The weather is improving and we have spent so much time in the sun lately. Apart from the wind blowing from any directions, it seems that Summer is almost coming with the heat which brings in the mode of wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, lotion (and I'm getting much darker!), swimsuits, sandals, cold desserts, and ice cream!
Indulgence is just coming in sort of ways, depending on how it suits your style. My way is quite simple: relaxing in the garden on a rug accompanied by sweets and a cup of coffee with a good of book to read. Although I only have an hour to spend time for myself, it is just enough to feel 'me' again. You know, when you're a mother, your time is not 'your real' time, but theirs (babies, toddlers, husband?). Aren't we all like that mother elephant (if you ever read this book) whose time for herself is just 3 minutes and 2 seconds before she finally is joined by her three kids. So, whenever you have time, please, indulge yourself, make you yourself happy.
It makes me happy to see my roses, annual and perennial flowers are blooming. All the hard work during Autumn and Winter now is rewarding. Roses are madly in blooms which I hope they'll still store some energy to give more in Summer. I suppose it is quite early for them to blossoming that much, but I guess they're quite happy with themselves.
Are you familiar with how to plant roses? I am not a gardening expert, but I do a lot of gardening from year to year. I experience it, so I hope it's alright to give you some thoughts on what I usually do on planting roses. My way of gardening is based on organic and I don't use commercial fertilizer, but mature sheep, cow, and fowl manure from our farm.
When to Grow
I usually plant roses in Autumn or Winter, when it's usually the time for them to 'hibernate'. They should be cut back to allow fresh growth in Spring onwards.
Where to Grow
I choose to grow them in the position where they can get full sun. Roses love plenty of sun. Try not to grow them where they will get wind too much. I have mine on the windy location and they are not growing as much as those which are in the open site. Moreover, wind sometimes carries disease for roses.
What Type of Soil
I have found out that roses best grown in rich heavy soil which is also well-drained. The soil at my place is already fertile, however, I still fork in some rich organic matter (compost or manure) to keep the nutrients and food balance in the soil, in helping the roses growing better and not starving. Perhaps, this can also be applied to whatever soil condition you have, either sandy or clay. I believe, organic matter (compost or manure) is a way to improve the poorer soil condition naturally.
When we bought the roses, they were all bare-rooted. However, you can always buy those in pots available in your nurseries. Perhaps, there is a certain degree of possibilities your store-bought-potted roses will thrive more than those bare-rooted will. I am certain that the good preparation of soil will give good results on successful planting because of the adequate food and nutrients your roses will accept while they're moved in their new 'home'. One thing to remember though when buying roses, that you should look at the onward facing buds. These buds should be there and healthy because they are the ones which are going to be the new shoots.
How to Plant
Now, when planting roses, I always get a help from my husband to dig out the holes for me. The holes should be wider and deeper than your root base of plant. I usually dilute the juice (vermicast) from the worm farm (vermicomposting--are you familiar with it?) with 10 litre of water for about 1 litre of the juice. I pour this mixture into the holes and plant the rose immediately. This way while the soil is dampened, it also will help to provide roses food in its early months in the new place. You can also use mature manure to be mixed in with the soil to act like a slow fertilizer, organic way.
Spraying- is essential when there are aphids around. I usually use organic base spray which is available in New Zealand. It is using herbal plants to get rid of the nuisance aphids. I also like to mix garlic and baking soda to prevent black spot developed on the leaves of the roses, in early Spring onwards.
Fertilizing-is important to keep providing food and nutrients to roses. In Spring, when the roses are growing their buds, it is the time I am applying mature manure and top the beds with grass cutting or rotten leaf compost. In early Summer, I usually keep providing them liquid manure we catch from the worm farm. I also use grass cutting (the ones from the catcher of your lawn mower) or leaf compost from Autumn falls to be applied on the roses beds. They like to be kept moist all year round. These grass cuttings and leaves will give them more food too.
Watering-is what roses need in Summer. We usually pump the water from the creek to water the garden in dry Summer. Roses need a lot of watering to survive as they are producing mass of blooms. I usually carry 10 litre of water for each rose from the hose (and I have more than 30 bushes of roses), good for exercise, you know.
Pruning-in Winter is necessary as well as is important. I always like to see my roses grow more shoots which are not tangled one another. It is important to prune your roses to get new look (you like to have your haircut or have it trimmed too, don't you?) of growth next year. It is also to let the air circulating in between the bush).
