Pre-Winter Wild Weather Woes

Pre-Winter Wild Weather Woes

They call the beginning of June Winter, but that’s just to round up the calendar numbers. Actually it starts with the shortest day, which is fast approaching. I say this to make myself feel better about how behind I am with my rose cuttings! It’s true of course, so I still have a week to catch up! Winter is OK too, but things slow down a lot in Winter, and my best successes are usually made in Autumn.

Unfortunately deciding to have Open Days over Queen’s Birthday weekend slowed down the process somewhat, as I concentrated on getting the nursery in order. As my daughter is still busy with new baby Cora, I was pretty much on my own… The results were very pleasing, with a lovely succession of visitors throughout the 3 days. The nursery is pleasingly depleted, making way for a torrent of winter amendment in the garden filling the empty spaces ready for a Spring Open day in September.

It is hard to believe a matter of weeks ago I was bemoaning the dry state of the garden, despite several nice bits of rain…Since then it has pretty much rained non-stop. Day after day of high winds and squally showers interspersed with some thunderstorms. hail and torrential rain. The water tables are way up!!! The ground is very soggy and mowing the lawns has not been a happening thing. Lucky for us it has been necessary as the temperatures have stayed warm, so the grass is growing like stink, which is very lucky as we used the last of the Winter feed in May. Forecast is promising a break next week so I should be able to get some sort of control of the lawns…

Grass growing for the cows and horses of course also equals weeds growing very quickly in the garden. The mulch in my garden is all nearing the end of it’s useful life as far as weed control is concerned and we’re going to need to get in a couple of big truck loads to redo most of the gardens before the Spring. In the meantime I yank out the biggest ones as I potter around taking cutting wood and tidying up dead branches on the roses. One of the most commonly asked questions from garden visitors is “when do I prune?” What a big job is must be! The fact is, I don’t really prune as such at all, 90+% of my roses are Old Fashioned or Shrub roses which don’t particularly need pruning, especially as I rob wood from them continuously for cuttings. I also have a very large quantity of Tea and China roses, which much prefer to be left to their own devices and resent hard pruning. So I trim constantly as I take wood and at the same time try to tidy up the bushes a bit.

Dianthus Rainbow loveliness flowers on into Winter too

Whoops, as usual this blog is sitting around unfinished and fast becoming out of date as it is now the 20th, and Winter is definitely here…sudden drop in temperature in the night and I sit at the computer with a jacket and wooly hat on, nearly 7.30 am, and still barely light outside. My first pullet gave in and produced an egg 2 days early yesterday. As soon as the shortest day passes all the hens and pullets who have been ready to lay again or for the first time, will start laying and the Winter egg surplus will begin. I was very lucky this season with 3 hens which had moulted early in the season, coming on to lay in early May, thus keeping my production creeping along during what is always the off season (not counting commercial breeds like Shavers that is…they just don’t know when to stop! For me this signals the time for baking Lemon Pound cake and Lemon Meringue pie, both of which require a lot of eggs and lemons…the things I have in surplus at this time.

Papa Gontier, really appreciated in Winter

The other surplus, if you played your Autumn seed raising right, is Brassicas. The Tender stem broccoli and small type caulis are starting to roll in, cabbages and kohlrabi not far behind. In the floral department, the first of the Erlicheer are opening, the Camellias and Gordonias are going for it, and the ever present Salvias which do a winter thing add some colour to the gardens. Polyanthus and pansies are the front of the border stars. Polyanthus and their cousins always surprise me with their return.  They seem so dead in the Summer, but grow back so quickly and cheerfully as soon as the Autumn rains finally arrive.

In the Rose department, the majority are looking pretty sad, some flowers still appearing on mostly bare branches, but in general they are done till they go for it in September. Except of course for the indomitable Chinas and Teas! They are in full leaf and flower and will continue to delight through to August. The Teas are certainly a marvelous class of rose for those of us living in a temperate climate such as most of NZ. Some , which thru the Spring and Summer seem plain or dowdy, suddenly become gorgeous and glowing, with no flashier specimens on offer. The likes of Old Blush, Papa Gontier, Mme Leonie Viennot or Safrano which can seem so plain at other times of year, are treasured for their Winter blooms.

