Rainy days, catalogues and plans

pond by the woodland garden

While the rest of the World seems to be covered in snow here it has been pouring rain, again and again… Today is the first sunny day after a while and I can’t even walk in the garden because everything is soggy. I know we’re still in full winter but the strong, sweet scent of the calycanthus is in the air and I can’t help it but feeling that winter is over. Almost every garden has a calycanthus around here, everyone but me: I shall take care of this too. Anyway I have this spring thing growing inside of me and there is nothing I can do in the garden. It’s pretty frustrating.

But there are lots of things that I can do on the internet… I won’t order seeds because I am very unlucky with them, I won’t order summer bulbs, either, because I’ve just realized that I should have dug up the dahlias before winter and I didn’t, so no, I don’t deserve any summer bulbs this year. I am pretty good in growing roses though and there is still room for new roses in the garden, there has to be room for some new roses. So I started writing lists of roses and drawing maps of garden parts to try to fit them in. At the moment the result is a useful map of the existing and actually planted roses which is going to be very helpful (since labels always get lost very easily). Surprisingly I just realized we have 115 roses scattered around the garden not counting the ones in the pots, received from friends. The pot pictured below is Yellow Mutabilis a cherished gift.

rose map and rose cuttings

We are planning to spend a weekend in Rome in February and there is a place I want to stop by along the journey: Le rose di Piedimonte. They have something I really want so badly: Viru Viraraghavan’s roses. This man is the indian David Austin, he uses mainly rosa clinophylla and rosa gigantea, two indian natives, to obtain drought and heat tolerant roses, some of which are also perpetual in blooming. I have my eye on Amber Cloud and Ganges Mist but honestly I’d like to have all of them: maybe it’s because of their shiny petals, maybe there’s something mystic amongst those stamens or is it just for those exotic names? Whatever it is I’m sure I smelled some incense stick in the air while browsing those pictures on the online catalogue… Wait, wait! I think I’ve heard a sacred cow moo somewhere not far from here too….

Maybe I am sick but when I start browsing those catalogues I can’t stop it. And even when I’m not on the internet I can’t stop thinking where I can plant this or that and how I could find more room in the garden and convince Ale that we really need that rose… During one of those moments I had the idea of building another pergola on the west side, something similar to the ‘main’ pergola with rusty H pillars but thinner and with no beams. I also photoshopped a project, you know, you need something to show when you are looking for sponsors… (and executors, I can’t do everything by myself, can I?)


There is also a picture of the east side of the house, that I haven’t finished painting yet because it always rains (and yes because I ran out of paint too but that is just a detail) I’d like another similar pergola on that side of the house too, maybe with a big clematis but I have plenty of time to think about this since that part of the garden is still untouched.


Anyway today we had the chance of hanging around the garden for a little while, Rudy and I. We checked if everything’s ready for spring out there. Meanwhile some grey clouds slid quickly over some invisible rails on a darker backdrop. The air was nice and warm though. I found out that some roses are showing a little fall colour at last… (Nozomi on the left and r. gallica Violacea on the right, below). I’ve also found some snowdrops with my big surprise, they aren’t all dead after all…


Rudy went straight to the vegetable garden to check if chicories are growing and rose cuttings are rooting… He stared at the labels on the rose cuttings for a while, then he said he couldn’t read anything. I know, I said. No! said Rudy I really can’t read anything on those labels… and so I noticed that my ink writing on wooden labels faded away after only a few weeks. It seems we have hundreds of unlabeled rooted cuttings to give away… (And yes, we are expanding the vegetable garden next year, as you can see behind Rudy, so I’ll have room for potatoes, or maybe for more cuttings, who knows…)


Come on now winter, get out of my sight, somebody please close those taps in the sky and dust that grey sun, I have roses to plant and plans to realize, I can’t wait any longer….



19 thoughts on “Rainy days, catalogues and plans

  1. I see you are seriously stricken with winter Spring Fever. Oh it’s the best kind really. Shocking how many roses you have but even more shocking that you haven’t planted the east side of the house yet– I wish ALL my garden beds were in the morning sun. But you are lucky to still have space to plant. I like the name ‘Ganges Mist’ so you must get that one then you are going to have to open a nursery for all those roses from cuttings. I guess you will have to call them ‘rose surprise’– and they all look so healthy and growing! But next time use pencil, it lasts. (Rudy knew that but forgot to tell you.) Sweet little snowdrops!

