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1.-Winter-Protection

Rose Beds Hilled Up in Chutes’ Rose Garden

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone (it was early this year) and we’ve experienced some below freezing temperatures, it’s time to add winter protection to help our roses survive our New England winters.

The goal of winter protection is to keep roses dormant — not to keep them warm. What we want to do is just the opposite: make sure the rose bushes stay cold and not be fooled into thinking spring has arrived when we experience those warm days in late January when temperatures go up to the 40’s and mid 50’s.

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Plant roses with bud union 2″ below soil level in southern New England

Adding winter protection to roses is easy but there are 2 factors to be aware of if you want your roses to come through the winter with little winter kill: First, make sure your roses are zone appropriate for your area. If they’re not, they don’t have a good chance of surviving the winter freeze and thaw cycles. Second, plant them properly. In southern New England budded roses need to be planted at least 2” below the soil in order to protect the bud union. In colder climates they should be planted deeper and in warmer climates higher.

If your roses are winter hardy and planted properly, follow these easy steps:

  1. Wait until after the first hard frost before adding winter protection.
  2. Give roses a light pruning and secure long canes so they will not be tossed around by winter storms and damage the bush.
  3. Rake up garden litter to prevent diseases from wintering over in fallen foliage.
  4. This is a good time to apply lime, if necessary.
  5. Using soil, manure, compost or seaweed, hill up the base of each rose to about 12 inches.
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Winter Protection at base of rose bush

If you want to know more about planting roses and winter protection, you can find more detailed information in our book Roses for New England: A Guide for Sustainable Rose Gardening which can be purchased on our website: RoseSolutions.net

 

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1 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Ever since I saw the movie “Woman in Gold”(2015), starring Helen Mirren, I’ve been fascinated by the glittering painting by Gustav Klimt and the story behind it. From the movie, based on the book called The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Ann Marie O’Connor, I learned the story of the painting.

The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was completed by Klimt in 1907, the first of his two paintings of Adele. The painting was confiscated by the Nazis who changed its name to “The Lady in Gold.” It was exhibited in Vienna’s Baroque Belvedere Palace until Maria Altmann, a niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer instituted litigation to have the painting returned to her. After a lengthy legal battle, Maria Altmann was awarded possession of the painting and in 2006 the portrait was purchased, for $135 million, by Ronald Lauder for the Neue Galerie in New York.

Once I found out the “Woman in Gold” was in New York, a trip to visit both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Neue Galerie was pushed higher up on our Places to Visit list. So a few weeks ago we drove to Stamford, CT and took the Metro-North train into Grand Central. From there it was a short cab ride to the Met where we spent an enjoyable afternoon (a blog post for another time) before we left for a 5 minute walk to the Neue Galerie.

2-Neue-GalerieThe Neue Galerie specializes in 20th century German and Austrian art, featuring works by Gustaf Klimt and Egon Schiele, as well as other artists, and is located in a small mansion on Fifth Avenue. Admission was high — the same as the Met — and while one could spent an entire day viewing the art at the Met and still not see everything, the Neue Galerie can easily be seen in a few hours.

At first I was disappointed that no photographs are allowed at the Neue, but then I realized that since we couldn’t take photos, we could spend more time actually viewing and studying each work of art.

The Portrait of Adele was displayed alone on one wall of the 2nd floor gallery much like the Mona Lisa is displayed at the Louvre — and it was stunningly spectacular. What surprised me when I first saw the painting was its large size and shape. It was 54” x 54” square! All the pictures I had seen showed it as rectangular and they excluded the green-blue painted area in its lower left hand corner. Once the crowd thinned from in front of the painting, Mike and I stood within inches of it (unlike viewing the Mona Lisa which is roped off) and saw Klimt’s use of gold and silver leaf, and his fine brush strokes. Adele’s gown is covered in symbols of eye-like images, mosaics and decorative patterns with her face and hands emerging from the golden background, her dark eyes staring out at us.

We spent a long time looking at the Portrait of Adele   and were drawn back to stand in front of it three or four more times before we left the Neue. I bought a poster of the painting even though I know that no picture can do it justice or show its magnificence. If you’re ever in New York, don’t miss out on the opportunity to see it.

