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Chute’s Garden

For weeks we have been living under the shadow of the corona virus and following the “Stay at Home” orders imposed by our various governors. Days blend into a sameness and each morning when I wake up I have to remind myself what day it is. One day is much the same as the last with scarce entries in my Day Planner that once was filled with appointments, meetings, flower show appearances and lectures — all cancelled or postponed.

So it’s no wonder that Mother’s Day — May 10 — was off my radar until I began receiving reminders from numerous stores that Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Which reminded me that our books — Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening and Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners make perfect gifts for Mother’s Day.

1-Roses-for-NERoses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening ($21.95) is the first “how-to” book published by New England rose gardeners for New England rose gardeners. It explains everything you need to know to grow wonderful roses whether you’re a novice or a seasoned rose gardener. It includes six easy steps to growing roses in New England and how to select the right varieties for your garden. There is also a section covering planting and pruning, both bare root and potted roses, in great detail which is helpful this time of year. In addition, Roses for New England  lists over 150 sustainable rose varieties and includes many color photographs.

 

2-Rose-JournalRose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners (19.95) is a journal that’s more than a notebook to jot down what’s happening in your gardens. Besides pages to record monthly events, there’s a seasonal “To Do” list that tells you when to do what gardening tasks. There are lists of shade tolerant, fragrant roses, companion plants and our 25 favorite roses, mail order sources for roses and garden supplies. Tips for growing roses are scattered throughout the journal as well. Your Mom doesn’t have to be a rose gardener to enjoy this journal since it can be used by anyone who wants to keep track of interesting and/or unusual events. Every Christmas I give a copy of this  Journal to my brother-in-law who does not grow roses but likes to keep a record of yearly outdoor tasks.

We offer Free Shipping within the continental United States when books are ordered on our web site RoseSolutions. Payments are made through PayPal or your credit card. We can even include a “Happy Mother’s Day” transcription of your choice and ship directly to your gift recipient. Just include this information when you order.

During this time when we can’t dine out or shop in our favorite retail stores and social distancing is the norm, you can still make Mother’s Day special by remembering Mom by sending her our books as a special gift.

Happy Mother’s Day!

1-Pruning-Climber

Pruning Clair Matin

April is a fickle month in New England, often starting off as winter and ending as spring. But other than these typical weather variations, springtime in New England is predictable.

The daffodils and forsythia have bloomed right on schedule and the garden roses are waking up, stretching and yawning after a five-month snooze, right on schedule.

But spring this year is dramatically different from any previous spring. The corona virus has fundamentally altered how we live including, among many other things, providing us with a bounty of unwelcome free time. Since the objective for all of us to stay healthy is to stay at home, Angelina and I are making the best use of this unexpected windfall of time.

I began with my usual early spring garden cleanups in late March, a special time when the air is crisp and sharp and the garden is flooded with sunshine before the surrounding trees have leafed out. The annual heavy pruning ritual follows and that normally takes a week. I started with the climbers — spending an entire afternoon on each of the big guys — cutting and lopping, sawing and snipping, then re-pegging them on their trellises after they were blown about all winter. This year, by design, it’s taking longer — a lot longer.  No problem, I’ve got time.

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Pruning off canker

Then comes the bush roses. Angelina and I check out each occupant, deciding who stays, who gets moved, and who gets the boot. I spend a day on each bed. No problem, I’ve got time. Planting comes next. We have a few new varieties in mind but wonder if our usual rose sources will be open.

Meanwhile, despite a concentrated effort to keep deer out of the gardens even with all our fencing, they manage to find a way in. I discovered hoof prints in the soft garden soil a few weeks ago. I channeled my best Daniel Boone and tracked the critters who had hopped over a neighbor’s fence, walked all the way around the fenced perimeter, along the street, up our driveway and through the one remaining open space into the garden area. On a recent midnight raid, they browsed on emerging daylilies, chives, irises, and tulips. So construction of a six-foot gate gets added to the To-Do list. No problem, I’ve got time.

3-Begonias

Begonias in bags

Along with roses, we grow an assortment of other plants to dress up our summer patio. We will soon buy a flat of begonias and fill a couple of plastic bags to hang in front of the patio. They quickly fill-out, leaving a mass of color that lasts all summer, hiding the bags they grow in.

5-Patio-ColeusAnother patio plant we like are coleus. We get the flashiest, most flamboyant varieties we can find and make topiaries out of them. Once potted up, we pinch out lower stems as they grow. Keeping them neat and symmetrical requires constant primping. No problem, we’ve got time.

