Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Crocus

After months of bitter cold and snowy weather, winter finally let go and Spring has arrived. As Mike and I waited for the weather to warm up, we kept watching for signs of typical early spring growth in our garden. Finally, in late March it came. Our crocuses bloomed, the garlic we planted last fall broke ground and the buds on our roses have started to swell with the promise of new growth. I had been hoping that our clematis and delphinium made it through this difficult winter and, at last, saw tender shoots pushing their way up this past weekend.

Garlic

Garlic

I keep adding to my Spring To Do List in my “Journal” but know I’ll have to wait a bit longer before I can get outside and start gardening. The soil is still too cold to plant the seeds we bought last month and there’s still a strong chance of frost. While we patiently wait for forsythia to bloom, a reliable signal to start spring pruning, we have begun garden clean-ups and removal of any heavily damaged rose canes. While the snow cover from this winter provided good insulation from the cold, it also resulted in quite a few broken canes.

Damaged rose canes

Damaged rose canes

Another spring task is the annual “potting-up” that takes a week, depending on the weather. Mike first pots up the ‘maidens’ from last year’s budding – he bud grafts approximately 70 roses each year, concentrating mainly on Brownell roses and other favorite varieties that are out of patent and hard to find. Then he pots up the rootstock which just arrived a few days ago from Canada. Lastly, he prunes and re-pots all the roses wintered over in the crib. He enjoys working in chilly early spring weather, sunlight shining brightly before nearby trees cast shade over the garden. This annual ritual is his first activity in the garden since before Christmas. Which reminds me that I haven’t entered potting up on our To-Do List yet.

Rootstock

Rootstock

One of our projects we will begin this month is redesigning our mature rose garden. We plan to do it in stages and Mike has been anxious to start by rebuilding the rose bed where Clair Matin has been growing splendidly for 18 years.

Clair Matin, Climbing Rose

Clair Matin, Climbing Rose

All the rose beds in this garden are currently raised but we have decided in the redesign to replace them with flat beds except for the two end beds of climbing roses that anchor our “garden room” on each side. Since shade from the tall maple trees we once had is no longer a factor, some of the beds will be reconfigured, totally rebuilt and hardscape added. I’d love to have a moon gate as an entrance to our newly designed garden – like the one I saw at the Boston Flower Show this year – but I will settle for an arbor instead.5.-Moon-Gate

Happy Spring!

Polar Roses

Polar Roses

As a native New Englander, I enjoy the four distinct seasons we have and take pleasure in each one. But, I have become very, very weary of this winter. Weary of the snow canyon that my driveway has become and weary of the unusually bitter, subzero cold. And I’m weary of staring at the heavy snow still piled high in the gardens even though I realize that snow provides ideal insulation for roses from the frigid cold and wintery winds we had throughout February.

Snowbound Rose

Snowbound Rose

Meanwhile, I continue my winter morning routine, which includes the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper, marking time until the snow melts enough for me to get started with spring clean-ups. (What is a five letter word for rock debris?) Then comes my favorite early spring activity – spring pruning!

Campfire

Campfire

So, as my gardening mojo rises and as I patiently wait for winter to break, I consider the ambitious plans that Angelina and I have made for the 2015 gardening season. We have settled on several new rose varieties to put in and evaluate: Campfire is a tough little red and yellow blend floribunda from the Morden Experimental Farm in Manitoba Canada. New to the US market, this latest introduction to the Canadian Artists Series is hardy to USDA zone 3. Another is an attractive apricot climber called Della Balfour that we saw last summer in the garden of our friends, Dacia and Clive. I’ll grow Della as bush as we have no room for another climber. The last variety on this season’s wish-list is David Austin’s The Lady Gardener, a fragrant, pure apricot shrub rose new in 2015. (See photo in previous post.)

Della Balfour

Della Balfour

Because of our success last year with sunflowers, garlic, and assorted vegetables, Angelina and I have selected more seeds to plant this spring with an eye towards the creation of a cottage garden. Along with three varieties of sunflowers, each a different height, we’ll add larkspur and aubretia. We had seen great clusters of purple/blue aubretia growing in Ireland last May both as cultivated plants as well as feral flowers sprouting from nooks, cracks, and crannies everywhere. Larkspur is an annual form of delphinium and our plan is to sprinkle seeds in the middle of the bed and see how that works out as companions to roses. Add a small veggie bed with two tomato plants, two eggplants and two rows of string beans planted along side a small bed of hard neck garlic planted last October. Eclectic gardening for sure.