The sun is up (though not shining yet…too cloudy still) so the potting shed calls. I left branches from precious roses in there yesterday that still need putting in pots. The show must go on…

 

By the pricking of my thumbs…

By the pricking of my thumbs…
Pots of cuttings lining up

…something wintry this way comes. Yes thumb pricking is the highlight of May as I rush to get cuttings in pots during this prime time. I always put off making the Rugosas and other super thorny specimens if I can avoid it, but inevitably it’s their turn! What makes it worse is I don’t have a good success rate with Rugosas and Pimpinellifolias, so the pricked fingers seem even more unfair!

I’m really not good at wearing gloves in the garden at anytime. I often start the session with them on, but take them off at some stage to answer the phone or handle something delicate and they never get put back on. It’s not that I like having disgusting black hands and nails, it’s just what I have…and sadly the task which seems to be the most glove needy, is making cuttings, and you just can’t do it with gloves on (well I can’t anyway). The work is way too fiddly (same goes for pricking out seedlings). As far as cutting the wood from the rose bush, gloves are fine, but as for cutting them all up and pressing them close together into small pots, no way. I actually hold its safer to prune the roses without gloves too, as I find they give you a feeling of false security and unless you’re wearing leather gloves with long sleeves the thorns are going to get thru. Bare hands and arms keep you on high alert! Inevitably I get constantly pricked and slashed. I am blessed (not) with my mother’s thin skin, so for at least 10 years already I’ve been amassing scars from minor rosarian altercations. What I am very lucky in is seeming to be immune to any long term symptoms from the daily massacres…ie I never seem to get infected. I think maybe it’s like how bee keepers can become immune to stings. If I get a deep thorn  I apply betadine and a plaster and usually the next day it’s sorted, if necessary I resort to boiling salty water, but that is usually me treating a garden helper, not myself as I rarely have to resort to this.

A spate of hideous wild westerlies for days on end resulted in a small amount of rain, which never-the-less saved us from the latest drought, and a slightly bigger amount of trashed plants. I was particularly sad to see my magnificent Salvia Madrensis, just coming into full flower, lying about on the ground. Such is life, I made lots of cuttings from one prostrate arm, so hopefully will have available again in the Spring. It’s a tricky one to get to root.

Speaking of Salvias, the Winter flowering specimens are a bit enfeebled this year, having severely lacked water leading up to flowering. Iodantha, the magnificent magenta one, is a mere 1.5 m this year, instead of it’s usual 2-3m. The flowers are also smaller, but it is still making a lovely show and if you happen to brush past it has the most glorious perfume. ..Pineapple and mint mixed together.

“Not Euphrates” in May

Many of the deciduous trees are already bare, I rejoice to say including the 2 giant oaks that tower over my house, so I can get on with clearing the gutters and gardens free for another season. It’s not just trees of course that can have marvellous Autumn colour…a few roses do too. Most of the truly deciduous ones just go a bit yellow, which can look cheerful, esp

Hips on Moysii

ecially the Rugosas if they still have big red hips on display, but I have to mention 1 in particular that is really colourful, and that is a species rose I grow. I call it “Not Euphrates” as it came from a plant labelled as Euphrates which it most certainly isn’t! It is however a very interesting species in that genre, with distinctive red stems and straight thorns, with ferny type foliage. It flowers as late as any rose I grow, usually not till well into December, with big soft pink single flowers. Red hips follow and then the leaves turn into a real rainbow job (photo does no justice)

The hips on roses can really add a lot of interest in the garden in Autumn and Winter (depending on how hungry your bird/rodent  population is )

There are so many different colours, shapes and sizes…from the profusion of tiny bright red round ones on Multiflora or The Garland, to the truly black ones on the Pimpinellifolias or the urn shapes on Moysii or the crab apple sized mushy red ones of the Rugosas. Amongst the hybrid garden roses, the singles often have very big hips and also a lot of the Hybrid Teas and David Austins. Any of these can be used for boiling up for syrup or jelly. They all taste a bit different too, and have different textures.

