Everything is Coming Up Roses — Back in the Garden!

It has been wayyyy to long since I have last blogged! We have had a lot going on in our home– since March, we have been laying down new flooring in phases– which, we finally finished this past weekend! That, and winter being sooo longggg here, it’s been a tough few months, but I got back in the garden this past week, and I have learned quite a bit!

I bought my first Davin Austin® Rose this year! My plans were a little loose as far as the garden was concerned, but one of my major plans was to plant a rose. I splurged and purchased my new “The Pilgrim” rose in February, and they mailed it to me two weeks ago!

Photo source: David Austin Roses

Here’s a little bit of information about The Pilgrim:

  • As you can see above, it is a beautiful yellow climbing rose. Climbing roses to have bigger flowers and don’t grow as fast or vigorously as rambler roses.
  • It does very well in shady areas— particularly North facing areas, which, I was thrilled about, because I planted the rose on the front of my house, which happens to be North facing.

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I got the rose on the Thursday before we went camping, and, by the way, it was SNOWING and 30 degrees that weekend. I left the bare root in the box. I called David Austin® Roses USA based out of Texas, the Monday after we got back, and wanted to get some info about my rose, and when I should plant it, considering it was snowing the past weekend–why would I bother until it got a little warmer? The customer service representative was a little snarky with me, saying I needed to get the bare root in the ground immediately, but first, I needed to soak it in water for several hours before I planted it. If you follow me on Instagram, you know my desperate call for help when it came to soaking the bare root– several hours, or several days, or just a couple hours? I soaked mine for seven hours and then planted it.

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My first experience with a bare root anything!! 

Thanks in large part to the David Austin® Roses website, which, I highly recommend visiting, because it is an extremely easy and informative website to understand when it comes to everything roses.

So, what has this rose-growing novice learned so far?

  • Bare root roses need to be soaked for hours (that could be anything from 2 hours to 2 days, everybody has a different preference), so it can be re-hydrated before it is planted in the ground.
  • Make a hole large enough to fit the large root system of the stem. (You could go with the usual rule for any plant, make a hole twice as large as the plant).
  • Give your rose some room to grow– make sure it is not competing too much with other plants. Hmmm…I think my plants might be a little closer than they should be, but hopefully it won’t be a huge issue.

I am happy to report that so far, so good. My bare root has buds on it, and they are growing. I will be giving a full report and time goes on and as I learn more about roses, and what I need to do to keep them alive! I honestly never thought I would ever grow a rose, so the fact I am actually doing it now is very exciting to me.

Stay tuned for more info. I hope you all weathered the long winter well!

Guest Blogger: Amsterdam Tulip Museum Online

I can’t think of a better time than now to talk about tulips! As everyone is out picking out their bulbs for spring, please take a look at this great article that our guest blogger Chris has written up all about this historical flower!

 You can get more information and shop their beautiful gift shop at:

www.amsterdamtulipmuseumonline.com 

Broken Tulips: The Beautiful Curse

Broken Tulip Single Tulip Tulip Breaking Virus Plastic Sheet Takao Inoue www.takaoinoue.com

Bold. Flared. Striking.

Broken Tulips are like nothing else in the Tulip world…like nothing else in the flower world. Their distinct streaks immediately attract the eye and don’t let go.

At the height of Tulip Mania, it was the ‘broken’ flowers that had speculators running wild. Viceroy, Admiraal Van Der Eijk, the legendary Semper Augustus – they all had the distinct, broken pattern.

Semper Augustus Tulip Broken Tulip Tulip Mania Tulip Catalog Red and White Tulip

But today, these once-legendary flowers no longer exist. And Broken Tulips in general have fallen out of favor with growers and breeders. What happened? With their striking looks, wouldn’t the industry want to share these flowers with the masses? Wouldn’t they want to be able to offer a piece of the Tulip Mania history?

Unfortunately, the source of this beauty is also a curse. While Tulip Fanatics had long noticed that broken Tulips often seemed smaller and a bit weaker, it was not until 1928 that scientist Dorothy Cayley discovered the cause to be a Virus.

Broken Tulip In the Garden Tulip Breaking Virus Red Tulip Broken Takao Inoue www.takaoinoue.com

Spread by aphids, this virus infects the Tulip bulb and causes the flower to ‘break’ its lock on a single color. This results in the intricate flaring, feathering streaks on the petals. The color variegation is a result of of the laid-on color of the Tulip (its anthocyanin) being suppressed, leaving the underlying white or yellow to show through.

Exact symptoms can vary depending on the Tulip, the strain of the virus, and even elements such as time of infection. However, once a bulb is infected, all of its daughter offshoots will be as well.

Over time, the virus weakens the bulb and inhibits proper offset reproduction. With each new generation, the bulb typically grows weaker and weaker, until it has no strength left to flower and withers away. It is for this reason that growers today view breaks not as a benefit but as a danger that must be purged (else it infect and weaken other Tulips around them). And this is also why legends of old, like the Semper Augustus, are now lost forever.

Broken Tulips Bouquet of Broken Tulips Tulip Breaking Virus Takao Inoue www.takaoinoue.com

Fortunately, there is still hope for these incredible flowers. A few broken breeds, such as the Absalon and Mabel, have somehow remained free of the worst effects of the virus and been able to successfully propagate in perpetuity (Absalon has existed since 1780!). And small groups and societies continue to grow and breed Broken Bulbs, unable to resist their beauty (see below for an example of a recent breed so beautiful that the provider asked to be unnamed for fear of a flood of demand).  One can only hope that, in time, we will find a way to safely return this beauty to the mainstream of the Tulip world for everyone to enjoy.