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1.-Rosecliff

Rosecliff

Whenever Newport, RI is mentioned, Bellevue Avenue with its row of elegant mansions that served as “summer homes” for the wealthy in the early 1900’s comes to mind. Growing up in Newport, I, along with most of the other “natives,” only visited these mansions when we had company from out of state. This summer I decided that it was time to revisit a few of these impressive estates.

 

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The Breakers

Mike and I started with a tour of The Breakers, perhaps the grandest of the Newport mansions. I remember visiting it when I was in my teens and guided tours by docents were conducted. Times have changed and the tours now include audio guides that give excellent room by room descriptions along with a history of the people who lived in these “summer cottages.”

The Breakers, which epitomized the Gilded Age, is a 4 story limestone mansion that was modeled after Renaissance Italian palaces. It was built in the mid 1890’s as a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II and replaced the first Breakers which was destroyed by fire in 1892. This 70-room mansion, 33 for staff alone, is located on 13 acres and was designed by Richard Morris Hunt. Many of its rooms were designed and built in Europe then shipped to Newport and reassembled on site.

 

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The Breakers Gates

While one of the most luxurious of the Newport Mansions, the Breakers is not located on Bellevue Ave, but rather two blocks away on Ochre Point Avenue. The first sighting of this “stone palace” is through its ornate monogrammed gates.

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The Breakers Grand Staircase

Once inside the mansion, it’s easy to feel the imposing scale of this building. While all the rooms are impressive, the Grand Staircase in the Great Hall is exceptionally striking. Glittering chandeliers and marble fireplaces adorn massive rooms but the view from the second floor open air loggia made our visit complete — beyond the well-kept, massive green lawn, lay the Atlantic Ocean.

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View of the Atlantic Ocean from The Breakers

 

On another day trip to Newport, we chose to visit Rosecliff. We were more familiar with this mansion since it is the site of the Newport Flower Show which we have attended as judges for the rose horticultural entries for the past several years.

This is not the original Rosecliff which was a wooden cottage owned by George Bancroft, a horticulturalist who maintained a rose garden here (hence, the name Rosecliff). After Bancroft died, his estate was sold to Mrs. Oelrichs and her sister who increased the size of original estate by purchasing an additional 11 acres off Bellevue Ave. They hired Stanford White to design a new Rosecliff, the same architect who designed the Newport Casino. Rosecliff was modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles, and is a far cry from the original Rosecliff of George Bancroft.

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Rosecliff’s Grand Staircase

After entering Rosecliff and obtaining the audio tour for the mansion, the first thing seen is the red-carpeted, rococo, heart-shaped grand staircase. It’s no wonder that this venue is so popular with brides.

 

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Oscar Wilde

 

On the day of our visit, the exhibit “Bohemian Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement and Oscar Wilde’s Newport” was on display on the second floor which we reached by walking up this majestic staircase. The exhibit featured a selection of furniture, ceramics, paintings and costumes, among other objects, that revealed the belief of “art for art’s sake,” a movement which Oscar Wilde supported. Below are photos from the exhibit.

 

 

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Bohemian Beauty Exhibit

 

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Bohemian Beauty Exhibit

After viewing the exhibit, we continued on our tour which took us to the focal point of Rosecliff — the 40’x 80’ ballroom, the largest of the Newport mansions. This was where parts of The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford was filmed in the 1970’s, as well as the movie True Lies starring Arnold Schwarznegger in 1994.

 

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Rosecliff Ballroom

One of my favorite rooms was the library with its wood paneled walls and low, intricately designed ceiling.

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Close up of Library Ceiling

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Rosecliff’s Rose Garden

Rosecliff, like The Breakers, overlooks the Atlantic. On our way to the back of the mansion to see the ocean, we walked through the rose garden which had recently been renovated. The hardscape, including statues and urns was fantastic; however, the garden roses were disappointing, as you can see from the photo above.

