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:
Moser House Shed Rose
Golden Fairy Tale
Grace (for a container, wouldn't this be lovely on a patio?)
Other online rose sellers with great reputations:
I stumbled upon a blog called Love Made the Radish Grow via the Frugal Green Co-Op site about a month ago. We had just picked a ton of peaches at a local farm and I was trying to figure out way to process them. Imagine my delight when I read an interesting recipe for peach salsa and direction on how to can it. I figured 8 pints of peach salsa weren't too huge of a commitment and Bob and I got the rest of the ingredients together and put up several pints.
6 c pitted peaches, diced
1 1/4 c diced onion
4 jalapeno peppers, diced (seed these if you don't want it too spicy. I personally like only a little edge)
1 bell pepper, preferably red, diced and seeded (though an color will suffice)
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro or 1/4 c dried
3/4 c white vinegar
2 T honey
Oh.My.Goodness! We pulled out a jar of it to use to dress up fish tacos the other night and let me tell you, I think I heard the choirs of angels singing in heaven as I chewed. It is delicious, it is easy to can, it is delicious, it requires very easy to find ingredients, it is delicious, it takes very little time to process at 20 minutes, it is delicious, and it can be used in many ways in many various recipes. I think we are going to try it over pork roast next.
Absolutely a pantry staple for the rest of my life. I will brave all kinds of buzzing and stinging insects in the orchard to get loads of peaches each summer so I can make a lot more of this. Yummy.
And the winner from the tomato garden this year is... PAUL ROBESON. Clap, clap, clap.
This tomato is everything it is reputed to be. The flavor is unbelievably rich, slightly smokey and not too tart or sweet. The vines produced an average crop and while it wasn't my most prolific tomato it certainly produced enough to make it worthwhile because of the gorgeous, delicious taste.
I grew out two plants and gave one of them to my neighbor. She agrees, that it is hands down the best of the summer.
Almost everything I planted for the spring and summer is showing signs of wear and tear. My containers look tired and shabby and my garden boxes are full of plants that are succumbing to end of season weather and laziness. Oh, and I believe all the remaining 10 tomato plants have blight. Exciting times in the Gaulden garden!
I am planning for Fall. I've got cucumbers, radishes, carrots and turnips (for the greens) started. I will be planting spinach, broccoli rabinni and various lettuces over the course of the next week. The shabby, crumbling tomato plants will be pulled out and trashed after thanks has been given for their production of the summer, so prolific at times that I felt a little crazy trying to deal with the produce. I'll keep the beans going for a few more weeks and then they will bid goodbye as well.
Summer of 2010 - you were hot as hell and just about as dry and I'm not sorry to see you go.
I'm planning some great fall container gardens. After perusing my latest issue of Southern Living (a magazine which I simply swoon over and I know this declaration will firmly pin my age in the age 30+ category) I found a great recommendation for Plentiful Pansies, a new hybrid which is rated for zero degrees F and apparently spreads prolifically like the Wave Petunias (I should add here that I am only snobby about heirlooms when it comes to veggies, flowers are welcomed as hybrids being easy and with prolific blooms). Alas, every garden center I've contacted said that they are so new that most growers did not get them started and they will most likely not be available until next year.
I've got big plan for my yard in the next 12 months, lets hope I can hobble the budget together to see the projects through. I am dreaming of a patio, a fire pit, a couple adirondack chairs, three new long beds, some shading and view shielding in the forms of 8 footish lilacs and hydrangea trees, coupled with nandina, spirea, bush hydrangeas and maybe even some peonies if I can find a sunny enough spot.
Oh, and my 5 year old daughter Ella and I are also planning on several dramatic displays of bulb flowers this spring. Off to the garden center to let her choose tomorrow. If her tastes hold true we will have the pinkest, fluffiest, fanciest tulips and daffodils in the neighborhood. (And yes, I saw !pink! daffodil bulbs today).