Good morning to you all. Here in the Moosbach Garden the sun is shining and my heart is filled with hope. No sign of rain on the horizon so we are keeping a close eye on all of the pots, next week the forecast is for windy weather and this can dry pots and soil out as quickly as sunny weather.
Here are some photographs that I took this morning after breakfast.
We applied a good measure of well rotted chicken manure to all of our fruit trees last Winter and the trees have thanked us with a wonderful display of blossom and hopefully in the autumn, plentiful fruit.
Quince come in a variety of forms, here in The Moosbach Garden we have 2 types, an apple quince and a pear quince. The can take quite a few years to get going but once they are fruiting well you can make jam or chutney from them. The chutney is especially good with game.
With young trees like this it is best to thin out the fruits once they have set as the thin stems on young trees will not support the weight of too much fruit and may snap. It is best to give fruit trees a good soak once a week, this is preferable to daily watering and better for the trees.
Cardoons are a really good addition to a garden or flower bed, they add a ‘wow’ factor with their spiky leaves and grey/silver foliage.
I can’t think of a more perfect shrub at this time of year, each floret is a flawless work of art and it is worth shopping around and getting one with heady perfume.
Peonies come in 3 types, perennial, trees and intersectional. Most people know the perennial varieties that disappear beneath the ground every Winter and then magically pop their dark red buds through the soil in Spring. Less known are the other 2 varieties, namely tree peonies and Intersectional. Tree Peonies can grown up to 2 meters tall and wide and are a real show piece in a garden. They have large exotic flowers that grow on the previous seasons growth, don’t be tempted to cut them back or you’ll get no flowers the following year. Finally there are intersectional peonies that are a cross between the 2 other types, they also have hard wood that stays above ground all year and these come in a stunning array of colours. For best results fertilize with fish, blood and bone in the winter.
Climbing roses should be trained with their stems replicating a fan pattern, think of a male peacocks feather display and you are about right. The most productive zone, referred to as the goldilocks zone, is from horizontal to about 45 degrees. When you train the stems in this way they produce lots of lateral shoots (as shown above) and each of these will produce a cluster of roses and create a stunning display.
Roses (depending upon where you live in the world) should be putting on vigorous new growth and producing the rose buds for that first flush of flowers. My tips for success with roses are to feed when the first leaves appear and then again after the first flush of flowers has finished, obviously well-rooted manure in Winter is the perfect solution. My second tip is to water the roses well from the base of the plant from the moment the first buds appear until Autumn (October time here). Roses don’t like to sit in water but neither do they like to dry out. Remember water and nutrients are the building blocks of life, deprive them of either and they will not perform as well.
I wish you all a very pleasant weekend and don’t forget that when the restrictions are over we will be open for dinner, bed and breakfast. Fantastic food, organically grown in The Moosbach Garden, local wines and fresh laid eggs from The Moosbach Garden Chickens. You can wander around the garden of relax on a bench with a good book. Overnight stays include pre-dinner drinks, a 4-course menu and breakfast with homemade bread and jams. To book visit The Moosbach Garden
Also check our website for dates when the garden is open to the public.
If it feels like absolutely ages since I last posted then you are quite right. I have to confess at not being a particularly disciplined person, I have to be in the moment, in the mood to create. When my headspace is not in a creative mood I just don’t seem to be able give myself a good talking to and get on with it. So I guess that you will have to be patient and like me, wait for my brain to be in a compliant mode. I’ve been at home for 4 weeks now due to a combination of factors not any of them Corona Virus related. That in itself is strange in these surreal times. There have been some major changes here in the Moosbach Garden, some personal and many with the garden, especially how we manage and develop it.
It has been 6 full years since we arrived and in gardening terms they have been very challenging, harsh winters and then very hot, dry summers. As you would expect, these years have been dotted with successes and failures but that as they say, is the gardeners lot. This is the first year that we have really noticed how much some shrubs and trees have grown, perhaps we have just been too busy to notice until now or is it because we are getting better at knowing our garden and it’s limitations?
So what has changed I hear you ask? Well out of necessity there have been some role reversals, I have had to go and get a proper job, yes I know gardening is a proper and noble occupation but sometimes you have to be sensible. For those of you who know me, sensible is not something that I have EVER embraced. I still believe that running through a populated area with your arms outstretched like the wings of an aeroplane is liberating (very much frowned upon in Germany). I am 52 this year and I intend to keep doing it until I die. Embrace my uniqueness or move on, that what I say. Who wants normal, really?
When I lived in England my occupation was Information Technology and I did this for 35 years, I never went to college but learned on the job and got by through acquiring the necessary technical skills and by being able to talk to people. When I came to live in Germany with my Partner, I gave up the corporate life as we had a guest house and restaurant. We have lots of land so there were no limitations on garden size and most of the locals got used to my uniqueness, there were a few raised eyebrows and muttering about he’s from England but no drama. For the first 5 years I fitted gardening around waiting on tables and we got a reputation for having a beautiful ‘English’ garden albeit a work in progress (what garden isn’t a work in progress I ask?) I had always gardened as a hobby in England but now I had the space and the time to really give it a go and I did. Monty Don and all of the experts say that gardening is extremely good for life balance and it is certainly my ‘Happy Place’ and always will be.
Last year, we had to make some changes and it was decided that I should go and get myself a job. I had always worried about getting a job in Germany as my spoken German is not good although it has improved a lot. I once asked a male customer if he wanted a kiss when I meant to ask if he wanted a cushion for his chair, he wanted neither!
