A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Gertrude Stein said “A Rose is a Rose is a Rose”  and for the first time in 100 years in literature, roses were red. Meaning in our terms today “It is what it is” but sometimes something can catch you off guard.  Like purple roses that smell like heaven. Heading out to my garden yesterday I noticed my sterling rose-bush just wasn’t blooming as abundantly as usual.  I needed one single blossom which I did end up finding for this small gift I was making.  I also grabbed the last of the hydrangea.  It’s a very simple project and the sterling rose is a perfect choice with its incredible scent and unique color.

Begin by soaking a block of floral foam in water with 1/2 tsp. bleach and 1 tbsp. floral food or sugar.

Floral Foam

Soak floral foam for 15 minutes

Next gather your small terra-cotta pot and flowers. One hydrangea large enough to cover the opening of the pot and 1-3 roses depending on your pot size.  I chose one.

Flowers and Container

Flowers and Container

Cut a piece of the foam to fit snugly into the container. Next cut the stem of the hydrangea so that at least 1/2″ of its stem is inserted into the foam.   The roses are next. Make a slanted cut making sure the rose bud will sit above the hydrangea but the stem will also be inserted 1/2″ inch into the foam as well. Do this for each rose you are using and then cluster them in the middle of the hydrangea.  You may also add a small bow if you like near the outer edge.  I eventually added a black and white checked bow to mine.

Hydrangea Pot

Hydrangea Rose Pot


August is generally a slow month in the garden, but here is something you can do with your roses that will pay back tenfold over the next few months

The Fertilizer Program  from Orchard Nursery.
Applied only twice a year In February and again in August.
The amount given is for 1 rose. You can proportionately mix a larger amount of the ingredients in a wheelbarrow and apply at a rate of 11⁄2 cups per rose.
16-16-16 ——————————–1⁄2 cup
Bone Meal ——————————1⁄2 cup
FST, Iron Plus** or Iron Sulfate* —–1⁄2 cup
Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) — 2 Tbs
Sprinkle these four ingredients around each rose and mix into soil as well as possible. Then spread 1 shovelful of Chicken Manure around each rose and water in. For roses in containers, use 1⁄2 the amounts listed and add a 3rd fertilizing in May. *Note: Products containing Iron can stain—be sure to wash off adjacent paving after application. **Considered a “non-staining” iron.


I find a lot of peace in my garden as I’m sure most of you do. In the mornings when the sun has just risen and the grass is still wet with dew and the air smells of fog, Twinkle and I often take a morning walk down the paths, through the flower beds.  Inspecting what the night has brought or what we might have lost to our many visitors, whatever the case may be. We are usually “blessed with many snails heading back to their daylight home, leaving a shiny little trail behind them. They love the cool damp nights of Alameda.  It’s still very chilly and my coffee is the one thing that keeps me warm. I see my bright yellow marigolds made a tasty snack for someone and make a mental note to investigate that later.  Twinkle and I reach the end of our path and she mews expectantly at me.  She is ready for breakfast and has waited long enough.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea

As I turn to go back my eye catches a flash of white and I am amazed to see a beautiful oak leaf hydrangea blossom and another smaller greener one.  How could I have missed these?  This was a plant I had planted years ago that just didn’t make it because of the location. It kept getting broken and bumped into until finally there was only one lone stem left that didn’t bloom.  I never had the heart to cut it back or dig it up.  Now here it was surprising me with a beautiful flower on this cold wet morning. I love how that happens when you least expect it. Twinkle’s short little mew’s become more insistent, asking me (What are you waiting for? I’m hungry).  I stare at them, a smile on my face, a few moments longer, it is a good day in the garden.

August Hydrangea Care


August is almost upon us and sadly I can see that my beautiful hydrangea are starting to change colors.  This heralds the beginning of the end of Summer for me.  Now I will wait until the last moment possible because some of my hydrangea turn into beautiful red, maroon and dark blue colors that are even more vibrant the hot pinks that graced their stems throughout the previous months.  But when that moment finally arrives It will be time to cut back the hydrangea bushes. Now to do it correctly follow these simple guidelines. Most hydrangea produce flowers on the previous year’s growth (two exceptions are ‘All Summer Beauty’ and Endless Summer, which bloom on new growth).To shape and keep up the plants’ size, and to avoid cutting off next year’s flower buds, prune them back right after blooms fade. Like I said though I sometimes leave my flowers on the bush until they have completely changed color. Cut stems that have bloomed back to 12 inches. To produce fewer, larger flowers next spring, cut back some of the stems to the base of the plant.

Hydrangea are one of my favorite flowers, and as with many things in my garden I often have my own way of doing things that works for me.  I encourage you to find your way in your garden.

Cheryl in the Garden