The work continues on the rose bed. Through the heat, and bugs (yes, more mosquitos) and some of the warmest fall weather on record, the work has gone on. The weeds are history, though I suspect there is still some of that demonic Bermuda grass lurking somewhere below the surface. The package of landscape fabric warned that it is one mean customer, able to penetrate not only landscape fabric, but asphalt and concrete as well!

I dug out roots of that stuff from more than a foot deep. Plus there were multitudes of tiny Colocasia bulblets everywhere, and many of their fleshy roots too. (Let this be a warning to you about these invasive plants) Practically sifting the soil was the only way to remove all of them. After going through the soil (mostly sand) by hand, next I turned it by shovel. That exposed even more roots of the Bermuda grass, and things like dollar weed and betony too.

After smoothing everything out, I applied a liberal sprinkling of weed preventer Preen, a corn gluten product that has already proved itself in the vegetable garden. On top of that went another scattering, this time of unscented clay cat litter to help add some water-holding capabilities. I also spread the contents of a large bag of charcoal briquettes. Had to put them in there whole because those suckers are just about impossible to break up. (I tried smashing the bag with repeated blows of a shovel with no success.) On top of that went 10 bags of composted cow manure. Together  the clay litter, charcoal and cow manure will help build up the sandy soil, providing nutrients and moisture retaining properties.

At that point I transplanted the Zephirine Drouhin rose. Quite large, the bush had to be pruned by a substantial amount, which is easier on both the bush and person moving the bush, when transplanting such a large specimen. When introducing new plants, and especially when moving established plants, I like to water them in with a root-stimulating hormone concentrate mixed with water. In the coming weeks I will re-apply the mixture several times to give the new plants and transplants a good start. I also planted the little Souvenir de la Malmaison rose, a Mini Penny hydrangea from the pot it had been in for a couple years and a Princes flower (Tibouchina) that I had started from a cutting several years ago. It was situated at the edge of the bed as it can grow to 15 feet, but its pretty purple blooms are worth the space it will eventually command. However, if we have an especially cold winter, it will be “toast” in our Zone 9B location.

I put the larger items in at this point before laying down the weed barrier, mainly because of their size. Smaller items will be easier to “insert” into the fabric later. Next step was the laying down of the landscape fabric. Cutting four-inch lengths of aluminum fencing wire, I fashioned “pins” to hold the fabric in place by bending the wire into “U” shapes.    

It took the better part of a day to get the fabric in place, cutting out areas for existing plants. Using the U-shaped pins the fabric was locked together with three-inch (or greater) overlaps.

On top of the fabric went the soaker hoses and I had to use bricks to hold the hoses in place as I worked them through the bed and around the plants.

Last the piles of Spanish moss and oak leaves I have been stock-piling for weeks were spread overall to create a thick mulch. Then on top of that went another liberal application of Preen. Now, all I have to do is transplant the smaller items, and then wait for everything to get settled in and start putting out new growth. Whew! I’ll post more photos as things start looking better.