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OGRs in the Garden

Ogres are fairy tale creatures, meant to scare the listener or reader with their fearsome looks or behavior. A charming exception to this image are the movie characters, Shrek and Fiona.

To a rose lover and history buff an OGR is an Old Garden Rose! Generally, these are roses that were known to cultivation prior to 1867, at which point the first Hybrid Tea rose, “La France” was introduced. This was the beginning of modern Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Grandifloras, Miniatures and Shrub roses.

Old roses existed in Europe long before but were generally once-blooming per year. These include the Alba, Centifolia, Damask, Gallica and Moss roses. The famous “Apothecary’s Rose” or “Red Rose of Lancaster” is a Gallica.

In the late 1700’s there was fierce competition by explorers, collectors and botanists (plant scientists) to bring back the newest and rarest of botanical “finds” from their distant travels. In the mid 1790’s several China roses made it to Europe causing a sensation with their ability to be ever-blooming. One of the botanists active during 1843- 1861 was named Robert Fortune. He worked in China, Japan and Taiwan collecting some 250 plant species.

Fortune’s Five Colored Rose (before 1844) also known as Smith’s Parish (red), rediscovered in Bermuda in the 1960’s.

Once China Roses (and “Tea-scented China Roses”) were introduced, their ability to bloom multiple times per year brought them into breeding programs resulting in the Bourbon, Hybrid Perpetual, Noisette and Hybrid Tea roses.

Rosette Delizy a charming Hybrid Tea Rose with tea fragrance. Nabonnand, 1922
Monsieur Tillier, lovely multicolored Hybrid Tea rose of salmon, pale pink and purple. Berniax, 1891

Bermuda Mystery: Priscilla’s Rose, found in the garden of Priscilla Brewer

Lovers of OGR’s and Antique Roses know that rare or varieties thought to be extinct can be found in surprising places like old homesteads, very old church grounds, towns and countries with a long, sea-faring history such as Bermuda. Bermuda Mystery Roses include candidates for “Hume’s Blush”, locally known as “Spice”, “Slater’s Crimson China”, locally known as “Belfield” and five others.

Bermuda Kathleen (a sport of Mutabilis) on left; Mrs. B. R. Cant and Mons. Tillier at center; Bermuda Trinity at right.

Older roses have a soft charm to them, are scented, and are remarkably care-free; requiring little pruning, are hardy and remarkably disease-resistant. Organic rose gardening is a balancing act, allowing beneficial insects, using compost tea, mulching with compost, amending the soil to feed the plants and the beneficial soil microbes.

My thanks to Antique Rose Emporium, (rose search), Dave’s Garden, Wikipedia,, and the Bermuda Rose Society for their websites and published works. Any omissions or mistakes are my own.

Thank you for joining us as we do Pandemic Projects, meant to keep you energized, curious and learning!

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Tomato Times!

We love a good organic tomato; preferring a home-grown and heirloom variety or from the Farmer’s Market. Growing your own food is a great activity with kids, a satisfying way to teach organic gardening and the value of feeding the soil.

Do a little research to find out which plants do best in your climate. Our incredible propagating (plant growing) friends at “Island Seed and Feed” in Goleta, help us to figure out which tomato plants did well last year and what might be better this year. Of course, the amount of rain may be too much (fungus problems) or too little. We use a drip system linked up to a controller for reliable watering even if we’re busy or away.

Ask a few local irrigation companies if you’d like recommendations for setting up a drip-irrigation system with a controller. There are many ways to do-it-yourself and with help.

We use a good organic _potting_ soil in 15 gallon pots because the gophers will destroy our tomatoes if we plant in-ground. (Don’t reuse last year’s potted tomato soil to avoid transferring diseases; use that old soil with other non-tomato plants.) Be very cautious not to use contaminated soil or pesticides on your food plants.

Dr. N stirs in a few handfuls of organic plant food.

Then, hand waters with a B vitamin liquid + water to prevent “transplant shock.”

He leaves enough room at the top for an occasional deep watering by hand, and a sturdy tomato cage. He always puts the plant tag in the pot so we’ll remember which ones did well at the end of the harvest.

Just planted.
The original four tomato plants at 3 weeks and a new one on the right, at 2 weeks! Happy growing times.

Thank you for joining us as we do Pandemic Projects, meant to keep you energized, curious and learning!

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Growing Times

Growing healthful food and beneficial flowers (good for the garden and you) is a life long joy.
Here are seeds gathered and traded at a Seed Sharing event, Italian Vegetable and Herb packets, Native California Wildflower seeds, two varieties of Blueberry plants that will do well in our climate in 1 gallon pots, 2 sturdy watering cans, and, a little “Stupice” tomato seedling. Many thanks to our friends of 20 years- Island Seed & Feed, in Goleta, CA.

We are Green Gardeners in Santa Barbara, CA. We love to “feed the soil” with organic compost which we make ourselves or buy from a trustworthy source, organic worm castings from our worm bin and organic amendments that help correct any soil deficiencies. Organic soil care is particularly important for food crops like vegetables, tomatoes, herbs, berries and fruit trees, because all plants take up nutrients from the soil.

Our worm bin is made with recycled redwood fence boards. It’s on the East side of the house where our worms are sheltered from direct sun from the South and West and protected from most rain. If you want to build your own worm bin, Matt Buckmaster, from Island Seed & Feed has shared his woodworking plans, below. (Thank you, Matt!)

Beneficial insects include our pollinators! The flowering fruit trees, fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers are helping to keep our honey bees happy and vigorous. But, they aren’t the only ones! Do some research to find out who _your_ native plants are, what months do they bloom, which insects are in _your neighborhood_, both friends or foes! Local plant societies can help. Make a journal to record your findings. It’s tough work to figure out how to plant beneficial insect borders for your friendly insects (Green lacewing, etc.) to help defeat your insect foes (Aphids, etc.) Read this good article by copy and pasting into your browser:

Thank you for joining us as we do Pandemic Projects, meant to keep you energized, curious and learning!