Thursday, April 4, 2024

Excavating My Garden History

DEBORAH CROMBIE: It is crazy gardening time of year in north Texas! Not to make you folks in cooler climes feel bad--spring will assuredly come for you on its own sweet schedule. Ours is actually arriving a bit late. We are usually setting out tender plants the last couple of weeks in March, but we've had a cool spell so I have delayed a bit (as in too lazy to cover things when it drops into the forties...)

But this weekend it's time to make lists, stock up on potting soil, and hit the garden center. All our roses are bursting into bloom as well, and it was as I was trying to find all the tags for my David Austin roses that I embarked on this little garden history journey. 

For years, I've stuffed the tags from the plants I buy (or at least the more interesting ones) into this ribbon-tie journal--


but I have to admit I hadn't actually looked very carefully at the book or its contents in ages. When I opened the book and sorted through it, I did find most of my David Austin tags (not all pictured!)


And so much more. I hadn't realized how long I'd had this book, but look at the opening page.


1997!!!! We moved into this house and its huge, hideous, neglected surrounding lot in August of 1995. It was a daunting prospect, I can tell you, but I was determined to landscape, and to do it with as many native, environmentally friendly plants as possible. By winter of '97 (according to the book!) we'd found a native-friendly landscaper and started a plan.

I found this very carefully labeled drawing I'd made of the front beds.


I've no idea what happened to the original landscaper's plan, but it's fascinating now to look back and see what's changed and what's survived in more than twenty-five years. 

Here's a peek at the second from right front bed on the plan, taken last June.


I think only yucca, yarrow, and skull cap have survived from the original plants in that bed, although we have Turk's Cap, echinacea, native asters, rudbeckia, pavonia, and flame acanthas galore in other beds.

And although I talk a pretty good "real gardener" game, I've realized that the truth is that I am actually a very haphazard one. "Oh, something died? Let's stick something else in and see what happens!"

But every year is a challenge and an adventure, the birds and insects love it, and we hope we encourage our neighbors to plant more interesting and climate friendly stuff.

How about it, readers? Any organized gardeners among you? (I know there are a few of you!) Or do you "garden creatively," like me?


80 comments:

  1. Organized gardener? Afraid not. My gardening is more along the lines of "plant more daffodils" and "how are the lilacs doing?" and "so glad the deer don't eat the roses" than anything else . . . .

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    1. Lilacs don't really do well here, although one neighbor has a beautiful bush. So I envy you those, Joan!

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  2. When we had our house in Sacramento, it had a long back lot and we had a beautiful garden through the years. Except for planting and regularly pruning roses and geraniums, we filled in spaces with geraniums and had two long planters full of herbs, which we tended mainly by benign neglect. They did well, through, and we sure miss those herbs and roses. In the back lot, we planted tomatoes each summer, and we had two pomegranate trees, and at the side of the garage we had planted grapevines which made for the nicely covered bench and table through spring and summer. (The birds got the grapes, though.) Again, except for pruning everything regularly when it got too rangy, we let things go and they did well! Now, alas, we have no yard at all, but the HOA has planted a row of beautiful mimosa trees along the front of the building, and later this spring I'm planning to plant some flowers at the base of each. In our flat, we've had dubious luck with herbs, but we keep trying.

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    1. I normally manage to overwinter the herbs on my deck, but this year the only one that survived was tarragon. All the usuals are going on my list for the weekend shopping. I feel very handicapped in my cooking without being able to go out and snip some thyme or rosemary or chives! (Can't overwinter basil here.)

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  3. Irwin has done almost all of the gardening since we moved into this house in June 1984. But, he has run out of steam and garden beds left on their own don't do that well. I do get down there for a good weed pulling every once in a while, and we have planted lots of native plants. Once upon a time we did have a plan for which we bought specific plants, but I am afraid that neglected garden beds are not very pretty here. My rose bush died a couple years ago. It attracted the worst pests so we did not replace it.

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    1. Judy, in the garden journal I found the list of the first bunch of antique roses I put in all those years ago. It was heartbreaking to see how many we lost to the plague of rose rosette virus a decade or so ago. I think we ended up pulling out about two dozen roses, including the climbing Cecile Brunners that completely covered our pergola. I am crazy to keep planting roses as long as there is rose rosette around, and I do still occasionlly see infected plants in the neighborhood. But we know the signs now, and if a plant gets infected, it has to be removed immediately. Ugh.

