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The last day of August

bart bart
2 months ago

What an atrocious summer it has been!

Today the weather prediction was for rain, but we got nothing. It's still hot, buggy and muggy,though not as bad as before. Yesterday I went out to my land; took out more of the fallen branch and sawed off the lower portions of P's H Musk's canes that were left dangling after I sawed them off at the base. The poor tree looks a mess on the south-western side,with this huge gapeing wound, but there's no way I can remedy that, unless I hire someone, which we can't really afford. Tant pis.

I also sawed down a ceanothus (I think it was "Skylark"); it was bullying all the roses near by, and never impressed me as a flowering shrub; it flowered late, and this year very sparsely. Also the colour was pretty blah-nothing to compare with the astoundingly beautiful "Concha",nor even with "Victoria". I'm glad to be (almost) rid of it (still have the stump to remove)

Of the new implants,3 have died, in spite of being watered: two little trees and one rose. Earlier I removed a cypress "Totem", which was obviously in distress; now it's in a pot here at home, happy enough. Then, yesterday, I dug out three roses which looked bad. Rhapsody in Blue had suffered some summer die-back, but it's also been in that spot at least two years and is simply not taking off. I'm not surprised; I found that it's soil was totally dried out; far, far too sandy as well. I think it has a good chance of making it.

Noella Nabonnand was growing backwards; it's two canes blackened and dead almost to the base. I felt very doubtful of it's chances last evening, but today when I potted it up I saw two little green nubs at the base; this makes me more optimistic. This plant is an own-root; I think that own-roots have to be grown up in pots for several years so that they can gain considerable size before they can be planted out in my garden. Even regular watering can't compensate for the exaggerated heat and sun.

The one about which I'm most pessimistic is Twilight Zone. This is a grafted plant, and when I dug it up the soil was still nice and humid from the last watering, yet the plant is almost totally black near the base-an obvious example of growing backwards, because the upper part of one cane was still green, with leaves, but lower down it was black and yellow. Next to it, Sheherazad seems fine, as does another neighbour, "not Purple Eden" (I think it might be Palais Brion). I think that TZ, like Purple Eden, is just a slow starter, and has to be grown on for several years in a pot before going out.

Comments (36)

  • jacqueline9CA
    2 months ago

    So sorry you are having a horrible weather year - at least it sounds as if there is some humidity in the air - that helps plants not dry out as much as they would otherwise. I am so glad you have rescued several roses & other plants which were heading south and put them into pots for recuperation.


    Jackie

    bart bart thanked jacqueline9CA
  • oursteelers 8B PNW
    2 months ago

    Hopefully the next season gives you a bit of a break-you certainly are owed one! Sheesh!

    bart bart thanked oursteelers 8B PNW
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  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
    2 months ago

    Bart I really empathize with your going backwards from heat and sunburn rose's experience. You are probably right that longer duration in a pot would be helpful. I've had spots roses fry. Ingrid experienced cooked roses in So California.

    bart bart thanked Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
  • intwilight z6a KS
    2 months ago

    Very disheartening year, sorry Bart.

    bart bart thanked intwilight z6a KS
  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago

    Our weather up here is similarly atrocious. After the last failed round of rain it did cool down some, which allowed me yesterday to spend the morning clearing a slope of wild clematis, hops, nettles, and other nasties--I hope to plant some baby flowering ashes and perhaps Viburnum lantana there in fall, continuing its hoped-for transformation from brush to wood--and the afternoon doing mild cleanup in the shade garden. It was buggy and muggy, but it was satisfactory to clear dead growth out of my lovely 'Dupontii' and cut back the California privet, I think it is, scattering the cut pieces of both over the beds. More organic matter! Fall is good for that.

    Recently I've been repotting cuttings I took back in late winter or early spring, and taking more cuttings, of shrub germander (a very slow rooter) and lavender, and suckers of two figs that are getting shaded out. I've never been very good at growing from cuttings, but fortunately there are quite a few plants that root easily and don't demand much skill from the gardener. The pot ghetto at the moment is enormous. I also collected seeds from two shrub peonies and planted them in containers, one of which the miserable cats promptly used as a latrine: so much for careful placing of the seeds. I tried this years ago and ended up with a grand total of one plant--a good one--so am making another attempt. It seems such a waste not to use the seeds Nature has provided.

    The rain forecast for Saturday continues to seep away, and predictions for the next two weeks aren't the kind to make me happy. Oh, well. Bart, good luck to you. I hope your roses recover. I continue curious about your garden.

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • rosecanadian
    2 months ago

    Erasmus - no offense taken. Summer is getting difficult in so many places.

    bart bart thanked rosecanadian
  • seasiderooftop
    2 months ago

    @bart bart I am sorry you lost so many plants, I read your other thread about removing PHM too and it seems to have been a tough summer!