Introducing Weiti Vicki

The other thing you can do with hips of course is harvest the seeds! We get a lot of self seeded roses around the garden, but it’s always fun to select hips and plant the seeds and see what hatches. Of course doing it like this you have no idea who the pollen parent was, but it’s still fun to see what comes out.  Most of the seedlings are duds, ie they never flower at all or are very weak or the flowers are too plain to bother with. Every now and again you get a seedling that seems very worthy of producing and growing on to see how it performs. Once we have made cuttings and grown them on in friends and family’s gardens we may decide to advertise it for sale on the website and nursery and become one of our “Weiti Collection”

 

 

 

The Delights of Autumn

The Delights of Autumn

What a magnificent month is that of April! I have a birthday, which usually includes catching up with some family and friends and as of 2023 it will also be the birthday of my 1st grandchild who was born last night! A new era is dawning!

The Gregiis flower all thru Spring and Summer and on into AAWinter. This pastel beauty is SeaShells

Besides silly things like birthdays, April heralds being able to have a blanket on the bed and a hotty which equals much better sleeps, and even the beginning of fire season which is something I really enjoy in the evenings or on desolate Winter days.

In the garden and around the farm, the Autumn colour is exploding, and we’ve had quite a bit of blessed Autumn rain.  We’re still ridiculously low in the water tables, the dams are still stinky puddles and lots of places are still bone dry underneath, but at least the top layers are staying damp and the plants and paddocks are having happiness happening.

The roses are producing stunning Autumn blooms, they are so much more sophisticated at this time of year compared to the brash Spring display. A lot of the once flowerers are having a bit of a second go again, and I’ve noticed the Veilchenblaus on the road frontage have carried on intermittently since December and are now quite covered again! Ours is not to reason why…

Madrensis starts to flower in Autumn and continues on into Winter

Many of the Salvias in our gardens start to come into their own at this time of years too. The Winter flowering ones start about now, and the late Summer ones are still at their finest. They add so much interest to the gardens, especially if there’s a lot of once flowering roses about, whose foliage starts to look pretty tired at this time of year. In general the Salvias have such bold, lush looking foliage and the blooms in a myriad of different colours really star in the fading garden. Blue is probably the colour most associated with Salvais, and they certainly come in every shade of blue imaginable, but besides blue we have white and indeed black (Discolor), red, yellow, orange, purple galore, and many shades of pink. What’s more they come in every shape and size from low ground hugging to small trees. It is indeed a magnificent genera.

Iodantha is our biggest shrubby Salvia. She flowers all Winter and thru into Spring

April is also prime time for making cuttings, so I’m busy on a daily basis getting as many as I can in pots. I’m also potting up a few newly rooted roses made from Summer cuttings. It is a slightly depressing task making Summer cuttings, but a few successes make it worthwhile to get a few more roses available for sale before the Spring. Whilst the “take” is pretty low, those that do decide to grow do it very quickly compared to cuttings taken in Autumn or Winter.

So onward towards Winter we go, I have some big jobs to achieve this Winter in the garden, so hope the weather Gods are kind to us!

Blast.

Blast.

This headline is a serious double entendre, possibly a triple entendre (pretty sure triple is not the French word for triple….looked it up, it’s “trois fois”, so therefore a “trois fois entendre”, doesn’t sound quite the same…)

Whatever, the Blast could well stem from the Summer heatwave that keeps on blasting us on March 10th. It could stem from the fact that this blog has left the last one for dead on lateness ( I have a really good excuse for this…all to do with changing computers, internet and more) or it could be an allusion to the horrifying events unfolding in Northern Europe (that one could be slightly off subject for an old fashioned rose blog…) There is also the Blast we got from cyclone Dovi! which flattened dozens of trees all over our fences and surrounding roads and powerlines. What a blast that was, and not a drop of rain accompanying.

Anyway, take all that nonsense as an apology for missing February altogether. If you didn’t miss February yourself, you may like us , have got super excited by the drought breaking week we had near the start of the month. If you live in the South Island you are probably reveling in the wettest Summer on record (or something like that according to my sister who lives on Banks Peninsula) but in our stink drought corridor which I more often refer to as paradise, the one rain event was definitely a short term saviour, but now a thing of the past. The nightly heavy dews and a couple of pitiful showers have kept parts of the paddocks greenish, but the exciting February grass is all eaten and the tractor is working overtime feeding baleage to the cows and horses.

The roses got a real lift from the rain though as I’d already been giving them the odd drink, so they hadn’t really started to suffer, tough beasts as they are. Now the highs are only in the mid to late 20’s instead of the 30’s and they think it might be autumn (we’ve had the odd autumnal night) they are producing gorgeous flowers again.