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  4. I love gardens and wish I had a green thumb. I don't, which is embarrassing considering that I come from generations of farmers. The flower beds I've started end up overcome by weeds. Or my husband mows them down. I've come home from a trip to find he had cut down one of my ornamental trees more than once. Thankfully, my rhododendron has survived him and hungry deer for years as has my jasmine bush. Those and my grandma's daffodils, a small patch of snow drops, and some weird plant with leaves that look like geraniums are about all that can tough it out in my yard.

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    1. Flag your trees, Annette!! I am glad we don't have to deal with deer--just the plague of squirrels, and you'd be amazed at what the little monsters eat. Including my outdoor cushions!

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    2. The squirrels in NJ ate the container of wooden clothespins my mother kept on the back porch, next to the clothesline.

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  5. Just found out that our area of Eastern Massachusetts was reclassified to Zone 7 a few months ago. I feel like we're suddenly in the tropics, and anything is possible!!

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    1. Zone 7??? Wow. We are Zone 7 here in north Texas. So interesting. Not the tropics, though:-) But you may be able to grow some fun new things.

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  6. We have taken out every blade of grass on this property and replaced it all with garden beds, pathways or decking. It's a tiny plot of land, so it's gardening on a small scale. Nonetheless, it takes time (and money) to keep up. Last fall, I had a professional overhaul my main front bed which had begun to look not wild (which I like) but messy (which I don't). I had loved creating the bed from the ground up myself, but, over time, it had gotten out of hand -- one day, I saw it -- really saw it -- from across the street at the neighbours and I knew it was time for a firm hand that knew what she was doing! So, this spring (when it comes) will be exciting to see what comes up and how it all looks. Fingers crossed that our ideas burst forth into beauty!

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    1. Fingers crossed, Amanda! We still have grass, front and back, although we've replaced so much with beds and mulch and flagstone. But it is a huge lot and hard to manage without some turf unless you go for the completely wild look, and that takes a lot of work and a lot of money, otherwise it's just a big mess.

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  7. Love your garden pix! After heavy spring rains and summer droughts weaken the trees in Cincinnati, the insects and viruses move in. The pines and spruces have all died, and most of the flowering crabapples have succumbed to fire blight. I've planted serviceberry bushes and red bud trees with great success. With the exception of daylilies, perennials aren't forever. I'm replacing the ones I can't live without: monarda, coneflowers, and asters. Hydrangeas are iffy, though with generous soil amendments, the Endless Summer varieties usually bloom. Time to get out there and see what's survived the winter!

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    1. Coneflowers and Turk's cap seem to be indestructible here. Hydrangeas are tough--too much heat and sun--although I do have a few that have managed to survive the summers. The oak leaf hydrangeas do the best.

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  8. Raising hand for haphazard here! I came into the marriage as the herb and vegetable gardener but that's slowly shifted over to John. He loves to drop things in here and there! We will be starting the garden soon in CT though the weather looks dreadful!

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    1. Yes, it does look bad there. Everyone okay in northeast?

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  9. I do have my line of perennial and annual herbs at the foot of the deck stairs, and I plant my greens, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and more in the organic veggie garden out back. But the side-garden perennials desperately need dividing, and the front flower/shrub garden never got cleaned up at all last summer (note the passive voice). Sigh.

    It might be time hire a gardener/landscaper for those two areas. I don't have the motivation or strength to do it. Native plants? Bring 'em on!

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    1. "Dividing?" What is that? Just kidding... It's one of the things I never manage to do, and I'm sure the iris and the daylilies need major intervention. Edith, get some help, then enjoy the results!

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    2. I have been using a small local landscaping business, woman-owned, to do the hard work for me, who is nearing 76. They do spring clean up and come monthly to weed my tiny Nebraska urban garden. We have become friends and will do anything I want. They are not cheap, but do quality, trustworthy work. It is worth every penny.

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    3. Good landscapers are worth their weight in gold.

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  10. Not much of a gardener here--but I have been outside a lot lately weeding, which is very satisfying.My beautiful daphne is unfortunately dying. We had a big ice storm in mid-January and I think it was just too much for it. It has some leaves and blossoms, but most of it is brown. I'm sad! Other plants are doing their thing: Daffodils are just about done, peonies are popping their alien-like stalks out of the ground and my mongo honeysuckle is covered in green new growth.

