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4.-Mille-Miglia-Car-Race-Si

Mille Miglia – Siena Italy

Sometimes the most memorable moments of traveling are those that are unexpected and spontaneous. Even though Mike and I enjoy planning our trips and organizing our travel itinerary, we find it’s often the unanticipated and unplanned events that are most rewarding.

1.-Pizzeria-Trattoria-on-ViOne was an impulsive decision that took us into a trattoria on Via Cavour in Florence. When walking back to our hotel, we saw a small sign that said Pizzaria Trattoria on a very plain looking storefront. We decided to go in. The place was small and charming with covered tablecloths. As we stepped inside, we were greeted warmly by the owner who spoke only a little English. We spoke even less Italian but communicated enough to convey that yes, we’d have his gluten-free pizza and a carafe of wine. We watched as he poured the dark red Chianti from a wooden keg on top of the bar. We lingered over the delicious wine as we enjoyed a very tasty gluten-free pizza. We still reminisce about this Trattoria on Via Cavour especially when drinking a glass of Chianti.

When we visit different cities, we are always on the lookout for rose gardens to visit. Even if the gardens won’t be in full bloom, we go any way and manage to find some aspect of the garden to enjoy.

We set aside an entire day to visit Le Parc de Bagatelle located in Paris’ 16th Arrondissement. With no easy access by metro or bus, we took a taxi. Our goal was the Roserie de Bagatelle – a very famous rose garden we had heard so much about; but it was late September so we knew that most of the roses had “gone by.”

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Sole e Luna at Bagatelle

While we were wandering around the garden, we came across a rose bush that had clusters of fresh, bright yellow roses surrounded by red buds. It was a variety we had never heard of – Sole e Luna. The hybridizer was an Italian rose breeder named Barni and the variety, not available in the United States, is one I would never have seen had I not gone to Bagatelle. What a treasure it turned out to be. Even though this rose is not for sale here in the US, my photograph of Sole e Luna is hung where it brings back memories of our trip to Paris and Bagatelle.

Roses aren’t the only unexpected treasures we experienced while traveling. While driving from Rome to Florence through Tuscany, our driver Marco stopped in Siena. After lunch, we took a leisurely walk through this ancient Tuscan hill town and wandered into the Piazza del Campo, the historic Siena square, looking for some gelato. As we enjoyed our Italian ice cream, a parade of magnificent vintage sports cars roared into the Piazza. We were luckily in the right place at the right time to see part of the famous Mille Miglia Classic Car Race, a 1000 mile race that goes through cities in northern Italy like Siena and Florence. (See photo above.)

5.-Thatched-Cottage-Adare-IOne thing we hadn’t planned on seeing when in Ireland were the famous thatched cottages which  are rapidly disappearing. But while driving to Limerick where we were to meet up with Mike’s cousin, we made an unplanned stop for lunch in the town of Adare. As we walked about the town after a quick lunch, we spotted a few of the remaining cottages with picture-perfect thatched roofs. Definitely a bonus to our Irish adventures.

While we’ll always remember the iconic attractions we’ve seen like the Louvre, the Colisseum, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Vatican, it’s the unplanned and unstructured components of our trips that are the most vivid and memorable.

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2.-Chute.-Clair-Matin-in-Ch

Our 2017 Garden

Just as one season gradually fades away after Thanksgiving, the next season quietly presents itself after the din of the holiday season has come and gone. While our gardens are hunkered down under their winter cover plus a foot of snow — a good thing considering our current sub-zero, early winter temps — paper and online plant catalogs arrive and gardeners’ mojo starts to rise.

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Campfire – A Fool Proof Rose

While our roses are snoozing, Angelina and I are not. We have accepted a number of invitations to present lectures and workshops for the upcoming year. 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 “Fool Proof Roses” plus an update of our popular “Roses for New England” with a new twist! (See the complete list of 2018 programs, dates, and times on the 2018 Lecture Series page.) For a description of our programs, visit our web site’s Program page at http://www.rosesolutions.net

In addition to rose gardening , we developed a novel new travel series last year called “Armchair Travel.” The first program titled “Paris! The City of Light,” debuted last September with very positive reviews and we’ve added it to our Lecture Series offerings.

2018 Flower Show CoverWe open the season on Saturday, February 24 when Angelina and I hit the road to Hartford and the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show to present two PowerPoint programs. We introduce our new “Fool Proof Roses” followed by “Twelve Super Roses Anyone Can Grow.” A double-header plus catching up with our Connecticut friends will make for a busy day.

