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The Roses at the End of the Road – on Sale

The Roses at the End of the Road

The Roses at the End of the Road

The Roses at the End of the Road is a collection of essays written about our life at the End of the Road. We found our way to Heath in 1979 and located a tumbledown farmhouse at the end of a town road. My husband checked that fact many times. What people think is our driveway is nearly a quarter mile of town road, plowed and maintained by the town. After the big snowstorm in 1982 when the town plow, and the town bucket loader broke down trying to remove the drifted snow off the road so that we could leave the hill, we planted a snowbreak. I figure we and the town are about even on this one. No more broken machinery. Other adventures include tales of neighbors, our daughter’s wedding, the night lightning struck – and what we learned about roses and gardens during our two years in Beijing.

I began the commonweeder blog in December seven years ago. Now, during the month of December I sell The Roses at the End of the Road for only $12 with free shipping. for full ordering information click here. If you can’t wait to read the book it is also available as a Kindle version on Amazon.com for $3.95. This is a great gift for rose lovers, and those who enjoy tales of living in a small town.

Thinking About Our Gardens

 

Thomas Affleck Rose

Thomas Affleck Rose

As I‘ve worked  to put my gardens to bed this fall I’ve also been thinking about gardens and how they came to take this form, and how any garden takes form.

Some people plan a garden in one fell swoop. Or have someone do it for them. But I think for most of us we begin slowly and one step follows another. Which is a good thing because we learn about our site, and about ourselves as we move through the seasons.

Still there are some basic things to think about when we plan, or plan again.

First we have to consider the site. Do we have a lot of room or a confined space? Where is the sun on the site? Where is the shade? How does the shade move over the course of the season as the sun’s course across the sky changes? Is the soil sandy, or clay? Is it very dry or damp?  Does the site slope and is it exposed to wind? The answer to each of these questions will help determine how to proceed. The answers will guide us as we search for the right plant for the right spot.

The second consideration is how each gardener will use the garden. We each have different desires and needs. I’ve needed a vegetable garden, but I’ve also wanted flower gardens. I want to be comfortable in my solitude, but I also enjoy eating outside, and entertaining friends in the garden. I like to stroll through the garden, but some like to admire the garden landscape from a deck or from inside the house.

Beyond the practical ways we use the garden, I think we have to examine how we want to feel in the garden. Do we want to feel sheltered? Do we want to feel we are in a private woodland? Or do we want to feel like a Jane Austen character strolling through the estate shrubberies with a dear friend?  What is your fantasy?

One element of your fantasy might be a season of constantly blooming flowers. This will mean gaining knowledge of the many beautiful annuals that can bloom from spring well into the fall.  On the other hand, you might have a fantasy of a serene green garden where it is the shades of green and foliage textures that please.

For myself, my mostly-achieved fantasy is that of a mixed border. It did not happen all at once. Inspired by my mentor Elsa Bakalar I once tended a 90 foot long perennial border. Many perennials were gifts from Elsa, and many were bought with careless enthusiasm when I saw them at the garden center. I could not maintain such a garden for long.

It was only about 16 years ago that we planned The Lawn Beds. These are mixed borders, which is to say in each bed I have evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. Because the shrubs take up more room than flowers, these generous beds are much less labor intensive than that 90 foot long border. I still have perennials which will bloom for three or four weeks in their season, but there is room for annuals that will give me bloom all summer long.

Ghislaine de Feligonde whose orange-apricot buds open to cream

Ghislaine de Feligonde whose orange-apricot buds open to cream

Of course, I have The Rose Walk. This began as my fantasy of growing lush fragrant old roses. Thirty two years ago I planted the first two roses in the middle of the lawn. I don’t know why I chose that spot. Those two roses ultimately forced the creation of the Rose Walk. I have mourned (briefly) the roses that did not survive, and enjoyed adding new roses every year. I loved my early summer morning walks along the Rose Walk thinking of the centuries that roses have bloomed on this earth, and the ladies that have cared for and enjoyed them in their modest farm gardens or on great estates. The Annual Rose Viewing., our annual garden party was a further natural outgrowth. The Rose Walk is proof that a complete plan is not necessary to begin.

