Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blooming hardy

Roughly nine months ago, I wrote a post about Carbon Pathways. It's where we cut down a Casurina tree, to rejurvenate an orange, in need of some light and free mulch.


August 2016 - Casurina tree, left


In that post, I explained how we used all of the tree, to mulch various fruit trees, and some roses. I didn't take any photos of the roses at the time, because they looked really pitiful.

We cut the roses right back, as instructed by the nursery we purchased them from. It's meant to stimulate branching and new growth, which we wanted. It's actually meant to be a rose hedge. Maybe one day, it will be?


September 2016


This photo was taken a month after mulching, with the leaves of the Casurina tree. We also used the trunk as a border. This position in the garden, is incredibly harsh. It cops the hot western sun, is on clay and really doesn't receive a lot of attention from us. Certainly not with additional nutrients.

The keys factors to success has been, purchasing the hardiest rose our local nursery could recommend. It's a rose resistant to blackspot, and a lot of the diseases which infect roses, grown in a hot and humid climate. But the second key to success, has been the kind of mulching material we selected.

Aged wood, and woody mulching material, provides the perfect environment for mycelium to grow. Mycelium helps plants take up water and nutrients better, and for longer. Without that structure in the topsoil, everything would be lost via gravity, to the subsoil. So the kind of mulch you choose for your environment, is important too.


September 2017


Still a month after mulching, and the new shoots are really taking off. The front rose is a rugosa rose - closest relative to the wild rose. The original hardy variety. The others in the rear, are a Tiger Rose. Back when we purchased them, they were just known as a Tiger Rose, but now they breed different varieties, with variations on the "Tiger" name.

I'm sure all the Tiger roses, must posses the same tough, disease resistant qualities though. I have not been disappointed with buying these roses. Not one bit. If you have a harsh environment, most traditional roses wouldn't like - look for the wild roses, or any new varieties, sharing the same genes.


April 2017


Four months, after the initial mulching now, and the roses are filing out more. It's autumn, and our roses survived the intense heatwave, we endured last summer. With no additional water or nutrients added by us - other than mulch.

The needle like leaves, of the decaying casurina foliage, was still present, but patches of soil, began to appear though it more. In the above photo, I merely weeded the grasses and weeds, which popped-up in the rose bed and around it, then laid them on the thinner spots of mulch.

I don't worry about unwanted seeds going into the bed. Anything which does pop up, just gets pulled for mulch on the garden bed again. The more I've been doing this, the fewer weeds there are. Plus they are really easy to pull. Although I have to avoid the thorns of the roses!


April 2017


Given this location is such an inhospitable environment, and we just experienced one of the hottest and prolonged summers I've been here (max 45C or 113F), it's remarkable to see how strong and healthy the new growth was, as we entered autumn. It's like we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Which highlights, the correct plant choices and mulches, makes it's possible to keep plants alive through extremes. We have that Casurina tree to thank, and why I'm an advocate for growing companion plants in your garden. The kind which can be used as a windbreak, shade enhancer (but not too much shade) and can afford to be sacrificed at the right time, so others, can continue living.


April 2017


That incredible gift to the landscape, hasn't finished giving either. Just as I'd hoped it would, the Casurina tree started re-shooting, from the stump which remained. Being hardy, is an excellent feature to have at our place. I'm looking to get more of these beneficial trees, as a form of long term mulching supply, and even hedging.

We let this Casurina get to a tree size, requiring a chainsaw to cut down. However, a regular pruning should keep it's growth in-check. So you'll still get woody material for mulching, you'll just use a set of pruners more regularly, instead of a chainsaw, several years in.

A word of caution though, if left to grow to it's full potential, it can get to be a big tree. So unless you plan to keep it's growth in-check manually, I would avoid introducing it into a small garden.


May 2017


This is what the rose bed looked like, earlier this month. Healthy, bushy roses, smothered in blooms. This arrangement, is actually positioned on our property boundary. We wanted it to be a living fence, however, I'm not quite sure if we got our spacing right.

Maybe it just needs to fill out some more?


In the distance


I was really chuffed to see our neighbours planted a pair of Jacaranda trees, near our rose boundary. I was a little concerned at first, they might shade out the roses - but really, they'll be benefiting them. They will help shade the hot afternoon sun, while still getting access to sunlight, for the rest of the day.