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    1. I love weeding after good rain, when the weeds just lift out! Our peonies are budding--won't be long now.

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    2. My many Nebraska peonies are only 5” above ground. I wish their season was longer…..

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  11. Well, Debs, 25 years of your care has made a massive difference to your property! It's a true "garden of earthly delights".

    We are coming up on the fifth anniversary of living at this address, and I only wish I'd had a landscaper helping, instead of doing all the work ourselves. Steve is like Annette's husband, blind when it comes to plants in the way of a mower, but he has helped me plant dozens of flowering/fruit shrubs and trees, made many raised beds, and put up a deer-repellant fence around them. I've collected lots of native plants, largely because they are much less likely to get et by deer, but also for the pollinators. Because of Steve's profession as a wildlife photographer I have always gardened to attract wildlife, especially birds. Sometimes that backfires, like when the birds and I both want the blueberries, or the deer decide to "prune" the baby pear trees for me. However, I've discovered some yummy edible perennial plants that the deer and voles dislike, like horseradish, sorrel, cardoon (like an artichoke, but eaten for the stems), and a lot of herbs.

    Next week is preview night for the native plant sale at the Nature Center, and I'll be there with our biggest vehicle. And in June our yard will be on our community's garden tour, which has me wondering if I should have my head examined.

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    1. We have a lovely sour cherry tree - my favourite baking-with fruit. We also have cedar waxwings - beautiful bird to look at. Known as the Ninjas in our house as they strip the cherries, the day before they are ripe for us. Total crop last year - 2 as in berries, not quarts!

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    2. I had a poor crop of sour cherries last year, too. First the cicadas stripped the twigs, and then last year we had Japanese beetles. I planted some beneficial partners last fall, hopefully to hold off the worst pests. I net the trees, but took the covers off too soon to prevent the cicada damage. Live and learn, right? The trees are blooming now, and I'm hoping the pruning I did will also help.

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    3. Karen, I consider you a "real gardener," too, and I've so enjoyed reading about what you've done on the new property. We've never grown any fruit other than our fig tree, which froze to the ground back in our Snowmageddon a couple of years ago. But it came back, and I'm hoping this year I'll manage to get some figs before the birds and the squirrels strip them.

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    4. What a kind compliment, Debs.

      I have two fig trees, varieties that are supposed to do well here. Last year I had a single, wildly expensive fig. LOL Hoping for better results this year, after putting some fencing between the poor little trees and the blasted deer.

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    5. Good luck with the figs this year!

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    6. I had fresh figs in Britain - a taste the I have never forgotten. I can only be jealous of the thought of a treat of them outside your house!

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    7. Margo, it never would have occurred to me that figs could grow here in southwestern Ohio, except a high school friend's Italian grandparents planted some in my hometown that are now as tall as their garage, 65 years later. Who knew?

      Cedar waxwings are gorgeous birds, aren't they? They are almost too pretty to get mad at. Almost.

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    8. I am absolutely mad for fresh figs. There was a big old tree in the yard of the garage apartment where I lived in college and that was my first taste. Hooked ever since.

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  12. I never plant a thing until Mother’s Day in mid-May here in SE Minnesota and even then sometimes have to cover things at night. It will be a glorious day when I can get my three large scheffleras, lemon tree, and pineapple plant moved out onto the deck. My living/dining area has been a jungle since October. I am so excited that I have lemons on the tree I bought last May; and after two years of rooting and growing the top of a pineapple our kids brought us from Maui it has a fruit! 3” tall right now.
    I always start with a plan and then end up with all kinds of extras that caught my eye at the nursery. (That little stick of a lemon tree for example.)

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    1. "All kinds of extras" are our downfall, lol! My lemon tree that I overwintered in the sunporch is going back out today! Hoping for lemons this year!

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    2. Interesting on the lemons. We have lemons in abundance here in California from December through April.

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  13. Debs, What a lovely garden which supports a wide variety of plants and life.

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    1. We are already seeing a few butterflies. And it's time to get out the hummingbird feeders. Another thing on my list for the weekend!

