T.G.I.R.F. (thank goodness it’s a rainy friday)

Gail and I need a good catch-up day in the greenhouse and the rain is forcing us to stay in and get to it! There are seedlings that still need transplanting (poor stretched out, pack-bound little things…) and plants to pot up for our sale table (open daily at the visitor’s center — bring $5s and $10s and $20s for the honor box) and pinching back to do and weeding and deadheading and tidying the potting shed and and… !

It’s also a great day for the new and improved Rose Garden to settle in. Yesterday we and the Floribundas planted 2 dozen new shrubs and 11 new roses (in 2 and a half hours!). For years the Rose Garden has struggled through humid summers and tough winters and although it’s always beautiful during its June peak, after that it gets to looking like “black-spot on a stick” (I can’t remember who said that but I know I can’t claim it). Rose Garden - before -We can no longer allow the first garden that visitors see to be anything but stunning every day. The problem is that the garden has too many roses and not enough other stuff! A mixed garden is a healthier garden (everything in moderation! – A rule that applies where ever obsessions reside.) So Gail has come up with a design that is heavy on fragrant shrubs and has planned for a scent rotation from spring to fall – Lonicera fragrantissima, March-April; Daphne x burkwoodii, Daphne transatlantica, Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’, May; roses, June; Clethra alnifolia ‘Sixteen Candles’, Buddleia davidii ‘Adonis’ and Buddleia davidii ‘Petite Indigo’, July. Rose Garden - after! -Old fashioned heliotrope will waft it’s grandmotherly comfort scent as soon as it’s safe to plant it (soon) through the season to a light frost, and we’ve got Datura and Nicotiana sylvestris waiting in the wings for their gorgeous August evening perfumes. My contribution to the overall design (besides saying “mmm that sounds perfect!”) was suggesting planting three Pinus strobus ‘Blue Shag’ because I love the little blue muffins (I could have baker’s dozen!) and thought the garden could use a 4 season living rock-formation.

I also spent some time with the Sylvan Nursery catalog choosing a new round of high-hopes roses. Last year we got some Knock Outs and we understand now what all the fuss was about. Personally I like to do a little rose maintenance now and then because I find the challenge perversely gratifying. We didn’t touch the Knock Outs all summer -just to see what they would do – and they bloomed on and on and the foliage never looked terrible. This year we’re trying ‘Home Run’ – another one that’s over marketed for being (too) easy; Carefree Beauty, Delight and Wonder (the names say it all!) – these are Bucks roses which were bred in Iowa by a Griffiths Bucks who selected for toughness and vigor; Rosa ‘Champlain’ which is one of the Canadian Explorer Series – known for hardiness and disease resistance; Rosa ‘Angel Face’, reputed to be very fragrant and disease resistant as well as an AARS winner; Rosa ‘Betty Boop’ (if it’s half as cute as it’s namesake, I’ll be happy) and climber ‘Fourth of July’ (because Bristol is home of the oldest 4th of July parade) – both AARS winners. So cross your fingers for us and with any luck I’ll have success stories to share (although sometimes failure stories are funnier…)

In other news, just a quick note (because today is the day I wish I had about ten rain barrels filling up at my house): Rhode Island has its very own “Water Lady” who buys barrels in bulk and passes the cheaper-by-the-dozen savings onto anyone willing to pay ahead and pick them up at her house in South County. Sounds like an excellent reason for a road trip to me! The barrels she buys are big, attractive and half the price of buying retail not even counting shipping! It’s water-wise and wallet-wise. Click here for more information.