I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.

I am one of those people who gets really intensely interested in a subject and I read and research, devouring books and websites as I gather information about whatever topic that has caught my interest until I know enough to feel satisfied and I move on to something else. I've researched everything from yurt living to raw foods during these crazed periods of interest.

Gardening as a whole topic is something that I doubt I will ever exhaust because there are so many sub-categories under the gardening umbrella - veggie gardening, gardening for sustainability, urban gardening, off-grid gardening, succulents, roses, shrubs, trees and so on. Just scan the lengthy list of forum categories over at Garden Web and you'll see what I mean.

My current obsession is roses. I have no idea why, there are many plants that are far less finicky that also have great fragrance and put on one hell of a show for the entire length of the growing season. Roses can be incredibly picky plants, they are prone to fungal diseases, are particular about their soil conditions, how much light they get and so on. They can be scrawny sticky plants with gobs of thorns with just a few blooms to pay you for your trouble. And to top it off, my mother has never grown roses that I can remember and so I don't even have any prior experience to whet my appetite. So why roses and why now?

I'm concurrently obsessed with cottage style gardening. I love big showy blooms - mophead hydrangeas being my favorite flower ever - and I love a loose and comfortable landscaping style. I like the idea of towering hollyhocks, big fat pink peonies, lilac and dogwood trees and... roses. Roses are a must in a cottage garden.

I've been planning and drawing up landscaping plans for the rest of my yard. The north side of our house is the garage side and it faces the street. We have the unsightly AC/Heating units there along with the driveway and it isn't very attractive. We are going to put in a long bed that stretches the length of the house with skip laurels to block out the units, and other shrubs and perennials to fill in. The north side of our house gets very little sun, so this will be where I get to play with shade loving plants - hostas and columbine, bleeding hearts and so on. The bed is anchored by a larger island that juts out with a Korean Spice Viburnum and a Vitex/Chasteberry tree (which were just planted this weekend). There is a 12 foot length of space between the island and the heating and cooling units that would be a perfect place for some medium sized shrub roses that have a bold color and are repeat bloomers... except that roses don't like shade. But the initial planning of this long bed is what got me thinking of roses and now that I've started thinking about them I can't stop.

Roses must find a home somewhere in my yard. I am determined to make this happen. I found the Rose forums at GardenWeb and wow, those folks are knowledgeable. Tea roses, hybrid teas, Old English roses, and so on. There are thousands and thousands of varieties in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and petals volume. Tall climbing roses, short ground covering roses, and everything in between. I, of course, love the showiest, most opulent roses, no plain tea roses for this lady. David Austin Roses provide just the style of rose that I love. I almost think I would love to specialize in rose hybridization when I go back to finish my B.A. in Horticulture (a million years from now when I have all my children in school) because the work that rose hybrid specialists do is just fascinating. As a lady who loves open pollenated, heirloom veggies it is sort of a shock to realize how much I appreciate the tinkering that hybridization accomplishes with roses.

I've stumbled across many roses that I would love to grow, unfortunately I lack the space and the right growing conditions to really give many varieties a shot (there is also the always annoying budget to consider). I am not a pink person - much to my 5 year old daughter's dismay - so I have very little interest in traditional pink roses though some of the really spicy dark pink roses are interesting to me. I am absolutely going to be ordering Christopher Marlowe from David Austin to plant this autumn in my front bed and I am considering a couple other varieties for spring delivery to be grown in containers. I may try and convince my husband to give a climbing rose a shot on the south side of our house right near where our veggie garden boxes are. I've got my eye on a few yellow climbing varieties but I've got all winter to continue my research.

Varieties that I think are gorgeous:

Bouquet Parfait

Moser House Shed Rose

Golden Fairy Tale

Crocus Rose


Graham Thomas

Grace (for a container, wouldn't this be lovely on a patio?)

Other online rose sellers with great reputations:

Pickering Nurseries

Palatine Roses




Kelly said...

Oh, Jess. I'm with you on the cottage style gardening. I think it's gorgeous. That's why I love walking around Blowing Rock, NC, so much. That style certainly prevails all along the quaint streets.

Your landscaping plans seem wonderful. Have fun with the various stages. It's a work in progress that will be gradual and rewarding! Roses will be a lovely addition. My parents have three different bushes in their yard, the largest being next to the den window and near a window box. It's been around for a very long time, and I don't think my Dad does much to tend to it any more. It still is doing wonderfully, though, and he's always cutting fresh roses and surprising my Mom.

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