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  14. Beautiful photos, Debs! Your work certainly shows! I started keeping a similar journal when I built my house 15 years ago. Sadly, almost nothing I planted worked out. The blueberries are doing well, but anything flowering not at all. The Arbor society sent me blue spruce trees at least 3 different times; out of the 30 plants, 5 lived. Also in one batch of those trees was a complimentary lilac bush. more than 10 years later, that bush as lovely little leaves but as never grown to be more than would fit in a teacup. Obviously my outdoor thumb is not green but at least my 4 citrus trees are doing well inside.

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    1. Yes, it was so interesting to look back at all the things that DIDN'T make it over the years. Many were highly recommended natives that just didn't do as well as advertised. And then there are the things that have been plonked in that have done fabulously.

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  15. Your native planting looks wonderful. We’re trying to use as many native plants as possible in our gardens. In May it will be 44 years since we moved into our house so we’ve been through several major plantings. When we remodeled in 2000-2001 we updated from a 1980s landscape plan and we are about to begin another as soon as actual Spring arrives here in central Pennsylvania. Originally we had a professional draw up a plan and then we did the labor; now we have a professional draw the plan AND do the hard work!~Emily Dame

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    1. Emily, how exciting! I may do the planning these days--such as it is--but I couldn't manage without my landscape guy to help with the digging and potting. I am so thankful to have someone so good.

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  16. Beautiful property, Deb. As for me - I always wanted a beautiful garden, but I've not been too successful. This year I'd like to dig up the front beds and see what happens. You're sure spring is on the way? Waiting for the flakes to fly in the north of Maine.

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    1. Planning is half the fun, Kait! Do you have ideas about what to put in?

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  17. I decided do not have a green thumb. My great sadness is that the massive rhododendron bush that was at the front of my house when we moved in - back in 1998 - is half dead. No idea what happened to it. It used to completely block the dining room window and reached up to the second floor. No more. But there is at least one frest shoot coming up from the roots. My plan is to fertilize it this spring - once it stops dropping into the 30s over night - and after the bloom to cut all the dead branches off. It will mean losing 1/2 - 2/3 of the bush, but it will either rebound with vigor or completely die off.

    The bush on the other side of the porch is showing the same signs, so I'm hoping fertilization and trimming will halt the process before half that bush is gone as well.

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    1. I don't know anything about rhododendrons, Liz. Have never tried to grow them, and only had azaleas once in another house. Do they have a life span? Or are they prone to a disease that might need some special treatment? Seems such a shame to lose them.

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    2. When I looked it up, I think the likely culprits are either poor soil nutrients, wind damage, or an insect (least likely). We've had some very cold, windy winters. Ideally, the bushes would be wrapped in burlap, but these are so massive I'd never get it done. They must be at least 30 years old. They were good sized when we moved in back in 1998.

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  18. Your garden looks wonderful, Debs. How I envy what you have accomplished. We have the twin problems of living on a steep hillside with about one foot of soil, where deer hang out daily and it doesn’t rain all summer. Also we’re in Arizona half the year. I dream of English country gardens!

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    1. I think I've been trying to emulate an English country garden my whole life, Rhys. I wish I could say my borders were as planned as Gertrude Jekyll's, rather than "stick something in a bare spot!" I hope you can visit sometime when the garden is at it's best.

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  19. What a beautiful garden, Debs! You must feel so much accomplishment at having created this lovely space. I'm particularly impressed that you mention native plants--I became a convert about a decade ago and happily plant natives in my smallish front garden. A picket fence has kept the Bambi crowd at bay. I prefer loose, casual plant areas, with paths to encourage my terrier to wander. Formal beds? Not so much! Your column has spurred me to get started planning--and planting!

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    1. Oh, lovely, Katie! And thank you! Today I'm making my shopping list for the garden center(s). Our beds are 95 % perennials, but I do plant dozens of pots with annuals and tropicals. And all the plants overwintered in the house are going outside in the next couple of days.

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  20. I just want to pop back in to give a vote for calling in the professionals when the time comes. I called in mine when a ground cover had gotten so totally out of control that I couldn't figure out how to cull it. It took the pros about three days to eradicate from my one bed. There is NO way I could have achieved that myself at this stage of my life -- not stamina, strength or energy wise.

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    1. We have a "guy." Without our terrific landscaper and his crew, I wouldn't have a garden. My hubby is great at fixing and doing anything in the house, but draws the line at the garden. I will say that he does a great job at keeping up our koi pond (a lot of work, that!) and waters everything diligently for me if I'm out of town in the growing season.

