Gardening jobs to do now

There are some hard and fast rules with gardening that you have to embrace or forever feel like you have somehow failed.  I think that a lot of people beat themselves up about their gardening ability and status as a gardener.  I am as guilty as the next man or woman and refer to my self as a hobby gardener, I think that it lets you off the hook when things don’t go to plan or don’t really work.  However, here is an enlightening fact – gardening is a long game, it takes time to learn your craft, learn your garden (each one is different) and gardens need time to mature.  When I started gardening, 40 years ago (that’s a sobering, frightening and impossible number as I’m sure that I’m only 35) , I assumed that professional gardeners did everything perfectly and nothing ever failed or looked less than perfect.  This, of course, is simply not the case, every gardener has things that go wrong every year and they make a note, mental or otherwise, to do that differently the next year.  You see gardening is an ever evolving process, it’s not just your garden that grows, it is your knowledge, your judgement and your skills.  So I am going to stop calling myself a hobby gardener, from this moment onwards I am a gardener!

Don’t be overwhelmed

I think some people are overwhelmed by starting gardening as they are so afraid of getting things wrong and looking silly, that other gardeners will judge them and they’ll be found wanting in the garden department.  What I would say to these people is don’t worry about it, fellow gardeners are nurturers and unless they are unkind people they will want you to succeed.

Starting out

If you are new to gardening start on a small-scale, don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to create a garden on the scale of Kew Gardens or Wisley – they have a huge teams of experienced gardeners making it look perfect.  Dip your toes in the gardening water by trying something that fits in with your current skill level and the time that you have available.  This helps build self-confidence, gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps with life balance.  It is amazing how the brain soaks up all of this new acquired knowledge and without realising it you’ve amassed a huge amount of gardening know how and in a few years people will be asking you for advice, not the other way around.

Free resources and money-saving ideas

For many people money is a restricting factor, however, there are some things that you can do which don’t cost much and give great results.  Here’s my list of things to do if you have a restricted budget :-

  1. Use your local library for excellent sources of information,  read books by Monty Don, Carol Klein and many others
  2. Research online (google is your best friend) there is a plethora of useful, free information out there and for extra confidence search videos on YouTube.
  3. Grow plants from seeds, it doesn’t cost much and you can always go halves on seed packets with friends.
  4. Check garden centres for the reduced priced plants, they can’t be bothered with caring for plants that are past their best or ones that they’ve forgotten to water.  I once got 6 hydrangea plants from a DIY shop in Germany for 1 Euro, that’s about 15 cents per plant. All they needed was watering, a feed and a bit of TLC, all 6 survived and are now large healthy plants.
  5. Check online marketplaces like Ebay for cheap small plants, I recommend researching how much they cost elsewhere before you buy so that you know that you are not getting ripped off
  6. Check your local newspaper if you have one, sometimes there are ads for cheap plants, manure and second-hand tools.
  7. See if there is a local gardening group that you can join and maybe acquire a few unwanted plants from other gardeners.
  8. Learn how to take cuttings and then ask friends if you could take some cuttings (always ask first).

Once you have perennial plants that are 2 or three years old, you can take your own cuttings, split some perennials and harvest the seeds.  You can then swap plants with other people or sell them and buy something that you haven’t got.

Our hopes for this gardening year

Last year we planted a select few David Austin roses, OK it was 60 but who’s counting? It will be interesting to see how they do this summer, I am presuming that the snow will eventually stop falling and melt of course.  We planted a long rose hedge using Rugosa hedging (Wild Edric, Mrs Anthony Waterer and Sarah Van Fleet) and I’m wondering how long it will take before it becomes a substantial hedge.  This hedge runs across the hill from the terrace to the middle garden and the intention is to create a rose walk with a mixture of shrubbery above and below.  We also created a Magnolia walk from below the terrace to the pond. As always, I do the planting and Thomas does the structural stuff.  He likes building walls, cutting down trees and making new benches and gates, this is fine by me as it doesn’t really float my boat and keeps him busy!

