Category Archives: fragrant

Hope springs eternal

I’ve been wary about growing roses.  Their reputation is for finickiness and the prevalence of diseases that call for chemical sprays.  The plant itself is not lovely, at least not usually.

But when a friend brought me a blossom of “Zephirine Drouhin,” I fell head over heels in love.  That color!  That scent!  Plus, it is almost thornless and can tolerate shade.  I must have one.

But the first one died.  And the second one, found at Roxbury Mills and planted in 2009, did well for a while.  zepherineThough I only got a few blossoms, I was in love.  But sadly, I had an infestation of voles (I’ve since learned that the vole population waxes and wanes.  It’s on the wane now, for which I’m grateful.)  The voles ate the roots and it was adieu to Zepherine.

Undaunted, I bought it again from White Flower Farm in the spring of 2015, and this year it just went to town.

Here is the current, third attempt.zepherine2

As you can see, the plant itself is not handsome, but those blossoms!  You should have smell-a-vision to get the full glory.

On a more serious note, here is a list of its potential problems:

Aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, scale, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, cane borers, Japanese beetles, rose stem girders, rose midges, rose slugs, rose chafers, leaf-cutting bees, black spot, rust, powdery mildew, crown gall, canker, dieback, downy mildew, viruses.

You see why I was reluctant?

But then I learned from a rose-growing acquaintance about Earthkind roses, developed by the Texas Agri-Life Extension Service.  The Earthkind designation is only for “those roses demonstrating superior pest tolerance, combined with outstanding landscape performance.”

I knew I wanted a rose with fragrance, not too big, either yellow or pink.  The Earthkind site led me to a small shrub rose, Souvenir de Ste. Anne.

“This sport of Souvenir de la Malmaison was bred in England by Thomas Hilling. It was found in St. Anne’s Park, Dublin. The pale pink petals glow with translucent beauty and are very fragrant. It is an excellent choice for mass plantings and borders. Few hips are produced. This cultivar is so outstanding that it was named “Earth-Kind® Rose of the Year” for 2009 by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.”

Since I had not only culled the columbines but dug out the problematic Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen,’ I finally had some space for a plant that likes sun and good air circulation, so I placed my order with the Antique Rose Emporium.

Well, after all that build-up, here’s what I got, earthkind rosebut remember!  This had been in the ground less than a month when it bloomed, so I give it props.  (It would also help if I could figure out how to capture pale pinks, yellows and creams without washing out all the color.)  I’m feeling quite hopeful.

Justifying its existence

The akebia vine just sits there most of the year, putting out tendrils that want to conquer new territory but never quite getting there.  By February it is looking ratty, and then the transformation happens.  New leaves appear, it looks happy and healthy and, best of all, the tiny flowers bloom and release a heavenly scent.DSC06850

Today, the bees were enraptured, in particular this hovering variety.  Look at the middle of the frame…

I wish you could turn on your Smell-o-vision and experience it the way the bees and I do.  The birds like it, too, and I think the wrens may nest there.  Whether they appreciate the scent as much as I do is an open question.

Day Lilies

The daylilies stopped blooming before I was quite ready for the show to be over, so I went in search of late-blooming dark reds to round out the collection.  I ended up with four plants from Oakes Daylilies.

blood spot daylily

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Spot (dreadful name) is a nice dark red.

Crimson Shadows daylily

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crimson Shadows comes highly touted as a rich, dark red.

Chicago Apache daylily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is Chicago Apache, said to be a good rebloomer.

Then I had to stray into the fragrant yellows and chose Lemon Lollypop (sic).

Lemon Lollypop daylily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is another fragrant re-bloomer.  Oakes was kind enough to send a freebie, Tender Love.

Tender Love daylily

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rebloomer that has won an award for fragrance!  We’ll see.

I am very pleased with their service:  came on time, well packed, free plant, and four of the five were abundant enough that I got two or three plants from each one.

Summer successes

Like most people, I see what hasn’t worked and what needs to be done more than I notice the garden successes.  To remedy that, a few high notes:

The clethra has finally bloomed abundantly and is just as fragrant as I’ve been told.  The bees love it, too.  This is ‘Ruby Spice.”  I saw a clethra somewhere recently that was as big as a small tree, so I’ll have to keep an eye on this.  At least it is finally in a site where it can thrive.

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The pink garden is coming right along, helped by the bright pink verbena I bought on a whim, and the pink Mandevilla vine that my neighbors planted. Here you see the crepe myrtle (is it Cherokee?) looming over the fence. It rains down tiny pink blossoms that fall onto the greenery below.
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I finally tore down the thuggish morning glory that is self-sowing EVERYWHERE and didn’t look so good, despite this picture of the blossoms at their best.DSC03794
But you can already see that the leaves are being eaten by something, and the whole thing was looking shabby. I’ve planted some beans in its place.

Finally, the scarlet runner bean, which actually has orange blooms, is doing well on one side of the trellis, while the elegant cardinal climber vine with its finely cut leaves and small, brilliant red flowers is carpeting the other side. They really don’t go together, and although the bean attracts myriad bees, you can probably tell which I prefer.DSC03795