Do you garden in winter?

For most of us, the answer is decidely “no”.  That is also true for many of us who live in warmer climates as the shorter days often slow down plant growth.

However, for those of us who are rose lovers, winter is a time of rejoicing as nursery shelves begin to be filled with bare root roses.

Even when I’m not shopping for new roses for the garden, I still find myself being pulled toward the new roses, seeking out my old favorites and checking for the newest varieties.

Showing my sister the rose bush at our first home in Phoenix.  (I am wearing the sweater.)
For those of you who have followed me for some time, you may recall that my love for roses got me into gardening a long time ago when high-waisted pants and permed hair were ‘cool’.  It was my love affair with roses that inspired me to get my degree in horticulture.  
My backyard garden space is always changing.  I used to have three vegetable gardens, but am now downsizing to two.  The main reason for the change is that the third vegetable garden was somewhat further out and with my busy schedule, it wasn’t always easy to harvest and keep a close eye on it.  

So, the former vegetable garden will now serve as my new mini-rose garden.  It has enriched soil and its own irrigation line.  What is even better, is that it is located outside the kitchen window where I can view my roses daily.

Now for the wonderful dilemma of deciding what types of roses to plant.  Back in our first home in Phoenix, I planted 40 different roses, which I lovingly cared for.

But, my life now is busier and somewhat more complicated:
– I have 5 children now vs. 2 back then.
– I work full time helping others with their landscapes, which leaves precious time for my own.
– My landscape now is much larger than in my first home.
– My second oldest daughter is living with us along with her 11 month old son temporarily.

So, I tend to gravitate toward roses that are lower maintenance needing pruning and fertilizing only twice a year.

The first rose for the garden will be Graham Thomas, which is an English or David Austin rose, courtesy of the rose growers at Heirloom Roses, which is where I have gotten my roses from for years.  They have a delicious fragrance and bright yellow blossoms.  They are disease resistant and relatively fuss-free.

There will be at least 2 more roses going into the garden.  One is the newest English rose introduction from David Austin roses, which is being given to me courtesy of them.  

The next rose will probably be a hybrid tea or floribunda.  I’d love to hear what are your favorite roses!

I will share both choices with you once I get them.

In the meantime, even though it is winter, spring will be here before you know it.  How better to prepare than with a lovely gardening tote filled with goodies?  

The folks at Mantis Garden Tools have put together a fabulous array of items in this garden tote with a whimisical bird theme, which includes:
·         3 mini garden tools.

·         “Gardening Answers” book

·         Canvas Gardening gloves

·         Wood and Sisal Nailbrush

·         hand and body scrub

·         garden vegetable cheese cup

·         Venus seed celebration organic crackers

·         European chocolate truffles, cookies, snacks

1. To enter, simply leave me a comment about what you plan to do in the garden this spring.  
(Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)

2. For a bonus entry, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter – (be sure to let me know in your comment).

Let your friends know about this great giveaway and I will pick a random winner on December 28th. 

First off, I hope you all are enjoying this wonderful holiday season.  

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family.   I apologize for not blogging recently, but I needed a few days to recover from the busyness of the past few days.  (Not to mention starting to eat a bit more healthy.  I’m trying to summon the strength to throw out the remaining ‘sweets’ that remain 😉

So, what have I been doing these past few days?

Buying plants, seeds, planning a new vegetable garden and preparing to renovate part of our front garden.

I purchased two new rose bushes for the back garden.  I selected ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Prospero’ David Austin(r) Roses from Heirloom Roses.  They should be here in a few days.
(I love David Austin roses and it can be hard to find them in nurseries, so I usually order them online).
I also purchased vegetable seeds for my spring vegetable garden from Burpee.  I ordered sweet corn, cucumbers, bush beans, gourds, pumpkin and sugar snap peas.

I haven’t purchased seeds from Burpee before, but my dad used to.  As a child, I remember looking at all the different varieties of vegetables and flowers that they had listed in their catalog and I would imagine which ones I would grow someday.

Which brings me to my favorite Christmas/Birthday gift from my husband:

A new vegetable garden (as if my current one isn’t enough 😉
We will be placing it in our side garden, which is quite wide and there is not much growing beside shrubs along the wall and house.
I am planning on the garden being 4 ft. wide and 10 – 15 feet long, maybe…

I’ll definitely will keep you updated as it progresses.

In the meantime,


from my garden to yours 🙂

Alas, Mr. Shakespeare’s life has ended tragically.  Sadly, it was a rather short life out in the garden.  He was lovingly planted by my son, Kai, back in January.  Next to him were planted his ‘brothers’ Graham Thomas and Abraham Darby.

