Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kentucky Herb Festival 2008

Since our move to Kentucky about 15 years ago, we have made the Kentucky Herb Festival in Frankfort an annual tradition. It is not a large festival, but quaint and just big enough to take up about half of the day allowing the rest of the day to get home and plant what was bought! Last year, for the 15th anniversary, the Kentucky Herb Association decided to move the date from the second weekend in June to the third weekend in May. Unfortunately, only their die hard members got the news and the largest city nearby, Lexington was left out of the this year appeared to be much better attended. To give you a taste of why this trip is worth the yearly dedication, I will provide a sampling of the day's activities, including lunch and another favorite garden center visit that makes the day very special.

The day begins with a stop at the Herb Fest located in the farm buildings of Lakeview Park which overlooks a golf course and nice size lake.

The festival is free to get in, but parking is $3.00 and if you want to stay for their herbal lunch held at the beautiful brick building at the entrance, the cost is $9.00 and limited to 120 people.

Other activities include guest speakers, live music and an auction with proceeds benefiting the Kentucky Herb Association.

Now for a few tasty morsels from this year's festival:

One booth we usually make a bee line for is Wash House Herb Farm's homemade herb breads. They sell out pretty quickly, so we load up before heading around to the rest of the booths.

Chrisman Mill Vineyard (the oldest licensed vineyard in the U.S.) offers a very nice wine tasting with wine bread and cheese spread standing by for a wonderful sampling.

The other booths loaded with wonderful smellygood stuff and books about growing, cooking or crafting with your favorite herbs make for a visually appealing and diverse shopping experience.

And then there are the herbs and plants! So many unique herbs, wildflowers, native plants and perennials to choose from!

In fact, there are so many things to load up with at such reasonable prices, we have adopted the habit of bringing along our trusty antique grocery cart. Simply perfect for bags of bread, wine, herbs and everything else we can pack into it. The opening is also just the right size for laying a flat of plants on top. But as you can see, we only bought a few herbs this year that fit into bags on top of the bread.

As we head back to the car, we have thoughts of lunch at Gibby's (voted Frankfort's favorite place for lunch!) and then more plans for shopping at a local greenhouse - Wilson's.

Wilson's Nursery sits on Frankfort's By-Pass and takes up many acres of growing space.

The displays throughout the greenhouse, giftshop and terraces combine to create a gardener's heaven! Once upon a time Wilson's used to participate in the Herb Festival but left several years ago, preferring to put on a nice herb sale at their own place. In years past, the sale has been very significant, but this year the Herb Fest is a month earlier and so the sale is not as wonderful, but the selection is still worth the trip!

The ultimate fairy garden!

And be careful where you rummage through the plants! You may find a feline hiding in the roses. One of the workers said she was very friendly, but didn't know her name....only that her mother's name was Lola! So keep an eye out for Lola's daughter while spending your Saturday wandering through Wilson's!

A Big Daffodil Thank You to the Blotanical Readers!!

As I promised, May would be a much better blogging month for me. Classes ended about two weeks ago and I wanted to get started right away with some intro posts about the rose garden since I am a huge fan of growing antique roses. I was just sitting down this morning to blog about the Kentucky Herb Festival from last weekend, when I decided to do some poking around Blotanical for some catching up. To my wonderful surprise, the Blotanical readers have been busy little bees and have identified my mystery daffodils (see April post)!!
It all started with Pleasant Hill Rambles' post about his fascination with my daffodils followed by his serendipitous discovery of the same daffodils at his neighbor's farm in New York! As he blogged about my blog and his find, another blogger, The Occasional Gardener, piped up with the solution to our mystery....drum roll please...the Van Sion Daffodil! Linked through these blogs was a wonderful post about the Van Sion....and as a historian, I added a whoop to Pleasant Hill's when I learned how old it least 1620! Ironically, this daffodil is the only daffodil that I planted in the antique rose garden because of readily available space when we moved. It may now lift its head proudly as an ancient regally named variety just as important as the ancient roses that have looked down on it for all these years as a "mystery mutant". Welcome Van Sion, now your story can be passed along when neighbors ask disdainfully..."What is it?".