A garden will inevitably attract wildlife.  Some wildlife like deer are not welcome, and it behooves us to be aware that some plants are very inviting to deer and rabbits, and others less so. Lists of these are available. I never plant hostas because of deer, but thought my herb garden was safe because they would not dare to come so close to the house. I was wrong. They tramped across the Daylily Bank (totally unnecessary) to eat the parsley in the herb bed.

Other wildlife, birds, bees and other pollinators like butterflies are very welcome. Birdwatchers have told me that the sound of moving water is the most dependable draw for birds. The burble of a fountain, especially if it is near some sheltering plants is especially inviting.

Pollinators are attracted by the many plants that are native to our area. Bee balm, asters, rudbeckia, and even our fields of goldenrod attract the pollinators that will keep our vegetables and fruit trees productive.

Finally, when planting we have to remember those basic considerations like allowing for growth. A small shrub in a small pot bought at the garden center will not stay small. When planting allow for that growth, how wide and how tall will it be in three years?  Or five years?

Soil needs annual attention with applications of compost, and mulch. Where will the compost pile go?

One very important question is how much time can the gardener realistically expect to devote to garden chores?

Are you thinking about your garden this fall? How might it change? How does it need to change? We gardeners must always be thinking. ###

What’s Blooming on September 1 at the End of the Road

Thomas Affleck rose

Thomas Affleck rose

What’s blooming on September 1? As we acknowledge that even though it isn’t officially autumn, we notice the days are shorter, and a maple or sumac branch here and there has begun waving scarlet in the sunlight, the bloom goes on.  Thomas Affleck is the only rose, as usual, that has much to show at this time of the year, although there is a stray blossom here and there on the Rose Walk. The ruogosa hips are ripening.

Garden phlox and more

Garden phlox and more

This section of the North Lawn Bed is closest to the house. The garden phlox is putting on quite a show. Echinacea, Russian sage, and bits of lobela and dianthus are also still blooming.

Garden phlox and more

Garden phlox and more

In the middle of that bed more phlox is blooming as well as chelone, liatris, and The Fairy rose. Unseen is the blue toremia, my favorite new annual this year.

Helenium 'Mardi Gras' and phlox

Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ and phlox

In the end of the bed Helenium “Mardi Gras is blooming with Phlox “Blue Paradise’, I think. I hope the Montauk daisy will bloom soon.

 

Yarrow, phlox, hydrangea

Yarrow, phlox, hydrangea

A bold yellow yarrow, a bit of phlox, aconite, a small annual daisy, toremia (again invisible) bloom in a tangleat the end of the South Lawn Bed.

Robustissima Japanese aneomone

“Robustissima” Japanese anemone

The Japanese anemone is just beginning to bloom, next to a small Joe Pye weed. The deer dined off this clump, but with a little luck I will still see a good show.

"Ann Varner' Daylily

” Ann Varner” daylily

The Daylily bank is pretty well done, but “Ann Varner” is bravely facing the end of the season.  Other bloomers, bee balm, Achillea ‘The Pearl’, potted cuphea, geraniums, and Love Lies Bleeding.

What’s blooming in your garden as we begin to feel the turning of the season?

 

Fantin-Latour Roses and the Fantin-Latour Rose

Bowl of Roses by Fantin-Latour

Bowl of Roses by Fantin-Latour

Fantin-Latour was so famous for his paintings of roses that they named a rose after him. Ignace Henri Theodore Fantin-Latour was born in 1836 and died in 1904. He is known for his flower paintings, but he also did many portraits. Though many of his friends were Impressionists, he held to a more conservative style.

Fantin-Latour rose

Fantin-Latour rose

Fantin-Latour, the rose, grows in my garden, not in  an ideal spot, but he endures and blooms beautifully in late June.