    • Yeah, Rudy told me about pencils at the time but I didn’t believe him, he makes up a lot of things all the times.
      I like the rose surprise thing, although I think I can recognize a good part of those cuttings by the leaves and the thorns but I will give away the others as rose surprise!
      As for the east garden things are not what they seem. It is a very small slice of garden we are talking about, with some kind of tanks underground (they use to stock gas in there but we changed the heating system with wooden chips) and I really have no clues on how to convert it into a ‘secret garden’. For now it’s just a secret rubbish dump… ops! Not so secret anymore…

  2. I am very jealous that spring is happening in part of the world. The temperature here is positively frigid, and snow is predicted. Like you, I will have to settle for catalogs. Now that I’m done whining, I will say that I am looking forward to seeing your rose purchases. Also, great job with the map! Be well.

    • Thank you Kevin. Ale loves maps, lists and statistics. He can remember how much rainfall we had in june 2010 but he can’t remember a rose name, even if he loves that rose. So the map is for him.

  3. Hi Alberto, I hate indelible ink that isn’t indelible. It’s caught me out so many times. And you have 115 roses? Wow. And hundreds more rose cuttings? Wow. That’s a lot of Geena Davis dead-heading. Full time Geena Davis dead-heading, I shouldn’t wonder. I’ll be over. Dave

    • You shall know that I was Marie Antoniette in a previous life of mine, so I don’t dead-head anything in my garden.
      Most of the roses are once-blooming in spring or summer and most of them set hips in fall, so there is no reason to dead-head.

  4. Well done with the map, you have a very serious rose garden, no I mean Rose Garden, it deserves capital letters. I hope you are going to find time to stop by and vist us when you come to Rome. I’m going to check out the drought resistant roses, though I don’t have anywhere to put even one! Christina

    • Christina, I thought of you too when we planned this weekend but I guess I have to take a rain ticket this time, we are also stopping by a friend’s house between Rieti and Roma. Anyway we are already talking another journey to Roma further on and I promise I’m going to visit you and your garden.

  5. More than 115 roses, Alberto you must love pruning and dead heading!! There is obviously no hope for you, you have certainly been bitten by the rose bug, will certainly look forward to the photos! Like you, we just have torrential rain day after day, it did turn to snow last night, huge flakes, but this morning it has all gone. The ground is just so wet, it can’t take any more, so there are still floods in all the fields here, hopefully one day we will dry out.

    • I’ve always had the rose fever, roses were my first passion (for my 11th birthday I asked my parents 8 bare roots roses from a catalogue). In fact part of the cuttings I have in the vegetable garden are from my parent’s garden, where they have specimens older than 20 years and I start worrying for their sake (the roses, not my parents!) so I want to propagate those roses.
      As for pruning and dead-heading, I seldom prune and never dead-head, most of the roses are old roses or species and they don’t like secateurs.

  6. Yes, you do have spring fever, just like me! Your garden must be heavenly when all those roses bloom. I love roses and wish I had more, but most of our property is too shaded. I’m glad you had some sun and could get out at least to walk in the garden and plan, though I laughed at the washed away labels. Isn’t that typical of what happens to gardeners?

    • It is, and it happens all the times to me. I wrote on soft wood with pen so I may recover some of the writings from the ‘carvings’ on the wood… we’ll see.
      There are a lot of roses but they also need to grow up to make the scene closer to ‘heavenly’, maybe in another 2-3 years.

  7. I’m impressed with all the roses in your garden, but I’m more impressed with your colored map with all their locations and classes! I hope you get several of Viraraghaven’s roses. Both of the ones you mentioned look very pretty. I bet the bees will love them! I, too, have spring fever. We have had several nice days – but I always seem to have company on those days! Aargh!

    • Lol! You shall prepare a very bad coffee so they won’t come back soon! 😉
      Adding different colour to the rose classes was a plus, wasn’t it? I saved that map on my iPad so I won’t miss a name when they will be in bloom and I won’t scratch my hands looking amongst branches for the label…

  8. Alberto – You introduced me to Piet Oudolf and now Viru Viraraghavan. I’ve never heard of his roses. I googled images but I can’t see the shiny petals. I look forward to seeing them in your garden, then you can show us.

    • Hi b-a-g! Click the link above, on the rose names, they’ll take you to a very useful website (helpmefind.com/roses) where you can read everything of every existing rose and breeder and you find tons of nice pics.
      As for the shiny petals, there are some flowers that have a kind of glisten in their petals, this is usually visible on very scented flowers, like some viburnums, some roses, narcissus, etc…

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