    I want to thank you for reporting here about how your roses fare, I am always very interested in your reviews of how roses do in your conditions. Our climates are not the same but I believe if a rose isn't happy in your climate, there's no way it will do well down here. So even when your reports are bleak, please know that they are appreciated and useful!

    You mentioned Twilight Zone among the ones that don't do well... I had just been drooling over Diane's pics of TZ blooms in the seasonal thread, but perhaps this isn't a rose for warmer climates. It's strange, because both TZ and Ebb Tide (Purple Eden) are descended from International Herald Tribune, which is supposed to be very heat and drought tolerant. Even more disappointing because you mentioned this is a grafted rose: I would have thought that the Laxa roots should help... Thanks for the info and I hope your roses will do better as the temperature cools this month!

    bart bart thanked seasiderooftop
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Seaside, I am not sure that one should give up automatically on Ebb Tide or TZ; Rose Barni carries both,and they say that one of their aims is to offer roses that do well in this climate. Of course climate change has drastically altered things, but still... For example, one of the new implants of last fall was an Ebb Tide. Bought as a grafted rose years ago, it had a difficult time of it and wound up in a pot, eventually becoming an own-root. This rose looks OK-at least for now (fingers crossed). My older, potted TZ has a similar story; I have noted that, even as a potted plant, it is slower than many of its' fellows. So I'm not ready to write either of these off just yet. There are so few many-petaled roses of that colour; the only one that seems to have vigour is Palais Brion. Conditions in my garden are so, so tough,and I am only ,gradually learning what to do to make my soil more moisture-retentive.

    Erasmus, how deeply I relate to your feelings! I want to puke when the weather sites here in Italy call summer "la bella stagione" ("the beautiful season") It's so miserable here, all you can do is stay inside, with all the windows and shutters closed,in the dark. My entire back is covered in insect bites, and itches worse than the devil in high heels. The weather has improved somewhat, but still no real, soaking rain; just a few frustrating drops.

    Yesterday, another casualty. I noticed that Annie Laurie McDowell 's leaves were wilting, dug it up-the soil was totally dry, even though Annie, too, has been recieving regular watering. It may have a small green bud at the base, but all of the top growth that exists is dying. Potted it up today...

  • erasmus_gw
    2 months ago

    Hope you get rain soon, Bart. Your tactic to pot up roses that are struggling is what I do also. Fairly often it saves them. Sometimes I replant in another spot. I have a fairly young Rhapsody in Blue as well and it seems drought sensitive. I have to keep that one watered. Maybe when it's a little bigger , especially the roots, it will fend for itself better.

    I like the splashes of white:





    We have neighbors who for months had a collapsed above ground pool in their back yard. Most likely it was breeding mosquitos. i hated to bug them about it, ahem, so kept quiet and finally they got rid of it. I think the mosquitos that hung out over there have come over here....they are quick to find me outside but I think I don't taste as good as my husband.

    Bugs and heat...blech.

    bart bart thanked erasmus_gw
  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago

    We had a surprise afternoon a couple of days ago of drier, fair weather with a touch of freshness in the air. A reminder that yes, fall is on its way. The forecast keeps promising rain which keeps not coming; today is forecast to rain: we'll see. In the reservoir the water is cutting channels through the mud at the bottom. I haven't seen it so low since October of last year.

    On the positive side, the rain in the first half of August stimulated the Teas to put out new growth and a moderate bloom. Oh, they're lovely roses, those Teas. In one bed in the yard they're planted together with caryopteris, also in bloom this time of year, and its blue-violet flowers and silvery foliage consort well with the roses. Despite the drought, growth is overall quite good. The one negative is the box moth that has ravaged our large population of box bushes all year. We've never found the time, energy, will, and non-fatal weather (it has been hot; we're along in years) to spray. Perhaps later this month. It's decidedly unsightly.

    I've been pruning the wisteria. I didn't prune it last winter because it was going to get cut back hard anyway to make room for the foundation work this year, so it had time to climb up into the persimmon and tangle with 'Archduke Joseph' which is also climbing through the persimmon and onto the pergola. A word about 'Archduke Joseph'; I believe it was Kim who said that he thought that 'Mme. Alfred Carrière' was indeterminate, i.e., that it would just keep on growing larger as long as it had the nutrients and the support. Well, 'Archduke Joseph' appears indeterminate, too: it just keeps on going. Very impressive, very beautiful. For the curious there's a photo of my plant on HMF. Anyway, I've been balancing on the top step of our new, taller stepladder, cutting out great armfuls of the wisteria and doing my best to yank it out of the top of the persimmon, though some of it can't be reached, and cutting it off 'Archduke Joseph'. Satisfying work, curbing chaos and restoring form, yielding quantities of organic matter for other parts of the garden, and now the persimmon can breathe freer. We still don't have our pergola rebuilt. Possibly someone may come this weekend to have a look and put together an estimate. We got our piano tuned yesterday after five years--Covid got in the way of that, as it did so many plans--so all things are possible.

