The Charlie Brown Rosebush

Blooming Rose

The rosebush right in front of my living room window bloomed this great peachish-coral color back in early June. The flowers were gorgeous, if a bit bespeckled with purple weirdness… and many of the leaves looked sickly and spotted.

Blackspot, I Presume?

A week later, the rose bloomed again, this time in yellow. The canes were so thin and spindly that the blooms were drooping pitifully, so I deadheaded most of them and brought the most beautiful inside (on a very short stem).

Yellow Rose in the Kitchen

It was then that I decided I needed to do something about this rosebush. The other bushes on my property seemed to be surviving the neglect of the past few years — their former caretaker having passed away — but this one caught my attention as needing some TLC.

I did some online research about rose pruning during the growing season, and found Paul Zimmerman’s YouTube channel. From his videos, I learned what tools I would need, and I purchased them on Amazon.

The day they arrived, I set to work.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Part 1: These Damn Weeds

I had finally finished weeding the back side of the fence out front on Friday evening (yeah, that’s my idea of a fun Friday night out) when I realized how many more weeds I had yet to pull. So, in a fit of frustration, and with no advance planning (i.e. no makeup and no script), I pulled out my iPhone and started filming. The idea was to post a quick and dirty video that night and not have to spend time writing copy and editing photos and all that. Couple quick cuts and done.

Alas, the video editing software I’d been using on my old computer (it’s been quite a while since I tried to edit video) doesn’t work with my 64-bit processor. I then spent the rest of the evening seeking out a better free video editor than Windows Movie Maker, which kind of defeated my original quick-and-dirty-post idea. I ended up going with WMM, anyway, since the one relatively powerful tool I found has a bit of a learning curve to it.

So, this is my attempt at a little video blog series entitled, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” (Just like dozens of other gardening websites and resources, yes, I know. Best title I could come up with on relatively short notice. I’m not usually so spontaneous.)

As a postscript to the video, I realized that I’m going about weeding all wrong. I need to go out with the Preen and put it down immediately, not wait until some time after I’ve weeded. Otherwise, all the weeds I just pulled will have shaken off their seeds and already started to take hold again.

Next up: pruning my roses! My loppers and bypass shears arrive from Amazon tomorrow, so, assuming that I feel up to it tomorrow after the toddler goes to bed, I’ll be outside documenting the pruning of one or more of my rosebushes.

I never thought I’d have a singular rosebush I didn’t manage to kill, much less the four or five that are on this property. It’s gorgeous here… if I can keep everything under control.

Pink Hyacinth

Spring Blooms in my Back Yard

[Taken 9 April 2013]

My back yard has untold treasures waiting for the spring sun to reveal themselves. So far, I’ve seen these pink hyacinth, grape hyacinth, daffodils, and some tiny purple flowers that may or may not be weeds.

Gardening: Year Five

I’m not exactly Jerry Baker when it comes to gardening. I tend to be a passive gardener, rather than one who waters daily and feeds periodically. I’ve killed more plants than I’ve successfully tended over the past five years as a homeowner.

I’m finally starting to realize that bulbs and rhizomes are definite winners for me, as I can pretty much “set it and forget it.” Three years ago, I planted some miniature daffodils that Sheryl gave me for my birthday, and they’ve survived, albeit weakly. Two years ago, I planted some daylilies from my co-worker, Scott, and they’re easily the strongest and healthiest plants in my yard. Finally, last fall, I planted a lily and a few bulbs (daffodils and tulips, I think) by the mailbox, and they seem to be sprouting up just fine.

I’ve tried my hand at supposedly “invasive” plants, too, like catnip. It’s supposed to spread and self-sow like a mofo, but it hasn’t, really. The first year, I started the catnip indoors and then planted it outside, and I harvested a sandwich bag full of Kitty Herb, leaving several plants to go to seed. Last year was the second year of the catnip, and only a few plants came up, so I only harvested a few sprigs, leaving most to go to seed. So far this year, I see just two little catnip plants sprouting up, and I doubt the harvest will be very plentiful.

The newcomers to the yard this year will be the grape hyacinth I bought to add color to my desk at work. It may end up being friends with the miniature daffodils, or I may plant it under another tree in the front yard.

Oh, and I’m also planning a resurgence of annuals this year — specifically, impatiens, which seemed to thrive well enough in the dry shade under the overhang in front of our split-level house. (Nothing else ever did.) I may see how hostas fare there, too. But nothing will be planted until mid-May, after we return from our vacation. Never again am I leaving new baby plants to the mercy of the elements while I’m out of town. Not even for a long weekend.

