April 2010

Truth be told, we’re downsizing the nursery as the orders have diminished the last few years.  Tracy will still have rose plants to sell of some sort every year.  He’s concentrating on grafting the roses in one gallon pots at this point.  When he’s ready he will share more with those who ask.

I (Janet) have been working part time for the last year and a half and will continue to do so as necessary, and actually it’s been good for me to get out and work on another project.  I’ve been coordinating a National Science Foundation Project with two professors at Humboldt State University, to increase the number of Native American and Alaska Native high schoolers going on to college and considering majors in computer science.  I love everyone I’ve worked with, and the native staff and local leaders have been great as well!  I’ve learned a lot and hope that I am able to continue to be part of the solution, rather than perpetuating problems.  Our local area is not unusual in its horrible history of treatment toward Native Americans, but because it’s a small county, the misunderstandings are much more exposed than other places I have lived.

And so yesterday, back to Amity Heritage Roses, as Tracy was downsizing the website (which I’ve turned over to him since I’ve been working) he managed to delete all of my earlier blog photos!  Hmmm, I wasn’t too happy about that, but I was able to move the worthy posts and relink the photos in WordPress.  That’s why it looks like I’ve done a lot of writing just today…  The migration was necessary anyway as I had had problems uploading photos to blogger and had changed to WordPress last year.  There was just no easy way (for me at least) to migrate my posts, so I did it the old fashioned way – cut and paste.

Glad that’s over – now at 3PM, what was I supposed to do today?  Oh yeah, get our plants and signage ready for the big Garden Show and Plant Sale in Trinidad on Saturday!


This post is a (manual) migration from our earlier blog, February 7, 2008

At the risk of bursting the idealistic laid-back country bubble, yesterday was a busy day and I had exactly 40 minutes from the moment I brought the groceries in the door until I had to be leaving for an evening meeting, with dinner already pre-digesting.  Since I normally really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes I’d forgotten how fast some home cooked and fresh dinners can still be.

On the menu: Fish Tacos with a side of steamed spinach.  The fillet of snapper looked very good as I was early evening food shopping and that decided the menu right there.  With a bag of small corn tortillas I took mental inventory of what I already had at home: lime check, cabbage check, sauce makings check, cilantro check.  If I’d remembered to get fancy I would have added an avocado to the cart, but that’s for the 50 minute version I guess.

At home I began to heat the frying pan as I put groceries away.  Tracy, no doubt seeing the flurry of activity, offered to rinse off and steam the spinach.  I rinsed off the fish, patted dry with a paper towel and realized I had a few bones to deal with.  Thanks to Jacques Pepin I’ve learned it’s much better to pull out the bones beforecooking, using needle-nosed pliers.  Once done I covered one side with Prudhomme’s blackened fish spices, but salt (or garlic salt) and pepper has worked just as well in the past.  That side went down in the frying pan and I sprinkled the top with more spices.

While the fish fried I sliced cabbage, chopped up a small handful of cilantro, and mixed up my mother’s lower-cal and healthy “secret sauce” of equal parts REAL mayonnaise and plain non-fat yoghurt.  Part of that was reserved for the spinach.  Then I cut off 1/3 of a lime and squeezed its juice into the remaining sauce, added salt, pepper, a dash of white vinegar and my new favorite sweetener, a squirt of agave nectar.  A bit of sugar would do the same, but it takes longer to dissolve in the sauce and metabolizes much quicker than agave nectar which is a low GI (glycemic index) food.  About this time Tracy offered to flip the fish over while I mixed the cabbage mixture with the sauce.  If I’d had time I would have shredded up some carrot to the “slaw” as well.

While the slaw “marinated” I started the cast iron skillet on another burner and opened up the corn tortilla bag (flour tortillas work the same, depending on your preference).  Once hot I drizzled a bit of olive oil in the pan and tossed in a tortilla.  The spinach was starting to wilt just as the plates were going into a warmed oven.  I flipped the tortilla over and turned off the fish and spinach burners and the oven.  Plating up was a snap (no pun intended as any fish would do!): tortilla, part of the fish, cabbage slaw, with spinach on the side and a dollop of the original secret sauce.

I ate in good speed, but not messy and even had time to kiss Tracy and pat the dogs’ heads before I was out the door again.  Whew.  Unfortunately no time for a photo like so many other great food blogs.  Maybe next time!

