December 17


It’s raining buckets right now so a perfect time to catch up with all of you. But first, thank you for your comments on my giveaway post. I read and treasured each and every one and they put such a spring in my step!

autumn leaves on Basye's PurpleAutumn leaves on ‘Basye’s Purple Rose

Fair warning: I feel like this post might be a whole lotta nothing. I couldn’t even come up with a snappy title, am I boring or what? It’s this weird transition we’re in of it should be winter but it feels like spring what should I do with myself, who am I, and all other existential questions. But there are things, there are photos, and they needed a place to go so let’s dive in!

morning sunI thought I’d share with you some future plans for this particular area of the garden. More raised beds will be added with mulched paths between, so, basically no more lawn. On the other side of that wood pile will go the 15′ row of sweet peas, the seeds of which I’ve already sown if you can believe it! So, right now it’s looking a bit sad, but by next spring will look more like a garden (she says hopefully.) 

We’ve a long way to go before we have completed all of our plans for this home, but in these last 8 months or so, I’ve begun to really fall in love with this garden. Even though most of the property is shaded by trees, there is a lot of potential here and we’re starting to carve out some nice areas. It feels cozy and sweet and if the light is just-so and you squint your eyes, you can kind of get a feel for how pretty it will be.

bees and stocks ViolasIvor's Rose and ladybug

With only a couple of minor frosts so far, the cool-weather annuals like stocks, violas and calendula are still blooming away and the bees, as well as myself are pleased about that. How adorable is that ladybug having a little snooze inside a frozen ‘Ivor’s Rose’ blossom?

Camellia japonica 'April Dawn' 2 Camellia japonica 'April Dawn' 3 Camellia japonica 'April Dawn'

Our Camellia mystery has been solved. I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seat about that. I found the old plant label, and it would appear we have two Camellia japonica ‘April Dawn’ in our garden. They’re in bloom right now, a few months earlier than they should be. Whoops. What’s neat about this particular variety is that the flowers bloom in shades of light to dark pink, and white with light pink stripes. All on the same plant! It’s a bit like magic, isn’t it?

red smith's parish tiny bloomred smith's parish 3Last summer, a reader provided me with a cutting (thank you Susan!) of her Red Smith’s Parish. What I love about this rose is the color variation, see how it’s light pink in the front and deep pink in the back? So pretty. She got a bit big for her britches so it was time to transplant….

Red Smith's Parish gets an upgrade Western Pulp Round PotsHere she is getting a container upgrade. I’m tired of using plastic pots, so I’m trying out these recycled paper ones instead. The 8.25/9.5 inch size seem perfect for our young roses.

Our neighbors have been telling us to prepare because it gets really cold in January and February. What’s “really cold” in western North Carolina? Is it going to be like that time in Pennsylvania when I took Eva for an ill-advised walk one midwinter and we almost died? Probably not. But I’m sure it will get quite chilly-beans. In the meantime, I’ve been taking advantage of these mild temps and doing some light gardening like potting up some roses that I started from cuttings last summer into larger containers for their winter homes. Clothilde Soupert,  Ivor’s Rose, Veilchenblau, Clair Matin, Lady Banks, Red Smith’s Parish, Etoile de Lyon, Basye’s Purple and more all got some container upgrades and good soil. They’ll stay in a protected area on our screened in porch this winter, with the really, really tiny ones in a plastic greenhouse once it starts getting cold.

David Austin 2 Quart RosesI received a birthday gift card to David Austin from my sister and it didn’t take me long to put it to use. I wanted to try their new own-root/2 quart options so placed an order for another Lady of Shalott and a ‘Jubilee Celebration‘. DA accidentally sent me an incorrect rose (‘Litchfield Angel‘) but told me I could keep it while they send me the correct one. Aren’t they just the best? Love them. Anyways, I thought I’d post a photo of what these 2 quart roses look like (straight out of the box) in case anyone is curious.

LoS 3 - 3The blooms on Lady of Shalott. I will be planting our new LoS in a container just like in our previous garden. This is a remarkably beautiful rose.

Madame Alfred Carriere May 2014‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ We planted another b/c I loved the one from our old garden so much. It’s going to grow against the side of the house which means we’d better get moving on that exterior reno.

Sally Holmes 9-12-3-2The ever popular ‘Sally Holmes’. She had a wretched time in our old garden due to the midge and I’d like to give her another chance. I love those single-petal blooms!

I also planted out some larger (2 gallon sized) roses into the garden, mounding up a little pile of compost and mulch around their base to give them a cozy blanket. These cool-ish air temps/warm-ish soil will be good for their root development and get them a leg up for spring. That’s the hope, at least. Into the garden went: Cornelia, Madame Berkeley, Sister Elizabeth, Madame Alfred Carrière, Sally Holmes, cl. Old Blush and Baltimore Belle. Some of these, you might remember, I grew in our old garden and just loved them so much I wanted to add them again.

new dovecoteA dovecote has recently been added. Now it’s no longer that random post just sticking out of the ground…

cornelia 10-15-1The blossoms on Cornelia are so sweet. Contrary to what I’ve read, this rose is not “thornless” (at least, mine has never been) but her prickles are fewer. 

Venosa ViolaceaVenosa Violacea was a top-notch Clematis in our former garden. I think she pairs well with Cornelia.

Cornelia was planted at the base of that wood post that you’ve seen randomly sticking up out of the ground in previous posts, but now, we have it topped with a dovecote! Finally! There will also be a ‘Venosa Violacea‘ Clematis planted with her. I’m so excited to see this area of the garden come together.