On Friday, March 16, we head north and return to the Boston Flower & Garden Show at the Seaport World Trade Center and present “Fool Proof Roses.” It’s always a treat to present rose programs to the large Beantown audiences.Boston Flower Show

And on Saturday, March 24, we head even further north to Portland, Maine to speak at the new Maine Flower Show. This young flower and garden show opened last year to rave reviews and we are looking forward to presenting an updated “Roses for New England” program specially adapted for cold-climate Rose Gardening.Maine Flower Show logo

(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, April 14 at 10 am, Angelina and I will be in the Victorian Rose Garden in Roger Williams Park in Providence with a hands-on pruning demonstration as part of the RI Rose Society’s “Rose Day.” Here’s an opportunity to learn spring rose care, including the best way to prune roses. This event is free and open to the public; bring pruners and gloves.

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Mike’s Pruning Demo at RI Rose Society “Rose Day”

On Wednesday May 2 at 7pm, we continue our long time collaboration with the Barrington Community School with “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens.”  This updated for 2018 PowerPoint program includes the 120 page 2018 David Austin Handbook of Roses for each guest. (Open to the public, fee required, see barrcommschool.com)

Saturday June 16, at 1 PM is the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 20th annual rose show at the Wickford Community Center in Wickford, RI. Join Angelina and me at New England’s premier display of  roses of every type and color. Free and open to the public.

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RI Rose Society Rose Show

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 The Netherlands, Belgium and France, makes early 2018 another busy season for Angelina and I.

We are available to speak at garden club meetings, 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.

Thus as we wave farewell to 2017 — which was a very good year in our garden — we welcome 2018 with high hopes and great expectations. And, as I am fond of saying, there is no one more optimistic than a gardener in January.

Happy New Year

Mike and Angelina

The Nightlight

1-Nightlight

Several years ago, Angelina was rummaging through a box of things that had belonged to her mother and discovered an old fashioned nightlight. What made this nightlight interesting was the image on the glass light diffuser, a 3”x 4” replica of a painting, a painting of friends sailing into the surf on a catboat. The artist captured the differing values of ocean blues and teals, the rolling Atlantic swells, a solitary buoy leaning towards the boat, and the young sailors peering intently into the horizon seemingly pre-occupied with some unknown thing. Both Angelina and I thought this was a compelling marine scene, something you would expect to see somewhere in coastal New England, maybe on Cape Cod.

What was this painting in the nightlight? Did it have a title? Who was the artist? Where was it painted? Since the glass image had no identification of any kind, where did it come from?  The plot thickened.

We enjoy viewing this wonderful picture every day; it’s the last thing we see when we turn on the nightlight in the bathroom before turning in.

Anyway, fast forward to last May when we packed up for a two-week road trip to  Philadelphia then on to Washington, DC. In DC we stayed near the Mall making it convenient to visit all the monuments and memorials, the Air and Space Museum, the United States Botanic Garden, and the National Gallery of Art.

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National Gallery of Art

It was while we randomly roamed through the National Gallery of Art that we serendipitously discovered, totally by accident, the original art that inspired our glass nightlight — Edward Hopper’s “Ground Swell” — hanging in a gallery of American art. Eureka!

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Ground Swell by Edward Hopper

2-Ground-Swell-ID“Ground Swell” was, indeed, painted by Hopper on Cape Cod in 1939. We have since learned of Hopper’s recurrent themes of isolation and alienation and mystery. Much analysis has been made of “Ground Swell’ — just what did Hopper mean? Art critics claim it was a dark omen, a harbinger of World War Two. Really?

Angelina and I don’t know what he meant — maybe he didn’t mean anything — we just know that we like it. We bought a print in the gift shop and now that hangs in our home. Now we have two “Ground Swells” but we like the one in the small nightlight with its still unknown origin the most.

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Imogen (Photo by David Austin Roses)

We recently received the annual news release from David Austin Roses announcing their new introductions for 2018. These three varieties will  be available to U.S. and Canadian gardeners in the spring of 2018 through the David Austin web site.  Since Austin roses are so popular with our blog followers, we thought we would share the news about these beautiful roses.

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Roald Dahl (Photo by David Austin Roses)

The first rose is called ‘Roald Dahl’, a shrub rose named after the writer of James and the Giant Peach. According to Michael Marriott, the technical director and senior rosarian of David Austin Roses, the color of this rose is “marvelously, perfectly peach.” The buds open to reveal cupped peach rosettes that grow on a rounded, bushy shrub. An added bonus to this rose is its tea fragrance.  ‘Roald Dahl’ blooms throughout the season and is described as highly disease-resistant.