I never imagined when I left England that I would end up working in Information Technology again and initially I got a job working for a supermarket dealing with the plants and cut flowers but in the long-term it wasn’t the mental challenge that I needed. I went to an employment agency in Offenburg (never again, please) and registered for work and in the same day was asked by a customer if I would be interested as working as an IT Manager. It seemed too good to be true, I dropped off my Curriculum Vitae (that’s Latin you know) and thought nothing would come of it. A week later I was asked to attend an interview with said Company and then a second interview and then got offered the job. I started in November and admit to being rather apprehensive not having worked in Information Technology for over 6 years. One of the requirements of the job however, was to study and acquire a Microsoft qualification, an MCSA.
I realised that working full-time and studying would mean that I had no time for gardening as my employers wanted me to get the qualification as quickly as possible. At home discussions were had, things were said and it was agreed I would have to give up my gardening duties, along with my chicken and geese duties. My Partner was not a gardener when we met but he is a quick learner and he has had 5 years as the under gardener at the Moosbach Garden. He has now assumed the position of head gardener, Under gardener and general dogs body. It has to be said that he was always very good at structural things, you know cutting down trees, building walls etc but now he has good plant knowledge so he is a more rounded gardener than me.
Over the last 6 years we have become fanatical environmentalists and we don’t use any chemicals in the garden, we apply well-rotted horse manure to everything in the Winter, mulch in Spring with bark and water with a drip-feed watering system from March to October. We are lucky to have the space and over the last 6 years have increased the amount of fruit and vegetables that we grow here. It has stood us in good stead for the current and horrendous corona virus pandemic and we are growing even more this year as we suspect that everything will be harder to source and therefore more expensive.
I think everybody is considering trying to grow something for the table this year and it also highlights how dependent we have become upon Supermarkets. Maybe one of the after effects of this period of tragedy and hardship is that we will stop importing as much food and instead grow and source seasonable produce. I think when you grow your own fruit and vegetables it can rekindle the love affair with really good food, did you know that fruit and vegetables lose 80% of their taste and goodness in the first hour after they have been harvested? What better than to pick salad leaves, vegetables and fruit just before you are going to eat them?
We have sown seeds for all the salad, fruit and vegetables that we will be serving fresh from the garden to our overnight guests once the restrictions are lifted. Sometimes I think that we live in a paradise with a beautiful garden, fresh organic produce from the garden and organic eggs from our happy chickens. One of the upsides to the restrictions is that we have had much more time to get on with garden projects and I don’t think it will be long before we see the first rose, lilac and peony flowers. Currently flowering in the garden are the viburnum Carlesii Aurora which are filling the garden with the most glorious scent which I wish I could share with you all. For me one of the joys of gardening is the ability to share it with friends but that time will come again soon I am sure.
Today is gloriously warm and sunny and what I really want to do is go outside and get on with some gardening but I am afraid that I must study for my next exam. I hope to see some of my local readers when we are allowed to open the garden again but in the meantime I wish you all good health and happiness.
The environment and climate change are on most peoples minds these days and rightly so as we seem to be hastening towards the destruction of the planet and ourselves along with it. With changing weather patterns comes ever increasing temperatures and concerns about water. For me, the answer has to come in a localised and environmentally friendly form. Quick fixes should become a thing of the past and must be replaced by sustainable solutions. I’m afraid I have become a little like a reformed smoker and am annoyingly self-righteous about all things environment (I’m very sorry).
The biggest problems that we face in The Moosbach Garden are keeping the plants from drying out and keeping on top of the weeds. We have always been reluctant to mulch the garden over fears of the soil becoming too acidic for many of the plants but then we saw a video on YouTube that got us thinking. Last year we were watering the garden every other day for 6 hours solid and although the garden was coming along nicely we felt it could be doing so much better.
The video in question was rather long at 3 hours but it inspired us to trial the approach in The Moosbach Garden. The video was by a man who had purchased a ranch near Boston in the USA. The ground was mostly rock and not much was growing, so he covered the whole property in bark mulch. He now has a ranch that produces a plethora of different produce and is growing it all together regardless of the stated soil requiremments.
Watering plants that are in soil Vs Watering plants that have a topdressing of mulch
Firstly, you need to weed the area that you are going to apply the mulch to. Mulch will suppress newly germinated weeds but established ones with extensive root systems will need to be removed by hand. The mulch needs to be of a sufficient depth to effectively suppress the weeds by excluding light and to minimize water loss by evaporation, we apply 4-6 inches. Applying the mulch too sparingly is a false economy as it will quickly become part of the soil and the weeds will return quickly. We have installed a drip watering system and this slowly moistens the soil and we find that this is more effective than watering with a hose where the majority of the water runs off. You can even water at night using a timer, allowing you the time for more important things, like drinking wine.
Due to the size of the garden we have areas that have been mulched and other areas where there is just soil. We were expecting it to take some time before we started seeing results but within a week we have much healthier plants with substantial new growth in the areas that have been mulched. This has affirmed our belief that water was the biggest issue for us here. We have Magnolia trees that have grown up to half a meter in a month and the roses have also responded very well. We have to admit to being a little cautious when it came to the roses but there have been no detrimental effects whatsoever. You will still get some weeds coming through but this tends to be at a mangable level.
Sourcing Bark Mulch
Depending upon the size of your garden you can either buy your Bark Mulch from your local garden centre or you can source a company that produces the Bark Mulch rather than just re-selling it. We buy ours from a company that processes wood for heating and we find that to be much more cost effective. Bark Mulch also comes in different grades so it is worth shopping around. Once you start using Bark Mulch you will be surprised at how much you get through and how little comes in a bag. Our preference would be loose.