And Jacaranda trees, don't tend to have thick foliage either. So a nice, dappled shade. I'm imagining the bright purple flowers of the Jacaranda trees, contrasting against the hot pink, and white - later turning yellow, of the roses. I'm so glad our neighbours put these trees in.


Blooming hardy


I don't believe you should have to go without roses, in a challenging environment. These magnificent blooms, subsist on natural rainfall alone. And it can be such a long time between drinks, too. Just select a hardy cultivar, and the kind of mulching material that will attract mycelium to the soil. Also, don't forget a companion plant of some variety.

You might not always want to go out and buy mulch for your roses. I find straw breaks down too quickly in our climate. So a companion plant with some woody material, that takes longer to break down is beneficial. I can recommend the Casurina tree, but for smaller places, the humble wormwood too.

The benefit of having roses, are beauty, delicious fragrance, bee food, habitat for predatory insects near our vegetable garden, a living fence, but also connection with our neighbours. Whenever they pull into their long driveway, and check the mail, they get to see roses. That connection, possibly encouraged them to see what was possible, so planted their own trees with attractive blooms.


 White turns yellow, as the blooms mature


So now we've created a community of biological lifeforms, for a more alluring  outlook, than just brown grass. I'm sure this area will only get more beautiful, as long as we continue to apply the right mulch.

If you want to get this rose, I can highly recommend the Brindabella Nursery in Highfields, if you're a local. They have really healthy stock, and know how to select the right rose, for your environment. But I also think they can be mail ordered to other States. Wild roses, like the rugosa rose, tend to be available, in most locations (here and abroad) too.

I'm looking forward to the rose hips, that will develop into winter. They are full of vitamin C. But that's only if the kangaroos don't eat them all, first!


20 comments:

  1. Oh your roses look fantastic! Your hard work is really paying off isn't it" I get so frustrated with our place, the pastures are not improving fast enough but then I look at old blog posts and I can see progress. Neither Rome nor good soil was built in a day!

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    1. Yes, we finally figured out, how to make things grow here. It's hard to see the progress which does happen, until the old photos come out again. I know how hard you and Keith work, so I'm sure your pastures can only get better. I look forward to seeing how your animals are going, as the growing season progresses.

      By the way, just letting you know, my comments weren't published on your blog, for your new mud room. I also wished you a happy birthday, and hoped that comment gets through. It seems you might still have a problem with Blogger comments. Alas!

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  2. Chris I would love to have roses but our summers are just too humid. The neighbours grow some lovely roses but they also spray some awful chemicals to keep the roses going. I am going to just have to be someone who looks at lovely blooms like yours.

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    1. I suppose there are just some climates, roses can't reach. We get hot and humid here too, and these particular roses were bred for that. But I imagine there can be even more humid places out there, for more prolonged periods, which may not be good for roses. I wouldn't want to spray mine either.

      I bet you have the perfect climate for gingers though (the flowering variety) or some other bloom which loves your conditions. Do you have a favourite bloom you can grow where you are?

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    2. I do have spectacular hibiscus and frangipani flowers that I adore. They're not so great as cut flowers.

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    3. Frangipanni is a beautiful flower, and I can understand the appreciation of them. I haven't tried hibiscus here, but all my memories of them growing up, was how they were infested with insects - very small ones. It's probably a good thing! But I could never appreciate the blooms because of it. Glad you have some good ones though.

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  3. I'm not a rose person...they're lovely flowers but ugly plants IMO, however your rose bed is looking great. I'm surprised they did so well with casuarina mulch....casuarina needles are supposed to contain a toxin that prevents other plants growing under them. My own trees certainly have bare ground under them. I rake up the needles and use them in other places to deter weeds...it seems to work.
    I notice the roses are on your property and the jacarandas are obviously on your neighbour's, but....no fence between...it that right? How does that work?

