Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last Summer I planted a very young rooted cutting of Buff Beauty.  As most very young plants, it grew very little through the Summer and Fall as it set down roots and acclimated itself to its new home.  This Spring it is sending out hopeful new shoots. This Southeast facing location warms up quickly but is also shaded from the intense Oklahoma afternoon sun from early afternoon to evening.  As a group, Hybrid Musk roses seem better equipped to grow in partial shade than many other roses.

Early warm Spring days are the most hopeful in the garden.  They hold forward all the potential that lies ahead.  It is also a time when early growth walks the tight rope of potential setback from a late freeze.  In our setting I think once we get to April we are often safe from a freeze, but it isn’t until tax day that I begin to breathe easy.  I need some reason to feel better about the day.  So for now like my young plant of Buff Beauty I am hopeful.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Favorite Photo from Last Year

Buff Beauty, Hybrid Musk, bred 1939
  This is my favorite rose picture from last year.  While I am growing Buff Beauty at our current home (we moved in June of 2009), this is one I planted for my mother on Mother's Day 1994 and the photo was taken on Mother's Day 2010.  It was planted to grow over an arch which rotted out and was blown down in a wind storm in 2009.  You can make out where the arch was and see how Buff Beauty has held its shape even though it has shifted and dropped down some.  The bush lost about 1/3 of its size in the storm and the pillar was then added.  What is remarkable is the resilience of a rose bush to bounce back or to take a shape it might not by nature.  Without a pillar, arch or wall to grow against Buff Beauty tends to spread out over a larger area than it grows tall.  Yet with training and support it can grow to be a nice climber.  Maybe we can all learn something about resilience from Buff Beauty.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Beautiful Local Free Mulch

Anyone who has does much gardening knows how expensive it can get.  Quality plants, soil amenities, tools, hard landscaping feature - it adds up.  I am far from being a true minimalist, but I am trying to taking a few steps in that direction.  One big step has been with the mulches I use.  Since moving to Prague, Oklahoma in June of 2009, I have been using pecan shells generously supplied by Reese and Ted Capron and their Pecan Farm.  They give me a call when their 50 gallon barrel fills up and I talk my son Thomas into going with me to load the barrel into the truck and bring it home. 

As a mulch pecan shells work great but do have some drawbacks.  The big plus is that they are effective in keeping weeds out and look beautiful.  The pieces are small, spread smoothly, last a long time, and usually have lots of small pieces of pecan meat in them to the joy of my son and all the birds who visit to dig and play.  The down side is that being a very dense wood they absorb a lot of nitrogen.  Knowing this one can easily compensate and with time they return the nitrogen to the soil.   Reece and Ted have helped me spend less, use a local resource, and have a beautiful garden. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finish Hoeing

Ballerina, a Hybrid Musk Rose a group created by Rev. Joseph Pemberton

St. Francis of Assisi is attributed with saying many things.  One such attribution comes from a time when he was working in his garden and someone asking him what he would do if he knew today would be his last.  Without looking up he said, "I think I would finish hoeing the garden."  I like this quote for many reasons.  I enjoy that he enjoyed gardening, that it is insightful, instructive, and that it is a bit sarcastic.  Yet what I like most about it is that I want to live my life with this kind of earthiness and contentment.  

This is the beginning of my blog on rose gardening and life.  Without making too many promises, I want to share some of the things that I have learned as a rose gardener.  Not as an expert mind you, but not a novice either.  Sometimes what I will share here may seem so particular to roses that at first glance you may think that only a rosarian would be interested and other time it may seem like I am trying to drawn too many insights about life from the garden.  If I get close to my goal you will be surprised by seeing both and feeling the smile of recognition spread across your face.