How Often To Apply Mulch
The Bark Mulch will slowly be incorporated into the soil, thereby improving the composition of your soil. We would recommend applying Bark Mulch once a year to your garden either in Spring or in Autumn, our preference is in Spring but either is acceptable. Applying the Mulch in Spring really sets you up for the Summer ahead and another added bonus is that slugs and snails do not like Bark Mulch and this is so much more environmentally friendly than using chemical controls.
We have our own water supply here at The Moosbach Garden but if you pay for your water and have a meter then applying a mulch and installing a drip feed water system will save you money and result in a more beautiful garden.
Bark Mulch is also great for newly planted areas as it reduces the risk of roots drying out and reduces competition from weeds.
Our Top Tip
If you have lots of potted plants you can top dress them with mulch and this will help retain water and reduce the risk of plants wilting in extremely hot weather.
There seems to be so many myths surrounding the successful growing of stunningly beautiful roses but it really is very easy. In this article I will share with you my secrets of how to create a beautiful new rose garden in 2 years that will rival any rose garden in the world and will allow you to create beautiful bouquets and arrangements of florist quality.
So where to start?
Firstly, you need to understand that roses are a widely diverse group of plants and you must first decide what look and feel that you are going for. We shall start with basics, so that we are all on the same page. Roses come in many different forms but the basic ones to consider are:
Floribunda (ground cover) roses. Lots of clusters of small rose blooms ideal for covering ground.
Tea roses. Fairly short but showy roses ideal for parks and formal gardens but not particularly fragrant. Repeat flowering.
Bush Roses. Vary in height from 1-2 metres. very beautiful and can be very fragrant. Many are repeat flowering.
Climbing roses. Can grow up to 5 metres depending upon the variety and can be both beautiful and wonderfully scented. Many are repeat flowering.
Rambling roses. Can grow as much as 11 metres high, generally have clusters of small flowers, normally only flower once and have a wonderful scent and good rose hips.
Now before I get shot down in flames, there are many old roses worth considering and if you have the space then I would advocate taking a look at these but for many people where the size of their garden is limited a repeat flowering rose is what you want to go for. If you follow my advice, a rose is an investment that will reward you for decades to come. Bearing this in mind, it is worth choosing the right roses and putting in the effort in the first year to get them off to a flying start. The late David Austin created a group of roses that he entitled “English Roses” and these combine the fragrance of the old musk and damask roses with the beauty of the newer Tea roses.
Choosing the right roses for you
It is always best to do your research, quality roses aren’t cheap but baring in mind that they will last decades I think that it is worthwhile. There are many websites that you can look at and what you really need to see are pictures of mature roses in planting schemes. A photograph of an individual rose is very helpful in showing you the beauty of that particular rose but unless you have a very good eye or are an experienced garden designer it helps to see planting combinations that you can copy or adapt for your own garden. My advice would be to visit established rose gardens , in the UK there is David Austin Roses, Peter Beales Roses or many of the National Trust Gardens. If you are in Europe there are many regional rose gardens or you could visit the wonderful Moosbach Garden in Germany. At this point I would like to make this offer, if you want free garden advice drop me an email and I will do my best to answer your question.
So you’ve made your choices but where do you buy your roses from and when do you plant them?
I would always recommend buying your roses from an established and experienced rose specialist rather than from ebay, amazon or a garden centre that doesn’t specialise in roses. Obviously, the Moosbach Garden has a fantastic range of roses available! You have 2 choices when buying roses and these are bare root or potted roses. Bare root roses are normally only available between November and March, when the plants are dormant and potted roses are available all year round. Potted roses give you the chance to see how healthy the plant is and this is my preferred option.
If you order bare root roses they will arrive in a bag hopefully with the roots still moist, you must soak them in a bucket of water for up to 2 days but not longer before you plant them in the garden or into a pot. Roses don’t like their roots drying out but they also don’t like sitting in water for too long.
Potted roses normally arrive in full leaf and if you are lucky with flower buds, this only applies in the summer as plants will be dormant in the winter. When your potted rose arrives give it a good soak in a bucket of water for at least an hour and then water daily in spring and summer. If there will be a delay of days or weeks between your potted rose arriving and you planting it, then water it daily or weekly depending upon the weather. If you are unsure test the weight of the pot or press a finger into the soil to a depth of about an inch, if the pot feels light or if your finger comes out dry then you need to water it. Remember what we are aiming for is a happy rose that is not water stressed. I water all of our potted roses by filling it with water up to the pot brim and once this has subsided doing the same again.
Planting time is very stressful for many people but it doesn’t have to be. What we re aiming for is to give the rose the best possible start in life, resulting in a quicker established rose. The main things to consider are:
The type of rose.
All roses need to be planted with the scion (grafting point) facing you and below the soil by about an inch. If the soil is heavy dig a hole twice the size of the pot to make it easier for the rose to get its roots established in the ground. Add some good compost or well-rotted manure into the bottom of the planting hole and Sprinkle mycorrhizal Fungi over the root ball and into the planting hole, this friendly fungi attaches itself to the roots of the rose and feeds it with water and nutrients helping the rose to become established quickly, this is available from our Shop. If you are planting near a house or a wall, resist the temptation to plant it right next to the wall where the soil will always be dry and unwelcoming to your rose. Plant the rose further away from any walls out of the roof shadow where no rain reaches. Back-fill the rose with soil, firm the soil in with the heel of your foot and water in well as this ensures that the roots are in good contact with the soil.
