I keep thinking I will blog about another subject, but my attention always turns back to the garden because my first-year perennials are showing some amazing growth. Some are blooming out of sequence, which often happens with first year gardens.
Roses are blooming! So today’s blog includes more specifics about some of the roses I grow and why. I do like to go on about the roses!
And, I will also be talking about plant groupings and some interesting color combinations I have been inspired to put together.
First, the roses
I’m no stranger to Rugosa roses. I grew Hansa roses in our Longmont gardens next to the driveway in a fairly hot and dry location. With consistent and regular deep watering, they did quite well. I noticed that Rugosas are planted and bloom quite prolifically in the huge berm that goes down the middle of Ken Pratt Blvd in Longmont. These roses can take that kind of environment if watered consistently. They do well in tamer gardens, too.
Technically, rugosas are species roses native to eastern Asia. They do best in rich soil and full sun. Their nutrient requirement is usually met by generously adding compost, aged manure, mycorrhizae and glacial rock dust when planting. These roses are care-free, bloom all summer and produce a nourishing, delicious fruit – rose hips. Rose petals are also very healing and nutritious. Rose-infused honey is fragrant and delicious, and amazingly healing when used topically.
This is Rosa Rugosa Rubra.
Most rugosas are Zone 3 roses, which makes them extra-hardy in our Zone 5 locale. So if there is a sudden cold snap in October or November following warm weather, these roses will barely notice. Most are quite vigorous. Pay attention to the height and width in the description, and plan accordingly. I like to read about roses at Heirloom Roses and High Country Roses.
Always read up on any new roses you are considering for your garden.
I’m especially excited about my newest Rugosa, Moje Hammarberg. OK, it’s a strange name, but back in the day, roses were named after significant people in the rose’s country of origin – in this case, Sweden. Look up “Roses named after people” and you will see how many folks have been immortalized by having a rose named for them, and how far back this tradition goes. Way back!
Back to Moje Hammarberg – I’m looking forward to seeing and tasting the large rose hips that are purported to taste like plums. Look at the incredibly beautiful roses and the number of buds. Very fragrant, too! Oh snap!
A couple years ago, I discovered one of Euell Gibbons’ books that had a no-cook recipe for rose hip jam. At that time, there was a huge organic rose bush covered in hips in my own back yard, so I took the opportunity, collected and cleaned several pints of rose hips, and made the jam per Euell’s instruction (only less sugar). Turned out to be amazingly and delightfully delicious! Euell’s chapter on roses describe the highly nutritious properties of rose hips. After tasting the jam, I developed what some might call a minor obsession with growing roses that fruit. I will include this delightful and nourishing jam recipe in a later blog along with some of my other favorite and delicious herbal formulations. Don’t miss that one!
So to summarize, with the rugosa family, you get incredibly fragrant, beautiful, medicinal blooms all summer, tasty nutritious hips in the fall, a constant supply of pollen for the bees, and lush visual beauty for your garden. Moje has already sent up a vigorous new shoot in my garden, confirming that my idea of growing a hedge of this particular rose might be the way to go. You go, Moje Hammarberg!
Another group of old and charming roses are the Gallica roses. One particular Gallica that is outstanding, super productive and hardy is the Apothecary Rose. It’s a Zone 4 Gallica that dates back to the thirteenth century. That’s right! It’s a very old rose. It blo0ms once in early summer with an amazing profusion of large, fragrant, stunning flowers that the bees line up for. I use the petals for infused honey, hydrosols and Rose Elixir! Most recently, I combined dried Apothecary roses, lemon verbena and organic black tea to make an outstanding morning blend that is SOOO delicious! I add coconut milk and honey.
Bees adore and frequent the Apothecary Rose.
I collected some of the whole rose blossoms for drying and using in formulations.
Amazing, no? Generous and medicinal! Thank you, Apothecary Rose!
Now, let’s talk about some of my favorite perennial combinations:
First of all, I was inspired to plant a collection of pink flowering hot/dry perennials together: Pink Hollyhocks, Echinacea pallida and Pink Muhly Grass are framed out with a tall blue lavender and an unusual white lavender. Next year, all should be blooming together! All love this hot/dry full sun garden. Perfect! Pink Muhly grass is purported to throw out a cloud of dramatic pink “flowers” toward the later part of it’s flowering cycle. Fingers crossed! Or maybe next year.
I also have this stunning deep pink yarrow nearby, Achillea millefolium ‘Rosa Maria’
On the other side of this same garden is a grouping of orange flowering perennials! Orange flowers are so charming and bright, especially as the morning sun shines across the garden and the bees arrive for their first visit of the day.
