Non-Fun Tasks October 2022


October means the compact Alstroemerias are waking up from their summer nap.  A Mangave 'Kaleidescope' offset for contrast, on a skin of fallen Acer leaves and Dichondra argentea that will largely vanish for the winter. 

Autumn plant-moving time.  One to move this fall is 'Pink Gruss an Aachen', grown from a cutting rooted about 20 years ago.  It grew, potted, for years.    For the past ten or more it lived and bloomed on the west side of the driveway.

The area on the west side of the driveway started out as a small fescue lawn and a long bed filled with roses.  

Where once were roses:    

Over time the original lawn got smaller and the roses were replaced by mostly South African and Australian plants.  The fescue lawn became Dymondia margaretae.  A weeping standard rose , the center of the whole area, died of root gall and its location became home to an Aloe 'Hercules'.  Where once were roses has become Leucadendrons, Grevilleas, Leucospermums, Aloes, and Agaves.  

'Pink Gruss an Aachen' remained.  It was beautiful, healthy, and the exact right size for its location.   Lately, its fluffy pink daintiness seemed out of place among more xeric plants.  

May 2022.  Red rose 'Beloved' fits in better with the Grevilleas and Leucospermum, but Pink Gruss seems to sing an off note  

 Time to move Pink Gruss. 

Cut back hard, ready to dig up: 

Dug out.  It took time.  I wanted to minimize damage to the root system and the irrigation system.  Also rest breaks, because it was hot. 

Area cleared, the big-box 50% off Leucospermum 'Carnival Orange' purchased a couple months ago went in: 

It joins another big-box Leucospermum, 'So Successful',  planted several weeks ago, about 8 feet away: 

'PGAA' had a healthy root system over 4' wide.  No gall at all:

The rose seemed well worth transplanting rather than discarding.  I decided to try to avoid gall infection by trimming the roots and replanting in a pot of potting mix rather than soil.  The intention is letting the root cuts heal in media not infected with the gall pathogen, then planting the recovered rose into the ground.  It is damage to the root that allows the pathogen to infect. 

Trimmed, it fit in a large container.  Not ideal removing roots, but a 4'+ wide root system would need a heck of a container. 

I placed the container in a part-sun location.  There's a drip line (resting on that yellow box on the right) that will supply irrigation to the rose as soon as I connect a new tube and mini-sprayer. 

Hopefully it can re-establish and be beautiful again.  If not, at least it got a sincere effort.  If this is successful, I'll try moving 'Comtesse de Provence' instead of digging and discarding it.  I planned to discard 'Comtesse' last winter, but... Just. Couldn't.  

Because this:  

The day before moving the rose, another arduous task:  cleaning the urn fountain.  

 It took several hours to do that, too--some of it figuring out the how.  The urn is too heavy for me to move.  About the weight of both pups put together.

Ended up tilting the very heavy urn onto a chair so it was not resting its weight on the basin.  The urn was far to heavy to lift, but not too heavy to tilt onto a chair.  

That done, the basin cover on which the urn normally rests could be removed to drain the basin, and clean it out.  Easier said than done.  

 There's a flexible tube running from the pump that sits in the basin, runs through the basin cover, up through the urn to the pipe at the top.  The tube and pump moves water from the basin to the top of the urn.  From there it cascades down the outside of the urn back into the basin.   

  Everything--the urn, the basin cover, the pump, is  connected by that tube.  The spaces to access tube and pump are too small, the tube is too short, the urn is too heavy, the cover too awkward, and the water too yucky to be an easy job. When finally able to open everything enough to pump the water out of the basin, the pump (a different pump from the urn pump) refused to pump via hoses I connected to it.  Had to improvise.  Then, of course, with water splashed everywhere, mud.  Prickles from nearby roses hooking onto my pants and not letting go.  

Plus, a large array of song birds peeping and squawking at me the whole time.  I was interfering with their bath time.  Dogs barking.  Where was their 2:30 pm bathroom break?  Where was their 4:00 pm treat? 

But, I did it.  I can't believe I did it, but I did.  The urn  cleaned up, reassembled, and running again.  Manged to level the urn properly so the water now spills evenly over the entire urn again.  By the time I finished it was late afternoon, but the next morning the birds were enjoying bath time again.  Strangely satisfying.  

The not-fun garden jobs are that:  not-fun, yet strangely satisfying is a sense of accomplishing something necessary but not fun.   I sat quietly on the driveway for a few minutes,  looking at the clean fountain, the oak tree.  Sunday afternoons are very quiet on our street.  No leaf blowers or chain saws running.  A walk around before the sun set to celebrate. 

