Catching Up

– Posted in: Garden chores

As the rain lets up and the shipping trickles to a close, I’m having a bit of time to do things in the garden for ME! Unusual! Like planting up porch boxes, mowing, weeding…ugh/whew. I hate and detest weeding–yet I feel profound relief at the removal of chaos it brings. Like getting out of sodden clothing after a downpour, I feel I can move again. Most of the mowing here I do with the tractor, around the barns & lane, but within the fenced garden areas it’s weed-eater and cursing myself for putting the beds too close to fit the riding mower in between them. They look good that way, and a regular mower would fit if I had one or could push it without wrecking my wrists, but 5′ apart would have been better. And if someone can tell me why wasps love tractors and lawn mowers and weed eaters, I’d appreciate it.

We had over 2″ of rain Friday and Saturday, and the roses and lots else are sprawling. Luckily I had put tomato cages under Mme De Bruxelles as she was heavily laden with buds–she’s nearly on the ground now. This morning I picked a couple dozen more blooms for the rosewater jar, and the steamy heat already by 8 am made the fragrance wonderful. Yesterday when I went out to pick I woke up a fawn who was snoozing in the shade just outside the fence——so I trotted back inside the house after apologizing. I also delayed mowing until last night so as not to scare it or the doe and brand new fawn that are bedded down nearby.

I tell myself that’s why I’m behind on the mowing, anyway. I’m behind on my still room chores because of the weather–the roses are late and suddenly piling up on top of the lavender which feels a bit early.
When I started this year’s rosewater I was reminded of the admonitions to ‘remove the bitter white base to the petal’ in rose recipes and the fact this is something I’ve never done as it’s something I’ve never seen. I emailed around to rose growing friends and the only roses they could list that did were teas & a few hybrids but not Damasks. As Damask roses are the most fragrant roses I’ve ever grown, and the ones used historically for culinary & perfumery uses, I can’t help but feel bad for a person trying to use Teas for rosewater or jelly. Ick: leathery and tough, with a correspondingly coarse scent if any. The petals on a Damask rose are thinner than silk and floatingly sweet. This evening I’ll toast Midsummer Night with rose liqueur and strawberries.

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~Albert Camus in Albert Camus quotations

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kathy Purdy July 6, 2005, 3:18 pm

What are the names of your Zone 3 hardy climbing roses?

Laurie June 24, 2005, 7:51 am

A fascinating collection of recipes. Quite tempting!

Alice Nelson June 23, 2005, 7:20 am

I don’t use rosewater ( no time to make it, either) but the climbing roses (7) that I planted in the city garden and are hardy to zone 3 are packed with buds even after spending winter in the Upper Peninsula on a metal fence. There was no die off whatsoever, which I can’t say for some of the shrubs. In fact, we took the weigela out since it borderline hardy and dies back a little every year. I’ll use it in Marquette someplace where it is zone 5 ( near the lake).

Judy Miller June 22, 2005, 2:45 pm


Judy Miller June 22, 2005, 2:42 pm

Rose water is wonderful when homemade and if you have lots of roses, far far cheaper than store-bought. If you are going to use it in cooking, you can omit the vodka and simmer the roses rather than steep them, or follow the directions and then simmer to drive off the alcohol if needed. Lemon juice will bring out the pink. Here’s the link to rose water on my recipe page:

Claire June 22, 2005, 7:10 am

I had to mow yesterday, which I’ve taken to doing in the early morning otherwise its too hot!

I love the sound of your “Rose Water” do you have any links you can point me too to explain the process??

M Sinclair Stevens June 21, 2005, 10:03 pm

I’m so behind on mowing I just gave up. The reel mower I got a couple of years back cuts St. Augustine too short for the summer months. If I tried mowing now I’d be taking off more than 3/4 of the grass. Too much stress (for me and the grass) as temperatures are hovering around 100 this week. Luckily, I live in a very laid back neighborhood. So the grass posse hasn’t come around.

I can’t see doing anything in the garden for the next 8 weeks or so. It’s just too darn hot.