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • jacqueline9CA
    2 months ago

    bart bart - I do hope your rescued roses recuperate in their pots - let us know.


    I too am getting tired of Summer! Even though we live near the SF Bay, and only a few miles from the ocean, all of CA is having a remarkable (and horrible) heat spell, and it got us too. Yesterday it hit 100 F here for the first time in years. Normally, even after and before a really hot day, it gets into the 50s at night. Not last night - at 4AM I woke up and it was still 79 degrees outside. It is a little cooler now - I ran around at 4AM and turned on more fans and opened more windows - it makes quite a racket, but I figured I only had 2-3 hours to get any cool(er) air into the house.


    In my new garden, I planted several roses, and they are all doing OK, although SSY, which is a polyantha, and that mystery "Dijon tea" I was talking about both did the same thing. They were planted in direct sun - our property is so shady, that for years I have been wishing for more sunny spots (be careful what you wish for!). Anyway, both bushes are covered with leaves which are 1/3 to 1/4 the size of when they were growing in partial shade, and SSY is hugging the ground like a ground cover. SSY is blooming all over, but the blooms don't last long. The Dijon tea, after growing a bit with those tiny leaves, was really not looking well. So, we dug it up and moved it a few feet so that it now gets afternoon shade and only morning sun. It immediately started to sulk (I presume from being transplanted), and all of its tiny new growth tips died. Every day I go and peer at it - it is not putting out any new growth, but it is not dying anywhere either. I am hoping it will recuperate when we finally start getting some rain in a month or two.


    Just now when I went out to get the paper, there were some fluffy clouds (seen by moonlight) in the sky. Maybe some of that moisture which is bedeviling Jeri has arrived from So Cal. We shall see.


    Jackie

    bart bart thanked jacqueline9CA
  • erasmus_gw
    2 months ago

    I imagine many people in CA probably don't even have air conditioners due to usually not needing them. At least some parts of it.


    I don't know how some parts of the world were even settled in, what with the weather so bad. And in the past ladies wore long dresses and corsets. One thing I know I'll miss about summer once it is cold is going out the front door without a coat or sweater.


    Some degree of warmth is nice and seems friendly to life. Up to a point. I read that cold kills 20x more people than hot weather. Often when I go outside I forget all about how hot it is.


    bart bart thanked erasmus_gw
  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago

    Yes, well, I'm tired of the heat and especially of the humidity. And the bugs. Things could be worse.

    Erasmus, I suspect heat is going to be killing more people as temperatures rise. Our climate is a relatively mild one, but I break into a sweat with even gentle activity; imagine people who have to work outdoors.

    Jackie, we're working to have shade everywhere here. I don't know of any plant that actually prefers full sun. Good luck with your roses.

    I went for a brief stroll in the upper part of the big garden yesterday, where I hadn't been for months, though it's just downhill of the house. Too sunny, with its steep southwest-facing slope. We have figs down there which we never checked for fruit this summer as it would have meant a walk up in the heat, so forget it. I saw a dry Mediterranean garden doing pretty well: phlomis, olives, evergreen oaks, Italian cypresses, shrub germander, rosemary, vitex just coming into bloom, lentisk. There are also plants I would call more characteristic of our temperate zone, but it looks like the wise move is going to be sticking to a considerable extent with plants adapted to dry climates with poor soils. They have their own beauty. Some of the yews simply fried, as did a baby flowering ash, a tough colonizing tree that generally grows without difficulty. Also, I'm no longer going to try to grow hazelnuts in dry areas. I might have figured this out sooner, but in the wild here they grow along watercourses or in nice deep soil. Cornelian cherries, handsome but slow growing, or laburnums, which are beautiful and tough, might do instead. I may add more figs in the higher parts of the big garden where I need shade: I have several plants from suckers coming along in pots.

    I did a bit of work on 'Archduke Joseph', cutting away some dead growth and disentangling one set of canes sufficiently to haul them up to where they can climb onto the pergola if they so desire. This is a wisteria-free zone. I want to see if AJ will keep on expanding.

