Friday, May 30, 2008

Why Garden?

There is no unlucky gardener, for each small success outweighs each defeat in his or her passionate heart. Elspeth Thompson, Urban Gardener, 1999

Those of you who visit Bliss regularly know that I usually finish my post with a quote, this time I start with one. I feel it is such a good quote as it is so very true.
Do you, gentle reader, feel that you are a lucky gardener? Do your garden successes outweigh the defeats? For me they certainly do. As a gardener I'm very much aware of how nature works and that not everything will go as planned; seeds will not come up, tulips turn out to be the wrong colour and when at long last the first strawberries are ripe and you want to sink your teeth in a juicy strawberry this can happen:
Killjoy was here!

This certainly counts as a defeat or does it? Has sister slug won the battle of the strawberries? Well, judge for yourself.
A basket full of gooseberries and strawberries

Personally I feel this counts as a resounding success! And yes, they were sweet, juicy and very yummy.

Gardening has made me much more aware of all the good things in life; a beautiful flower opening for the first time,
delicious and healthy food for the table,
the promise of things to come,
a lovely bunch of flowers to brighten up the dullest day,
friends to keep you company,
the heady scent of a rose,
wonderful music,
a burst of glorious colour to gladden the heart,
the list is endless.

So yes, I feel very lucky to be a gardener and I commiserate with all the people who haven't discovered the joy of gardening. But how about you, dear reader, how do you feel about gardening? Has it enriched your life and if so in what way? Do you feel lucky to be a gardener and would you be very sad if you, for whatever reason, could not garden anymore? And what is it about gardening that makes you tick, feel passionate about? In short, why do you garden? One enquiring mind really would like to know.

Have a fun weekend!

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Bliss Rose Extravaganza

Smothered with roses is what is happening at Bliss right now. The front garden is one mass of white roses and many an unsuspecting pedestrian, when turning the corner, looks like s/he has just been hit with the proverbial blunt instrument when they clap their eyes on this extravaganza. And when they get a whiff of that gorgeous rose scent they stop dead in their tracks. Very funny, I've seen it happen quite a lot recently and who can blame them? Not me, as it is quite overwhelming to encounter that many scented roses in full bloom.
Let me introduce these showstopping culprits to you. On top of the pergola and around the front door is Madame Alfred Carriere, a very dear friend of mine.
Here is a mugshot of her.
Pretty, isn't she, her flowers start out in the softest of pinks and become whitish later on. She is a very prolific bloomer, healthy, long flowering and she is very fragrant too.
It's a joy to walk underneath the pergola where her scent is trapped, pure bliss!

Another star on the Bliss rose firmament is rosa Moonlight. She is usually the first to flower and she is still flowering when most roses have given up.
Moonlight is a strong and healthy rose, her new leaves are purple-red and her flowers are white with a golden heart. Her scent is a lovely one, very enjoyable.
Rosa Moonlight and Madame Alfred Carriere

Another gorgeous rose is Sombreuil that has the best scent of all the roses flowering in the front garden. It's an oldfashioned rose, white with just a hint of apricot in the centre.
I've put her in a bed edged with box and filled with white lavender. When the lavender is in flower together with Sombreuil the air is filled with a very heady perfume indeed and the bees are working overtime then.
In the bed right next to Sombreuil is rosa Blanc Double de Coubert. This is not a climbing rose like the others but she does get to be about 2 meters tall.
Blanc Double de Coubert is in a bed filled with white geraniums and they look very pretty together.
The flowers of Blanc Double de Coubert are the very whitest of white and look like they are made of very thin tissue paper. Its scent reminds me of fresh pineapple, very pleasant.
But the one who is stealing the show right now is rosa Guirlande d'Amour.
She is literally covered with buds and flowers and she hasn't reached her peak yet.
On a sunny day her scent is overwhelming. It's a great rose to have, very strong and healthy, it's an exceptionally prolific bloomer, scented and long flowering too. What more could you possibly ask for? What's that you say? You love cutting roses for the vase? Well, so do I and the roses in the Bliss front garden are very good for that too. If you cut them at the right moment and give them proper care, they last for about a week and fill your living room with their wonderful scent.
This a little bouquet I cut about 2 weeks ago when the roses started flowering. In the vase are Madame Alfred Carriere, Moonlight, Blanc Double de Coubert and Sombreuil.

If you feel like you would love to have something like this in your garden too, then give it a try. Contrary to what a lot of people think, roses are not that difficult to grow. Mine are all grown organically, they are pruned twice a year (once in March and again in June), I deadhead them once a week when in flower and give them a feed twice a year too just after pruning. And I enjoy them from early May until the first frost in November. I do not spray them with toxins of any kind, there is no need. The trick is to select strong and healthy roses (disease resistant), buy them from a reputable rose nursery and treat them right.
On the left Sombreuil and on the right Blanc Double de Coubert.

Copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

French Bliss

The old watermill in Vernon, Normandy

is what I enjoyed earlier this month when I went for a short holiday to Normandy, France. It's a 6 hours drive from where I live so not too bad. My main reason for going was, of course, to experience Monet's garden in May and it did not disappoint as you can gather from my previous post.
The weather was lovely so that made the holiday even more enjoyable. Monet's garden was not the only garden I saw when I was there. Just a few hundred meters from Monet's garden is the American Art Museum that comes with its own lovely garden and, you haven't heard the best bit yet, it's free!
The road from the American Art Museum to Monet's garden flanked with zillions of Irises
The garden of the American Art Museum
Hmmmm, what does this Grand Allee remind me of? Not the foggiest, you?
It is not the biggest of gardens but you can spend a very pleasant half hour there before or after you've visited Monet's garden. And the museum itself is worth a visit too. I went to see the exposition Portrait of a Lady. and very pretty Ladies they all were too.
Before I went to Monet's garden I had a nice cup of coffee and a scrumptious fruit tart at the Terra Cafe of the Museum. After my visit to Monet I returned to the Terra Cafe to have an excellent lunch outside on the terrace underneath a canopy of tree branches, overlooking the garden. Simply Bliss!
Close to Giverny you find the small town of Vernon with some lovely architecture but appallingly bad food. I had the worst dinner ever there although the wine was excellent. Yes, the French do bad food too. Yuck!
Some beautiful old houses dating back to the Middle Ages, Vernon
Ancient Donjon, Vernon
Gothic church with the gargoyles to prove it

All that sightseeing makes a person hungry so off we went to a lovely old watermill, Le Moulin de Fourges, to have dinner.
We'd booked a table at 8 and when we arrived it was still warm enough to have our aperitifs outside in the garden.

Later on, when it got a bit nippy, we went inside to have our dinner.
One of the charms of dining in an old building is its lovely atmosphere; it was simply riddled with old beams, quaint little windows and whathaveyou.
There also was a lovely view of the surrounding countryside. But enough of quaint sloping floors, adorable little mullioned windows and forehead bumping low beams, let us progress to the more important stuff : the food!
Main course
Just deserts ;-)
Feast your eyes on this, gentle reader. What a pity that it can only be a feast for your eyes.With it I drank a half bottle of an amusing red wine, tres amusant in fact, not to mention tasty.

I was in Normandy for only a few days but I made the most of it. Even the drive to and from Normandy was very pleasant as we drove through gently rolling hills and these gorgeous fields of golden Bliss under a deep blue sky. You could smell the flowers long before you could see them, a kind of warm wild honey, very enjoyable.
copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

The gardener does not love to talk (...)
And never seems to want to play, (...)
O how much wiser would you be
To play at Indian wars with me!
Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child's Garden of Verses