Jun 16, 2014

Too much of a good thing

Garden tasks tend to catch up and then overtake you. I had noticed one of the Darlow's Enigma roses needed a serious trim on the east side as everyday it crept a little closer to the ground, but it wasn't until it had smothered a row of red onion and Buttercrunch lettuce that I knew we had to take action. It would, of course, been much better for all of us if I had taken action two or three weeks ago, but time and priorities are what they are. Yesterday we tackled the job and I have to admit that the end result was not as distasteful as I imagined. In a week or two the east side will most likely be smothered in new blooms.

Looks like I could loose a few pounds.

Jun 12, 2014

Days of Wine and Roses

Days of Wine and Roses

A typical day: Watered the potted plants and flats as needed, with a special eye on the many dozen rhododendrons growing from seed - hope I live to see some of them bloom, but, as I plant a dozen or so different rhododendron crosses each year, producing hundreds of seedlings, it stands to reason I will expire with a great many plants still un-bloomed. And who will carry on, or care, after I've returned to the soil?

On to building a trellis on a trellis.

Years ago I planted a wisteria cutting taken from a garden in Parkdale and for several years it produced a mass of tendrils and many feet of hefty stem, but no bloom. I literally cut off yards of growth every year (still do) just to keep it within the county. Then two, or is that three? years ago there were two or three small flower panicles - I was ecstatic. Last year the blooms were simply magnificent, not quite up to specimens in Sierra Madre, or Claremont, California, but impressive never-the-less. I immediately envisioned a bistro table and two to four chairs basking in the scented shade, a bottle of fine wine and a wheel of brie and fresh-baked bread waiting for company. Last spring I removed the one rotten post supporting the monster and let it's substantial branches(?) fall gracefully onto the lawn, where they lay, contentedly or not, for over a year. It bloomed this spring, but in its prostrate position the blooms were difficult to appreciate. I rebuilt the arbor. It will now support a ton or two and last longer than I care to consider, but, I had to hack the wisteria into submission for it to appreciate my effort. So, as I raise many Clematis from seed, and Clematis serratifolia seems to be a very vigorous plant I added a trellis to the wisteria structure (until the Wisteria can recover its whits). I used two ends of an old crib that had been tossed in the 'free' pile at a local thrift shop due to government regulations. What, no pictures! OK, it's almost dark but I'll dash outside and see if I can take a photo.

Windy last night, and all day, so spent time tying up tomato plants. Then on to prune the rose allée, and three rose arbors. Dead heading as I go and collecting seed.

Back to Rhododendrons: I have set aside a small area as a 'test garden' for rhododendron seedlings and am gradually planting out the potted plants. It is not an ideal location - too much afternoon sun - but you do what you can with what you have. For years I have taken our bountiful supply of Ponderosa Pine needles and piled them in a heretofore unused area of the garden to rot. Now is the time to mine that decomposed treasure. It is better than gold, even turquoise from the Blue Bird Mine.

Then to the transplanting: Corydalis Kiautschouensis, Campanula ramosissima, and Lewisia rediviva tonight.

And then to an early evening rest. I'm feeling old, am old. A bottle of Pinot Grigio, and I take a seat, out of the showery rain, and what grabs my attention? Roses, white roses. The warm temperatures of the last week or two have hurried a great many plants into bloom, especially the roses. I see cascades of Darlow's Enigma, arching branches of City of York, two trellises of Iceberg Climber, several Dove, and the Glamis Castle, and, down back, the White Meidiland roses are wakening. And the American Pillar roses, not white, trained on several arbors, are just exploding into bloom.

Speaking of white-flowered plants, Clematis lanuginosa 'Candida' has never bloomed so profusely or with such enthusiasm.

Strange, but I think I originally meant to speak of other things.

Jun 6, 2014

In Praise of Darllow's Enigma

In Praise of Darlow's Enigma

I have gradually reduced the number of roses we grow, or attempt to grow, to a few dozen here at Trout Creek Gardens, due to the less than ideal conditions. Our overall temperatures are too low and the growing season too short. In Portland, on the other side of the Cascades, it is quite a different story. 'The City of Roses' is not an epithet arrived at by accident. Our roses do of course eventually bloom, but the reward is often not commensurate with the effort and time we have expended - we'd probably be better off spending our time, and garden space, on genus and species better suited to our environment. But, considering roses, there are a few exceptions, and one rose in particular I would like to make note of, even blow a trumpet or alpenhorn, if I could find one. That rose is Darlow's Enigma. This is not one of those tight-budded, long-stemmed roses you pick for a lead glass-crystal vase, or to send commemoratively for births, graduations, paroles, weddings, or funerals, but it is a rose that will provide a profusion of blooms for much of your summer. Darlow's Enigma, at least here, begins slowly, like Ravel's 'Bolero", and then, as if it were a hippo, who, venturing out onto newly formed ice, finally accepts the fact that summer is really here, explodes with bloom. And the scent, on a warm day (we occasionally have one or two), is, well, very rose-like and can even tempt neighbors half a mile away to 'sniff the air'.

I still think the grandiflora roses, like "Queen Elizabeth", are magnificent, and, "The Impressionist" is something I bow my head to every time I pass by, but if you want a rose that is virtually indestructible, disease and pest free, loves the sun, but can shrug off all but the densest shade and still amaze you with its floriferousness, then try: Darlow's Enigma. If weeds were roses then Darlow's Enigma would probably be close to the top of a list of plants to hate.

I originally intended to write a few words about the Paeonies that are in full bloom at this particular time but I happened to wander down our 100 foot rose allee [arching Darlow's Enigma's of course] which are just beginning to bloom and….. 

And of course with thousands of untitled pictures on file I cannot find a photo of our oldest Darlow's Enigma, or any of our other D. E.'s in bloom so you will have to live with a picture, taken last week, of a Snowball Viburnum.