Hello to all. What I've been doing.

Hello, fellow forum members. I haven't participated here to speak of for quite a while, so I thought I'd drop in and give an update on what I've been doing the last few years.

I still have all my interest in roses, particularly old roses, but haven't planted any to speak of since 2016. In 2016-17 we had a horrible drought here and a ferociously hot summer, and, since it looks like this is the new normal, DH and I got very interested in planting trees: for shade, to absorb runoff, to prevent landslides and slumps; on a miniscule scale, to counteract climate change. I know our activity in this last respect is a grain of sand on the beach, a drop of water in the ocean, but doing it makes me feel better, and makes our lives here more comfortable, at least in prospect.

The fall of 2017 we planted a line of mostly fruit trees, some woodland species, on the short path leading down to the shade garden. I had lugged heavy watering cans down there all summer, ruining my elbow in the process, and had really suffered the brief passage through the blazing sun. So the tree planting project, also to give us fruit trees close to the house. The following fall we redug and finished planting an allée of lilacs--this was a re-do of a project from several years ago--and began clearing and continuing planting a triangle of land bordering on the paved road that leads up to the house, and preparing and continuing planting another old project we call the Dutch Bed, actually a self-contained garden in the garden. All these were attempts to wrap up projects begun years ago and needing revision and further planting. DH, now in his eighties, and I are feeling Time's winged chariot hurrying near and are wanting to see at least parts of the garden completed. We didn't succeed. We made significant progress on the Dutch Bed, but it still needs further work. The triangle will have to be monitored, and may require further planting, depending on how the trees and shrubs currently there do.

This fall DH planted eighty trees in an open piece of ground in the garden, our future forest, his monument. He wanted to plant the trees while he's still around to see them grow. He also has been digging up seedlings, particularly the young oaks that now sprout so generously in the beds, and planting them where we need trees.

This fall we moved our clothesline over to the paved terrace and in its place in our front yard planted two laburnums and a Viburnum burkwoodii: an attempt to have shade in our front yard without shading out the plants in the beds behind them: warm climate roses, a clump of palms, phlomis and Salvia guaranitica, sweetbox and pittisporum and myrtle. It's a jungle. I haven't seen myrtle in the ground locally, but ours has been in place for years in a protected spot and survived without damage the coldest temperatures I've experienced in my almost twenty years in Italy. Temperatures are warming, this is official, and I'm interested in how plants more typical of central and southern Italy may do here. Olives and figs, holm oaks and Italian cypresses and pines are common enough around here already, and I've seen agaves and sago palms in the ground locally and having quite a permanent air. Among the trees we planted this fall were Italian alders, native to central and southern Italy but looking thoroughly at home here: they flourish in our neighbors' yard. Italian cypresses are among the very best trees in our garden. DH also pried up a flagstone of the paved terrace and planted a columnar oak there, which to my surprise is flourishing. This, along with the pergola running along the outside perimeter of the paved terrace, has much increased our shade close to the house. I want another flagstone pried up and another columnar oak.

The once-flowering old roses and Hybrid Damasks, the ramblers in the garden, taken all in all, are doing well; less successful the Teas and Chinas and warm climate climbers, and the various Hybrid Multifloras. I want to try the warm climate roses again, but know they'll require drastic soil amendment if I'm to have any possibility of success with them. The most recent rose beds, planted in 2016, have a good many roses that are doing reasonably well in them, but also a good many holes. I want to get back to roses in time, but don't know when it will happen. Next year my intended project is to finish planting the Allée, the road that runs down from the house to the paved road. It needs shrubs, Italian cypresses, rambling roses, shade trees; not everything, but a lot. The year after that, God willing, roses.

We've done a lot; a lot remains to do, and who knows how long we'll be able to continue. All our gardens--there are different ones--started out as starved meadow, or weeds and brush, or swamp and dump. With all the work still to do, all the time needed for plants to mature, all the mistakes to correct, the garden is growing, and what we have now is far better than what we found at the start. Here and there, at times, it's beautiful. It's certainly absorbing.

Happy holidays to all, and good gardening!

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