    The roses are showing a new and undesirable behavior these days, with young but hardened canes dying back for no obvious reason: no sign of disease, injury, or infestation, and it's only some of the canes that die. Drought stress? Also, 'Mme. Antoine Mari' has yellowing foliage on apparently healthy sturdy foliage, again for no obvious reason. She's also putting out healthy new growth, but I don't like the dying leaves. Overall the roses are holding their own, however.

    There's heat lightning flickering along the southern horizon this morning. Thunderstorms in the mountains, perhaps, but a long way away. DD back in Milan has had one, possibly another last night. Lucky girl. Here we'll do the best we can as we wait for fall.


    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    In my experience, heat/drought stress and die-back is a very creepy thing; it can take quite a while to manifest itself. A plant will look like it's holding up ok, and then, when you start to think"ah, at least the worst of summer is over now; things seem to have made it"-BAM!

    Here in Italy, from what I read, there have been many, many deaths due to the heat this year. It's not just with the poor souls that have to work outdoors either; I think many old and fragile people end up suffering and being weakened by the heat even without being especially exposed.. I'll give one example of the stuff I mean: "Shock termico" (thermal shock?) . This is an effect which occurs even in younger people. Let us remember, normal body temperature is said to be about 98.6 F (37 C),but the range is 36.1-37.2 C. So when the outdoor temperature goes above that, it is actually hotter outside your body than it is within. This is NOT a healthy state,IMO. Well, this summer the temperature persisted for a long time at or above 37C, with the humidity and lack of ventilation making the percieved temperature a lot higher. One's body is forced to adapt as well as it can to this stress, but then the temperature goes down a bit-or a person goes indoors into a cooler environment.This is an added stress, a real shock, and can cause illness or worse.

    Anymore, I definitely do NOT consider the Italian climate as mild!!!!!!!! but I come from Maryland; if memory serves me, Melissa comes from Florida, so our standards are different. But I totally agree that anymore, here, nothing wants "full sun" in summer. In fact, I think I may order another Paulownia and a Chitalpa taskentensis; they grow fast.

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
    2 months ago

    I have had canes die back here from sunburn, flat headed apple borers, stem girdlers and just plain extreme heat. This global warming is no joke.

    bart bart thanked Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago

    More plants!!! My current pot ghetto is huge.

    Re "mild" climate: temperatures here at the farm this summer have stayed for the most part in the low nineties and below, with nights cooler. In recent weeks, though it's muggy, generally not higher than 90F, which I would call mild compared with the 100F I hear about in so many places. A friend came to visit yesterday. She lives on the other side of the local main valley, a little higher than us, with a house that faces north, unlike our three story place on its steep southwest-facing slope. She said our house was 5C/9F hotter than her place. No wonder I like to visit her. Nights are cooling down now; I've had a sleeping bag on the bed for a while.

    I just checked the forecast. It's a good thing it changes frequently, because currently there's no rain forecast for the next week, and highs climbing again to 30C. Oh, pooh. We're in our second year of drought.

    At least I can continue to leave the gas hot water heat turned off and put off lighting the wood stove. The Italian news is full of advice on conserving energy, as Europe looks forward to a winter of tight fuel supply.

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • rosaprimula
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    So sorry to hear what a terrible season it has been for some of us. Luckily for us, there are plants to survive in every climate. I needed a disaster to get me into a different mind-set than the frustrating attempts to keep everything alive and thriving. A sort of sunk cost fallacy where I felt I had invested too much time, effort and £££ to let it all go. Until I did.

    No rain from March until a week ago, with a heat wave as a coupe de grace. Serious drought. It was so over the top that I really did give in and made no attempt to rescue anything on my allotment...and as for my wood. Autumn in July! A severe testing. Utter crop fail - not a sniff of fruit (apart from (small) apples and death and despair all over the plot.


    Even so, it was a beautiful season up until the first big rose flush (a few weeks early in May) and went downhill from there. The extreme aridity has focused my mind and I am regarding this as an opportunity for a large reassessment because obviously, the whole allotment did not wither and die. Sphaeralceas are one of the absolute stars, along with santolina, myrtles, lavenders, shrubby salvias, euphorbias (I have a ceratocarpa which has flowered for months), coronilla, scabious, agastache, agapanthus, cistus and even the old established dahlias have survived the miserable dry heat.

    So yes, no more asters, prairie daisies, paeonia,hemerocallis, thalictrums, spring sown tender annuals such as zinnia and tithonias or begonias (utter fails)...and hello to traditional mediterranean or SA plants which flower early or go dormant in summer (asphodels, anemones, osteospermum, agave) I am OK with once blooming roses as long as they remain healthy and foliated over summer. Traditional perennial borders are just not tenable without irrigation, As for the roses, the giant ramblers and species have not really suffered but I am saying farewell to all the Austins, Kordes and Harkness repeat flowering shrubs and ungainly monsters such as Meg, Moonlight, Schoener's Nutkana, Jasmina, rosa arvensis, and Scharlachglut...a decision hastened by the increasing tendency to throw rootstock canes. May add a couple more pimpinellifolias and china species (rosa primula and cantabridgiensis)..