Watering in the first year – VERY IMPORTANT
I alluded to myths concerning roses at the start of this article, here it comes! Many people think that you shouldn’t water roses too much, well this simply isn’t true. I think people say this because people are worried about fungal diseases like black spot, rust and powdery mildew. I will grant you that roses should be watered from below and you should avoid getting the leaves wet but what do you think happens when it rains? If you think about what happened when you turned your rose out of it’s pot, you got a rectangular or round mass within which the roots were contained. Until the rose has established itself in the ground and the roots have extended into the surrounding soil you are affectively watering a potted rose. So, my advice is plenty of regular watering for the first year. So we have covered planting, we’ve added well-rotted manure and mycorrhizal Fungi, we’re on top of watering, the only thing that we haven’t covered is feeding your rose and helping it to stay healthy. I would also recommend mulching your roses to minimise water evaporation. We use Bark Mulch and it is very effective and has no detrimental affects.
Feeding your rose and keeping it disease free
Not all rose feeds are the same, I use and trust the specially formulated rose feed from David Austin, available from our shop. I subscribe to the David Austin feeding recommendation, which is as follows:
Feed each rose about a handful of rose feed per rose when the first leaves appear.
Do not feed again until the first set of flowers have finished and then give a second handful of feed to each rose, this ensures that the second set of flowers are as beautiful as the first. Repeat this but do not fertilise in the autumn as this encourages new growth which will be damaged by the first frosts.
Now, the thorny issue of controlling diseases. The new English Roses are more resistant to diseases but I find that the only sure way to keep your roses healthy is to spray them when the first leaves appear and then every 3 weeks throughout the summer. There are many brands of rose care products and I cannot recommend any as I have not conducted a comparison but I use the products from Bayer. If you only have a few roses then you might want to buy a premixed spray bottle but if you have a larger number then I would suggest buying a concentrate that you mix with water. Always thoroughly wash all spray bottle before use to avoid contamination. When it comes to aphids I use a spray bottle filled with water and the tiniest amount of washing up liquid and this seems to do the trick, you can buy chemical products but washing up liquid is much cheaper and just as effective.
So if you follow these steps your roses will be happy and healthy and put on a good show of flowers. In my experience it is from the second year that you really get a fantastic display.
Pruning the different types of roses
I will cover the pruning of roses in another article which will also include a step by step guide to planting roses.
I am amazed by the array of wonderful plants at our disposal for creating our living masterpieces
I finally have a garden big enough to indulge whatever gardening whim blows my way and I really do appreciate how lucky I am. Many gardeners have a limited space and whilst we all love looking at gardening programs, magazines, visiting wonderful gardens and garden centres many people have to think about where they can find the space to put this new ‘must-have’ plant. I have a friend here in Germany who has a wonderful garden but of a limited size, when she discovers something she likes she just buys it and either digs up some more lawn to accommodate it or removes some other plant specimen. Some people might think that she is a bit crazy but it is her garden, her creation and the relationship that they share is unique, personal and nurturing.
Gardening is a life lesson for the impatient
I’ve met a few very succesful people who have very impressive corporate careers and then decide to take up gardening. Sometimes it is a painful experience both for them and for me. For those people who have had ‘minions’ and expect immediate results in gardening like they have in their corporate lives it can be a reality that is hard to accept.
Gardens take time, there are always unexpected twists and turns and let’s face it sometimes nature can be unyielding, a little like my good self! I often try to explain to people that gardening is a process, albeit an evolving one and that the process is just as important as the end result.
I simply cannot move house again
I’m in my 50’s now and I’ve spent the last 5 years developing the Moosbach Garden and it feels like I’ve only just started. Any logical person would sell the house and buy another with a good-sized garden that is flat but let’s face it I was probably at the back of the queue when they were handing out logic. The Moosbach Garden is steep, there are very few even remotely flat spaces, the winter is long, cold and there is usually lots of snow. However, what is life without a few challenges? I have worked many hours in my garden, I have planted uncountable numbers of plants and trees, this is a marriage that I simply cannot walk away from. The thought of digging up thousands of euro’s worth of plants is not one I ever want to seriously contemplate. My sister, who has lots of common sense (she got my share) tells me that I will never recoup the value of the plants when we move but I can’t think in those terms. Every year those plants repay me for my financial investment by soothing my soul, bringing me untold amounts of happiness and providing a paradise both for me and wildlife, I reckon that is priceless.
I’m not a mover and shaker
I was never especially academic, I did OK but never excelled at anything, I had no idea of what career to follow and consequently was never going to set the world ablaze. I have no children and am a little bit eccentric. What I can do is garden, I have been gardening for over 35 years but didn’t realise at an early age that I should make it my career. Yes, you got it, I’m a slow learner! I have decided that I will be quite happy if during my time on this planet I can create a garden that is beautiful, that will endure and that people might visit it long after I have hung up my gardening gloves. It is a tall order as there are so many beautiful gardens in the world and maybe I’m deluding myself but it’s my delusion so don’t deprive me of it.