This post is a migration from our earlier blog, June 27, 2009

Garden Shot

Borage is that lovely blue star flower in the photo. I appreciate it every spring because it comes up on its own, and now I am blessing it in summer. This morning wasn’t the first time that I noticed how much the honeybees love all my borage plants. Yesterday the bees were still seeking out the flowers on the branches I’d pruned out and laid on the compost pile. Of course when I set out to take a picture today only the chubby bumble bee was present, but he’ll do for now.

Bee on Borage flower

If you’re concerned about the loss of honey bees (over a third of the hives in the US have disappeared – who shouldn’t be concerned?!) then I highly recommend planting some borage. Once you get it going it will come back year after year. It does reseed very well, but I find it very easy to pull out if it’s growing somewhere unwanted. Here’s a good site that Hagan Daas has created to help fund research into the cause of honey bee colony collapse: http://www.helpthehoneybees.com/

So, not only is Borage a rare true blue plant in the garden, the flowers taste like cucumber and look pretty sprinkled into salads, or frozen into ice cubes. And if blue isn’t for you, I exchanged a blue plant for a white one with a friend. Now the trick is to keep them separated so I’ll know which one’s seeds are sprouting in what part of the garden next year.

This post is a migration from our earlier blog, February 8, 2009

This is one of those postings I had planned for late last spring, but it’s just as appropriate now, because now we can actually get a handle on things and not have to live with my results of last year!

So, what’s the topic?  Weeds!

Humboldt County is known worldwide for one particular illegal weed, but it could easily be called the weed capital of the world for all the non-illegal ones thriving in our moist temperate area.  There is actually a town called Weed many miles east of us, but it’s much drier there and I bet we would easily beat them in a competition of most kinds of weeds.  It seems a new one shows up every year and it can easily gain a foothold in the garden.

weedsHere is the latest bane in my gardening life, Little Bittercress.  Actually there are at least four different weeds in this photo, but the Bittercress is the tall one on the left with the little white flowers.  I call it Rocket Weed because if it’s gone to seed and you try to pull it up, all the tiny seeds shoot up into your face and all over the garden to come back next year.  Argh…I can feel my blood pressure rising just looking at the photo!  So, yes, it’s better to get all weeds when they’re young, not just because their root systems are small and easier to pull up, but because they tend to go to seed quickly and you want to get to them before that!

Weeds on March

If you don’t, you get this little army of unwanted green marching into your pretty plot of irises.  Like anything or anyone testing the limits, it is TONS easier to keep them from invading, rather than trying to push them back out once they’ve already crossed the line. There are so many parallels to life you’ll just have to wait for my book someday… Tracy always says we have to have more Nos than they have Yeses.  It’s tiresome, but in the long run, it’s much less tiring than the alternative later.

And so, I resolved to use more mulch last year.  We got a beautiful load dumped from a local tree trimming company right around our anniversary, and I couldn’t have been happier.  I spent many weeks shoveling it around.  Unfortunately if there are weeds already growing and they have a strong will to survive, they will push through the mulch.  So, it was better, but not the best.

Weeds thru MulchI found that if I put down a couple sheets of newspaper before I spread the mulch I got better, longer weed prevention.  And since function often trumps fashion in my life, you’ll notice in a photo in the previous blog that I don’t always use newspaper.  We recycle a lot of cardboard this way, and recently I heard about using old carpet for pathways.  So, why not?  I’ll keep you posted!

This post is a migration from our earlier blog, February 4, 2009

First off, our first ever wholesale Bareroot rose shipment has come in and we’re turning them around as fast as we can. They are amazing #1 Grade plants from Weeks Roses. Tracy unpacked the huge boxes and exclaimed that these are the best he’s ever seen – beautiful canes and lots of roots. You won’t see anything like this coming out of a bag or box at your local drug store this year. Here’s a peak at what we’re proud to be able to ship to those of you who can take them this month and either plant them now, or pot them up and keep them protected until you’re safe to plant outside.Bareroot Grade 1 rose
The next little item of business is Pruning! I have always exclaimed that I love to prune – well, now that I’ve started to do it again this year I think what I mean is that I love to see pruned rose bushes. Annual pruning is really a very worthwhile and necessary chore as it gives us a chance for a real close look at our plants and how they’ve been growing the last year. There is no hiding that I did not feed some of my bushes well enough (or at all…) as I have lots of spindly growth to prune off. It’s also a great chance to look for cane damage and disease, and to get rid of it along with all

Dieback Wasp on rose

the fallen leaves that could be harboring disease spores ready to attack the plant when the conditions are right.


