sunnyvalley's blog

No more blogging
Posted on Feb 12, 2018 1:07 PM

Just a short note to say that I won't be posting here anymore which some may have already suspected since the last post was in September last year. The reason is quite simple - TIME! I recently discovered Facebook. Recently you ask - Facebook has been around for ages! I know!!!! Anyway, I will be posting on FB from now on so if anyone wants to look me up - Sharlene Sutter (Saint-Gall, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland)

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I blinked and now it's September!
Posted on Sep 3, 2017 3:47 AM

Officially giving up on bi-weekly posts!

I have now reached the stage where I have to admit to myself that my plans for this season were just too ambitious! I have been so busy that I haven’t even had the energy to read the forum threads let alone make a new blog post! The summer is over and I still have a long list of things that I want to get done. One of the main reasons for my dilemma is the order I placed for 100 new iris! They arrived on 29 July and I had only prepared bed space for half of them so the rest had to be potted. They are still sitting in the driveway waiting to be planted. So I have decided not to attempt sticking to bi-weekly postings because it just adds to my self-inflicted stress which really defeats the object.

We were off work during the first three weeks of August and they went by in a flash. We used the time to renovate our entrance ...
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DH started and finished the first of two new rose arches as well as making a couple of steel supports for my standard roses.
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My battle with the new bed continued. The poison I sprayed didn’t kill all the grass roots so I landed up removing everything by hand anyway. DH laid the new lawn edging and I repositioned the border cable for the auto-mower. Then, loosening the soil, removing stones, tilling, removing stones, adding compost, removing stones, levelling off and removing stones once again! In total about 500kg!!! of stones had to be carted away!!! But I got there in the end and finally started planting some roses last week.
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This year’s rose seedlings have also been taking up quite a bit of time – which to keep and which to cull???? So far 14 have made the grade and have been planted in the trial bed. There are still about 20 which I am observing but they still have a bit of convincing to do before I reward them with bed space!
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All the pods from my iris crosses have been harvested. I landed up with a total of 1049 seeds from 20 crosses – goodness knows where I will plant all of them! I have also collected pollen to freeze for next season from the couple of re-bloomers which bloomed during the past two weeks. There are still a few stalks developing and I might even see more if the weather holds.
Eternal Bliss, Lovely Again, Jennifer Rebecca
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Champagne Elegance, Low Ho Silver, Cantina
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The first rose flush this year was most disappointing to say the least but they came around and rewarded us with more blooms during the second flush from mid to end of August. Whether or not the season will be long enough for a third flush this year all depends on the weather. I am hoping for a long mild autumn – hopefully all the way until December!!!!
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Only 24 hours in a day!
Posted on Jul 16, 2017 1:06 PM

Too much to do – too little time!

Has it really been four weeks since my last post? And here I was thinking that I could keep up with a bi-weekly blog post. Well so much for good intentions although I must say, it is the first that I have missed. There is just so much going on but I only have myself to blame. DH is forever telling me that I make my own stress and honestly, he is quite right! It is as if I am taking one step forward and two steps back all the time! Adding two tasks to my to-do list but only removing one! But ..... I am happy and that is what counts in the end.

Now that we have had some good rain again after the two very hot weeks at the end of June, I have seen another spurt of growth and the garden is looking good again.
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The first rose flush is over now and looking back I would not rate this as one of the best! There was just too much damage from the late frost and the hot dry weather also didn’t help. I have just finished giving all the roses a second feeding and hope that it will give them a boost!
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My trial beds and pot ghetto!
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We finally decided on the shape of the new bed which I mentioned in a previous post and the first steps towards realisation have been taken.
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The robot mower had to be moved. This involved emptying the wood troughs, moving and refilling them with amended soil, and then reattaching the mower cables. Yesterday, I sprayed the lawn which has to be removed with Glyphosate and will cover the entire bed with black plastic as soon as I get the mower border cable repositioned.
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June/July is also a good month for cuttings so ...... I took cuttings. Whether or not they ever get planted in the garden is another story! This year I did some carnations, lavender and heuchera. I also potted up a couple of iris rhizomes. I only had a couple that needed dividing and just didn’t have the heart to chuck them.
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Last year, I added to my Lilium collection. Up until now I have only had yellow and orange. My mistake was buying them at the discounter because I think all were incorrectly labelled. Anyway, I now have 6 new NOID Lilium....
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I was also so impressed by the daylilies posted on this forum last year that I ordered a couple from a German grower. All correctly labelled! Just goes to show doesn’t it – you get what you pay for!!!

