Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Peace and Grace

Grace is the vivacious and effusively friendly Mom of my long time customer and friend Donna Bevis, and some years ago she grew  in a big pot a cheap plant of 'Peace' budded onto the Fortuniana rootstock that in Florida tends to be short-lived....look at the floral perfection of that classic rose she achieved! And with no pesticides.

  Sadly, some low-life had the audacity to steal that lovely potted specimen from her own front porch that summer!  They robbed her of a treasure she adored and tended to. As punishment for the scumbag I wish an eternity of threesomes with Dick Cheney and Rodney Dangerfield.

  Enjoy, John

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Seagull' Rambling Rose, 1907

I love this rambling rose as much here in Tampa as I did my monster specimen in my Denver yard. In the late 90's, as I co-hosted the 1997 Heritage Rose Foundation Conference in Denver, Stephen Scanniello suggested that I try 'Seagull'  there. His advice was sound as that plant soon wove up into my west facing cedar tree there at 1684 Willow Street in Denver, each summer spilling out from openings in the cedar's canopy in fragrant white cascades.  Some folks feel it is a Wichuriana Hybrid, others a Multiflora suggested parentage I've seen that has intrigued me for many years is (R. multiflora X General Jacqueminot)...which might explain the high rate of remontant seedlings I get from open-pollinated hips from my Tampa specimen, which gets almost no care yet is very vigorous. Since I have memories of 'Seagull' from England, California, Texas, Colorado, Buschardt Gardens, all cooler climate areas, I love seeing my plant growing beside my Queen Palm!  John

Check out this link at my favorite roses website:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

rose bouquets

I enjoy most the informal bouquets I make on a whim.  John 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gratitude Is central to being happy.....

It was not until I endured deep, years long financial duress and seemingly endless winters in Denver, followed by the blessings of coming home to Tampa to a paid for home and no debt, plus good health, friends and the climate that feels "right" to me, the scents of saltwater and citrus blossoms, that I finally knew how to feel deep daily gratitude for my abundances. This concise two part article in 'Psychology Today' is an excellent overview of how to cultivate and make habitual a life posture of gratitude for food in the fridge, a car that runs, being able paying a bill, the scent of flowers in a garden, falling asleep on sheets fresh that day from the clothesline, sharing a meal with a friend, feeling one's hands in rich living soil, an embrace with someone you love....the list is deliciously infinite. Enjoy! John

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cold Hardy Ramblers from my Denver Yard and Denver Clients' Yards

                                            'Hiawatha' and me

                                              'Cornelia' and Graig and Shanti

                                             'De La Grifferie' and Graig and Shanti

                                            'Ghislaine de Feligonde' and Graig and Shanti

'Ghislaine de Feligonde'

                                    'Hiawatha' and my neighbor Charlene

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A cheap heirloom non-toxic control for bugs, mites and fungi for roses

We’ve all had to deal with fungus problems on roses, old and modern. And we’ve all had aphids, mealy bugs, scale and red spider mites feast on hopeful new green growth and those oh-so promising buds plus the foliage. Growing roses indoors in winter in south windows as a decadent indulgence, and in green houses, requires a new mindset due to the absence of predators. Those funky smelling chemical fungicides and insecticides rarely seem to work for long, and if they do, eating the produce or sniffing the blooms can be pretty scary. Hey, who wants to eat or inhale toxic chemicals when smelling an herb or bloom? Thankfully, for over 100 years, Southern gardeners have relied on a cheap, non-toxic and VERY effective natural alternative they bought in grocery stores, and that thankfully we can now also order toll free or on-line.

