of fungicide and I'm on to the next one.  Sometimes I notice things that need attention ... like finding a cane on 'Comte de Champagne' that is infected with Rose Rosette Disease, or seeing this little guy:

The first Japanese Beetle of the season. 

For those who say that spraying roses is too labor intensive, takes too much time, etc., etc., I timed myself this morning.  I put on my shoes and walked out of the house at 8:30, and I put away the sprayer and walked back into the house at 9:45.  One hour and fifteen minutes, start to finish.  In that time, I mixed 11 gallons of solution and sprayed approximately 400 of my 700-or-so roses.  (I did not spray any roses in the Rose Field, or any of my ramblers in their three locations in the garden.)  

One hour and fifteen minutes, twice a month, to help insure the health of my rose garden ... not bad at all!

(Remember, when I say "spray" I am talking only about fungicide.  I do not use ANY type of insecticide in my garden ... no chemical, organic, soap, etc.  My motto is "no insecticides, no exceptions" ... I let the good bugs eat the bad bugs and things balance themselves out nicely without any interference from me.  In the case of the Japanese Beetles, I will probably go after them by hand in the more visible areas of the garden ... or not, depending on my mood.)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: A Job Well Done

This is the view of the Hybrid Tea Garden in our front yard, as seen from our deck shortly after sunrise this morning.

It is finished!

Not almost finished, or finished except for some little niggly detail ...


It feels wonderful just to say the word "finished" ... and to have this lovely garden as a result makes it even better.


Happy Sunday, Everyone!
(and happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Feral Roses

feral  (adjective)
in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication.

About three miles from my house, at the intersection of two well-traveled country roads, there are rambling roses climbing trees and scrambling through the grass and brambles.

These roses resemble 'Dorothy Perkins', a rambler rose that was introduced in 1901 and has been wildly popular in gardens.  It is vigorous, floriferous, and the only thing that really bothers it is powdery mildew in the summer.

On one side of this intersection, the pink rose is growing through the undergrowth and it cascades from the trees.  On the other side of the intersection, the pink rose has mutated ... and there are FOUR colors of flowers on canes that scamper through the tall grass.

Dark pink, light pink, and white

Dark pink and white

A mutation like this is called a 'Sport'

sport  (noun)
an animal or plant showing abnormal or striking variation from the parent type, especially in form or color, as a result of spontaneous mutation.

The medium pink form of this rose (the original color) has naturalized in many areas of my region.  It's not a wild rose, in the sense that it is native ... it is an introduced plant that has escaped and been spread around.  As a once-bloomer, it has a fantastic show of pink flowers for a couple of weeks or more in early summer.  For the rest of the year, it creeps and grows, gets bush-hogged and run over, and survives on its own.

I have seen sports on the original pink rose before ... sometimes pink to dark pink, other times pink to white.  The change from medium pink to the light pink is subtle, and I don't remember noticing it before.  This is the only place where I have ever seen all of the colors growing happily at the same time.

Each year when I see that these roses are blooming, I try to remember to go back with my camera to photograph them and record the variation in the colors of the flowers.  Each year, I promptly get busy with something else and forget to do this.  By the time I remember, the roses have quit flowering or are past peak.  This year, I'm happy that I finally remembered and that I caught them looking their absolute best!

If I was inclined to do it, cuttings taken from the plants with various colors of this rose are stable and will produce plants with that color flower  (though they sometimes revert to the original color later)  

Here are links to more info on the sports of Dorothy Perkins.
Red Dorothy Perkins
White Dorothy Perkins

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Unconventional Garden Container

I bought this cast iron peg-leg pedestal sink at a building materials sale many years ago for the princely sum of $10.  We have stored it and moved it from house to house, trusting that we would one day have a place to use it.  Over the weekend, I came to the conclusion that I will probably never have a bathroom that would be appropriate to put it in ... so I am using it in less conventional way ...

... as a container garden.  My husband helped me mount the sink to one of the walls outside my greenhouse, and I have planted it with Lantana and Margarita ornamental sweet potato.

Makes me smile to have one less thing in storage, and it's a whimsical addition to the garden ... win/win!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Progress on the Front Yard Hybrid Tea Garden

Summer weather has arrived, with heat and humidity, so work outdoors is more limited now.  Even so, I have made some good progress in my quest to reclaim and finish the final bed in my front yard Hybrid Tea Garden.  As of this afternoon, it looks like this:

As a reminder, the photos below document where this project stood last week:

A weedy mess!

Weeds are pulled, and now beginning to install landscape fabric.