And just to show a before and after bed of roses, this is a great shot as from left to right it has a Hybrid Tea, a Shrub and a Floribunda, so you can see how different they all look pruned. What a difference some weeding and a fresh coat of mulch makes, too.

Rose before being pruned
roses after pruning

Admittedly, I have had to prune a little lower than I usually do because of disease and twiggy growth. After doing a few pruning workshops with our local rose society, I’ve learned that it might be helpful to describe the finished Hybrid Tea as looking like antlers sticking out of the ground, or like an upward facing cupped hand. In general you want 3 to 6 good-sized, evenly-spaced canes around an open center. Here’s our hearty Pristine plant that is more typical of my thigh-high pruning.

Pristine Rose Pruned
Another option for pruning is to just lop 1/3 straight across the top. It’s better to clean out the center of modern varieties for healthy air-flow, but really, any pruning is better than no pruning at all. It rejuvenates your plant and tells it to get ready for a beautiful spring bloom. Be sure to clean off all leaves and throw them in the trash or burn them. Never compost rose debris! And a final tidbit from a pruning workshop attendee after we were all through. Prune off more than you think you should. It’s really very difficult to kill a rose bush by pruning it. Take this opportunity to remind it that you are the boss, and that you want a strong, healthy bush to support lots of flowers come spring.
Hmm, speaking of blooms, this post is sorely lacking, so here’s the last bouquet of 2008 on the eve of a good freezing night.

Final Roses of 2008
Now, finally Daphne, we’re off for that walk!

This post is a migration of our earlier blog, April 17, 2008

It’s that great time of year when the rose babies in the cold frames are starting to do what we all expect of roses – bloom! We’re still more than a month away from peak bloom in the garden, so it’s always great to have some early blooms – especially if it’s a variety that is new to us and we need a good photo, or I need to see if it really IS fragrant, etc.

These days I’m inside in the office most of the day (and sometimes into the night) getting your shipping paperwork in order, so there are usually a few deliveries of flower heads (no long stems allowed) to my desk by Tracy as the day progresses. Today included Pope John Paul II with the strongest citrus fragrance of any white yet. Tracy and I decided Pope John Paul II roseit was bordering on grapefruit. Earlier flowers seemed to have some green in them and this one has more cream color. Certainly a rose with a long happy history in front of it. Let’s also hope that J&P will continue their liner program of this rose or we won’t be able to sell it again until the patent runs out in 2027 and by then we definitely WON’T be in business! I’d better reserve my plant of it now, for my own garden…I’ve also got a flower of Dream Come True on the desk along with Velvet Fragrance.

Talisman rosebudA few days ago he brought a Talisman rose and I still remember the first time I realized it smelled exactly like the Gewurztraminer grape juice from Navarro Vineyards that we are fond of.

Last week in flowers I had a Marketing 101 refresher course. Tracy brought in a HUGE 6+” flower of First Prize. There was no wonder that this rose was named that as the form was perfect, the bloom was huge and could not be ignored. A friend walked into the house and made a bee-line directly over to the flower saying she rarely liked pink roses, but the color of this one was superb. I was left wondering why we had so few orders for this rose plant this season when I checked the photo of the one on-line . Ugh – wonder-no-more! In this case it probably would have been better to have no picture than the one we had of two not even open buds with some brown water-damaged edges. I’ve really learned that “better than nothing” still has to be “good enough to showcase the roses’ best features”. So, here’s the new photo we are using of that big bloom from one of the baby plants. Let’s see how it sells now!
First Prize rose
Until the next chance we get to write…

This post is a migration from our earlier blog: March 21, 2008

AHR Plants in Flats
As is typical, no matter when Easter lands each year it is a working day for us.  This year it will be the eve of our first shipping day of the season and it will be a long day.

