05/27/15
beautiful small yard

Beautiful Small Yard

Beautiful Small Yard in Albuquerque

Beautiful small yard: Albuquerque is surrounded by Federal lands of one type or another on the north, east, and south. Yards within Albuquerque proper tend to be small, compared to other places I have lived. The weather beckons people out of doors most of the year. Attractive yards in which to spend time are desirable, but sometimes making a very small yard attractive takes some thought and planning.

Water was not always considered a problem in Albuquerque, although it certainly is now. Ideally, the native plants would have been left when homes were built. Instead, the land was bulldozed clear of the native plants in many parts of Albuquerque (as well as other places in the Desert Southwest). New homes are often being xeriscaped from the beginning.

This home was built in the late 1990’s. This yard has been featured in several posts on this blog. It has not only matured, but the owner has tried to decrease the use of water by removing some plants, while keeping the foundation plantings and then a few for color. A lot of work has gone into this yard, but the owner has certainly achieved a beautiful small yard.

beautiful small yard

Beautiful small yard

The beautiful New Mexico sky is a constant feature here. Plants featured here,and these have been longstanding, are roses ‘Hot Cocoa,’ ‘Gentle Giant,’ and ‘Baby Grand;’ clematis trained on a pillar; two nandina bushes; and the Rose of Sharon, ‘Blushing Bride,’ trained into more of a tree shape than a shrub. This will bloom later in the summer. Although the yard is small, the plants give a lot of privacy here.

This is a beautiful small yard.

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04/28/15
clematis and mermaid

Clematis and Mermaid: Great Companion Plants

Clematis and Mermaid: Great Companion Plants

Clematis and Mermaid make great companion plants. I have already shown this year’s ‘Nelly Moser’ bloom with ‘Mermaid.’ ‘Nelly Moser’ is the first to bloom. As that bloom comes to an end, a white clematis, whose name I do not know, begins its bloom. About the time that bloom comes to an end, ‘Mermaid’ will begin what can be a spectacular spring bloom. The white clematis is reaching the peak of its 2015 bloom.

Clematis needs “cool feet” to thrive, along with sunshine on the leaves. ‘Mermaid’ provides shade for the clematis roots, and a strong structure on which the clematis vine can climb.

clematis and mermaid

‘Mermaid’ with ‘Nelly Moser’ and a white clematis

clematis and mermaid

Closer view of white clematis and ‘Mermaid’

This third view gives you some idea of the size of ‘Mermaid.’ I have mentioned before that I prune it back in the fall (the only rose I treat that way!), and it has already grown a lot this year. After the spring bloom, I will cut it back again to keep it from filling up the entire yard! But, I really enjoy growing this rose.

clematis and mermaid

‘Mermaid’ with ‘Nelly Moser’ and a white clematis

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04/13/15
clematis and roses

Clematis and Roses

Clematis and Roses: Companion Plants

Clematis and roses can be excellent companion plants, particularly for climbing roses. When someone asks me to recommend a companion plant for roses, I first ask the type of rose. If the rose climbs, I almost always include clematis among the recommendations.

Clematis need “cool feet.” That is, the plant does not thrive if the roots at ground level are exposed to direct sun. But, in order to bloom well, the vines themselves need sun. Pairing clematis with a climbing rose provides that. The rose provides the shade for the base of the clematis.

The clematis vine needs a support structure. A climbing rose provides a marvelous support structure, and the vine does not choke the rose (as some vines might).

Regular readers here know my love of the Old Garden Rose, ‘Mermaid,’ a hybrid bracteata (1918). If left to its own devices, it would be at the top of the house and covering my patio at the end of a season (actually, during a season!). I learned the hard way I need to keep it trained and controlled throughout the season. Surprisingly, it seems to thrive that way. It usually starts to bloom sometime in May, although this year it appears it could be a bit earlier than that.

