Purple Tiger

Striped roses, vivid streaks of two colors on the same bloom, add a colorful accent to a rose garden. Last spring, we planted two striped varieties in formal urns in front of one of our rose beds as focal points. Since we wanted something bright and striking, we selected two contrasting striped varieties, Purple Tiger and Scentimental. Importantly, these dazzling floribundas also have a compact mature growth habit well-suited to container growth.

Purple Tiger, a mauve blend (Christensen, 1991), is not a new introduction, but I love its purple and white blooms that produced dramatic stripe-like configurations on each petal. While “striped” is not an official color class  ̶   two-toned roses such as striped are referred to as blends  ̶  Purple Tiger has the appearance of stripes along its petals, especially from a distance. On closer inspection, you can see that each petal may display splashes of purple interlaced with white or splashes of white interspersed with purple. Either way, the striations and coloring of Purple Tiger is eye-catching.

Purple Tiger in Container

One thing to note, though, is that mauve roses cannot tolerate extreme heat. During our heat waves this summer, our Purple Tiger blooms shattered as soon as they opened. It may have done better planted within our garden that gets afternoon shade instead of in a container that was in sunlight most of the day. Water was another consideration. Both Purple Tiger and Scentimental had to be watered more often, daily in hot weather, since the soil in the container dried out more quickly than the roses planted in the ground.


Scentimental, however, fared better under hot conditions. This floribunda (Carruth, 1999) produces vibrant sprays of red and white blooms. The saturated red on each individual petal is nicely contrasted by the intermingling of white. While Scentimental appears mostly red, each petal is streaked with white, resulting in a striped or dappled appearance. An added bonus is its strong damask fragrance, all the more noticeable because of the large flowers that grow in clusters.

Striped roses attract attention by providing lively color and creating an impressive dimension to every garden. We chose Purple Tiger and Scentimental because we liked their colors but we could have picked any number of other striped varieties since there are so many to choose from.

Sitting Pretty Rose (Photo Courtesy of Will Radler)

Selecting rose varieties to add to our garden is often a difficult decision. There’s only so much room and too many luscious roses to choose from. But this year, we decided to go with a few of the low maintenance roses bred by Will Radler, the breeder of Knock Out roses.

Will has produced over 40 low maintenance roses over the years in addition to his well- known Knock Out varieties. This year we will be adding 3 of his roses to our garden, including his 2021 introduction ‘Sitting Pretty’.

Sitting Pretty (Photo Courtesy of Will Radler)

Sitting Pretty, a grandiflora, is new this year and I wanted to know about its disease resistance, so I asked Will for information about this rose. He said that Sitting Pretty performed well in the West Coast trials where the “plants were clean and the blooms were large.” While some diseases, like blackspot and mildew were evident on other varieties in the trials, there were none on Sitting Pretty. There were no problems in the Philadelphia trials either. That sounds just like the kind of rose we are looking for.

Winter hardy to zone 4, Sitting Pretty has ruffled pink large flowers with 25 petals that bloom in clusters on a rounded 3-4’ high x 3-4’ wide bush. Plus, it has a medium damask fragrance and a name that seems well-suited for a rose. Will told me the name was chosen from over 50 suggested by his staff and, he says, “speaks of its personality.” He describes it as the “kind of rose that can grow on you if you give it a chance.”

The other Radler roses we will be adding to our garden this year are ‘Orchid Romance’ and ‘Highwire Flyer’.

Orchid Romance (Photo: Star Roses)

Orchid Romance is a mauve floribunda that was introduced in 2012 and I have had my eye on this rose for quite a while. With its 75 plus petals and strong citrus fragrance, it reminds me of those old garden roses in my mother’s garden – but much more sustainable.  Orchid Romance grows on an upright bush with a mature growth habit of 4-1/2’ tall by 3’ wide and is winter hardy to zone 5. As you can see from the photo, the color is luscious.

Highwire Flyer (Photo Courtesy of Will Radler)

Highwire Flyer is a climbing rose with a short habit for a climber, growing only up to 6 feet tall – just the small climber we were looking for. However, it can also be grown as a shrub. A few years ago, Will described ‘Highwire Flyer’ as a “new climber which will surprise rose enthusiasts with its hardiness and production.” Introduced in 2018, it has deep pink blooms and semi-glossy, dark green foliage and is winter hardy to zone 4. It also performed well in various trials, receiving an American Rose Trials award for sustainability and winning the 2018 Biltmore Rose Trial Awards for climbing roses and best growth habit. ‘Highwire Flyer’ will fit into our garden nicely, adding a vertical element at the end of a bed of shrub roses.