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  21. I have long been a gardener – mostly following the seat of the pants. There was a new tourist area created in Halifax when I was university, and where semi-penniless, I would pop into ‘The Silver Spoon’ – a new concept which was a gardening store. The place was dripping with all sorts of houseplants, hot, humid, and so calming. Many a Saturday saw me coming back to residence with a 2” pot of something green.
    It got worse from there.
    After marriage and family, the garden was a source of food. We lived in Ontario where there were a lot of heat units which to the non-gardener means enough heat and sunshine to grow things like peppers and tomatoes and good corn, so vegetables other than potatoes and turnips would grow. We also raised goats and sheep and had access to the most wonderful piles of composted manure. The garden grew, and we learned that the best corn was the white variety that ripened in September, and really did get walked from the garden into the boiling water – delicious.
    I learned there the wonderful company of neighbours and gardening. Our next-door neighbour loved iris (irisi?), and I loved lilies. There was a mail-order company in Ontario that sold the most beautiful Dutch varieties of each and they were not cheap. Every spring, we would each order one that we wanted and next year share that variety would the other. Both our gardens and our friendships blossomed and bloomed. Last night we were watching Monty Don in England wander through his iris garden, and I thought of her.
    Now we garden on Cape Breton gravel. Not much arable soil, but years of ameliorating it with chicken poop, sea weed, and bags of garden soil have made it growable. We moved 150 perennials when we moved from Ontario, and they have mostly survived. We built raised beds, and Harrumper built me a green house. This year he is building another set of smaller ones – I am not quite sure on his plan, but I will keep stum. At least he now has the gardening bug. Last year we started a separate pollinator garden – we will see how it has survived the winter and hope that this summer the Monarchs will return.
    My mother planted gout weed on this land. She thought it was a ‘pretty ground-cover’. Any gardener knows that this may be the worst plaque known to mankind. It is a constant case of trying to eradicate it. I no longer give away any plants in case of spreading it. It does however make every garden a challenge!

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    1. Margo, you are a real gardener. I take my (garden) hat off to you. I've made some sad attempts at growing vegetables over the years, mostly on previous properties. Now I grow herbs on the deck, and tomatoes and peppers in grow tubs on the south side of the house. I had a huge crop of tomatoes last year when I was in England for a month, and my husband, who doesn't like tomatoes, threw them all away....

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  22. Susan Nelson-HolmdahlApril 4, 2024 at 10:58 AM

    Deborah your garden is beautiful! I have several David Austen roses too. Spring is rapidly changing to summer temperatures here in California. All my roses are in full bloom. The tomatoes were planted the first week in March, the early ones will be ripe in late May. Our garden is a mix of planned and spontaneous. The roses this year were never completely dormant, many blooming through our wet season.

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    1. Susan, ours bloomed into December, but pretty much everything is dormant here in Jan/Feb. That's the one thing about a mostly perennial garden--it's bleak in midwinter. But then all the more lovely in spring. Any special favorites in you David Austins?

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    2. Susan Nelson-HolmdahlApril 4, 2024 at 1:39 PM

      It was wonderful having roses in January! Even when the roses are dormant in January they are blooming again mid February. Favorite David Austen’s are the Gertrude Jekyll and the glorious pink James Galway. They are planted in area of the garden that only receives six hours of sunlight. This climate is too hot for them but they thrive in the partial sun spot with a lot of water.

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    3. My Gertrude has not been as successful as some of the others--although she's looking gorgeous at the moment. But so thorny! I have been tempted by James Galway... And on Monday I bought Gabriel Oak, which I saw in London last summer and was absolutely smitten. I'm also tempted by one called Harlow Carr that I saw when I bought the Gabriel Oak, if I can talk myself into driving back to Dallas to get it before the nursery sells out. And figure out where to put more roses!!

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    4. I just watched a Youtube review on Harlow Carr and it's--like Gertrude--extremely thorny. Maybe I will pass on that one.

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    5. Susan Nelson-HolmdahlApril 4, 2024 at 7:55 PM

      Thanks for mentioning the Gabriel Oak! It is a beautiful color and I just purchased it from Heirloom Roses.
      My Gertrude Jekyll has done extremely well here. It is apparently hybridized and it does not have a lot of thorns.
      Our zone designation used to be 9d, apparently we are now 10d. Temperatures here rarely get below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
      .

