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Archive for the ‘rose gardening’ Category

June-Bloom - Chute's GardenA few weeks ago I wrote about our “First Blooms” while waiting with anticipation for this season’s June Bloom. Despite all worries concerning our unusually cold and wet spring, our roses bloomed “on time” (on or about June 17) and provided us with a spectacular display of color as well as plenty of possible entries for our RI Rose Society Rose Show.

Gathering roses for the show was not without some drama, though, with torrential downpours arriving in the afternoon and continuing throughout the evening before the Rose Show.  Luckily, we had plenty of roses to exhibit, having cut stems on the morning before the rain began.

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Grooming Roses at Rose Show

Participating in a Rose Show is another way to share our love of roses with other gardeners and is our primary outreach to the public. Here are some photos of our roses that made it to the Head Table.

 

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Graham Thomas – Best of Class Shrub English Box

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Passionate Kisses – Best Floribunda Spray

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Earth Song – Best Grandiflora Spray

Dublin

Dublin – Court of Honor

After the rose show was over, I spent the next two weeks wandering through our rose gardens and taking photos, not only as the garden peaked, but also as the June bloom slowly went by. This is when I get the best new photos to use in our PowerPoint lectures as well as here in our blog and our quarterly e-newsletter, The Northeast Rose Gardener.

 

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Champagne Wishes

We add and subtract varieties each season to keep the gardens fresh and interesting. One new rose we planted this year is the Easy Elegance rose, Champagne Wishes.

It looked even better in person than in the catalogue photos and is a lovely, creamy white rose with double blooms that stand out sharply against dark green foliage.

 

 

 

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Rhode Island Red

Our 21-year-old Rhode Island Red climber — which makes up part of one “wall” of our garden room — had an excellent recovery after very hard spring pruning and produced a bush full of heavy clusters of dark red roses. As I write this, RI Red is shooting out long heavy new canes justifying the dramatic haircut that Mike administered in April.

Clair-Matin

Clair Matin

On our other “wall” climbs Clair Matin, who blooms a week earlier than the rest of the garden and also finishes earlier. Clair produced an amazing display this season and, like RI Red, is reloading now for another bloom cycle in August.

Graham-Thomas

Graham Thomas

Standing alone in the center of our garden is the Grand Duke of the garden, Graham Thomas, which has fully recovered from 2016 winter damage, and is back to producing almost unlimited clusters of long, arching, buttery yellow sprays with fresh blooms opening over night.

Playboy

Playboy

Somewhat hidden by the size of Graham Thomas is our Playboy rose, a fickle floribunda with a radioactive combination of scarlet and gold flowers.  I was able to catch a photo of one of its sprays at its peak. Note the glossy, dark green foliage.

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American Beauty

We had a few roses that really went crazy this season, dazzling us with their floriferousness. One is American Beauty, a hybrid perpetual that traditionally is a bit stingy with its roses. As you can see in the photo, though, this year it gave us spray after spray of fragrant blooms. For a rose that is supposedly a bit tender for our New England climate, I’ve concluded that this old garden rose is more than happy in its spot in the garden where it is nestled in between two modern, hardy roses.

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The McCartney Rose

Another rose that outperformed itself this year is The McCartney Rose. Even more fragrant than American Beauty, The McCartney Rose threw out long sprays of delicate pink roses. The blooms don’t have the greatest form for a hybrid tea, but its saturated color and intense old rose fragrance more than make up for its casual form.

Passion-Kisses-Bowl A. Chute

Passionate Kisses

Passionate Kisses, besides being a prolific bloomer and good exhibition rose, creates a very nice display of floating blooms. Here is a photo of blooms 5 days old.

Chute GardenIt’s hard to capture the beauty of a rose garden through pictures, but since the June Bloom comes around only once a year, photographs will have to do — until next year.

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Clair Matin

Every season I wait to see which one of our roses will bloom first. Traditionally, it’s usually our big climber, Clair Matin. Despite the cold, rainy, dank, dreary, dismal, sunless weather we’ve experienced over the past few weeks (just a few days ago the temperature topped out at 49º), Clair Matin began its June Bloom right on schedule at the end of May, with its first bloom.

