Friday, July 6, 2018

Wildflowers and the Bubble Bee

My new wildflower garden and my favorite bee - Anderson. Before you ask how I know his name - he told me.  Buzzz.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Wild Rose

People often ask me about the use and care of the wild or rambling rose.  I have photographed them in their natural habitat to illustrate their attributes.  They are small of thorn, bloom and leaf, running from pink to pale pink to white and often tangled bramble-like.  They are not climbers and don’t grow very tall, preferring instead to spread.

In the high country of the Rocky Mountains they swell into the shade of great trees or in the sunlight along trails and walkways.  They bloom once a season, leaving behind luscious hips to turn red or red-brown in the fall and winter.  Their scent is subtle but carries well on mountain breezes. As Shakespeare said, “The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem for that sweet odour which doth in it live.” 

In my estimation the wild rambling rose is not a garden rose.  Popping up where ever it pleases along its extensive root, this rose is very difficult to contain. It is best left to the wild places its blossom grace so beautifully in spring. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


I love tulips - standards, fancies, double fancies, what have you. They are one of the most beautiful harbingers of spring. People call me all the time and cry, "Oh no my tulips are blooming and its snowing." Not to worry. Even though they originated in what today is Turkey, they were adapted to the cold of Holland in the sixteenth century. Tulips love the snow and cold. Their bulbs require the cold, in point of fact.
A note to neat freaks like me - do not cut the tulip back until her foliage turns brown. After the flowers bloom the bulb stores energy for the winter months from the sun throughout the rest of the spring and into early summer.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tulips; Its Spring

All gardening is landscape painting. 
                                           ... William Kent

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Rose by Barbara Carvallo

When planning a new rose garden or caring for an existing garden it is best to know what kind of rose you need or have in order to design or prune effectively. For example, when dealing with miniature roses there are some that grow to be moderately tall and wide while still retaining the small leaf and bloom that is characteristic of the miniature. This rose is probably not what you want for a border, but a stunning bed can be created from the larger varieties of miniature roses which tend to be very hardy and disease resistant.

Roses are identified like any other plant by leaf, stem, bloom, stature and structure. This article concerns itself with the most common varieties and a description of each.

To begin with all rose leaves are alternate, pinnately compound with serrated edges. Each rose leaf contains 3, 5 or 7 leaflets. The most common is 5 in the modern rose. The leaflets are sharp toothed and oval. Many leaflets have a prickly underside. The new leaf growth of some roses is purple, some crimson and some pale green. Stems are rounded and generally have thorns; although, there are roses that do not have thorns.

There is a variety of bloom types from the high-centered beauty associated with the hybrid tea to the large, peony-like English rose. The basic structure of the rose bloom is flat with a single layer of 5 petals. There is one rose that has 4 petals.'Rosa sericea,' the silky rose, is an old China rose that is native to Southwestern China. Other bloom types are: cupped – deep, shallow and open; quartered; globular; rosette and pompon.  An excellent pictorial essay of the various types can be found at the National Garden Association website at

Stature and Structure:

At the outset it is worth noting the exquisite artistry of the rose. Without fail if the leaf is small the blooms, stems and thorns are small as well. The balance and symmetry of the rose is impeccable.

Hybrid Tea – grows 3-5 feet in height, 2-3 feet wide and upright. A repeat bloomer it usually produces one bloom per stem. Occasionally one large bloom surrounded by two or more smaller blooms is seen. The bloom is around 5-5 ½ inches wide, high-center and unfolds in a symmetrical fashion. This rose is known for being high maintenance.

Floribunda – grows between 2-4 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Cultivars 5 feet tall have been developed. It is a very reliable repeat bloomer throughout the season with clusters of 5-8 blooms per stem. Rarely a stem will support a single bloom. Blooms are generally smaller than the hybrid tea 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches across. Bloom type varies.

Grandiflora – is a cross between the hybrid tea and the floribunda.  Blooms appear in clusters or individually atop stems that are longer than the floribunda but not as long as the hybrid tea. Grandiflora rose bushes are often taller than the hybrid tea, but not as wide as the floribunda. Roses can be very large and showy. Bloom type varies.

Both the floribunda and the grandiflora are lower maintenance then the hybrid tea and are often recommended to first time growers providing they have the space.

Miniature – is usually between 12 and 18 inches high, some are as tall as 36 inches and the climbing miniature can reach a height of over 4 feet. The smallest of these roses can be less than 6 inches. Blooms are often 1-2 inches or less across, and bloom types vary. They are available as hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora and climbers. Most are repeat bloomers. The newest of the miniatures roses is the Miniflora. Larger than the standard miniatures in bloom, foliage and bush size this rose has extremely vigorous growth habits.

Climber – does not climb, it has no tentacles with which to grasp. The climbing rose simply has incredibly robust growth habits allowing it to scale a wall, wonder through a trellis or flow over a patio. The rambling rose, one of many varieties of climbers, is a spreading rose with very flexible canes and small blooms held in sprays of up to 20 per stem. Ramblers will flower profusely once in the spring. Other climbers with larger blooms and more upright habits may show out lavishly during the spring and only intermittently the rest of the season. There are climbers known as Climbing Sports of the hybrid tea and floribunda roses. These are genetically altered forms of existing roses, for instance, the Climbing Peace Rose. Sports are not recommended in Colorado due to the fact that they bloom on year-old wood. Our winters may limit the survival of that wood. Climbers produce varying bloom types.

Shrub – range from compact bushes around 3 feet tall to plants that are over 8 feet high and very wide. There are also ground covering shrub varieties. Some bloom abundantly only in the spring; others are prolific all season. They are easy to care for and very hardy. Often their fall hips present with lush red, orange and bronze color, adding beauty to the garden throughout the winter. Some shrubs have large blooms and foliage, some are smaller. Bloom types vary. The shrub is a wonderful rose for a beginner, providing the rose is chosen with care and planted with an eye to space and light.

Austin/English – From England these beauties are hybridized by David Austin and do very well in our climate. The rose varieties range from wide and dense to lovely rounded bushes, and stately pillars. While Austin creates miniature roses, floribundas, grandifloras and hybrid teas, he is renowned for his large shrub roses two of which are ‘The Dark Lady’ and ‘Abraham Darby.’ While a great many of his roses display the peony-like English rose blooms that are very big and astonishing elegant, other bloom types are available.

In addition to the roses discussed in this article there are many others: the species and hybrid species; Moss; Portland; China; Old Garden; Buck; Bourbon; Alba; Damask; Centifolia (cabbage roses); Canadian; Hybrid Gallica and Polyantha. The discerning Rosarian tries to have as many varieties of roses in their garden as space and finances allow.
Featured here are:

‘The Dark Lady’ – Austin Shrub, English Rose bloom type
‘Neon Cowboy’ – Miniature Shrub, Flat bloom type
‘Betty Boop’ – Floribunda, Flat, Semi-double bloom type
‘Neptune’ – Hybrid Tea, High-center bloom type
'Ispahan' - Antique Climber, Rosette bloom type

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sweet Saffron

At the end of the gardening season the domesticated fall blooming crocus (Crocus sativus) comes out to show. They are believed to be descendant from the eastern Mediterranean Crocus cartwrightianus, also know as "wild saffron" and originating in Greece or Crete. Inside the lovely blooms three stigma or threads bear the rare spice Saffron.  At one point in antiquity Saffron was considered currency and was a valuable pigment used by artists. Cleopatra put it in her bath as sent it is said. Today one would need to plant approximately 80,000 flowers to obtain a pound of Saffron, commonly known as red gold, selling for between 500 and 5,000 US dollars per pound.

If you have fall blooming crocus and are thinking of harvesting some Saffron make sure that you can identify true Crocus sativus. Other fall crocuses like Colchicum Autumnal (Meadow Saffron) are not edible and indeed have toxic properties, particularly for dogs. Also very beautiful the Colchicum blooms contain three clusters of stigma, yellow gold in color.

Aesthetically, the type of crocus hardly matters when one sees the sweet blossoms laid out on autumn’s canvas in light and shadow. They are a delight for the eye as winter comes on.

Photos of Saffron Crocus courtesy of High Country Gardens

Photos of Meadow Saffron Crocus by your author