I saw the painting at the newly reopened and renovated Clark Institute of Art in Williamstown the other day. The approach to the new Clark Center with its broad Plaza and reflecting pools,designed by Tadeo Ando,  gently clear one’s mind for a focused view of the paintings and other works on display in the new building, and in the newly painted and reorganized gallery spaces in what is now known as The Museum.  The other small new thing that I noticed was the new guides that could be used while going through the different collections.  No clunky audio guide – now those who are interested can get a tablet with illustrations and text, and an earbud for extra explication.  I was very glad to see that visitors on  that summer day ran the gamut of ages.

Lots of friendly in-the-flesh Guides were also on hand to answer questions or help you when you got ‘deliriously lost’ in the new arrangement of galleries.

View from the Bedroom Window – June 2014

View from the Bedroom Window June 1, 2014

View from the Bedroom Window June 1, 2014

The view  from the bedroom window on June 1 shows that the lilacs still have nice bloom, but there are not many flowers in bloom yet. We do move into high gear, pruning clipping and mowing to prepare for the Annual Rose Viewing which will be on Sunday, June 29 this year.

View from the bedroom window June 8, 2014

View from the bedroom window June 8, 2014

The lilacs are in shade in this photo, but they are definitely finished. No hot summer weather yet, with temperatures rarely reaching 80 degrees, and lots of good breezes that keep the bugs down. One light shower, and one good rainfall of 1-1/2 inches.

View from the bedroom window June 21, 2014

View from the bedroom window June 21, 2014

The ginkgos are finally fully leafed  out and you can see that the salvia ‘May Night’ in the Lawn Bed is blooming. Still no really hot weather. We even had an evening fire in the woodstove on June 11. Sunny and breezy with about 1-1/4 inch rain since June 8.

We were so  busy getting ready for the Annual Rose Viewing that I neglected to get a view from the bedroom. However, I can report that the  view was very much the same. The roses that started to bloom are not really visible from this view. There was a heavy rain, 2-1/2 inches on the night of June 25. In spite of TV news reports of bad weather none materialized. June 29 dawned slowly, and was humid, but guests arrived, admired the roses. Because of so much cool weather the bloom might have been slightly less exuberant, but still there was a good show. Have I ever mentioned that it never rains on the Rose Viewing?  Sometimes just before, and sometimes just after, but never between 1 and 4 pm.

 

Chasing the Rose to Heaven in Your Own Garden

Chasing the Rose

Chasing the Rose

Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside (Knopf 26.95) is Andrea di Robilant’s quest for the name of a rose that grew on his family’s former estate near Venice. His journey took him from the wild overgrown park on the estate that had left his family decades before, to Eleanora Garlant and her rose garden, the largest in Italy with 1500 roses, as well as tales of his great-great-great-great grandmother Lucia with her love and knowledge of roses, the Empress Josephine and the histories of many individual roses.

For centuries people have considered the Rose a romantic flower, inspiring poets, artists and rose hunters who dared the treacherous and distant mountains of faraway China. Di Robilant’s researches are a romantic quest in themselves, and while his explorations and discoveries are fascinating to a rose gardener and lover, there is an enchantment in his travels, captured by Nina Fuga’s simple and graceful watercolor illustrations.

When I planted my first old fashioned roses I chose Madame Hardy, Comtesse de Murinais, Konegin von Danemark and Madame Plantier and other lady roses who were famous enough or loved enough to have a rose named in their honor. When I walked past these roses early in the dewy morning I imagined us all primping and preparing for the day together. My reaction to the roses is very similar to di Robilant’s in Signora Galant’s garden. “When I saw the ‘Empress Josephine’ spread out against Eleanora’s corner pergola, I inevitably conjured up the real Josephine. And so it was with the other roses arrayed around it. I was no longer simply walking along a path looking at the roses on display, I had stepped into a crowded, lively room filled with roses that were looking at me.”

Although di Robilant sometimes writes of the gardens of the wealthy, it is the stamina and resilience of these old roses that fascinate him, and me. I was moved by the amazing story of Pierina, a teacher who married a civil engineer and followed her husband to Irkutsk in Siberia where he was overseeing the building of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. There she continued to teach school, and wrote about conditions for labor organizations. She survived the Russian Revolution and many other trials until at age 74 she walked to Vladivostok, and from there made her way home – and continued to teach!  Stamina and resilience. Signora Galant named one of her new hybrids Pierina.