We’re looking forward to adding these low maintenance varieties to our garden this year and are confident that, based on their pedigree, they will feel right at home in our sustainable rose garden.

‘Eustacia Vye’ (Photo by David Austin Roses)

This year, David Austin Roses celebrates English novelist Thomas Hardy with two new English roses for American and Canadian Gardeners –  ‘Eustacia Vye’, and ‘Gabriel Oak’. These fragrant, vigorous and disease resistant varieties are available in 2021 only by mail order from davidaustinroses. They will be carried in garden centers starting in Spring 2022.

Eustacia Vye:

‘Eustacia Vye’ is a medium shrub that grows 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. It produces rosette-shaped mid-pink to apricot flowers with a strong, fruity fragrance that contain approximately 90 petals. An added bonus is the red-tinged stems which support each delicately ruffled bloom whose color gradually become paler as it matures. Winter hardy in USDA Zones 4-11, this beauty will flower from early summer through fall and maintains a bushy, upright growth habit. ‘Eustacia Vye’ is named after the beautiful and restive heroine of  Thomas’s The Return of the Native.

‘Gabriel Oak’ (Photo by David Austin Roses)

Gabriel Oak:

The striking deep pink blooms of ‘Gabriel Oak’ caught my eye and is now on my list of “must have” roses. This vigorous rose grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide, a perfect size for a home garden. In addition, it has an intense fruity fragrance, heavily-packed rosette-shaped blooms with 125 petals and lush dark green foliage. Named after the beloved character in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd,’ Gabriel Oak’ repeats throughout the season and is winter hardy in USDA Zones 4 – 11.

These two 2021 introductions are the latest additions of David Austin varieties that continue the late Mr. Austin’s passion for English literature. ‘Eustacia Vye’ and ‘Gabriel Oak’ join past introductions from Thomas Hardy novels  – ‘Bathsheba’ (named for the heroine in Far from the Madding Crowd) and ‘Wildeve’ (a character in The Return of the Native).

Even though it will be several months before we can plant roses here in southern New England, Mike and I can enjoy looking at the David Austin Handbook of Roses that arrived in the mail a few days ago. If you haven’t received a copy, go to davidaustinroses to request one.

June Bloom in Chute’s Garden

It’s early February and the coldest time of the year, the landscape is still and winter’s long post-holiday shadow has drifted in. Despite the pall cast by the corona pandemic, Angelina and I are optimistically planning for the upcoming year that includes our 2021 Lecture Series, additional writing, and catching up on delayed projects.

Since in-person lectures are not currently possible, we have converted all of our programs to virtual formats like Zoom. We have been presenting Zoom programs for the past several months and will continue to do so for, at least, the early part of 2021.  The unanticipated benefit of Zoom, however, is the ability to present programs to groups in far away places that otherwise would not have been possible. For example, we spoke  to a group in New Jersey last fall from the comfort of our Zoom Room and avoided an 8-hour drive.

Last year as contributing editors, we wrote a column titled “Every Day Roses,” for the American Rose Magazine, the official magazine of the American Rose Society. The column included a series of five articles where we delved into sustainability, winter hardiness, hardy shrub roses, rose selection, and described our visit to Italian rose gardens, all topics of interest for everyday gardeners. The response was very positive and we have agreed to contribute additional articles in 2021.

Page reprinted from the March/April 2020 Issue of the American Rose Magazine

Our quarterly e-newsletter, The Northeast Rose Gardener, is available to anyone who wants to learn more about rose gardening in the northeastern United States. It’s written for New England gardeners by New England gardeners with each issue drilling down into some topic of rose horticulture specific to the northeastern climate. To sign up for the e-newsletter contact angie@rosesolutions. The Northeast Rose Gardener is free and we do not share email addresses with anyone. The next issue will be published in February.

Our 2021 Lecture Series includes some re-bookings that were cancelled last year as well as new ones. Our entertaining PowerPoint lectures, workshops and seminars are designed to educate and make rose gardening appealing to even the most reluctant gardener. (See the complete list of 2021 programs on the 2021 Lecture Series page.) For a description of our programs, visit our web site’s Program Page at RoseSolutions.

Most of the New England area flower and garden shows have been cancelled for 2021 with the exception of the Southeastern Connecticut Home and Garden Show scheduled for May 14 to 16 at the Earth Tower Expo & Convention Center at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. We have accepted an invitation to present our popular “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening.”  This program covers 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 in home gardens this spring.

