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.


Years ago I bought a cook book titled “Glorious Garlic” and it has some terrific recipes. Little did I know when I bought it that Mike and I some day would seriously grow garlic. Mike refers to us as “Garlicteers.” Not only do we love to eat garlic (Mike makes delicious garlic mashed potatoes), but we also enjoy growing garlic in addition to our roses.

It all started a few years ago when we planted a few cloves of garlic around our roses because we wanted to determine if garlic is really a deterrent against black spot. Since we planted it among our sustainable roses which don’t get black spot, we couldn’t tell if it helped or not. But it didn’t hurt and provided us with some delicious fresh garlic that summer.

Garlic Bed

Last October we got serious about planting garlic. Mike prepared a garlic bed, amending the soil, and we mail ordered Hardneck garlic, better for the cold New England climate than Softneck Garlic, from Green Mountain Garlic in Vermont.

According to Green Mountain Garlic, there are 3 types of Hardnecks: Racamboles, Porcelain and Purple Stripe. When we ordered our garlic the end of July 2014, we were a little late and the only garlic available was the Porcelains. We ordered ½ pound each of 2 varieties: Music and Romanian Red, which gave us 3 bulbs of each variety, about 13 -15 cloves of each bulb. Along with our harvest from the previous year of 2 unknown garlic varieties that we were given by friends from the Connecticut Rose Society, we had about 50 cloves to plant.

Digging up Garlic

Garlic is easy to grow and once it was planted at the end of October 2014, we had nothing left to do but wait. By the end of March 2015, after most of the snow had finally melted, we saw the garlic pushing up through the still-hard soil. In early June the curly garlic scapes appeared and we followed Green Mountain’s instructions and clipped them off and used them like chives. Quite tasty. By the first week in July, just as predicted, the garlic leaves turned yellow, a sign that they were ready to harvest. We dug up a few heads to see if they were ready to go then decided to wait 1 more week before we harvested them all in the middle of July.


Mike bundled them up by variety and hung them on our patio under the awning – the only place we had that was warm, dry, out of the sun with good air circulation. We let them cure for 4 weeks until the clove wrappers were dry, then we trimmed the stems and the roots, cleaned them off and stored them in mesh bags.

Hanging-GarlicThe difference between fresh and store-bought garlic is amazing. I could tell that as soon as I chopped up my first Romanian Red which just oozed out pungent garlic oil. I added chopped garlic to our home-grown green beans and the garlic flavor was just amazing. We tried Music next and found it was a bit milder. What I liked about both, besides their freshness and intense flavor, was the ease in peeling, unlike some of the garlic I bought at the market.

Our yield was almost 100%. We lost 1 clove to a curious squirrel who had dug it up and discarded it on the grass when she decided it wasn’t an acorn. Mike plans on expanding our garlic patch and I’ve already ordered a 3rd variety from Green Mountain Garlic called Spanish Red, a Racombole variety that is described as having a rich, robust flavor. I can’t wait to try it!

Garlic and roses, great companion plants!


We knew we had arrived in Vancouver when we caught sight of the tall glass towers with rounded corners that dominated the dramatic downtown skyline. Since we only had four days to spend here, our agenda was packed with plans to visit Stanley Park’s Rose Garden, Granville Island, the Museum of Anthropology and a drive to Whistler.

Along the Sea to Sky Highway

Along the Sea to Sky Highway

Originally, we had wanted to include a foray into the Canadian Rockies but our schedule only allowed time for a day trip to Whistler via the famous Sea to Sky Highway. While the drive time from the Lion’s Gate Bridge in North Vancouver to the town of Whistler was only two hours, we planned on a whole day to include time for scenic stops and breaks.
The Sea to Sky Highway is a much improved upgrade from the old Highway 99 which had been a harrowing twisty two lane road carved into the steep cliffs along Howe Sound back in the day. The road received a major makeover for the 2010 Winter Olympics and offers a spectacular panorama of Howe Sound at sea level segueing into stunning mountain vistas as we climbed toward Whistler in the Rockies. (You know this a serious mountain road when there are frequent turnoffs cautioning drivers to install tire chains for winter travel.)
Oympic-RingsAfter this amazing morning drive, Whistler was anticlimactic. After a so-so lunch, we walked around a bit. We half expected an intimate alpine ski village but found a busy upscale ski area with lots of dining, trendy shops, and galleries. Visitors were mostly interested in eating and taking selfies in front of the Olympic rings in the village square.
The return trip in the afternoon exposed different vistas and was just as rewarding as the morning’s drive. The trip did take the whole day and could have gone longer. The Sea to Sky Highway has been described as one of the top drives in Canada and we can attest to that.

A bed of Julia Child roses

A bed of Julia Child roses

The following day we went to Stanley Park in North Vancouver to see the rose garden. This 80-year-old garden has 3500 rose bushes planted in large beds surrounded by lawn. Most beds consist of many bushes of the same variety creating a dramatic color palette when in bloom. Unlike the rose garden in The Butchart Gardens in Victoria that we had seen the week before, this garden displayed lots of color even though peak bloom was supposed to be two weeks away. One section of the garden had a long arbor with climbers scrambling up and over both sides and beds of seasonal plantings of annuals, perennials, and spring bulbs planted along the side – perfect companion plants for roses.Stanley-Park-Arbor
The garden is maintained by a professional staff and looks it. The bushes are fertilized and well-pruned; the beds are clean, attractive and weed-free. We chatted with a gardener who told us that the garden is organic by design and no pesticides are employed. They even create their own garden soil with a park-wide composting system.
Municipal rose gardens are intended to display the color, fragrance and beauty of the genus rosa to the public and the rose garden at Stanley Park does just that.

Ballerina Rose

Ballerina Rose

Before leaving, we meandered through the park, stopping at the gift shop with an impressive array of locally carved totem poles displayed outside.
Totem-Poles-in-Stanley-POn our final day in Vancouver, we headed over to Granville Island, a one-time industrial area now gentrified with a huge indoor public market as the main attraction. It features local produce, seafood, baked goods, interesting arts and crafts, and lots of eating. With over 10 million visitors annually, we had expected numbing congestion with little parking. But on the drizzly Tuesday morning in May we arrived, the crowd size was modest and the parking plentiful. While smaller, Granville Island is somewhat akin to Pike’s Place Market in Seattle but with more open space and a little more subdued.

Granville Island

Granville Island

After lunch we drove to the UBC Museum of Anthropology 20 minutes away. This museum is well known for its collections of art and culture of the Canadian First Nations of the Pacific Northwest. The Great Hall displays an impressive number of totem poles, canoes and other carved sculptures. However, the center piece in the museum is the iconic wooden sculpture titled “The Raven and The First Men” carved out of yellow cedar by Bill Reid. The museum collection is massive, too much to digest in one visit, but an ideal way to spend a rainy afternoon. We left Vancouver the following day returning to Seattle and the long flight home.

The Raven and the First Men

The Raven and the First Men

As New Englanders, Angelina and I travel to faraway places out of broad curiosity of the world beyond home plus a keen sense of adventure. As in past trips, after months of planning, this one came and went in a blink. The Seattle and British Columbia trip was satisfying and we are glad we went. Now we’re looking toward 2016 and our next adventure.


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