 

 

 

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Rosecliff Terrace Facing Atlantic Ocean

There are many other Newport Mansions left to explore. I think the Marble House and The Elms are next on our list. For more information about visiting the Newport Mansions visit http://www.newportmansions.org

 

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1-Rijks-Museum.Mike

Rijks Museum

What drew us to our recent visit to The Netherlands, besides tulips, was its world-class museums. On our “Bucket List” of great museums to visit were the Rijks and the Van Gogh, as well as the Mauritshuis in The Hague. The Rijks and Van Gogh were both conveniently located in Amsterdam’s Museumplein, a large, park-like square surrounded by museums that also included gardens and a large water feature and just a short tram ride from our hotel. Using the tram is the best way to travel around Amsterdam and see the sights at the same time. Tram tickets can be bought for 1,2 or 3 days at most major hotels and allowed unlimited rides.

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Amsterdam Tram

 

 

In anticipation of exploring the museums, we bought museum passes which enabled us to skip any lines, although we found out by doing some research beforehand, that tickets for the Van Gogh and Anne Frank House were available on-line only.

The Rijks Museum

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The Little Street by Johannes Vermeer

The first museum we visited was the Rijks that housed a collection of the Great Dutch Masters which included our favorite – Johannes Vermeer. We had heard that there could be long lines, but when we arrived at mid-morning on a weekday in April, we walked right in. (When we returned to the Museumplein a few days later on the weekend, the queue at the Rijks was very long.) After looking at the museum map, which gave us a floor plan and highlights of the collection, we made a bee-line to the four Vermeer paintings in the permanent collection: Woman Reading a Letter, The Milkmaid, The Love Letter, and The Little Street. The Little Street was our favorite and we brought home a print to remind us of this great painting and iconic museum.

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The Nightwatch

Mike was eager to see Rembrandt’s Nightwatch which wasn’t hard to find since it took up an entire wall and had its own museum security detail stationed nearby. It was amazing to stand in front of this great painting. A picture doesn’t do it justice.

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Delftware

We wandered the galleries, enjoying the display of Delftware, and came across an impressive ship model that caught Mike’s eye.  After a few hours in the museum and a visit to its gift shop, we strolled around the Museumplein, where I stopped to rest a bit near the fountain. Then we hopped back on the tram.

The Van Gogh Museum

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Van Gogh Museum

We had purchased on-line tickets for the Van Gogh Museum for 10:30 AM on a Saturday morning. This is the only way tickets are sold, so if you plan on visiting the Van Gogh, make sure you buy your rickets in advance. (We saw a few disappointed visitors who walked up to the ticket window at the Van Gogh, only to be turned away.) This museum was modern, bright and airy and consisted of two buildings — the main building which houses the permanent collection and the exhibition wing which where temporary exhibitions are displayed. Photography is not allowed at this museum, a disappointment, but also a blessing, since it allowed us to take the time to view Van Gogh’s paintings up close and personal, and not through a camera’s eye.

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Almond Blossoms

The permanent collection of Van Gogh’s works was impressive with 200 paintings and numerous drawings arranged chronologically, depicting the various periods of the painter’s life. We enjoyed the range of Vincent Van Gogh’s works, from the dark and gloomy “The Potato Eaters” to his glorious “Sunflowers” and “The Bedroom.” I was especially taken with the Van Gogh & Japan exhibit which highlights the Japanese influence on Van Gogh’s paintings. I loved his “Almond Blossoms” and took home a journal covered with this print as well as a pillow cover.

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Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Mike and I really liked the Van Gogh painting called ”Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.”  We liked it so much that we bought a large poster and also a large postcard that we keep on our computer desk where it reminds of this visit to the Van Gogh Museum as well as the diverse talent of Vincent Van Gogh.

 

The Mauritshuis

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Mauritshuis

After 5 days in Amsterdam, we moved to the small city of Haarlem, 12 miles away,  to experience Holland outside of Amsterdam. We took a short train ride from Haarlem to the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague.