Heaven is a Garden

Heaven is a Garden

While Chasing the Rose is the tale of a quest, Jan Johnsen’s book Heaven is a Garden: Designing Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection (St. Lynn’s Press 17.95) shows us how to make our garden a place to return to time and again, a refuge of cool tranquility.

Johnsen is a noted landscape designer who has worked around the world, teaches at ColumbiaUniversity and the New YorkBotanical Garden. She brings us her varied experiences with the cultures of the world and ancient principles of design to illustrate ways we can organize our garden and landscape space to be comfortable, beautiful and meaningful.

Although we don’t often think in mathematical terms when we are in our gardens Johnsen reminds us of the importance of proportion and the Golden Mean. Even a rectangle can lack harmony and therefore be unsettling or uncomfortable. The golden ratio, “a universal constant,” used by artists and architects requires that the long-side of the rectangle be approximately two-thirds longer than the shorter side.

Other geometry in the garden includes graceful circles and ovals. She reminds us “that designers should enhance our fondness for circular gatherings by creating protected, circular spaces for conversation . . . that are not cut by paths or movement.”

One chapter is given over to the magic of water. Every year I come to an ever greater appreciation of the power of water in the garden. Johnsen shows us cascades, musical streams, and fountains including a mist fountain. But even a bowl of still water has power. I remember an exhibit at what was then the Arts Council on Franklin Street. One element was a peaceful corner that contained nothing but a large pottery bowl of water on a slightly raised platform and a bench. When classes of teenagers came with their teachers I was amazed to see how many of them sat quietly in meditation before that bowl for as long as they were permitted.

Fortunate are those who have large stone outcroppings. Many years ago an acquaintance asked me what to do with the stone ledge that rose out of his lawn. I suggested some plants that I thought would thrive in its crevices or at its borders. My ideas were dismissed, and he went looking for large delivery of soil. I saw this as a missed opportunity and Johnsen illustrates what loveliness could have been created.

Heaven is a Garden contains beautiful photographs illustrating the elements of water and stone, of trees and flowers, of soothing green and brightly colored garden corners.

Most of us will not be able to install grass steps or arrange for standing stones, but Johnsen shows us how we can all create an unhurried garden where we can lose track of time.

On the hot summer days that await us, we can find adventure as we read Chasing the Rose in the shade, or we can re-evaluate our plantings on leisurely strolls and consider ways to discover that Heaven is a Garden in our own garden. ###

Between the Rows   June 28, 2014

Don’t forget, you have until July 6 at midnight to leave a comment here and a chance to win Hellstrip Gardening by Evelyn J. Hadden

 

The Annual Rose Viewing – Sunday, June 29

Applejack

Applejack welcome to the Annual Rose Viewing

Preparations for the Annual Rose Viewing got off to a slow start. May was so cold that the roses weren’t leafing out on schedule. I knew there would be winterkill, but I couldn’t tell where it began. Then June arrived and the roses must have felt they needed to put on some speed.  Leaves, buds and even a few blossoms arrived almost at the same time.

Now I am pruning out winterkill. One of the mysteries of pruning my roses is that even after I take out a wheelbarrow full of dead branches, the bush seems in better shape than it did. Still, some roses did not make it at all, including those roses I planted last spring. Carefree Beauty and Belinda’s Dream were on the cusp of our hardiness zone and I think our very bad winter was too much for them when they had not established themselves firmly.

Harrison's yellow

Harrison’s yellow

I am also clipping around the base of the roses. Have I mentioned before that planting roses in grass was not one of my better ideas?  It is work, but it gives me a chance to see the new shoots that are coming up around roses that suffered during the winter.

Happily, not all the news is bad. Ispahan, the rose of Persia, always has a fair amount of winterkill, but it always survives, and thrives all summer. Even after this year’s trim Ispahan is more than seven feet tall and setting buds like crazy. Purington Pink, a farm rose from Colrain with beautiful little pink multi-petalled roses, chose this year to explode with new growth and has already begun to bloom. Some things just do not make a lot of sense in the garden, or on the Rose Walk.