    Sadly, box moth has decimated my garden box and also the wilder informal buxus on my allotment but I have hopes for osmanthus and even ligustrums. I will be entirely happy if the dog days of August are characterised by a serene, less floriferous green of evergreens, with a return to the quieter beiges, bronze and greys of seedheads (knapweeds and scabious) and tough grasses such as stipa giganteum and Ichu through autumn and winter. All in all, I am changing from my fantasy English cottage-core to an austere landscape which is totally appropriate for the driest county in the UK.

    Once I got over the grieving stage, I looked in my seed box and felt all hopeful again. The perennial garden mantra - 'next year will be better' has rarely been more comforting. I had done this complete changeover, on a much smaller scale, in my home garden, in 2020. I felt quite treacherous, ripping out mature box shrubs, hardy geraniums, and miffy paeonies...but the conversion to a tropicalesque swathe of giant salvias, echiums, indigoferas, nicotiana, star jasmine, giant salvias, pelargoniums and anisodontea has been a thrilling triumph.

    bart bart thanked rosaprimula
  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago

    Rosaprimula, where precisely are you? What are your local conditions like, and what's your usual annual rainfall? I know vaguely that some parts of the UK have quite low precipitation.

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • rosaprimula
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    We get around 26cm of rain over a year in the eastern counties but this summer has been the hottest and driest in my memory. Even the hot summer of 1976 had more precipitation. I think Norfolk/Suffolk and Essex are classed as semi-arid, with a similar amount of rain to Israel. I am seeing this year as anomalous - after all, last year, 2021, the summer was cool, wet and dismal...I was out spraying my potatoes and tomatoes with copper sulphate several times over the summer and they still suffered from blight.

    The received horticultural wisdom - 'right plant for the right place' has never seemed more apt and here in the east, there are a couple of notable examples of ;dry gardening'. Beth Chatto's garden and the RHS Harlow Carr have gardens which are not watered (apart from the initial period of establishing new plants). I have also been reading Heidi Gildermeister's waterwise and Mediterranean style gardening, along with my trusty 'Flowers of the Mediterranean' by Oleg Polunin. Plus, I used shedloads of water in my garden at home, even though it is minuscule. It wore me out. I am not on a metre but I felt bad, watering every day (because pots).

    The allotment isn't much of a garden, just a lot of plants, jumbled together in random (ahem) spaces. It's an eccentric and not very cohesive jumble of ornamentals, fruit and vegetables, on a not very large site. |In over 20 years, I have never managed to have any sort of plan or vision and a lot of aspects of gardens, such as paths, beds, borders, seats and vistas are vague, or absent altogether..

    A lot of plants have got very big (and I have been rubbish at thinking more than 6months ahead). I like growing plants more than actual gardening - seeds are basically free, so it's pretty crowded. When I was working, I used to tell my customers that 'less is more' all the time but I really thought 'more is better'. So many plants to try, right? And the UK is very temperate - we are not really used to horticultural restrictions

    At certain times of year (and when I leave my specs at home) it looks lovely and I am also quite good at unseeing.(like the compost heaps and weeds). So this challenging summer was less demoralising than it could have been if I had been lovingly developing a proper garden over years instead of randomly growing stuff I fleetingly fancied. I honestly need some strict boundaries and clarity. I am almost glad my hand has been forced (as I would probably have continued to dither

    I

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  • bart bart
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Wow, rosaprimula, that is so intetesting-here I was under the mistaken impression that all of England recieved ample rain!

    Anyway, I think there's another casualty: Henri Barruet. I moved this rambler (still small and in a bad spot) to a better spot, but I fear that, in spite of watering, it didn't make it; it's- rather suddenly ?-turned all yellow. I plan to wait to dig it out, since it might be own-root and just might "come back". But the fact that a rambler succumbed in spite of watering gives an idea of just how brutal this summer has been.

  • rosaprimula
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Well, the UK is small (compared to the US) but still has considerable geographical diversity. There is a sort of stereotypical 'English Garden' style, often promoted by a lot of the gardening media. but this really doesn't apply to the vast majority of the gardening populace. Gardens are small, and getting smaller so the concept of wide perennial borders, anchored by multiple trees and shrubs, isn't remotely representative of how we 'do' gardening anymore. I would say that growing edibles is still wildly popular, despite the lack of space, as well as a big leap into niche gardening (succulents, orchids, houseplants and small scale collections of specific plants such as bonsai or alpines). I am certainly attempting to free myself from a previous devotion to crazes and whims, and apply a bit of discipline and local observation.

