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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

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The holiday season is over and planting passions are rising like sap in a maple tree as gardeners have been waiting impatiently for the holiday hullabaloo to fizzle out. Paper and online plant catalogs are arriving daily, fuelling this annual horticultural mojo. There is no one more enthused, more filled with anticipation and more optimistic than a gardener in January.

2-creating-an-easy-care-rosThis also signals the beginning of our 2017 Lecture Series and we can’t wait. Our entertaining lectures, seminars and workshops are designed to illustrate to every gardener the enjoyment of growing roses. We annually review, revise, and refresh our program list as well as add new ones. We are currently developing a new and different program based on our travel and garden experiences. We are excited about this and will have it ready later in the year.

Our 2017 season starts with some sad news as well as some good news. The sad news is the demise of the long-running Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show where we presented annual lectures and rose care demonstrations since the late 1990s. We will miss the floral flash of color and the pungent tang of fresh mulch each February.

Boston Flower ShowThe good news is we return once again to the Boston Flower and Garden Show on March 25 at 2:30 with a unique PowerPoint program and lecture titled “Twelve Super Roses Anyone Can Grow” which follows this year’s show theme “Superheroes of the Garden.”  (See the complete list of programs, dates and times on the 2017 Lecture Series page.)

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Mike speaking at 2016 Boston Flower Show

On April 8 at 10 am, we 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,” when we open the Victorian Rose Garden. Come learn spring rose care, including the best way to prune roses, then practice on bushes in the garden — bring pruners and gloves. This event is free and open to the public

Saturday June 17, at 1 PM is the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 19th annual rose show in Wickford, RI. Join Angelina and me at New England’s premier display of  roses of every type and color.

On Saturday, November 11, we will be back in the Victorian Rose Garden with the RI Rose Society, providing tips on fall rose care along with a demonstration on winterizing a rose garden.

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In between these events our schedule includes visits to garden clubs and other horticultural organizations throughout New England plus time out for a springtime motor trip along the Atlantic coast through Philadelphia, Washington, DC and down into the Carolinas with lots of stops along the way.

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Angelina and I have been on the lecture circuit presenting lectures, conducting seminars and leading workshops for over two decades and 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.

Happy New Year

Mike and Angelina

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2017 Rhode Island Rose Society Calendar

Wondering what to buy for the gardeners on your Christmas list? Here are some suggestions of gifts that have pleased many of the rose gardeners, and even some non-gardeners, I buy gifts for.

2-prunersARS 310 Curved Pruner: This small curved-blade pruner is ideal for cutting roses as well as vegetables and bonsai. The one-inch blades are made from Japanese high carbon tool steel for clean and accurate cuts and the rounded tips fit easily into your pocket without poking through.The overall length of these pruners is only 6.5 inches.

1-prunersWe still use the original pair we bought over 20 years ago for cutting roses, roots, wire, and anything else in the garden that needs pruning. They are also good to use when making flower arrangements.

We have dropped them in mud holes; lost them in the garden and found them a week later; and have never sharpened them. Dollar for dollar, this is the best gardening tool we own.

3-cobraCobraHead Weeder and Cultivator: The CobraHead is a “steel fingernail” that shaves off weeds at or below ground level. It can be used for planting, transplanting, cultivating, making seed furrows, digging bulb holes and scrapping mud off other garden tools. The soft handle is made from recycled plastic and flax and feels comfortable in either or both hands. This is a very versatile tool.

Rose Calendars: Everyone needs to know what day it is and what can be more pleasant than seeing photographs of different roses every month, especially in the middle of winter? We buy our calendars from the RI Rose Society. Each year, RIRS has a member-only calendar photo contest and members vote for 12 photos that will be featured for each month. Other societies may have similar calendars, or you can buy a calendar from the American Rose Society on their web site. (See Cover of the2017 RIRS Calendar above.)

Rose Books: Winter is the perfect time to plan for the upcoming gardening season. We wrote our book, Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening, because there were no books about rose gardening in New England so it makes the perfect gift for our friends. Many of the rose books sold nationally were written by people from California or Florida where roses are grown differently because of the warmer USDA Zones. So if you buy a book on how to grow roses, be sure that it’s zone appropriate.

One of my favorite books that I find helpful to any gardener is Jackson & Perkins Rose Companions, a book by Stephen Scanniello. It discusses roses as well as companion plants that grow well with roses. This book provides me with many choices to make as far as what plants I want to plant with my roses. One of the companion plants I tried this past year was larkspur which added a nice rich purple/blue to our sustainable rose garden.

Gardening Journals: I had looked for years for a gardening journal that worked for me. Part of my problem is that I don’t like being restricted by space — either too much or too little. So the journals that provide 5 or 6 lines may be too little space and the ones that gave me a page — especially in months like January, February and December — gave me too much space. So I decided to design my own journal which is how we came to write Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners.

