A pleasant MMXIX to you all. Yes I had to google the numerals. I am wasted. what do you want from me
My delightful nascent colony. Opens in the later afternoon for nocturnal moth pollination. Looks like a maternal bohemian darlek. Smells like boiled-down jungle honey, gingery vodka and alien varnish.
A pleasant MMXIX to you all. Yes I had to google the numerals. I am wasted. what do you want from me
Fir is a crazy little unit with rolling sanpaku eyes and a joyous love of virtually everything. He's a year old now, which we cannot believe. Like Felix, he's topped out his miniature designation and gone over 35cm at the shoulder but is still small enough to sit comfortably in your lap. He throws up on long car rides. He treasures little pieces of fabric for hours, flipping them around and carrying them in his mouth like the little pica freak he is. Neutering didn't take the edge off his inexhaustible mania so I think we're stuck with all that dragon energy.
In what seems to something of an emerging pattern, late winter was warm and clement, easing into a nice early spring that then shit itself badly, turning into a month and a half of clammy sunless rain late in the season as Antartica started its seasonal thaw and threw front after front at us. Not fun. But the roses are gigantic. I'll post some pics soon.
Scentimental it is, unfortunately. Though I am baffled as to why. I have sniffed this rose in a dozen settings and can report that there just isn't much worthwhile scent to speak of, and it's not like anyone who sees it in full bloom will give much of a toss what it smells like anyway. To my reckoning, 'scent' must be consistently present and furthermore worthy of your nosetime to be rated as such; fucked-out pot pourri dust (as is the case here) doesn't count. It may just be the particular bud material propagated in NZ, but as a sensory panel veteran I can faithfully declare this is not an anosmia. It's hardly surprising, though- overselling scent is a rose breeder con driven spectacularly out of hand in the last few years by online sales.
On my return a couple of weeks later it had completely recovered and burst into another round of flowers.
Its health, good form and performance are gobsmacking. I mean, above left is a rose competing with Horse Chestnut roots and half day shade in early spring. In these humid, no-spray conditions it resists rust almost completely and blackspot is never able to outshine its vigour; I can't recall seeing it more than 1/3 spotty, even in the very worst years. Cane dieback is a bit of a problem here too among wimpier roses, but I don't think it's ever lost a single one.
It's obvious that Scentimental draws its genes from a deep ancestral well of quality plants. Its parents are Playboy and Peppermint Twist, both descended from generations of unkillable roses. We need more like this.
Scentimental's blooms are produced in profusion, both clustered and individually (meaning there is always a decent number of picking prospects) over the entire plant. Although slender, the stems support the blooms well with just enough nod to ease that awkward Floribunda brass neck stance. They are quite Hybrid Tea-ish at first, their clean white liberally streaked with deep, vivid raspberry, the former dominating in shadier positions while the red will take over in full sun. Few things are more lovely than a vase stuffed with an armful of Scentimental once they have opened out to reveal their generous eyes of pale golden stamens. It flowers in lengthy pulses for me starting in late spring through to early winter, meaning it's a top choice for a position that needs prolonged and reliable impact.
Earlier stripeys like Commandant Beaurepaire and Ferdinand Pichard might have more refined individual flowers, strictly speaking. Rosa Mundi might have more roguish vintage charm. A number of modern striped roses promise more complex colour combinations. But I grow CB, FP and RM and Scentimental pwns those guys by almost every criteria except fragrance. And I can't even remember the number of modern striped varieties I've punted onto the compost heap after they've proven themselves inexcusably feeble.
If you can reconcile yourself to the fact that striped roses are awesome and fancy just one for your own place, this is the plant to go for. They're addictive, though, so make sure you have room for the rest of them.
The first real bunch of the season. The smell. I almost forget why I am such a slave to a good rose and flowers in general, then I go out into the garden after late spring rain and find them all smiling at me. I am hard-pressed to think of anything more gratifying.
In the pagan canon, the Garden returns to us everything we've lost along the way-
love, virtue, honour, pleasure, even those who have departed and descended- restoring everything we require to endure. I think that is almost true, and if not literally so, at least its gentle substitutions are resplendent and perfumed.