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rose Report - Taking Inventory and Counting Buds (Well, not literally)

After finally having some time to walk the rose garden, I decided to take stock of what survived the winter and what did not. According to my calculations I only lost one rose: the Gertrude Jekyll. Which is very sad since I have had this particular bush for several years and she even survived the transplant from Bourbon County a few years ago. Since the rose garden is mostly full of antique varieties, Gertrude was a bit of an anomaly since she was a David Austin English Rose which may not have the survival instincts of the other older varieties. Please don't get me wrong, I am not trying to paint the English roses as weaker specimens, but in this case, Gertrude had lost some of the soil around her base which means she may have been more vulnerable than the others. I have another English rose next to her, Othello, which also survived some soil loss, but survived beautifully. The rest of the antique varieties have me spoiled since I don't have to winterize them at all and they come back each year with full vigor. I should try to remember that the English roses are a more modern creation and may need some winterizing in the future.

As for the rest of the group, everyone seems to be flourishing. All have buds with the exception of the Chestnut Burr Rose which will develop buds much later than the rest of them. This one has always been the late bloomer of the season, but a long bloomer and kind of the last waltz of the ball. While none of mine have bloomed just yet, I have reports from friends that some of the same roses in Lexington are bursting forth as we speak and have been for the last week. One of the roses, which I will mention below (Lenoxburg/Bella Donna), seems to be a full two weeks ahead of my bushes here in Georgetown. Right now the two roses about to begin the blooming season are Clotilde Soupert and Belle de Crecy. So far, they both have large buds with color, so it will be a race to see who can't stand it anymore and pops open - although the Russelliana is gaining on them!
The rose garden is designed in a four quadrant style with a center circle. Most of my quadrants are full of antique varieties, but some spots are taken up by some left over Dr. Hueys which appeared after some of my Tea Roses reverted back to their root stock. Yes, I used to winterize all of my tea roses, but no matter the effort, every year I always had one go back to the root stock, so I gave up on Tea Roses. Besides winterizing, I just didn't have time to spoil the tea roses as they require, and so gave up on growing this variety. I was not only intrigued by the lack of care needed by antique varieties, but also by their volume of blooms each year. True, some of them only bloom for a few weeks in June, but you can get varieties that bloom all year and give the tea roses a run for their money. Historically, the sight and smell of the antique varieties are very rewarding. If you haven't tried one, go for will be hooked!

And so on to the inventory:

The Lenoxburg/Bella Donna/Martha Washington - Damask - Pre-1876.

In the center ring we have a rose that has proven to be a mystery over the years. I found a full size bush in an old cemetery in Pendleton County that had small suckers growing all around in the lawn. While my normal practice involves snipping a clipping in the cemeteries, this one required a good pull from the lawn since the caretaker kept mowing them off anyway. The little suckers were very hardy and before I knew it I had the most sweet smelling blooms I have ever encountered - and this remains my favorite in the garden hands down. I will write more about this one when she blooms, but after posting to some message boards, some have identified her as the Bella Donna or Martha Washington. I will present the evidence at a later date.

Northeast Quadrant

Russelliana - Polyantha Climber - Spain, 1840:
This little gem has small blooms, and is a climber but I have it in the corner and keep it fairly controlled.

Rosa Mundi - Gallica - Pre-1581:
This is one of my favorites due to the variability of each blossom. From the striped to the almost solid red or white, it puts on a show of nice medium blooms. Be warned - the bumble bees love them!

Chapeau de Napoleon - Centifolia aka Crested Moss - Pre-1820:
Gorgeous rose with lush full blossoms that open from cabbage rose type buds. Intoxicating scent as well.

Felicite Hardy - Damask - France, 1832:
Pure white rose with beautifully formed full blossoms. Buds are not overly large, but could be described as medium size. Wonderful scent and known as the best true white among the antique varieties.

Ispahan - Damask - Unknown, Pre-1832:
I have only had this one for a couple of seasons and so this year should put on a more accurate show of what this beauty can do.

Day Rose - Unknown - Pre-1920:
This rose was one of my cemetery finds in Pendleton County. When I first encountered it, it was a huge bush over 6 feet tall next to the Day family plot. Even though it had survived for so many years, about five years ago, the cemetery caretakers decided to cut down such large bushes and alas this beauty is no longer in the cemetery. I have two bushes that grew from a couple of cuttings, but have no idea as to its identity. I will present its growing habits more completely when it decides to bloom later this summer.