One of my favorite orange flowering hot/dry plants that is currently blooming is this Horned Poppy, Glaucium flavum. This is one of those ever blooming perennials that the bees love. It does require a few minutes of deadheading every other day to keep it blooming from mid-summer until frost. I’m a big fan of deadheading everything from California poppies to Larkspur to Catmint – they will all rebloom numerous times if seed pods are removed in a timely fashion. It’s one of my favorite activities in the garden! Gives me a chance to hang out with the bees and smell the roses wafting on the breeze. Sadly, dragonflies have disappeared altogether due to the tragic misuse of pesticides here in Berthoud. More on that later.
Next year, a beautiful assortment of pink and orange flowers will be blooming all together – those mentioned above, and in addition, Penstemon palmeri (pale pink, fragrant), Penstemon pseudospectabilis (hot pink), St John’s Chamomile (Anthemis sancti-johannis) (bright orange), Digitalis Obscura (dusty apricot), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) (orange) and Totally Tangerine Geum (luminescent tangerine orange). There are other colors and textures, but this is the first time I have purposely grouped common colors together and included lots of orange!
One of the strategies I use to fill the garden with interesting combinations is to obtain small plants and grow them together in a pot. They seem to grow and mature more quickly this way, and often I will actually plant them together in the garden in late summer or early fall. Growing them in a pot like this gives me a chance to observe how the plants grow, and, while they are potted up, I can move them around to various locations to see which environment best meets their criteria. And by the time fall rolls around, they have well developed root systems that can quickly take hold and establish in cooler fall temps.
In the below photo, I have Queen Anne’s Lace, blue sage and Rabbitbrush. I will keep the sage and Queen Anne together, and grow the Rabbitbrush in the farther reaches of the yard, where Pampas Grass, Russian Sage, Pink Hollyhocks and Lemon Queen Sunflower will also grow. The Queen Anne will be beautiful blooming in combination with the blue sage, along with dark blue Larkspur, Orange Hyssop, lavender Wood Betony and orange California Poppy – all full sun. Such interesting textures and beautiful colors to anticipate!
Both Queen Anne’s Lace and this particular Sage are known to freely reseed, which is fine by me. I can always share the small plants with other gardeners, or move some to other locations in the yard. Since I deadhead on a regular basis, it’s rare for anything in my gardens to get out of control, even Nettle.
This Brown Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba, is very attractive to bees. I didn’t know it would get this tall and wide, so will move it in the Spring. This is an example of a combination that isn’t working for the neighboring plants. The flowers are darling and very long lasting. I got this plant at Desert Canyon Farm in Canyon City, one of my favorite places to buy organic plants. I had hoped it would grow and harmonize with a blue Spiderwort and a white-flowering Husker Red Penstemon, but a new plant will have to take it’s place in the Spring because it’s just too large for the space. Charming plant, though! I will find the perfect location for it since it’s so adorable and the bees love it! So much taller and wider than any of my other Rudbeckias!
One of my current favorite plants is this humble Goldenrod. It will get much taller and wider down the road. Goldenrod has many medicinal properties, and does not cause allergies! It has the following herbal properties and so much more: anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, astringent and antiseptic. Highly beneficial for the kidneys, Goldenrod both nourishes and restores. I love the tiny, perfect flowers.
Below are some small sprigs of Goldenrod in a collection of other antibiotic herbs that are going to be a part of a “fire cider” – a blend of vinegar, honey, horseradish, garlic and medicinal herbs. Wonderful to keep on hand for any flu or cold, or to take preventatively. Delicious when used in a salad dressing. I will discuss this and other formulations in a future blog about my favorite herbal recipes. Herbs are so amazing!
Some herbs start out small the first year, but come back full force and with great gusto the following year. St. John’s Wort and Celandine are two examples, and this particular Oregano (below) is one more. This is a beautiful variety that dries well. I always keep a dried bouquet of it around, along with some of those adorable hops oregano flowers. So sweet, and the color lasts for years.
Below is the FIRST bumblebee I’ve seen in my gardens since the pesticide fogging began in our town. I also saw one dragonfly earlier this week… in past years there would have been dozens in many sizes, shapes and colors, but almost all of them are gone now. They may make a comeback if our elected officials get a brain and figure out that larviciding is way more effective and safe than spraying neurotoxic pesticides into our environment. Otherwise, this town is doomed to be overrun with mosquitoes, wasps and dead bees. Tragic. And completely avoidable. I bought these zinnia seeds from an organic grower on ETSY! At least my garden is safe for our pollinators.
