Bloom Thyme Friday: Sweet Peas

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Just the sweetest!

Around here the spring garden season kicks off with the planting of the sweet peas on St. Patrick’s Day! I know it sounds early but it works every time.

Sweet Peas are well named as they are one of the sweetest little flowers in the garden and I love to tuck them into bokays! They are a wonderful rose companion!

The Victorians, who also went crazy over bokays, used them too. With Tussie Mussies in hand, the Victorians used the subtle messages of flowers and herbs to convey not-so-subtle meanings. Sweet peas were used to convey departure, delicate pleasure and many thanks.

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As I write this I have in mind the many such “subtle” moments in the movie, The Age of Innocence, one of my favorite movies. If you’ve seen it, you know just what I mean… the costumes … the society … the flowers.

MANY THANKS TO HENRY!

The Victorians and I have Henry Eckford to thank for the lovely sweet peas we know today. He is credited with developing over 100 varieties of this dainty beauty.

PLANTING SWEET PEAS

Before I plant my sweet peas I soak them over night to soften the hard shell.

Like all plants, sweet peas prefer well-drained, fertile soil. I plant them about 1” deep and about 2” apart. Water them in and provide a trellis and you are done! They will do the rest!

We have the sweet peas trailing on some wire fencing that we added over the picket fence…

Climbing up...
Climbing up…
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Eckfords Finest!

Note the name on the plant tag… Eckfords Finest. Burpee has put together some of his “finest” varieties and you can find them on their website here.

VARIETIES I’M PLANTING

This year I have found several varieties at various garden centers as well as big box stores…
  • High Scent: Couldn’t pass this one up! Package says it is the most fragrant of all the sweet peas!
  • Mammoth Mix: These bloom early. Bonus!
  • Galaxy Mix: Large flowers!
  • Eckfords Finest: Just have to have this one!

ONE MORE THING ABOUT SWEET PEAS!

As sweet as the sweet pea is to look at and many of them have the sweetest fragrance … DO NOT EAT THEM.

TIME TO GET THE GARDEN PARTY STARTED!

Spring is truly just around the corner. Are you ready? What is your first task in the garden?

Sweet Peas_Bloom Thyme Friday

Bloom Thyme Friday: Fall Cleanup

UPDATED OCTOBER 2018…

Many people ask … “What do you do with all those roses in the fall?” Really not much … I tend to keep it simple. There are other chores that get a lot more of our attention in the fall than the roses. Like leaves! We have a lot of trees and so there are a lot of leaves. Mr. G has that process well in hand — with power tools like his leaf blower and tractor.

As far as the rose companions are concerned, I don’t cut back my perennials and annuals until the spring–I love the winter interest they provide especially when the snow falls on the different plant shapes. And, those seed pods are very yummy to our birds who hang around.

Now for “all those roses.”  Many of my roses are known to be winter hardy because I know that it is very likely that we will have a harsh winter and I would advise you make decisions on the roses you buy based on your weather conditions throughout the year not just your spring and summer.

  • I will clean up the beds of diseased leaves and debris and add mulch were needed.
  • I will take those in pots into the garage to protect from the winter. They don’t require much, just a drink of water every few weeks.
  • I will provide a heavy layer of much for a few of the particularly tender roses or sentimental favorites that I would hate to lose, by adding 4-5″ of extra mulch.
  • I will tie up the long canes of the climbers. I can look out and see that Peggy Martin and Francis E. Lester has grown some long arching canes since I tied them up a few weeks ago.
  • I will also cut back any of the roses that are extra tall to about waist high to keep them from flapping in the winter winds.

For the rest of the roses, they are on their own. Most can take it, but I know that if we have a winter like we had last year, I will lose a few and it is to be expected. But, you know what that means, once I get over the emotion of the loss, I will celebrate the extra space for the new introductions.

Rugosas are some of the toughest roses I grow. They will be back next spring give us their own brand of fireworks and fragrance in the garden. Oh I just can’t wait. If you want to read more about FIREWORKS and FRAGRANCE in the garden, read on here.

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Roseraie de la Hay
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Blanc de Double Corbert
Roseraie de la Hay
Roseraie de la Hay and Hansa

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the garden down time!

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Spring Assessment…

The Polar Vortex has come and gone, although I did see that there is a bit of snow in the forecast for next week. So, those of us who thought the weather might be stuck in winter mode can now relax and begin to enjoy spring and breathe!

This morning I was out early assessing the damage and trimming back some very black rose canes.

Here’s what I can tell you so far:

THE ROSES….

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Roseraie de la Hay

The old roses wintered the horrible weather just fine. I’m not sure they even knew we had a Polar Vortex. There are bud eyes (Bud eyes are swellings on the cane where the growth will start.) right to the very tips. Roseraie de la Hay, Harison’s Yellow, Rosa Mundi, Celsiana, Hansa, Madam Hardy and the others look amazing! No die back at all.

Peach Drift
Peach Drift

Drift Roses have had a little die back, as they normally do.

Knockouts will need to be cut back severely, but I always do that anyway!

Hybrid Teas and Floribundas will be cut back to around 4”. That is a few inches lower than I normally would prune them. Most years I prune them down to 12”.

David Austin roses did very well and just have normal die back.

The new roses on the amazing trellis Mr. G built, Francis E Lester and Peggy Martin, have had quite a bit of die back but they are out in the open and susceptible to wind, so it is not surprising.

Dr. Buck’s Quietness rose has no die back at all.

Carefree Wonder
Carefree Wonder

The Meilland shrub rose Carefree Wonder was another rose with very little die back.

I’m still not sure about my New Dawn and Zepherine Drouhin climbers but the Golden Gate climbers will be cut back to about 12”.

Fall plantings…

I completely covered the roses that I planted or transplanted last fall in mulch, and to my surprise when I pulled back the mulch to check on what was going on under the mulch, the roses were green to the point of leafing out. 🙂

THE COMPANIONS…

Daylilies, yarrow, daffodils and iris are all up and doing fine.

Perennial herbs are right on schedule.

Annabelle and Pinky Winky hydrangeas look amazing.

For lavender and many other companions, it’s too early to tell.

Bloomerang lilacs  look ready to rock and roll.

Dogwood trees, minus a few limbs that we lost in the heaviest of the snows, are loaded with buds.

To say I am pleased is a huge understatement. There were many bitterly cold, windy days that I feared the worst for the garden. So grateful for the blanket of snow!

And, if Rose Midge was eliminated in all that cold and ice… well, that will be something to celebrate too.

As more cold weather is coming this week, I’ll keep you posted. Fingers crossed that the temps don’t dip toooo low. But, I think I can safely say that the Polar Vortex was kinder to my garden that I ever dreamed!

My garden last spring…

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I hope spring is shaping up nicely in your neck of the woods and you are able to enjoy God’s handiwork! Is there anything more wonderful for a gardener to experience than the rebirth of spring!

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Rose Companions: Zinnias

I have always loved Zinnias–they are such  good companions for roses! However, this year I was given State Fair Zinnias from my friend, Ron Daniels, and the only word that comes to mind is WOW. The hotter and drier it gets, the more these beauties bloom and bloom and bloom.

These lovelies are wonderful in arrangements as they just last and last in a vase!

A big bang for your buck! See…

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State Fair Zinnias ... THANKS RON!
State Fair Zinnias … THANKS RON!