(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.)

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 with Zoom we can travel anywhere on the planet. 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, even if you live in Timbuktu, contact mike@rosesolutions – we can help.

So as we slug our way through these uncertain times during this winter of our discontent, rest assure that better times will return.

As we like to say, there is no one more optimistic than a gardener in January.

Happy New Year.

Stay Safe

Mike and Angelina

One of our novel purchases from our first trip to London is a matted collection of Cigarette Rose Cards we found at the Portobello Market, London’s oldest street market.

While wandering around this huge antiques market one Saturday morning, we were amazed at the collection of antiques, vintage clothing, jewelry, artwork, food, ceramics, and books. Portobello Market stretches for 2 miles and, on a Saturday, streets are closed to make room for more than 1200 stalls that set up in the street and down small mews and alleys.

Portobello Market

It was down one of these mews that we discovered a stall selling antique artwork. Among the hundreds of offerings, Mike found a collection of small 1½” x 3” colorful, beautifully illustrated rose pictures. When we looked on the back of the collection, we discovered that these were Wills’s Cigarette Rose Cards issued by the Imperial Tobacco Co. of England and Ireland in the early 1900’s.

While we were familiar with baseball cards sold in the US that included a piece of bubble gum, we had never heard of collectible cards being enclosed with cigarettes. Evidently this practice began in the late 1800’s and were referred to as tobacco cards. The cards had a dual purpose: to stiffen the cigarette packages and to serve as a marketing device. The first Wills’s set appeared in 1895 with their series of “Ships and Soldiers.” This was followed with other themed cards such as sports and flowers. The rose collection had fifty cards and smokers were encouraged to collect the entire series. The advent of World War I and paper rationing led to the end of this practice in England.

Once the stallholder realized we were interested in cigarette cards with roses, he unearthed several more collections. The one we chose features roses introduced from as early as 1853 (Gloire de Dijon) to 1916 (Golden Emblem). What made these cards more interesting were the descriptions found on the backs of the cards which sometimes included growing tips. We recognized some of the breeders of these old roses, McGredy and Dickson for example, who had created and introduced many rose varieties well into the twentieth century.

After briefly haggling with the stallholder, an expected practice at street markets, Mike purchased the cigarette rose cards for 23£, down from the original 25£. We left, happy with our purchase and went on to enjoy the rest of Portobello Market.

We had the collection of Rose Cigarette Cards framed and it now hangs in our hallway where we can see it every day and remind us of the time we spent in London’s Portobello Market.


Besides roses, we have beds of other flowers including annuals that give color all season and where we also slip in a couple of rows of string beans, some basil and one tomato plant. Just one. No matter what variety of tomato we plant, they all ripen in August and that one plant yields a tsunami of fruit quickly. A sprig of basil and a slice of mozzarella cheese added to a thick slice of fresh tomato and a glass of chilled white wine creates a summertime treat.

This season, after a hiatus of a few years, we added sunflowers to this eclectic side garden. We planted seeds in early June only to discover the following day that each seed was neatly excavated and eaten. We replanted and the same thing happened only this time I observed the seed lifting. The perp was a crafty chipmunk sneaking around early in the morning.

We replanted once again only this time in small pots on a garden bench where the chipmunk was unlikely to find them. They soon germinated and when 10 inches high we transplanted them into the garden where they grew amazingly fast in mid-summer heat.

Our sunflowers topped out at 10’2”,  producing a flamboyant display for a few weeks in early September. Each plant featured a single platter-sized corona chock full of seeds.

We chose a popular variety that we had grown before called Mammoth, a behemoth of a plant that rockets to 10 feet and beyond and produces one humongous corona 12 inches across – all from one little seed.

But once the peak goes by, the heavy coronas sag and get raided by squirrels who have discovered the rich seed source. The bright yellow florets quickly turn brown and the once-elegant foliage now looks shabby. It’s time to remove these deteriorating giants with a football-sized root ball and harvest the seeds.

First, we had to cut the coronas off before we lost everything to hungry squirrels and hung them to dry for two weeks and then shucked the seeds into a colander. We will put a handful aside to plant next year and use the rest in our bird feeders this winter.

Sunflowers are easy to grow, requiring little care, are available in every size and can fit in any garden. There are no flowers more cheerful, flashy and optimistic than these spectacular golden coronas in full bloom in late summer. An image especially welcome this year.

