Winter Moth larva

Here in the Northeast, spring is taking its time arriving. Mike had to postpone pruning because of cold temperatures and a snow storm on April 4th that brought us 5″ of snow. Now with temperatures a bit more in the normal range, our roses are starting to show a burst of new growth, but with warmer temperatures comes a new annual event — the arrival of winter moth larvae.

Winter moths are small, light brown moths that were first recorded around 1930 in Nova Scotia. They slowly migrated south along the east coast into New England, were detected in Massachusetts in the 1990s and arrived in Rhode Island in 2004. Our first encounter with them was several years ago. The moths mate in early December, hence the name, and lay their eggs in trees and shrubs. The eggs hatch sometime in April in our garden. It’s this larvae stage that does the damage by feeding on a wide variety of plants including our roses and blueberries.

1 Winter Moth Damage

Foliage Damage

Mike noticed chewed-up foliage and discovered moth larvae yesterday — small, green caterpillars that had rolled up in a silky cocoon inside our rose leaves. This is when they surreptitiously eat away on the foliage and young rose buds unless an intervention takes place.

While we very rarely apply insecticides in our garden, we do spray our roses, as well as our blueberry bush, for winter moths with a very low toxicity product called Spinosad. This is a naturally occurring soil dwelling bacterium that works on larvae by contact as well as by ingestion — IF applied at the right time. The best time to apply Spinosad is immediately after egg-hatch in early spring before the tiny worms tunnel into buds.

2.Captain-JackSo today Mike applied his first dose of “Captain Jack’s Deadbug,” an organic pesticide containing Spinosad.  (Another effective product is “Monterey Garden Spray.) Usually, spraying twice, seven days apart will solve the winter moth problem and as an added benefit, rose sawflies will be controlled at the same time.

Without the use of Spinosad, the foliage on our trees, roses and blueberry bushes wind up looking like Swiss cheese. Since Captain Jack’s toxicity is extremely low, we find that using this product gives us the best outcome.


Each year Mike and I look forward to speaking at the Flower Shows as well as viewing the display gardens and visiting with vendors. A few weeks ago we were at both the Rhode Island and Connecticut Flower & Garden Shows.

We were at the Rhode Island show on Thursday when Mike presented a demonstration called “Growing Great Roses in 6 Easy Steps” and included pruning a potted rose that he had wintered over in our ‘crib’ just for the show. We spent some time at the RI Rose Society booth and chatted with a few folks who later joined the society. There wasn’t much time to view the gardens, but we managed to see the sand sculpture that we look forward to seeing each year. This year the sculpture featured a lighthouse. (See photo above.)

3-HardscapeOn Friday we had more time to check out the show after our lecture “Rose Gardening Season by Season” and it was a treat to admire the creativity used in so many of the gardens. I especially enjoy seeing the unique ideas used for hardscape. Above is a picture of a large branch of bittersweet, of all things, that caught my eye at the show. It reminded me of the piece of driftwood we spotted on the shore on one of our walks along the East Bay Bike Path. Mike calls it The Night Watchman.


The Night Watchman

One of my favorite display gardens at the RI show was “The Birds & the Bees & Other Creations” by Adam Salisbury from Pawtucket, RI. Using recycled and found materials, he created some whimsical hardscape.


The Birds & the Bees & Other Creations

Another display I found most impressive was the Fenway Rooftop Garden by Cityscapes from Boston, MA. They showed vegetables and herbs grown in lined milk crates against the backdrop of Fenway Park’s Green Monster scoreboard. Growing vegetables in milk crates is a novel idea, especially when you lack space for a traditional garden.


Fenway Rooftop Garden

On Saturday we hit the road early for the 2-hour drive to Hartford, CT and the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show where we had 2 lectures: “David Austin Roses for New England Gardens” in the morning and “25 Fabulous Roses” later on. In between lectures we had time for a quick lunch and then we took a stroll around the show floor to see the gardens as well as many of the vendors.


Connecticut Rose Society’s Rose Garden

The first garden we went to see was also our favorite: The Connecticut Rose Society’s rose garden. It featured Downton Abbey roses such as Anna’s Promise and Pretty Lady Rose in a Victorian/Edwardian setting that even included an area with table and chairs where afternoon tea could be served. Many of the roses were in bloom and we know from past experience how difficult it is to force roses into bloom on time for a winter event. They succeeded, though, and their garden looked fabulous when we were there on Saturday. By Sunday, under the heat of the lights from the show, I’m sure this rose garden was even better! Hats off to Connecticut Rose Society


Hillside Display Garden with waterfall

Water features are often used in gardens but the display garden created by Hillside Landscaping was outstanding. Their water feature was an upright piano with plants growing out of its top and water rushing out below the keys. They even added a piano player wire sculpture. Fantastic.