It’s great when things start coming together
When we moved here there wasn’t much of a garden at all and it has taken 5 years of hard graft, many gardening projects and lots of experimentation to get the soil and plant choices right. The top garden is really starting to have the feel of what I wanted to create, the plants have found their feet and have lots of healthy top growth that is proportionate to the garden space. We are just adding a pergola for the Paul’s Himalayan Musk and a row of poles and wires to support the climbing roses and then structurally we are finished. The rest of the work in the top garden isn’t really work at all, weeding, dead-heading and pruning are the fun bits. I have a love of English flowers and as well as roses we have peonies, delphiniums and phlox. Peonies appear to be my latest garden obsession, we have a mixture of herbaceous, tree and Itoh peonies. The first tree peony that I planted here is now 1.5 metres tall and is covered with flower buds and buds of a size that I have not seen before. I’m told that the flowers can be as big as a dinner plate once the plant is mature enough and happy. so fingers crossed.
We are striving towards a BIO garden
We love nature and the planet and we want to do everything that we can to encourage biodiversity, so no weed killers, no slug pellets, no quick fixes. We have a nature pond and a resident population of frogs, we have small lizards and we want to encourage hedge hogs. We have left piles of branches to provide overwintering habitats for hedge hogs and insects, what we are going for is a sustainable eco system. I am not a gardener without misdemeanors, I have used far too many slug pellets in previous years and have also used weed killers. However, this is not something that I am prepared to do anymore, I’m learning to work with nature rather than against it. This year my other big goal is improving the soil composition to help retain water and this is so important with global warming. I’m trying out bark mulch this year to see if it makes a difference. In theory it helps reduce water evaporation, improves soil competition and allows mycorrhizal fungi to establish and this should lead to healthier plants.
Are you getting it yet?
So the title of this piece is “Why I wouldn’t swap my garden for anything” and I’m hoping that I have convinced some of you that a garden is a symbiotic relationship worth investing in, that it’s not just your garden that grows but yourself as well. So you can keep your big cities, you can keep fortune and fame, I don’t need them. What I do need is to be in a relationship that is honest, that has its ups and downs but where the needs of both parties are met and gardening fulfills these needs. Don’t misinterpret me, I’m very happily married but I’m in 2 relationships, 1 with my husband and 1 with my garden, may they both be long and fruitful. I partied endlessly in my youth but now that I’m in my 50’s I’d much rather be working in my own garden or walking around a National Trust garden than at a music festival. Let my soundtrack now be the buzzing of bees, the trill of birdsong, the cockerel crowing from the orchard or a hen announcing proudly that she has just laid an egg. Realising that not all rewards can be measured in financial terms, that the phrase ” return on investment” can be measured not only in an increase the value of your home but on how it’s improved your life-balance, your levels of happiness and helped nature and the planet. I’ going to sign off now as my husband has just finished baking a rhubarb cake from freshly harvested rhubarb from the vegetable garden and I think it would be rude to not try a piece! I wish your all happy gardening, peace and joy.
I’m on my way to Australia for the whole of February and I couldn’t be more pleased. Why am I pleased? Well, for starters we’ve had snow at home for 4 weeks and I’m fed up with it but more importantly I get to see my cousin Chris and my lovely Aunt Trin.
Long overdue visit
I forget but it has been at least 15 years since I saw my aunt which is a shame because not only if she a wonderfully kind human being but she is also very funny.
First leg of the journey is over
I flew from Frankfurt to Incheon in South Korea which was a very pleasant experience and as I write this I am having a 6 hour break in the airport lounge. This is a wonderful airport and it is clear to see that great effort has been put into its design.
So, what is so good about Incheon airport?
The airport is massive, not only in length but in height and breadth as well. It is full of natural light. Like most airports it has huge windows overlooking the airport as you would expect but it also has very high ceilings and the ceiling of the atriums are made of glass allowing more natural light in. They grow real plants and trees and it transforms the airport experience, what a nice change from plastic, metal and artificial light. They also have huge pots full of flowering orchids along the main walkways. It really adds a touch of class and all of these plants and trees, that’s got to be good for air quality right?
Can you name the first plant? I’m signing off now but you can expect more from me once I’m in Australia and have visited some gardens.
Thoughts pondered in the house whilst snow covers the garden.
It is the 3rd of January, the garden has a light dusting of snow and everything is frozen solid. Instead of thinking that it is nice that nothing needs doing in the garden I am sowing Delphinium and lupin seeds and arranging delivery of an obscene number of David Austin roses. The gardener in me refuses to accept that this is the dormant season, instead I must be looking forward and planning for what is happening garden-wise in March, April, May and June. This ridiculous behaviour got me thinking, am I always like this? I am afraid we all know the answer, it is a resounding “Yes” from our panel of judges. To garden is a relentless (yet enjoyable) vocation, a painter knows that when he has completed his masterpiece that it is perfection and will remain unchanged. The painter can allow his work to be admired by those of a discerning nature without worrying that the colours will fade or that additional colours will appear like magic whilst his back is turned. Maybe this is the reason that gardeners are always looking forward, always planning what comes next.
Gardening books really do not help!
I love gardening books, I love them like the vicar of Dibley loves chocolate. I add at least 6 books a year to my collection of must have gardening books, eventually we will need to build an extension to the house to store them and it is not a small house, we have 6 bedrooms. For me, they are my best friends and my worst enemy. A friend kindly gave me the book “Gardens of the Lake District” for Christmas by Tim Longville. It is a great book featuring some wonderful gardens, I just wish it did not have such wonderful photographs. They make me think of new garden projects to add to my list of garden projects that I haven’t even started yet. I am seriously thinking about banning all gardening books from my life, along with gardening programmes (yes even you Monty Don!) and visiting gardens may have to become a punishable activity. Why? you may ask. Well the answer is really quite simple, gardening folks are really very nice people, jealousy is a rare trait amongst gardeners but when we see something wonderful in somebody elses garden we are automatically thinking about how we can adapt that to make it work in our own gardens. This combined with the task of maintaining what we already have is no mean feat, it is a full-time job and for many gardeners who already have jobs it is a huge commitment. However, us gardeners will attempt the impossible and somehow find a way.
