Tag Archive | Rosa rugosa

A belated September round-up

What a busy few weeks we have had! There has been light relief in the form of friends visiting, and a few sunny days spent on the beach, but otherwise we have just been working away in the garden.




All the areas of long grass that we left as meadow need to be cut back, and we hadn’t realised what a big job this would be. Each area is strimmed to get most of the height off, but that leaves a very uneven surface. The loose grass has to be raked into rows, then piles, then barrowed away. I run the mower over with the blades set high, and collect the clippings so as not to enrich the soil too much. It needs to be poor soil to encourage wildflowers. And that is a lot of clippings. Then I drop the blades and cut it again. Finally it can be left to green up over the winter.

Remember my gorgeous rose arch that I bought for my birthday? Well, I have now built a set of steps beneath it out of stone from the garden, and I am very pleased with them. The nine bigger stones were originally an edging to a border, which I am changing, and all the rest have been dug up from the soil. Did I mention I have stony soil???  I have planted a lavender and a Penstemon each side, and now just need to lay the path beyond, which is currently just a loose heap of stones.




The other big project we have been working on is digging out the roots of the enormous patch of Rosa rugosa that dominated the centre of the garden. And finally…it is done, after hours and hours and hours of hard digging. The picture below shows the last clump to be dug up, which is in the centre of the original patch. It extended as far again beyond that clump. Now the top half just needs to be levelled and raked over to match the bottom half, and it can be seeded to a lawn. It is such a relief to have finally dug it out, and any regrowth can now be sprayed off, or mown over.




The other two patches of rose that we have left are covered in gorgeous hips, and the occasional late flower. It is a nice plant, just such a thug!





The fuchsias are at their best, but I don’t have much variety, just this large-flowered one plus some magellanica.




This Cistus x dansereaui ‘Decumbens’ is one I only planted recently, but it is obviously happy as it has produced a very late bloom for me!




I have a very statuesque clump of Acanthus on the centre of the flower bed. I find it an underwhelming plant, but it fills a gap that would otherwise be full of weeds, so it can stay, for now.




My favourite surprise of the late summer has to be a lovely display of Schizostylis that I hadn’t spotted until they flowered, as I assumed that their foliage was just more Crocosmias. They are super flowers, especially at this time of year when many things are looking tired.




Now I am off to spend a week working on Lundy as a conservation volunteer…a bit of a busman’s holiday, I feel, and if they ask me to dig out any rose bushes I shall scream!!

Battling with weeds

Warm sunshine plus occasional heavy rain = ideal growing conditions for plants. And especially for weeds. I am beginning to wonder if I can stay ahead of them. And I am not talking about a few weeds popping up between the plants in a border – oh no. I have bigger problems than that!

You may remember that huge patch of Rosa rugosa which I had removed. I knew that there would be regrowth as it can regenerate from any bit of root, so to make it easier I left the bare soil bare.




Over 50% of the shoots you can see in the picture are new rose shoots. That’s a lot of rose…I am spraying them off bit by bit, and marking with a cane those I have sprayed. It will be a long battle…

I also have an invasive weed in the main flowerbed…




This is called canary creeper, an ‘annual’ climber, that many seed companies sell. Don’t buy it! When we moved in, several shrubs in one bed were completely smothered by it. After a fairly mild winter, although we did have several frosts, this has survived and is regrowing in lots of places. It has also set seed over an area probably 10m square…


main bed before after weeding 5 16


As you can see by the bottom picture, I am trying! I am hoeing off the seedlings, hand weeding where it is in amongst other plants, and spraying where it is growing between the stones in the walls. Every day. It just grows again. I need a really hard winter to kill it off, I reckon.

My paths are all disappearing under weeds spreading in from the borders…argh!




My little herb bed is disappearing under a mat of seedlings – more hoeing needed.


Herb bed


Many of the plants that have survived the ravages of the deer, rabbits, and slugs are vigorous ones, that most people would not want in their gardens. Like the stripy grass, Gardener’s Garters.




I do have room for spreading plants like this, but I will need to really keep on top of it and restrict it back to a neat clump every year, or else it will take over. I also have Alchemilla mollis. Lots of it. Everywhere. Luckily it is fairly pretty, especially after rain.




Another one to try and keep under control! To end on a more positive note, we managed to build a little set of steps this week, leading up into the orchard, using chunks of stone that we have found around the garden for the risers, and stones dug up while weeding for the steps.




I think they look great!

Happy Easter from Devon!

Today has been a typical Spring day of sunshine and showers. Ok, so the showers were hail, but the wind was from the South, and it wasn’t too cold. This morning I treated myself to a ride on the beach on my latest riding school horse, Bernadette, AKA Bernie, who is a 16hh ish coloured cob, all hair and mud stains, but with a heart of gold. There were eight of us on the ride, and we all had a fab time with several really fast gallops along the beach. Shame about the hail stinging on our faces!!

This afternoon we gardened in between the showers. The shed is now finished, and looking very smart.




We also finished digging out the Rosa rugosa roots, and raked over the big bare patch. Now to wait for it to regrow from all the bits of broken root…

The garden is still full of daffodils and other Spring bulbs




The woodland path is just stunning, and I really need to plant some colour for later in the year, as it is going to look quite plain once these are gone. I have relocated our new birdbath to the front of our main flowerbed, and it looks great there. The robins have been bathing regularly. They seem to like to bathe in the nesting season, possibly to help control the parasites that can be a problem in their nests.




We have a very special flower coming up in the front lawn




See all the little nodding purple flowers? They are snake’s head fritillaries, and the lawn is covered with them.