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Haarlem Train Station

It took only 45 minutes plus a short walk to the Mauritshuis where we knew the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was on display. While we had seen “Girl” at the Frick Collection in New York a few years ago, we were excited to view some of Vermeer’s other paintings that are part of the permanent collection at The Mauritshuis. We weren’t disappointed. We saw “Diana and Her Nymphs,” a painting very unlike all the Vermeers we were familiar with, and  “View of Delft” which was fabulous. After meandering through other galleries where we admired several magnificent Steen paintings as well those of other Dutch Masters, we found ourselves drawn back to the “View of Delft” and decided we had to take a print of it home. Next trip, I’m going to bring an empty suitcase along.

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View of Delft

Vermeer Centrum

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Nightwatch in tiles at Royal Delft

The next day we boarded a train bound for Delft to visit the Vermeer Centrum. (Train travel in Europe is clean, reliable, and economical.) We had heard the criticism that all the paintings here were reproductions, but we found that the experience of touring the Centrum was not disappointing. Where else could we get to see full-size images of all of Vermeer’s paintings as well as an in-depth look into his life?  It was well worth the trip as was our tour of the Royal Delft showroom and factory, a 20-minute walk away. We were delighted to find during our tour, Royal Delft’s version of Rembrandt’s “Nightwatch” and Vermeer’s “The Little Street.”

Anne Frank House

9-Anne-Frank-HouseLast, but high on my wish list, was the Anne Frank House. Buying tickets wasn’t easy — they were available only on-line 2 months prior to a desired date. I had almost given up hope until I realized, just by playing with a few dates, that the closer I got to the date of our visit, the greater the availability of tickets. I felt lucky when I managed to get 2 tickets for the day before we were to fly home.

It was a rainy day as we waited in line at our scheduled entrance time but time passed quickly as we struck up a conversation with a couple from Texas. Once we were inside and started the tour, though, there was very little talking and only in hushed tones. Climbing the narrow stairs to the top floor and walking through the mostly empty rooms that had some of Anne Frank’s mementos was a chilling experience.

10-Anne-Frank-StatueI left with a feeling of melancholy and great sadness to know that Anne Frank survived two years in those rooms, only to be discovered, arrested, and killed  months before the end of the war. Who betrayed the Frank family? It seems that, even all these years later, nobody knows the answer the that question.

Our exploration of these museums gave us an insight into the history and art that The Netherlands has to offer its visitors, as well as memories (and mementos) we’ll treasure.

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1-Bruges-Markt

Bruges Markt

Angelina and I like to drive part or all of each trip we take whenever possible. Driving gives us the freedom to move at our own pace, make unscheduled stops, and change our itinerary on the fly.  However, driving in Europe presents additional challenges that we do not encounter with domestic travel. The insurance is pricey plus left-side driving in the UK and Ireland requires a mental driving adjustment as does scooting around endless round-abouts.

That said, we picked up our Hertz mid-size, 4-door sedan in Amsterdam and headed for Bruges in Belgium. We cruised comfortably along the motorway, careful not to exceed the posted speed limit. The penalties for speeding in European countries are harsh and there were speed cameras everywhere we traveled throughout both countries. Crossing the border from Holland into Belgium was anticlimactic, simply a small welcome sign.

After three hours on the road, we arrived in the medieval town of Bruges in the Flemish region in northwest Belgium. We stayed in a hotel on a quiet slip of a lane in the old town that we would never, ever have found without the GPS in the car.

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Tea-Rooms around The Markt

We spent three days in Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) which has maintained its quaint character with narrow cobbled streets and  picturesque canals. The historic Markt, market square, is the center of the old town and ringed with stately historic buildings and lots of shops and “tearooms.” The menus in all the tearooms in the Markt were similar, not much different than what we eat at home. But when we strayed away from the tourist areas, venturing down the side streets, we found small eateries that served great Flemish meals — all within walking distance of our hotel. I had no problem finding gluten free choices.

4-Bruges-Restaurant.TearoomOne of my favorite meals was a bowl of chicken stew with roasted potatoes and a fresh salad.

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During the day, the streets were packed with visitors but emptied out in early evening. The nights were surprisingly cold (mid-April) and we were glad that we packed jackets and long sleeved shirts.

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Speaking of food, Belgian chocolate has an international reputation for quality and now we know why. There was no shortage of chocolateries in Bruges, each shop featuring a wide assortment of chocolate, usually providing samples to taste. And taste we did. We brought a half dozen boxes home and later wished we had brought more.

