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.
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.