There were many other gardens we admired, but we didn’t have quite enough time to stop and enjoy them between lectures. In a few weeks we’ll be at the Boston Flower & Garden Show and can’t wait to see what creative and beautiful designs we’ll find there.

If you make it to the Boston Show, stop by and say hello. We’ll be there on Saturday March 19 at 1:30.

Pretty Lady Rose Courtesy Weeks Roses

Pretty Lady Rose

One of my favorite catalogues is the annual Weeks Roses catalogue with its lush photographs and colorful descriptions. Another feature I like about this catalogue is that the descriptions include the parentage of each rose. This year Weeks introduced 7 new 2016 roses, and it’s hard to decide which ones to add to my rose “Wish List.”

Smokin' Hot Courtesy Weeks Roses

Smokin’ Hot

Mike and I were given Smokin’ Hot last year and it is already planted in our garden. From its first bloom I was convinced that it would remain. Smokin’ Hot, a hybrid tea hybridized by Weeks’ Research Director Christian Bedard, has wonderful saturated dark orange blooms with a white reverse and very good hybrid tea form. It is moderately fragrant with blooms 3½ – 4″ with 25 – 30 petals.

A second hybrid tea is Pretty Lady Rose (see photo above), NOT to be confused with Pretty Lady, a light pink floribunda hybridized by British hybridizer, Len Scrivens. Pretty Lady Rose, also hybridized by Christian Bedard, is the 2nd in a series of roses inspired by the British television series, Downton Abbey. (The first is Anna’s Promise, an apricot blend grandiflora introduced by Tom Carruth in 2014.) Pretty Lady Rose is dark pink and produces old-fashioned, ruffled flowers about 4-5″ in diameter with 45-65 petals. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, you may want to consider both of these roses.


Miss Congeniality

Another of Bedard’s introductions is Miss Congeniality, a white grandiflora with pink edges. It is described as medium tall, upright and bushy with moderate fragrance. Its 3½-4″ flowers of 25-35 petals grow in small clusters. I noticed that Rosa soulieana is listed in Miss Congeniality’s parentage, a species rose that Tom Carruth often used in his hybridizing program and Blueberry Hill, a favorite of ours that we’ve been growing for years. At first glance, the Weeks’ photo of Miss Congeniality reminds of Cherry Parfait, but I will have to wait until Miss Congeniality is growing in our garden to make further comparison.

Watercolors Home Run Courtesy Weeks Roses

Watercolors Home Run

Many of you may be familiar with Tom Carruth’s Home Run, a red single, extremely disease resistant rose introduced in 2006. In 2011 Carruth and Bedard introduced Pink Home Run, a pink sport of Home Run and just as bullet proof. Now Weeks introduces Carruth’s Watercolors Home Run, the 3rd in the trio of landscape roses. Watercolors Home Run blooms in clusters of flowers that have yellow-gold centers with pink on the outer edges. Its parentage includes the highly disease resistant Baby Love and Rainbow Knock Out. It is hardy to Zone 4, a bonus to those who garden in northern New England.

Cutie Pie Weeks

Cutie Pie

Another Tom Carruth’s 2016 introduction is the miniature rose Cutie Pie. I’ve already added this one to my Wish List. It is a peach and yellow blend “blushed with dark pink.” It has 2½-3″ high centered blooms of 25-30 petals. It looks like a smaller version of Day Breaker with less peach in its petals. Unlike Day Breaker, it is a small, compact plant that is perfect for a small area in the garden or to grow in a pot and I can picture it growing on my patio.

Rosa WEKpurmebep

Rainbow Happy Trails

Two groundcover roses round out Weeks 2016 introductions: Rainbow Happy Trails by Carruth and Sunshine Happy Trails by Bedard. As the names indicate, Rainbow Happy Trails is yellow-gold with a dark pink to light red blush and Sunshine Happy Trails is a medium yellow to gold color. While Rainbow Happy Trails has a cupped bloom of 20-30 petals, Sunshine Happy Trails has 15-20 petals. Both have low and spreading growth habits and would be perfect to plant around our flag pole.

Sunshine Happy Trails Courtesy Weeks Roses

Sunshine Happy Trails


Since we have a limited amount of available space in our rose gardens, it’s always a challenge to decide which roses to replace in order to add new varieties. With all the new varieties that are introduced each year, it’s always easy — too easy — to add to my Rose Wish List.

