roses...roses...sultry nights in the garden
#2 in Tressie's Garden post series...
This one was first published in June 1996...in the Senior Scene...cause back then...only aging flower children...and old folks gardened...maybe some religious folks, but it was a bit of a strange avocation..
After the hippie back-to-the-earth movement of the 60s and 70s, gardening, canning, and making stuff went out of fashion...people wanted to trade stocks and snort cocaine and vote Republican...see where that got 'cha!
At Last a Decent Plot
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may...
June is for roses. Roses speak of love and kisses. They require some special care, but they are so worth the time. Gather ye rosebuds and petals while ye may, and use them for potpourri.
June is still a good month for planting four-inch and bigger size plants. Water well, daily at first, until the plant settles in, then mulch to hold in moisture during the hot summer months. Large-size containers are available all summer but be sure to check nursery stock for good health. You don't want a plant that's been under-watered and chewed up an put under stress. It won't stand the heat and bloom well.
Use annual marigold, alyssum, petunia, marguerites, zinnia and portulaca for sunny spots. Hardy summer perennials for sun that are drought-resistant include helenthemem (sunrose, yarrow, black-eye Susan, hollyhock, lavender, baby's breath, and sedum Autumn Joy.
Many herbs take little water once established. Try thymes, sages catmint, and rosemary. All these plants look great together and take the same care. Accent your plantings with gray-leafed plants. these tend to like drier soil too. Gray leaves soften bright orange, red and yellow, or add punctuation to soft pink, white and lilac.
Several artemesias with their finely cut leaves and fragrance are good for drying. Look for Sweet Annie, mugwort, wormwood or the many varieties of fern leaf artemesias.
Bought some roses in pots? Dig a hole twice the width of the container slightly deeper. Remove part of the soil (put it in the compost along with the peat pot) and work in some well-rotted manure. Soak the rose thoroughly, remove it from the pot, and plant it at the same level as it was. Toss in your prepared soil and water.
Form a watering basin slightly wider than the rose and mulch. When you cut flowers for bouquets, cut the stem cleanly just above an outward-facing leaf with five or seven leaflets. Later, keep the old petals and toss the rest on the compost.
Fertilize monthly until August, then stop and allow the growth to harden for winter.
In late fall, remove all leaves to stop wintering pests and diseases. Consult a garden book for more help.
Plan now for sultry summer nights outside. Plant your garden beds near entryways, window boxes beneath open bedroom windows, and deck and patio pots with fragrant flowers and foliage.
Nicotiana, alyssum, stock, lavender, roses, petunias, honeysuckle, evening primors and heliotrpe are easty to find. Use boxwood shrubs and mix flowers with pineapple sage and mints from the herb garden. Surround steps and walks with creeping thyme. All these release fragrance when you brush past them.
An especially romantic night garden uses the white flowers of those mentioned above. Mixed with gray leaves, white flowers reflect the stars and moonlight.
A garden should always include comfortable benches and seats. Place tables around to set down a plate of summer barbeque while rubbing a leaf to enjoy its scent.
To encourage long romantic visits in the garden, purchase or make overstuffed cushions. Use duck or canvas in solids or stripes, or heavy printed denim to make a basic rectangle, square and even hearts. Stuff with polyester fiberfill to withstand summer showers. Bring fabric cushions in during a real downpour to extend the life of your cushions.
Stroll through the garden at sunset with candles or kerosene lamps. Many plants release a fragrance only at night. Our summers are so fleeting. Will this season be dry or damp?
Create an oasis under a covered porch and hang a hammock under an arbor. Close your eyes and listen to the birds, and breathe.
Summer afternoon, summer afternoon.
****Rose Recipes ****
Mix dry wormwood leaves with lavender buds and dry rose petals, your choice of fixative, and a few drops of rose oil. This potpourri sewn into sachets and stored with winter and spring sweaters and woolens helps to protect them from moths. Store garments after dry cleaning or washing because moths are attracted to body soil. The lavender and artemesia seem to confuse the moths so won't damage your clothes.
Rosewater can be used for many things--cooking, drinks or a hair rinse.It was an essential in great-grandmother's day. Gather four cups of fresh, unsprayed rose petals and bring to a boil with five cups pure spring water or distilled water in a glass or stainless steel pot. Simmer for 10 minutes and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Strain, bottle and refrigerate, and use within a week. This recipe makes about a quart of rosewater.