Reaping Roses

There's a folder on my computer titled "m day on the washer". I look at the contents in wonderment and think, "I really want to show these, but it's not Mother's Day." So the images sit there gathering pixel dust. Well no more. 



It's spring 2013, and I'm just back from the San Francisco Flower Market. I've deposited my bounty in the front garden to prep for Mother's Day bouquets. I know, it seems odd to buy flowers when the garden looks so full. I felt the need for a little embellishment and the photo ops were too good to ignore.










In the rush a few days later to make the bouquets, I didn't have time for pictures, but these images seem even better for that time and place, as well as this time and place, months later!


People find life entirely too time-consuming.

~Stanislaw Jerzy Lec



Rose Rewards

It was the tail end of our roses' second bloom cycle and everything in the front garden beds needed cleaning up.


I went out to deadhead, prune, cut back, and pull out.



Snowbird looked so beautiful.



I thought why not fill a bucket with all the stems that don't need deadheading, and in the mix add other complementary plant material.



Photo ideas started coming. After I'd done lots of pruning and filled two buckets, one from the white bed and another from the pink, I went inside with my muses. For the shot below, I simply lifted what was in the porcelain bucket, shortened a few stems, and placed them intact in another container. 



Now for the pink roses, they were even more inspiring. This is the Tea rose, Maman Cochet.








The ceramic vessel with morning glories is by my artist husband, Leroy Parker.

The rewards of my garden never cease to amaze me! Out the door at 6:30 a.m. to deadhad and back in the house a couple hours later reaping the bounty for a blog post, FB, Instagram, Pinterest, and pure fun.

The delicate greenery in the pink arrangements is indigofera, which is invasive, but oh well. As a matter of fact, these cuttings are from seedlings that appeared after the mother plant had been removed for two years. I was happy to have them. There is another variety, with larger blooms, that is not invasive. It shows up better in the pictures with the white background.

By the way, the clustered, small white roses are Little White PetPoulsen's Pearl, Evelyn, and Climbing Pinkie also make an appearance.



I've said this many times and I'm happy to say it again. An empty French style flower bucket, filled with water, can be a wonderful inspiration as one stem after another is added while havesting. It can be a no-stress excercise in arranging possibilities as you relate one stem to the next in hopefully new and ever harmonious ways.



I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.

~Jonas Salk

To Fertilize Your Roses or Not

Tired roses, just before winter pruning, always look like they'll need lots of care and feeding before they bounce back come spring.


However, the natural regernerative forces that take place during dormancy are truly a marvel–I'm always awestruck by the power of growth.  


This is how the roses looked this weekend. I've never seen so many buds; these belong to White Masterpiece.


I thought what will a little fertilizer mean when there is such an abundance of energy swirling in all those buds (this is Paquerette)? For years, my garden has received homemade compost, mulch, and fertilizer before bloom time. This year, I'm going to let nature take care of the roses.


Truth is, the powerful forces at work during spring will even give healthy, beautiful blooms to a poorly cared for rose. I've always known this, so I wonder why I never thought to forgo that first feeding when my soil was usually in good shape? I didn't realize needless "rose rules" still had a hold on me. The beauties above are Winchester Cathedral.


So all I can say is, wow, I'm happy not to fertilize! 


When I give rose talks, the first questions are inevitably about fertilizer. My answer is simply, "Feed your soil, not your roses." Composting and mulching are the keys to healthy soil. This is not to say I will stop fertilizing altogether. I think this year I will give them a boost after the first bloom, and that will be it, along with a little mulch from our silver maple.

For information on composting, click here, and here's something about mulching in the garden, click


This is Safrano, a Tea rose enjoying much needed rain.