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In the garden

The Rose and Empress Josephine

By | Flower of the Month, In the garden, Travels | No Comments

Bonjour! I have recently returned from a trip to France, and among so many other beautiful places we saw, I must start an upcoming series of blog posts with my visit to Château de Malmaison, just outside Paris.  A visit to Malmaison has been on my bucket list for a very long time, in fact, since way back when I first began to grow roses, the Souvenir de la Malmaison rose was one of the first roses I ever grew. After reading a little about how the rose got it’s name, I became interested in Josephine Bonaparte (the wife of Napolean Bonaparte) and her extensive collection of roses at Malmaison.  Josephine was a bit of a rebel and I suppose that’s why I like her too, but her collection of roses, exotic animals and rare plants at Malmaison were incredible and highly out of the ordinary during the time, and even so today.

While Napolean was off fighting a war, she bought Malmaison for 300,000 francs, when she only had an allowance of 4,000 francs.  So, the deficit had to be made up by Napolean! That’s pretty bold, and I love it!  I suppose he was mad at her for a bit when he returned from war (hee-hee!), but she went straight away to the restoration of the house, and also began the cultivation of a phenomenal rose garden.  Josephine collected exotic plants from all over the world and it is said that she is responsible for for the cultivation of 200 plants new to France.  But her favorite plant was the rose.  Between 1804 and 1814 Empress Josephine built her rose collection, and it became the greatest and largest rose collection in the world, unsurpassed until the creation of Sangerhausen in Germany and L’Hay outside Paris, one century later.  Josephine’s rose garden was important for other reasons besides being the largest.  The acquisition of rare roses was of great importance for France, for these became the first new ever-blooming roses to come from China which would later produce ever-blooming rose cultivars.  It’s because of Josephine’s rose collection that allowed the french breeders to cross-pollinate and introduce these roses that we all know and love today.  Without her dedication and sheer boldness, perseverance and determination–we would not have any repeat blooming roses!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Empress Josephine!

Although there is very little (virtually nothing) resemblance to the garden that once was, there is still a beautiful garden there. The roses that you see in the Garden of old Roses are a pretty impressive collection and none later than the late 1800’s. It was great seeing all the old roses there,  and it seemed like a respectable nod to Josephine, but I wish they could restore the gardens to a somewhat similar brilliance that it once was.  It is what it is, and regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there and was more than worth time spend on public transportation getting there!

 

In my own rose garden; Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is a rose cultivar with large, very pale pink, flowers that open flat. The Bourbon rose was created in 1843 by Lyon rose breeder Jean Béluze, who named it after the Château de Malmaison, where Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763–1814) had created a magnificent rose garden. It is probably a cross between ‘Mme Desprez’ and ‘Devoniensis’.

 

History of the Rose (in a very brief nutshell)

According to fossil evidence, the rose is 35 million years old!  It is believed garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, probably in China.  There are hieroglyphics of roses depicted in Egyptian tombs dating back to a thousand years ago. We have used roses in so many ways–medicinal, spiritual, for war and peace symbols, beauty regimens and of course, decoration.  And throughout history, and even today, no other plant or flower has more symbolic meaning than the rose.  Their meanings in the language of flowers is more extensive than any other plant or flower in the dictionary.  A rose can have different meanings depending upon it’s variety such as a Dog rose, or a Carolina rose.  They also convey different messages according to their color, as well as how they are presented, or arranged (together with other colors, or alone).

In the garden, the rose heralds the month of June.  From the one-time bloomers to the hybrid perpetuals, China, Damasks and more, we enjoy their beauty in the garden more than any other flower.  As one who grows a fair amount of roses, I can honestly say, they are the true workhorse of the garden.  They provide continuous beauty throughout the summers, but those one-time bloomers allow us to revel in the ephemeral beauty of those special blooms too.  As far as care goes, they are moderately ‘needy’, because they are heavy feeders, and of course, are susceptible to various diseases.  I like to think my garden is working it’s way toward being a truly sustainable garden, however, when you consider my roses, it is not.  Sustainability in the rose garden would mean I would have to forgo the plants that are most susceptible to diseases, and I just cannot do that.  I want them all!  But, what I have done to make it more sustainable is put the rose garden in an organization where the highly susceptible bushes are grouped together (regardless of their color, which sometimes drives me crazy).  This makes it easy to maintain the really needy bushes and will sometimes contain the culprit diseases–black spot and rust– into one generally defined area.