    Where are you, Melissa, A friend has recently decamped to Lucca (Riolo) so I expect we will be expected to leave the ancestral homelands for a visit. Since I haven't been out of the UK for 30 years or so (cos I am shy and anttisocial and cannot bear to be parted from my plants), I suspect said friend will be expecting me to dispense with horticultural tips (of which I have not a clue). Will be relying on the advice of real people and not the aspirational gardening media.

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  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Rosaprimula, I've been meaning to reply to your fine detailed post, am still not ready to buckle down to it. I'm in northern Italy, in the Apennine foothills, province of Piacenza. Bart is closer to where your friend is located.

    Bart, sorry to hear about another rose under threat. We're still waiting for rain here, though at least it has cooled down slightly. Possibly rain Friday-Saturday, though the forecast says not a lot.

    Drought sucks.

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  • rosaprimula
    2 months ago

    Yeah, it absolutely does. Suck. So sorry, Bart. I have been telling myself that this challenging summer is possibly an opportunity...to get a grip, think of a plan or strategy, generally get my act together, regard the losses as judicious editing blah blah. It almost works...until a beloved plant turns up its toes right in front of your eyes.

    Bulb buying season here though so retail therapy is available. Spent crazy £££ on tiny Chilean crocuses. I would normally be scathing about this behaviour (cheapskate and puritanical) but sod it, I NEED to get right back on the fantasy future hobbyhorse.

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  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago

    Rosaprimula, I can certainly feel a lot of what you're saying. We don't have your semi-arid climate, or anything close to it: our average rainfall has traditionally--I wouldn't like to vouch for the last year, or the last few years--been around 100 cm: a luxury!! We also have clay soils, so heavy on my own land that much of my gardening effort is adding all the organic matter I can lay my hands on, and, the last couple of years, sand. Goodness knows what our long-term prospects are, and it may be that plants that have always grown easily here may get droughted out in the future: peonies, both herbaceous and woody, which I have always found need no supplementary water after the first year, and which you say can't take your drought. I don't know what your soil is like.

    We've been fighting box moth for about a decade now, with reasonable success until this year. The combination of our advancing age, I in my sixties, my husband in his eighties, and the hot humid weather this summer, made spraying this year unfeasible. It's mainly the weather: I seriously feared heat stroke if we tried to spray (box moth is the only pest I treat for). Our ground is very steep and uneven and the garden is large, so it's a trying job at the best of times.

    I've read Beth Chatto's book on dry gardening. When I started my garden here, almost twenty years ago, I knew from the start that I wanted to use no water after the first year, and in general have a garden that required a minimum of input (it's still an enormous task). Our chief, almost only fertilizer/amendment is old hay that we buy locally: a waste product to everybody but us.

    I don't grow food, except for herbs which are also ornamentals, and a few tomatoes. There are various reasons for this, but ornamental gardening suits my situation. We started here with a lot of land and no garden whatever, also no trees in the field of meager grass that became the big garden, and poor soil throughout. I started out with a passion for roses, which is still alive, somewhat dormant, but for the last decade or so I've been more invested in soil improvement and structure, the latter meaning foundation trees and shrubs. (The last two times I did splurge on rose orders, the following year we had year-long droughts. Discouraging.) I'm mainly interested in shrubs and especially subshrubs, and basic trees, everything that will make the framework of the garden. The project really requires another generation after me to bring it to maturity. I took cuttings this spring, the first in a few years, and currently have the following babies in pots: two kinds of rosemary, Mexican sage, hybrid caryopteris, winter shrub honeysuckle, four figs from suckers, Ruscus hypoglossum from plant division, several trays of tree peony seeds, hybrid and woolly lavender, shrub germander (an extremely slow rooter, but worth it), phlomis, a few pots of old roses from suckers. I probably don't remember everything. I need to take more phlomis cuttings: it's a useful plant. This gives you some idea of what I need in the garden: a zillion drought-tolerant plants for low hedges, to keep Bermuda grass out of the beds. It's a heroic endeavor.

    I do indulge myself in occasional forays into bulbs, which I adore. Tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses are out: they get eaten by critters. I go through waves of daffodil passion, though have difficulty finding kinds that will perennialize. Snowdrops, snowflakes, and the lovely native spring flowers: hepaticas, dogtooth violets, primroses, violets, which I occasionally dig up and transplant to the woods.

    This is very long, but I wanted to give you some idea of what my garden is like and what kind of gardening I do.