Foolishly, after the February rain, I decided we could host an Autumn Open Day as the garden was all happy again and we still have a lot of plants to sell before Winter. Then it stopped raining and the sun came out again and again and again, so now its back to non stop sprinkling and hosing trying to keep things flowery till April …Such is life, its very handy for getting the washing dry!

A paragon among paragons…Triomphe de Luxembourg flowers on thru the extreme drought with no special care

I spent a fair bit of time in February putting in Summer cuttings. It’s rather a thankless task as most will die very quickly, but I was doing it in a way that was tidying up and trimming the roses, which improves their Autumn flush. Added bonus is some will grow, and at this time of year they tend to grow or die very quickly, so I should have a few roses to plug the gap between now and Spring. I’m hoping some of the Teas will take, as they seem to be coming more and more popular as people see the light and realise how well they do in the heat and dry of the Summer, not to mention that they also , for the most part. stay growing and flower in the Winter, at least in the warmer parts of the country. What paragons they are!!!

March is marching on and I haven’t finished this blog. As usual I’m having problems with my illustrations…so,… I got me an i phone and have taken select photos to go with this text, but I can only presume it’s the new computer which is refusing to find the photos and import. I really am not a suitable person to be carrying out this missive mission as I am so retarded at IT. I’m going to have to trawl the archives for a picture…again. Very frustrating.

In the meantime the drought goes on, we have definitely hit new levels of dryness as things I’ve never known to suffer before appear to be dying. Natives are definitely in the water necessary category, many of my Hebes, Carex etc are looking decidedly unwell, but wouldn’t expect African plants to give up the ghost…Plumbagos, Gazanias, Pelargoniums, even Arctotis are not going to make it if it doesn’t rain soon. I joined all my hoses together and spent some hours in the Shrubbery down the front giving select plants a small drink, but I can’t keep everything alive. Of course the Roses mostly look fine, but it is possible I tend to those more assiduously…

There is rain on the forecast! ….again…always on the forecast, never on the ground, but here’s hoping it really comes to us this time!

Alstroemerias survive drought very well. With no water they may hibernate till the rain comes, but a small amount keeps them blooming
Fragaria Lipstick is extremely drought tolerant and continues growing and blooming throughout the driest Summer. It does stop setting fruit, but makes a great colourful groundcover.

2.5 weeks to go till the Open Gardens and Nursery. I’ve been very busy repotting the perennials which grow so fast and lushly in this endless Summer (as they get watered every day!) so hopefully we get a good turn out on April 3rd. Soon after that I’m planning on becoming a Granny, as my daughter is getting increasingly rotund and something’s definitely happening there!!! That will be an excellent excuse for missing blogs in the future!

Admitting Total Failure…

Admitting Total Failure…

I’m always so late at getting this missive in the airways, but this time I have gone past late and into total fail…I shall try to remedy the situation by completing January in  the very first week (or die in the attempt), which could be a record.

We had a pretty dandy December. Quite a bit of rain early in the month, so the Summer perennials got the necessary boost to be looking either fantastic now or poised to be. Sadly the heat wave has now hit and we are having day after day of 30 deg frizzle with lots of strong drying winds as an accompaniment. Pretty scary when its only January and the worst is yet to come. The Metservice have invented a new weather warning called “Significant Heat”. We have it every day at the moment, and believe me, it is really shit.

We are so lucky to have a great water supply. We invested in a second bore last Summer, as the old baby got a bit tired during the big droughts. The new bore is young and frisky! and pumps water out of the ground at a very satisfying rate.

Due to this phenomenon we have now invested in a sprinkler. and may get several more…they really do waste the water when compared to hand watering, but hey, you can get something else done at the same time! For instance , last night while I cooked dinner for the family, I watered the Hot Border! It’s such an innovation to me, as at Weiti we never had enough pressure to run sprinklers so I’ve just always lived without them. I’m a self confessed Luddite! Now I have an I phone anything is possible…

Lots of summer goodies. 47 large garlics. YAY

In the meantime the Summer produce is starting to trickle/pour in. The tomatoes are still at the trickling stage, but the cucurbits and beetroot are definitely flooding. On the fruit front its a very mixed bag this year. The stone fruit are very low…almost no apricots and the peaches are very thin. The plum crop is probably a quarter of normal (still way too many!) The pip fruit set has been fantastic, but the early cooking apple Red Gravenstein is shedding all its fruit. I think its having a hissy fit about the dry hot weather! The one tree I ever water is the Avocado, it is laden with babies and I don’t want them to fall!!!