4-Coleus-TopiaryWe’ve divided our daylilies — it’s amazing how hefty the clumps have grown — and will re-plant them along with other non-rose species among our roses as we start a cottage garden. This will takes some doing. No problem, we’ve got time.

And so it goes, on and on. After all, right now we’ve got nothing but time (and a little red wine).

We would like to hear how you are doing in other parts of the US. In Great Britain. In France. In The Netherlands. In Ireland. In Finland.

How are you spending your free time?

 

Happy Easter.

Mike & Angelina

1 David_Austins_US_handbook_2019_cover_tn

Photo by David Austin Roses

If you’ve received David Austin’s Handbook of Roses for 2020, you have already seen the introductions available this spring for US and Canadian gardeners. If you haven’t received the handbook, you can read about Austin’s 3 new varieties:  ‘Tottering-by-Gently’, ‘Emily Brontë’,  and ‘The Mill on the Floss’ below.

 

Tottering-by-Gently

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Photo by David Austin Roses

When we visited David Austin Roses this past summer, ‘Tottering-by-Gently’, a cheery yellow single rose, caught our eye, but we knew it would not be available in the US until 2020. While Austin roses are better known for dense, many-petaled roses, this is their first yellow single rose. And it is stunning. It has masses of flowers growing in large sprays. Its five petals surround golden stamens that attract beneficial insects as well as pollinators. This shrub has a musk fragrance and grows about 4 feet by 4 feet. Another benefit is it can produce orange-red hips if not deadheaded. ‘Tottering-by-Gently’ was named in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the cartoon of the same name, created by Annie Tempest, that was first published in “Country Life” magazine.

 

Emily Brontë

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Photo by David Austin Roses

What a charming rose Emily Brontë is with soft pink blooms of 100 petals. The soft pink is accentuated with pale apricot inner petals that surround a button eye. It is described by Michael Marriott, technical director and senior rosarian of David Austin Roses, as having flowers that “open with a fine tea fragrance” that changes in mid-bloom when “the tea fragrance wanes and old rose fragrance comes on strong.”  The growth habit is about 4 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide. It is named for Emily Brontë, well-known author of Wuthering Heights.

 

The Mill on the Floss

3 The Mill on the Floss

Photo by David Austin Roses

Unique coloration is distinctive of ‘The Mill on the Floss’. The deeply cupped blooms present as medium pink, but as they open further the pink becomes lighter and the petals develop a carmine-red outline. The rose blooms in clusters of 100 petals or so and have a nodding habit, characteristic of many Austin varieties. This rose, named for the novel by English writer George Elliot, has a sweet and fruity fragrance. Growth habit is 4.5 feet tall by 4 feet wide, but in warmer climates, it may grow larger.

 

These new introductions can be ordered as bare root roses from davidaustinroses.com. They will not be available at garden centers in the US until Spring 2021.

3-Chute's-Garden

Mike & Angelina’s Rose Garden in June

It’s January, the coldest time of the year. The rose gardens are dormant, the landscape is still and winter’s long post-holiday chill is just beginning. While this is the quiet time, Angelina and I are actively making plans for the upcoming year and preparing our 2020 Lecture Series.

Our entertaining PowerPoint lectures, workshops and seminars are designed to educate and make rose gardening appealing to even the most reluctant gardener. We annually review, revise, and refresh our program list as well as add new ones. New this year is “Rose Gardening Simplified” where we explain in simple, easy-to-understand language how to grow attractive, sustainable roses at home. (See the complete list of 2020 programs, dates, and times on the 2020 Lecture Series page.) For a description of our programs, visit our web site’s Program Page at RoseSolutions.

HomeGarden_Vert_2_23We open the season on Saturday and Sunday, February 22 and 23 at the 2020 Southeastern Connecticut Home & Garden Show at the Earth Tower Expo & Convention Center at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. We will present our popular “Roses for New England” program at 1pm on Saturday and 11am on Sunday. This home and flower show continues to expand its garden-related programming and we are delighted to be involved. We are looking forward to this mid-winter double header at this fabulous casino venue.

 

6 Boston Flower Show logoOn Friday, March 13, we return to the Boston Flower & Garden Showat the Seaport World Trade Center and debut our new “Rose Gardening Simplified” program. Gardeners throughout the region flock here every March looking for an early taste of spring. This flower show is very special to us and we always enjoy our annual visit and the large, enthusiastic Beantown audiences.

 

Maine FS logoAnd on Saturday, March 28, we pack-up for an overnighter to Portland, Maine to speak at the Maine Flower Show, our third year at the this show located at Thompson’s Point along the Portland waterfront. This year’s presentation is an updated “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” program with time for plenty of Q and A. The audience here is an eclectic mix from all over northern New England as well as Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes.