Gardening journals come in many styles. When I choose one for a gift, I like to make sure it includes photographs of roses and gardens, interesting sayings, and is versatile enough for the person I’m buying it for.

4-note-cardsRose Note Cards: There are many people, me included, who still write notes, whether it’s a thank you note, a note of condolences, or a quick hello to someone you haven’t seen in a while. There’s no shortage of beautiful note card with pictures of roses and other flowers available. Sometimes, if I have time, I like to make my own note cards, using some of my rose photos. (Card on the top left is Sexy Rexy rose; bottom is Julia Child rose.)

Membership in a Local Rose Society: If you have someone on your list who is interested in roses, a membership gift to a local rose society is a great idea. There are rose societies in most states in the United States as well many other countries. Being a member of a local rose society is a great way to find out what rose varieties grow well where you live. If you’re not one for attending meetings, you can still learn a lot through the local society’s newsletter. Also, some nurseries may offer discount to rose society members. We are active in the RI Rose Society (www.rirs.org) that holds monthly meetings and provides rose programs that help members learn more about roses and activities where we can share our love of roses.

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A Rhode Island Rose Society Meeting at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. Program was a Ask a Consulting Rosarian Panel

Membership in the American Rose Society: A gift membership to the ARS will give the recipient access to many resources as well as the American Rose Magazine which is published 6 times a year. Listed on their web site (www.rose.org)  are local rose societies organized by state.

These are just a few of the possibilities for gift giving. If you have some I haven’t mentioned, please share your ideas and leave a comment.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Peak Bloom

Peak Bloom in Our Garden

Each spring we wonder when peak bloom will occur in our garden. We consider the current spring’s weather and the harshness of the previous winter and then venture a guess. Ideally, peak bloom happens a few days prior to the Rhode Island Rose Society’s annual rose show which this year was held on June 20. While our garden actually peaked on June 15 (this is purely a subjective judgment on Mike’s part), many of our shrub roses had gone-by. Regardless, the garden was still full of other roses that we could take to the rose show.

RI Rose Society Rose Show Awards Table

RI Rose Society Rose Show Awards Table

Rose Shows serve several purposes; the first is to display the genus rosa in all its glory to the public – the show is free and open to all in the afternoon. There is a class in the show for every type of rose and the gardening public can see them all under one roof. The second is to satisfy the competitive nature of local rose gardeners who vie for ribbons and bragging rights.

Unlike last year when we cut roses in the rain the night before the show, this year the weather was perfect – sunny and dry. Mike and I went from rose bush to rose bush, cutting and labeling roses. One of our favorite ways to exhibit our roses is in English Boxes which means we need 6 fresh blooms each the same size and stage of bloom so they all match. So we keep an eye peeled, looking for these possibilities as well as other sprays and single blooms. After selecting the best stems, we place them in vases of cold water and store in a dark, air-conditioned room overnight so we’re ready to go first thing in the morning.

Queen of Show

Queen of Show

The morning of the show we arrived at 7 am and started prepping our roses. The first rose we prepared was Smokin’ Hot, a new hybrid tea introduced in 2014 by Weeks Roses. Since we don’t have many hybrid tea roses in our garden any more, this variety was an exception. We got Smokin’ Hot in early May and it was still in its container because we evaluate each new variety for one season before giving it a place in the garden. Well, Smokin’ Hot lived up to its name and gave us a fiery orange-red bloom with perfect hybrid tea form which won Queen of the show. Needless to say, Mike awarded it a coveted spot in our garden a few days later.

Cherry Parfait

Cherry Parfait English Box

Another rose we like is Cherry Parfait, a grandiflora rose that we planted in 2005. It’s aptly named because of its color – white petals with lipstick red edges that swirl around the bloom. In an English Box, each rose looks like a bowl of cherry ice cream with ripples of whipped cream. We brought 2 large sprays to the rose show and entered it in 2 different classes: English box and Grandiflora spray. Both won blue ribbons and Best of Class.

Cherry Parfait Spray

Cherry Parfait Spray

Day Breaker, a peachy-apricot floribunda that produces sprays of 5-7 blooms and glossy immaculate foliage had bloomed perfectly for the show. Like Cherry Parfait, we entered Day Breaker in 2 classes: Floribunda spray and English Box for Floribundas where it won Best of Class in both classes. The Day Breaker English Box also was voted Best English Box in show.

Day Breaker Spray

Day Breaker Spray

The June bloom is over and it was one of our best ever. Mike thinks it was due, in part, to all the snow we had last winter that was beneficial to the garden, a new meal plan he developed for the garden, plus a little help from Mother Nature.

Day Breaker: Best English Box

Day Breaker: Best English Box

One thing I’ve learned over time is it’s pointless to worry about whether we have roses for our rose show; that’s out of our hands. If we do, that’s great, if not, we still have them to enjoy all season. But we can’t complain this season, our roses arrived on schedule and we were able to enjoy exhibiting them as well displaying to the public the beauty of America’s National Flower.