    Weather comment: it was GORGEOUS today, but so hot! And the mosquitos were out in squadrons! I can't wait for the forecast drop in temperature.

    N.b. despite the drought, which is still continuing, the local flora is as lush as it can be: the apples and pears are loaded with fruit, the grass is thick and green; the oaks have put out good new growth. I don't know how to reconcile this with the objective lack of water.

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • rosaprimula
    2 months ago

    Great post! Interesting how you have refined your strategies over time. I am just about to eat my dinner but will write laters

    bart bart thanked rosaprimula
  • cathz6
    2 months ago

    Melissa,

    Daffodils that have perennialized well here (summer rain - not enough-, hillside and clay):

    Ice Follies: the best, multiplies well and blooms well. Usually you get one or the other.

    Thalia: durable and floriferous even tolerating Taxus roots.

    King Alfred: durable, multiplies well in good soil. Multiplies in bad soil.

    Mount Hood: durable, multiplies in bad soil - fairly slowly.


    Ice King, a double sport of Ice Follies is not as good. The stems tend to flop from the heavier blossom and it does not multiply as rapidly.


    You can see a pattern here. I love white flowers.

    Have I said how much I like Boltonia, white 'Snowbank' in my case although other cultivars come in pale pink and lavender as well. Boltonia is a late summer flower, aster look alike, but tolerant of my conditions whereas aster, although a native, is not.


    Cath



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  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Cath, I'm always glad when I see you posting. Perhaps I'm missing some of your entries, but I don't run into you often enough on the forum. For the daffodils, 'Ice Follies' is a common variety here, and very tough, but I don't care for its form. 'Thalia' is wonderful, and I've planted a good bit of it; I've also looked into other Triandrus hybrids, some recent, which seem promising. Local feral daffodils I think may be forms of N. pseudonarcissus, large or medium sized trumpet-y bright yellows; a double that I think is 'Van Sion' is common, frequently thriving in complete neglect; and we have Poet's narcissus, which I saw last year blooming in numbers in two local yards, as well as a wild population in woods I know of. My plants multiply well for but don't bloom much; I think I may have planted the bulbs in too much shade, and last year transplanted some to sunnier areas. I may have written about these before on this forum; I'm not sure. Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for attractive narcissus varieties that do well, and am feeling slightly more optimistic about getting them to survive than I was some years ago. I've found the nursery StarkeZwiebeln, bulbs for naturalizing, quite helpful with information and for ordering. By the way, I share your fondness for pale narcissus, though most colors are acceptable, if the form and durability are good. Some of the Cyclamineous hybrids last for a while at least.

    I'm not acquainted with Boltonia. We have our "settembrini", flawless asters in pink and purple, that flower this time of year. I'll keep your mention in mind. (I looked up Boltonia: it does appear promising.)

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • cathz6
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Melissa,

    Thank you for your kind comment. I have not been posting much - kind of drifted away - but still interested. I miss those who no longer post: Campanula, Nick the Greek, et. al. Thank goodness John (Fig Insanity is back). And thank you for reminding me of Narcissus poeticus. It is durable and multiplies here but not very fast. Also February Gold is durable with reasonable flowering although Angel's Tears (white) which is supposed to be somehow related disappeared fast. As the story goes: Angel was a guide who burst into tears when the plant collector insisted they explore farther up the mountain where they eventually found that plant. All narcissus mentioned are in deep shade except Ice Follies and Thalia.

    Cath

    P.S. Queen of the Snow (an old variety) multiplies unbelievably fast but is scanty flowering unless bombed with bulb food and then it blooms only so so.

    P.P.S. One of my favorites is Stainless. It blooms well but multiplies moderately. Still it's worth the wait.

    bart bart thanked cathz6
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Well, this thread has gone a bit off track, though that is only as it should be! my only problem is that I have a lot to say,since all these posts are so interesting, and don't know if I'll be able to sort it all out.

    First, back to my own subject: the casualties. Well, the roses that I dug up and re-potted are all coming back-even Twilight Zone,which I though was a goner for sure. However I was more distressed at the though of losing Noella Nab. and Annie Laurie McD, which are both much harder to find than is TZ (I don't even think I could replace ALMcD at this point. That baby is going to be grown as a pot pet for SEVERAL years hence, at least.) Since we've been away for a week, I don't know whether henri Barruet is coming back from the dead or not. I certainly share Melissa's doubts and fears as to the feasability of projects such as ours with the threat of climate change becoming ever more exaggerated looming on the horizon.