Back to Malmaison, the interior of the castle was beautiful.  But, not the gilded kind of beautiful–unlike Versailles, Malmaison felt very real, as if you could really live there comfortably.  I loved every minute of the self-guided tour and stories of the interior life of Napolean and Josephine;

And since the rose was the flower of the month, for June, I wanted to share some of my own favorites from my garden;

 

Tradescant (Austin)

Perle d’or

My sweet Violet, donning her crown of roses

The Alchemist

Sombreuil

Bloom Day- September

By | In the garden | 4 Comments

It’s bloom day! Well, it’s a little past, but better late than never 🙂

I’m feeling a little bit guilty and sad this morning.  The fires are raging in the West and the South is practically drowning.  What scary weather we’re having! My thoughts and prayers have been going in their direction for a couple of weeks now. Mother nature is a force. And we need to respect the fact that we are changing our environment.  I hope and pray we make it through the hurricanes and fires soon, and let there be settled weather.

In the mean while it gives us a chance to reflect I suppose.  This monthly Bloom Day post pushes me to stop and look and see what’s happening in the garden.  At least once a month.  There seems to be not enough time on a daily basis to go and just sit and look.  I like the idea of keeping up with this Bloom Day post.  I would highly recommend it to everyone.  Even if you’re a patio gardener you should still come check everything out on the 1st of each month and marvel at what you’ve got going on.

Sally Holmes rose – I cannot tell you how much joy the entire family gets from this non-stop, hardy, attention getting rose! We’ve got more than 7 bushes (my mother-in-law propagates). Love!

The garden at first light. It's a whole different feeling --the garden in the early morning. Everything is feeling fresh and new. It's a glorious time!

The garden at first light. It’s a whole different feeling –the garden in the early morning. Everything is feeling fresh and new. It’s a glorious time!

Abutilon - flowering Maple. I'm really getting more infatuated with these. So very easy to grow, but will get a little leggy if you don't watch out! In the language of flowers, it means Meditation. I like to think it's because the calyx is locked and hidden inside a veil of cupped outer petals. Just like when you meditate...you need your 'calyx' protected so you can obtain your inner peace.

Abutilon – flowering Maple. I’m really getting more infatuated with these. So very easy to grow, but will get a little leggy if you don’t watch out! In the language of flowers, it means Meditation. I like to think it’s because the calyx is locked and hidden inside a veil of cupped outer petals. Just like when you meditate…you need your ‘calyx’ protected so you can obtain your inner peace.

Clematis seed head. It marks the end of the blooming period for the Clematis. There may be a few more stragglers but in general, this is a sure sign it's winding down for winter.

Clematis seed head. It marks the end of the blooming period for the Clematis. There may be a few more stragglers blooms but in general, this is a sure sign it’s winding down for winter.

Canine - Ziggy Zion Stardust. My garden companion.

Canine – Ziggy Zion Stardust. My garden companion.

Lewisia - Can this be any cuter? It

Lewisia – Can this be any cuter? It’s in the Portucala family of flowering herbs.

Penelope rose- another little workhorse. A musk rose from a long time ago. I use this is bridal bouquets. Although you cannot tell from this photo, her little buds are a peachy-beige. Absolutely beautiful!

Penelope rose- another little workhorse. A musk rose from a long time ago. I use this is bridal bouquets. Although you cannot tell from this photo, her little buds are a peachy-beige. Absolutely beautiful!

Lion's Bane - We've just began to recognize this as a good cut flower at our store. I cut some for a bridal bouquet last month and I cannot believe how well it balanced the textures and colors!

Lion’s Bane – We’ve just began to recognize this as a good cut flower at our store. I cut some for a bridal bouquet last month and I cannot believe how well it balanced the textures and colors!