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Imogen (Photo by David Austin Roses)

‘Imogen’ is the second variety for 2018 and has soft lemon-colored blooms that fade to a pale cream. If you look closely at the photograph, you can see the petals surround a classic button eye reminiscent of Gallica and Damask roses. The delicate cream color outer petals that surround the softer yellow inner petals create beautiful clusters of roses on an upright shrub.

1-Bathsheba

Bathsheba (Photo by David Austin Roses)

The third introduction is a climbing rose called ‘Bathsheba’ that has a myrrh fragrance. and large apricot blooms.  ‘Bathsheba’ is described as short climber which may make it perfect for a smaller garden. The rosette shaped blooms are a blend of various colors from pale yellow to yellow to apricot with numerous petals that create an overall charming display.

Presently these 3 varieties are only available at www.davidaustin.com  and are sold on a first-come basis. Order early, so you won’t be disappointed. These roses will not be available in U.S. garden centers until the Spring of 2019.

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Playboy

It’s inevitable. Nothing prevents the arrival of cold weather finishing off another gardening season. As daylight diminishes and temperatures steadily decline, our bushes produce smaller and fewer blooms, but I’m appreciative of anything they have to offer.

 

Here are some photos of our hardy ever-blooming roses — the final blooms of the season.

Playboy is a showy floribunda giving us clusters of scarlet and gold throughout the summer. I was a bit surprised to find this spray a few days ago as Playboy usually shuts down by late October. (See photo above) The colors are a bit more saturated and deeper than blooms earlier in the season due to less sunlight and cooler temps. This was an unexpected bonus.

 

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Rina Hugo

Rina Hugo: what a season she had! This hybrid tea, hybridized in 1993, is a deep saturated pink and has given us flowers with perfect hybrid tea form — each bloom on the end of a long, sturdy cane.

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Rina Hugo (August Bloom)

Earlier in August, while our  Rina Hugo was amid a great second bloom, I cut some and put them in a vase.  A few days ago, Rina was well into her third bloom cycle on robust 24” canes.

 

What can I say about Campfire? (Photo below) This shrub keeps on blooming with its ever-changing palette of color. It’s not an exhibition rose by any means, but it’s a 10 as a garden rose adding color and interest in the garden up to first frost. This is the third season with Campfire and it has more than lived up to its reputation as a prolific, colorful bloomer on a highly disease resistant bush with an obedient growth habit — an unusual  combination of desirable characteristics found in a single variety.

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Campfire

Another late bloomer is Lady Elsie May. Like Campfire, it is extremely disease resistant and with its orange-pink flowers against glossy — very glossy — dark green foliage, it’s a delight to have in the garden.

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Lady Elsie May

Then there’s Julia Child. From both my kitchen and studio window, I enjoy Julia’s blooms almost every day. She typically doesn’t have a lot of blooms this late in the season, but each one is perfection. I’m still enthralled by Julia’s form and color and her anise fragrance is an added bonus.

4 Julia-Child

Julia Child

When I was walking through the garden taking pictures, I had a pleasant surprise. Pretty Lady, a rose bush I can’t see from any windows in our home, had given us a perfectly lovely, soft pink rose, surrounded by buds ready to open — if this unusually warm weather continues.

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Pretty Lady

So even though old man Winter is lurking around the corner, our roses are maintaining their domain as Queens and Kings of our garden.

1 Paris SlideWhile our first passion is rose gardening, our second passion is travel. There’s nothing better than visiting exciting, far-away destinations, settling in for a while, and becoming familiar with the rhythms of someplace new. After returning from our most recent European trip — a visit to Paris –we decided to broaden the topics of the programs we offer to include our travel adventures as well as our  rose themes. The result is “Armchair Travel” and the first program is all about our favorite overseas city to date —  the magnificent City of Lights, Paris France.

2 LouvreThis Power Point program titled, “Paris! City of Lights,” had its debut last month. It was attended by a diverse audience that consisted of  those who were planning an upcoming trip to Paris (some as soon as in a few weeks), those who had already been, and those who just wanted to visit Paris without leaving home. We included iconic venues like the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as some of our favorite places — Montmatre, St. Chapelle, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, rose gardens, and lots more we discovered along the way.