In the top garden, which is rapidly becoming the Rose Garden we have a mixture of roses. Close to the house with have some climbing roses, supported by a network of poles supporting strong wire which should be hidden by the roses in a couple of seasons.  Here we have the following roses, Gertrude Jekyll,  Claire Austin and Mortimer Sackler.  Across the lawn from this is a fragrant shrub rose collection that we bought from David Austin which contains 4 different roses, 3 of each variety and these are, Harlow Carr (pink), Susan William-Ellis (white), Charles Darwin (yellow) and Thomas A Beckett (red), they are all strongly scented . This bed is edged by a low-level hedge of Munstead Lavender, there are some peonies mixed in with this and apart from the occasional Salvia that will be it.  We are aiming for a more classic look than a bed so crammed with plants that beautiful plants get lost in the excess.

Opposite this bed, on the far side of one of the few flat pieces of garden that we have where there is a row of climbing and rambling roses, these again will be supported by strong posts and wires.  There is an eclectic mix of roses here but that’s what I like, if it doesn’t all work beautifully I can move some of them next winter.  The roses include, Paul’s Himalayan Musk (White and pink Rambler), Filipe Kiftgate (white Rambler), Old Wollerton Hall (cream Climber) and Malvern Hills (Yellow Climber).

Although these roses will flower this year but they will not attain their full glory for a couple of years, they have to establish themselves with good root systems but here in the Moosbach Garden we are patient (well I am).  I imagine how it will all look in 5 years from now and I’m sure that it will be different to the picture in my head but I’m Ok with that.

There are many more roses that we have planted, some repeat flowering, as we have all become used to, and some older species roses that only flower once per year but that’s better shared next year or later in the summer when we have taken some photographs.

Some of you may think that this is a lot of change in a year but a garden never sits still, it is a snap shot in time of the gardener’s heart, aspirations and dreams. It is typical for a young garden like this.  Many people, Gertrude Jekyll included, recommended with older, established gardens that every few years you change something drastically in your garden, this helps to keep the garden a vibrant and interesting place.

I cannot ever imagine not gardening but eventually I will have to be brave and pass the Moosbach Garden trowel onto a new, younger and enthusiastic gardener.  Hopefully that day is 20 years off but you never know what life will throw your way.

Jobs to do in the next 6 weeks

With spring on the horizon there are jobs that need doing before all the garden comes to life.  Already I notice migratory birds arriving from their wintering grounds and collecting nesting materials, yesterday I saw 2 storks and I thought to myself that it’s time to dust off those gardening tools, sharpen those secateurs and get out there.  I like that period just before spring when you can really get things done.  Obviously there are the normal tasks like weeding beds, turning over the soil in the vegetable garden, cutting back last years growth from perennials and pruning fruit trees but it is also an excellent time to tackle architectural and structural jobs.  Once the spring arrives in earnest and everything starts growing with jubilant, gay abandon then there is little time for anything except weeding, deadheading and tying in new growth.  However, before all that starts you can build dry stone walls, create new paths and generally assess which areas need a little repair.

So here is my quick list of things to do now

  • Deadhead old wood from perennials like Phlox, Michaelmas Daisies and Peonies before the new shoots appear
  • Weed all the flower beds, carefully avoiding digging up any hidden perennials, (you should know where they are).  If you do dig any up it won’t do them much harm if you replant then straight away.
  • Split any Perennials that have become too big for their space.  See my post on splitting Phlox plants.
  • Top dress weeded beds with well-rotten compost or horse manure (2-year-old is best)
  • Prune roses when the weather is decent enough not to cause die-back.  There are some good instructional videos on www.davidaustinroses.com
  • Make bamboo supports for sweet peas,delphiniums, beans and peas
  • Sow seeds indoors of sweet peas, delphiniums, beans and peas.
  • This is your last chance to buy and plant bare root hedging plants like box and yew
  • Have a good cup of tea or coffee

Available to buy now

Don’t forget that we have 9 different sorts of highly scented David Austin roses for sale available for collection now :-

  1. Harlow Carr (pink)
  2. Gertrude Jekyll (pink)
  3. Thomas A Becket (red)
  4. Charles Darwin (yellow)
  5. Gentle Hermione (pink)
  6. Desdemona (cream)
  7. Roald Dahl (Apricot)
  8. Claire Austin (cream Climbing rose)
  9. The Generous Gardener (pink climbing rose)

We recommend using David Austin mycorrhizal fungi when planting roses as this extends the root system and helps the rose to establish itself more quickly and then feed between flowering with David Austin Rose Food.