Banshee - Alba/Damask (according to different reports) - Unknown origin, pre-1773:
Prolific bloomer that spreads by sucker very rapidly, but suffers from bud dropping or wilt which means some of the buds will rot away before blooming. When she does bloom, she is very pretty with a delicate pink blush that fades to white.

Northwest Quadrant

Marchesa Boccella - Hybrid Perpetual - 1842:
Very lovely little bush that supplies us with blooms for most of the summer season and into fall due to the natural repeat blooming nature of the hybrid perpetual. Fragrance is not very dynamic, but decent.

Tuscany Superb - Gallica - England, Pre-1837:
More readily available sport of the older Tuscany. Also known as the Velvet Rose due to the velvety look and feel of each petal.

Charles de Mills - Gallica - Unknown, Pre-1746:
Even though I have only had this rose for one season prior, it is already one of my favorites. The large perfectly formed purple blossoms are large and gorgeous!
Spreads by sucker as well.

Leda - Damask - Pre-1800:
This is also one of my favorites due to its unique blossoms. A white blossom with just a blush of color on each petal tip. Also known as the Painted Damask.

Dr. Huey - Climber - USA, 1920:
Dr. Huey is what remains from my previous attempts at growing tea roses. Eventually they all reverted back to their root stock which in this case means a nice show from Dr. Huey. I will have to say that the root stock is obviously very hardy since the root stock always survives. I have never lost a Dr. Huey, but I have several taking up space which I hope to someday replace with genuine antique varieties. But in the mean time, Dr. Huey is a cute addition. His "climber" description is a bit overrated. With just a bit of pruning he can be easily controlled.

Cardinal de Richelieu - Gallica - France, 1840:
Very nice little rose that produces a plethora of little purple blossoms. The size of the blooms are a bit small and not very full, but the color is unique and growth habit is tidy.

Sally Holmes - Shrub, Hybrid Musk - England, 1976:
This one doesn't exactly fit into my antique roses category but it was on sale and has proved to be a frequent bloomer. It prefers to demonstrate an upright growing habit that compliments a tower trellis we added to the corner.

Southeast Quadrant

Belle de Crecy - Gallica - France, 1829:
This purple beauty is also a favorite. The many different shades displayed over the course of opening and blooming are gorgeous and the rounded button formation in the bloom center is a very cute detail.

Baronne Prevost - Hybrid Perpetual - France, 1842:
A nice steady bloomer with large blossoms and large petal count.

Day Rose:
Duplicate from above.

Louise Odier - Bourbon - France, 1851:
Another old reliable that produces a nice amount of large, full fragrant blossoms.

Autumn Damask - Damask - Pre-1600:
The antique history of this rose is a bit clouded but it is reported to be the Four Seasons rose mentioned in ancient literary sources. AKA Quatre Saisons, it is so named because it is the first European rose bred to bloom more than once a year. In mild climates I would assume this rose blooms in all four seasons as the name would suggest. Very beautiful and does repeat and puts on a wonderful show.

La Reine - Hybrid Perpetual - France, 1842:
This one produces huge saucer size blossoms and repeats as its classification would suggest. Fragrance is just as nice...a nice reliable old variety.

Clotilde Soupert - Polyantha - Luxembourg, 1889:

This little gem is another favorite due to its miniature growth habit and dainty little blossoms. The pink blush/white blossoms are very full and fragrant, but more button size rather than large. She blooms all season and would be great for small gardens as she really is very polite in her growth. My only complaint is that she remains too small for my tastes. I wish she would get bigger, but for now we will love and shelter her as she loves to bloom with all her might.

Trabue Mystery - Climber:
I will go into the history of this rose at a later date but I will say it is a vigorous little climber that has small shiny leaves and produces clusters of very small double blossoms. Not much of any fragrance, but beautiful nonetheless. I found this little specimen on the side of the road in Bourbon County near where an old farm house used to stand. Since I took some clippings, I also ran onto one in the Frankfort Cemetery growing on the Trabue family plot. The Trabues were very close friends of Daniel Boone and are buried within a stone's throw of his grave that overlooks the capital. After my specimen was harvested and after I encountered the Frankfort specimen, the caretakers cut the rose so far back that we saw no evidence of it a few years ago. However, last year, the little gutsy wonder had defied the caretakers and started to grow and bloom again around Colonel Trabue's grave. I have no idea about its true identity or age, so I will refer to it as the Trabue Rose for now.