The Louvre

Like many of you, Mike and I have been home bound since March. Back then, events we would normally attend, such as flower shows, were cancelled and non-essential businesses were closed along with our favorite restaurants. Since our two favorite things are traveling and roses (and going out to eat), we felt at loose ends. But we cancelled our trip to Santa Fe as well as all our lectures and concentrated on staying well and following the guidelines as they changed day to day. Things would get better and, as everyone said, “we’ll get through this.”

June Bloom in Chute’s Garden

We stayed busy working in our rose gardens, enjoying what was probably one of our best June blooms. We became familiar with webinars and using Zoom to attend meetings as well as provide our PowerPoint programs to rose societies and garden clubs. But after a few months, we started having what I call “travel withdrawal.” So I hauled out some photos of our memorable trips and watched some Rick Steves travel programs — which just made my withdrawal symptoms worse.

Mike & Angie at the Grand Canyon

While a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s no picture (or video) that can take the place of seeing something in person, whether it be a city, a historical site, or a rose garden. All the pictures of the Grand Canyon, for example, pale in comparison to standing on the South Rim and experiencing its vastness.

Renaissance Garden at David Austin Roses

All the photographs we saw of the gardens at David Austin Roses, while lovely, didn’t prepare us for the beauty and tranquility we saw and felt by being there in person. And Paris? One can only understand and feel the magic of Paris by strolling along the boulevards and backstreets, dining in small neighborhood cafes and exploring its museums, cathedrals, churches and parks.

As our travel withdrawal continued, we began thinking about our 2021 trip to France, a trip we were really looking forward to. Our itinerary was roughed in: we’d fly into Charles de Gaulle, rent a car then meander along the Seine through small towns on our way to Normandy. There we would spend a week rambling along the coast to Mount St Michelle, past Omaha Beach to Bayeux, Caen, Honfleur and maybe more. Then we’d head back to Paris for another 10 days to revisit our favorite places and take the train to various places like Lyon to see its famous rose garden. Voila. 

Four months ago we thought May 2021 was far enough away that surely Covid-19 would be behind us. Now, we don’t think so. Still, I wasn’t ready to scratch our plans just yet. So out of curiosity and boredom, I went on-line to see what international travel restrictions were in place.  

Sadly, what I found out is that, currently, non-essential travelers from the United States are not allowed in France. I also discovered that our favorite hotel in Paris, where we planned to stay, is closed indefinitely due to the pandemic. In addition, even if we were allowed to go to France, the thought of a long flight, despite the fact that planes are supposedly cleaner than they have ever been, was unappealing in itself. Taking all this into account, we realize that our 2021 trip just won’t happen.

So what about a road trip to a destination closer to home? At the present time, while travel restrictions between states here in New England change week by week, our travel options are limited and I don’t see that improving in the near future.

Armchair Travel Program

One way we have eased our travel withdrawal symptoms is by focusing on travel and roses, so we created an Armchair Travel program called “Rose Gardens of Europe,” a virtual way to visit the rose gardens at David Austin Roses as well as two Italian rose gardens — one in Rome and one in Florence. It will be ready to share with garden clubs and rose societies no matter where they’re located since we’re becoming more adept at Zoom presentations. It’s also a great way to remember and share our experiences at these memorable gardens.

River Seine – Paris

It seems there is no magic cure for our symptoms of travel withdrawal. If you have any suggestions, please pass them along. Meanwhile we’ll keep watching Rick Steves, pour over our photos with an eye to organizing them into additional Armchair Travel programs and with a few glasses of wine and good imaginations, we’ll be virtually walking along the River Seine and feeling the magic of Paris.


Walsh Ramblers

In early July, Angelina and I visited Woods Hole, a picturesque seaside village located in the town of  Falmouth on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod. The main street is a typical Cape Cod scene with shops and eateries along the waterfront that leads down to the ferry landing. Here travelers can board the popular ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.

However, had we made this trip 100 years ago, the landscape would have been very much different. On the hillside by the road entering town, we would have seen potting sheds, greenhouses and rows upon rows of roses. These roses were hybridized and grown for sale by Michael Walsh and the roses he bred became known as Walsh Ramblers.



Walsh had arrived in Woods Hole in 1875 and worked for a time as a gardener. In the 1890s, he began hybridizing ramblers, a climbing rose form having long, thin, supple canes with large clusters of small flowers. These were characteristics inherited from Rosa wichurana , a species rose that Walsh used extensively in his hybridizing program and is in the near background of most of his ramblers. These climbers are once-bloomers with an extended bloom cycle lasting from late June through mid July.