Woodslawn rose

Woodslawn rose

Those who attend this year’s Annual Rose Viewing on Sunday, June 29 will be able to see for themselves how well many of the roses came through what some of us consider a historically bad winter. And I am sure they will all be polite enough not to comment on the bare spots. Don’t forget, there is always lemonade and cookies in the Cottage Ornee.

Looking at the Rose Walk, successes and failures, I think about what I have learned about choosing roses for the garden. Perhaps the first thing is to look at zone information. One can gamble. I never used to plant a rose unless it was hardy in zone 4a, tolerating temperatures down to -30 degrees. Nowadays, the new USDA Hardiness zone map says Heath is in zone 5b or tolerating temperatures down to -15 degrees. You can understand why I have been tempted and succumbed to planting slightly more tender roses. And this spring I see the result of that gamble. Whether you choose to gamble or not, it pays to know the hardiness of any rose you buy.

The second thing I want in a rose is disease resistance. I am not going to use poisons on my roses. I have neither the time nor inclination to fuss in that way. I have put down milky spore disease to eradicate Japanese beetles almost entirely. It is possible that our isolated location has something to with the success of milky spore disease in my garden. Everyone admires my foliage.

Many old roses were bred for disease resistance, at least in the sense that 18th century hybridizers were striving for roses that looked good all season, even when the roses were not in bloom. Albas are one example, as are the many rugosa hybrids. Both of which I have in my garden including the alba Passionate Nymph’s Thigh, and the rugosa Dart’s Dash.    Nowadays there are new disease resistant hybrids that also have a longer bloom period. These include the Kordes lush hybrids like Cinderella, and the more familiar Knockout and Drift roses that can be planted in masses, or alone.

There are also roses designated Earth Kind by a Texas A&M program. These old(ish) roses were shown to be disease resistant and easy care. I have The Fairy, Double Red Knockout, and a struggling New Dawn climber.

Third, choose a site that will give the rose full sun, at least 6 hours a day, where the soil drains well. Roses are thirsty plants and need consistent water, but they do not like to have their feet wet.

Therese Bugnet rugosa

Therese Bugnet rugosa

So, check zone hardiness, disease resistance, choose a sunny site, and then plant it well. Dig a generous hole. The old saying is a $5 hole for a 50 cent plant will give success. That means wide and deep. Then place your rose’s knobby graft union will be three or four inches below soil level when the hole is filled. Enrich the removed soil with good compost. Fill the hole halfway, tamping down the soil and watering it well. Continue filling in with the rest of the enriched soil. Tamp down and water again. Mulch to keep down weeds. All newly installed plants need to be kept well watered for the first year.

The weekend of June 28 and 29 will be filled with opportunities for gardeners to visit other gardens. The Greenfield Garden Club and the Sons and Daughters of Hawley will both be hosting tours on June 28 and the Annual Rose Viewing Garden Open Today is on Sunday, June 29 from 1-4 pm. More about those tours next week, and a reminder to stop and smell the roses at the end of the road on the 29th.

Between the Rows   June 14, 2014

Rugosa alba

Rugosa alba

Some roses struggled this past winter – and some don’t care about anything – like this Rugosa alba – the famous beach rose that is growing out of the stone wall – amid the weeds.

A Paradise Garden in Turners Falls

Paradise garden

The paradise garden in Turners Falls

Ed McAvoy (88) and Lynn Hoffman (‘nearly 90’) are peeking into their paradise garden in Turners Falls. When Lynn and Ed built their little suite in the house belonging to Ed’s daughter, they knew they had to have a garden. When I saw it I was reminded that the word paradise originally came from the old Persian word for a walled compound. This small walled garden shows that paradise can exist at any size. There is room for sociability and a meal of sweets.

Honeysuckle and grapvines

Honeysuckle and grape vines

Surely honeysuckle and grapevines must live in any paradise garden. (These photos were taken a week ago, when the garden was still  filling out.)

