Spring Pruning

The Redneck Rosarian



We have spent the last two weeks in a swirling cycle of “on again, off again” weather that has somewhat inhibited our efforts to complete our spring pruning of the rose garden. We are in the 60’s one day, and the 40’s the next. Steadfast in the knowledge that warmer days are fast approaching, we braved wind, rain and freezing temps to complete the task at hand.

I follow 3 D’s when pruning roses in spring

  • Remove DEAD canes
  • Remove DISEASED canes
  • Remove DAMAGED canes

I also look for and remove crossing canes that rub against one another and will ultimately damage one another.  Since modern repeat blooming roses bloom on new wood, I tend to prune them low, down to about 18-24 inches from the ground. As you can tell from the photos, our roses are already putting out new growth, so it was very easy to tell…

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Springtime in Alabama – Prime Rose Planting Weather

The Redneck Rosarian

I am composing this post from my screened porch. Cup of coffee at hand, I am enjoying the sights and sounds of an early morning spring day in Alabama. With the beginning of spring comes an opportunity to plant new roses in my garden.

As many of you know, I am just about out of room for additional roses, but I did find a spot next to my driveway at the back of our house for a bed. Our neighbor had a very large tree that was removed last fall and this area now gets plenty of sun and is fit for roses. I had previously planted climbers in this space, and they bloom but not with vigor due to lack of sun. I incorporated them into the new bed and now hope to see them thrive.

I used castle rock to construct this bed and have filled it with my soil…

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First Day Of Spring

The Redneck Rosarian

At long last, the day has come. Spring has officially arrived! For the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox occurred at 7:02 am ET this morning, Don’t know about you, but I can live with increasing daylight, warmer temps and the long awaited arrival of the first rose blooms of the season.  I hope you’ll join me this spring as we celebrate the awakening of our rose garden.

Spring 2013

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Roses: Mazus reptan, Creeping Mazus

Baltimore Sun Piece “Plant of the Week” for Sunday July 8th:

Mazus reptans

Mazus reptans is a low growing ground cover only 1 to 3 inches high, suitable for filling small areas, such as between stepping stones or in rock gardens. Its bright green foliage persists into the fall, staying semi-evergreen in the winter. An added bonus is its purplish-blue or white flowers appearing in June and July. Mazus grows in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist conditions. Being an herbaceous perennial, it can spread fast by its creeping stems which root at the nodes forming a thick mat. Mazus will take some foot traffic, has no disease or insect problems, and is deer resistant. –Bob Orazi

I’ve also seen that it does have problems with snails and slugs, so be on the watch for that. Also, the hardiness zones are 5, 6, 7, and 8.

As for magickal or mystickal properties, I didn’t find any, but since it’s a fast grower, I would say it would make a good flower to use for fertility rituals and in fertility spells. Fertility as in also meaning creativity as well as other definitions of fertility. Since the greens of Mazus are evergreens, I would say it would work in rituals and spells for longevity, endurance, and health. It being a groundcover, you could also use it for workings involving the search for something because it could be used as a way to mark the path to whatever you want to find, symbolically speaking (simply speaking it can be used in a spell to ask the gods to give you a sign or lead you on the right direction as if following a path of mazus to what you’re looking for/what you need).

As for medicinal uses, I didn’t find any on Mazus reptans but did find some for Mazus pumilus, other wise known as Mazus japonicus or Japanese Mazus.

Uses: Aperient (a mild laxative), Emmenagogue (Promotes or increases the menstrual flow. In early stages of pregnancy it can induce an abortion), Febrifuge (reduces fever), and as a tonic (Improves general health. Slower acting than a stimulant, it brings steady improvement).

It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from May to October, and the seeds ripen from May to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

“Mazus pumilus – (N. L. Burman) Steenis (author)

Botanical references: 58, 266

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Known Hazards: None Known

Range: East Asia – Himalayas from Kashmir to China, Japan, Korea and Eastern Russia

Habitat: Wet Grassland, along streams, trailsides, waste fields, wet places and the edges of forests, grasslands on mountain slopes at elevations of 1200 – 3800 mets in China

Physical Characteristics: It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from May to October, and the seeds ripen from May to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Habitats: Cultivated Beds

Edible Parts: Leaves. Young leaves – cooked.”*

Picture #3: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mazus-pumilus

Picture #2 Source: http://gardeningontherocks.com/welcome/dsc_0185/

Picture #1 Source: http://gardening.about.com/od/gardendesign/ig/Plants-to-Walk-On/Mazus-reptans–Purple-.–k3.htm

Baltimore Sun piece source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/home-garden/bs-hm-extension-0708-20120703,0,3714788.story

Information Source for Mazus pumilus/japonicus (*): http://server9.web-mania.com/users/pfafardea/database/plants.php?Mazus+pumilus

Roses: Lavender

Lavender, Lavandula species, (also known as Elf Leaf, Nard, Nardus, and Spike) is a well known herb and I just felt like refreshing some people’s memories and learn a bit myself.

