Happy New pH

If there's one thing that I can say came good in 2009, it was the soil.

Over the years I've gone to considerable effort trying to improve both its structure and pH, adding horse manure by the sackload, barrowloads of compost , leafmould and practically anything that I think might give it some benefit.

It's good stuff now. I'm really pleased that the pH is now in a range which is more suitable for roses. It's the roses that prompted me to really improve the soil. It was thin, unloved earth when I first arrived here. The pH at that time read at about 7.5 or so, too limey or 'sweet' to get really good rose blooms. Not so now, at about 6.8 the soil is moving in the right direction which I'm sure was a major contributor to 2009 being a 'good year for the roses'.

Having good soil does bring its problems. I never understood the wisdom of planting woody herbs, or sub shrubs such as lavender at the feet of roses. Sure enough as a pairing the aesthetics are spot on. In fact my favourite is Nepeta, Its just that all these plants actually benefit from a little neglect. Too rich an environment and they don't bloom too well, but roses, heavy feeders right? You take my point.

I guess it's all about balance. I neglected Geranium 'Johnsons blue' and Campanula 'Elizabeth' and they took off, simply romped away.

I will incorporate a bit of compost into this little bed later in the winter however. I mean, there's neglect and then there's neglect, so I'll not divorce myself from all responsibility.

The red rose, 'La sevillana' responded to a little earth TLC. I can honestly say that this is the most floriferous it has ever been. Just add horse manure and stand back.

So if there's one thing that 2009 really highlighted for me, it was the wisdom of working a good soil.I say working loosely. I never dig. I simply scatter or mulch and the worms and beetles do the rest.

So anyway, I wish you all a prosperous, healthy, happy and peaceful 2010.

May your gardens bloom and your compost be alive!


  1. I am going to retire for the night soon Rob with Elvis Costello's words ringing in my ears. That red rose is a beauty. Wishing both of you a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. May all your flowers prosper in the new decade :)

  2. Wow, you've sure improved your soil, and made your plants much happier too. Great job.

  3. Rob, I come from two generations of rosarians and they cut right past "heavy feeders" and go straight to "greedy" as an affectionate description. Your gardens and photos are gorgeous. Is that Miss Rose Campion I spy in there? DP

  4. Rob the gardens look fantastic in the pictures! I a big fan of catmint too, it's so easy and carefree.

  5. Rob your flowers are gorgeous. Is that the yellow mystery rose or do you know the name of that one? I love your Geraniums too.

  6. Beautiful beautiful photographs of your gorgeous garden Rob! Happy New Year! I am going to pay more attention to my soil this year! Great to see your results. Your place is stunning! All the best of everything in this New Year! ;) Carol

  7. Your plants obviously love whatever you're doing for them! Seeing all those warm weather flowers made me look forward to Spring and Summer even more. I don't dig my compost in either, just spread it around and let nature take it's course.

  8. Rob So pleased to hear your soil is improving with all your efforts but your little piece of heaven looks lovely especially on a cold frosty day. The roses are lovely. I hope you have a prosperous New Year.

  9. Hi Folks

    It is indeed Miss Rose Campion in one of the pics and the yellow rose is the unidentified one.


  10. Lovely thoughts/photos on this frigid day, Rob. May we/our gardens all be so blessed in the New Year.

  11. The roses are magnificent, Rob, as is everything else you have shown us. What cheering photos! Your methods are working, obviously. I have never seen roses as densely blooming as those reds! It makes me light headed, with envy. :-)

  12. I'll try to pick my tongue up off the floor! Those roses (and the perfect French countryside and stone structures) are too beautiful for words.


  13. How lovely to have you back, making us jealous with the photos of your home and garden!! I always have such good intentions with regard to our garden....!
    Happy New Year!
    ps-I guess your snow has gone? Our friends have recently returned to the Lot area and said the temperature was 16 degrees!

  14. Hi Rob - our 'weather' has indeed arrived. It's -5 just now with 4+inches of snow! I know there is still life under the snow, I just can't get to it right now!

    Much as I adore snow, your gorgeous photos brightened up a very white day - and brought back memories of our day with you in August :)

    Happy New Year to you and Karen,


  15. Oooh gadgets! Very cool.

    Amazing what you've done with your soil. I add compost and mulch once a year, otherwise other than getting an occasional haircut, everything is neglected. But you read my blog, so of course you know that :-)

    Would agree that nepeta and geraniuims (mine are Rozanne) need virtually nothing to be happy. My nepeta still has not died back and the geraniums are busy putting out new leaves even as I write this.

  16. What beautiful images, Rob. I love, love, love the combination of Geranium 'Johnsons blue' and Campanula 'Elizabeth'.
    Best wishes for the New Year!!

  17. Stunning photos makes me look forward to summer and who knows maybe a trip to France!!

  18. Happy New Year to you, Rob!
    And my oh my, do I feel guilty!
    I've never checked the soil's PH, but that's not to say I haven't thought about doing so... countless times;~))
    All best for 2010,

  19. A hearty congratulations on getting good soil! That's quite an accomplishment. Those red roses are spectacular, as is the campanula and geranium combo.
    I'm still working toward that goal for most of the garden, though some parts are good. I'm afraid the good soil doesn't go very deep, though, but hopefully my growing worm population will start working on that. I should buy a pH device like you have, would be very handy.

  20. Just exquisite! You do live in a magical place, sir....

  21. mm mm!!... not digging to incorporate compost?? How come?? When I plant my roses I (well, my helper man)dig big holes and add to it lots of compost mixed with the hill soil, as well as everything I plant here in the mountains. Are this pictures of your home and roses?? oh so beautiful old home!!!
    Muchos cariños,
    Maria Cecilia

  22. Beautiful Rob Your garden is just gorgeous. The red rose is just fantastic and the yellow too.

    Have a wonderful New Year!!

    Cheers. :-)

  23. Just discovered the blog and look forward to seeing more of it.

    Beautiful photos - it makes me itching to get back outside and working once again.



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