Once we left the city life and found ourselves in the farming groove we’ve learned many lessons about following the seasons, respecting the weather and praying for whatever conditions we need at any particular time!  As you can read below, we had our first snow on our property in the seven years we’ve lived here.  The locals said that that was the most snow they’ve ever seen.  Fortunately it didn’t last, but the overall colder winter did put off the beginning of our shipping season this year.  Every year we vow to be earlier (we’re thinking of our customers in the deserts who want to plant in January!), but short of the added set up and expense of heating the coldframes we’re just plain dependent on what Mother Nature gives us each year.  It’s not so bad, and actually reminds me of my time I lived in China where we were advised to always be ready early, but be prepared to wait.  I guess that’s how farming goes too.Dream Come True rose

So far this season Tracy is most impressed with the new variety from Weeks calledDream Come True.  We certainly appreciate the professional photos provided from the hybridizers, but probably just like in your gardens, we’re eager to see the flowers WE have grown, and see what it looks like in OUR climate.  Tracy took this one at the end of last season.
Recently a customer and former neighbor in our city life asked to see more photos of our garden. Well…I am usually mortified by the amount and variety of weeds that we get here on the coastal prairie, and my attempts at complete eradication are tempered by the reality that no matter what I do, the weeds will blow in from the fields next door.  I was greatly surprised by the gushing comments of a friend who came to our open garden last summer.  She was grateful for the “new inspiration” for the historical Russ House and Garden that she and her husband maintain in Victorian Ferndale.  “New inspiration, here?” I thought to myself. I didn’t really get it until she sent some photos, and there in the photos the eye was drawn to the beauty as the weeds and unmanicured dead twigs were minimized.  Even I had to say “Wow” and really didn’t feel much pride in being responsible for it all.  We were fortunate to find this house which was previously owned by a serious gardener.  She put in great structure trees and shrubs while Tracy has done 90% of the rose plants.  I feel I have had modest trial and error impact as I can really only claim to putting the thing in the ground and doing minimal care.  Beyond that it’s all God’s mystery and glory.  Science can explain the hows and wherefores, but I don’t think they can explain the whys.  It’s for beauty and pleasure and sheer glory.  Plain and simple.
Backyard Summer 08Tying all my thoughts together for this Easter blog (are they supposed to run on forever, or am I making up for lack of recent posts and the knowledge that we probably won’t have a chance to blog again until the busiest of our shipping season is mostly over?) I would like to quote from John Eldredge’s book The Journey of Desire.  I’ve recently rediscovered this author and have read some more of his writings such as this, which is a perfect meditation for this Easter weekend.
by John Eldredge

Eternal life – we tend to think of it
in terms of existence that never comes to an end.  And the existence it seems to imply – sort of religious experience in the sky – leaves us wondering if wewould want it to go on forever.  But Jesus is quite clear that when he speaks of eternal life, what he means is life that is absolutely wonderful and can never be diminished or stolen from you.  He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).  Not, “I have come to threaten you into line,” or “I have come to exhaust you with a long list of demands.”  Not even, “I have come primarily to forgive you.”  But simply, My purpose is to bring you life in all its fullness…In other words, eternal life is not primarilyduration but quality of life, “life to the limit.”  It cannot be stolen from us, and so it does go on.  But the focus is on the life itself.  “In Him was life,” the apostle John said of Jesus, “and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

May we all find the One True fullness of life that we deeply desire when we’re quiet and can really think about what’s most important to us.  Happy Easter from our garden to yours.  He is Risen; He is Risen indeed!  Every bud and bloom, and even sprig of weed, are shouting “Glory!”
Fragrant Spring Balcony

This post is a migration from our earlier January 2008 blog:

Well, after a first attempt at blogging last year, we’re finally back.  We’ve been a little busy with the unusual snowfall this past weekend.  I know 4 inches of snow one day in 7 years isn’t much for a lot of our customers, but it’s a first for us here, and we enjoyed it (especially thankful that no damage was sustained to anything business related!)

SnowRoseManWe are true to our calling – those SnowRoseMan’s eyes are rose hips and he’s holding a Fragrant Dream rose from one of the dozens of plants I haven’t gotten around to pruning yet.

All is well in the nursery and we’re taking orders every day.  A few overachieving babies are ready to ship already, but for the most part Tracy says March will begin the shipping frenzy.  For today I’m off to get chili-making ingredients, thankful that if the power goes out again we have a wood stove for heat (and baking?  please post your recipes in the comment section!) and a gas range for cooking!

Meanwhile we’re mulling over our Amity Heritage Roses ‘Gardening Manifesto’ and plan to have it ready by the next post or two, as well as in our 2008 NewsELetter.