Archive for the ‘rose programs’ Category


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.)


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.


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.


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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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.

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2014 Spring Flower & Garden Shows

Flowers in a BugWill this winter never end! Here it is, March 2, and temps last night were in single digits and the weather forecast is for still more snow tonight. Paf!

BUT, last weekend was the first round of spring – really mid-winter – New England flower shows. The Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show as well as the Connecticut Spring Flower & Garden show were blessed with fine weather for their 4-day runs and attendance at both shows appeared heavy on the days when we were there.

'53 MG

’53 MG

In Providence, the Rhode Island show’s theme was “Vintage Gardens” which featured antique and classic automobiles as unique centerpieces in each display garden. I overheard a few grumbles that the cars distracted from the horticulture. I disagree. The cars were all in tip-top shape and were skillfully integrated into each garden’s design, creating interesting and novel exhibitions of gardening excellence.

Sand SculptureThe sand sculptors were back again this year and, following the show theme, carved a full sized old-timey automobile out of damp sand. This isn’t strictly horticulture either but it has become a popular feature at the show guessing by the number of visitors taking photos. I liked it, too.

Vintage Roadster

Vintage Roadster

I also liked a stylish entry that showcased an elegant vintage Art Deco wedding table with centerpieces, place settings and fine china set in a classy garden during the Roaring Twenties.

Roaring Twenties Wedding

Roaring Twenties Wedding

Our Friday lecture was titled “Discovering Easy-Care Roses” where we explored sustainable, winter hardy and attractive rose varieties that will flourish in a pesticide-free environment. We explained the process of selecting disease-resistant roses that can thrive in New England gardens and identified many easy-care roses currently available. This thoughtful process of discovery eliminates much of the frustration experienced by home gardeners by planting the right roses in the right gardens. Judging by the size of the audience, there was a great deal of interest in the program and we signed quite a few books at the end.

Pruning Demo

Pruning Demo

On Saturday, we conducted a much different program called “The Art of Pruning Roses.” I brought an overgrown potted rose bush that I dug out of the snow in the winter crib and demonstrated easy-to-follow steps that demystified rose pruning. The lively audience was very curious about pruning and many had felt that pruning was some form of alchemy and that they would destroy a rose with poor pruning. Not so. Lots of Q and A during and after the demo.

The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show was held in the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Their 2014 theme was “Backyard Paradise” and it was indeed a paradise. This convention center is really, really big with three acres of convention space and the huge main show floor was packed with over 300 booths on one side and gorgeous gardens on the other. Our favorite was a full-size, nicely landscaped bocce court.

Bocce Court

Bocce Court

We conducted our most popular program, “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” twice on Sunday. Home gardeners want to grow roses and this program shows then how. This is our favorite program and regardless of the number of times we have presented it, it never gets old.

The next stop on the show circuit is the Boston Flower & Garden Show in two weeks and our “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens” is scheduled for Saturday, March 15 at 12:30. We have updated this program with lush photos of new 2014 Austin introductions as well as many of the old Austin favorites.

Spring (and winter) flower shows come at just the right time, when the gardening spirit is rising in anticipation for the coming season. However, the price we pay for this vernal hope is this persistently cold, dark, dreary, dank, desolate, and dismal winter. Nevertheless, days are growing longer and spring will not be denied, just delayed.

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This is the time of year when Mike and I consider what rose varieties we’ll plant in our garden this spring. This past weekend we presented the program “David Austin Roses for New England Gardens” and included the five roses that Austin has introduced in the US for 2014.

With limited space in our garden, but with plans for an additional cottage garden, we’re looking at incorporating at least 2 of David Austin’s new introductions. While pursuing our quest for more white roses, we’ve chosen to add Tranquillity. When we saw the photo of Tranquillity with its pure white flowers each packed with over 100 petals and buds that start out with red and hints of yellow we were ‘gobsmacked.’ In addition to its beautiful blooms, this variety has typical light green foliage and very few thorns with an upright growth habit. Perfect  for our cottage garden. Another plus is its light apple fragrance. Hardy to Zone 5



The rich saturated crimson color of Heathcliff with 100 or so petals formed into rosette shaped blooms was enough to convince me that this was another Austin rose I’m putting on my list. This variety, reminiscent of the old red Gallica Roses, has an upright growth with shiny deep green foliage. Hardy to Zone 5

The three other 2014 introductions for the US include:



Boscobel has rosette blooms of salmon to deep pink. It has 78 petals and forms an upright, medium-sized shrub with dark green, glossy foliage. It is described as having a medium to strong myrrth fragrance. Hardy to Zone 5.

