Monday, March 28, 2016

Lavender dreams ~

For the past two years, in the far back reaches of the garden where things are a bit rugged and the plantings are very casual, I have been trying to make a lavender walk.

I love lavender, for its appearance in the garden and for its makes a wonderful  addition to bouquets and of course dries beautifully. I like to combine lavender, rosemary and a few roses to make dried bouquets; tied up with a ribbon they look so pretty. I also tuck bunches in my closet to thwart insects and odors. 

Butterscotch rose on the gazebo

But although some Lavenders do well for us I have had a little difficulty getting them established and I have come to the conclusion that in my garden they must be planted before it gets hot. Frequent irrigation will simply cause them to rot.

So I was very happy to walk into the garden shop a few weeks ago and see a nice selection of Lavender in gallon containers, available and ready to plant before summer arrives.

Below is the area where I put them. We were blessed with a nice rain the day after I planted them; plants always seem to do better if they get some rain right after planting. So far they are doing quite well and if they make it through the summer I am hoping that by next year both sides of the path will be completely filled in.

Gardening is so much fun!

Thank you for visiting. 
I hope you have a fragrance-filled day.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Romance and roses ~

To me there is something very appealing in the simple combination of roses and scented geraniums, plus the combined fragrance can be intoxicating.
Here in an old glass container I casually put together the old Tea rose Monsieur Tillier, rose scented geraniums and a few sprigs of Santa Barbara daisies. There is certainly nothing elegant about this but  in my opinion the roses with their pale rose, salmon, and purple multi-petaled blooms really don't need much added; their beauty stands alone.

Monieur Tillier Tea rose, 1891

Tea roses are my favorite roses, these are not to be confused with Hybrid Tea roses. Tea roses are a much older class of roses. They need little care, I almost never prune them as I like their large, open growth which fits in with my informal cottage garden style. As far as feeding, an occasional scattering of chicken manure seems to suffice. Granted they do not have as long a vase life as Hybrid Tea roses but the aura of romance in their lovely blooms more than makes up for it. Think of lovely ladies in soft, wispy, pastel gowns strolling at twilight  through bygone gardens and you get some idea of what I mean.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you have a delightful and very romantic day.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Something new ~ bath salts

One of the nicest things about living in a old house is the wonderful built in clawfoot tub. The slanted back makes it extremely comfortable and the size is just right for me to stretch out and totally relax.

 After a day spent working in the garden a nice long soak is especially lovely and the addition of  a handful of bath salts and a touch of bubble bath can turn a simple bath into a fragrant, silky, luxury. Turning the lights down low, adding music and a glass of indulgence.

How this all ties together...

 ...well, when I was making Rose Cocktail for my roses a few weeks ago I did a little research on Epsom Salt, one of the ingredients, and also the main ingredient in bath salts, I learned that soaking in a bath including Epsom Salt helps sooth out sore muscles, softens skin, is an excellent way to exfoliate, and along with magnesium is a source of other trace elements. Unlike some things this is a pleasure that is good for you.

All of which led to...

the idea of making my own bath salts.

There were many different recipes on Pinterest, this very basic one is the one I used. You can add lots of other things including various herbs, rose petals, and oils. To add fragrance I used lavender oil but next time I might try something different. If you want them colored you can include food coloring. 

I substituted pink Himalayan sea salt for half of the rock salt to add a little color. I have several of these air-tight jars, but anything with a lid would be okay.

These were so easy to make...wouldn't they make nice hostess gifts.

You might want to give it a try.

Thank you for visiting. 
I hope all of your troubles soak away.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What brings a smile ~

"Now that we have had some rain, do think I could get my hair back?"

I bought this tree man several years ago at a garden shop while visiting my sister in Carmel. I put him on my big shade tree in the back garden. When the tree had to be cut down I removed him and packed him away. A few months ago I came across him in storage and realized that this Liquid Amber tree along the driveway might be the perfect place to put him back up. And it was.

 Seeing him always makes me smile and here I can see him from the windows in the kitchen and the office.

The poor fellow hasn't had any hair (leaves) since he was put here, today however I noticed that buds are beginning to form so pretty soon he will be perfectly coiffed. Both he and the birds will be happier.

 Thank you for visiting, I hope your day has a smile in it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Striving for perfection ~

Every year when the trees in my crabapple allée bloom I try to take a perfect picture that will capture their beauty. I planted these trees along the front part of the driveway about four years ago. This area used to be a large mixed border requiring lots of maintenance and water. This was the solution to cutting back on both those and it has worked wonderfully.

 A gravel path wends its way through the trees ending in a little sitting area; mulch takes care of the rest. Pink tea roses which will bloom later offer a backdrop. The trees are under-planted with the ever dependable Santa Barbara Daisy.

Now that they are blooming the trees attract lots of honey bees, in the winter the small fruit provides food for birds.

As for the perfect picture, it still hasn't happened. I just can't seem to capture what this looks like especially in the early morning sunlight.

But I think I am getting a little closer, here is my attempt for this year. The blossoms haven't yet reached the top branches. They will last for several weeks then trees will slowly be covered in new green leaves.

Not perfect but still pretty, I will try again next year, after all perfection isn't easily obtained.

Thank you for visiting, I hope you have a pretty if not perfect day.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Rain and roses ~

We have been getting rain. Lovely, lovely rain.

A few day ago I received a delivery of some David Austin Roses: Princess Alexandra of Kent. This rose came highly recommended to me by a member of my gardening class as a good pink Austin rose suitable for growing in Southern California.

I love David Austin roses but some of them don't do really well for me and take a while to reach their full potential. These however are very robust looking with large, strong canes and I think they are going to be excellent performers in my garden.

I just love the box these come in

In anticipation of the predicted rain I got them all planted a couple of days ago and hopefully in a few months they will be full of blooms similar to these. 

 There is nothing like a good rain to get new plants off to a good start, here we appreciate every drop and according to the weather man over the next few days we might be getting more.


Thank you for visiting and thank you Carol for helping me pick out just the right rose.

I hope you all have a glorious day.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A rose cocktail ~

I have been making cocktails, not for myself, but for my roses. Actually, as far as drinking is concerned I prefer a glass of wine.

No, this rose cocktail is definitely not for human consumption, nor a fertilizer, but a soil conditioner, full of good things to increase friablity and tilth and works especially well for roses. 

One of the ingredients of most importance to me, Epsom salts, not really salt but magnesium sulfate, helps stimulate growth of new canes. Anyone, especially those with old rose bushes in their garden, can appreciate the benefits of new canes; canes produce flowers and flowers are the glory of growing roses 

antique tea rose: Marie Van Houte

Actually, I had forgotten about all about Rose Cocktail until it was mentioned recently in my gardening class by the extremely knowledgeable and highly regarded author, instructor and gardening expert Jan Smithen. As far as I and many others are concerned when Jan recommends something, it is always of value and importance to your garden and well worth doing.


 this week I have been mixing up batches and scattering it throughout the roses in my garden. I am halfway done and over the next few days should be finished. I have a lot of roses so this is a bit of a chore but I know it will be worth my time.

Here is the recipe, you might want to give it a try.

Rose Cocktail

(not a fertilizer but a soil conditioner for roses)

Mix together:
1 cup gypsum
1 Tbs iron chelate
1 Tbs Epsom salts
1 Tbs sulfer
1 Tbs bone meal

Apply 1 cup per rose bush around the drip line in early spring.

You can of course increase the amount of the mixture, I have been increasing it four fold which gives me enough per batch for 5 applications.

After all this work a real cocktail or glass of  wine for me sounds wonderful.

Thank you for visiting, I hope you have a 'Rosy' day.