Magickal Properties (alphabetical order): Cleansing, Exorcism, Happiness, Harmony, Healing, Love, Peace, and Purification. (According to Celtic Magic by D.J. Conway)

Magickal Uses: I will not write about the love spell uses because I believe them to test the boundaries (strongly and even break them in some cases) of manipulating another’s free will.

Lavender can be used in many ways, including in protection amulets against your spouse, in purification through smudging and baths and in purification rituals, in healing rituals and amulets and sachets, to promote peace and love and joy in, to induce sleep whether in  tea or incense or sachets, as an aphrodisiac for men, alleviate stress, bless ones home, and as a mood lifter (even said to lift depression though I have no testimonial myself).

Medicinal and other Benefits: “LAVENDER TEA ON ICEThe beneficial constituents of lavender include flavonoids, tannins, courmarines, and essential oil containing camphor, geraniol and linalool.

You can get fresh lavender from your local health food store like Whole Foods and even better can order tea from: http://www.harney.com/Details.cfm?ProdID=3962&category=38&secondary

Let the tea steep for about 7 to 10 minutes. Then strain, try adding a sweeter, lemon then pour over ice and just enjoy!

Lavender tea may help ease insomnia.

Lavender tea may help calm nervousness and anxiety. It may also be used to alleviate stress and uplift flagging spirits.

Lavender tea may help treat an upset stomach, as well as flatulence and colic. It may also be used to treat stomach and bowel infections.

Lavender tea may help alleviate depressive and migraine headaches.

Lavender tea, when applied topically, may help alleviate colds, cough, asthma, bronchitis and similar problems in the respiratory system.

Lavender tea may help induce sweating and consequently reduce the body temperature during fever.” *

Gardening Notes: “It’s low maintenance and drought-tolerant, once established. It attracts bees and butterflies but is deer- and rabbit-resistant. It can be used in cosmetics, medicine, and cuisine. … Enjoy the fragrance of lavender year-round by drying this beloved herb. To preserve, hang small bunches upside down in a dark, dry room until the moisture has evaporated. … It thrives in hot, sunny locations with well-drained, alkaline soil.” To extend the season, combine several varieties. Hardy Lavandula angustifolia, or English lavender, blooms early and is adaptable to cooler, more humid areas. Hybrid varieties, such as ‘England’ and ‘Silver Frost’, enjoy a longer blooming season, as do Intermedia French hybrids, including L. x intermedia’Grosso’ and ‘Provence’, which also flower late and are especially treasured for their perfume. … Lavender needs well-drained soil to flourish. If your soil is heavy, amend it by adding one part sand and gravel to one part native soil, and plant in berms to further help with drainage. … When cutting lavender, clip where the foliage begins. In mid-spring, prune winter damage and cut back about a third of it to keep it from getting leggy. … Lavender does well in pots. Choose a well-draining potting soil recommended for containers. Fertilize organically every other week.

“The ideal time to harvest lavender is when one-third to one-half of the spike is in bloom.” —David Salman (http://www.highcountrygardens.com/)


When planning what to grow with lavender, David recommends choosing plants with similar growing requirements. Some of his favorites include: Gaura: Pink and white cultivars of Gaura lindheimeri have wispy flowers that bloom throughout the summer. Penstemon: There are close to 300 species of penstemons. Choose some of the many colors available. ” **

Picture #1 Source and Source for Gardening Notes (**) : http://www.countryliving.com/outdoor/gardening/lavender-0908#slide-1

Picture #2 and Source for Medicinal and Other Benefits (*): http://www.facebook.com/pages/natural-living-forum/65950834522

For more Gardening Information: http://gardening.about.com/od/perennials/a/Lavender.htm

For more information in general on Lavender: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavandula

Spirit: Sky Watching

A great way to observe the directions (East, South, West, North), to observe the element of Air, and to commune with nature. Plus, it’s beautiful.

Top Picture: Sunday, July 1st, a little after 11pm

Second picture: Saturday, June 30th, afternoon sometime

Third Picture: Thursday, June 28th, just after noon

Fourth and Fifth Picture: Wednesday, June 27th, sunset

Sixth Picture: Tuesday, June 26th, sunset

Last Picture: Sunday, June 24th, early sunset



Happy Summer Solstice aka the longest day of the year – here’s a pic of sunrise at Stonehenge.” *

Here’s a little information on Midsummer. I’ll post more information tomorrow.