Southwest Quadrant

Othello - David Austin English Rose - 1986:
Another of my David Austin roses. I love his line of roses and bought several a while back, but Gertrude and Othello were my only survivors after about 10 years of no winterizing. Still very hardy in my book because the tea roses would have been gone long ago without any winterizing, but a bit more delicate than the true antique varieties. The full blossoms and wonderful fragrance make this a very welcome addition to the garden.

Gertrude Jekyll - David Austin English Rose - 1986:
You have read my plight about Gert as we lovingly referred to her before her demise. I miss her and her gorgeous aroma. I will probably buy another one.

Duplicate from above.

Chestnut - Species - Unknown, pre-1814:
This is the most unique rose in the garden. The blossoms are nice full, pink and fragrant, but the bud and stem appearance are interesting. The buds are rounded with prickly bumps on them which resemble a Burr Oak casing which is why this rose has been called the Burr Rose on occasion. The stems appear gray, almost white and dead but surprise every year with new green foliage prior to blooming.

Dr. Huey:
Duplicate from above.
Reine des Violettes - Hybrid Perpetual - France, 1860:
Another little gem found on sale when we bought Sally Holmes. This one made me really enjoy the repeat blooming quality of the hybrid perpetual. When I fill in spaces or replace a Dr. Huey, I just may get a few more Hybrid Perpetuals. They have the wonderful old rose scent with lovely color and nice compact growing habit. Very reliable performers.

So for now, that concludes my introduction to the rose garden. I hope to blog about each rose in turn as they reach their peak blooming period. Until then I will pine over the buds out there taunting me and my pictures from last year.
Happy gardening!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Primitive Daffodil Mystery

Old abandoned farms and fence rows are wondrous places. Each spring and summer they bring forth echoes of those country gardeners who came before us. Many of my antique roses were discovered on the side of the road in hidden nooks and crannies of our Central Kentucky counties; long abandoned, but still true to their original planting form. On some occasions, the discovery leans toward a mutated or primitive version of what was planted years ago. I have such an example that we dug up about ten years ago, along a back road fence row in Bourbon County. Upon first sight, these daffodil like plants in no way resembled the current popular form. They had the correct stalks and shoots from the ground, but the blooms resembled a regurgitated green mass of twisted petals. They appeared to be the green rose equivalent of the daffodil world. Despite their very unattractive appearance, we dug them up and brought them home to our garden. The bulbs were very deep, and not easy to extract, but once we let them grow for a few years in their new home, they morphed back a little into yellow regurgitations with twisted petals. Over the next ten years, we moved them, divided them to create more clumps, and in perfect harmony, each batch has transformed into the following form:

This was their first appearance in early March just as the snow was melting. (see previous post for exact date)

The next two photos demonstrate the bud formation just as they are beginning to open...note the strong green appearnce.

This looks like a very angry bud to me.

The curling green around this bud is a wild onion...evidence of my needing to weed. And yes, growing right alongside our Easter Bonnets with no crossing effects.

And so you have it, our mysterious primitive daffodils in all their glory. This photo shows clearly the early stage as resembling something from Little Shop of Horrors, complete with teeth, while the more mature blossom is an explosion of petals, with much of the green faded away. If any of you have similar garden inhabitants, please share. Or if this resembles a variety you are familiar with, that would also be interesting. I'm sure some of you may also be able to fill me in on the parentage of current varieties that might help solve this little mystery. However, keep in mind, this little beauty is from a very old abandoned farm.

And on a side note: I apologize for having been such a lax blogger these days. My semester is over in about three weeks so I will be a much better blogger in May! I greatly appreciate all of your comments, but am way behind on responding to many of them. And welcome to all of the new bloggers I noticed as I take a small break to check in with my's springtime in blotanical as the new arrivals burst forth!! Sure wish I had more time to read them...Hoping May comes quickly!

Happy spring gardening! It's finally here!