Bloom Day April 2017

By | In the garden | No Comments

I have been inspired to post monthly for Bloom Day!  After reading a recent post over at Debra Prinzing’s  Slow Flowers Journal, where she posted about a book (I also ordered!) by Carol Michel, that led me over to her blog, May Dreams Gardens, in which she had just posted about all the flowers, trees and shrubs that were in bloom at that time in her garden, and I fell in love with the idea.  This will be a monthly post, and I need to get into my garden more often and try to enjoy it so this may be the perfect thing to lead me into some garden-time enjoyment.  Because usually when I’m in the garden I’m either frantically running with clippers and cutting for orders, or weeding and tidying getting ready for a walk through or some other event.  Basically working my butt off!

I did try and do this Bloom Day a few years back, after getting inspired at that time as well by a gardener’s blog, but I stopped after about 6 months because I never got any comments, so I just wasn’t sure I was being heard or seen.  Well, that may happen again, but darn it I don’t care if anyone sees it or not.  I want to do this!  And you know what?  You’re going to love it!

Mock Orange –Philadelphus

In the Language of Flowers it means Counterfeit (ha! of course!)

 

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Weigela ‘Bristol Ruby’

In the Language of Flowers it means Accept a Faithful Heart, Grace and Yielding to Love

 

 

Lilac- Syringa vulgaris

In the Language of Flowers a Purple Lilac means First emotions of love

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Clivia miniata

In the Language of Flowers it means Good fortune

 

 

 

Coral Bells Heuchera

In the Language of Flowers it means challenge, hard work

 

 

Snowball Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’

In the Language of Flowers it’s known as the Guelder Rose, and it means winter, bound & agitation

 

 

Leucodendron I have NO idea the variety and if you know please tell me!

In the Language of Flowers Leucodendron, Proteas, Banksias & Grevilleas mean Diversity, Steadfastness, Loyalty, Intent

 

 

And that’s a wrap!! These were my highlights, and there were so many more.  I love the garden in the spring!

Hyacinth for Spring

By | In the garden | No Comments

In the language of flowers, the Hyacinth represents games, play and sport. Historically used in ceremonies honoring athletes, the Hyacinth represents the collaboration required in games and sports. In Ancient Greece, it was the flower dedicated to Apollo.

Hyacinth are extraordinarily beautiful and incredibly fragrant. I can’t think of a flower that has a sweeter fragrance.  For that reason it’s a perfect bulb for pots placed near doorways and sidewalks. They are super easy bulbs to grow and you can always count on  their perennial habits. I love the surprise and anticipation when their little tips peek out of the ground year after year. They’re my spring workhorse that fills the garden with a Rich and dense aroma. And  I love to look into those luminous bells and search the veins for the color variations. The opaque lavender are my absolute favorite. The individual waxy florets are like pieces of candy stacked in a jar.

For our everyday use to create floral sentiments with Posies, we use the Hyacinth’s segmented meanings defined by color.

White signifies loveliness, I’ll pray for you.

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The Blue Hyacinth represents constancy

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Purple Hyacinth means sorrow, I am sorry, please forgive me.

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and red or pink means play!

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Hyacinths have relatively short stems, so they don’t work well in mixed bouquets, but what a showstopper in a compote bowl in a mono-botanical arrangement!

Enjoy the many bounties of spring! This is only one, but a superb heralding of sunnier days!

Let the Pros do it!

By | In the garden, Sentiments in flowers | 3 Comments

Last Sunday I had a professional photographer come up to the garden to shoot some shots of a couple of Posies.  I made two, both Valentine themed, at the request of a media opportunity for a story geared to spawn some unique alternatives for Valentine flowers–something other than red roses! And thank you Debra Prinzing and Slowflowers for the opportunity to submit my Posies!

I also wanted to use the opportunity to grab some great shots for my book proposal.  And that I did!  Thank you so much Danyelle Dee Photography!

The images are just glorious, shot with a great eye.  We had just finished off three days of rain, so the garden and air were newly washed with vibrant color.  Oh so beautiful…

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