Taking time out to enjoy your creation is a challenge
As we already know I, like many other gardeners, am always planning ahead, thinking about what comes next so that I can try to achieve year round interest in the garden, so that when anyone visits the garden looks wonderful. I will admit to having garden interest in the Moosbach Garden from May through to October but I fail miserably in the winter. In the summer I have to force myself to take time-out from the gardening activities to stand and stare at the beauty of it all. I do this mostly when I am snipping and pruning, especially when dead-heading spent rose blooms but I think a wander around the garden with a cup of tea is a suitable reward for all the hard work. There is one golden rule though, do not make a mental list or a written one of all the things that need doing, enjoy it as it is. Do not be your own worst critic, notice the flowers and not the weeds.
Accept praise graciously
I have the VERY annoying habit when garden visitors say to me “your garden is so beautiful” of replying, “oh it is full of weeds” or “it was at its best in June”. Why can’t I just be gracious and say “thank you, that is very kind of you”. It is almost like I feel that the garden and therefore the gardener are unworthy of praise. This year I am going to try harder to just say “thank you”.
This gardener is shortly off on holiday
I am off on holiday in February to visit my lovely Aunt Trin in Australia, like me she has a good-sized garden, with flowers, fruit trees and of course chickens. I have already made inquiries as to what needs doing in her garden (you can’t keep a good gardener under control you know) but I’m sure that we can fit in a few day trips in as well. I will be staying south of Canberra about an hour away from the town of Orbost. Anyone with knowledge of the area please provide suggestions. I am sure Australia with be a horticultural challenge to me as Im used to English gardens but I am definitely going to enjoy my trip and the delights (gardening and otherwise) that Australia has to offer.
A picture from the south balcony, do you thinks it’s too cold for a bit of light weeding?
I wish everyone a Happy New Year, may your gardens bloom gloriously and may your hands frequently be immersed in good soil.
Firstly I would like to thank David Austin Roses for kindly supplying all of the following rose images and of course the roses! We have placed our rose order for delivery at the end of March next year and there is nothing like ordering roses for next year to lift the spirit on short, dark days. I started writing this article in November but had to delay finishing it due to work commitments and as many of you will be aware, Sir David Austin passed away on the 18th December aged 92. It is always sad when someone passes away but Sir David Austin has left a legacy that has undoubtably made the world a more beautiful place, did you know that he created more than 200 new roses? His work will be carried on by the Austin family and hopefully there will be a new rose named in his honour in the near future. If your spirits need lifting and you long for the rebirth of spring just take a look around your garden, if you are lucky you will find signs of life. I walked around The Moosbach Garden this morning and found masses of peony and rose buds, these are the promise of glorious flowers in 2019 and it made me feel joyful. We will be making all of the following roses available on our website as soon as they arrive from David Austin Roses in late March, until then they will show as out of stock but we are happy to take pre-orders. We will also be sowing an array of delphinium seeds in february which will be available from around May-June. We hope that you have all had a good Christmas and let us all look forward to a fantastic 2019.
Seasons are good
You hear lots of people complaining about the cold weather and the short days and for those that suffer with winter depression it is no laughing matter. However, there is so much to be said for seasons. I wonder if we would appreciate the beauty of flowers and our gardens if it was summer all year round? What would there be to look forward to and how would we ever get to rest our tired gardener’s bones and muscles?
A few notes on roses
The performance of roses will vary depending upon your location, soil type and altitude. So do not be surprised if the colour of your rose blooms are a little different to the photographs but generally speaking they should be pretty close. My experience with growing roses is that they need plenty of watering in the first year after they are planted. The best practice to follow is this, roses mustn’t be allowed to dry out in the first year but neither do they like their roots sat in water. The dimensions quoted for the height and spread of roses is a guideline and given a good supply of water, feed and at least 4 hours sunshine per day they should thrive. I’ve included some basic notes on each featured rose but you can find more detailed information on the David Austin Website. All of these roses will be available from The Moosbach Garden from April 2019.
Bobby James is a very healthy rambling rose which can grow to 11m (35 feet). Once flowering with a very strong fragrance. Ideal for covering a fence or building with attractive hips in winter.
Etoile de Holland is a beautiful red climbing rose growing to 6m (20 feet)> it is a repeat flowering rose with a strong fragrance.
Frances E Lester is a Rambling rose suited to pergola’s and large buildings, it grows to 6m (20 feet) and is a once flowering rose with a strong musk fragrance.
Probably the most famous Rambling rose available, it grows to 12m (40 feet), flowersonce per year and has a strong musk scent. Ideal for covering a large tree or a large building.
Graham Thomas is a vigorous upright climbing rose, it grows to 3.75m (12 feet) and is a repeat flowering rose.
Spirit of Freedom has beautiful soft pink blooms and has a myrrh fragrance.
Strawberry Hill is abailable as a shrub rose and as a climber, we are offering the climbing variety, it grows to 3m (10 feet). It repeat flowers and has a strong myrrh fragrance. We have the shrub variety in our garden and it is wonderful.
The Generous Gardener is a very popular climbing rose, we love it so much that we have 2 planted in our garden. It grows to 4.5m (15 feet), it repeaat flowers, has a strong old myrrh fragrance and beautiful large hips in winter.
