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Earth Song

Earth Song

Rose gardening can sometimes be like a science project and our sustainable rose garden serves as our laboratory. What roses will thrive and be black spot resistant? What roses will give us the number of blooms and the form we like? Sometimes the answers are personal, but in the case of the newest additions to our no-spray garden, Earth Song and Kiss Me have passed the test and have earned their places in our garden.

Earth Song and Yarrow

Earth Song and Yarrow

In August 2013, I posted about Earth Song, a Griffith Buck grandiflora introduced in 1975. Last season it produced beautiful, large, saturated pink blooms and this season it was even more proliferous. In June this year, Earth Song rewarded us with a non-stop first bloom with many sprays of 3-5 blooms on a bush with an upright habit that has grown to about 4 ft. tall. I had Mike plant yellow yarrow behind it and once the yarrow had an explosion of growth, I was really happy with the colors and texture that the two plants provided together. Earth Song is well into its second bloom cycle and shows very little black spot.

Kiss Me

Kiss Me

Kiss Me is also classified as a grandiflora, but has more of a rounded, shrub-like habit. What Mike and I both love about this rose is its color – a medium pink that is more saturated and a bit on the coral side than your run-of-the-mill medium pink – and its form. The flowers are round with ruffled, scalloped edges with a blush of bright yellow around its yellow stamens. We had some fantastic blooms in June; in fact Mike and I won Best of Class for Floribunda Spray with Kiss Me in the Rhode Island Rose Society Rose Show on June 14. Kiss Me is one of Ping Lim’s Easy Elegance Collection.

Along with the other easy care, disease resistant roses we have, Earth Song and Kiss Me are here to stay in our garden.

La Rosaraie

La Rosaraie

Spending a weekend in Montreal is the next best thing to visiting Paris. Where else can you get that European flavor without getting on an airplane? We usually visit Montreal during the last weekend of June to visit with friends and see La Rosaraie, the rose garden at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. But often we find that the rose garden peaked the week before we arrive, so this spring we made plans to go a week earlier to catch the garden at its best and take some rose photos for a new book we’re working on and guess what? Their peak bloom, like ours in New England because of a cool spring, was at least a week late!

Still there were plenty of beautiful roses in bloom and, as an added bonus, the Quebec Rose Society was holding their annual Rose Show at the MBG the same weekend we were there – a week earlier than in the past. Mike was invited to judge, so while he was judging the show with our friend, former Rose Garden Director Claire Laberge, I strolled through the garden.

LionIt was a perfect day to be in the garden. The temperature was in the 70’s, there was a nice breeze, and the sun went in and out, so I didn’t broil. By tradition, I always take a picture of the big bronze lion that guards the entrance to the rose garden, and this time the Sea Foam roses were just beginning to bloom.

While many of the shrub roses were still in their bud stage, I found plenty of roses were in a perfect stage of bloom – roses that during past visits had already gone by. I took plenty of photos – over 100 – and can’t begin to describe them all, but here are a few that I think are worth mentioning.

Compassion

Compassion

The climbing rose Compassion, winding its way up a wrought iron trellis, was one of the first roses I saw. Its orange pink petals had a touch of orange-yellow inner petals and a noticeable fragrance. This rose was introduced in 1972 and I can see why it’s remained popular.

Honey Dijon

Honey Dijon

A bed of Honey Dijon roses caught my eye because of its unusual golden brown/yellow blooms. As you can see from the photograph, this rose was aptly named because it has the coloration of honey mustard. It also has beautiful form.

Europeana

Europeana

One of my favorite roses, a rose we used to grow in our garden and I have on my wish list to grow again, is Europeana. This floribunda has been around since the 1960’s and has received many awards. I was impressed by its true red color and the disease-free foliage. Another rose that I’ve added to my wish list is the luscious deep golden yellow rose South Africa. This rose from Kordes, a German hybridizer known for producing disease resistant roses, has dark green, shiny foliage – a perfect backdrop for this rose.
While visiting the Rose Garden was our major goal, Mike and I extended our stay a few days so we could experience Montreal, the city. In the late afternoon and early evenings we explored Ste. Catherine Street, a major shopping area of the city, a half-block from our hotel. In the mornings, we’d walk down rue de la Montagne to a small café, called M’s, which had the best croissants I’ve had since Paris.