Little Girl (entire plant – bloom), Barbara Mitchell
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Blue Sheen, Byzantine Mask, Caribbean Affair
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Elegant Candy, Peggy Jeffcoat, Pink Damask
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Roswitha, Sammy Russel, Second Glance
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Siloam Ury Winniford, Sultry Siren, Super Purple(?)
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Another plant which really fascinates me is Sempervivum. They seem to thrive in the most unexpected spots. The one in the first photo is growing on a concrete wall. I only have 6 or 7 different NOID varieties. They always seem to be sold as ‘varieties’ here, even in the nurseries!
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A couple of other pretty plants that have bloomed during the last four weeks...
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Four of my empty trial beds, intended for future iris and rose-seedlings, are temporarily displaying some pretty mixed summer annuals blooms. Besides poppies, alyssum, convolvulus and many others, I was surprised to see Gilia tricolor commonly known as Birds-Eye (second row, first pic)
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I love taking photographs of my garden and the plants that grow in it. It is also a great way of keeping track of my rose seedlings. When it comes time to culling, I search for all the photos of a particular seedling, do an ‘evaluation’ and make a decision. I have a lot of red seedlings this year and have had a hard time getting my photos to display the true colour. I use a FinePix HS20EXR which has met all my requirements up to now. Our DD, on the other hand, has a NIKON D5000 which she kindly let me use to make a comparison. Actually, she has been on at me about the quality of the photos from my camera for ages!
The reds and blues are definitely better .... left FinePix – right NIKON
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But what amazed me even more was the quality even when viewing the photos at 150% magnification, they are still clear! I think I might just be writing to Santa .......
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Update on a couple of florist roses which I grew from cuttings. The cuttings were stuck in December 2015, rooted by the end of January 2016 and potted up in March. They were then planted in the ground in July last year and survived the winter to bloom again this year. I am not saying that all florist roses will do well in a Zone 6 garden but it is worth a try. I think the orange is absolutely stunning!
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Looking back at what I have written it doesn’t sound like I have done that much work in the garden. But, like everyone else, there are the other garden chores like weeding, cutting edges, dead-heading, cutting back and cleaning out and not to forget, watering the umpteen seedling pots. I have also started grafting my seedlings onto the rootstock which I potted up in February. Sorting out photographs is another time-consuming task. So never a dull moment in SunnyValley!!

To end – I would like to share the fact that my first rose has been registered and I am honoured that a local rose grower is going to trial it. The big European hybridizers may frown on the ICRA registration but I feel very proud to have a rose that I have bred officially documented.

Official registration of ‘Adorabelle’ bred by Sharlene Sutter
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Until next time .........

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This and that ... and ROSES!
Posted on Jun 19, 2017 2:24 PM

During the last two weeks temperatures took a dip down to 15C on June 7 with the cold front that brought us a bit of rain the night before. It was a small reprieve during an otherwise rather hot dry period; temperatures ranging between 25C and 30C and no rain to speak of.