100 year old Walsh Rambler

100 year old Rambler

The reason for our visit was at the invitation of  Gretchen Warren, a Woods Hole resident and Walsh Rambler expert. We met up with Gretchen at the Woods Hole Historical Museum, the starting point of her fascinating walking tour of Walsh Ramblers. This tour weaved through quiet neighborhoods only a few blocks away from busy Woods Hole Road. She began by explaining the history behind these roses and how they came to be. As we walked along these tranquil side streets, Gretchen pointed out ramblers growing casually by the side of the road, along fences, and up and over stone walls. Many of them date back decades when they were planted by nursery workers who had lived in the area. Others were planted in lush private gardens of friends of Gretchen who graciously welcomed us in to visit. These were intimate English style-gardens half hidden from the road featuring roses and lots of other plants. This remarkable longevity, also inherited from wichurana, was highlighted as we passed a robust rambler, believed to be a Walsh Rambler, in a front yard that has been reliably dated back more than 100 years.



Ramblers grow rapidly and possess above average –– way above average –– disease resistance. Gretchen pointed out a few cases of powdery mildew, but for the most part the foliage we saw was amazingly clean.


Lady Blanche

From the late 1890s through 1920, Walsh introduced 35 varieties  ––  a prolific achievement considering that his professional rose hybridizing career only spanned 25 years. Rose names are important for marketing purposes and Walsh had a fine touch. Charming names that we like include Excelsa, Arcadia, Evangeline, Hiawatha, Maid Marion, Lady Blanche, Coquina and Nokomis. (Gretchen gave us a rooted cutting that she believed to be Nokomis ––  fragrant pink and lavender blooms –– which I’ve planted along our fence with plenty of room to grow.)



Now knowing what to look for, we spotted anonymous feral ramblers in full bloom scrambling along stone walls and fences on the way out of town surviving nicely on rain water and nutrients gleaned from the soil.



It doesn’t get much better for a couple of rosarians than a day trip to scenic Woods Hole to explore Walsh Ramblers and enjoy the hospitality of Gretchen Warren.


Therese Bugnet

Mike and I know our roses fairly well and can predict with some accuracy which will bloom first. Every year I keep track of  these first blooms in my rose journal and expect to see some buds open by the end of May. Below are some of our “first bloomers.”

It was no surprise that Therese Bugnet was the first to bloom in our garden in late May. This extremely winter hardy (to zone 3) hybrid rugosa has been in commerce since 1950. Its popularity continues because this is basically a “fool proof” rose that yields old-fashioned, very fragrant, medium pink flowers on a disease-resistant bush that grows 6’ to 8’ tall and repeats later in the season. She’s planted on the edge of the property and receives no water or fertilizer and definitely needs no winter protection.


Clair Matin

Historically, Clair Matin, a climbing rose, is another early bloomer in our garden. Introduced in 1960, we planted it over 20 years ago where it grows 10-12’ tall and 8’ wide. The medium pink blooms have a slight hint of fragrance and the June bloom on this large rose is impressive.


Scarlet Sensation (aka Everblooming Pillar No. 73)

Another climbing rose that’s been a fixture is Scarlet Sensation (aka Everblooming Pillar No. 73), introduced by Dr. Walter Brownell in 1954. The first of our Brownell collection to bloom this year, it has large dark pink, fragrant flowers that bloom in clusters on a bush that grows 8 feet tall. Hardy to zone 5, it also is very disease resistant to black spot. Unfortunately, it is no longer widely available commercially.


Prairie Princess

A newer addition to our garden is Prairie Princess, one of Griffith Buck’s winter hardy and disease resistant shrub roses. Mike planted it a few years ago and this year it produced its first blooms of the season on June 1. As you can see from the photo above, it has glowing golden stamens in the center of vibrant pink petals. We have it planted in the midst of chives in our sustainable rose garden.


Vanessa Bell

Last year we planted Vanessa Bell, a 2019 new introduction from David Austin Roses and the first of our Austin Roses to bloom. Vanessa Bell has beautiful, pale yellow many petaled, cup-shaped roses as well as a sweet tea fragrance.

It’s always rewarding to see these “first blooms” early in the season and know that in just a few weeks all the varieties we grow will join them in producing a spectacular June Bloom.


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!

Vanha Talo Suomi

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