Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 ... In the Rear-View

It seems appropriate, on this last day of 2016, to look back and remind myself of things that happened during the year.  Truthfully, I did this about a month ago when I was writing our annual Christmas letter.  I enjoy sifting through our calendar, condensing an entire year's worth of days and happenings into a single page to include in our Christmas cards.

This is what I wrote (with some additions and edits, because I always do that whenever I revisit anything that I write.)


Welcome to our annual recap, where we try to remember and
relate to you some of the things that happened around here in 2016.

We did a fair bit of traveling in 2016, with Connie making more trips than Steve did this year.  Connie’s travel always has a plant theme, mostly related to her work with and love of roses.  This year, she had various trips around the country to rose speaking engagements, board meetings for the Heritage Rose Foundation, and some just-for-fun-trips.  One of those fun trips was a long weekend with her mom in April to Charleston, South Carolina, with the Southern Garden History Society. 

Mrs. Whaley's Garden in Charleston

In August, we had long-weekend working vacation at a greyhound conference in Wheeling, West Virginia ... the same conference that we attended in 2015.  We again shared a cabin with our friends Kim, Andy, Gale, and Chris.  The highlight of the trip was a visit to the racetrack to watch the greyhounds run and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the racing operations with the track veterinarian!

Petting pups at a greyhound farm.

Our annual Thanksgiving week getaway this year was a trip to Las Vegas with our friends, Andy and Kim.  The weather was a little chilly, but perfect for visiting the desert and seeing the sights.  We went hiking in Red Rock Canyon to see petroglyphs, saw a couple of awesome shows (Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère and impressionist Terry Fator from America’s Got Talent), and spent time with Vegas friends and visited the Ethel M Cactus Garden decorated for Christmas.  The death-defying part of our trip was the “Slotzilla” zip line.  You launch from 10 stories up (114 feet) and fly face first all the way down Fremont Street (1,750 feet).  It was terrifying and amazingly fun at the same time!

Pausing for a photo while hiking at Red Rock Canyon.

The nervous smile of one who has survived what felt like a near-death experience.

July saw the passing of Maggie, our oldest cat, at age 15.   She was our miracle kitty that spent her life surviving and thriving with one should-have-been-terminal condition after another.  She ruled our household with her velvet paws, greeted all houseguests and insisted that they pet her, and was a huge presence in our lives.  She is greatly missed.

Maggie was just as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.

Renovation projects continue as usual and there is never a shortage of items to take care of here at The Manor.  There’s always something to repair or restore when one lives in an old house!  Projects included continuing to transform one of our outbuildings into a studio, repairing the concrete fence around our front yard, and refining and expanding our gardens. 

The concrete fence around the front is an important feature of our property.  About 1/3 of it is now repaired and repainted.

The neglected, weed-filled Rose Field is well on its way to being beautiful again, as we clear weeds, redesign beds, and replant roses.

We hope that you have a very Merry Christmas, and we wish you health, happiness and the very best in 2017.

Winnie, Ruby, and me, captured by my trail camera, while on a walk back by our barn.

With love,
Steve and Connie
(and Alice, Dorothy, Ruby, and Winnie … the furry members of our family)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Few Days of R & R

My husband and I are off having fun for the next few days.  This was the scene outside our window, right before the sun rose this morning.

Any guesses as to where we are?

(Want to follow along?  I'm on Instagram as Hartwood Roses.)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

As Gardening Season Winds Down

Fall is officially here, and winter will soon bring freezing temps and an end to outdoor gardening.  What's a rose gardener to do?  Bring the garden indoors, of course.  

In my last post (which was WAY too long ago) I showed you how I brought a bit of light and cheer into my greenhouse.  Next thing on my list was to finish preparing the area where the baby roses will spend the winter.

Instead of heating the whole building to keep the little pots from freezing, using a TON of propane in the process, I'm going to use a propagation heat mat underneath the pots.  I put two layers of insulation on the bench (one piece of solid foam and a layer foil bubble insulation, topped with the heat mat.

The mat is connected to a thermostat with a probe, to monitor and control the temperature of the pots.  So far, it's working really well.

The read-out on the thermostat shows the temperature of the pot that contains the probe.

The sun warms the greenhouse during the day, and the mat should only be needed during really cold nights.

In the house, things are going gang-busters in the propagation area in my basement workshop.  

I planted these cuttings at various times in October, and some of them are already showing awesome roots!  (I attribute this to some good luck, careful attention, and a little bit of help from bottom heat provided by the fluorescent light on the shelf below the cuttings.)   Roots usually show in four to eight weeks.  It looks like these little baby cuttings are VERY anxious to grow up and become real plants.  

Allow me introduce you to ...

"Haywood Hall"  A Noisette rose that was found at Haywood Hall in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It is one of the best Noisettes in my garden and very few people know about it.  Because of this, I want to share it around to make sure that it doesn't disappear.

Spray of "Haywood Hall" in my garden last month.

Tag, showing the date that I planted the cuttings.

Growing roots like this after only three weeks!

'Pink Poodle' (a miniature rose from 1991) is very rare and, again, needs to be propagated and spread around to insure its survival.

'Pink Poodle' showing some deeper-than-normal color in cooler autumn weather.

Cuttings didn't even drop one leaf.

Visible roots in three weeks!

"Talcott White Noisette" grows in Hollywood Cemetery.  It is a very old, very large plant, in an out-of-the-way location.  As far as I know, no one has ever propagated it.  

Visible roots in four weeks!

While I was in Harrisonburg, Virginia, last month, I visited Woodbine Cemetery.  I always have my tools with me, and I took a few cuttings of the roses that I saw there.  One of them was an incredibly fragrant Noisette-type rose.

The flowers on the cuttings perfumed my whole car.

The plant at the cemetery is 7-8 feet tall.