3-Clair-Matin-bush-6.4.17Clair Matin on June 4 above. Clair Matin on June 9 below. What a difference a few days make!

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Not so with our other roses that opened almost a week later than last year. While our Yellow Brick Road rose bush was full of buds ready to burst for days, the  first bloom finally opened on June 5. But it was worth waiting for because, atypical of its normal deep yellow, this first bloom had a more intense yellow more commonly found in autumn roses.

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Yellow Brick Road

The Earth Song Mike propagated and has growing in a pot bloomed the beginning of this week. As you can see in the photograph, Clair Matin, in the background, is full of blooms while the rest of our garden is still in the bud stage.

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Earth Song

A few other roses were “early” bloomers.  I found one Macy’s Pride while I walked through the garden with my camera.

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Macy’s Pride

Just yesterday Mike took a photo of Playboy.

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Playboy

The garden is finally starting to show more color and I am hoping that with a few warmer, sunny days, the rest of the garden will bloom in time for the RI Rose Society Rose Show on June 17.

You’re all invited to attend the Rose Show which is open to the public from 1:00 to 3:30 PM. Admission is free and there’s plenty of parking at the North Kingstown Community Center, 30 Beach St. Wickford, RI.

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1-Web-Lead-Photo-Clair-MatiWhile it’s been over a month since spring has officially begun, here in Southern New England it has finally warmed up enough to actually feel like spring. The daffodils and azaleas are blooming as well as the forsythia which means we can get out into our gardens and prune our roses.

Blooming forsythia in April is a sure signal that dormancy is over and the chance of any additional hard frosts unlikely. After the annual spring clean-ups are finished, it’s time for spring pruning. Mike looks forward each season to this early spring ritual, especially the yearly pruning of the climbing roses.

Generally, climbers possess amazing longevity often outliving those who planted them. All of our climbers are big, mature bushes that have been in the garden for 19 years or longer and, while bush roses come and go, the climbers are treated as part of the family, each with its own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Pruning them is something Mike really enjoys and he will spend an entire afternoon on just one.

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Clair Matin Before Pruning

He started with Clair Matin. He prunes in stages, starting with the removal of dead or damaged wood followed by re-tying the canes along the trellis, then making minor adjustments as the rose starts to send out new growth. Our Clair Matin, at 10 feet by 10 feet, has already leafed out nicely and Mike will decide if more pruning is necessary.

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Clair Matin Leafed Out After Pruning

This year our Brownell climbers, especially Rhode Island Red, a very robust everbloomimg pillar, which we have had for 22 years, needed major surgery.

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Rhode Island Red Before Pruning

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Mike had to saw out most of the long, thick, older canes which had grown gnarly and had lost their vigor. This extreme removal, while seemingly radical, will stimulate new growth at the base of the plant that otherwise would remain dormant.

 

I took some “before pruning” and “after pruning” photos of Rhode Island Red and you can see where the canes were pruned out. Pruning sometimes seems harsh but it is the only way to encourage fresh new growth, particularly with climbers.

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Rhode Island Red After Pruning

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1-Crested-Moss ChuteAs I was reviewing my rose photographs during our latest snow storm, trying to envision what our garden will look like in just a few more months, I came across some photos of Crested Moss. I had taken these photos when we visited the Giardino delle Rose in Florence, Italy a few years ago and it was the first time I had ever seen a moss rose.

2-Giardino-delle-rose-FloreI recall walking through the rose garden that day and being delighted when I spotted Crested Moss (also known as Chapeau de Napoleon because the moss-covered sepals surrounding the buds are reminiscent of the tri-cornered hat Napoleon wore). Moss roses are unique because of this distinctive moss-like growth around the buds and bases of the flowers. In the photo above, you can see that the terminal bloom is encircled by at least 10 buds with pink petals peeking through what is often described as parsley-like growth. What a photo opportunity!

Moss roses are believed to have originated as sports, or mutations of centifolia roses. The mossy growth has a strong pine or balsamic fragrance most noticeable if the mossy growth is rubbed between your fingers.