One afternoon we went to the Beaux Arts Museum that had a special exhibition of Faberge eggs. We felt right at home when we saw the Chihuly glass sculpture displayed outside one of the Beaux Arts building. The Beaux Arts is comprised of several buildings on opposite sides of busy Sherbrooke St. that is accessed through a tunnel going under the street.

Chihuly glass sculpture

Chihuly glass sculpture

The exhibit included four Faberge Easter eggs created for the Romanovs as well as other Faberge creations and that alone was worth the trip. After a short break we explored some of Beaux Arts’ permanent collection including a fantastic ceramic and glass collection and some Impressionist art.

FabergeAlong with our visits to the garden and the museum, we enjoyed some delicious meals in Montreal. One night we ate at La Societe, a restaurant in our hotel that was reminiscent of a Paris bistro. Another night we took a cab to Vieux-Port Montreal, the “Old City”, and enjoyed walking down the crowded streets lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. Remarkably, we walked into one of the first restaurants that we had eaten at when we had come to Montreal 16 years ago! We decided fate had placed us at the door of Vieux-Port Steakhouse and we decided to have dinner there. Good decision. We had the best steaks we’ve had in a long time.

Sometimes a plan comes together, and our weekend in Montreal was one of those times. Great roses, great art and great food, all without the hassle of hopping on a plane. I can’t wait to go back again.

Garden of Remembrance

Garden of Remembrance

Angelina and I arrived in Dublin on a rainy Sunday morning in early May on our recent trip to Ireland. This first leg had a number of historical locations on our ambitious itinerary the first of which was Trinity College where the Book of Kells is housed in the Old Library. Trinity College was an easy walk from the hotel and we entered the library after waiting in a queue for a short time chatting with other American visitors.

Old Library Trinity College

Old Library Trinity College

The Book of Kells is the remarkable work of medieval monks who created a lavishly illuminated gospel book containing the four gospels in Latin. The complex illustration and ornamentation is amazing and exceeded my already high expectations. The library displays two pages at a time in a climate-controlled display case – a page of illumination and a page of text – turning the pages every few months. While the exhibit was crowded, we were able to get a good look at this great manuscript. Since no photography was allowed in the Kells exhibit area, we waited until we went into the Old Library itself where photography is allowed and we found a colorful exhibit celebrating

Boru-at-Trinity-CollegeBrian Boru’s victory over the Vikings at the battle of Clontarf in the eleventh century. This was an unexpected bonus and an interesting glimpse into long-ago Irish history. Ireland has endured a long and painful struggle for self-rule and Dublin is full of reminders with one foot in the present and the other firmly planted in Ireland’s bittersweet past.

Prison Yard

Prison Yard

Kilmainham Gaol, located about 2 miles from Dublin Center, is an ancient prison with a tragic history, where leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916 were incarcerated after their failed one-week rebellion against Great Britain. Thirteen of them were executed by firing squad several weeks later in a grim prison yard which is preserved today as it was then with a solitary cross indicating where the prisoners stood. The building is now a museum and a tour of the building, especially that cold, forbidding prison yard, is a powerful experience. Kilmainham Gaol is Irish sacred ground.

Children of Lir

Children of Lir

Another compelling reminder of Ireland’s troubled past is the Garden of Remembrance located in Parnell Square at the top of O’Connell Street in Dublin City Center. This tranquil garden, dedicated to Ireland’s freedom fighters, opened in 1966 with a sunken crossed-shaped water feature. An impressive bronze statue titled Children of Lir symbolizing Irish freedoms was added in 1971. We sat for a bit in this cool and serene garden and enjoyed a quiet moment away from the noisy hubbub of O’Connell Street just a few yards away.