Visible roots in three weeks!

While the outdoor garden is slowing down, you can see that things are just getting started indoors.  Soon, the basement rose babies will be potted up, and they will join their buddies to spend the winter in the greenhouse ... gonna have to tidy up some more to make space on the bench for them.

To learn the method that I use to root roses, click HERE.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sunday Snapshot: Lights in the Greenhouse

You know that I'm all about doing projects with as much of what I already have as possible.  Adding lights to the greenhouse last week is another example of this.

Two strings of icicle Christmas lights hung on cup hooks along the top of the south wall.  It's so cute!

I already had the cup hooks and lights.  All I had to buy was a remote wall switch to control them.

This is the handiest thing ever for adding a light switch anywhere you need one.
You can find it HERE.

The greenhouse itself is a mess, with lots of stored building materials and project items taking up most of the 12' x 20' space.  I have cleared a bit of sanity space on the south bench to over-winter the baby roses that I rooted last summer, and I'm doing what I can to make order out of the rest of the space ... sorting, purging, and figuring out what to do with items I really love and will use.

This will be a great space to work in during the winter, as the temperature in the building on a sunny day is easily twenty or more degrees above the outside temperature.  It can be cold and wintry outside, shirt-sleeve weather inside ... just what my little sunshine-loving self needs!

Sunday Snapshots are posts devoted to moments in time that represent glimpses into real, everyday life in Hartwood, or wherever else I happen to be at the time. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Learning a Different Way to Knit

I taught myself how to crochet when I was ten or eleven years old.  Bought a book, followed the instructions and illustrations, and practiced a lot.  Learned to knit shortly thereafter, using the same book.

Since I taught myself and didn't have anyone to show me, I don't knit the way most other people do.  I hold the yarn in my left hand (exactly like I do when I'm crocheting) and I could never make the switch to the American-style knitting where yarn is in the right hand.  Whenever I'm knitting somewhere where other people can watch, it's not unusual for someone to tell me that I knit funny.  I do, but that's okay.  My knit items look exactly the same as anyone else's.

Winnie's Tiny Dog Sweater.  Pattern is HERE.

Last weekend, I was at a conference and I spotted a woman knitting during one of the presentations.  She was sitting nearby at lunch, I asked her what she was making.  Our conversation led to the different styles of knitting, and I told her that I knit different than any established style.  She then said, "Since your yarn is already in your left hand, why don't you try to knit Continental Style?"

OMG!!!!  This was such a simple observation on her part, and it was huge for me!  When I got home the next day, I headed straight for YouTube and found SO many helpful videos.  This one was my favorite.

It was a slow go at first.  Frustrating, with quite a few dropped stitches, as I tried to get better at inserting the needle in a different spot in the stitches to pick up the yarn with my right needle instead of throwing it with my whole hand.  Even in this awkward beginner stage, Continental style knitting was proving to be significantly faster than the way I used to do it.  As practice, I am making a mitered-square afghan using instructions in THIS pattern.  (But I'm using regular knitting needles instead of the double-pointed needles called for in the instructions.)

Working on the second square, attached to the first one.

Knitting garter stitch, row after row, is great practice and I'm pleased to say that I'm getting more proficient and I'm having to think less and less about each individual stitch.  I like this pattern because I'm only working on one square at a time, and squares are joined together as I go.

Winnie likes to sit under the pile of knitting in my lap.

I am keeping a pace to finish one square on the afghan every evening, which gives me clear evidence of progress, almost instant gratification, and keeps me motivated to continue to the finish ... which I imagine will be some time after the first of the year.

After more than forty years of knitting my old way, it feels awesome to learn a better way to do it!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ramblers, by Anne Belovich

Ramblers are the first roses that I remember falling head-over-heels in love with.  It's not a class for the faint of heart, because many of them can easily put out canes that grow ten to twelve feet or more in a single season.  

Anyone who loves and collects Ramblers* will eventually cross paths with Anne Belovich.  She loves Ramblers, too, and has been collecting and growing them for decades ... she has what is thought to be the largest private collection of Ramblers in the world.  I have corresponded with Anne for a few years, exchanging cuttings and plants, and I met her in person at an event in Texas two years ago.  During our conversation, Anne told me that she was in the process of writing a book on Ramblers.  That book was released last month.  My copy arrived in the mail a few days ago.

Last year, Anne contacted me to ask if I would send her photos of "Pink Van Fleet", a rose I grow that she and I think may be the true 'Bess Lovett', which is lost in the US.  I was honored that she asked, and thrilled that one of my photos is in her book.

I am most surprised that, in addition to photo credit in the back of the book, I was mentioned among some very big names in the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book.

I have only had time to thumb quickly through Ramblers.  All roses in it are presented in alphabetical order, for easy use as a reference.  I can already see that this book will get a LOT of use as an important addition to my rose library ... and it stands as a reminder of a mentor who made a big impression on me and on my garden.
* A Rambler, as I know it, is defined as a large, once-blooming climbing rose.  The American Rose Society no longer recognizes Ramblers as a distinct class of rose.  Ramblers were recently reclassified and split into separate classes based on their genetics. No matter what their new classifications, they will always be Ramblers to me.

Click HERE to order Ramblers for your own rose library.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

More Deer, and Other Critters

I moved my trail camera to a slightly different location on Sunday.  This new place appears to have a much better view of the night time wildlife activity.  Looks like the tidier areas of the Rose Field are quite the hang out spot!

Here are the images from early Monday morning and Monday night ...

... and here are Tuesday's critters:

The most awesome photo from this set of images is this one, from mid-morning on Tuesday.

Having a sneaky trail camera on duty gives me a whole different idea of who's the boss around here.  Not me, at least at night.  This place belongs to the critters ... and I'm totally okay with that.

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