'Benjamin Britten' rose

‘Benjamin Britten’ rose

Lynn demanded this ‘Benjamin Britten’ rose, a David Austin hybrid for her paradise.

Another rose

Another rose

And another rose added to the paradisical details.  In a small garden the details count  for a lot, Each plant chosen will bring color and form that will give pleasure all season.

'Alabama Crimson' Honeysuckle

‘Alabama Crimson’ Honeysuckle

The Alabama Crimson’ honeysuckle will add fragrance as well as color, form, – and exuberance.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

And this exotic hibiscus will shine in the garden all season long.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – June 15- 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - stocks

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – stocks

On this sunny, cool (72 degrees) but breezy, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, bloom is beginning to arrive. These stocks are in the Herb Bed right in front of the house, where there is also an array of potted geraniums, petunias and such. They are not doing terribly well because the weather remains so cool.

Rhododendron 'Calsap'

Rhododendron ‘Calsap’

Calsap will stand in for all the plants in the corner that have gone by, the 2 tree peonies, as well as Boule de Neige and Rangoon rhodies. The herbaceous peonies are late, but there are a couple of fat buds. The advantage to me, and visitors to the Annual Rose Viewing on June 29 is that there will be lots of peony bloom, as well as rose bloom.

Siberian iris

Siberian iris

Siberian irises are just beginning. White ones too.

L. martagon 'Album'

L. martagon ‘Album’

I didn’t really have any idea of the delicacy of this martagon lily when I bought it from Old House Gardens. This is my first bloom year with it and it is only about 3 feet tall, but it is said to need some patience. Perhaps next year it will be a bit taller. I think it is just beautiful.

Rugosa rose 'Agnes'

Rugosa rose ‘Agnes’

I’ve mislabelled this elsewhere, but this is the ‘Agnes’ the first of the rugosas to bloom. The rugosas in general are the first roses to bloom and I have quite a few.

Scabrosa

Scabrosa

Another rugosa, Scabrosa, is spreading every which  way on the Rose Walk.

Rugosa Therese Bugnet

Rugosa Therese Bugnet

Therese Bugnet is a dependable rugosa, even after like the winter we have just “enjoyed.”

Blanc Double de Coubert

Blanc Double de Coubert

Blanc Double de Coubert, a popular white rugosa took a beating this winter, but it is reviving.

Dart's Dash  rugosa

Dart’s Dash rugosa

On the other hand, Dart’s Dash is spreading beautifully on the Rose Bank.  You can see the distinctive ribbed rugosa foliage on all these plants. No bugs. No disease.

6-15-14 Purington pinkPurington’s Pink is a rose that just exploded. You can  see all the new growth in this photo. It didn’t mind the winter at all. Purington Pink was given to me by Herb and Barbara Purington who farm in Colrain.

Rose season is just beginning. Other perennials in bloom are May Night Salvia, Joan Elliot campanula, Achillea Paprika, trollius, and a host of volunteer pansies. I do not object to pansies or any other volunteers. I do object to deer that have eaten lily buds, Japanese anemone and veronicas!

Thank you Carol for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens. There is a lot to see in gardens all across the nation at this time of year.

Winterkill – Despair or Hope

Old white lilacs

Old white lilacs

Lilacs seem to know nothing of winterkill. This long harsh winter was as nothing to these ancient lilacs.

Wisteria

Wisteria

The same cannot be said for the wisteria. Winterkill in its most serious form has hit here. There is always a little winterkill, but there should be some sign of life by this time in the spring. No such luck. This might very well be the end of the wisteria as the provider of shade on the piazza.

Thomas Affleck rose in distress

Thomas Affleck rose in distress

The Thomas Affleck rose in front of the house has suffered a major attack of winterkill. I am  going out today to give it a good pruning. I am not in despair over the amount of winterkill among the roses. The rugosas are less susceptible than any of the other roses, but those that do endure winterkill often surprise me with how quickly and lushly they recover. My pruners are sharpened and ready for a major attack on dead or broken branches. Then we will see what June brings.

On this (almost) Wordless Wednesday I can think of nothing more to say on the topic.