T. Wakefield Tulipa Wakefield Wakefield Flame Broken Tulip Tulip Breaking Virus

If you are planning to grow Broken Tulips in your garden, extra precautions should be taken to prevent the virus from spreading to your healthy Tulips (and Lilies). It is recommended to plant them far away from other flowers, as the virus (spread by aphids and other sucking insects) can be difficult to contain once it spreads.

Broken Tulip photographs courtesy of Takao Inoue (www.takaoinoue.com), final image provided by a small grower society that asked to remain anonymous.

Learn more about Tulips with our Virtual Tour!

Beginners Guide to the Cutting Garden

How interesting it is that my first blog post since July would be on my 3 year blogging anniversary!! So, thank you to all of my followers and fellow bloggers who take time out read my blog posts– I really appreciate it!

This summer was wonderful for me and my family. August was filled to the brim with activity, which led to the void of blog writing for the month. I feel bad that I let it go like I did, because I have made it a habit to post at least once a month.

None the less, I am back, and now that fall is nearing, and school is back in session, it’s time to get back to routine. So, blogging, here I come!

I have mentioned in previous posts my desire to start a cutting garden. I purchased several different seeds and hoped for the best. I think this was a great start to a beginning cutting garden, and I would like to pass this along to anyone else who is thinking of doing the same some time.

A couple of things to remember:

-It’s all trial and error. That’s gardening in a nutshell. Experiment with different seeds and bulbs. See what does well and what doesn’t. It takes a while some times.

-There are some really easy seeds to start with. As I detail below, some seeds you should just buy and plant. It’s that easy.

I planted:

1. Bunny Tails. This is the second year trying these, and no dice. I will try one more time and see what happens. Degree of planting difficulty: MODERATE- they tend to be picky about where they are planted.

2. Zinnias. O.M.G. These were so easy! And beautiful– pinks, oranges and some peach colored ones to boot! I hear they also self-seed, and keep coming back every year. I recommend getting a packet of zinnia seeds should you ever want to start a cutting garden! Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

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My peachy-keen zinnia!

What came back for me from last year:

3. Cosmos. I think this was in part because last year was so warm for us– we were having 70 degree temps in November– and my cosmos kept going. I didn’t cut them down until this spring. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

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4. Morning Glories. These actually surprised me. But, they too, were like the cosmos, and I left the brown stems up until this past spring. Even though they aren’t your typical cutting flower, they were wrapped around my cosmos, so I just lumped them in with them. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

The bulbs I planted:

5. Dahlia. I was nervous, I have to admit. I planted dahlias a lifetime ago, it seems like, and they did nothing for me. This year, I have had great success, and am reaping the benefits. Dahlias are all over my house. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

dahlia

*Beginner’s Tip– You will have to stake your dahlias. They are very top-heavy, and they fall over easy. 

*Dahlias are hardy in zones 8-10. If you live outside those zones, you will have to take the bulbs out and store them in a dark, dry place for the winter.

6. Gladiolus. I got these bulbs as a birthday gift from a co-worker, and they did not disappoint. I got beautiful pink and purple stalks that I have been enjoying all summer. I cut a few stems and I was very surprised at how long they lasted! Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

glads

*Gladiolus (“Glads”, as they are commonly referred to), are hardy in zones 8-11. Bulbs, too will have to come out if you are outside those zones. However, I have heard from some fellow gardeners that if you mulch heavily and live in zones 6-7, you can actually keep them in the ground and they will come up again the next year.  

So, I hope this helps you. There are SO many more cutting flowers out there. If anybody has one they recommend, please tell me. I will be expanding next year for sure!

 

Don’t “Weight” to Get in Shape for Gardening

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We are getting back to fundamentals. Keep yourself in shape to avoid hurting yourself in the garden.

As I write this, it is snowing outside. We have measurable snow on the ground. The first time since December. Talk about a big let down– it has been a rainy, windy, warm winter for the most part, with a Lake Effect snow blast once in a while. My daffodils are coming up, and now they are covered in snow. My snowdrops were up, and now completely buried. Just as I was getting ready to start tinkering in my yard, the snow starts again! Welcome to almost-spring, I suppose!

Well, despite the weather, I am sure everyone has been preparing for the upcoming growing season in the usual manner– garden planning, design, seed buying, etc. But there is one thing that most people forget about during the long winter season that is the most important to all of your gardening endeavors– Exercise.

Now, I have already wrote an article on the importance of exercise for gardeners. I also believe it’s worth a second look. Exercise is so important– especially strength– when it comes gardening. You do a lot bending, pulling, lifting, dragging– all using an enormous amount of strength to do the job. Exercising lowers your risk of injury in the garden. It makes doing all the “dirty” work in the garden MUCH easier.

Since I have gotten older (In fact, I just passed another birthday), I have really dialed into strength conditioning. I am a huge fan of kettlebells, but I also incorporate dumbells into my routine.

Lifting light weights two-three times a week will help you immensely when it comes to spring time garden prep. And, it doesn’t have to be heavy– 2-5 pound weights starting out, and then working your way up to your desired weight.

I don’t want to rewrite what I have already blogged about, but here are a few bullets that are worth mentioning again:

  • Bend with your knees, not at your waist. Your back has “your back” when it comes to gardening.
  • Work your CORE— sit ups, push ups, crunches– it’s your powerhouse, and it keeps your back in good shape.
  • Don’t forget– Walk. Walk far. Walk everywhere. Make sure to get some cardio of sorts into the plan as well.

I will tell you from experience that doing this stuff will make a huge difference. It may seem like it won’t do much, but the gains are amazing. Do the little stuff now to make for a great, enjoyable gardening season later!

Disclaimer: This blog post is extremely general advice when it comes to exercising. I am not a doctor or fitness expert, but these are the exercises I have been advised to do over the years and think they are universal enough for everyone to try them. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.