Old BlushCl. Old Blush

In other news, I was recently asked by a reader for more information about the supports used at the Biltmore rose garden, so as promised, below are some photos of those. Skip this part if you’re not interested. 😉 Have a wonderful holiday season!

What you’re looking at here are the various types of structures and how the roses are spaced and attached. The pillars, which stand roughly 7′ have 1-3 climbers, like ‘Silver Moon’ planted at the base surrounded by shrub roses (I think I counted 9) spaced roughly 1-2′ apart. The arbors, planted with ‘New Dawn’, are planted one at each corner and tied in with twine. There are cables at the top further supporting the weight. The canopy is planted with ‘Rural England’, one at each base, also supported and tied in tightly with twine. The walls are planted with climbers and ramblers supported and trained with metal cables on a type of winching system. The trial rose climbers are planted next to free-standing trellises, one each. Hope this helps! 
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16 thoughts on “December 17

  1. You are too funny with your ‘ill advised walk in midwinter’ comment. Glad to know someone else is crazy. I walked out in the middle of winter in shorts and tee shirts to get my mail in 4 inches of snow.. naturally people thought I was deranged.. Hey gotta get my mail.

    1. Well we haven’t put it in yet…and a lot can happen between now and then, but crossing fingers! 🙂

  2. Once winter settles in, I appreciate the rest, but it is hard to quit and put the pruners away. Squinting at untamed areas and imagining and making more plans than is humanly possible to pull off gets us through these cold months. Lucky you living where camellias thrive! Red Smith’s Parish is a new rose to me. Really pretty. This post was NOT a whole lotta nothing! I devoured every word and photo.

    1. Yay! Thank you so much Andrea! I’ll try to keep the posts more regular through these winter months. Spring is “only” 86 days away….
      PS: Red Smith’s Parish looks like a real keeper so far. I’ll let you know how it does! 🙂

  3. Everything is looking so beautiful. Hard for me to imagine the garden still going at this time of year. We’ve had a lot of rain and it’s been unusually warm here (until a few days ago), but there’s nothing going on in the garden anymore. I’m envious of those camellias, but I do have one blooming on my windowsill, so I can’t complain!

    Those 2 quart David Austins look great straight out of the box. How exciting (and what a bonus that you get an unexpected addition, too).

    I have to agree with Andrea. Definitely not a whole lotta nothing. 🙂

    1. Thank you Anne, you are always so kind and encouraging and I appreciate it! Yes, we are very lucky to have those Camellias…I wonder if since they are blooming now with these strangely warm temps, what will happen in the spring? Everything that is unfolding these days has been a surprise. So much to learn! 🙂

  4. Can’t wait to see how those 2Q David Austin roses do! I’ve been toying with finding a place for Lady Shalott in my 5B garden (also wooded), but it keeps being bumped out by other roses– not enough fragrance, I’ve heard. But it sure is beautiful. If only I had enough sunny places for all the roses and fruit trees I want…
    Are you going to plant out the Litchfield Angel? I’ve been curious about DA white roses, looking at Windemere mostly. They seem to blow their bloom pretty fast, from what I’ve read.

    1. Hello Nora! I know *exactly* how you feel about squeezing just another rose in a wooded garden. That’s the problem we’re having! If you have a sunny spot for a container, I think you’d really enjoy Lady of Shalott even though the fragrance is mild. (HMF says it’s a strong fragrance but I don’t recall it being too strong.) She’s so pretty that my husband even remarks that it’s his new favorite rose in our garden. As for Litchfield Angel, I’m not sure yet, I keep going back and forth on what I’m going to do. For now, they’re tucked away in the greenhouse. I’ve never tried Windemere but it’s so pretty (there are quite a few over at Biltmore and they always look so nice.) If you grow it, let me know how it does for you! 🙂

  5. I agree, this “whole lotta nothing” post, was really jammed full of goodness : ) I’m curious where you have your sweet pea’s? Greenhouse,grow lights, window?? I planned on starting your seed give away sweet pea’s(from last May?) on St Patrick’s Day. I’m guessing they’ll still be good as I stored them in a cool dry location. I planted some last, late, spring and got a few flowers late summer. So I’m really hoping they do well this year, but now I’m wondering if I should start them even sooner as you have. I really admire your knowledge and ability to make everything seem so easy, which I know, it’s not. I love roses too, and I’m slowly acquiring some experience and knowledge next to so much frustration of wildlife damage, JB’s, midge, etcetcetc, but I’m still hanging in there. Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year Ann and thank you for your sweet comment! 😀
      Ok so sweet peas….well, when I lived in PA, I started them around late January if I remember correctly. Now that we’re in the somewhat warmer NC, I thought I’d try starting them earlier. This is a total experiment b/c I have no idea how cold it’s supposed to be here in winter (even though we’re in zone 7 we are also on a mountain so that seems to affect our weather a bit.) This time around, I soaked the seeds as I usually do for a couple of days but then I put the pots on a warming mat and they literally germinated in 3 days–it was crazy. The seedlings are a bit stretched, though, because I didn’t move them out into a really bright sunlight situation immediately and that’s my fault. But now, they’re all in an unheated greenhouse thingy, and that sounds fancier than it is, it’s just one of those freestanding plastic covered shelf types you can get at Lowes for around $30. I’ll keep them in there and water with some diluted liquid kelp pinching back so they branch and, hopefully, plant out sometime in March. Oh, I forgot to mention that I planted them in a compost based potting soil and they’re in super tall “tree pots” so they can develop long root systems. Like I said, though, I’m new to this climate so I’m not sure if I started them too early and of course this winter has been so bizarre! So who knows what will happen. Sorry for this run-on and rambling description but hopefully it helps! 🙂

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