Aubretia in Adare, Ireland

Aubretia in Adare, Ireland

More plans include a full garden restoration in 2015 – a major project – as well as a trip to Seattle and Vancouver this spring. We’re even are thinking ahead to 2016 and a journey by car throughout France into Belgium and The Netherlands.
It’s a good thing we have the perfect journal, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, to keep track of everything we have planned.
(A five letter word for rock debris? Why Scree, of course.)

Front-Cover-Roses Gardening Season by SeasonHot off the presses! Our second book, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, (Forbes River Publishing, 2015) is now available for sale on our web site: www.rosesolutions.net

This Journal, customized for gardeners, provides pages where you can record the season by season performance of your garden. On each Journal page you’ll find rose gardening tips, anecdotes and advice. Plus each season has a To-Do List so you’ll know the right time to plant, prune and feed roses. We’ve also included pages where you can keep track of all the important information about each rose in your garden – type, color, growth habit, date planted and date of first bloom.March-Page

There are pages to keep track of the seasonal highlights – all those things that you may not remember from one season to the next. There are pages to evaluate the performance of your roses and companion plants plus pages to keep notes on which varieties and companion plants to keep, to replace and to buy.

Want to know what roses are fragrant? We provide a list of fragrant varieties that not only identifies the rose, but includes its type, color and hardiness zone. We do the same with a list for shade tolerant roses. And there are more lists that include companion plants, sources for mail order roses and supplies as well as a list of our personal favorite varieties.

Winter--To-Do-List-Page

Since we love taking photographs of our roses, we feature over 30 full-color rose photos – from the stylish Sexy Rexy on the cover to the beautiful pink Earth Song (a favorite) in the introduction as well as a display of Brownell roses in the Roses in My Garden page.

Introduction-PageIf you like to “journal” and love to garden, check-out Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners. You can chronicle an entire season of rose gardening in one practical, informative and attractive journal that will serve as a unique account of your garden as well as a blueprint for the following year.

The Lady Gardener

The Lady Gardener

If you love fragrant, old-fashioned roses that bloom all season, you may want to consider some of the new introductions from David Austin Roses that will be available to American gardeners this spring. Last year when Mike and I were looking for white roses, we planted Tranquillity, an Austin 2014 US introduction. Since our color taste is moving toward more vibrant colors, especially apricots and peaches, we’re considering adding Austin’s The Lady Gardener with her fragrant blooms of pure apricot.

The Lady Gardener

The Lady Gardener

The Lady Gardener has an intense tea fragrance and is on Austin’s list of Most Fragrant English Roses. The rich apricot blooms produced are large – about 4 “across – and its numerous petals form a rosette flower that appears quartered. It reblooms throughout the season and is ideal for smaller gardens since it has a small habit of about 3½ feet tall and 2½ feet wide. The Lady Gardener will be a great addition to our collection of other apricot and peach colored roses.

Other 2015 North American introductions include:

Maid Marion

Maid Marion

Maid Marion is very fragrant with blooms packed with clear rose pink petals. The flower opens as cup-shaped but when fully open, displays outer paler pink petals that frame the inner darker pink petals in a circular, saucer shape. It has an upright habit, grows to about 3 ft tall and 3 ft wide and provides repeat blooms from spring to fall. This rose is named for the character Maid Marion, made famous in the legend of Robin Hood.

Thomas a Becket

Thomas a Becket

Thomas à Becket has large red flowers with old rose fragrance and a natural and shrub-like growth. Its shallow-cupped blooms display petals from light red to carmine and have a nodding habit that’s typical of many Austin varieties. It can reach a height of 4 ft tall or more and 3 ft. across depending on how it is pruned. David Austin Roses named this rose on behalf of Canterbury Cathedral.

Thomas a Becker

Thomas a Becker

The Albrighton Rambler has small, soft pink flowers with a button eye that bloom in large sprays. It has the potential to grow as tall as 10 to 12 feet or more. While many ramblers bloom only once per season, The Albrighton Rambler will repeat all season. This rose, according to David Austin Roses was “named to commend the Striders, Steppers and Strollers who walk around the village of Albrighton, where our Nursery is located.”

The Albrighton Rambler

The Albrighton Rambler

You can find these roses at David Austin Roses’ web site at http://www.davidaustinroses.com or ask for them at your local nursery or garden center.