I have a large container of lilies of the valley, also from Scott; I had planted them under said overhang when he first gave them to me, but they didn’t do well, so I rescued them and transplanted them. I’ve had them for a few years now, and I keep meaning to bring them inside during the winter… but I forget and leave them out all winter long. Last year, I still had a few left. We’ll see how many I have left this year. Maybe I’ll find an appropriate permanent home for them this year. I have a few ideas.

Someday I’ll have a decently landscaped and colorful yard. Until then, I’ll just see what works.

Gardening: Year Four

Year One (2004): Moved into the new house in March. Planted $100 worth of nursery plants in April. Killed every blessed one.

Year Two (2005): Received free plants from work and bought seedlings online. Planted miniature daffodils that Sheryl gave me for my birthday. Only the daffodils lived to see another Spring.

Year Three (2006): Planted daylilies from Scott at work in Fall 2005. Bought plants in a white elephant sale in the Spring. Started seeds indoors. Daylilies came up grandly; plants died before I planted them; only catnip and lemon basil seedlings survived the furry aminal seige once planted outside. The previous year’s mini daffodil bulbs came up, albeit a touch weakly.

Year Four (2007): Impending. Daylilies currently showing leafy growth. One lone mini daffodil has already peeked out its little head, only to get snowed on. Catnip is still MIA, although I have high hopes. Scott got me greenhouse tulips that have already bloomed and done their piece; I plan to plant the bulbs outside after the leafy growth dies back.

Today, I spent some quality time with my lone surviving Rose of Sharon cutting. The ones I brought from the old apartment died off over time, but one of the cuttings from Scott is still alive and kicking. I’ve had it in perlite (a rooting medium) for nigh on two or three years now. I forget. At any rate, I repotted it this evening into a large plastic pot, leftover from my unfortunate garden center trip of 2004. I’m not sure what its root system is *supposed* to look like, but what it’s got is a long, stringy root system with feathery branchings-off here and there. The root system, stretched out, is probably one and a half times as long as the stick-with-leaves is tall.

So, I’m planning to set the Rose of Sharon outside once the danger of frost is past, in hopes of getting it growing upward more, branching out a little, and getting used to the outside. I don’t know if I’ll try to plant it this fall yet, but hopefully it’ll at least like its new home. Hopefully I didn’t just sign its death warrant, as I so often do with my garden plants.

The key for me? Finding low-maintenance plants that can stand being forgotten about for up to two weeks. Plants that don’t require daily watering. Plants that won’t kick it over the winter if I don’t get the mulch down in time. Yes, I am a neglectful gardener. But I still like plants. And gardening.

Filling In The Gaps

Since some fantastic small furry animal (perhaps now gathered together with several of its friends in a cave and grooving with a pict?) ate my sweet basil, I decided to start some new plants indoors. Three sweet basil, three lemon basil, and three lavender. They’re currently living under the plant lamp, which is on a timer, and they’ve been there for… three days? Four? Something like that. All three sweet basil are almost an inch tall, the lemon basil are over half an inch tall — the two that germinated, anyway — and the lavender aren’t doing crap.

I thought maybe I got three duds. So I planted a couple more yesterday, in the same peat pellet pots. No love today.

So, I went online to check the germination time of lavender. (I believe the internet before I believe the seed packet.) And what do I find? Lavender can take up to a month to germinate! I might have to research some alternate germination methods (in the fridge?!) to make these babies grow.

Oops. Who knew?

Getting Back In Touch With My Garden

While I was home today, nursing my lower back, Aaron suggested that I go into the back yard and check out the plants that are actually thriving on my benign neglect.

Turns out that the tiger lilies daylilies that I planted back in the fall are not only big and bushy, but are about to bloom! They’re currently sporting tall stalks topped with large orange buds. A photo op will soon be had.

The roses of sharon that I kept in my watering can are still green, while the one I planted in the ground is officially a dead stick. I can deal with hydroponic altheas, I suppose. Maybe someday I’ll manage to plant them somewhere appropriate.

My herb garden was the big shocker for me. I’d just about given up on it after the fuzzy aminals ate all my parsley and sweet basil. All that was left was catnip and two lemon basil plants.

The catnip are a freakin’ foot tall now. And the lemon basil plants are healthy and bushy. Who knew?

I harvested several stalks of catnip, and have some catnip tea chilling in the fridge right now. (I think I put too much honey in it, though. Oops.) I currently have about five stalks of catnip hanging in my dining room, and I have every intention of making Mei a cute catnip toy with The Good Stuff™, as soon as it dries.

Moral of the story? Bulbs good. Invasive herbs good (for my gardening style, anyway). High-maintenance plants not so good.