So I wish you all happy and fulfilled gardening!

 

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Gentle Hermione (Ausrumba). The David Austin Featured rose of the week. This is a beautifully formed rose for cutting

Rosa 'Generous Gardener'

This is a very beautiful small rose only growing to a height of 120cm, so it’s ideal for the front of the flower border or even for a decent sized pot.  It has the most beautiful light pink flowers, a wonderfully powerful perfume and the formation of the flower is one of the most beautiful of all of the roses.  It is also fairly disease resistant.

I think that if you want to create a really stunning display that I would plant 3 of these intermingled with Munstead Lavender and a good really dark blue Salvia but you could also mix in some Scabious plants at the front of the border.

If you would like to look at more wonderful David Austin roses then why not visit the Moosbach Garden and pick up a David Austin Rose Catalogue, they are written in German.  We currently have 9 different varieties of rose available at the Moosbach Garden but we would be happy to order a different variety for you.

You can buy this rose on our website by clicking here.

To see all of the rose varieties we currently have for sale click here.

 

The Generous Gardener (Ausdrawn). David Austin featured climbing rose of the week. A fantastic English climbing rose, tall, strong and disease resistant.

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Image courtesy of David Austin Roses.

David Austin Senior comments in his book ” The Rose” that “The Generous Gardener” is his favourite climbing rose and I have to say that I am inclined to agree.  When I first bought one last year I was mesmerised by the beautiful blooms, the exquisite perfume and the quality and colour of the leaves.  The scent for this rose is a mixture of tea and Myrrh and it is a good repeat flowering shrub.  It grows to a height of around  350cm, so I think you need 2, 1 planted either side of a rose arch for the most stunning of displays.  It is available as a shrub rose as well but I’m reliably informed that it does better as a climber.

I’ve planted mine at the top of the big bed, next to the steps in the top garden so that it is the first thing that you see and smell as you enter the garden from the road.  I’m half inclined to plant a second on the opposite side of the path so that the assault on the senses is complete.  My plan is to fill this big bed with a classic colour combination of light pink roses paired with dark blue perennials like lavender, delphiniums and salvia, I’ve already sourced the seed for some fantastically dark blue salvias.  A rose arch of “The Generous Gardener” with its lovely light pink flowers would fit this scheme perfectly, acting as a gateway into a rose paradise, my only concern is planting it far enough  away from the road so that it is not eaten by the deer.

The problem with deer is really quite severe here in the Black Forest and we have resorted to erecting an electric fence 6 feet tall all the way around the garden.  I’m keeping a watchful eye on all of the roses for any sign of predation, I’ve also bought some very smelly black powder that you mix with water and then paint onto the leaves  but I’m reluctant to put something that smells unpleasant onto beautifully scented roses. We have had a snowy winter here (it’s not over yet) and it’s been shocking to see how many deer foot prints there are in the garden if the gate is left open over night.  Hopefully we will win the battle.

However, we are confident that the measures that we have put in place will be successful and all of the hard work will pay off in the summer.  We are currently building new paths in the garden to create some stunning rose walks (Rugosa Sarah Van Fleet, Wild Edric, Mrs Anthony Waterer) and then we will be building some rustic rose arches using natural materials found on our land. You’ll notice in the photograph above that the rose is growing up a wooden arch and I think that this is the perfect material, especially here in the Black Forest where there is so much wood readily available.  That being said I think it looks just as stunning climbing up a wall of the house, if you are thinking of planting a climbing rose like this up a wall remember that roses need at least 4 hours of sunshine a day.  Most roses thrive best in a south facing position, will tolerate an eastern or western position but perform very poorly against a north facing wall.  There are some specific roses that are more suited to shadier locations like Alba Semi-Plena and if you would like some suggestions of suitable rose varieties then please drop me an email.