(I've decided to finally get onto reviewing the hundred-plus varieties of roses that have cycled through our garden in the last 20 years, just because most reviews are generated by suppliers and thus pretty suspect to peeps worried about dropping thirty damn dollars on one bloody plant; just saying. If this prospect bores you, too fucking bad. Everyone should garden, where possible. Your body needs the exercise. Your brain needs the tranquility. The dirt needs friends. Roses and indeed most other plants are indisputably preferable to the company of most people and far better for you than that other shit you're doing. Prove me wrong.)
Agnes is a really odd sort of rose, a hybrid-looking thing with the wild-type foliage of one parent and the feral habit of the other. The flower form resists effective classification too, seemingly stranded between Old Rose fluff and 70's Floribunda realness. She doesn’t get a lot of love, perhaps due to this misc. look and the often whack nature of the label photos that always seem to misrepresent her. She's a survivor, though, a flapper minted in 1922 from the wild roses Rugosa x Foetida persiana.
Agnes deserves far more attention. Her hair is full of secrets.
Negatives? Well, she does bristle with Gooseberry-like thorns, making her a great hedge prospect and a menace to the unwary. The only other 'difficulty' I've encountered with Agnes is in regard to pruning, which usually means it's best to just put down the secateurs and back away from any impending hack job. My cack-handed meddling has made her a wee bit flat-headed at the moment as you can probably see in the pic below, but I intend to leave her alone from now on in the hope she regains her original, more graceful Rugosa form. Agnes may not knock you on your arse with her drag show, but there could not be a more low-maintenance, aesthetically sympathetic and uncomplaining rose.
I know it's not a technically spectacular shot. But this tiny, tiny camellia approx 15cm high produced this perfect china-red bloom amid this carpet of lacy cranesbill and I thought you should know about it.
If the camellia can make an effort to do something beautiful, so should we. This sentiment is pretty fucking rich coming from someone who has been putting off posting in favour of general spring cleaning drudge bullshit, I know. Imma put some new stuff up this week, pinky promise.
Thanks for reading and looking.
It was a bad summer in that Felix's illness and the building project coincided, so we had no time for the poor old plants. The garden has gone to shit in autumn and now lies, unsightly and betrayed, awaiting a pretty nuclear winter cleanup that I am not looking forward to. Armfuls of mouldy and worm-squirming mush dripping into your shoes as you dump them on the compost heap, etc. etc; fuuuuuuck.
R managed to get a few nice shots regardless, so I thought I'd share as part of warming up to regular posting in the near future. Jesus christ I am a lazy bitch these days. Well, lazy and depressive; I might as well use the old mental illness shit as a crutch and get some fucking value out of it.
R made this nice little triptych after catching the bird feeding on this, one of my favourite plants. Bellbirds and Tuis also visit the blooms. Waxeyes are not my favourite birds because the little fuckers tend to ruin a lot of fruit with their incessant pecking, but they do make pretty cool pets when hand raised.
If you dont get too much frost, I highly recommend the Canary Foxglove; it flowers almost year-round here in NZ and is fairly unfussy as to soil as long as the drainage is good. I have three or four plants now and would happily install 20 if I had the room.
Still very fucking busy. I thought getting to the finishing stage with the new place might mean less work. Wrong.
Here's a few pics of Fir who is still firmly in the juggalo phase of his personal development and is just lucky he is a cute little arsehat otherwise he might not have made it this far. Also: bonus pic of monarch on dahlia from our new lower garden.
I'll post some pics of the new place over the weekend if I get a chance.
We picked three kg of gooseberries and got a shittonne of jam from that, then R decided to go crazy and pick the other currants, which we usually leave for the birds because laziness. The hot month before xmas has turned them into something worth bothering about so we rounded up every remaining Ribes for committal to jars.
Thought you might like to see them since they are so beautiful.
On one of the new pieces I've scattered around the lower garden.