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  23. Deborah, your garden is gorgeous! A bookstagram friend lives in Austin with her family. She said there is no snow where she is in Texas.

    Only time I had the opportunity to be a "gardener" was in school and after school day care as a young child.

    Question: Didn't LBJ's widow Lady Bird have a garden that was open to the public somewhere in Texas?

    Diana

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    1. Diana, Ladybird Johnson is one of our heroes here. Here's the link to her wonderful center in Austin. https://www.wildflower.org/ The fact that Texas is covered in gorgeous wildflowers every spring is all down to her and her work promoting native flowers and plants.

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  24. I paid for a landscaper (an old college friend) to do our small yard in Houston. I was very happy with it! However, by the time we left (16 years later) practically everything had changed plantwise. Now I need to figure out what to do with our current yards and flowerbeds. Bought a tiller and will have husband labor shortly. The main job will be ripping out all the English ivy ground cover. It goes everywhere! PAT D

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    1. English ivy is a plague here, too, Pat, and ripping some out of the front beds is on my list for landscaper. Was Houston Zone 7 or 8? (We are 7 here.) What are you now? It's going to be so interesting to see what different things you can grow!

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    2. Pat D: Houston is 9a. We could grow tropical plants there. Lexington VA is 7a. I'll figure it out eventually, but I do love the dogwoods!

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    3. The new USDA 2023 map says we are now 8b!! Which means not dropping below 15 F in the winter, and I'm sorry, but we hit 10 F in January, and have been down close to 0F in the last few winters.

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  25. I have grown tomatoes (in pots) and will admit that the best crop we ever had was when my husband was working out of the house (30 years ago so not like now with internet access). He’d get bored so would tend to the tomatoes.

    Beyond that, I grow flowers in pots and planted, with varied success. We planted a Meyer lemon tree probably ten years ago and this is the first year we have had lemons!! (The previous owners of this house planted way too many trees in the small backyard so the lemon tree wasn’t getting enough sun.)

    We’re going to be moving this summer to a house with a big hill. We want to plant milkweed for the monarchs and other native plants for the pollinators. We met an expert at a home expo a couple of months ago and she will help us plan it out. — Pat S

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    1. Big adventures in store, Pat!! You'll have to keep us posted!

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  26. Soooo jealous! We're having a nor'easter here in New England and I'm just hoping it doesn't do in all the lovely daffodils and scilla that have made their appearance. Your yard is so lovely, Debs. And the notebook! What a great idea!!

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    1. I only wish I had kept it up more diligently, Hallie.

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  27. Your garden is gorgous, Deborah! The azaleas are blooming around here.

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    1. I think they are still blooming here, too. So pretty, but we don't have any...

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  28. I envy you the David Austen roses because they hadn't come out when I bought my Bourbon "Madame Isaac Pereire" and miniature "Rainbow's End" roses. I used to make plans and figure out where to plant different plants. Now it is more that I buy stuff and try to fit them in!

    All my family actively gardened except my Mom who enjoyed looking at the garden and helped buy things. I still buy her favorites ageratum and portulacas and have coral bells and hosta from my grandma's garden. Loved seeing your pictures.

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    1. I wouldn't envy me! Madame Isaac is a gorgeous rose, and one I'd like to have myself. I adore my Bourbon Souvenir de la Malmaison--it's one of my favorites.

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  29. This is SO impressive! AMAZING! And that notebook is a real treasure. And yes, Hallie, crossing fingers for the bulbs in the snow. Remember the year all the flowering tulips just froze in the weird weather? They actually shattered. Debs, can you come over? xxx

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    1. Maybe it's a good thing your ducks haven't arrived, Hank!

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  30. We had a landscaper come up with a plan for us about two years after we built our home which was in 1994! What a great idea to capture all of your information in a journal. My plan did not survive! Although our landscaper told us what would work and what the deer would not eat, our forest creatures have become bolder and bolder over the years. So, trial and error is my status quo! I also walk around with a spray bottle of Bobbex Deer and Animal Repellent as soon as the rain ends. I even have to spray the plants that deer are never supposed to eat as any tender green shoots seem to be fair game. The ONLY plants that thrive each season are the two tomato plants that I grow in an Earthbox on my deck which has no stairs down to my back yard. My husband has mastered hooking up a hose to a timer to water the tomatoes on a regular schedule even when we are away on vacation. Good luck this year!

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