What is it? An old-fashioned lye soap called ‘Kirk’s Castile’. Yup, dissolved in hot water this true soap (most “soaps” these days are detergents) is an organic gardener’s dream come true as a non-toxic all purpose garden spray. I was taught this concept in the 70's when I was an idealistic hippie/art major living in Seminole Heights with wise elderly neighbors who’d used it since the 1930's. These women said that back when they were young gardeners it wasn’t called “organic gardening”…. it was just a very cheap, tried-and-true common sense gardening aid…just splash the used dish and laundry water on plants with fungus and bug problems

To make a small batch of soap spray, rub a bar of “Kirk’s Castile” against a cheese grater, then dissolve 1-3 heaping tablespoon of the soap flakes in 1 gallon of very hot tap water in an old plastic milk jug. Let it sit a couple days, shaking the jug daily to dissolve lumps. Then pour the spray into a trigger spray bottle or your garden pump sprayer then spray the affected plants every 7-10 days till they are dripping. Be sure to apply the spray when you don’t plan on watering for a few days so it can cling to the leaves and do its job. Don’t be afraid to experiment with slightly weaker or stronger strengths as it is non-burning unlike some of the dishwashing detergent liquids you may have tried in vain.

To make a big batch of concentrate for future use, drop a whole bar into a wide mouth gallon container. Fill that jug with 1 gallon very hot tap water and let sit a week, stirring daily. You’ll end up with 1 gallon of a thick soap concentrate that keeps just about forever in a lidded container. To make a batch of spray, dissolve 1 cup of this concentrate in 1 gallon warm water, shake, then pour it into your sprayer. Thus a cheap bar of soap will make you SIXTEEN GALLONS of a very safe and effective fungicide and insecticide that won’t harm the environment nor make your vegetables and flowers and herbs toxic. For tougher problems try 1 part soap concentrate to 10 parts water for a thicker, more potent soap spray. And there is little worry of leaf burn from harsh summer sun.

How does it work? The soap alkalinizes the leaf surface, but powdery mildew and black spot and sooty mold ( on citrus and gardenias) fungi need an ACIDIC leaf cuticle to grow on…plus as a soap it helps to rinse them off. Spray UP at the undersides of the leaves if you are after blackspot fungus on roses.

What’s cool too is that the coconut oil in the soapy water (true soap is an oil or fat plus lye) help suffocate bad bugs by plugging up their breathing holes and permeating their chitinous exoskeletons. (that’ll teach’em ) Aphids on new growth? Spider mites on leaf undersides? Mealy bugs or scale on the stems on shrubs? White fly on your tomatoes? Just spray the plant thoroughly till it drips. Quite often the wing coverings of our garden allies the ladybugs and lacewings seem to spare them by acting as umbrellas. Adding 1 cup of cheap vegetable oil to that soapy gallon and shaking it thoroughly will let you wipe out vast numbers of scale insects.

Okay, its 2010, not 1976, and I am a little more grounded plus happily middle-aged now, and so I am glad that now more and more folks wish for less toxic ways to grow their garden favorites. A century old secret deserves to be better known and tried before we resort to expensive chemical sprays that can kill many unintended and valuable inhabitants of our yards’ ecosystems and endanger our children and pets while adding to the burden of poisons endured by our own bodies, the groundwater and what remains of this beautiful planetary ecology.



Publix, Albertson’s Kirk’s Natural 1-800-825-4757

'Teasing Georgia' as a pillar rose in Tampa

Let's revisit this post from last spring.....since I shot this video the plant has gotten so much huskier. Soon I will use speaker wire, etc. to train the very stiff lateral canes back to the rebar core. If we continue to have a very dry chilly La Nina winter I think its spring bloom phase will be glorious, IF I give it 5 gallon buckets of kitchen gray water a few times per month. About every 6-8 weeks I give it a deep hose end soaking using a shower type sprinkler head (see the photo)  in this new "drought-as-norm" paradigm in my native Florida. When  soon I bale out the Muscovy ducks' pond they have soiled again with poop, you can be sure that 'Teasing Georgia' will get at least one 5 gallon bucket.   Enjoy, John

Monday, December 6, 2010

Old Rose 'Louise Odier'

In Denver my plant was a towering pillar rose in my west-facing front yard. There it was a very good hip setter. See the HelpMeFind  link for more data. Oh that fragrance!! Enjoy, John

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cold Hardy Climbing Roses

Here are some photos from a Denver client's climbing roses I chose and planted for them. I believe they are 2 years old in these pics....maybe 3. All are own root and organically grown. Enjoy!   John

Moving Heavy Objects in Your Landscape

Free and easy. John