You can visit Weeks Roses at www.weeksroses.com for more information about their new introductions.  All photos are courtesy Weeks Roses.


Olivia Rose Austin - David Austin English Rose

Olivia Rose Austin                                   Photo by David Austin Roses

The holidays are over, the decorations have been put away and it’s time to review our “Wish List” of roses to plant in the spring. The trio of spectacular 2016 varieties that David Austin Roses has introduced for the United States and Canada sit at the top of the list. Read the descriptions below and you’ll see why!

Olivia Rose Austin with soft pink flowers of 90 petals each releases a strong fruity fragrance. This beauty features dark green foliage, grows 3-5 feet tall by 3 feet wide, and blooms repeatedly throughout the season. Interestingly, it been known to bloom 2-3 weeks earlier than other English roses. The Olivia Rose Austin rose is reported to be disease free and David Austin himself has described this rose as “possibly the best rose we’ve ever bred.”
This rose was named for David Austin’s granddaughter Olivia Rose Austin and is hardy in USDA Zones 5-10.

The Poets Wife - David Austin English Roses

The Poet’s Wife              Photo by David Austin Roses

The Poet’s Wife has yellow flowers, 4-5 inches in diameter, each with approximately 80 petals. It has a strong Old Rose fragrance and is on Austin’s list of Most Fragrant English roses. The Poet’s Wife’s typically grows 4 feet high by 3-1/2 feet wide but may grow larger in warmer climates. It is a repeat bloomer and the first yellow rose introduced since 2003. It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-10.

The Lady of the Lake - David Austin Roses

The Lady of the Lake                  Photo by David Austin Roses

The Lady of the Lake is a rambler that grows to 10-15 feet, perfect for trellises, walls, fences and obelisks. Most ramblers lack fragrance but The Lady of the Lake exudes a strong fresh citrus scent. Its blush pink flowers are 2 inches around with golden stamens in the center of 30 petals. It is hardy in Zones 7-10 and would need winter protection in USDA Zones 6 and colder.

Visit www.davidaustinroses.com for more information about these roses.

Ct Flower  Garden Show Banner

Learn more about David Austin Roses by coming to the 35th Annual Connecticut Flower & Garden Show in Hartford, CT (www.ctflowershow.com) on Saturday February 20, 2016. Mike and I will be presenting our program “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens” developed in concert with David Austin Roses.


Passionate Kisses: One of our 25 Favorite Roses

Tempus Fugit…it really does. 2015 has gone by in a blink and now the Christmas season is upon us with the New Year arriving in a few weeks. This means the spring flower shows and the start of our 2016 Lecture Series are right around the corner.
Our entertaining lectures, seminars and workshops are designed to illustrate to every gardener the enjoyment of growing roses. We have developed two new programs recently to add to our repertoire – “Rose Gardening Season by Season” which follows our second book, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, published last February. The second program is “12 Great Roses Anyone Can Grow” which identifies 12 attractive easy-care varieties.
RI Flower ShowWe open the season in February with two New England Flower Shows. On February 18, Angelina and I demonstrate basic rose care at the Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show and return the following day, February 19, to present “Rose Gardening Season by Season.” (See the complete list of programs, dates and times on the 2016 Lecture Series page. See tab above.)
Ct Flower  Garden Show BannerOn Saturday, February 20 we hit the road to Hartford and the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show with two programs. At 11am we present our “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens”, featuring several new Austin 2016 introductions. And at 2pm Angelina and I reprise our “Twenty-Five Fabulous Roses” program that we introduced last year. A busy weekend.
Boston Flower ShowWe travel north to Beantown on Saturday March 19, to début a special lecture at the Boston Flower and Garden Show called “Rose Gardening Season by Season – Let nature Show the Way.”