    Rosaprimula, I'm not sure in which thread you mentioned your love of gaudiness! I share your taste for the non-subdued, "grown-up" palatte, lol! My colours are the blues, roses, violets,etc-all cool colours. But the way things are going I may well have to bend the knee to sobriety and start in with stuff like phlomis and its' tasteful maties; I've got to subdue the friggin' weeds somehow. Thank Heaven for ceanothus; Concha in particular is so stupendously beautiful and gaudy when in full bloom,it just makes me grateful to be alive to see it.

    I haven't been able to get smaller plants going at all, since every year so far I've needed all my scarce water in order to water in the newly planted-ot roses and trees. So, until I reduce my pot ghetto, I fear that real companion planting will remain a dream. Sad to say, I don't seem to have any will power; I've already ordered a couple trees, and even plan on getting a rose or two from Barni, to replace ones I've lost. I'm hopeless.

    Another thing I wonder about as far as droughty climates go-what is the rain distribution like in yours? Here in Italy, the problem is the lack of rain during the summer; it can rain some, but not nearly enough to compensate for the absurdly high temperatures. Thirty years ago it was a different story; the temperatures were not nearly as high, and normally there was only one month of complete lack of rain in summer (July). The sun is also just plain hotter than it used to be.

  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I was out this evening with DH planting two potted figs, daughters of a friend's tree; DH dug and I amended and planted. Rain is forecast in a few days, and I certainly hope it happens and thoroughly soaks my two babies. These are in the upper part of the big garden, where I've been working lately. I hope the figs are tough enough to grow in the rocky, gray-clay areas they were planted in.

    A couple of comments. One is that, like rosaprimula, I have experience of how slowly unirrigated plants grow. Sometimes they'll sit for years until they get a favorable year, warmth AND water, and take off. The positive part is that plants grown this way are generally solid as so many Rocks of Gibraltar. They're highly drought proof, having developed extensive root systems through being forced to look for water. I think the Mediterranean climate matters as well, it being of a type in which warmth and rain tend to come in different seasons (this may be changing). It's quite different from the eastern U.S. with its hot summers and frequent thunderstorms.

    I've been doing cleanup recently, in a part of the garden which hasn't gotten much attention for a while (a while means a year or two). Pulling Bermuda grass, cutting out old and dead foliage. The whole area looks for fertile than it used to. Plants have actually grown: how amazing!. The grass is thick, at least in some areas; thicker and lusher where it's in part shade. So it was relatively encouraging. I was tickled by the unexpected appearance of a clematis I had thought long since dead, and which had never bloomed for me: C. tangutica, orange peel clematis. Its thick-petaled, bright yellow flowers were a sight.

    The other thing is that, reluctantly, I'm simplifying. Only a little! I'm planting more plants of the same kinds. This is inevitable with plants used for hedging, and shade trees, this not being an arboretum. But I have a 'Duc de Fitzjames', a genial rose, own root, that has suckered out into the grass path. The rose is at the back end of a bed, and it occurred to me that it would be pleasant to have a line of it, as it's a tough and handsome variety. DH dug up the sucker and I potted it, and, if it grows decently this fall, I may have the start of my line of 'Duc de Fitzjames'. I need to see if there are any other suckers available, as I need about three new plants, but I haven't noticed any. There may be more of this. With climate change, some plants may show themselves to be vulnerable and have to be replaced. And possibly it's just a phase of my garden development that I want to finish it, at least in broad outline, which means less fooling around with individual plants and more working on structure, planting plants in groups, if with fewer numbers of varieties. Those will have to come later, if I'm still alive and gardening then.

    Bart, I'm going to have to look into ceanothus. Do yours grow in clay? Also, have you gotten rain?

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Yes, Melissa, we did get rain; actually, it's supposed to start up again today, but I'm hoping it'll hold off until evening, since I want to go out there and unload 2 huge potted roses from my car-and hopefully, plant them.

    My soil is so uneven! but I'd say that, over all, itwould probably count as clay...

  • rosaprimula
    2 months ago

    Oh yes, another vote for ceanothus. Such a range of sizes and growth habits, from little 60cm mounds to 8m trees.. Healthy and fast growing. All the shades of blue (and even pink if the fancy takes you). Evergreen or deciduous, they were a revelation for me. I even have a lovely evergreen ceanothus arboreus in my teeny home garden which is reblooming again (weird summer).. Brilliant for slopes and even helps with soil erosion - I think they would be a perfect choice for you, Melissa

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  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    2 months ago

    About the ceanothus, thanks for the information, bart and rosaprimula.

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    last month

    Hooray-the older Henri Barruet is not dead,though a lot of it did die back. I dug it up and plant to put it in a pot to let ir revive.

  • oursteelers 8B PNW
    last month

    Yay! Congratulations!

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