We do have a limited supply of “The Generous Gardener” available to purchase here at the garden or via our website.

We also have available the fantastic book by David Austin “Meine Rosen”, available for collection or for delivery.  We will also be selling some limited stocks of phlox, delphiniums, acanthus, sweet peas, cosmos and lavender and these will be available from May onwards.

Please remember that although some disease resistant roses are available now, roses on the whole do suffer from fungus and black spot and the only way to keep your roses in optimum health is to spray them every 4 to 6 weeks with a proprietary spray and to give them a handful of David Austin Rose feed after each flowering has ended.  This ensures a continued high quality  roses throughout the summer.

So I wish you all much happiness and enjoyment gardening!

Charles Darwin (Auspeet) David Austin featured rose of the week

This strongly perfumed yellow rose has particularly large flowers and the perfume changes depending upon the weather conditions.  The perfume varies from  a soft floral tea rose to lemon.  The blooms are upward facing which is a real bonus as so many rose flowers droop towards the ground.
In habit, the rose is vigorous reaching a height of 120cm and a width of  110cm, this rose is also disease resistant which is fairly uncommon amongst roses.
We have three of these roses planted together at Moosbach in the top rose garden.
This rose can be described as eye-catching due to the large size of the individual flowers and their orientation, i.e. facng upwards.  I think that a round flower bed with three of these planted together in the centre of the bed would make a stunning show piece in any garden.  David Austin recommend planting three roses of the same variety together in a triangle, 1 meter apart.  In time this will look like 1 substantial plant, of course not everybody has either the space or the budget to buy 3 roses at a time but if you consider how many years of joy this will bring you and visitors to your garden then it really is value for money.
Good companion planting for yellow roses are dark blues and purples like lavender and Salvia, these have the advantage of not growing too tall and are therefore ideal for the edge of a round border.  I’m in favour of the use of perennial plants over annual plants as there is a better return on time invested but you could use annuals if you wish.
I would recommend using David Austin’s mycorrhizal Fungi when planting roses, one packet has enough for 3 roses and this helps the plant to get established and extends the root system giving the plant a larger area to extract water and nutrients from.  Rose fertilizer should be used directly after the plant has finished blooming as this encourages the next set of blooms and ensures that the quality of the initial blooms is maintained.  In winter, you can do nothing better for your roses that applying a generous mulch of well-rotted horse manure, in summer you will reap the benefits with better bigger blooms.  You must make sure that it is well rotted as fresh manure takes nitrogen out of the soil as part of the decomposition process and you want to add nitrogen, not take it away.
There is an instructional video on how to plant roses on the David Austin Website – how to plant a potted rose and how to prune a shrub rose.
We do have a limited supply of these roses available on our website and you can order one by clicking here.
On the subject of companion planting, white and blue flowers go exceptionally well with roses and one of my favourite colour combinations are blue and yellow but blues also work especially well with light pink roses like Harlow Carr, Gentle Hermione and Gertrude Jekyll.  Good choices of blue perennials are: delphiniums, Salvia, Lavender and Campanula.  Peonies are also a classic combination with roses and have the added bonus of a long season of interest with purple leaves when they first emerge, stunningly beautiful flowers and fiery autumnal leaves.  Here at the Moosbach Garden we have a combination of perennial and tree peonies but remember that tree peonies can grow as big as 2 metres so give careful consideration as to where you plant them.

David Austin Rose – Claire Austin (Ausprior). Featured rose of the week

Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

Claire Austin Climbing (Ausprior)

This beautiful English Musk rose can be grown either as a shrub or as a climbing rose.  When the buds appear on this strongly perfumed rose they are of a delicate light lemon, however, when they open the flowers are a gorgeous creamy white.

The petals are arranged in concentric circles and you can get lost admiring the wonder and beauty of nature.  The perfume is myrrh mixed with meadow-sweet and vanilla.