Olivia Rose

Olivia Rose Austin: 2016 David Austin Introduction       Photo by David Austin Roses

On April 2, in Newport RI at the American Rose Society’s Yankee District Convention, we again present “Twenty-Five Fabulous Roses”. And On April 7, we continue to promote sustainable rose gardening with “12 Great Roses Anyone Can Grow” for the Barrington (RI) Community School.
On June 18, Angelina and I discuss rose-garden basics at the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 18th annual rose show in Wickford, RI. This is a short talk followed by lots of Q and A from the public.
In between all these events our schedule includes visits to garden clubs and other horticultural organizations throughout New England plus time out for a trip to The Netherlands, Belgium and France, making early 2016 another busy season for Angelina and I.
So as one season melds into another, we again look forward to making new acquaintances as well as catching up with old friends, some that we only see once a year. With the New Year also comes the realization that we have been presenting lectures, conducting seminars and leading workshops on all aspects of rose culture for over two decades and yet it never gets old.
We are available to speak at symposiums and conventions and will travel to just about anywhere. We can customize programs and even produce one-of-a-kind presentations. We continue to add bookings throughout the year so keep checking in. As always, if your organization needs a program at the last minute maybe we can help. Contact me at mike@rosesolutions.net.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Mike and Angelina


It’s mid November and we’re preparing our rose gardens for winter before we put away the gardening tools. Last year at this time we were wrapping-up our 2nd book, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, and getting it ready for publication in time for the spring flower shows. This year Mike and I have started another project: a complimentary quarterly E-Newsletter called “The Northeast Rose Gardener.”

Since 90% of the questions we receive revolve around the nuts & bolts of basic rose care, we decided to publish a seasonal electronic newsletter to address fundamental rose gardening. In each issue of “The Northeast Rose Gardener” we’ll delve into on the seasonal tasks that need to be performed as well as basic rose horticulture. We plan to include tips and anecdotes from our two decades of rose gardening in the northeast corner of the United States.

Our first issue explains winter protection for roses and includes a few Do’s and Don’ts. If you would like to receive our free newsletter, send your email address to angie1@rosesolutions.net (Subject line to read The Northeast Rose Gardener) and I’ll add you to our mailing list.

To kick off “The Northeast Rose Gardener’s” debut, Mike and I are providing a Special Holiday Gift Offer on our web site www.rosesolutions.net

1.Note-CardsReceive 2 FREE note cards of my rose photographs of Sexy Rexy and Julia Child with the purchase of any 2 of our books. This offer is good until Dec. 17, 2015.
Happy Thanksgiving

Route 66

Route 66

Our roses started their long slow drift into dormancy in mid-August. But you would hardly know it with the beautiful end-of-summer bloom cycle our garden has produced this year.

Mike fertilizes each rose bush for the 3rd and final time no later than mid-August and that provides enough nutrients to produce a great September bloom. Plus it keeps them well-nourished and healthy going into the cold and windy winter season so they can emerge raring to go next spring.

I love the photo opportunities that our gardens present in September and October, so I’m often in the garden snapping photos of whatever roses are in bloom. While autumn roses will often be smaller than those produced in June, the colors may be more intense. Here are a few of our favorite photos taken lately.

It’s not easy to catch the color of mauve roses just right, but Mike caught Route 66 perfectly one morning recently. Route 66, hybridized by Tom Carruth in 2001, is a shrub rose with small, single blooms. Their petals are a dark velvet purple and what makes them unique is the almost black outer edges on the fresh bloom. (See photo above)



We planted Campfire, the floribunda we blogged about back in June, and once it was in the ground, it really took off. We captured its harlequin array of colors by going out in the garden every day to catch it in its various stages of bloom. The photo below is my favorite Campfire.



Blueberry Hill, another Carruth rose, is planted among larger roses in our garden, and I always seemed to miss a good photo-op until a few weeks ago. Its yellow stamens and lavender petals caught my eye.

Blueberry Hill

Blueberry Hill

We replaced our old Sexy Rexy rose this year with a new Sexy Rexy. It takes a season for a new rose bush to really settle in but I managed to snap this photo in September. Sexy Rexy is a very floriferous floribunda introduced by Sam McGredy in 1984. It has beautiful, frilly medium pink flowers that bloom in great clusters.

Sexy Rexy

Sexy Rexy

Early one morning when Mike was checking to see if we had had any unwanted visitors to the garden during the night (i.e., deer – thanks to our deer fence we have had no unwanted visitors…yet), he spied a dramatically illuminated Playboy bloom. He came back to the house, grabbed his camera and captured the image of the flower highlighted by a single ray of golden early morning sunshine streaming between canes of the large Graham Thomas rose nearby. He caught the photo in the nick of time as the moment went by quickly. It reminds us of some of Van Gogh’s paintings with the play of bright and dark colors.



It’s now the middle of October and there are still a few varieties in bloom thanks to the spectacular early autumn weather we’ve been having. But, one by one, as the days get shorter and nights get colder, the garden roses are shutting down for the season. While the weather forecast predicts the season’s first hard frost this weekend, there’s still a little more time to enjoy the last roses of summer.


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