“It is December, and my world smells of roses.“

Today, the open windows on the first morning of summer bring a more profound joy because our Spring was so cloud-covered and wet. At last, the sun shines, it is wonderful and the garden looks and feels like summer. As if overnight, Spring undergrowth has dried and is, in part, ready to cut back, masses of roses are spent and later flowering varieties opening to reveal their beauty. There is much to be done.

As I look out to the garden, the roses command attention and are spectacular. The landscape surrounding the garden has turned distinctive gold, with the flurry of harvesting starting right on schedule. The air feels like rain will never return, and I’m back to the watering and dead-heading regime. There is a frenzy of activity around, in the garden and in the region as every farmer makes the most of perfect hot, dry, conditions.

“Summer breeze, light fluffy clouds… Mother Nature has a canvas for every season.”

Terri Guillemets

The garden has an advanced summer atmosphere, not usually seen until after the late summer heat waves; messy, and untidy in parts. This is because nearly all the lavender, rosemary and catnip in the garden died in the recent flood. I’m repairing the damage slowly, pulling the many crisp dead plants out along with all the weeds. that loved the rain, and are in danger of taking over.

Fortunately, my largest French Lavender plants are growing in huge troughs, and they remain magnificent, but the ones in the garden that were soaked for several days did not like it. There are also sections where too much moisture has given the roses fungal issues, and black-spot so many look pretty sad with yellow leaves and distinctive black marks.

One rose that did enjoy the cooler season and extra water this year is Peter Frankenfeld ®. I’ve never seen this one so full of blooms and so striking. The roses on this Hybrid tea are a beautiful clear hot pink magenta with flowers and buds galore. Bred by Reimer Kordes in Germany in 1966 and introduced to Australia by Treloar Roses in 1967 as Peter Frankenfeld. It boasts classically shaped blooms that are perfect on long stems of leathery foliage and are disease resistant, healthy and vigorous. Peter Frankenfeld is a good cutting rose with a mild fragrance and equally arresting left in the garden to adorn a space. Ours sits happily by the front entrance so is stunning to view from inside through the glass door.

When in the fresh morning. I go into my garden before anyone else is awake. I go, for the time being, into perfect happiness

The Duet rose was bred by Herbert Swim in the USA in 1960 and has been a popular rose ever since. Evidently, the rich coral pink colour on the face and attractive hot pink on the reverse was significant colour breakthrough when this rose first went on the market. My Duet rose is one of my best roses and an absolute favourite that has grown in the garden since 2018 and survived droughts, dust storms, heatwaves and floods.

Growing alongside Duet is Sharifa Asma, from the David Austin English Rose Collection, named after an Omani princess at the request of her family. Along with the exotic name, this rose is beautiful, with masses of blooms on long arching branches, and the bush is tall bushy and relatively upright. The roses are soft, delicate pink with white edges, with a beautiful perfume, in a tousled bloom. Bred in the UK in 1989 by David C H Austin.

“There is nothing I like better at the end of a hot summer’s day than taking a short walk around the garden. You can smell the heat coming up from the earth to meet the cooler night air.”

Peter Mayle

Summer in the garden is all about waking early and being outside to enjoy the brilliance of the morning. Afternoons are meant for chill, being lazy and not working in the heat. There is so much to love about summer gardening- a light breeze, the hum of bees, the fragrance of roses, birds, and greenery everywhere. Not to mention the abundance of colour in the garden, which glows right on through the day until dusk and the arrival of night.

Copious amounts of herbs are a welcome aspect of summer; tarragon, sage, parsley, rosemary, various thymes, salad burnet, chives, Italian parsley, nasturtiums, lemon verbena, coriander, rocket, sorrel, oregano, chillies, basil, marjoram, lemongrass, curry leaf plant, comfrey, borage, kaffir lime leaves, peppermint geranium, rose geranium, aloe vera, lime leaves, garlic chives, oregano golden, Thai bush basil, and many more. Lemon balm and mint are recommended to always grow in pots to avoid invasion in the garden. I made this mistake and now have masses of apple mint in amongst the roses. It is easy to pull out but is very invasive, but at least it smells good. My other mistake was to plant lemon balm in the base of roses in pots, which I regret as it becomes very root bound and hard to remove.

You must fail at gardening to master it

From the top; – Unsplash images the first four and the remaining are from my garden.

These herbs and others will repel pests, add colour and texture, clean the air and provide healing properties. The culinary herbs are useful for cocktails and essential for summer cooking and salads. I’m relieved this year that my sage plants are growing in pots and avoided the flood but not so the poor lemon verbena that died straight away sadly.

Summer gardening is usually about cutting back and enjoying the surprise elements. Each year will bring that extra depth as perennials pop up one may have forgotten, and together with more established plants, create a unique garden landscape. One of fullness and completion. The outcome is unknown until all the new plants come to fruition in summer, blending together to create that new look, for fresh eyes. It is a strange anomaly what plants will thrive in that year’s conditions and which will fade.

Some sections of the garden look different this year than expected for Summer, with all the late autumn planting of lavender and rosemary into a hedge sadly gone. The Tea Garden is bare, with many perennials removed, and what remains is trying hard to recover from stagnant water and fungal issues. On a brighter note, the roses everywhere across the garden have flourished way beyond expectations, and many singled out as ‘non-performers’ have been magnificent. These have been a welcome surprise and a gentle reminder that sometimes all that is needed in a garden is time and patience.

So plant your own gardens and decorate your soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

Jorge Luis Borges

Content Di Baker 2022

Images Di Baker with the exception of herb images from Unsplash.com as cited.

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