jueves, 15 de noviembre de 2018

Bloom Day - November 2018

The sky has been cloudy this month and the fog has crept up the river from Toledo most mornings, so these photos were taken in mad dashes yesterday when the sun peeked out its head.  What a tease, that sun!

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare is my favorite red rose.  Red?  Well, someplace between red and magenta, but its most appealing attribute is its scent.

Benjamin Britten 
I am pleased with this photo because it shows the progression of colors that Benjamin Britten is capable of producing, but in the summer the flowers are too fleeting to appreciate.  From bits of yellow, to coral, to a purpley-red, BB has got it all - with a fruity scent to boot!

Charles Darwin
In my garden and in its current location, Charles Darwin is a bit of a meek producer.  However, it is healthy and I love the color of its blooms, so it is a keeper.

Chrysanthemums in Spain are sold for All Saints' Day on November 1, so you will probably never see them in a garden as they are associated with cemeteries and funerals.  However, I have always loved chrysanthemums becuase of the color they bring to the fall garden.  I have several, which can be grown as perennials here.  Unfortunately, though, they are sold here sans ID.

La Sevillana
La Sevillana has been flowering since May.  She is such a hard worker.  I should probably pay more attention to her.  Ay, if only she smelled as lovely as she looks...

Podranea ricasoliana

Salvia microphylla

Winchester Cathedral

If you have been paying attention, then you know that I do not care for the color pink.  So, what is Heritage doing in my garden?  Well, I planted this rose to commemorate the birth of my niece, Katie, exactly 7 years ago today.  

Happy Birthday, Katie!!!

And happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day to everyone!  Stop by May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming in everyone elses' gardens.

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2018

Red-legged partridges and "Little owls"

Alectoris rufa hispanica

Athene noctua, "Little owl"

A tribute to the mochuelo (Little owl) that pooped on me while gardening last week.

Who's been visiting your garden lately?

domingo, 11 de noviembre de 2018

100 years

On the 100th anniversary of the end of Word War I, The Great War, the "War to End All Wars", I once again have been reflecting on the fate of so many young men and women who gave ther lives to preserve our freedom, among them my grandmother's cousin, Frank.

Cousin Frank was 22 and born in Massachusetts, but away at college when he enlisted with New York's 7th Infantry Regiment, often known as the "Silk Stocking Regiment" because the sons of many of Manhattan's socialites had also enlisted.  He was killed in battle towards the end of the war.

However, I had never been able to find where he was buried.  All of my online searches had come up empty.  Until today.  Searching once again, I have just been able to find Cousin Frank's gravesite at the Somme American Cemetery in Bony, Aisne, France.  The Find A Grave website provided a photo and a description:

"He was awarded the Distinguished Medal for service for bravery and determination of action under heavy machine gunfire during the attack on the Hindenburg Line, during the Battle of Saint-Quentin Canal in the vicinity of Bony, Departement de l'Aisne, Picardie, France." - Find a Grave

I feel better now that I know where he was buried, and I know that one day I will visit his grave.  You see, I believe that both my mother's and my middle names are Frances for a reason.

miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2018

End of the Month Garden View - October, 2018

I had thought that I might be a bit more motivated to get things done in the garden if I posted monthly photos of the garden's progress.  Accountability, I say!  It also gives me a good excuse to pay attention to my garden at the end of the month, which is always hectic at work because the biomedical journal I translate runs on an end-of-the-month deadline.

However, it has been cloudy and rainy for the past 5 days, and I thought I would never get any decent photos today.  But, Mother Nature cooperated, and the sun breached through the clouds for just five minutes, and I ran outside to get some quick pictures.

View from the back porch, with new pergola below
I still don't have the heart to call the back part of the property a "garden".  I mean, all there is are a few random trees that are still growing in and little else.  While it is mainly overrun with our native stipa, which I actually like, there is really not much of interest going on here, and I find it a bit embarrassing.  It is just horrible, horrible soil, and the ammending process is slow, arduous, and unsatisfying.  The battle will continue.

Looking south

View from south-eastern side
Just a few meters over from the previous photo is an area that is doing a bit better because we created a sort of earth berm so that the neighbor's rainfall would not keep encroaching on our property.  Here, I added 5 cypress trees, an ornamental pear and a gingko to provide privacy from the neighboring lot and street.

Trufa's favorite perch

Front garden

The front garden is a much happier place.  Right now, the chrysanthemums are in bloom, the abelia have turned red, and the fraxinus rubra is also turning.  My plans for this weekend include cleaning up the last of the pruning pile and transplanting lots of the rooted creeping rosemary and irises to the back yard.  Free plants fit well within my budget. 

The missing chair cushion was torn apart by pigeons.

Ah, yes, the basketball hoop: the ultimate test of any plant.