This is our most prolific clematis as far as producing vegetable material is concerned. Warsaw Nike has morphed into a protean lateral monster despite the numerous unceremonious moves I've subjected it to. In fact, dragging its arse around the garden has seen it boil outward at the base to provide a shit tonne of splittable pieces; since these plants retail at around fifty fucking dollars, I'm not complaining. The new, thinned starts produce longer, more adventurous vines while the mother plant sits stubbornly at about 1.5m, generating root cuttings like it has nothing better to do.
W Nike is a really beautiful, non-bouffant variety for the kind of nastily hot situations that would crisp the shit out of other dark flowers. I've never seen it suffer clematis wilt and that dreaded fuckery can be a problem here with our hot summers, funky soil and high humidity. This pic is pretty accurate on my monitor if you've been baffled by the mad-looking blown-out shots floating around the internet. The interior stripe is a deep cardinal red and the margins of the petals graduate to velvety red-violet. Overall, the impression is quite a bit more red than purple. I have a Clematis Etoile Violette on the same fence and that's a true deep purple; the contrast is quite marked.
Very plush and luxe and no hint of frou.
Which is tragic, and also why we can never, ever consent to lose them.
First, we tooled around the glass house with its tropical collections. Sticky. Vivid. Enlivening.
This beautiful Red Tailed Black Cockatoo hen is always down for a grevillea flower destruction opportunity or a closer look at your jewellery.
The divine Himalayan Poppy, Laburnum and Allium flowers.
When you meet onions that are more worthy and far better looking than you, you've learnt your true place in the universe.
Another dig through this and last year's pics reveals a wee trove of half-forgotten images so here they are. Some of these are flowering for the first time in our garden: great success.
above: Aloe cameronii (although some peeps are calling this variant something else now, saying it was mis-ID'd in cultivation. This is the less waxy, greener form, anyway).
below: Aloe mawii in full swing. One of my faves- my plant is heading up like a freak and will soon have about 4 new points.
above: Aloe conifera
below: Aloe andongensis. A really superb non-drama species that deserves a lot more attention
above: Aloe dawei
below: Aloe speciosa detail
above: Aloe aristata (proper) just budding up. I have the straight species and not the one usually labelled as such in trade and I find it harder to grow than the latter more common plant. It loves to lose its roots for no apparent reason.
below: Aloe hemmingii. Spectacular little fellow.
above + below: Aloe Burhii, details from the amazing UFO-style flower truss that appeared last year. Another of my favourite species with its fat, spineless dinosaur leaves and delightful flowers. Undemanding and delicious.
Another couple of firsts this year: above Aloe succotrina and below Aloe pulcherrima,
an Ethiopian plant. Last image is Aloe rupicola, flowering for the second time.
They're about twenty dollars a fucking kilo but we love them long time and are reminded every winter of their glorious idiosyncrasy. Their flavour is almost impossible to characterise; cool, wet, vaguest suggestion of umami, a hint of tomato, a touch of one of the whackier melons, maybe the tiniest suggestion of passionfruit with a sprinkle of the blander strains of durian. They are neither sweet nor sour and yet somehow both. There is a narrow band of optimal ripeness in between unpleasantly vegetable and soppy blandness which might account for their niche appeal but definitely try one.
Occasionally I make a sweep through one of R's annoyingly numerous photo dumps, give him a hard look and ask what the fuck is this? Inevitably, some of his best images are sitting with their thumbs up their arses, utterly unshared with the wider world.
Think some of the rhododendron pics are mine- you can probably tell by the shitty exposures. R is a far, far better technician than I am but he, in common with most camera nerds, couldn't really compose his way out of a wet paper bag until I taught him the basics, so allow me a fart-huffing moment of insufferable credit-snatching while you peruse these lovely images. His eye is coming along nicely.
R sneakily posts some nice things that don't appear on my main blog so check out his page.
Flower IDs: Oriental Poppy Pictoee, unknown Azalea, Oriental Poppy Patty's Plum, Bedding Dahlia, unknown Rhododendron, Brugmansia sanguinea, unknown Rhododendron, Buttercup.
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