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One afternoon we took a 2-hour walking tour of Bruges, stopping at churches and other points of interest, fully appreciating the extent of the canal system and the role it played in the commercial development of this part of the country. Each bridge over a canal presented a picture-postcard photo opportunity for us and the throng of other visitors that crammed the town each day we were there.

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On our second day, we drove an hour to Ypres in Flanders, an area devastated in World War I. The town was completely destroyed by 1919 but has since been re-built to look exactly as it did before the war. This is where the “In Flanders Field Museum” is located and one of our planned stops for the day, The museum was easy to find in the center of Ypres and impressively depicts the horror of WWI in Flanders with a series of extraordinary exhibits. We spent several hours there and the museum alone was well worth the trip.

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In Flanders Fields Museum – Ypres, Belgium

Early the following morning, we left Bruges to return to Amsterdam by taking the North Sea route, planning to spend the day exploring the dramatic measures the Dutch have taken to hold back the North Sea. As we crossed the border heading for the Dutch coast, we encountered round-about after round-about during the 90 minute drive, reminiscent of our motoring through the west coast of Ireland. Eventually, we drove through the Western Scheldt Tunnel, a 4-mile long tunnel under an estuary of the North Sea and arrived in Middleburg. We stopped for a quick lunch, got gas (€1.66 per liter/ $7.63 per gallon) and continued our drive toward the North Sea.

11-Dutch-Wind-TurbinesAs we approached the coast, the landscape changed with the mighty North Sea on one side of the highway and Dutch farmland and huge wind turbines on the other. Half of The Netherlands lies below sea level and Dutch history is replete with periodic floods. Late one night in February 1953, a fierce winter storm crashed ashore at high tide breaching dams and dikes and flooded almost a half million acres of fertile farmland — the mother of all floods. While the Dutch quickly repaired the damage, they realized that a stronger system of barriers were necessary to prevent such a re-occurrence.

Out of this disaster came the Delta Project, an incredible series of dams, dikes, levees,  and storm surge barriers designed to hold back a restive North Sea taking 40 years and $13 billion to complete.

10-Driving-Atop-Storm-SurgeOur route took us along the top of one of the storm surge barriers with an exit at Neetltie Jans, an artificial island created as part of the barrier. We parked and walked to the massive barrier and saw 62 steel gates that open and close as needed. The tide was coming in, rapidly rolling and roiling, a sober reminder of the power  of the North Sea.

9-Dutch-Storm-Surge-Barrier

We continued on to Amsterdam with a great deal of respect for Dutch engineering.

We flew home two days later. Once again our daily routines had paused while we enjoyed a journey to a new and exciting far away place.

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1-Chute.Rose-Show-RosesThis year I worried whether we would have roses to exhibit in the Rhode Island Rose Society Rose Show. Mike says I worry about this every year and he’s right. Somehow our roses always bloom in time for the Show. But this year we noticed that some of our roses bloomed earlier than usual. For instance, Yellow Brick Road was all bloomed out before the Rose Show. Other roses we normally exhibit at the show, like Playboy and Hot Cocoa, didn’t bloom until after the Show.

Still, we found plenty of roses to bring to the Rhode Island Rose Society Rose Show, “A Kaleidoscope of Roses,” on June 16. Some roses gave us so many sprays and blooms that we had enough of one variety to enter into several classes.

We grow a lot of sustainable shrub roses and have a collection of Renaissance roses, hybridized by Poulsen Roses from Denmark They include Sophia Renaissance (yellow shrub), Helena Renaissance (light pink) and Clair Renaissance. Clair, a beautiful, many-petalled, light pink shrub, was the only Renaissance rose ready for the show with two really fresh sprays. We entered one of them in the Modern Shrub Class. In addition to being good exhibition roses, Renaissance roses are also great garden roses that produce numerous sprays all season long.