1-Maine-Flower-Show

Garden at the 2019 Maine Flower Show

(We will have our two books, Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening as well as Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, available at all our lectures and workshops.)

On Saturday, May 2 at 10 am, we will be at Wildwood Nursery in East Greenwich, RI giving a lecture on basic rose gardening. This is part of the Rhode Island Rose Society’s annual “Rosefest”, a four-hour workshop on rose horticulture for home gardeners. Here’s an opportunity to learn rose care, including the best way to plant and prune roses from local rosarians. This event is free and open to the public.

 

3-Six-Simple-Steps-Title-SlOn Saturday, May 9 at 10am, join Angelina and me at Lincoln-Sudbury Adult Education in Sudbury, MA where we will present an expanded two-hour seminar of our “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” program. We cover all the rose gardening basics including the right way to plant and prune roses plus lots of Q and A– everything necessary to grow beautiful roses at home this spring. (Visit their web site: www.lsrhs.net/community/adult_ed or call 978-443-9961, x3326 for more information or to register).

In between all these events, our lecture series includes programs to garden clubs and presentations to various horticultural organizations. All this, plus time out for a trip to Santa Fe and the American Southwest, makes early 2020 another busy season for us.

Mike and Angelina Chute

Mike & Angelina

We  have been on the lecture circuit presenting lectures, conducting seminars and leading workshops for more than two decades and it never gets old. We are always  available to speak at flower shows, symposiums, conventions, and garden club meetings 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, contact mike@rosesolutions– maybe we can help.

So, even as the snow flies and the thermometer plummets, there is no one more optimistic than a gardener in January.

Happy New Year.

Mike and Angelina

1-Lady-Elsie-May-Transplant

Lady Elsie May

Fall is the ideal time to transplant, as well as plant, roses in New England. We wait until the garden roses have gone dormant — when growth, both above and below ground is temporarily suspended. In most of New England this occurs between mid-October through mid-March. Once dormant, roses are safe to move.

2-Rose-to-be-Transplanted

Lady Elsie May before being transplanted

While it’s possible to transplant rose bushes any time during the dormancy period, we move them from one place to another in our gardens around Thanksgiving when we’re certain that dormancy has been established and the ground is not yet frozen. We plant new roses around this time, too. Planting and transplanting in the fall gives roses four months to settle in, become established and ready to grow along with the rest of the garden in March.

We recently transplanted Lady Elsie May, a rose we could see from the kitchen window. It had grown so tall and wide, we could no longer see the roses behind it, so we decided to relocate it.

3-Digging-New-Planting-Hole

Digging New Planting Hole

But before transplanting, there were a few things we had to do. On the day before transplanting, we pruned the rose back by half and watered it well. We also pre-dug and amended the new hole and had a tarp near by.

4-Root-Ball

Root Ball

We dug up the rose by first loosening the soil in a circle at least 12 inches or more from the center of the plant. Once this was done, we inserted the shovel under the root ball and carefully lifted it, keeping as much of the soil around the root ball as possible. We then slid the rose onto the tarp and dragged it to the new hole.

5-Transplanting-the-Rose

Planting Transplanted Rose

Then we re-planted it.

We watered it well and added winter protection by hilling up the base of the plant 10 inches or so with manure (soil or compost would do just as well).

7-Transplanted-Rose-Hilled-

Transplanted Rose Hilled Up

Done.

The following June Lady Elsie May was in its full, glorious bloom.

8-Lady-Elsie-May-June-bloom

Lady Elsie May’s June Bloom

If you need detailed step-by-step instructions on planting and transplanting roses, go to Chapter 9 in our book Roses for New England to read all about planting and transplanting roses. Or visit our website (www.rosesolutions.net) and read Mike’s article “How to Plant Roses.”

Purple Roses

6-Rhapsody-in-Blue

Rhapsody in Blue

We received our first 2020 rose catalogue in the mail and inside was a stunning dark lavender-purple rose. This new introduction, ‘Perfume Factory’, is a hybrid tea and the photo shows it at its most perfect form with petals swirling around a spiral center. What caught my eye was the tantalizing, deep purple color and I knew almost immediately that this new beauty was the creation of Tom Carruth. (To see a photo of ‘Perfume Factory’ go to edmundsroses.com).

 

1-Blueberry-Hill

Blueberry Hill

Carruth, former Director of Research for Week’s Roses, has hybridized a series of mauve roses. Tom’s hybridizing quest for a “true black velvet purple” rose began with his introduction of  ‘Blueberry Hill’ in 1998. We originally bought the rose because its name took us back to the 1950’s and Fats Domino’s rock and roll version of Blueberry Hill as well as to the 1970’s with Richie Cunningham (Happy Days) belting out “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.” But the rose ‘Blueberry Hill’ earned its place in our garden with its unique light bluish-lavender ruffled petals that formed large 4” blooms surrounding yellow stamens.