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Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

Winter arrived with a vengeance last week with sub-zero night-time temperatures we haven’t seen in southern New England for a couple of years. Since the third week of January is historically the coldest time of the year, this should have come as no great surprise. But it did!

February Daffodils

February Daffodils

Despite this, the first wave of rose catalogues arrived in the mail last week awakening the gardening spirit with a sure signal that spring is right around the corner. It’s also a reminder that February is the month when Flower Shows spring up like the daffodil spears poking out of the soil that we discovered in the front garden yesterday.

RI Flower Show Arrangement

RI Flower Show Arrangement

Each year Mike and I look forward to the Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show in Providence. We enjoy the display gardens, the beautiful and creative flower arrangements, the informative lectures, and Mike really likes the pungent aroma of pine bark mulch that fills the hall. It’s also a plus for us that it’s a local show; driving into Providence is easy and parking is usually plentiful. Our lecture this year is on Saturday February 23 at 2:00 pm when we will present the program “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens.” If you love the old-fashioned form and fragrance of David Austin’s English Roses, then don’t miss this program. If you don’t have a copy of our book, Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening, we will have them available after our lecture.

Carding MillPhoto by David Austin Roses

Carding Mill
Photo by David Austin Roses

Prior to the lecture, at 12:30 on Saturday, we’ll be conducting a demonstration on basic rose care – “Rosology 101” – that explains the steps needed to grow beautiful roses. As a bonus, Mike usually demonstrates how to prune roses. Spring PruningWe’ll be presenting this demonstration on behalf of the Rhode Island Rose Society and will have membership forms available if you would like to join. If you can’t make this demonstration, visit the RI Rose Society booth (Booth B) on the 3rd floor where you’ll find a wealth of information on everything roses. Society members will available throughout the show to answer your rose questions.

At the 2013 Boston Flower & Garden Show, held at the Seaport World Trade Center, we’ll be introducing a new program, “Discovering Sustainable Roses,” on Friday, March 15 at 2:30 pm. The focus is on modern, sustainable roses – sturdy attractive plants that can hold their own in a pesticide-free landscape. Our PowerPoint program identifies varieties that are easier to grow, winter hardy, far more disease-resistant, and bloom longer. In fact, we have a garden full of them at home and use that as a model.

My Girl

My Girl

February and March are the perfect times to start thinking about gardening and choosing roses to plant. We hope to see you at the Flower Shows in Providence and Boston this year. For your convenience, I’ve listed below other spring Flower Shows you may want to visit.

2013 Flower Shows:

February 21 – 24: Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show, Providence, RI

February 21 – 24: Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, Hartford, CT

March 1 – 3: Vermont Flower Show, Essex Junction, VT

March 2 – 10: Philadelphia International Flower Show, Philadelphia, PA

March 7 – 10: Portland Flower Show, Portland, ME

March 13 – 17: Boston Flower & Garden Show, Boston, MA

March 23 – 24: Seacoast Home & Garden Show, Durham, NH

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Sustainable Rose Garden in Montreal

 The 2012 RI Flower Show runs from Thursday Feb 23 to Sunday Feb 26. Mike and I will be there on opening day, Thursday February 23, to present our new PowerPoint program “Anatomy of a Sustainable Rose Garden” at 1:00 PM.

“Anatomy of a Sustainable Rose Garden” explains how to build a rose garden from scratch. This seminar provides a practical blueprint for anyone to start rose gardening. It includes everything from the value of water and nutrients to proper soil to selecting the right rose varieties as well as suggestions for companion plants. We’ll also sign copies of our book, Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening.

We’ll be back on Friday February 24 and Sunday February 26 at 11:30 when Mike and I will present a demonstration, “How to Grow Roses,” as representatives of the Rhode Island Rose Society. This demo will focus on rose gardening basics such as proper planting, pruning, fertilizing, insect and disease control and plant selection. It also includes a hand-out as well as practical rose gardening tips.

Hope to see you at the RI Flower Show! If you have any questions you’d like answered, please leave a comment below or email me at angie@rosesolutions.net

Visit the RI Flower Show website at http://www.flowershow.com/

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Wondering what to get your gardening friends for the holidays? If you’re in the Providence, RI area on December 10, come to the RI Rose Society’s Holiday meeting. Mike and I will be selling and signing our book Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening for the discounted price of $20.00.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will feature a Gift Craft Fair by members who will display and sell their hand-crafted items – many of them rose and garden related. There will also be a demonstration on how to make frames to display your favorite rose. The meeting is held at in the Garden Classroom at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center and begins at 9:30 AM. Our book and RIRS members’ crafts will be available for sale from approximately 11 AM to noon.

We look forward to meeting you and chatting “live” about our book, our blog, and roses. If you can’t make it on December 10, but want to give our book as a gift, visit our web site (http://www.rosesolutions.net/). Shipping is Free!

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