Preparing Roses for the Winter

Pruned and Protected

Rose before being pruned

Rose before being pruned

This weekend generally gets taken up with Holiday goings ons. Between spending time with family and friends and getting ready for Christmas it seems there is next to no time for gardening. That’s ok because the weather has finally turned and it’s getting too cold to be effective in the garden anyway.

I like to wait until the roses are dormant before I prune them back for winter. Pruning them too early runs the risk of them putting a lot of energy into leafing out again only to have the frost hit them hard and stress them, possibly killing them. Also I leave the last round of flowers on the plants to allow them to set seeds and get ready to go dormant.

Christmas Candle

Christmas Candle

There are little grubs that like to chew down through the heartwood of the rose canes to winter over. These will kill a plant if they go too long. To prevent this I break out one of the multitude of unused Christmas candles I have and drip wax on the ends of the stems when I prune them back for winter.

If you don’t have a nice candle that you have no other use for you can use a few drops of white glue mixed with a drop or two of food color to coat the ends of the canes. Both of these methods will keep the larvae out of your canes and protect your roses for the winter.

Pruned and Protected

Pruned and Protected

With the cold weather upon us, I’m done outside for a couple of months. I’m only about a third of the way through all of the weeding I want to do. I’ll just have to pick up in the early spring.

Cold Weather is Upon Us, Finishing Up For Winter

Second side begun and Elephant Ear plants removed for winter.

Getting Ready for the other side of the walkway

Getting Ready for the other side of the walkway

This may be the last weekend A Nerd In the Garden can actually garden. We’ve gotten cold weather this last weekend. Rain is one thing, a good raincoat will get you through but cold weather is quite another.

The last thing I need to do is prune the roses now that the weather has turned. I try not to prune the last bloom of the roses so that the plants can set fruit and get ready for winter. Then when I’m fairly certain they won’t start leafing out again I do a hard prune to get them ready for winter. I’ll do that and melt candle wax over the cut stems to keep the borers out.

One Side with Elephant Ear plants

One Side with Elephant Ear plants

It had been my intention never to buy a plant that would have to be dug up to winter over. However; I was looking at the growing instructions for the beautiful elephant ear plants I’d put in the side yard and to my dismay, discovered that they shouldn’t be out in weather colder than 50 degrees F. Eeek! It’s been high 40’s for the past couple of weeks at night and now about to get much colder.

So I had to race home from work and quickly, but carefully, dig them out of my garden. They are in buckets in the garage. I hope that stays just warm enough for them. I hesitate to bring them into the house proper but it may come to that.

This weekend I dug up the Crocosima Lucifer and moved the bulbs. That took a lot more work than I had anticipated. I only got 2 clumps done before I had to call it a day. There are at least 3 more clumps to be worked. I’ll just have to move them in the spring. There is still quite a bit of weeding to do too. I’m about 1/3 of the way done with the area I wanted to clear, so around 100 sq ft.

The raised beds for the vegetable garden are just about ready for winter. I wanted to put some landscaping fabric over them but I’m not sure I will.

Second side begun and Elephant Ear plants removed for winter.

Second side begun and Elephant Ear plants removed for winter.

With the Crocosima in place I was able to replant some of the bearded Iris I saved while cleaning the area out. I don’t know what colors are in the box but I know they’ll be beautiful. I’m kind of hoping for a peach one I had blooming in the area years ago is one of the ones that got saved.

Lastly I got started on the east side of the walkway border. I ran out of bricks to do the edging or I would have gone farther. In clearing off the brick walkway I discovered that the west side was around 6 inches to far south and didn’t come all the way up to meet the north edge. I debated leaving it but couldn’t. So I extended the channel a bit and slid each brick up to move the entire run the distance it needed to be flush with the patio.

crocosima bulbs dug, cleaned and ready to replant.

crocosima bulbs dug, cleaned and ready to replant.