I have two different clematis plants growing with ‘Mermaid,’ and both usually bloom before ‘Mermaid.’ ‘Nelly Moser’ is the first to bloom, and as its bloom ends, a large white clematis whose name I do not know begins its bloom. About the time it finishes, the rose begins its bloom.

‘Nelly Moser’ has begun its bloom, and the images with this post are of ‘Nelly Moser’ growing as a companion plant with ‘Mermaid.’

clematis and roses

‘Nelly Moser’ as companion to ‘Mermaid’

Closer view of ‘Nelly Moser:’

clematis and roses

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ with rose ‘Mermaid’

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03/29/15
clematis

Clematis Developing

Clematis Developing

Clematis is one of the earlier flowers to bloom in my garden. I grow it with the rose, ‘Mermaid.’ This vine blooms first, and almost as soon as it has finished its first bloom, ‘Mermaid’ begins to bloom.

It is truly a sign of the arrival of spring when the vine begins to leaf out and form buds. Spring has definitely arrived in my yard! (That does not mean that we could not still have freezing temperatures at night. But hopefully the temperatures would not go much below freezing and would not last long enough to damage tender growth on established plants.)

clematis

Clematis leafing out in early spring

clematis

Bud beginning to develop

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02/9/15
rose 'queen elizabeth' early spring

Spring Too Early?

Spring Too Early? We Won’t Know until Summer

Spring. Can it ever be too early? As the Northeast is buried under record total snowfall for a winter, Albuquerque has been enjoying a stretch of warm, sunny, windless days, with highs hovering around 70°F. It is glorious just to be out and enjoying what many – including me – would describe as “perfect weather.”

clematis early spring

Clematis putting on growth in early February

Early growth on my clematis vine, growing as a companion plant with my rose ‘Mermaid.’

The question for a gardener, though, here in the High Desert, is, “can spring be too early?” That is a question that cannot be answered until late May! Why? The average last frost-free date here is in mid-April. If plants have already sprung forth with new growth, the tender new growth can die. One year we have a very late freeze in mid-May, and by that time the roses already had much new growth, buds, and some were actually blooming. That freeze killed back much of the new growth, and the Spring Rose Show of the Albuquerque Rose Society was pretty small that year. Along with the show, we had an Arrangement Judging School (taught by Lew Shupe and Gary Barlow!) attended by rose lovers from all over the Pacific Southwest District. The only roses that year I had to donate to the school for practice arrangements was ‘Betty Boop.’ Although that is the latest killing freeze I have experienced in my part of Albuquerque, I have not forgotten it!

Then there are the fruit trees. I have the dwarf peach ‘Bonanza,’ a fruit tree I truly love for many reasons. But, it is an early bloomer, and some years we get a freeze after the bloom and no peaches will be harvested that year. I grow it for many reasons besides the peaches, but I still prefer the years when peaches form. 🙂 I also have two pear trees: one that produces pears people like to eat, and the pollinator pear that produces pears the birds like to eat. Win-win for all! In years with late freezes, after the pears trees have bloomed, the tree with the fruit for people will not produce. I have to say, the pollinator pear is tough – the birds nearly always have their fruit produced.

Today and tomorrow are also supposed to be glorious days with highs around 70. I will be out enjoying the weather, and working in the garden to dig weeds and to do general clean-up. I could not ask for better weather. But behind all of that is just a bit of worry that the plants that are responding to the glorious weather now may also respond to cold weather and late freezes that can be part of life in the Southwest Desert. We won’t know if spring is too early until summer has arrived.

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06/26/12

Small Garden with Roses

This small garden with roses is a wonderful example of the creation of beauty in a small space.

Small Garden with Roses

Small Garden with Roses

This photograph was taken in May of 2012, and the clematis as well as many of the roses were in full bloom. Not, in late June, the clematis are bloomed out, as are most of the roses until August. The rose of sharon, “Blushing Bride,” is, however, blooming prolifically in the heat. I’ll try to get over to photograph the rose of sharon later this week or over the weekend.

A partial listing of roses seen blooming in this small garden would include:
Continue reading

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