If grown as a shrub rose you should expect a plant 140cm x 90cm and if grown as a climber you should expect to achieve a height of 2.5m.  If you have the space why not grow it in both forms.

For me there is something pure and untainted about white flowers and this rose would be perfect if you want to create a white border or even a white garden if you are lucky enough to have the space.  Here at the Moosbach Garden we are creating multiple outdoor rooms, including a rose garden.

I’m a big fan of using Yew hedging as a backdrop for planting schemes.  For me the dark green foliage of Yew contrasts beautifully with light coloured flowers and is a classic staple of garden design.  Also, looking forward, as one can not help but doing with gardening, Yew is slow-growing so only needs cutting once per year and this is a very important consideration for the future.

I challenge everyone to have a go at designing their own garden space, it is amazing how satisfying it is to create something from scratch and slowly watch it mature.  You can make this more affordable by buying small plants and allowing them to mature slowly.  Even if you are new to gardening there are many things that you can do to create a wonderful garden on a low-budget.  Carol Klein’s book “Grow your own garden” by BBC books (only available in English) is a fantastic guide to growing your own plants from seeds, cuttings and plant division.

As you would expect we have the David Austin Rose “Claire Austin” available to purchase on our website www.moosbach-schwarzwald.com or you can visit us at the Moosbach Garden and peruse all of the wonderful plants that we have for sale.

Harlow Carr (Aushouse) – featured David Austin rose of the week

Harlow Carr

Harlow Carr

David Austin rose Harlow Carr (Aushouse) – image courtesy of David Austin Roses.

This fabulous rose is part of their fragrant rose collection and is perfect for the flower border.  A robust rose with medium sized fragrant flowers of a delicate rose pink. It is bushy in form and has the advantage of producing blooms almost to the ground, giving a stunning visual display.

The perfume  evokes childhood memories of glorious summer days without end and the perfume is very similar to rose scented soaps.  The leaves which are at first bronze in colour turn green and the rose is very disease resistant, unusual amongst many roses.

In height and spread it can grow to 120 x 90 cm but this can be improved by planting 3 of this excellent rose in a triangle 1 metre apart giving the effect of one large bush.  It can also be used as a hedging plant and is an excellent way to divide a garden space. At 120cm this does not form a tall hedge and if you want to create a substantial hedge then I would recommend one of the Rugosa roses like Sarah Van Fleet, Mrs Anthony Waterer or Wild Edric.

We have this rose for sale on our website at www.moosbach-schwarzwald.com 

We also have a selection of delphiniums, acanthus, sweet peas and day lilies for sale.

Pink roses combine especially well with blue flowers such as Salvia, Lavender and Delphiniums.  Like all flowers I recomment planting in groups rather than individually which can lack the impact of group plantings, groups of plants should drift into each other in a naturalistic way and if you have the space be repeated at intervals within a flower border.

Happy gardening!

Gertrude Jekyll – our featured rose of the week

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'

Gertrude Jekyll (Ausbord) Image courtesy of David Austin Roses.

David Austin English Roses are the epitome of summer and add class and a timeless beauty to any garden.  Over the next few weeks we will be showcasing  9 different David Austin Roses, all of which are available to buy on our website.

Gertrude Jekyll (pronounced Jee – Kell) was an English Edwardian garden designer and plantswoman who influenced the way most people garden today.  She was instrumental in defining how plant combinations in flower borders were put together.

This beautiful rose is named after her and was voted the Nations favourite rose in the United Kingdom.  It produces gorgeous pink roses with a very strong perfume, reminiscent of the Damask roses.  Whilst it is not a climbing rose it can produce quite tall stems and is better suited to the back of the flower bed, or against a wall or rose arch, I treat it like a semi-climbing rose. However, you can keep this rose as a lower, bushier rose by selective pruning.

I think this rose needs to be planted somewhere that you, your family and guests walk past everyday so that it can be seen and smelled in all of its glory.  If you want to create a spectacular display plant 3 of these roses in a triangle, one metre apart and you will be rewarded time and time again.

We have these glorious roses for sale on our website www.moosbach-schwarzwald.com

Available for collection or delivery from  February 2018.