Royal Jubilee

Royal Jubilee

Royal Jubilee’s flowers have deeply chalice shaped, deep pink blooms with broad petals that curve inward. It is an Alba hybrid whose growth habit is typical of English Albas. Royal Jubilee, named in celebration of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, has a rich fruity fragrance, and grey-green glossy Alba foliage. Hardy to Zone 5.

The Lark Ascending

The Lark Ascending

The last 2014 introduction is The Lark Ascending described as a different English Rose. Its loosely cupped, soft apricot blooms of 22 petals grow in clusters on a shrub with tall airy growth that can reach 5’. Some of you may recognize the name The Lark Ascending which is taken from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ piece of music which is a favorite of Mr. Austin’s. Many in our audience also recognized the name and were fans of Ralph Vaughan Williams music. Hardy to Zone 5.

It’s always difficult to choose what roses to plant each year and with the introduction of these Austin roses, my wish list grows longer. If only we had unlimited space!

Note: All photos are from David Austin Roses

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Easy to Grow Rose: Kiss Me

Easy to Grow Rose: Kiss Me

2014 promises to be an interesting year.

Angelina and I are planning a trip to Ireland in May exactly 100 years after my grandfather, Thomas Healey, immigrated to the United States. He had been an estate gardener, first in Ireland and later in Scotland, then continued that occupation when he arrived in Southboro, Massachusetts as a young man. That must be where my green thumb comes from.

Mike at Newport Flower Show

Mike at Newport Flower Show

2014 is also shaping up to be another busy season on the lecture circuit. We have accepted invitations to speak from garden clubs and other horticultural organizations as well as from the three major New England spring flower shows. (See the complete list of 2014 programs, dates, and times on our 2014 new Lecture Series page.)



The season opener is for the Rhode Island Rose Society on Saturday, February 8 when we roll out the updated David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens program featuring new Austin introductions for 2014. We especially like Tranquility, a medium sized, almost thornless rosebush with buds that start out showing red and yellow as the sepals fall but turn  pure white when fully open. The rosette-shaped flowers with a whopping 110 petals and a light apple fragrance, are hardy to zone 5. Given our affection for white roses, Tranquility is on our plant list for 2014.

On Friday, February 21, we’ll once again be in the Providence Convention Center at the Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show. The program, Discovering Easy-Care Roses, reveals the secret that plant selection is the single most important step in successful rose gardening. The following day we’re back at the Rhode Island show demonstrating The Art of Pruning Roses. Pruning roses is not alchemy; come and let us show you how.

Spring Pruning

Spring Pruning

We’re off to Hartford, CT on Sunday, February 23 to the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show. This is our first visit to the Connecticut flower show and we will deliver our most popular program, Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening, twice that afternoon. “Backyard Paradise” is the show theme and our PowerPoint program fits right in. We have been accepting more and more invitations to Connecticut venues in recent years and we look forward to catching up with old friends at the 2014 Connecticut flower show.

Angelina and I return to the Boston Flower & Garden Show on the Ides of March with the David Austin program which segues nicely into their 2014 show theme, “Romance in the Garden.” Americans love everything British, from literature to movies to TV to gardening, and our program introduces sturdy, old fashioned, fragrant English roses to New England gardeners. You will be gobsmacked by this presentation.

Our annual bud grafting workshop is scheduled for Saturday, August 2 in our garden. Bud grafting roses is a method of propagation that hasn’t changed in ages.  We provide the rootstock and demonstrate the simple technique of grafting then you graft your own varieties and take them home. This hands-on workshop is free but we charge a materials fee for the potted rootstock.

Mike & Angelina

Mike & Angelina

In between all this, our schedule is full of garden club bookings along with presentations to various horticultural organizations.  Occasionally, we customize programs and in the past have developed special one-of-a-kind seminars. One of our favorites is conducting the Six Simple Steps program in an outdoor garden setting in June using fresh roses from the garden instead of PowerPoint slides.