2-Crested-Moss-bud-ChuteCrested Moss is a “Found Rose,” discovered in 1827. It has rich, clear pink flowers with a yellow button eye in the center, a damask, spicy fragrance and is known for its disease resistant. It clearly looked disease-free in Florence with its unblemished foliage. It  blooms once in late spring to early summer for several weeks. Our visit to Giardino delle Rose was in late May just as Crested Moss, as well as the rest of the garden, began to bloom.

We have never grown moss roses since we felt that they wouldn’t tolerate the hot, humid mid-summer Rhode Island weather. Now, after seeing the picture of Crested Moss again, I may just give it a try.

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Swollen Rose Buds

What’s with the heat wave in February? Temperatures went well over 60F for four days last week and actually hit 70F for a few hours the other day and it’s still winter. This is not Miami Beach. We are in New England and it’s supposed to be cold!

3-stone-men-2-27-17I strolled through our rose gardens yesterday, as the snow has melted, and found swollen buds on all bushes, some ready to pop — five weeks too soon.  Even the Stone Men object and want their snow back. This very early retreat from dormancy, reminiscent of last winter, does not bode well for the upcoming growing season. Last year’s week of warm winter weather, followed by a period of plummeting nighttime temperatures, created wide-spread winter kill, requiring severe spring pruning and a whole season for some varieties to recover. The garden roses were not used to such uncertainty and were flummoxed and confused. With a repeat of last year, I fear we may have to bring in a rose therapist to provide counseling.

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Hilled Up Roses for Winter

While we have long since replaced tender roses with winter hardy varieties, with a few exceptions, we winterized them all last fall anyway as added protection. But some years that’s not enough. With temperatures scheduled to return to seasonal normalcy, even drop below 20F this week, I see a repeat of last year’s carnage.

Nature has become increasingly fickle and there’s nothing we can do about it.

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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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2-deserted-beach-and-mikeNo matter where you are in Rhode Island, you cannot be more than 45 minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean. One of the many advantages of being a gardener in the Ocean State is easy access to seaweed whenever the need or mood arises.

5-seaweed-and-shellsLate every fall after Thanksgiving, Mike starts his winter compost pile. In addition to loads of shredded leaves, he adds potato, apple and banana peels and other raw vegetative waste plus coffee grinds and tea bags. Then he mixes in a special  ingredient — seaweed. We call seaweed “seafood” for roses — or any other plant — because it contains a wealth of nutrients plants need, including all the major and minor nutrients but no weeds, weed seeds, insects or diseases.

The Rhode Island state constitution guarantees each citizen the right to gather seaweed below the high water mark from any beach. So, on a bright and sunny day in December we traveled the 45 minutes to Newport where I grew up, planning to arrive at the time when the tidal tables, published daily in the newspaper, indicated low tide.  One of our favorite seaweed stashes is at Easton’s Beach also known as 1st Beach to locals.  Low tide was at 11 AM and when we arrived at noon, we saw the parking lot full of occupied cars with people eating lunch and enjoying the view. The beach itself, though, was deserted.

6-mike-gathering-seaweedAfter unloading his muck buckets and grabbing his rake, Mike and I walked down to the beach, and while dressed for a December day in New England, we were pleasantly surprised that the day was warm and the raw wind that blows in off the Atlantic in late fall was non-existent.

Usually we harvest seaweed after an ocean storm churns up and washes in the crème de crème of seaweed. But no storms were predicted for the imminent future, so we hoped that enough seaweed had washed ashore with the incoming tide.

3-gathering-seaweedWe indeed found clumps of seaweed covered with fine beach sand deposited along the high water mark which made it easy for Mike to spear with his special short-handled beach rake, shaking off the excess sand and tossing it into the bucket.

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Meanwhile, I watched as the beach filled up with people walking their dogs, children running along the water’s edge and stopping to stare out into the vastness of the Atlantic and a lone surfer measuring the waves.

1-children-on-beachMike filled several buckets with seaweed, along with some quahog and scallop shells, all the while chatting with folks walking by and explaining to them, when asked,  why he was “cleaning the beach.” After an hour, we packed up, a little reluctant to leave, realizing that we had chosen the perfect day to go “seaweeding.”

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