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Don’t Believe Everything You Read


Wouldn’t life be just about perfect if roses could grow in shade? It so happens that once in a while you come across one that says it “tolerates some shade.” So when I saw those magical words attached to ‘Zépherine Drouhin’, I took them as a clear invitation to buy one and plant it by my front porch landing where it would get some morning sun although there was a 50-year-old mock orange shrub standing nearby on the right and a ‘DeGroot’s Spire’ arborvitae a few feet in front of it next to the steps. There was a pocket through which the rose would get “some” sun as it faced east in the morning, but alas, not enough.

Zépherine Drouhin is a climbing rose with very fragrant, large rosy pink double flowers and no thorns. It has reliable repeat bloom and will keep producing until fall. It’s a lovely thing.

Photo courtesy of www.heirloomroses.com

It bloomed a little its first year. Less the second, and then in years 3 and 4, not at all. The message from the universe was clear. I knew what I had to do.

So early last spring, while the plant was still dormant, I dug it up and moved it to a spot near my front fence, next to the sidewalk. Again, it didn’t bloom, but that was to be expected. I just wanted to keep it alive. I watered faithfully throughout the drought and gave it fertilizer from time to time.

And now, success! This spring it was one of the earliest roses to break dormancy and start setting buds. At the present it is blooming very nicely and the fragrance alone has made all of my “suffering” worthwhile.

Good things come to those who wait.

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questions

I’d like to start composting. Do you have any advice on what kind of bin to purchase/build so that it is successful in the Chicago climate?

I’m moving to a townhouse with limited direct sunlight. I would like to put a Japanese maple in a north-facing garden but don’t know if it will do well. What are the best kinds? Also, when is the best time to plant a small tree?

I want to raise the level of my lawn as much as 2 feet in places. I now have a large quantity of somewhat composted wood chips and I am wondering if I can use them as fill to raise the ground level and provide a good soil in which to sow a lawn.

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