Wollerton Old Hall is a wonderful climbing rose and is another favourite in the Moosbach Garden, we have 3 planted here! It grows yo 3.75m (12 feet), repeat flowers reaally well and has a strong myrrh fragrance. Highly recommended.
Emily Bronte is a shrub rose that is very beautiful, we will be planting some next year I’m sure. It grows to 140 x 120 cm, it has a strong old Tea rose fragrance and repeaat flowers.
Boscobel has a beautiful colour, we have a number of these planted around the garden and I find that the blooms last very well in heat. It grows to 120 x 110cm, repeat flowers well and has a strong fragrance. Highly recommended.
Desdemona is simply a beautiful rose, it grows to 110 x 110cm and repeat flowers well with a strong old rose fragrance. Highly recommended.
Gentle Hermione is lovely rose, we have 3 planted and they reached 1.5m in their first year, it has beautiful blooms and repeat flowers well with a good strong fragrance.
Gertrude Jekyll is probably the most fragrant of the English roses, it’s quite vigorous, we have 4 planted here and they are 2m tall. A good repeat flowering rose, plant it somewhere you pass everyday. Must have rose, highly recommended.
Golden celebration is a good addition to any garden, wonderful scent, beautiful roses and flowers from June unil the first frosts.
James L Austin bears large, many petalled, deep pink rosettes, each with a buton eye.It forms a neat and tidy shrub (120 x 110cm)
Jubilee Celebration produces large, domed, delicously fragrant blooms. The colour is best described as coral pink. It has a strong fruity perfume. It is a good repeat flowerin rose (120 x 120cm).
The Lady of Shalott is a striking rose, with beautiful chalice-shaped blooms. Rich orange-red buds open to chalice-shaped blooms filled loosely with orange petals (140 x 120cm).
Bears medium-sized, neat rosette blooms, (90 x 90cm)
A favourite here in The Moosbach Garden, this is a stunningly beautiful rose that is disease resistant (120 x 110cm).
Another favourite here in The Moosbach Garden, also very disease resistant (110 x 110cm).
A beautiful rose which bears numerous cupped flowers. A strong myrrh fragrance (150 x 120cm)
The Lady Gardener bears large, quartered roses ach about 10cm across. (140 x 120cm).
Thomas A Beckett is just a wonderful colour and akes a good addition to any garden (150 x 120cm)
Brother Cadfael is nother great rose, it has very large, peony-like blooms, with a strong old rose fragrance, (140 x 90cm).
Large cupped, yellow flowers with a strong delicious fragrance, (140 x 120cm).
One of our favourite roses of all time. Beautifully sunning rose with a gorgeous perfume and a very good repeaat-flowering rose, (120 x 110cm).
Lady Emma Hamilton has glorious blooms of tangerine-orange and aa strong fragrance, (90 x 90cm).
A tall and airy shrub with clusters of graceful, semi-double flowers (170 x 150cm).
For those who love dark red roses then this is a good choice(125 x 100cm).
Clearly there are so many wondeerfful David Austin rses available that it can be hard to choose which is right for you but winter is the perfect time to research which one is perfect for your garden.
I’ve been a hobby gardener for over 30 years now, goodness putting that Statement on here suddenly makes me feel old and I have come to realise that working in your own garden is a bit like wearing your favourite jumper or sleeping in your own bed. What am I going on about? Have I finally lost the plot? Well not the gardening plot at least. I have a feeling that sanity is relative. What I mean is this, when you have created a garden, you know all its quirks, all of its bumps, you know where the perennials are planted when they can’t be seen in the depths of winter. Your garden has all the familiarity of an old friend, you knows its ways. I do garden for other people but it’s not the same, it’s like sleeping in a strange bed and you long for the familiarity of your own garden.
Gardening for other people demands restraint
I’m 50 years old and yes I know 40 is the new 30 and all that but would somebody please tell my bones and muscles. The thing with working in your own garden is that you have freedom that comes with deciding what you plant and how long you work each day, when you’ve had enough you can down tools and get yourself a nice cup of tea. Gardeners are artists, we work with colours and textures to create our masterpieces and we pour as much of ourselves into our works of art as any painter does.
We all have our own perception of what makes a glorious garden and there is no right or wrong, it’s about personal taste and the limitations of time and lifestyle. When I’m driving through my local town and I see new houses with a postage stamp size of a garden I feel sad, I grieve for the inhabitants of the house who will be deprived of the beauty that a garden provides.
Clients often ask me how I know how to create a beautiful garden, how do I know what plants works well together. I guess it is partly intuitive and partly comes from years of experience, I know that the current gardening me is very different to the gardening me at age 20. I suspect my tastes have changed and the gardener in me has evolved.
The problem with designing gardens and advising clients is that you have to restrain your natural impulse to create what you love and instead design what the client will like, sometimes you have to count to 10 and bite your tongue when inside your soul is crying.
I will admit to failing slightly in this , I tend to give clients options including what I feel would work wonderfully for their garden and what I think they truly want. In this way I am not making assumptions about what they really want, sometimes, let’s be honest the clients don’t always know what they want. I tend to thumb through my gardening books, marking relevant pictures with post-it notes, I find that pictures help clients visualise what is possible.