In our program, we discuss options of where to stay, where to eat, and what to visit. But mostly, we encourage visitors to explore not only the well-known boulevards and tourist attractions, but the back streets of Parisian neighborhoods.

5 Chez MarcelAnd since the French are known for their excellent cuisine, we share some of the intimate cafes and bistros where we had wonderful French meals while sitting among locals and other visitors from around the world.

Creating this program and sharing our passion for travel with others was very rewarding. We answered questions from members of our audience about the nuts and bolts of a Paris visit , gave tips on how to navigate around the city as well as suggesting the best way to gain admission to the busiest museums and other popular venues.

If you’re interested in learning more about “Paris! The City of Lights”, visit the Program Page on our website.

 

1-Longwood-GardenLast spring, Angelina and I chose to skip the hassle of TSA and the rigors of a long plane flight and instead decided on a long-awaited road trip. We packed up the car and headed south on a two-week journey, first to the Brandywine area outside of Philadelphia then on to Washington, DC followed by a meandering ride back home with a stop in Gettysburg. The first leg began with a visit to Longwood Gardens located in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, 30 miles west of Philly.

12-Longwood-Garden-EntranceLongwood had its beginnings in 1906 when Pierre S. DuPont purchased a neglected farm in order to save its arboretum from lumbering and began converting it into what would become one of America’s leading horticultural display gardens.

We arrived early on a sunny Tuesday morning in mid May, got our tickets and headed for the rose garden first. This garden was one of the smaller gardens in Longwood but was well maintained with a dozen beds of bush roses, each bed featuring a single variety. Most were in bud stage with peak bloom still two weeks away. One exception was a dazzling bed of Sparkle & Shine, a bright yellow floribunda.

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City of York – Back of Stone Wall

Just behind Sparkle & Shine was a feature that I especially liked, the unique way the Longwood rose gardeners displayed a row of climbing roses named City of York. These climbers were planted along the back side of a six-foot stone wall and then trained to grow up and over the wall and cascade down the front side. Since both sides of the wall received enough sunlight, they grew beautifully with thousands of tight buds tumbling down the front of this handsome stone wall waiting to open. The bloom must have been stunning.

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Topiary

As a backdrop to the rose garden was a Topiary Garden that contained over 50 specimens of yews in various shapes such as spirals, cones and animals.

We took a break here for a few minutes to enjoy the bright sunny morning then strolled over to the Conservatory, an enormous greenhouse with four acres under glass — twenty rooms of plants from around the world. The day we were there, gardeners were removing the displays of spring flowers soon to be replaced with summer annuals which in turn would be followed by fall plantings. Even though the conservatory was in seasonal transition, room after room featured showy floral displays. Very Impressive.

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Conservatory

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Conservatory

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Conservatory

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Mummy Pack

The conservatory even had a Rose Room – one that had several rows of rose bushes. What interested us was the IPM measures employed to control insects. No pesticides were applied but small packets of “mummies” were  scattered among the roses. Tiny wasps emerged from the mummies, looking for aphids on which to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch and the new wasplings eat the aphids which keeps them in check. While not a perfect solution, it seemed to work well enough and avoided chemical pesticides.

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Rose Room

After lunch we wandered over to a section of flower beds that were also in transition from spring to summer. One team of gardeners were digging up clumps of spring bulbs, piling them up into carts then hauling them off to the Longwood compost site. All vegetative matter was converted into compost and nothing was discarded.

Another nearby bed had already been cleared and a gardener was raking it out for planting the next day. According to the gardener, no soil amendments were added at this point but each bed would be amended with compost in the fall when spring bulbs were planted. She went on to say that each section of gardens had dedicated teams that maintained those same beds season after season.

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Wisteria

Nearby was the Wisteria Garden in full bloom. What a display of Japanese wisteria in lavender, purple and white. It was a major attraction and provided visitors with a unique photo op.

By now the weather was getting very warm and we were growing weary so we started back to the car, which was when we noticed the Rose Arbor. This circular arbor surrounded an area which is often used for concerts. We were too early to see the arbors in bloom which would have been a spectacular sight of American Pillar roses chosen by Pierre du Pont himself.

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Rose Arbor

Like other great gardens we have visited throughout the United States and Europe,  Longwood Gardens had clean, modern facilities and the gardens and structures were neat and well maintained with plenty of staff. We had expected a very high degree of horticultural excellence — the ultimate hallmark of every great garden — and were not disappointed. Longwood Gardens should be on every gardeners bucket list.

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