Digging through cardboard to plant bulbs

Digging through cardboard to plant bulbs

Vegetable garden ready for winter

Vegetable garden ready for winter

A Nerd In The Garden: Heartscaping & Raised Beds

Taboo

Solar Lights In The Garden

Solar Lights In The Garden

Because that is how it feels to me. An oasis of calm in the midst of chaos. A little place of rest and a tiny slice of nature in my backyard. It de-stresses me after all day at work and brings a surprising peace to my soul. It’s not much, I don’t have a lot of land or anything, but I get a little corner of the yard and with a lot of help we are turning it into a place of rest for mind if not body (gardening is hard, sweaty, dirty work; make no mistake).

We are also decorating a little bit. Apparently it’s called heartscaping. I’d never heard that term before but I kind of like it. I ordered solar lights that light up in the dark. There is a hummingbird, a butterfly and a dragonfly. We put them out and then weren’t out late enough to see if they actually worked. Sometimes decorative solar lights are a bit dicy and we’ve had spotty luck with them. To our delight all three of these work and they cycle through colors too.

We have, in the course of clearing out the spot and putting in the beds and weeding henseforth, been scratched, stabbed by thorns and bitten by little bitey insect things. We’ve dug up blackberry roots the size of my fist and had to leave pieces of blackberry root in the ground because we just couldn’t get them out. We pruned back an own-root rose that we planted a long time ago named Jude The Obscure. We weren’t sure if we had killed it or not between the brutal pruning and digging all the blackberrys out but in the last week it has leafed out all over. I’m pleased that it survived and seems very happy.

Growing Garden

Growing Garden

Some critter has been digging up the second bed of potatoes, could be the mole that invited himself into the yard the week after we got all the beds installed. Could be a raccoon, we do have a family of them living around here. Either way it killed the onion sets on its way to the potato bed, so I had to rake off the mulch and replant seeds.

Peas had to be re-planted too, as some of them had been broken off by the night-time visiting critter. The cages I put up around the surviving peas seem to have discouraged said critter from climbing into that bed. The brussel sprouts had to be thinned and I was able to transplant the few that were too close to others into bare spots in the bed.

After loosing the original Gunnera to a late freeze, we finally got a new one and put it replacement Gunnera in the ground just slightly south of the spot I planted the original one. Then we had some very hot days and it got a tiny bit, well ok about 30%, sunburned. I’m taking care to deeply water it every day now until it gets its root system established.

Vintage Wine

Vintage Wine

The first tomato has set. It’s on Vintage Wine. The other two tomato plants, both yellow Brandywine types are growing huge but havent’ got any flowers yet. The Vintage Wine has quite a few flowers on it already.

We picked up two cucumber starts, a lemon cucumber and a more traditional heirloom whose name I forget, my apologies. We also picked up an heirloom melon start at the farmer’s market. I planted all three in the same bed with the tomatoes. There’s quite a bit of basil and purple basil coming up in that bed too.

My roses have been blooming like crazy this year. I’ve been pruning them and getting a vase of roses every week. While I remember the names of most of them, I must confess that I’ve forgotten the names of a couple of them.

Honor, my only white rose, was languishing in the spot it was in. It was a bad spot to begin with but I was new to rose gardening and didn’t know better. Finally after many years of talking about moving her, we did today. She may not survive but she was dying where she was anyway.

Taboo

Taboo

Either Amethyst or Peace will have to be moved next. Both are unhappy where they are at and I’d like to give them a better spot. I finally dug the blackberries out from around Chicago Peace and it is very happy. There’s still one blackberry root I need to get out and eventually I will. We transplanted Taboo last year and at first it was very happy but this year not so much. I don’t know what has changed but I’ll be keeping an eye on it. Taboo is my only red rose.

Distant Drums

Distant Drums

I’ve been looking for the hummingbirds this year. The mallow bush is in bloom but I haven’t seen them. I am afraid things are blooming too early and the hummingbirds might be late. They need that food too. I will keep you updated, gentle reader. K

Adventures in Gardening: Lilies, Roses and an Update on my Gunnera.