I just like to stay organic, so that I can use rose petals to make rosewater or other delicacies which are rarely to be found in ordinary cafes. More to come, sweet child o' mine! Here's another method of making rosewater.
I put the rose petals in a jar, pour distilled water in it, and then cover it. Put this jar in a place where your rose petals can be heated through in the sun, naturally. I put mine on the deck in the morning and on the window sill in the kitchen in the afternoon where I can get hot afternoon sun. When they are heated, they tend to condense which this is your rosewater-going-to-be. Keep this going on for a week or so until you get the scent you want. Store in the bottle and keep it in the fridge.
I have found out, from the two methods I've been using, the latest one produces more scent than the first. Don't ask me why, because what I really experience that the latest one is quite an easy method. You just need to purchase distilled water available from your pharmacy or health store. This water is also called deionized water or purified water. It's already distilled for ready to use. One thing to remember though, use those roses which are no pesticide sprayed on them.
The other day I made an experiment on using rosewater on cheesecake. It's a simple cheesecake, not too sweet, not too heavy with crumbly ginger nut biscuit base. I like to have a good result on mild rose flavour, so I use the rosewater which I first made from extracting the essence in hot water. To divide the flavour, I then decided to make two layers of the cheesecake. Well, not really layers, because I sort of mixing the two mixture to give rosy swirls. The first layer is the one which is flavoured with pure vanilla extract, sprinkled with chopped mini mars bars just to give accent of caramel sweetness, and then topped with rosewater flavour mixture. The fresh rose petals were the latest to mix in when I thought how it will taste when they are mixed in. So I did.
Well. That was kept in the fridge overnight. The next morning was a nice surprise when our good friends, The Dwens, dropped by. Chatting around the paddock and vegetable garden, we then enjoyed morning tea with this rose and rosewater cheesecake. I put a jar of pomegranate sauce that I made the same day I did the cheesecake. See how it happens when they're mingled.
Sliced away. The result was rather good really. However, I am not sure about the flavour. My guests thought they could really taste the rosewater in the mixture which is mildly scented. Moreover, the rose petals give burst of flavour in it as well. When my mum-in-law came by for a cup of tea, she said she could taste the roses and rosewater in it as well. My brother-in-law, however, points out that the flavour is just right for his palate because he does not really fancy rosewater. Given to taste the mildly scented cheesecake in his mouth, he said it was just right.
So, there's a mixture of feeling here. Here's what I think, the addition of rose petals in the rosewater cheesecake is a good move. This is just like putting diced apples in cupcakes mixture which is bursting into nice flavour and sweetness when popped up into your mouth. I can taste the flavour of the rose petals in it although the rosewater is very mild. Perhaps, it can be much stronger, but I have to be clever which level is the safest way in order to get the right flavour as well as the scent. I also will not use ginger nut biscuit crusts because I think they are too strong for the delicate flavour of rosewater. Nice biscuits will do. Perhaps chopping away some Turkish Delight, sweeties which have rosewater flavour? Anyway, if you happen to try out my recipe below, please let me know what you think. The pomegranate sauce is an optional.
Rose and Rosewater Cheesecake
Biscuits base: 180g ginger nut biscuits, coarsely crushed, and mixed with about 2 Tbs melted butter. Pressed on the base of the cake tin. Leave it in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
Beat 350ml cream cheese with sugar (I just throw in 2-3 Tbs caster sugar-have more if you like it sweeter) until smooth. Beat in the sour cream. In a separate bowl, beat the thicken cream until just fluffy. Mix this into the cream cheese mixture. Have ready 1/4 cup hot water, sprinkle about 2 tsp gelatine powder, leave it to swell. Stir well and pour by straining (should there be any tiny lumps from the gelatine) into the cheese cake mixture. Mix well. Divide the mixture into two portions. One portion is flavoured with a drop of pure vanilla extract. Spread this on to the biscuit base. Chop coarsely 6 mini mars bars, sprinkle on top of the vanilla mixture. Tint the other mixture with a drop of red food colouring, mix well. Flavour it with 2 Tbs rosewater and mix in a cup of fresh rose petals. Combine well, and spoon on top of the white mixture. Deep a skewer and make a swirl to mix the white and pink mixture. Fridge overnight.
Here is one of my roses collection:
City of Timaru. It is said to be one of many roses the Father of roses, David Austin has developed. It was one of the heart centre of garden exhibition in New Zealand some time ago.