Surprise!  A flower on the Fenestraria rhopalophylla

Dark Aeonium looming ominous behind Erica.  Not to worry, Erica.  The Aeonium won't hurt you.  
Zinnia dipping to chat with Aloe betsileensis.
Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' leaning a flower stem up against the wall. 
Some of the Dutch Iris are up--must have been the rain we got.
Fall roses are often the prettiest of the year.  'Snowbird' is having a beautiful October:
'Munstead Wood' took summer off.  She's back:

The new copy of 'Yves Piaget' looks to be a good one.  Also reawakened by Autumn:
More sweet peas sprouting. 
Have you tackled a tough garden task lately, and were glad you did?


  1. I love the long shots (and the close-ups). Your roses are stunning, so I'm sure your adjustments will be perfect. Cute pups, too!

  2. Hi Hoover. It always feels good to get those tough chores done, if no fun at all. I hope your Gruss an Aachen will survive the move, I bet it will. That aloe with it's red teeth looks like it wants to chomp right down on the little white zinnia! The dogs are adorable, of course. As for no-fun chores here- picking up fallen pineapple guavas out front (2 trees), they always drop in droves before ripe. I'd prefer no fruit, just the trees. While doing that the "Red Spread" shrub roses with their killer thorns were trying to kill me, or so I told the neighbor who came by. Looking forward to this 92 degree weather ending, and soon.

    1. Pineapple Guava is a beautiful shrub, but the fruit is a big drawback. I keep hoping a sterile-flowered version will appear so I can grow one.

      Wasn't sure if the Aloe was reaching out to scratch the Zinnia, or was it about to do a a face-palm? 😜

      Yes, hot weather yuck. Cooler for the weekend, hooray!

  3. Wow, who knew cleaning the bird bath fountain would be so tough. Congrats on getting that yucky job done. The roses look so beautiful right now. I have s couple of blooms on Chrysler Imperial right now that I will bring in before it snows on Friday. The great indoor migration of plants has picked up speed as have bringing in the last of harvest. It's so dry here that I'm digging potatoes out of huge concrete-like blocks of soil. Not nearly as much fun as it usually is.

    1. I had time to ponder how to make the fountain more easily cleanable. There's got to be a better way!

      Snow, oh my. But Chrysler Imperial is a beautiful rose. Good luck with getting everything protected before the snow.

  4. I too enjoy methodical and intricate chores like this. What do you use to clean yours? One job that I enjoy tremendously is working on my twig fence. I just redid an entire section. It can be painstaking and annoying at times but there is something about it that it extremely relaxing to me.

    1. I use water and a scrub brush and then a treatment of hydrogen peroxide which sanitizes and then breaks down into water and oxygen.

      Some garden tasks are wonderfully meditative. Done on a peaceful day makes them even better. Working on twig fencing sounds like one of those.

  5. The garden area on the west side of the driveway looks fantastic! I hope your PGAA copes with its transition. All your other roses look great. With the exception of my 'Pink Meidiland' roses, most of mine look at least half-dead but I'm still dragging my feet about pulling them out.

    Kudos to you for taking care of the fountain and getting it back in operation in one piece! I hate cleaning our fountain. It's a 2-person job as I can't lift more than the top tier. Once dismantled, I'm in charge of scrubbing the top two tiers plus the rocks and shells used to support the birds in the top tier, while my husband pumps the water out of the bottom tier and scrubs it. As the fountain is made of concrete and getting old, it always needs cracks repaired in addition to a good scrub. It takes hours upon hours and at least a day for the crack repair work to dry.

    1. I remember you posting about cleaning your fountain--it looked just as difficult to deal with as my fountain, with the added annoyance of crack repair. The birds do love it though, so we do it.

      Any part of your property that tends to be a little soggy (relatively)? You might move a rose or two there to see if it improves them.

  6. Hooray to you for getting on with those less than pleasant chores, in spite of the heat. Very satisfying to get them behind you. I haven't started any of mine... too hot dry. I'll be working well into winter, splashing in the mud.
    I do hope PGAA succeeds in the pot. You certainly put in the effort... fingers crossed.

    1. Sunday when I did the fountain was tolerable. For the rose, it was too warm. Even worse yesterday and today, but tomorrow the cool-down begins.

      Mud! It's so rare here now.

      PGAA is a wonderful rose--I hope it will come back.

    2. You are amazing! That's all I gotta say . Well, ceptfor one more thing, I hope your PGAA survives its surgery and transplant. Okay, I lied -- just one more thing -- you haven't written about your pups in a very long time. It's nice to see them make an appearance. Elizabeth

  7. Good on you getting your no-fun tasks done in a timely fashion. I tend to procrastinate on mine...till they become bigger problems. Weeding my dahlia patch, for example (the weeds are now about chest height. Ooops....

    How on earth do you get any gardening done with those adorable fuzz balls around? I would want constant cuddles!

    1. The Fuzz Ones do often interrupt gardening but it's a soft, fluffy interruption.

      Weeds chest height!!! Trying to imagine... Hardly any rain means hardly any weeds.


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