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February 17, 2005

Not much to tell, right now...

I'm still looking for somewhere to order a non-climbing Cecile Brunner rose. Who knows why, but apparently the climbing cultivar is very popular and the bush-style one isn't. Weird, especially since the Cecile Brunner bush is as carefree as any old garden rose, and on top of that, fairly compact -- you have to keep pruning it regularly or it gets kind of hairy, but it's mostly a four-by-four bush you could fit in just about anywhere. The climbing version makes thirty feet, according to the description on the gardening sites I've seen. That's lovely, but I don't have anywhere to put thirty feet of climbing rose -- the house isn't that tall, and I'm double damned if I'm getting up on a ladder to prune and tie up a rose that wants to grow up the side of the house and down a chimney or something.

I've found a couple of places that appear to have it in stock, and probably will just go ahead and try ordering on Friday -- one of the places, Antique Rose Emporium, is in Austin, Texas. They say they only take orders November through April (I think), but they'll ship later if you live in a northern zone so you don't plant it just to have it freeze.

That would be nice. The Brunner is supposed to be hardy to Zone 5, but even here in Zone 6 you can't count on the last frost falling any earlier than the end of April. Ideally, you'd plant a new rosebush somewhere around the second week of May. I've seen snow as late as Mother's Day here. It's a rarity, but it did happen here about twenty years ago, and even if it hadn't, or if I didn't remember it, I could hardly forget we had a major snowstorm that dumped a foot and a half on March 13th in 2004, so ...

I called and got an estimate from a local arborist to come and remove the stumps -- they'll be here Friday. We've learned our lesson about impatience, and letting just anybody with a mag-sign on their truck perform quasi-professional services in our yard. We're probably lucky none of the knuckle-draggers who came out and took the trees down in the first place fell out of a tree -- they said they were 'on the clock' and that their employer's insurance would cover them, but I guess it was a little chancy to bet on that, in retrospect.

So a professional, educated tree guy is going to come out and finish the job these yokels screwed up so badly we don't even want their asses on our property to grind down the stumps. I may ask him, if I'm here and he's amenable, if he knows what's wrong with the Atlas cedar. Looking at it, and the browning pattern, I think it may just be frost or wind burn -- the brown needles are all on one side of the plant, and even on the stems that have the browned needles, the wood itself is still flexible. It could be something the thing will 'snap out of,' I don't know. I hope so -- not that you don't pretty much take it on faith that anything you put in the yard can be overwhelmed by diseases, especially here -- because I really like it. I knew when we bought it, it was a gamble. Cedars probably don't like our climate, though I'd seen plenty of them on the web in places like Connecticut and New Hampshire. Usually, they were planted close to or even on buildings or structures, and likely were protected from things like cold wind, ice and other weather conditions that can affect them. The crappy soil could be a problem, too. Up to four inches, it's pretty decent; past that, it's largely clay and rocks.

I don't know -- with the damp weather this year, and the state of the soil here, it could be some fungus or root rot that's hit it, in which case not only will we have to take it out, but I probably ought to consider not planting another one. Root rot is caused by a fungus -- apparently, it's in the soil most places, but the conditions have to be just right for it to take hold, and if they are, it'll do the same thing every time. We've taken out a lot of woody plants since we moved in -- and the state of the yard where we planted the cedar would indicate there was something big and woody growing there, removed before we bought the house.

I don't know, our troglodyte-in-hot-pants, camper parking neighbors took all the trees out on their lot within six months of moving in, except for one mangy-looking maple right in front of their place, so the roots could come from anywhere. As much clay as there is in the soil here, nothing seems to root very deeply and everything seems to send out a lot of surface roots.

We may lose the cedar, and I'll consider it a lesson learned and not plant anything like it away from the house in the future. I'd have had to dig something up to put it near the house when we bought it, though and at the time we weren't really looking to remove and replace anything. As I noted, we didn't so much buy as adopt the thing -- they're kind of sad-looking things, and we both like the way sport-growing things like weeping and curly ornamentals look, especially when you combine them. It's probably more me than my husband, but he was the one who broke, finally, and said, "let's buy the cedar" when we saw it a few years ago. He was the one who made the call on the last cat, too.

The stuff out front is all in decent shape, unless the monkeys who took out the maples managed to kill the corkscrew hazelnut, too (they snapped a few branches on it, but it seems okay, and frankly it's lost branches when the dog's leash got tangled up in it with no lasting effects, so I doubt anything short of completely flattening it would kill it).

Hazel bushes are indigenous to what's left of wild woodlots in Ohio, from what I can gather -- they're common enough in this climate, in other words, though the corkscrew version isn't. It's a not-uncommon genetic sport, though, it's not like it's some exotic variant from a completely different climate that became popular in this zone because somebody on HGTV showed it in an episode or something. It should survive, as should the hollies and the weeping cherry. In fact, with the warmer winter and more sun, the cherry should really kick it out this spring.

So I'll post some pictures after they remove the stumps, and I'll make sure I have the guy's number -- if I ever have to have anything else done in this yard, even if it's more expensive, it's going to be done by somebody who knows what the hell he's doing. If one of us had, say, slid a car over the flowering almond in bad weather, it would be one thing -- when you're paying somebody for a service and they wreck the hell out of your yard, it's entirely another.

Guess I'll have to get out and rustle up a couple more flowering almond bushes, too. I decided instead of replacing that one where it is, I'd rather plant one on each side of the driveway, on the high side of the sidewalk. They're in the "under fifty dollar" range, so the hub doesn't squirm about it (until the Atlas cedar, everything was, including the weeping cherry and the corkscrew hazelnut). They seem to do well enough in the yard, too -- that one was really doing well, growing and blooming every year. Dammit.

C'est la vie -- I feel better knowing somebody else killed it. I've always had a black thumb for indoor plants, but I seem to do okay outside. Theoretically, it's because it's easier to do 'out of sight, out of mind' on outdoor plants. I think I've killed most of the indoor ones with kindness, overwatering them. It's just as well, really -- having four cats in the house, and a small dog, it's difficult to maintain any indoor plants in a visible or prominent spot, because they eat them or knock them over or dig in the dirt anyway. About half the plants you grow indoors are poisonous to animals, besides. Good thing I never had much luck with them -- I don't need the stress of feeling like I should have plants in the house and constantly worrying about whether the cats will destroy them or poison themselves.

Posted by Melinda at February 17, 2005 10:30 AM


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