At this stage I’m going to admit that already it is not the first week in January, its now well into the second, I am really bad at finishing blogs! I have a lot of trouble with the photo section…can’t decide what to put on or can’t get it to work or something or other! So what I’m going to do is download the last few photos I took on my phone and put them on regardless of what they are of! Wish me luck, and if you are local and want some really good plant bargains, come to our Open Day on the 23rd…it’s our SIZZLING SUMMER SELLOUT

Weiti David, one of my 2020 seedlings. It is a seedling from Charles Austin and has grown into a large arching bush. He was a bit confused which shade of yellow to go for with this bloom!
Rainbow, a lovely striped Tea! Gifted to me on its own roots from a lovely heritage rose customer
Moonbeam, an Austin Rose I lost about 7 years ago and managed to replace from Tasman Bay last winter. Very excited to have her back on the team!

 

When it all happens is now!

November is the month of the roses…by the middle of the month, ie now, nearly all the roses are opening their first buds, if not in full flush, if not already finished!

Because I had so many new cut back bare root roses this season, most of the excitement was early in these areas. Cutting a big rose back hard always makes it produce its flowers bigger and earlier. This suits growers of Hybrid Teas who think Big is Best, but for the average Heritage rose grower subtlety comes into the equation more  and we snobs prefer the picture of a big plant covered in smaller flowers! That’s the Royal We I’m talking.

So….in the last couple of weeks I’ve been introduced to many new roses, some of which I found a little over powering to say the least… The Hybrid Perpetuals in particular, which often have big blooms anyway, are causing me a bit of grief! But I know once they get growing and onto their next flush, their flower size should be more subdued. Not so sure about the colour though…Ulrich Brunner Fils probably gets the prize for the most sunglasses inducing flowers! They are BRIGHT.

All the Summer perennials are going for it too and making a nice cottagey look in the big borders. Despite lots of nices drenches and drizzles of rain the top is starting to dry up quick with punishing sun and wind  between the rain, so whilst everything in the ground is quick steam ahead, the opportunity to plant anywhere away from easy hose reach is over. I spent last weekend getting soaking and very muddy attempting to plant everything that was waiting. These plants got a great start, but will still need back up watering if we don’t keep getting frequent rain.

A sudden change of Alert Level in West Waikato this week, caused a momentary bout of madness and we decided to have an Open day this Sunday, with less than a week to prepare and still no help from Auckland slaves.

I’m afraid my garden is not going to be as tidy as I would like it to be…but by gum there’s some roses to look at!

Rock on up on Sunday after 10am if you are able.

For reasons that are a mystery to me, this thingamejig is refusing to load photos from my folder. Therefore this blog is officially a text only one till someone with an iota of computer savvy visits me.

I’ll leave it at that and write again to report on the Open Day next week…

Here we go again…

Here we go again…

Late again…don’t know how this keeps happening…the months fly by in a haze of gardens and cows with very little computer time! A certain amount of time at this time of year is spent in rapt examination of new faces big and small appearing in all the gardens. many are old friends reappearing and this year especially, many are new kids on the block.

 

Tough old species Iris Japonica with her ethereal blooms

Excitement all round! October is ruled by Aquilegias and early Irises, along with the first of the Roses and Clemati. Not to mention many many lovely perennials.

 

 

We’ve been having a mixed bag on the weather front, that’s Spring for you…possibly a bit more of the wet and windy than really necessary, making spraying for fungus and weeds rather problematic. However I have achieved spraying pretty much all the roses this last week using my super new (well second hand but new to me!) motorised bike sprayer. This baby really pumps out the spray with no pumping, carrying or dragging required. Downside is it is rather costly on the product front….I used 200 litres getting around the roses! Just a one off for the Spring though, after this I’ll only spray the disease prone. One of the problems of having a collection of Old Austins is that some of them were definitely not bred with high health in mind. Plus they’re all crammed into the gardens together with no masks on, spreading their germs all around!