Penstemon pseudospectabilis has made a showing here in September, just blooming as I am finishing this blog post. I’m so looking forward to next year when it will bloom with abandon on it’s normal schedule (June). Such a beauty! This plant, too, has many medicinal properties. One of my favorite penstemons.
And here are some combinations that I am planting now to create a mixed hedgerow across the back yard in that crazy swale we built – it’s a ditch of sorts, 18-24 inches deep, that runs the entire width of the back yard. The slope of our property lends itself to this type of gardening, providing the swale and the entire lower section of the yard, with extra moisture that travels down the slope to be stored directly in the earth. We will also be routing the grey water from our shower into this area.
There are 9 deep pockets of soil all along this swale. Each pocket or section measures 4′ x 3′. The front edges of the swale gardens are edged with logs, perfect for dramatic, draping or adorable ground covers. Using vigorous ground covers along the fronts of new gardens helps keep the weeds out while providing a living mulch and much joy when they bloom.
Each section will be planted with two, three or four perennials to create a mixture of colors and textures. I am always keeping colors in mind as I assign plants to spaces. Here we have pink hollyhocks and garden sage. I’m thinking of adding an early blooming yellow flowering Celandine to this section. All three of those plants enjoy full sun or some shade and can compete with and adapt to each other. If the hollyhocks get too leafy, I cut them back in a respectful manner so that everyone gets enough sun. Imagine next spring and summer! Pretty!
This grouping is almost complete with a beautiful fall blooming purple aster in the back, a lovely, spreading purple-flowering campanula that blooms mid-summer, and a Lavender in the front of this garden. Adding a trailing Veronica (lavender) or perhaps a deep purple Pulsatilla will fill out this section of the swale nicely. I also have an orange butterfly weed that needs a new location…that would also be be stunning!
Along the back fence will be another type of hedgerow, this one with much more substantial shrubs, vines and fruiting bushes. Already planted are two elderberries, a lilac, two Hawthorns and a Goji Berry. All get quite large, and are planted 12-15 feet apart, 4-5 feet away from the fence.
Between the Lilac and the first Elderberry, we will be planting this stunning Clematis Polish Spirit on a very tall trellis that is firmly attached to the fence. The clematis will grow on one side and onto the adjoining fence, while Darlow’s Enigma Rambling Rose fills in on the other side.
Hopefully they will meet in the middle! Both are long-blooming and vigorous.
Darlow’s Enigma rose blooms from early summer until frost and is exceptionally fragrant and attractive to our pollinator friends, the bees. “Vigorous” doesn’t begin to describe how large and beautiful this rose becomes in just a couple seasons, especially with support. I can almost smell the fragrance wafting across the back yard!
This is a photo of a Darlow’s Enigma that grew on a large pergola in my Longmont garden. Love this stunning rose!!!
We will finish planting along the fence, filling in with Rosa Canina, Rosa Glauca, and some tall ornamental grasses. Toward the front of this long garden will be lower growing, yet substantial shrubs, such as Blue Mist Spirea, Russian Sage and perhaps currant or gooseberry shrubs.
Much of the inspiration for our gardens comes from a lovely book, The Garden Awakening by Mary Reynolds. She weaves together permaculture and sustainable gardening strategies, inspiration and awareness to create a very encouraging and helpful book in these troubled times.
I have been deeply saddened by our town’s decision to use neurotoxic, endocrine disrupting pesticide fogging to control mosquitoes. The extreme and completely unnecessary protocol adopted by city council has done severe and obvious damage to the ecosystem that once existed here in Berthoud. Dragonflies, one of the more voracious mosquito predators, have been wiped out with only a few survivors in my neighborhood. Same for bumblebees and other pollinators. Honeybee populations have also suffered, and have been seen dead or dying the morning after.
I believe our ecosystem can recover if immediate measures are taken to adopt a larvicide only policy similar to that of the cities of Denver and Boulder. This can be done easily and efficiently, and is infinitely more effective than fogging.
It’s shocking to me how widespread the use of chemicals has become in our town, our homes and our gardens. These herbicides and insecticides end up in our water, in our homes, and in our bodies when used year after year, season after season. There are much better ways to control weeds and unwanted insects, and I expected more from the Town of Berthoud, since it is called “The Garden Spot of Colorado.” How can folks garden organically and feel safe about eating the food they grow when the entire town is fogged numerous times each summer? That is the pattern that has been laid out for us, but we can say no and come up with more creative, practical, effective and ecological solutions. Praying for wisdom and a new, improved city council!
Blessings to you and your gardens,