All Photos: David Austin Roses

Sunflower What’s with sunflowers?
I see them widely planted and yet had never been tempted to try them myself. But that changed last spring when Angelina and I were presented with a unique opportunity. Due to the removal of a large maple tree because of hurricane damage the previous year, we created a border in a now-sunny location along our new deer fence. Since we had no clear vision at the time of what this border should be and did not want to waste a growing season by doing nothing, we settled on an eclectic mix of garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, string beans and sunflowers.

 

Side Garden in August

Side Garden in August

Side Garden after Blizzard

Side Garden after Blizzard

We both wanted the vegetables and Angelina lobbied to include sunflowers. Even though it was getting late in the spring to plant seeds, I bought two packets of leftover sunflower seeds for $1 each at a local discount store and planted them in late May, having no idea what to expect. Would they be fussy, high maintenance plants? Tough to grow? Attract unwanted animals?

 

Sunflowers-over-Fence-9.

Well, no worries. I planted one long row along the fence by poking my index finger into soft soil and dropping a seed in, covered it up and watered. That’s it. A week later these tiny seedlings appeared and started to grow…and grow…and grow… Sunflowers-in-VaseThey grew as tall as the six-foot deer fence and then grew another six feet. Our neighbors enjoyed them as much as we did. By late July they started to bloom into an eye-popping blast of bright yellow that continued into the early fall. Sunflower-and-blue-sky
While the tomatoes, eggplant and garlic grew superbly and the string beans never quit, the stars of the garden were the towering, frisbee-sized flower heads. What had started off as a diverse assortment of miscellaneous plants melded together by mid-summer into an unusual yet attractive garden that we could never have planned.
As I sit here writing in January, the Blizzard of 2015, as it is now called, howls outside. But as snow drifts across the driveway and the temperature sinks towards zero and the news media predicts winter doom, I think of those great golden sunflowers from last summer smiling at me.

 
If, as Angelina likes to say, gardening begins in January with your imagination, then it also continues through warm reflections of gardens past.

Rainbow Sorbet One of Our Twenty-Five Fabulous Roses

Rainbow Sorbet
One of Our Twenty-Five Fabulous Roses

No one is more optimistic than a gardener in January. The new year brings high hopes and great expectations for the coming year. Our 2015 agenda includes a major rose garden remodeling project; a trip to Seattle, Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies; the publication of our second book; and our 2015 Lecture Series.
Mike at RI Flower ShowWe have accepted a number of invitations to present lectures and workshops. Our entertaining lectures, workshops and seminars are designed to educate and make rose gardening appealing to even the most reluctant gardener. We especially enjoy these opportunities to travel throughout the New England area and beyond, making new friends and catching up with old pals that we often only see once each year. (See the complete list of 2015 programs, dates, and times on the 2015 Lecture Series page.)
Rose Gardening Season by SeasonAlong with the lecture series, we are busy planning a trip to Seattle, Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies later this year and we recently completed work on our second book, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners. This seasonal guide joins Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening and we will have both available at our lectures and workshops.
The season opener is Saturday, February 14 when we participate, with others, in the Rhode Island Rose Society’s annual Round Table, a forum of basic rose care that provides an opportunity to learn a great deal about rose culture in a short period of time. This event is free and open to the public.
We return to the Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show on Saturday, February 21 and the Boston Flower and Garden Show on Friday, March 13. We will introduce a new PowerPoint program at both shows called “Twenty-Five Fabulous Roses” where we feature the best 25 rose varieties we have ever grown – newer introductions as well as old favorites. The challenge was culling the list to just twenty-five. Rainbow Sorbet, pictured above, is on the list.

 

RI Flower Show
As everyone’s gardening spirit continues to rise, we offer the season’s first workshop, Spring Rose-Care: Planting and Pruning Workshop, on Saturday, March 21 in Barrington, RI in concert with the Barrington Community School. This continues our long-time collaboration with BCS presenting lectures and workshops on a wide range of rose horticulture.
We hit the road on March 28 traveling to Holyoke, MA to present an expanded version of our most popular program, “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening,” at the Western Mass Master Gardener Association Spring Garden Symposium. We lengthened the presentation to include more details and to allow additional time for Q and A.Boston Flower Show
On Saturday May 2, we present our second workshop at Evergreen Tree and Landscape in Seekonk, MA. This two-hour program, called “Roses 101: The Best Way to Grow Roses,” covers everything you need to know to successfully grow roses in your home garden.
Saturday, August 1 is our annual rose propagation workshop where we teach the art of bud grafting roses. This year we are partnering with the Barrington Community School to present this two-hour program. Bud grafting is easier than you think and everyone takes a budded rose bush home.
In between all this, our schedule is full of garden club bookings along with presentations to various horticultural organizations. We are available to speak at symposiums and conventions and are willing to go just about anywhere. We can customize programs and in the past have developed special one-of-a-kind seminars.
Keep checking the Lecture Series page as we add bookings throughout the season. If you are ever stuck for a program at the last minute for any reason, maybe we can help. Contact us at mike@rosesolutions.net.
Happy New Year.