Back in January, my three youngest children were so excited to plant rose bushes in our back garden.  We selected three David Austin English Roses, based on our local rose society’s recommendations.

All the kids pitched in in helping to dig the holes, amend the soil and plant the roses.

Under the watchful eye of Tobey, who will play a part in Mr. Shakespeare’s story later, we planted all three roses.

They were tiny, but we eagerly awaited the appearance of our first roses.

Mr. Thomas was first….

Although, Mr. Thomas was in a hurry to bloom before his brothers, he bloomed before his stems were large enough to hold up his roses.

Now Mr. Darby was not in a hurry and made sure he could hold up his flowers before they bloomed.

While both Mr. Thomas and Darby were producing numerous blooms, Mr. Shakespeare did not grow as much as his brothers and made no efforts at producing any rosebuds.

Then one day, my son came running in the house to tell me that he saw a single rosebud on his rose.  He was so excited because it had been a little tough on him with both of his sisters having rose bushes with lots of blooms.
We waited and waited for the rosebud to open and one morning when I went outside, there it was….

I rushed to take a picture of it and couldn’t wait for my son to come home so I could show him his rose.

When he arrived home, we went out to the garden, but the rose was missing.  Where could it be?  There was just a stem sticking up where the rose used to be.  Then, I noticed what looked like red confetti scattered on the back lawn.  Well, it turned out to be rose petals. 

Guess what happened to the single rose?

Here is the culprit – Tobey.  Evidently, the rose looked like it was something fun to play with, because Tobey just bit it off and tore it up.

My son, Kai, was disappointed but then decided he wanted to play football with his dad and promptly forgot about his destroyed rose.

As for me, I lavished extra attention on Mr. Shakespeare, determined to make him produce more blooms.  But my efforts were futile.  Summer came and he went into summer dormancy, which is what most roses do during the summer heat – they just exist and stop producing blooms until fall.

Last week I went out to water the roses and was happy to see Mr. Darby and Thomas doing very well.  Then I turned my attention to Mr. Shakespeare and to be honest, I had to look closely to find him.

Can you see him?

If you can see a few brown sticks amidst the bark mulch and fallen leaves from last week’s storm – that is what remains of Mr. Shakespeare.

I am not sure what happened to him…..he received the same treatment as his brothers but it did not seem to do any good.  Sometimes there are no easy answers as to why some plants die and some survive.  I am always telling this to my clients and now I am saying it to my son.

I was ready to dig Mr. Shakespeare up when I noticed a touch of green at the base.  I do realize that it is probably hopeless, but I will keep him in the ground to see if he can resurrect himself and maybe turn this story into a happy one 🙂
**I hope you all have a great week.  
My kids are back in school and my life is getting back to normal.  Today I am taking my first knitting class and my mom (Pastor Farmer of Double S Farms) is joining me.  I can hardly wait!

Do you remember when you were a child and couldn’t wait to grow up?  First it was learning how to walk before you could run.  Then learning how to ride a bike without training wheels.  Later you become impatient, waiting until you are old enough to get your driver’s license, although that is often scary for the parents.

Well, this is not a story about a child impatient to grow up.  Rather, it is a story of a rose bush that is in too much of a hurry to flower.

Back in January, we reintroduced roses into our garden.  We purchased 3 David Austin roses – Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas and William Shakespeare.  My children were so excited the day we received the roses in the mail.

We prepared the holes using bone meal, bagged compost, blood meal and aged steer manure according to the directions from the rose grower.  

Once we planted them, they were so small, it was hard to even see them.

Only two months later, we saw the beginning of a single rose bud growing on our Abraham Darby rose, which belongs to my third oldest daughter, Ruthie.  We were all so excited and it seemed like it took forever for it to bloom.

It was well worth the wait.  I love the light pink of the petals and the fragrance was just intoxicating.

Well, not wanting to be outdone by it’s neighbor, Abraham Darby….Graham Thomas decided that he would outdo Abraham.
Almost all at once, he started to grow not just one rose bud, but 10!

Now normally, I would be absolutely thrilled.

I mean, who wouldn’t love all of these beautiful roses perfuming the air.  But, there was just one problem.  You can see part of the problem in the photo above.

Graham had not grown big enough stems to support all the new roses, not to mention even one rose.

And so, we had beautiful roses laying on the ground….

Hopefully, Graham will think twice about growing roses before he has big enough stems.  

Interestingly, our William Shakespeare rose is quite patient.  He is rather puny and only formed his first rose bud a week ago.  But, the stem should be able to support the rose (hopefully).

And so the moral of the story is, do not flower until you have grown big enough to support them.   I hope Mr. Graham Thomas has learned his lesson….