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    1. I'm not a rose person either, lol, but I was looking for an impenetrable living fence with thorns. This came up, and so now roses have found their way into my fondness realm. But only the hardy ones. ;)

      We don't have fences. But we do have marked property boundaries. Part of the reason I wanted to search for a thorny, living fence, was so we wouldn't have to deal with replacing fencing - and also, more forgiving on our slopes. That's the main reason for no fencing. The slopes. But we hope to put some fencing around Hilltop chicken coop, which is on flat ground. Any fencing needed, is planned around immediate areas of use, rather than the whole property. :)

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  4. Your roses are beautiful, Chris. I imagine they smell gorgeous too:) I grow just a couple of roses here (in the bed where I grow salvias) but noticed, after the rains we've had after Cyclone Debbie, and again recently, that they have some type of infestation. I've cut them back, taken off affected branches, applied a ring of compost around them and mulched with lucerne which I know they love. I'm hoping they'll bounce back. (Fingers crossed.) Meg:)

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    1. Thanks Meg. They do smell absolutely wonderful. And they produce decent sized rose hips too. I imagine a lot of plants would have run into trouble with the rains of Debbie. Root rot mostly, weakening plants and making fungal infections easier to take over. The best thing to do is remove any mulch and let the sun dry out the ground, so those roots can dry. I hope yours bounce back. :)

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  5. Chris, my daughter has lovely roses growing in Mt.Isa so they can thrive in heatwave conditions and I doubt they would get much TLC apart from watering. Yours are looking very pretty. When I drive past the Rose Gardens on the way home I try to see if the roses there are blooming (without having an accident) but a lot of fences have been erected so I can't see. I should drive up there one day and have a good look. I love roses but my hubby doesn't unfortunately.

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    1. I love Brindabella nursery, but I haven't been in such a while. So I haven't seen the new fencing. Last time we went, you could do a tour of the whole gardens, which are absolutely wonderful. You're meant to pay, but because we spent a bit, they let us in for free. ;)

      I wonder if your daughter has a strain of wild rose in her collection? They seem to be the hardiest of all. It's only with selective breeding for specific blooms and fragrance, they've become more prone to problems. I bet if you ask the owners of Brindabella to select a rose that even your husband would like, they could convert him! I seriously wasn't a rose person either. Just tell them what you want or don't like in a rose, and they'll find one that suits. They even have roses without thorns.

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  6. What a great show - well worth the effort. When I was a kid my mother planted Dolly Varden bramble roses along one of the old fences in the house paddock (in not so good condition) and it used the rails and wires of the old fence to climb over and it became a thick self-supporting hedge in about three years. It was a prolific bloomer with ruffly pale pink blooms. That part of the fence never did need replacing after that!

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    1. You've just described my perfect vision of a country home. I grew up in country areas with the same gorgeous, bloom infested fences. You never have to replace a fence, trim it or expect anything to get through it. I love those kinds of fences. Thanks for the name drop - I'm going to look up that rose now.

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    2. Hmmm, I'm not sure Dolly Varden would be commercially available now (it was around in the 1930's) unless you get a cutting and graft it. An excellent modern version would be Blush Noisette....a very hardy climber and has been available since the 1800 from memory.

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    3. Thanks for that. I tried searching for them, and couldn't find any. I'll try the later ones. :)

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  7. I'm impressed! Also encouraged, because we have so many of the same challenges you do, even though we're on a different side of the planet! We have some old fashioned variety roses, my rugosas, and some wild roses. Even those modest varieties add a particular beauty to the place.

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    1. In my experience Rugosa would have to be the most die hard, even if a little unruly in it's growing habit. You can set and forget them, but of course they look better with a little maintenance. Go with what grows! Glad you have some wild roses. I like finding things I don't have to plant or buy myself.

      I have found the secret to growing in clay or troubled soils, in hot and arid climates, is the addition of woody mulch. I found compost had to be covered, otherwise it would dry out - as they are finer particles designed to break down quickly. Where the woody mulch holds it's structure for a long time, and it takes longer to dry out. A little rain and it will hold onto that moisture. Plus underground insects will house under it, and drop their bodily moisture.

      Don't get me wrong, I love compost - but it doesn't actually exist in nature, without a forest. Because it's all that dropped and decaying wood, which attracts a plethora of lifeforms, which makes it. We can make fast compost, but once we put it on the soil, without woody material on top, it will dwindle in the first hot spell.

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  8. You can also eat the rugosa rose leaves, hips and some make tea out of the leaves. My favorite jam is rosepetal jam which I have never had enough petals to make. Basically with roses, if they are scented they are edible. I will show you my rugosa-its actually much bigger than I expected it to be and its just now blooming. We have another variety that made a great fence but I can't recall its name. Your flowers are really beautiful-love all of them but the yellow and red are striking together.

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    1. I meant that you can make tea out of the leaves not eat them-as far as I know.

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