Yellow Roses

Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

The weather has been unseasonably warm – often in the mid 50’s since Christmas. When Mike and I walked on the East Bay Bike Path this week, it felt like spring! We’re wondering what our roses and other plants will make of this weather, but meanwhile, we’ll enjoy the respite and the low heating bills knowing full well that old man winter is lurking just out of sight.

Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

We usually spend this time of year evaluating our roses. As I was reviewing how some of our roses had performed last season, I mentioned to Mike that we have quite a number of yellow roses. Mike often comments during our programs that we’ve been in a “white” rose phase, but are moving into a more colorful, outrageous phase with roses like the yellow/orange/red blooms of Brothers Grimm. Yet, when asked what our favorite roses are, I’d start with David Austin’s Graham Thomas. It’s one of the oldest bushes we have and one that Mike fusses over with extra TLC. We feature it as a specimen plant in a special bed of its own where it can be seen as soon as you enter our back garden as well as from the kitchen window. When it’s at the peak of its June bloom, it’s easily 7 feet high and 6 feet wide. If the weather and timing is right, Graham Thomas also provides us with plenty of sprays and blooms to enter in our Rose Society’s Rose Show. We especially enjoy exhibiting Graham Thomas in an English Box. We like it so much that when we started our business, RoseSolutions, (www.rosesolutions.net) we selected Graham Thomas to be featured on the masthead of our web site and on our business cards as well.

Graham Thomas English Box

Graham Thomas English Box

Another favorite – Julia Child – is also yellow and we chose it as the cover photo for our book Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening. To my eye, you can’t have a more striking photograph than that of a yellow rose against green foliage. To further emphasize the yellow of Julia Child, our book designer chose a dark green color for the cover and no matter how many times I look at Roses for New England, I never tire of seeing Julia Child.

Julia Child on Book Cover

Julia Child on Book Cover

Yellow Brick Road is one more yellow rose that we really like. It’s planted right at the corner of our front rose garden next to the driveway, so every time I come in and out, it’s the first rose bush that catches my eye. I can see why yellow roses represent friendship and are given to friends who may need cheering up. They always brighten my day.

I made a list of yellow roses we have in our garden and they include Sunny Knock Out, Molineaux, Yellow Submarine and the Brownell Everbloomimg Pillar # 84 also known as Golden Arctic. We also grow the Easy Elegance Centennial, classified as an apricot blend grandiflora, but in our garden it’s a soft yellow. A few years ago we were given the new introductions Good as Gold (Carruth, 2014) and Happy Go Lucky (Bedard, 2014) –two more yellow roses – and asked to evaluate them. While many new introductions don’t make it past the two-season probation period in our garden, these roses got high marks.

Yellow Brick Road

Yellow Brick Road

Good as Gold is a spectacular addition to our garden, giving us nicely formed golden yellow blooms with a hint of red along its petal edges. I never tired of taking photographs of it. Good as Gold is a hybrid tea and is hardy to Zone 5.

Good as Gold

Good as Gold

Happy Go Lucky is a pure yellow grandiflora with about 40 petals. It reminds me of the color of Julia Child so I wasn’t surprised to discover one of its parents is Julia Child. The foliage of Happy Go Lucky is darker than that of Julia’s, and so far Julia Child seems to be more floriferous. Happy Go Lucky is hardy to Zone 5.

Happy Go Lucky

Happy Go Lucky

Constant change is a hallmark of fine gardening and our fluid color preferences are good examples of keeping a garden fresh and interesting. With so many good new roses with great color available on the market every year, the challenge is deciding which ones to plant (and which ones to remove). While our changing tastes make those decisions a little easier, we know that our yellow favorites like Graham Thomas, Julia Child, Yellow Brick Road and Good as Gold are irreplaceable…for now.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers