Hello songbirds! Just a quick check in with a post that is neither fish nor fowl… err… fabric nor yarn… it’s ROSES!!
Spring seems to have sprung in Nashville. Although, honestly, what do I know? This is my first spring here. But it’s totally my thing to jump the gun with gardening so I stayed true to form this spring and returned to my wild ways.
Well. Sort of wild.
Those of you who’ve been following along since my early-blog days may remember that I planted a gajillion roses in our little postage-stamp of a yard in Minneapolis. There was plenty of flower bed constructing, stone wall building, herbs, vegetables, raspberries, composting, canning, drying of herbs and assorted projects.
When I got to Texas… not so much gardening was done. I replanted the front bed (ugh Elephant Ears BEGONE!) and proudly killed more than one potted rosemary topiary through general lack of care. I pruned the wicked-sharp holly bushes when goaded to do so by other parties. I planted a couple of roses in pots and then traveled all last summer and neglected the poor things. I think it was half getting used to the new-super hot USDA planting zone I was living in and 3/4 pretty much hating living in the holly-landscaped subdivision that was my new home.
I was not motivated to feel the dirt under my fingernails or the grass under my bare toes.But I missed the plants and the dirt and the planning. And this Nashville spring made me especially miss it… So over the last week I’ve been visiting nurseries, arranging terra cotta pots on my back yard deck and bringing more green stuff back to my life. I’m a happy girl because today I got everything planted. Well, everything for now! I’ve put a few pictures on Instagram, but here’s the whole shebang!
I have a giant back yard. I live RIGHT in the middle of Nashville – actually in a pretty sketchy neighborhood in Nashville on a very, very busy street – but the lot my house sits on is really long and narrow. A lot of it is covered with a tangled up woodsy thicket that I can’t walk through, although Foresterman and Peppermint have explored a bit. There’s a very charming, run down, barely usable shed in the back that looks like an old barn. There are holes in the roof.
I was all worried about how to mow the lawn. Not only do I not OWN a mower, but I’ve never used one and I think they are giant, gross, loud and stinky. Turns out the back ‘lawn’ is mostly clover and the postage-stamp sized front lawn is all shady. I’m going to keep my Craigslist-eyes peeled for a push-style mower that runs on elbow grease only.
Even though I have so much space, I think I will probably only be in this house through the end of my lease in November, so I didn’t want to invest too much into planting in the property. Plus I wanted a very green, cozy place to hang out on the patio. When Foresterman was in Nashville a few weeks ago we found a perfectly shabby patio table for the patio and added some upholstered patio chairs I already had on the front porch. I found a sturdy little painters stool to add to the seating and will keep my eyes peeled on the garage sale circuit for some more mismatched chairs to add to the family.
I bought the beige and blue cushions last year, but I’m not a huge fan of the blue cushions. I love orange or green and orange is a bit too much for my taste for a patio! Joanne’s has a pretty good selection of outdoor fabric, so I got two yards of this lovely green stuff to swap the blue pillows out for green. Fabric was $19.99/yard, with a 40% discount. These blue pillows are from the Ikea outdoor section, but they weren’t fashioned from outdoor fabric and the color really faded in the hot Texas sun last year! Hopefully this outdoor stuff will deal with the sun bleaching a bit better.
Let’s take a look at the flowers, shall we? In this corner we have my lovely new toolbox with pots and baskets of herbs and roses. The roses (in the shiny tubs) are underplanted with a couple of herbs in each pot…
The toolbox was a real find! It was twenty bucks at a barn sale. I had planned on planting more than one of the herbs in larger containers – larger containers are really better for retaining moisture – but I just couldn’t resist the toolbox! Each compartment fits a 6″ pot. I’ll just water more often.
In the opposite corner are more herbs and roses – although I don’t know if I got the rose in the camera frame. Oops. It’s off to the left. Another of the galvanized buckets.
In addition to the herbs and flowers, I also hung a few things on the back wall of the patio. I wanted it to feel more room-like and less patio-like. The giant ruler is meant to be something to mark the growth of young’uns… I’ve seen similar things on Etsy and had I think I’d even pinned, thinking of making one for myself! I bought this one from craft sale sort of thing. The crate top just looked cool so I added that, too.
I also planted peas in some window boxes at the base of the patio. I love peas more than anything and the lattice work of the patio + the deck railings will provide a nice structure for climbing. I decided to use the containers due to the extremely poor soil condition in that area. It would have taken a lot of work to amend the soil into usability this season.
Ha ha ha – the brown piece of climbing lattice is actually a hound-deterrent system. Peppermint hangs out in the back yard on her lead and last week figured out that under the patio was a SUPER COOL PLACE TO BE. Not so cool: Me crawling under to untangle her, fighting down my atavistic terror of the ridiculously large southern insects.
Oh! One more pot of roses! I got this awesome giant crock at a flea market! It had a drainage hole in it (score!) and I wanted to allow some space to drain rather than setting it directly on the patio. I scrounged some scraps of lumber from the back of my yard. I suspect hobos have built camps back there at some point. There’s lots to scavenge!
All of my roses are David Austen (Winchester Cathedral, Munstead Wood and Abraham Darby.) I’m SUPER excited to grow roses in Tennessee. It’s a longer, hotter summer than Minnesota and I’m anticipating nice growth and EXCELLENT scent! I love David Austen roses – they’re all more traditional English style roses, which means giant, peony-like blooms with a million petals and nice, heavy scent. I tried a few varieties in Minnesota, but the summers really weren’t great for David Austens.
The large metal tubs that I planted the other two rose bushes in were another barn sale find. I got both for twenty bucks, so awesome price!
These didn’t have drainage holes so I went to Home Depot and asked the nice guy with the orange apron to show me the largest single nail available for purchase. This was much to Forester man’s amusement who was sure I was on a fools errand and would be required to purchase a whole box of nails. Silly him. I bought this awesome nail for $.29!!
When it comes to container gardening I use a few basic steps. First… because I’m a little nutty… I cover the drainage holes with coffee filters to avoid getting dirt all over the place.
Then I fill the container about halfway with potting soil. I usually add slow release plant food and moisture crystals to the potting soil, so I don’t splurge on the super expensive stuff.
My standby’s for container gardening. Osmocote slow release plant food and Soil Moist crystals.
This particular terra cotta pot was destined for lavender. Here’s my lovely lavender in the black plastic nursery pot.
When removing plants from nursery pots it helps to smash the sides of a pot a bit – just like when cutting open a lemon or lime to squeeze out the juice. I slide the plant out and stick my fingers in the roots and wiggle them around a bit like I’m giving the plant a scalp massage. On its roots. For most plants, that will help loosen things up and ease the shock of transplanting. Some plants like to keep their roots all tight… but I usually jiggle the roots a little. It’s usually a good idea to water down the first layer of soil (where you filled the container halfway up) before adding the plant, although for these smaller plants I just douse ’em after everything is in.
After the plant is dropped in, I add more soil. pat it down. I usually aim to have the top of the soil an inch or two below the lip of the pot. The soil will settle. Then I sprinkle on more Osmocote and Soil Moist, mix it in a bit and water very well. If I had mulch I would put mulch on the exposed soil to help retain moisture. I’ll get some and add it later!
Containers need LOTS of watering! My back porch has pretty unrestricted southern exposure so here in the US, that means LOTS of sun. It’s a good spot for most herbs and the roses should do well too, although they might get a bit dried out. During the hot times of the summer I will probably have to water twice a day on some of these! The larger the container (and volume of soil) the better I will be able to keep things from drying out.
Oh! Speaking of roses… I like Rose-Tone for my rose food.
When I had my roses in Minnesota I didn’t adhere to a spraying program to deal with things like black spot, powdery mildew, aphids, etc…. much like my attitude towards fancy sock wool (if it can’t deal with washing machines it doesn’t belong in my drawer) I have a loving disdain for my garden. Too much high maintenance doesn’t fly with me and I don’t love spraying around chemicals. That said, some of the rose problems make for ugly, leafless plants and I don’t want that so I broke down and got this all-in-one treatment (bugs AND other conditions!) from the Rose-Tone folks. I plan to do more reasearch this summer to learn about the best ways to deal with these rose problems. Any advice, lay it on me!
I spent most of today potting, cleaning up and running to Home Depot to buy ONE NAIL. I treated myself for a job well done with a lovely loaf of sourdough still warm from the oven from a local bakery, my favorite red wine and cheese. Pepper had a nap.
OK. She had more than one nap.
She was really, really tired ya’ll.