In Dublin we soon discovered a culinary fact of life in Ireland – lamb. Roast lamb, lamb chops, lamb stew, fall-off-the-bone lamb. Lamb was on the menu in some form everywhere we ate for 12 days…good thing we like lamb. (Corned beef and cabbage must be an American thing as we never saw it, not once, anywhere in Ireland.) Later in the trip we would see great flocks of sheep everywhere. We even saw a ewe with her lambs kept like pets in back yards of homes in suburban areas.

Ha'Penny Bridge

Ha’Penny Bridge

Much to my delight, good quality gluten-free food was widely available in all eateries due to the high incidence of celiac disease in Ireland. I had terrific GF meals with great GF breads, rolls, beer, soups, chowders, pizza, stews, pastries, fish and chips, plus lamb in all its forms.

Temple-BarDublin City is very walkable and walk we did – to Dublin’s boisterous Temple Bar entertainment district along the River Liffey, over the famous Ha’penny Bridge and up historic O’Connell Street in the center of the city to the General Post Office where the Easter Rising standoff took place in 1916, bullet holes still evident in the marble columns.

Stylish window boxes best seen on foot were on display throughout the city. Since Dublin has no subway, we used their excellent bus system when we had to travel beyond walking distance. No autos necessary.

Window-Box-DublinAfter three days we left Dublin and started the second leg of the trip, the part where I drive, which began at the Hertz Car Hire. Angelina and I packed our suitcases into a mid-sized Chevrolet sedan, set the GPS, and headed to Powerscourt and later on to Kilkenny. Little did I realize that morning, as I swung out onto a busy Dublin avenue and followed traffic for the first time on the left side of the road, what an adventure driving in Ireland was going to be. More on that later.

Japanese Garden at Powerscourt

Japanese Garden at Powerscourt

We traveled to Ireland a few weeks ago and saw many beautiful sights. I keep a travel journal and record our itinerary, make note of the places we visit and the memorable people we meet along the way. While we’re always on the lookout for rose gardens, we knew that we would be too early for the Irish spring bloom, but we were rewarded with memorable parks and gardens nonetheless. We let our imagination make up for the anticipated roses that would surely be spectacular in places like Powerscourt, Kilkenny Castle and the Inveagh Gardens.

 

Oscar Wilde in St. Stephens Green

Oscar Wilde in St. Stephens Green

Even before we ventured onto the roads in our rental car, we were able to tour two gardens in Dublin. One was St. Stephen’s Green – more a park than a garden — located in the heart of Dublin, a short walk from Trinity College, the shops on Grafton St. and our hotel. While we found no sign of roses in this 27 acre oasis, it was relaxing to stroll along its wide serpentine paths where we discovered a life size sculpture of Oscar Wilde lounging lazily on a rock with a rakish grin on his face. We returned several times to this serene place, taking in the peaceful setting and watching Dubliners enjoy the spotty sun between the inevitable raindrops. Not far from St. Stephen’s Green, but a bit of a walk, was Inveagh Gardens. It’s often described as Dublin’s best kept secret and I can see why. We had almost given up finding it and were circling out way back to St. Stephen’s Green when we spotted what turned out to be a walled garden. Behind this wall was not only a beautiful rose garden, but expansive lawns and fountains. There seemed to be hundreds of roses in this “secret” garden and they were full of buds waiting to bloom. We could only imagine what the garden would look like in two weeks time.

Powerscourt with Sugar Loaf Mountain in Background

Powerscourt with Sugar Loaf Mountain in Background

When we left Dublin and Mike was adjusting to driving on the left side of the road, a daunting adventure of its own, we made our way to Powerscourt, about 30 minutes south of Dublin. Powerscourt reminded me of the mansions in Newport, but on a grander scale. The Bellevue Avenue mansions truly seemed like summer cottages compared to the grandeur of Powerscourt and its gardens which comprised more than 14,000 acres. Currently, its Palladian style “house” is not open to the public, but the park-like grounds were spectacular. From its veranda we had a stunning view of Sugar Loaf Mountain – special to us because we spend many winter days skiing at our own Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine. We strolled down the stone terraces, along the paths, past the circular pond whose fountain was flanked by winged horses and we could see a rose garden set in the massive lawn. Further along we explored the Japanese Garden by climbing down stone steps, but the most impressive view was when we climbed back up, looking down over the winding brick paths, wooden bridges, a Japanese pagoda and purples and pinks of flowering azaleas and rhododendrons framed by various shades of green.