The restorative powers of working in your own garden
I don’t mind working in other people’s gardens, I’m not that fussy. I really don’t mind weeding, pruning, edging the lawn and I don’t even mind the endless task of raking up leaves in the autumn. I compartmentalise things, it’s treated as a series of tasks to be completed, a task list in my mind that gets ticked off as the day progresses. However, it is very different to working in my garden. Working in my garden is like writing a love letter to my soul. It’s a real symbiotic experience. I feed the garden and the garden feeds my soul. I think feeding your soul is so important. I was once asked at a “meet and greet” session on a leadership course “what makes you happy?”, most of the people replied money, holidays, getting drunk and chocolate. When my turn came around I answered ” bees and butterflies in my garden”, the other people looked at me like I’d been sniffing fairy dust and they asked me why and I replied “no matter how crappy my day has been, no matter what horrendous news stories bombard me about our self-destructive nature, when I go home and I work in my garden and I see bees, bumblebees and butterflies in my garden I somehow feel that everything is alright with the world.” When I immerse myself in the garden, when is see how wonderful the flowers are and what a wonder nature is, I realise how insignificant we humans are. It is a real shame that we are stuffing up the environment, I wish we could learn to be happy with what we have, to cherish the wonder of nature and especially our garden spaces. When I listen to the news and I hear all the nonsense, the fake news, brexit, the European Union, Russia, China and Korea I want to retreat into my safe garden. All of these people who fill the media with their nonsense and bile have, in my belief, lost touch with th wonderful planet, with their souls and with me. I’d really like to take these people out of the mainstream for a month, take their phones away with no access to the Internet just access to gardening books and get them all working together, working on a garden together. No talking about politics, no blame culture, no spinning of facts, just working together to create something of value. Wouldn’t that be just great and no using chemicals for impressive quick fixes, you see it is the process that is important. I know it will never happen but what if it did?
We have so many wonderful roses to show you that I am going to have to spread them across several articles. Why am I showing you these now, in September? Well, I am showing them to you now so that you have time to consider which ones are perfect for your garden. So sit back, relax and enjoy. All images courtesy of David Austin Roses Limited.
You really will be spoilt for choice
2019 will be our second year selling David Ausin roses and we have expanded our selection of roses for sale. For 2019 we have not only more shrub roses but also more climbing roses and a good selection of the best rambling roses. We have a limited number of each available, however, (10-20 depending upon the variety), so it is best to get your order in quick.
Our pick of the best shrub roses for you
This rose has graceful, medium-sized,semi-double flowers of a pleasing apricot colour and are produced from the ground upwards and are held in large heads of up to 15 roses. This rose is absolutely stunning, here in the Moosbach Garden we have a corner bed planted up with 3 of these and it looks stunning when it flowers. In a good climate it is not unusual for this rose to reach a height of 1 3/4 metres. My experience with this rose is that a puts up a fantastic display early on and although it does throw the occasional flower after this it should be treated as a bonus rather than be expected.
A pretty rose bearing numerous cupped flowers with yellow stamens. The rose is a lovely light pink colour with a powerful Myrrh fragrance. The rose has a delicacy about it that is really quite romantic in the old fashioned style of roses. Again, in the right climate this rose can grow to at least 1 1/2 metres tall. A good repeat flowerer.
A striking variety with large single flowers in coral-pink. One of the largest English roses forming a big bushy shrub with wonderful rose hips in Winter. It grows to a height of about 1.8 metres.
This a smaller rose, (90cm x 90cm) but again given the right conditions it can acheive more height but probably suited to the front of a flower bed rather than at the back. It is a good repeat flowerer but only with a light to medium strength fragrance.
Rich orange-red buds open up to chalice shaped blooms that are filled with loosely aranged orange petals. It has a nice warm tea fragrance of a medium strength and will grow to about 1 1/2 metres in the right climate. The perfume has tomes of apple and cloves. This rose is also available as a climber and as a standard rose.
Blooms of orange and yellow paired with a strong fruity fragrance make this rose a firm favourite. It grows to just over 1 metre tall so is probably best suited to the front of the flower bed or even in a large teracota pot on a patio.
I simply adore this rose, it is just so beautiful, has a gorgeous perfume and a really good repeat flowerer. In the right situation will grow to 1 1/2 metres or more. This is in my top 5 favourite roses.
Large coral-pink flowers are held gracefuly on arching stems. It has a strong fruity fragrance with tones of lemon and raspberry. In better climates it can grow to 1 1/2 metres.
An exceptionally beautiful rose of a delicate soft pink with a strong Tea fragrance. Can grow up to 1 1/2 metres in the right climate. Perfume exhibits tones of lemon and grapefruit. This rose has a strong, healthy, upright growth.
This rose is simply top-class. It repeat flowers extremely well, is very vigorous and disease resistent and the flowers are perfection. A middle strength perfume of a fruity nature. Can easily grow to 2 metres tall in the right climate.
A firm favourite here in the Moosbach Garden with a filled bloom more reminiscent of a peony. Lovely colour and repeat flowers well. Can easily reach 1 1/2 metres in height.
A lovely rose with darker pink flower reminiscent of salmon. Can easily reach 1 1/2 metres high and repeat flowers well. The blooms last well in full sun and heat. It has a strong Myrrh fragrance.
A beautiful white rose that start as peachy-pink buds, it has a strong old rose fragrance and can grow up to 1 1/2 metres. Very, very beautiful.
So I hope that this has given you some food for thought, I haven`t included all of the roses that we have on offer for 2019 but you get the idea. The sizes that I have quoted here are not guaranteed and do not come from David Austin roses but from my own experience. All roses do better with lots of direct sunlight and lots of water, in colder climates you should expect less growth. If you do not have at lease 4 hours of sunlight per day in the Summer than maybe a plant other than a rose might fare better. I aam always happy to offer my opinion or answer any questions that you might have.