Today is cloudy and gray and it is now summer. Come on! This is not the way it should be!
We want sunshine, and swimming-type heat, not too much, mind you, but more than this for sure. However, the roses are in bloom and you can forgive a lot of cloudy days when they flower. Right now there is a large, apricot-coloured, fragrant bloom in a vase on the dining room table, filched from a neighbouring garden where it was dangling over the fence. My visiting daughter picked it by chewing through the stem with her teeth. She is pretty sure no-one saw her, but if the doorbell rings we may be in trouble.
It is gorgeous and even if I am harbouring “stolen goods” it’s worth it. I suppose I could grow one rose on the balcony in a large pot, but it doesn’t seem quite fair to subject a lovely rose to such a life. Actually, my friends are very good to me. It’s a rare week when I don’t have something pretty to enjoy. Last week, Ingrid brought me a lovely bouquet of nasturtiums from her balcony, which reminds me the nasturtium seeds I hopefully planted some weeks ago have never germinated. I’ve kept them watered, they are in decent soil, in full sun, so what gives? I don’t think they are going to suddenly appear, either. Old seeds, probably. I have had them for a while.
Muriel brought me two beautiful yellow roses two weeks ago. Jean, earlier, brought yellow roses and Annie arrived with an armfull of flowers picked from Melissa Street. Each of my other friends brings me a thoughtful bouquet every so often, so I’m spoiled.
Last week, I got a ride to a nursery and bought those dark purple petunias, the white bocoppa and the single dark pink geranium that I propose to put in a large pot. It will be my sole pretty pot — the rest are busy growing vegetables. You gotta’ eat, y’ know!
I picked the first small, green pea-pod to present to my visiting Kamloops daughter, whom we knew as the queen of the garden peas. She was murder! Any time she disappeared for a couple of minutes I rushed out to see if she was in the pea patch and she usually was. We were lucky to get a single meal with such a pea-predator in the place! She is here visiting right now, but I’ve warned her that that one pea was all she was going to get. It was the only decent-sized one anyway — the rest are just past the blossom stage, not even ready for the hungriest of vegetable thieves (I hope).
For those of you new to growing roses , a couple hints may be in order.
When picking a bloom you should snip the stem off just above a five petalled leaf ( or leafed-leaf? What!? Er … what-cha-muh-call-it?). At this point a new stem should eventually appear, and maybe even another rose.
Before putting the rose in a vase, cut the stem back, just a bit, on a slant, under a running tap. This prevents an air bubble from remaining on the end of the stem which would prevent it from absorbing water. Roses are lovely, and may re-bloom in the fall, but enjoy them now, even in someone else’s garden!
Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.