Roses at Powerscourt

Roses at Powerscourt

We made our way back to the main house by completing the circular path and came across what we had been hoping to see – roses. Only a few were in bloom, but the scope of the plantings was massive with beds of 20-30 roses all the same variety. Mike learned from one of the gardeners that because of the colder than normal spring in Ireland, the roses would bloom a few days late, in early June. Two weeks too late for us, but if you happen to be in Ireland in June, don’t miss Powerscourt.

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

The Butler House

The Butler House

Our next stop was Kilkenny Castle where we found another impressive rose garden. We stayed in the The Butler House, the old manor house which was located next to the castle. We had an enormous room, by European standards, that overlooked the formal gardens of The Butler House (see photo) which we thought was amazing in itself. When we saw the rose garden at Kilkenny Castle, though, we were thoroughly impressed. This formal garden with hundreds of roses was designed in the shape of a Celtic cross although none of our pictures of the garden do it justice. Imagine having a back yard like this to look at from your bedroom window!

Rose Garden at Kilkenny Castle

Rose Garden at Kilkenny Castle

As much as we enjoyed visiting the parks and gardens in Ireland, we had no idea how taken we would be by the historical sites such as the Garden of Remembrance, Kilmainham Gaol, the Famine Monument and the General Post Office that still shows the bullet holes in the masonry from the Easter Rising in 1916. Equally inspiring was Ireland’s spectacular landscape featuring views of its rugged coastline, the vast moonscape of The Burren and the endless patchwork of green fields. But those historical sites and landscapes will be subjects for future posts.

Spring PruningDespite the colder than normal temperature, we’ve had a few days here in Rhode Island that have reminded us that Spring is right around the corner. Our forsythia is blooming and Mike has been very busy pruning our roses.Pruning

Many gardeners feel that pruning roses is difficult. “How do I prune roses?” is a question we asked often at our lectures. We recently presented a Pruning and Planting workshop at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum in New Bedford, MA and most of the questions regarded pruning.

To simplify the process, we’ve prepared a handout and if any of you would like a copy, email me at angie@rosesolutions.net. A more detailed, step by step guide on pruning specific types of roses, such as climbing roses and shrub roses, can be found in our book Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening – ordering information (free shipping) is on our web site: www.rosesolutions.net.

Meanwhile, here are a few points to remember:

Creamy white pith

Creamy white pith

1. Start your spring pruning by removing the 3 D’s – all dead, diseased and damaged canes. Prune ¼” above a bud eye. Look for the pith or cross-section of the cut to be creamy white.
2. Remove any suckers growing at the base of the rose below the bud union.
3. Remove small, twiggy stems.
4. Prune out criss-crossing canes in the center of the plant.
5. Finally, shape the bush leaving a nice symmetrical shape.
6. Voila, you’re done!

Spring pruning encourages new growth. It is the first step you can take to ensure a robust first bloom and after the winter we’ve had in New England this year, we’re looking forward to our June Bloom.

June Bloom

June Bloom

Brothers Grimm

Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Rose

I’ve been wanting to plant some Fairy Tale Roses for the last few years but couldn’t find them in any of our local nurseries. So this past week I found some online and Mike phoned in the order. We decided on the luscious Brothers Grimm and the elegant Kosmos, both floribundas, both extremely disease resistance and each uniquely beautiful.

Brothers Grimm is anything but grim with its distinctive, eye-popping color of orange and apricot with bright yellow on the reverse side of its 30 to 40 petals. The blooms grow in clusters on an upright bush that has dark green, glossy foliage that has a growth habit of about 3’ tall. I can’t wait to see this rose blooming in our garden. Brothers Grimm is hardy to Zone 5 and is just one in a series of Fairy Tale roses bred by Kordes Roses.

