Category Archives: garden


Unfortunately the previously neglected rose bushes are taking a hit. I first noticed the rust on the red rose bush about a month or so ago- bright orange powdery spots on the underside of the leaves. I had to prune it down so much that there were barely any leaves left. I thought it was going to just die and was too depressed to blog about it. However, I just came back from a 5-day trip to discover it was covered in new growth!

(The reddish leaves are new growth.) Some of the older leaves, and all of the blooms, showed more rust spores though. I pruned away, but at least I have some confidence that the bush will live and I can take a more drastic strategy once it’s dormant.

Here’s what the rust looks like… kinda looks like I caught the plant right after it had been sticking its leaves in a bag of cheetos:

Unfortunately the pink roses are looking much more sickly (very little new growth) and now show definite signs of rust. I pruned all the visibly diseased stuff off, but they’re less mature so maybe they just don’t have as good of a  chance. I wasn’t going to even post a picture because it makes me sad, but here they are:

I need to figure out why there’s some sort of tree/shrub growing inches behind the one on the right, that seems odd to me.

In more inspiring news, the behemoth rose finally pushed out some flowers! They’re white. And there are NO signs of rust on this guy, so I pruned him first with a separate set of shears and gloves.


Herbs Herbs Herbs!

Well, I made it to the hardware store and schlepped around the gardening department for a while, trying to not look too confused and befuddled. They were running a two-for-one deal on most of the herbs, yay! But it took me a while to figure out that thyme, our number one most used fresh herb, was grouped with the “ground cover” plants rather than the herbs, boo. And then I had to puzzle through the difference between “woolly thyme” and “creeping thyme”. (I’m pretty sure they both creep, but the woolly thyme unsurprisingly looked fuzzier, so I went with the “creeping thyme”.)

Also there were a bunch of different types of basil. Since we don’t use it much currently, I pretty much picked at random and ended up with sweet basil. I also picked up sage, dill, and “garlic chives”, which just sounds yummy.

Anyway, they weren’t terribly expensive, so I won’t feel too bad if they die off really quickly. If nothing else I hope that they’ll be good practice for me. They’re in pots for now, but when things get hotter I may need to look to put them in the ground or at least move the pots to a shadier spot, since I think the roots can fry if they get too hot… or something…

You may have noticed in the background of the picture above there’s a big wooden container with some sort of plant growing in it. (It kinda looks like a bush in the picture.) I’ve been ignoring it right from day one because it didn’t immediately sprout pretty flowers, and I’ve been pretty frustrated at my inability to identify most of the plants in our yard. Well, while I was potting my new purchases something caught my attention… Perhaps it was because we had been drinking mojitos the night before at happy hour…

That’s right, it’s a giant fricking bucket of mint. Really I’m amazed that it hasn’t somehow put roots down through the bottom of the bucket and started taking over the yard. Dave claims to have gotten rid of a mint jungle in his back yard back in the day by attacking it with a lawn mower… He couldn’t smell anything but mint for days afterwards. 🙂 Anyway, I trimmed out all of the dead stalks and we mulched around it and otherwise we’re just going to let it be. That’s a LOT of mojitos.

Update on the Rose/Jasmine War

Last week, after checking around and determining that jasmine is fine with pretty aggressive pruning, I waged a full-out battle to get the jasmine off of the roses. The red rose was nearly half engulfed but still struggling on. Not only did I pull off all of the vines, I also generated quite a pile of deadheads and had to saw through a completely dry/dead rose stem that was over two inches thick… but I eventually was successful in freeing and pruning the poor thing. Here’s the before:

And after:

And here’s how it looks today, a week later:

A few more blossoms are making an appearance, at least…

Next up was the prickly rose. This thing takes up some serious space and is absolutely covered in thorns, so I think I’m going to need falconry gloves or something before I can do any serious pruning. The bush was looking pretty healthy though, and starting to push out some lovely yellow blooms. I did the best I could to get the jasmine off of it, but in the end I had to just clip some vines and leave them. Hopefully I can go back through today now that they’ve dried up and pull them off more easily. Before:

And after:

And here’s how it looks today:

Yes! flowers galore! Anyway, maybe I can procure some rose food today and help the other roses along. The behemoth rose that I tackled a few weeks back still hasn’t produced any flowers, but it has a lot of new growth and a fair number of buds, So hopefully I’ll discover what color it is before too much longer. The other two rose bushes (the ones not being attacked by jasmine) also got pruned finally, but they are pretty small and sickly looking right now. At least they’re blooming…

Petunias and Fuchsias

We’ve finally made a move towards cleaning up our front yard, going beyond just mowing the lawn… We trimmed the bushes and planted petunias in the brick flower boxes. I think given their height, something like daffodils or tulips will probably look better there. But I have at least some confidence that I can plant petunias and not immediately kill them, so petunias it is.

Is it just me or is there supposed to be a third bush on the left-hand side here?  The middle one isn’t looking too great either… The drainage in that corner is pretty awful, that’s probably why. Ah well, add it to the loooong list of things to do… Here’s how it looked like before:

I just realized that you can totally see my reflection in the window in all of these pictures. 🙂

While we were buying supplies I perused the hanging plants. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a fuchsia before, but I thought it looked seriously cool so I bought one. The spot where I was looking to put a hanging plant (the front porch) doesn’t get much sun, so I’ll have to see how it holds up. For now thought it’s brightening up our porch just fine. I have an amazing tendency to kill off plants though, so I guess we’ll see how it goes…

Here’s the view standing at the front door:

The Vines

We have these cool vines growing along our north fence. At the moment they are blooming little white flowers like crazy, and the effect is stunning. Here’s the view from the front-most part of the fence:


And here are some more farther back:


Did I mention they smell lovely? Here’s a closeup of the flowers:


After a little web surfing, (made easier when I finally noticed that the flowers have five petals) I determined that they are jasmines. I think we have four separate plants, though it’s a bit hard to tell at the moment. It’d be cool to coax them along the fence a bit more, though the entire front section of the fence is a bit saggy and probably needs to be replaced sometime soon.

We do need to get them under control though, so they stop strangling our roses. And our neighbor mentioned that they had gone over the fence and were starting to take over his yard… whoops…

Tackling the Rosebush(es)

Finally a sunny weekend, and that means I got to take a stab at taming our runaway plants. The roses were my first priority. We have, I believe, four rosebushes. We also have one, maybe two prickly roses, but I’m not sure on those, I’m just guessing based on the BILLION thorns covering those things. One looks like it may be deceased though. Boo. But for now, the slight-less-prickly roses…

They’re all located along the north fence. The one farthest to the back is pink, and has actually managed to push out a flower already:


The next one from the back cream, based on one withered-looking bud:


Then further up there’s a red one:


And in the front corner, the giant mystery rose:


This one was a doozy. Seven feet tall, super dense, covered in dried dead flowers. I started tentatively clipping at the front, and almost gave up because I couldn’t even get past the first layer.  I finally realized that I was just going to have to tackle it from the bottom and take out huge stalks if I was going to have any hope of taming this thing. After maybe an hour of clipping and cursing and trying to not get stabbed to death by the thorns, I had this:


Once I realized that the vines sporting the white flowers to the left in the picture were covering a large portion of the rose bush, I felt no compunction about pulling them off and trimming them way back. That gave me a lot more room to maneuver and really thin this baby out. It looks a little bedraggled, but now it has a lot of space to grow in and sprout lots of rosebuds!

Here’s the pile I discarded, and the giant green city compost bin in the background for perspective:


And in the end I didn’t even get to the other bushes. None of them are nearly as big though, so hopefully they will be much nicer and not stab me quite as much.