Friday, March 29, 2013

Some Rare Roses and the Enemy at My Door

Spring is here already, and my lilacs, lavenders and fruit trees are in full bloom.

All my roses are a dense forest of buds (a very heartening sight), and a first few blooms are popping up. Here they are:

Sutter's Gold

Sutter's Gold is an own-root hybrid tea, which I think I got from Vintage Gardens a few years ago. I love the warm and changeable colors on the blooms. However, they last only a few hours, rebloom is not at all fast, and the fragrance, while powerful, is quite fleeting for me. Still, when a bloom is newly open, it is a gem. The plant stays very clean for me too.

Sutter's Gold

Miss Rowena Thom is another plant from Vintage. I bought it primarily to ensure against extinction: it is a very rare rose, and Vintage is going out of business. It turned out to be quite vigorous, an unusual development in an own root classic hybrid tea. The blooms are often, but not always, well formed, of a dullish pink with a yellow base. It always has good fragrance for me.

Miss Rowena Thom

 My rampant climbing Cecille Brunner has been jointly tamed by my neighbor, me and squirrels (who are partial to tender new shoots). It looks set for a spectacular spring display and I am convinced  that keeping it in bounds is a good thing :).

Cl Cecille Brunner

 I have an old plant of Chrysler Imperial that came to me with the house as a collection of old dying canes. I have done my best with it, but it has not become as vigorous as I would like it to be. Still, its blooms are so beautiful and fragrant that I don't have the heart to dig it out. I am now growing a young plant of Chrysler Imperial next to the old one, and am hoping it will eventually take over and provide me with more of these gorgeous fragrant blooms for cutting.

Chrysler Imperial

Maréchal Niel, a tea-noisette, opened its first shyly nodding bloom. It seems to be packed with petals and fragrance. I love this rose not only for the lovely blooms, but also for its restrained (so far) growth and clean foliage. This rose is completely evergreen for me and carries no disease.

Maréchal Niel

And finally, another rose from Vintage, Duquesa de Peñaranda, a Pernetiana. It is still a baby but shows great promise I think. I wanted to have it for a number of years but only managed to order it last fall :).

Duquesa de Peñaranda

Despite all the beautiful blooms, not all is well in the garden. Brown and green, flying and hopping, aphids have descended on the roses in full force.

Even though they are more a nuisance than a serious threat, I confess it makes me angry to see them up close, snouts in a rose cane, bottoms up in the air, eyes half closed in ecstasy, sucking sap from the new growth.

Oh well, at least their predators are out in force too. I am glad someone thinks them a tasty morsel.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

First Roses

Spring flush is still weeks away, but a few roses are already beginning to open. In my garden, potted roses are usually first because their roots warm up faster.

My new baby from Vintage, Mme. Edouard Herriot, displaying a vibrant mix of cool pink and warm terracota red typical of many Pernetiana roses

 Next are the florist roses in a south facing protected spot, then teas. Austins and once bloomers don't get going until late April - early May, but by then I am too busy watering, deadheading and feeding to mind.

Fade color on the same Mme. Herriot bloom
We stopped briefly by the Heritage Rose Garden today. There too, only a few blooms have opened, but even those few were a delight to see. All pictures below are from the Heritage.

Windermere (hybrid wichurana)

Fun Jwan Lo?

'Point Stuart Climbing China' (Old Blush?)

Susan Louise

Cl. Pompon de Paris

Sharon's Delight

Dragon's Blood
...and a pair of lovers

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Unexpected Burst of Color

It has been sunny and warm recently and we decided to spend Saturday at the beach.

Winter erica in full bloom (all pictures taken at the Santa Cruz Arboretum)

We always stop for lunch on our way, often in a little town called Corralitos which has its own meat market where we can get fresh sandwiches.

Tetratheca "Amethyst Eyes", an Australian native
There is also a rose nursery nearby (Roses of Yesterday) which is an added bonus for one of us :).

Chamelaucium ciliatum, another Australian native and a tea-tree look-alike

As we were munching through our sausages we saw an advertisement for hummingbird tours for kids at the Santa Cruz Arboretum.

Ericas and leucadendrons all together create a subtle play of color and light

 My boys are unfailingly reluctant visitors to gardens and nurseries, so I have never actually managed to visit the arboretum before. I am glad I have finally made it.

I spent all of my time happily walking among the biggest heathers (erica) and proteas I have ever seen.

Standing in the middle of the erica field I felt as if I was inside an impressionist painting

When I think of heaths and heathers I imagine a carpet of knee-high pink and lavender shrubs somewhere on a moist and chilly English moor. It was a revelation to find that some of them are trees:

Many ericas have tubular flowers beloved by hummingbirds:

 Many more heathers are endemic to Africa than to England. The only thing they all seem to have in common is a preference for fast draining acidic soil. There is not a hope I can grow them in my garden, but I know now where I can come and enjoy a sight like this:

And then turn around and see fiery leucadendrons blazing in the sun.

Leucandendron "Safari Sunshine"

A true sensory overload.

The arboretum has an amazing collection of proteas, banksiae, leucadendrons and leucospermums (all relatives in the proteaceae family).

All these plants share the need for fast drainage and acidic soil.

 A roadside tag said there were no concrete paths in the area because calcium leaching out of concrete may reduce soil acidity.

The inside of a leucospermum, a South African native
Many plants in the proteaceae family are cultivated for the cut flower trade and some specimens have truly unusual blooms.

Spent blooms often dry up and remain on the plant

Others strongly reminded me of artichokes :)

I stumbled on the succulent section right at the end, when the boys were tired, hot and begging for ice cream.

A quick glance at the cacti and aloe, and I was done too. I know I will be back...