As November approaches there are more and more different roses opening everyday. When roses are cut back hard to be posted bare rooted it gets them leafing up and flowering a lot quicker than their counterparts in the garden having to clothe long established canes. Therefore all the “new” Old Fashioned roses in my gardens are already starting to open their first blooms, whereas others of the same class will be 2 or 3 weeks away yet. I have many many long and complicated French names to learn all at once…lucky the language is in my blood which helps somewhat.

The big border is starting to come to life

Alice and I zoomed down to Katikati last week to visit the Amazing Iris garden and of course buy quite a few new ones to plant amongst the roses….naughty… They’re a bit addictive at this time of year, so showy. Something else I’ve been sneakily collecting for a few years now is Deciduous Azaleas and this year for the first time they’re making quite a little show amongst the Tea roses. I didn’t realise how thirsty these shrubs are and nearly lost some over the last couple of dry summers. I think they’re all good once they’re well established. They’re certainly looking very happy this week.

 

Sadly for everyone we’re all mostly locked into or out of somewhere so the garden can’t be shared as it normally would be at this time of year, seems almost pointless with no November Open Days! But them’s the breaks, hopefully a few locals will come and enjoy it. In the meantime its heads down to keep things under control for when the world is released from bondage!

 

Better late than seldom…

Better late than seldom…
“Mlle Francesca Kruger” producing perfect blooms in August

…A favourite quote from my father! Not sure what happened to August…lost in a blur of gardening and tending my broken husband who foolishly prolapsed a disc and became non-operational…progress is painfully slow, but at least it exists.

Back to the garden. A mixed bag on the weather front, over-all I would say better than expected as Winters go. Now it’s SPRING there is light at the end of the feed crisis tunnel and the garden is certainly springing into action.

Lockdown is quite a bonus for us usually, as partners don’t have to work so much and there’s man muscle available (although my partner has been extremely unhelpful!).  Having my favourite Cousin locked in our bubble has made up for that somewhat…she doesn’t have man muscle, but is a weeder and amender “sans pareil”.

The new polyantha garden, this space formally wasted on lawn!

Between us (and with a small amount of help from the “neighbours”!)we have turned the giant sea of weeds and overgrown plants into a tidy thing of imminent beauty! All ready for our scheduled Open Day on September 19th…Then along came Covid again. Now it’s a matter of trying to keep control of things till we’re all in Level 2 and we can reschedule. In the meantime the nursery is bursting with plants, every time I spend an hour or 2 gardening I then have to spend the same amount of time in the shed potting up bits and making cuttings from the garden discards .

The “Strip” has been enlarged somewhat to become home to lots of new Hybrid Perpetuals

I made a big order of roses from Tasman Bay this year, trying to grab any varieties I don’t already have before they disappear off the catalogue. I was expecting them in June as per instructions. I duly chose places for the 80 or so for my garden, I had to build a couple of new gardens to find the spaces! As possum killing and fishing expeditions unfolded I laboriously dug deep holes and inserted bodies at the bottom, then covered them to the right depth for a new rose to be inserted. The best laid plans….due to Covid affecting imported lifting staff and badly scheduled innundations, Tasman Bay got very behind on there lifting regime. June passed, then July, no sign of the boxes…In the meantime the bodies started to rot in their holes, giving off delicious odours to passing Jack Russells and Dachshunds. Sadly many were dug up and consumed before the roses finally arrived in August!

The “Brests”, formally home to the Polyanthas now contains a selection of Old Fashioned varieties

However they were all planted in their appropriate places amidst more untimely inundations. They are now sprouting happily around the garden, all surrounded by a wreath of smelly sheeps wool which will deter the rabbits hopefully. The possums have to be deterred with a gun. If a newly planted rose gets it’s first shoots chewed off even once there are bad consequences, more than once is usually the death knell.

So, Spring is here, always exciting to see any roses leafing and budding up, new family members even more so. Many of the new ones are once flowering Gallicas and Mosses so one can only hope for a few flowers on the old branches this season and won’t see them in their full glory till 2022.