My grandfather, who could grow anything, would be amazed if he could see how horticulture has changed in 100 years. I think he would approve of the great improvements in flowers and vegetables especially the dramatic increases in winter hardiness and disease resistance in ornamentals. I know he would absolutely love the flower shows as much as we do.

Keep checking the Lecture Series page as we add bookings throughout the season and if you need a program at the last minute for any reason, maybe we can help. Contact us at mike@rosesolutions.net.

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Mike & Angelina

The gardens are winterized, tools cleaned, and everything else stored away until spring. The 2012 season is officially over just in time to post our 2013 lecture and workshop schedule. (Look for the complete schedule here on the blog on its own page listed above the masthead as well as on our website, www.rosesolutions.net ). While we always enjoy the 4-month break from garden duties, we always welcome a new season of lecturing throughout New England and beyond making new friends and visiting old pals.

Boston Flower ShowIn 2013, we return to the Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show in February where we will present the program “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens.”  And in March we again travel north to the Boston Flower & Garden Show with a new program, “Discovering Sustainable Roses,” developed to match the show’s theme, Seeds of Change.

In late March we head over to Windsor Connecticut to present a lecture titled “Pesticides and Garden Safety” to the American Rose Society’s Yankee District’s Consulting Rosarian School. This began as a special one-off presentation we created last year for a group, explaining, in layman’s language, garden pesticides and how to safely employ them. (At the end of the lecture we make a persuasive case for avoiding pesticides completely and planting sustainable varieties instead.)

The following day we speak twice on “Selecting Sustainable Roses” at the Connecticut Master Gardeners Symposium in Manchester.

Then in April, we lead a 2-hour workshop called “Rose Gardening Made Easy” for the Barrington (RI) Community School. This program covers rose gardening from soup to nuts and demonstrates how easy growing roses can be.

In June, you will find us at the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 15th Annual Rose Show in Wickford, RI, presenting an abbreviated version of our most popular program, “Rosology 101.”

Mike Speaking at Garden ClubIn between all of these events we have accepted a host of invitations to speak to garden clubs and other organizations throughout New England. At each event we bring copies of our book, Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening to sign at the end of the program.

Check out our schedule for specific dates, times and locations as well as additions to the schedule as the year goes on.  We’ll be on the lookout for you.

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Rhode Island Red

I had always thought that grafting had limited appeal to gardeners in general. The few who were interested – like me – were very, very interested while most were, at best, only curious. But blog stats clearly showing the popularity of the bud grafting post last August after our annual workshop dispels this notion. In fact, as it turns out, rose grafting is a popular search topic year round. Propagation by grafting has a much wider audience than I had imagined.

Harvesting the budeye

Bud grafting is a simple process of surgically attaching a budeye of a desirable variety onto a winter hardy rootstock, thus creating a duplicate plant of that variety. This way I build my collections of rare vintage varieties like the Brownell Everblooming Pillars. Also, grafting roses onto sturdy  rootstock improves frail varieties and creates ideal roses for the New England climate. And it’s another way for me to enjoy rose gardening.

T-cut open,ready for budeye

On August 4, 10:00 am to noon, we will again host our annual Propagation (Bud Grafting) Workshop at our home in East Providence, RI. Past workshop students quickly mastered the basic skills and were soon successfully grafting their own roses to take home. I will demonstrate how to harvest the budeye, prepare the rootstock, and all the other steps necessary to create a new rose bush. It’s fun and a lot easier than you think. While there is no charge for the workshop, there is a plant materials fee – $5 per rootstock which you graft and take home.

Budeye inserted into rootstock

Grafting is an ideal way to propagate a family heirloom to share with family members. I often tell the story of my parents purchasing Brownell roses directly from the Brownell Nursery in Little Compton, RI before they closed in the late 1960’s. Most of those roses my father planted eventually died except for the Rhode Island Red, an Everblooming Pillar that they bought in 1959. That robust climber was still growing in my mother’s garden when we sold the house last year after she passed away in 2010. Over

Securing the graft with a budding rubber

the years I had propagated many duplicates of RI Red from that mother bush and passed them along to my brother and sisters as a living reminder of our parents.

Class size is limited, but there are a few slots still open. Email mike@rosesolutions.net for more details.

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