Love
--photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Gunnera (Giant Rhubarb) --Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Gunnera (Giant Rhubarb)
–Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Those of you who have been following my little blog here know that a couple months ago I bought not one but two giant rhubarb plants. Why would I do such a crazy thing? Well because they were really cute in the nursery pots and they were extremely reasonably priced compared to other like sized potted plants (now I know why). So I got two, because if one is good, obviously two is better. Then I got home and despite having a smart phone, it was only then that I decided it might be a good idea to google the things and see what they would do. O. M. Goodness. 8′-9′ tall with 7′ leaves. But they are so cool looking! So I planted them anyway. After about 3 weeks in the ground (yes I let them sit in their pots for a week or so trying to figure out where I could put them without annoying the neighbors), they’re happy and growing.
Gunnera (Giant Rhubarb) --photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Gunnera (Giant Rhubarb)
–photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Calla Lilies --Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Calla Lilies
–Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

I also have calla lilies I planted and for reasons unknown, although I suspect micro-climates, they have never thrived. I’ve babied, fertalized, moved, divided and done everything in my power to make them happy. This year, they are finally blooming and blooming beautifully. I’m so happy. I love the speckled foliage and the colors of these calla lilies are just gorgeous.
Calla Lilies --photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Calla Lilies
–photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Finally my roses. I have here Love, which is very happy in its new spot. We had to transplant it a couple of years ago when its old spot got shaded by a neighbor’s maple tree. Also I have pictures of Diana, Princess of Wales which is one of my favorite roses. I may have to move it this year. It’s struggling where its at and it is just too beautiful to let languish in a bad spot.

Diana Princess of Wales --photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Diana Princess of Wales
–photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Love --photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Love
–photo by K. L. Zolnoski

I’ll have more pictures of my garden as the summer progresses. I will also keep you updated on the status of my Gunnera (giant rhubarb). Not just because the Gunnera Manicata is very cool but because it is such a great story to tell. Also, I love my garden and I get such lovely pictures to share. I hope you enjoy them. K.

Dancing With The Stars, My Pick and Gardening Wakes My Muse

Love, Liverpool Remembers and Medallion from my garden.  Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Love, Liverpool Remembers and Medallion from my garden.  Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Love, Liverpool Remembers and Medallion from my garden. Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

I’m filling this post with pictures of my roses because I love them, they’re beautiful and each plant was a gift from someone meaningful in my life.

On to today’s blog: Dancing With The Stars, let me just say that I’ve only seen Afro Jazz twice in my life, including Alexandra and Mark and I’ve loved it every time I’ve seen it. Kellie and Derek are a shoe-in if you ask me; she is just so beautiful and talented. Who doesn’t love Jacoby and Karina? They’re wonderful. So my votes had to go to Zendaya and Val. I wish they all could win, I really do. Oh, Ingo and Kim too. How could I have forgotten? My apologies. Ingo is such a charmer and I loved his lovely wife’s recollection of their first meeting.

I got no writing done yesterday because I spent the day working in my garden. It’s overrun with weeds and will take daily attention to get it back into shape. I also want to put raised beds in this year. I’ve been looking at designs on a variety of sites to see how to go about it and it seems that Popular Mechanics has the best instructions so far. Although, now that I think of it, OccupyTesla on Facebook posted some great blueprints too.

LIverpool Remembers --photo by K. L. Zolnoski

LIverpool Remembers –photo by K. L. Zolnoski

It would appear that gardening and sleep deprivation spark my muse. She’s a steampunk gal with a corset, Victorian shoes with brass buckles, a tool belt over her bustle and a parasol. She also keeps a set of lock picks hidden in her gloves. She’s fickle and has a wicked sense of timing.

Love --Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Love –Photo by K. L. Zolnoski

Anyway I have a lot to do today and I’m suddenly inundated with ideas. I’ve got to get busy, gentle reader. Whoops! Looks like a Chicago Peace made it into my feature picture. Sorry about almost missing that. Enjoy the pictures of my roses. K.