Jolly July…Just Joking

Jolly July…Just Joking

Possibly the least jolly month is July. On frosty mornings like there was earlier today one can feel happy about the garden and the world in general, but July is the month just to get through I feel. When you hit August the days are starting to stretch again and you know Spring is not too far away, but July is the month when all the stock run out of the saved Autumn grass and feeding out is a necessary daily ritual, always a drag, and the days are still short and often wet and cold to boot. I’ve often read that Winter is the time to sit in front of the fire and read books and make plans…Yeah right. Winter is the time to try to get the gardens under control before the Spring flush and Open Days, in between sending orders to people around the country (who may be sitting inside by the fire goddamn them)

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In our temperate climate every season produces colour, Roses being one of the offerers. Whilst some roses lose all their leaves and become bare sticks, others, most especially many of the Teas and  Chinas, continue to produce offerings right thru the Winter. Flowers that in Spring would be overlooked , become things of beauty on a miserable July day! The other phenomenon happening for the second year running and due ,I would guess to global warming, but who knows? not me… is the Banksias coming in to flower in June instead of September. Last season they carried on right into November and were flowering along with the Spring flush. 5 months is a pretty good show for a once flowerer!

Kerria, an early flowerer in the Rose genus
Fragaria Lipstick is a year round ground cover flowerer with tasty fruit thru the warm months being a bonus!
The deciduous Magnolias start to come into their own in July and produce their OTT blooms thru to Spring

Other than the ever loving roses ,we can enjoy the winter flowering shrubs, like Camellias, Gordonias, Michaelias and Lucullias. Along with these winter flowerers, the early Spring bulbs are flowering, King Alfreds, jonquils, even some crazy early freesias, so there’s quite a lot of colour in parts of the garden. Lots of the Salvias are still flowering too, in parts of the garden where the pruning shears haven’t penetrated yet!  So there you go…maybe July really is jolly!

Handsome Gordonia blooms are winter bee magnets

Winter sets in this month

Winter sets in this month

June heralds the start of Winter, although in my view it’s mostly Autumn really until the 21st and the Winter Solstice and then its really Winter. The recent flooding rains in the South are clearly their, be it slightly behind schedule, Autumn rains. Poor farmers, and I’m sure plenty of gardens copped it too. In places down there they’ll now miss out on any growth for winter as temperatures will get too cold and the days too short to get the grass/ plants growing. We are lucky to be in a more hospitable neck of the woods and are experiencing strong growth all over.

The thing about Winter in our Temperate part of the world, is that it’s really pretty quick. Whilst it may seem like endless weeks of cold slogging, it’s really just a couple of months and by late August Spring is definitely on the horizon….so FREAK OUT!!! It’s nearly Spring and my list of “Winter Jobs” fills books! My main aim at the moment is to get as many cuttings in as possible. Hosting Open Days is super fun, but dominates work schedules and thus pushes other ventures down the list. This is why we decided not to have any Open days after April, so we could attack the Winter List…

Top of the Winter List was get rid of the Camphor Laurel and make a bigger garden there. This has been achieved pretty much and the naming rocks have been laid in place ready for the arrival of multitudes of new roses from Tasman Bay. A lot of these are Hybrid Perpetuals which are an interesting class of rose “invented” in the late 19th Century-early 20th. Some of them really do repeat all season, whilst others manage an Autumn flush. But compared to the Once flowerers they came from, they are “perpetual” flowerers.

Claire Rose, a David Austin with similar growth habit, pegged in my garden 2017

It is a rather tricky class of rose which requires 2 things in abundance…space and food! A lot of them grow straight up to 2m+  with strong basal growth, and left to their own devices will just position the flowers on the top of the flag pole! In the old days when they were born, gardens were very big (well the ones owned by people who could afford to grow HP roses!) and gardeners were cheap! The roses were pegged down in a giant circle around the base so the flower stems broke out all along the arching arms. Pegging down is a grand way to showcase tall stiff roses. “Gracefully arching” roses are a David Austin specialty and I learnt early on to be prepared for very big roses if this description was used in his books…gracefully arching is like Nature’s pegging down…back to the HPs…I don’t have room in my garden to peg many roses as each one then uses about 3-4m square of space. An alternative is espalier them on a fence of some sort and they will then give multitudes of flowers along the stems, this is why I have lots of gates in my gardens…

Par for the course the month has got away on me, winter is definitely in the building and the Winter Solstice has been and gone. We’ve had much rain and drear, but are currently enjoying some perfect winter days. Despite having been an iPhone owner for many weeks, I haven’t played with it at all so still using second hand photos here …