They come in a white form too, but I like the purple, with it’s fancy chequerboard pattern. Along with the blue anemones, the daffs and the hundreds of primroses, the front is quite a picture!




Plenty to do!

This morning dawned bright and sunny, so I took a walk up the hill beyond the garden. I was only out half an hour, and that included five minutes reflection on the bench at the top, overlooking the valley. I saw our little herd of 7 deer again, and was amazed to see a tawny owl fly right past me only a few feet away, then down the lane before disappearing into the wood. What a treat!

I have an ever increasing list of jobs to do in the garden, and many of them get started, but not finished, which is frustrating. This is not because I give up, or get distracted. Below is the ‘black hole’ where we removed a thicket of Rosa rugosa. I have started raking it over to remove all the twigs and roots that are scattered all over, which also then reveals any roots that have not been dug up. These are then pulled out. This makes it a back-breaking job.




You may be able to see (if you are looking at this on a proper screen rather than a piddly phone screen) the difference between the smoother top half and the rubbish strewn lower half. I can only do a couple of hours work at this, as it is just so hard on my back. So that is still to be finished.




This was a shrubby honeysuckle, a messy evergreen that doesn’t flower, which was just spoiling the shrubs around it and blocking our views of the garden. So it was cut down, but now the roots need digging out – another job needing a strong back. I am quite capable of doing these jobs, but I just have to pace myself. If my back starts to hurt, these jobs have to wait until it feels better.

In between digging jobs, we have been getting on with the Spring pruning, and the buddleias and hydrangeas are now all done. But I still have a few dogwoods to tackle.




This one looks like it has never been pruned, so rather than lots of thick strong attractive red shoots, it has a brown trunk and some thin red twigs. I hope I can improve it.But pruning has been shunted aside as I have bought rather a lot of plants lately, so have been planting instead. It is all about priorities, and they are constantly changing.

We have had a tree surgeon round to deal with our storm damaged tree, and he did a neat job of trimming the snags. And now I have a heap of branches of assorted sizes to sort into logs to be sawn up for the woodburner, branches to use as kindling, and the rest for the bonfire.




And then there is the shed…




When it rains, there is a puddle on the roof where the roof is so bowed. That then leaks through the flimsy roof, soaking one corner so that it is rotten and horrid. It had to go. So we have a lovely new shed!




Isn’t it nice?? Ok, well it will be.

This job is actually nearly finished. We dismantled the old shed yesterday morning, and saved the sides to make a compost bin out of. Then we assembled the new one, all but the roof. This morning the roof went on, but it still need the roofing felt. It has been hard work, especially carrying all the pieces up the steps to the garden, but the end result is worth it. You will have to wait until it is completed , then I will show you a photo.






Progress in the garden


arch b & A 2

I have now removed the tumbledown rose arch, which opens up a lovely view of the bank beyond. Ok, there’s not much planted on that bit, but give me time…I do like a garden centre visit! The other news is that the biggest of my three thickets of Rosa rugosa has gone. We paid the local gardeners to do it, as it was a massive undertaking. Hard to believe this all grew from a small clump of plants…


rugosa patch b & A

They have dug out most of the major roots, but there is still the odd bit that needs doing. And being the thug it is, it will regrow from all the little bits that are left. The plan is to leave this vast area fallow, and spray off any regrowth this year, so that hopefully it can be grassed next year. It has really opened up this central area of the garden, so I am very pleased.

New bulbs are popping up everywhere, and the snowdrop glade is a real picture.




The mini daffs are now appearing in unexpected places, and adding to the show.




I treated myself to a Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) the other day, as it is a lovely variety with flowers that lift up to face you, not droop down.  It is planted by the path to the shed where I can admire it every day.




Not all cream teas and coast walks

I know that I paint a picture of a lovely lifestyle here in Devon, and, don’t get me wrong, it is pretty good, but there are always going to be things that go wrong, and things that need dealing with, and it is all hard work.

Today we had our leaky shower fixed, so that is one issue dealt with. Tomorrow an engineer will hopefully stop our precious heating oil dripping from a leaky joint. Then the garage door gets fixed….it just goes on and on.

It’s not much better in the garden.




This is the archway right outside my kitchen door. Once an attractive structure, I am sure, with a lovely climbing rose carefully trained over it. Now it is a crumbling unsightly eyesore completely swamped by dead rose stems. There is an outer layer of living rose, but it obviously hasn’t been tended for years. It will have to go!

Talking of roses, do you know the species rose, Rosa rugosa? Healthy foliage, large single fragrant pink flowers, followed by huge orange hips. What’s not to like???




This is one of three patches of Rosa rugosa in my garden. This one is at least 10 metres across… It spreads, and regrows if chopped to the ground, and is extremely thorny. It has to go before it takes over. Yeah…maybe next week.




This is the centre of my main perennial bed. I haven’t tackled this area yet. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was there until I had trimmed away some dead foliage round the edge, and saw what was beyond. I will get to it soon, now I have finished working on the front of the border.




The wheelbarrow contains the dead leaves of just one of my fifty thousand clumps of crocosmia. The border does look better now I have cleared away the dead stuff though. The photos aren’t quite at the same angle, but you get the idea.


main border


It’s not all doom and gloom, however. I uncovered this little beauty while clearing – it is a spring snowflake, much taller than a snowdrop, and a solid bell rather than individual petals. Not supposed to flower until at least February.




Everything is confused by the weather. This hydrangea is continuing to put out new flowers!




as does this azalea.




And the daffodils and other bulbs are coming up all over the garden, so I have a feeling we are going to have a spectacular spring display. If it ever stops raining!