I took advantage of the cooler weather on June 7 to trim some boxwood. It took me most of the day to trim the small hedges around the roof rose beds. I use a hand clipper as it gives a cleaner cut and also had to organise a set-up to keep the clippings from flying all over the mulch on the beds. The lavender in the middle of the rose bed has since been removed. It was a large variety – just too big and untidy for the position. I didn’t get around to trimming any of the individual boxwood shrubs and just as well because the weather turned hot again. The leaves on the trimmed hedges turned brown within a day but with the extra watering I am already seeing some new growth.
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The lack of rain did have one advantage. I was able to get all my rose crosses done for this year without having to cover any freshly pollinated blooms. First I did quite a few crosses with freezer stored pollen from last year and then with freshly harvested pollen. This is also the first year that I have pollinated roses I have bred myself. In total 116 crosses which is probably more than I can handle.
First all the petals are removed from a bloom which is just about to open. I then remove all the anthers and pollinated with pollen from another rose. After that, I label the cross noting the parents and date. A minimum of 120 days, longer if we don’t have frost, and then the hips will be ready for harvesting and stratification until January next year.
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DH did me a big favour last week – I think he also enjoyed the project. It involved making a support for an oversized standard rose (2.5m to the graft) which I grafted three years ago. Out with the welder and the result is an ingenious support with a ‘crown holder’.
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Last week, I also tackled a job that has been on my to-do list for absolute ages. I finally removed the rootstock of a standard rose which didn’t survive the -20C we had in the winter of 2011/12. I had been using it as a rootstock supply for new standard roses. But now that I have planted a cutting of it in my trial bed it is no longer needed and I can free up the space for something else. I had to remove all the other plants – boxwood, sedge, lilies, anemone and hebe – to get to the rootstock. I am still debating on what to plant now. Iris or another rose or both????
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Edge cutting was also on the agenda! I just love seeing neatly trimmed lawn edges – it is something I inherited from my mother. Call me crazy but I don’t use the conventional edge cutting equipment such as grass shears or a string trimmer although we do own both and they are well-used. No, no! I raid the kitchen for a small vegetable knife and DH’s workshop for the sharpening stone!
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I think the result speaks for itself! Perfectly cut edges – an absolute joy for me!!!
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Here are some photos of the garden taken last week ...
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I think all but four of my rose seedlings have bloomed. Slowly but surely I am getting to the part of breeding which I find the most difficult – selecting which to keep and which are destined to enrich the compost. I am putting it off until the last four bloom and then I really have to make a decision. In the meantime I have taken tons of photos – this is just a small selection:
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And in closing, the highlight of the past two weeks – THE ROSES!!!
Acapella, Astrid Gräfin von Hardenburg, Ave Maria
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Berolina, Blauwe Stad, Blue Girl
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Dick Clark, Ferdinand Pichard, Herkules
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Honey Dijon, Infinity, Julia's Rose
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Little Sunset, Loving Lorna, Mamy Blue
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Mind Games, Moonstone, Papagena
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Pope John Paul II, Princess of Infinity, Purple Lodge
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Purple Tiger, Rokoko, Stephen Rulo
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Valencia, William Shakespeare
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And three florist roses grafted onto rootstock and now growing in my garden
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The end of one season – the beginning of another....
Posted on Jun 4, 2017 6:26 AM

The iris season may be over but the rose season has begun!

‘Blessed Again’ opened the iris season on 16 April – an early IB rebloomer. The late frost at the end of April damaged a lot of stalks so there was a bit of a gap in blooming. The main bloom period actually lasted from mid-May up until now. That is three and a half weeks of iris blooms. A short season but intense! There are still a few individual stalks with blooms but the main season is over.

These bloomed during the last two weeks
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Most of the iris crosses that I did are forming nice big pods so I am sure I will have a couple of seedlings next year. I have had a lot more to work with this year and have tried quite a few rebloomers and space agers so maybe I will have some interesting blooms in 2019.

With 100 new iris on order for this season, new bed space is imperative! DH isn’t thrilled at the prospect but also not absolutely dead-set against the idea. The robot mower will have to be moved and a lot of new edge stones laid but it will give me space for some of the iris. We have been playing with ideas ....
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I have my doubts that it will be ready by the time the iris arrive – great if it is but also not a tragedy if not because I still have quite a bit of space in my trial beds where they can be parked until next season.

The Dutch and Siberians, the few that I have, also bloomed during the last two weeks. The Sweet William are now in full bloom, as well as the Geraniums, Lupins and Foxgloves.
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All things considering, I think the garden is actually looking pretty good right now.
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The end of May was extremely hot and dry! Actually, I cannot remember temperatures over 30°C in May since we moved to this house – I measured 33°C on 29 May. The rainfall for May was also extremely low! Only 97.5mm in comparison to last year’s 244.5mm. Great for the iris bloom but not so great for the lawn and other plants. After the measly 8mm on 14 May, we finally had a downpour on 29 May which registered 36mm, and a bit more the next day and quite a few times since then. With the rain and temperatures more typical for this time of the year, +/- 24°C, the roses and plants in general are taking off. The frost at the end of April delayed the first rose flush but now they are starting to bloom.
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Rose seedlings from previous years
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Some first blooms on this year's seedlings
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I think I planted these three roses in the beginning of 2011. Three supposedly pink HT’s in so-called ‘body-bags’ at a Frank a piece. It took a while for me to realise that they were Hybrid Perpetuals and not Hybrid Teas. A definite ID is difficult but I now refer to these three as my ‘NOID Aldi Pink – maybe John Hopper’s’. Up until last year they were pillard but this year I tried pegging them into an arch and I must say that it looks quite good. These three roses are plague by rust – a bout of which we have already had this year – and if it continues, they will be history. But for now, they look pretty good ....
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That’s gardening for you: ever-changing and always something new!
Well at least for me – out with the old, in with the new, moving things around, doing things differently – never a boring moment in the garden! Always something that needs doing ...... when I finish up here, I am off to do my first round of dead-heading the roses - the first of many this year!

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