All hail the Glorious Fourth! Ironical as it may be, I find myself indoors writing while the fairest of recent days passes outside the window. But, I reason, I am far from being the only one with conflicting commitments. The calendar becomes more packed. The season is here.
Like 2008, apparently it has been another good year for roses, with lots of floriferous and fragrant displays. If your rose has unexpectedly changed color, you may be seeing flowers that stem from the rootstock, such as the dark red 'Dr. Huey,' that I wrote about last summer. Many garden roses are grafted onto roots of robust roses with the goal of reliable uniformity, stronger growth, or other traits. If last winter's unfavorable conditions have caused your grafted rose to die back to the bud union, chances are the roots are throwing canes, maybe 'Dr. Huey' or another, like R. multiflora. Either learn to accept the apparent newcomer, or replace it, and - important point - all the soil surrounding it, with a rose that you actually choose.
Until recently I thought of winter as the read-about-it season for the garden, with spring, summer, and fall the doing-it seasons. The unappealing wet, cold days have promoted garden reading as one way to continue to participate despite it. A couple of titles to check if they have not already come to your attention:
"Plant-Driven Design," by the husband and wife team of Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden, (Timber Press, Portland, 2008, 281 pp.) "Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place, and Spirit." Illustrated with great photography by both authors, "Plant-Driven Design" takes the reader to the best gardens (including their own) and landscapes of multiple continents and climates. Especially emphatic and refreshing are the introductory preface and first chapter of this beautiful volume, where there are some pithy sections on "landscape installations and exterior décor."
The five remaining chapters amplify the authors' experience and understanding of plants and plant communities. The authors make the case for acquiring the knowledge to put plants first in design and culture. Throughout the pages are 37 features and lists, all highlighted in unifying, pale celadon boxes. Each image, all of which are in color, is fully captioned with the plant material it contains, a prerequisite for any serious plant enthusiast. Having used this book, even a beginning gardener has tools to put the principles to work and practice plant-driven design.