Kosmox

Kosmos

Our second Fairy Tale Rose is Kosmos. I thought my knowledge of fairy tales was fairly extensive, but I have to admit that I’ve never come across a character named Kosmos in any of my childhood reading. (If you know who Kosmos is, let me know.) Kosmos has 40 delicate, creamy white petals around apricot centers and is described as having a light fruity fragrance. I’ll let you know. The foliage is matte green and the bush grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet.

Both Brothers Grimm and Kosmos have been awarded the prestigious ADR award which is given to roses that are tested in German gardens for 3 years and are not sprayed with any pesticides. These roses should thrive in our New England garden and, hopefully, be virtually black spot free. With their old-fashioned form and their many-petaled blooms, I anticipate that we will be able to add them to our list of sustainable, easy to grow roses.

Do any of you grow Fairy Tale roses? If so, let us know.

Photos by Kordes Roses

2014 Spring Flower & Garden Shows

Flowers in a BugWill this winter never end! Here it is, March 2, and temps last night were in single digits and the weather forecast is for still more snow tonight. Paf!

BUT, last weekend was the first round of spring – really mid-winter – New England flower shows. The Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show as well as the Connecticut Spring Flower & Garden show were blessed with fine weather for their 4-day runs and attendance at both shows appeared heavy on the days when we were there.

'53 MG

’53 MG

In Providence, the Rhode Island show’s theme was “Vintage Gardens” which featured antique and classic automobiles as unique centerpieces in each display garden. I overheard a few grumbles that the cars distracted from the horticulture. I disagree. The cars were all in tip-top shape and were skillfully integrated into each garden’s design, creating interesting and novel exhibitions of gardening excellence.

Sand SculptureThe sand sculptors were back again this year and, following the show theme, carved a full sized old-timey automobile out of damp sand. This isn’t strictly horticulture either but it has become a popular feature at the show guessing by the number of visitors taking photos. I liked it, too.

Vintage Roadster

Vintage Roadster

I also liked a stylish entry that showcased an elegant vintage Art Deco wedding table with centerpieces, place settings and fine china set in a classy garden during the Roaring Twenties.

Roaring Twenties Wedding

Roaring Twenties Wedding

Our Friday lecture was titled “Discovering Easy-Care Roses” where we explored sustainable, winter hardy and attractive rose varieties that will flourish in a pesticide-free environment. We explained the process of selecting disease-resistant roses that can thrive in New England gardens and identified many easy-care roses currently available. This thoughtful process of discovery eliminates much of the frustration experienced by home gardeners by planting the right roses in the right gardens. Judging by the size of the audience, there was a great deal of interest in the program and we signed quite a few books at the end.

Pruning Demo

Pruning Demo

On Saturday, we conducted a much different program called “The Art of Pruning Roses.” I brought an overgrown potted rose bush that I dug out of the snow in the winter crib and demonstrated easy-to-follow steps that demystified rose pruning. The lively audience was very curious about pruning and many had felt that pruning was some form of alchemy and that they would destroy a rose with poor pruning. Not so. Lots of Q and A during and after the demo.

The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show was held in the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Their 2014 theme was “Backyard Paradise” and it was indeed a paradise. This convention center is really, really big with three acres of convention space and the huge main show floor was packed with over 300 booths on one side and gorgeous gardens on the other. Our favorite was a full-size, nicely landscaped bocce court.

Bocce Court

Bocce Court

We conducted our most popular program, “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” twice on Sunday. Home gardeners want to grow roses and this program shows then how. This is our favorite program and regardless of the number of times we have presented it, it never gets old.

The next stop on the show circuit is the Boston Flower & Garden Show in two weeks and our “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens” is scheduled for Saturday, March 15 at 12:30. We have updated this program with lush photos of new 2014 Austin introductions as well as many of the old Austin favorites.

Spring (and winter) flower shows come at just the right time, when the gardening spirit is rising in anticipation for the coming season. However, the price we pay for this vernal hope is this persistently cold, dark, dreary, dank, desolate, and dismal winter. Nevertheless, days are growing longer and spring will not be denied, just delayed.

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