The front boundary of this bed is edged with bricks from my brick pile.  They do a good job keeping the grass and weeds in the "lawn" from creeping into the garden.  The rear edge of the bed needed something more substantial, so it can help stand up to the "ground cover"  (weeds and creepy plants) that grow there under the dogwood tree.  I chose to use tumbled concrete wall stones.

I drew a line onto the landscape fabric with silver Sharpie as my guide for laying the stones.The wedge shape of the stones does a good job of hugging the radius of the garden boundary, and the stones are heavy enough that they can just sit on the ground without having to be anchored in place.  

Once I go to the store and buy the rest of the wall stones, and then spread a good layer of mulch to cover the landscape fabric, this garden will be finished!  I am so excited at the prospect of checking this project off my list.  

(To see how this garden was designed and created in the first place, click HERE.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend Garden Touring

Saturday's Open Garden here went really well.  There was a gentle, steady flow of people in and out all day, and everyone appeared to enjoy themselves and learn a few new things about roses.  The stars of the day were American Pillar (as expected), Arcata Pink Globe (a rambler that I haven't showed you yet this year), and my new Miniature Garden that includes my collection of micro-miniature roses.  I walked and talked all day, back and forth and around the gardens, and I was pretty well exhausted by the end of it.

This is not my garden.

Saturday evening, my parents, my brother and sister, and our spouses met at a Japanese restaurant to celebrate my father's 79th birthday.  I am thankful every day to have both of my parents, and to have my siblings close by.  We are a close-knit bunch, and we always have WAY too much fun when we get together.

I would have loved to sleep in a bit on Sunday morning, but that never happens for me ... the dogs must keep to their schedule and all of the four-legged critters get their breakfast on time, no matter what day it is.  Even after doing this, there was no time to sit back and recharge.  My husband and I loaded up the dogs and hit the road to Maryland, to spend the day touring gardens with the Four Seasons Garden Club.  The weather was cool and sunny, and the day was perfect!

Four gardens (all very different from one another), one delicious Mexican lunch (while the dogs waited patiently in the car in their crates in the shade), 250+ miles round trip, twelve hours ... all spent in the company of some of my favorite friends, and with some folks that quickly became new friends.

As we unloaded the dogs at our second stop, a woman approached and said, "Is this Winnie?  You must be Connie."  (we all laughed)  Can't be anonymous when one is toting around a tiny blog-rock-star Chihuahua, I guess.

These photos are from the third garden we visited.  The rose is 'Tausendschoen' (Thousand Beauties) ... I think this particular specimen is more like MILLION Beauties.  It's a perfect pairing of location and plant choice.  (This once-flowering rambler is relatively thornless, so placing it in this spot on the gazebo isn't a hazard for garden guests.)

I came away from the day, as I always do, with inspiration spinning through my head ... so many wonderful new ideas to use as I continue to work to whip these gardens of mine into shape.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Open Garden Day Reminder

This is a reminder, so you don't forget that this year's Open Garden Day is Saturday, June 7, from 10am to 4pm.

'American Pillar' is in full bloom across the fence and WAY up into that cedar tree.  A photo doesn't do it justice ... you have to stand there and see it in person to comprehend the size and spectacle of this rose.

For the past two days, I have been working in the front yard, weeding the roses in the final bed in the hybrid tea garden and filling holes where roses have died with replacements from the pot ghetto.  Making great progress!


During ... it will be a while till I can get a true 'After' photo.

I feel really good about showing off the garden this year.  It's still a horrible embarrassment in some places, but it's better than it was last year.  The mess and weeds don't stop me from welcoming folks to the garden.  With all the roses to see and smell, who cares about the weeds.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: What's Back By the Barn?

For the past week, we have been finding animal parts in an area toward the back of our property behind the barn.  First it was a couple of deer legs, then it was a portion of a large dead bird.  Yesterday, it was big chunk of deer hide that resembled a hairy rawhide dog chewy.  

My trusty game camera is the perfect tool to use to identify whatever animal is responsible for this.


This was the area where a mama groundhog dug a burrow and raised a litter of three babies last year.  A fox family appears to have moved into the empty den now and has set up housekeeping.

Having foxes in residence back there should keep the groundhog numbers in check, so we aren't overrun with them like last year.

Looks to me like one of these foxes in the photos is larger than the other(s).  Perhaps it's a parent and kits?  Whatever the situation, they are welcome.  We don't have chickens, and neither do any of our neighbors.  Based on the animal parts outside the den, it looks as if these foxes have mostly been scavenging, not hunting.

I will continue to monitor the area, to see what else may be back there.  I'll let you know if I find something.

It's a beautiful day today ...

Happy Sunday, Everyone!
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