On the right, some newly added salvia and carex

Have you made any progress in your garden this month?

I am cross-posting with The Patient Gardener for the end-of-the-month meme.

sábado, 27 de octubre de 2018

Growing English Roses in Spain

When I first came to live in LaMancha 12 years ago, I had never tended a garden in such a hot, dry climate, and I had no experience with clay soil.  In my native New England, we had never-ending precipitation and a lush, humus-filled topsoil.  Yes, there were rocks and tree roots to work around, but I had never had to chip away at a hole with a pick-axe!

Golden Celebration
Seven years ago, when I started the garden at our new house, I really had no idea whether English roses would fare well here.  But, I had my heart set on trying some David Austin cabbage-like roses, and my very first plant purchase was an order of bareroot roses from a Dutch online supplier.

Abraham Darby and perovskia
The first year, I planted these roses in pots, as we still did not have a drip system up and running, and I was unsure whether any of them would survive in a dry lot with absolutely no shade.  The roses did surprisingly well in pots, and that winter they were planted in the yard on the eastern side of the house.  Since then, I've learned a thing or two.

Lady Emma Hamilton

1) Soil ammendments:  I know, I know, this is the boring stuff, but you have to feed your plants if you want them to flourish, and I prefer not using chemicals in my garden.  Every single plant in my garden has been planted with ammendments, mainly potting soil and mantillo, which is a mix of decomposed manure and organic plant matter.  I also use a sprinkle of ash from our wood-burning fireplace and banana peels, which are an excellent source of potassium.  Remember: if you do not ammend your Spanish clay earth, it's just like planting in terracotta pots, because in the summer our clay soil "cooks" and solidifies.

2) Location, location, location!:  When planting English roses in Spain, you need to take our harsh summer climate into account.  Yes, roses need plenty of sun to flower, but too much of a good thing can be bad.  Plus, our dry summer winds can be more drying than the sun itself.  So, I have my English roses planted on the eastern side of my house, protected by masonry walls and other taller plants.  Less heat + less hot air = longer-lasting roses.

English roses on the eastern side of the house, in front of an ivy-covered masonry wall and with companion plants
(lavender, sage, rosemary)

3) Water:  From April/May to September, I have my roses on a drip irrigation system, set at 45 min per day at 9:30 pm, that way the plants have all night to absorb the water (I have never had mold problems).

Abraham Darby

4) Ground cover/companion plants:  Especially in the cases of recently-planted roses, it is necessary to provide their roots with some sort of relief and protection from the elements in the summer.  So, my first line of defense is a large rock.  Yes, when I plant a new rosebush, I usually "plant" a large rock at its feet (this is a trick that my Spanish mother-in-law taught me: "la piedra les aporta frescor").  Companion plants also provide some protection, and ones that do well with roses include: sage, rosemary, thyme and lavender.  The planting is dense, and the sun does not reach the soil.

English roses with companion plants, between a masonry wall and stone pathway

English roses, planted along a retaining wall, with companion plants (salvia, Rosemary and irises) 

And that's it!  I use no chemicals, no sprays, no nothing.  I do have other roses planted in other areas of the garden, but these are big growers and ramblers.

Roses along a fence on the north-western side of the house with Trufa, our black lab

The Shepherdess

 What are your tricks for growing roses in your climate?

domingo, 14 de octubre de 2018

Bloom Day - October, 2018

What is blooming in my garden right now?  Well, quite a bit, actually.  

First off is my new love and most recent acquisition this year: gaura.  I love its volume, color and airiness.  Plus, although it looks delicate, it can withstand our brutal sun and wind, while still flowering from spring to fall.  And, as it is planted right behind my teenager's basketball hoop, it can also take quite a few shots without flinching.


Abelia is another of my favorites for the fall.  It flowers constantly and brings some red foliage into the garden, which is hard to come by in Spain.

Speaking of red, this naturalized chrysanthemum has been in my garden for several years, and this year it has brought a bit of a suprise.   If you look closely, you'll see that one of the petals themelves are bi-colored, sporting the colors of the Spanish flag.

The oleander continue to flower after their second summer in the garden.  Last year, we planted 7 large specimens for instant privacy.  Instead of making 7 individual holes in our hard-packed soil, my friend at the garden center recommended we dig a trench and space them throughout, to avoid restricted root growth.  They have done quite well this year and have been flowering since June.

Oleander, with the remnants of Hurrican Leslie, which came through Spain and Portugal Sunday.

Podranea ricasoliana is very underwhelming in a large enamel pot on the porch.  Nothing I have planted here has ever done especially well, though.

 As always, the roses start to recover in the fall and produce more flowers in October.
Golden Celebration


La Sevillana

Lady Emma Hamilton
Meanwhile, the salvias and perovskia continue to bloom as well.

Today, I am linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for her monthly Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.

Today's sunset after the storm