Litha is known by many names worldwide. Some of the more common names for this sabbat are Summer Solstice, Alba Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Vestalia, St. John’s Day, and Midsummer.
Litha is viewed as one of the ‘Lesser Sabbats’ or ‘Lower Holidays’ along with the other solstice and the two equinoxes. Litha is celebrated on June 20, 21, 22, or 23 depending upon the cycle of the sun. It falls on the day of the year that has the maximum amount of daylight hours. Litha is opposite of Yule (which is the shortest day of the year) on the Wheel of the Year. The journey of the sun across the heavens has long been examined and chronicled by many cultures the world over.
According to the old folklore calendar, it showed that summer started on Beltaine (May 1st) and came to an end on Lughnassadh (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice designating the middle of summer (or Midsummer). To me, this actually makes much more sense, rather than having summer begin on the day when the sun’s power has climaxed and will now continue to wane until Yule.
Ancient Litha rituals were rambunctious festivals where members of the village would come together for singing, dancing, storytelling, fanfare, and feasting by the village bonfire and torch lit parades after dark. Many people would wear a crown of flowers which almost always included the yellow blooms of the St. John’s Wort.
A lot of Midsummer bonfires used oak and fir because it was believed that burning these woods would drive away all negative influences.
This was also a time for handfastings (weddings) and couples would hold hands and jump over the Litha fire together three times. This was to guarantee an enduring and blissful marriage, financial good fortune, and numerous babies.
It was a common belief that the Litha fires had control of an immense force of energy, and that by leaping over the bonfire, this would bring you, your family, and your clan prosperity and protection.
It was also tradition for people to take scorched embers from the Litha bonfire and to use these as charms against harm, foul weather during harvest, and some would distribute the embers around the crops and orchards trusting that this would protect the crops and would guarantee a profuse harvest.
Other people would bring a Litha fire ember home with them and position it atop the hearth, while others would decorate their home with birch, fennel, St. John’s Wort, and White Lillie’s for blessings and protection.
Ancient Celts celebrated Midsummer with large hilltop bonfires and took time to show their respect for the space between the earth and the heavens. They viewed this as a time to once again recognize the balance between fire and water. Various European cultures would celebrate Midsummer by setting giant wheels on fire and then propelling them down hills into bodies of water.
When the Saxons came to the British Isles, they carried their customs with them, one of which was called ‘June Aerra Litha’. They marked Midsummer by creating large bonfires and rejoicing in the power of the sun over darkness.
The Romans considered this day sacred to Juno, who was not only the wife of Jupiter, but also the Goddess of women and childbirth. She was also known to be called Juno Luna who blessed women with the honor of menstruation. This day was also a blessed day for showing reverence to Vesta, who was the Goddess of the hearth. Numerous Matriarchs would visit Vesta’s temples and leave gifts of salted meal. They would continue to do this for eight days, anticipating that Vesta would bestow her blessings upon their homes.
Some Native American tribes in the Great Plains of North America saw the sun as a physical expression of the Great Spirit. They would perform a Sun Dance to not only venerate the sun and the Great Spirit, but also to bring visions to the young warrior dancers, and to test the strength and vigor of these young warriors. The Sun Dance would go on for several days, and during this time the dancers would refrain from eating.The dancers would dance until they fell to the ground unconscious, which could take up to three or four days. It was often recounted by the dancers that they had received either a vision or a Spirit Walk at some point during the celebration.

Information from: http://vsnapdragyn.hubpages.com/hub/Litha-Sabbat

Picture source (*): http://www.facebook.com/independentlens

Roses: Mullein; Verbascum thapsus

I took these pictures in my Grandfathers vegetable garden in Dayton, MD.

Mullein aka Verbascum thapsus has many nicknames including Cowboy’s Toilet Paper, Velvetback, Lady’s Foxglove, Hag’s Taper’s, Flannel Plant, Graveyard Dust, Old Man’s Fennel, and many more. It’s a traditional herbal medicine used for a variety of uses and just as traditional used in magic.

Magickal Properties: Courage, Protection, Health, Love, Divination, and Exorcism.

Magickal Uses: Used in a dream satchet to ward off nightmares, in amulet to keep wild animals and insects away from you when in the wilderness (like hiking or in the garden, etc), stems and downy leaves can be used as wicks if you make your own candles, to use in baths (whether in satchets or not) to bring you courage or even protection, etc. Also, in Celtic magic, mullein is a plant associated with Earth and Grain Dieties.

Medicinal Properties: Expectorant (A medication that helps bring up mucus and other material from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea), Demulcent (An agent that forms a soothing, protective film when administered onto a mucous membrane surface), Anti-viral, Mild Diuretic, Relaxing Expectorant, Mild Laxative, Emollient (skin softeners), Vulnerary (A remedy used in healing or treating wounds. Any preparation, plant or drug used in the cure of wounds), and as a Mild Sedative.

Mullein Uses (Not just Medicinal): Analgesic (pain reliever), Anti-histaminic, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-cancer, Antioxidant, Antiviral, Bacteriostatic (keeps bacteria from reproducing), Estrogenic, Fungicide, Hypnotic (induces sleep), Peticide.

There are many uses for mullein and I’ll put down some links.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbascum_thapsus

For Medicinal Uses:

Magickal Uses:

Website for both uses: http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Herbs/mno-herbs.html

Website I used for the definitions: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/hp.asp

Two other notes: Mullein is a very easy to grow plant, in fact some call it a weed. Mullein can also be found in the Vitamin Shoppe in capsules. LOL. You can buy them there at least for medicinal purposes though I can’t attest to how well they or of the medicinal uses work.

Vitamin Shoppe website: http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?id=SO-1178