Saturday, October 24, 2009

If I had to Pick a Favorite

Rosa 'Belinda's Dream'

As the days get shorter and colder, I start to think more about how I want the garden to look next year, than do any actual working in the garden. In thinking about what I would do differently, what I want more of, etc..., one thing really strikes me; the success of roses in my garden.

Rosa 'Flower carpet Yellow'

When I first started out, I was really nervous about Roses; everyone said they were finicky about sun and soil, prone to mold and disease, but none of those things have really played a role so far. Maybe I've been lucky in my choices, but I have noticed a lot of roses growing in Swampscott, from the ubiquitous Rosa Rugosa along the shore at my favorite beach, to my neighbor's humungous noisette that blooms in the Spring. Maybe they like the shore climate, with its near constant wind, short Spring, long Fall, snowy, but relatively mild Winter temperatures (rarely does it get below 20 or 25 here). Or maybe I'm super lucky to have a very sunny corner lot, that gets full sun for over 10 hours during the summer.

Grandma's Rose on October 22!

Beyond the aesthetics of roses (which far more talented and poetic writers than I, have rhapsodized about), they have some wonderful characteristics that have made them my favorite:

1) After the first season (once they've developed a taproot), they are virtually drought tolerant (my Knockout and Flowercarpet roses are a testament to this).

2) The shrub roses totally stand up to wind! I have a windy corner, and many of my flowers just don't do well with all the wind (i.e. they all fall over). My roses probably do better because of the wind (less chance for mold to take hold).

3) Many varieties bloom for three seasons! I've been enjoying blooms since June, and it's October and almost all my roses are still blooming. For me, gardening is about the flowers, and to see a few buds lighting up a scraggly corner just makes my day.

4) Okay, I will mention the aesthetics. Roses are gorgeous! They come in a ton of colors, and a single flower goes through many changes while it blooms, so it's like you get three or four flowers out of one.

Rosa 'Sunflare' when it first starts to open.

Sunflare once its fully open.

Whatever the reason roses do well in my little garden, I'm thankful!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Claiming the Hellstrip

We live on a busy corner, surrounded by about 100 feet of sidewalk and that lovely weed-filled strip along the road, frequently called, a "hellstrip." I believe the term was coined because the strip of land and scrub gets blasted with fiery summer sun, foot traffic, and loads of salty slush (here in 4-season land). I've pretty much avoided the 'strip, but my sister recently pointed out that it looks "scraggly," and I had to agree. It didn't look so bad before, but now that my front garden looks so phenomenal, the hellstrip's general state of neglect is glaringly obvious.

The "hellstrip" in all its glory.

So yesterday, I made my first attempt at beautifying, and planted some excess Rudbeckia. I was actually pretty stunned at how easily the weeds lifted up, and I was even more surprised by the state of the soil. I expected rock-solid clay, as I have in most of my yard, but I was happy to find some nice crumbly loam, with several little earthworms (and a few grubs). I'm not sure if I'm officially "permitted" to plant in this space, but I figure the town can't be too bothered by some not-so tall flowers in place of the weeds, especially since there are other hellstrip offenders directly across from the town hall.

Besides that little work I did, I've been pretty much leaving the garden alone. I'm pretty amazed at how much is still in bloom, especially the roses.

Like, this Christopher Marlowe rose I bought a week or two ago (above). It's continuing to put out buds, and I love how this rose starts orangey and pink, and then has tons of petals, and eventually looking like an old-fashioned cabbage rose.

My old standby Pink Knockout rose has bloomed again and looks particularly lovely against the insane mass of Boltonia.

Even my Grandmother's rose has started blooming again, and just looks phenomenal when it first breaks bud. I'm not sure if it has a virus, or if its natural, but up close, the petals have hints of white and darker pink veins.

Besides the roses, there are a few more happy surprises.

Like these miniature Shasta Daisies, which have bloomed for the third time this year!

Even my Nepeata 'Six Hills Giant' is putting out new blooms, and IMHO, the Staychis looks fantabulous!

Oscar seems to be enjoying the garden too.