 

2-Outta-the-Blue

Outta the Blue

Next came ‘Outta the Blue’, one of our favorites, when it joined our growing number of Carruth’s mauve roses in 2000. It has the look of an old garden rose with blooms of deep magenta flecked with gold. And the intoxicating clove fragrance of its numerous sprays, together with its disease resistance, makes this a most desirable garden rose. It is also is a good exhibition rose and has won Best Modern Shrub in our rose show.

 

8-Outta-the-Bluecr

Outta the Blue Spray

In an interview Mike had with Tom Carruth, Tom related that he easily recalls the exact spot on the bench in the research greenhouse where his eye caught sight of the first bloom of what would become ‘Outta the Blue’. He describes the rose as having “a glowing luminescence that no photograph has ever completely captured.”  I agree. I have photographed ‘Outta the Blue’ over and over and while some photos show its luminescence, none show the intensity of its color that can only be caught by the naked eye.

 

5-Rt.-66

Route 66

Mike and I go through different color phases when selecting roses and we became captivated with Carruth’s mauve roses – hence we went through our purple roses period. Carruth introduced numerous mauve roses, including the deep purple ‘Route 66’ (Tom has a knack for naming roses and when we visited New Mexico we made it a point to travel along part of Route 66) and the floribunda ‘Ebb Tide’ (I remember the version of that song by the Righteous Brothers in the 1960’s) that has full, ruffled mauve blooms and a spicy, clove-like scent.

4-Ebb-Tide

Ebb Tide

We didn’t limit our pursuit of purple roses to Carruth roses. One of our favorite purples is ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ (Cowlishaw, 1999), named after George Gershwin’s  iconic composition. While being influenced by the name and the music, it was the combination of the rose’s deep purple petals, streaked with white stripes, surrounding incredibly dramatic golden stamens, that attracted our attention. ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is very photogenic and while I have taken many photographs of this mauve beauty, my favorite is the one below that I framed and now display on our wall of rose photos.

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Rhapsody in Blue

We may have outgrown our “purple rose phase,” but a rose as beautiful as ‘Perfume Factory’ is hard to resist and we may just reconsider.

 

Stonehenge

1 Lead-PhotoA visit to Stonehenge was high on our itinerary during our trip to England last June. Since this 4500 year-old British cultural icon draws over a million and a half visitors each year, admission is gained through a timed system best accessed through advanced booking online. We arrived a few minutes prior to our 11am admission time slot that we had booked several months earlier and found a short queue at the ticket office in the Visitor’s Center. From there, we had the choice of walking the two miles to the Stones or taking the shuttle which runs continuously all day — very little waiting. We took the shuttle.

The setting around Stonehenge has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years. While it is owned by the Crown, it’s managed by English Heritage and the surrounding lands are owned by the National Trust. In recent years, a nearby highway has been removed, leaving no remaining distractions around the stone circle. Shortly after we left the Visitor’s Center, Stonehenge dramatically appeared in the distance, standing solitary on a rise amid vast grasslands. The vista was incredible.

2-VistaWhen the shuttle arrived at the stones, we joined the throng heading to the pathway that encircles the ruins. The site is roped off and there is no longer any access directly into the stone circle. Instead, there is a path around the stones which allows visitors a good look at the entire monument. Stonehenge consists of both small stones and some really big ones. The big ones are arranged in a circle and joined by lintels laid across the tops creating Stonehenge’s instantly recognizable profile.

3-Lintels

Stonehenge Lintels

We circled around several times and found the sight lines that the sun’s rays blaze through at dawn on the summer and winter solstices. After staying for an hour and taking lots of photos, we caught the next shuttle back to the Visitor’s Center where we had lunch in the café. (I had a decent gluten-free lunch that included a slice of  GF Victoria’s Sponge Cake, a classic English dessert that we saw everywhere in England but GF only at Stonehenge.)

 

We spent some time after lunch viewing a very good exhibition that explained Stonehenge through a series of displays and ended our visit in the gift shop where we brought a few souvenirs.

Looking back, we understand the reason for limiting access to the inner stones, but we were disappointed that we could not inspect Stonehenge more closely. We saw more of inner Stonehenge from the Rick Steve’s Stonehenge episode.

4-Stonehenge-ViewRegardless, the Stonehenge experience was more than worth the effort and we encourage travelers to visit this British archeological treasure and enjoy the experience as we did.

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