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Clair Renaissance – Best Modern Shrub Class

One of our most prolific bloomers this year was Nouvelle France, also known as Party Hardy. Nouvelle France blooms in great clusters and is classified as a Hybrid Kordesii, which meant we could enter one spray in the Classic Shrub class. Since we grow it in our sustainable rose garden and it receives no pesticides, we entered another spray in the Au Naturel Class. Anyone looking for a disease resistant, winter hardy rose (this rose is hardy to Zone 3!), should consider this rose. We have 2 bushes of it planted, one on either side of our flag pole.

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Nouvelle France – Best Classic Shrub Class & Best Shrub in Show

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Passionate Kisses – Best Floribunda Class

The other very productive bloomer this year is Passionate Kisses. What a rose! It has irridescent, translucent medium-pink flowers that grow in clusters of 5-7 blooms. We must have had at least a dozen sprays blooming all over the rose bush the day before the show. We cut several of these sprays, one of which was chosen Best Floribunda Spray. We also entered a single in the Floribunda Class. We had so many flowers left over that we arranged them in the Floribunda English Box Class. This floribunda rose needs a bit more care than either Nouvelle France or the Renaissance roses, but can be a great addition to a home garden. It grows about 4 feet high and just as wide, so give it enough space if you decide to grow it.

 

 

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Passionate Kisses – Best Floribunda English Box & Best English Box in Show

 

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Centennial – King of Show

Some of the other roses that were ready for the show was Centennial, an easy to grow grandiflora rose by Ping Lim who gave us the Easy Elegance series. It bloomed just in time to win King of Show. Earth Song, one of my favorite roses, had many sprays, but they had all gone by except for one which we cut and entered in the Grandiflora Spray Class.

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Earth Song – Best Grandiflora Spray Class

 

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White Cap – Best A Sea of Roses Class

 

We have some fun and interesting Challenge classes in our Show. One is called A Sea of Roses, a class where an exhibitor enters any white rose in a deep blue vase provided by the Show Committee. We entered White Cap, a Brownell climber, in this class.

 

 

 

 

This year we had so many blooms of White Cap that we also entered it in the English Box Class for “other” roses which include Climbing roses. As you can see from the photo, the White Cap blooms had the perfect form, size and substance and looked great against the black background of the English Box.

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White Cap – Best English Box Other

We came home from the show tired, but happy. When all was said and done, our garden didn’t disappoint, and we had plenty of roses to enter the show. Now the June Bloom is over and we’re deadheading the garden in anticipation of the August Bloom. All in all, it was a very good June Bloom.

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2-Chute.-Tulip-Time-at-Keuk

Keukenhof

Holland and Belgium were high on our Master Bucket List, so Angelina and I combined a trip to both countries in April to coincide with “tulip time” in Holland. Since the tulip season only lasts for eight weeks, from mid-March through mid-May, we figured that the last two weeks of April would be ideal to see the best of the annual Tulipmania and we were right.

1-Chute.-Bed-of-tulipsThe absolute best way to experience Holland’s premiere flower species is a visit to Keukenhof, “kitchen garden” in Dutch, well known for its annual public tulip extravaganza. While we are not crazy about bus rides, we booked a half-day bus tour from Amsterdam that included skip-the-line admission and let someone else drive. The weather was sunny and the hour’s drive through the Dutch countryside past tulip fields in bloom was the perfect start to the visit. At 32 hectares (79 acres), Keukenhof is a huge garden featuring over 7 million early, regular and late blooming flowering bulbs — 800 varieties of tulips plus crocus and daffodils. In addition to this flower power, Keukenhof has 6 pavilions featuring elegant arrangements, changing displays of cut flowers as well as events, lectures and other activities.

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Keukenhof Pavilion Bridal Display

We picked a perfect day with perfect weather to visit this tulip paradise at peak bloom. It was spectacular! The only drawback was the crowd. The annual attendance easily tops 1 million and it felt like most of them were there that day. But we expected this and it did not diminish our enjoyment of this magnificent display of Dutch floriculture. We arrived shortly after noon and roamed on-our-own through the garden. We meandered along winding paths with bed after bed of gorgeous tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. We stopped in several pavilions, each featuring impressive displays and arrangements. We finished in the gift shop, of course, for a souvenir to remind us of this great garden.

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While it’s not possible to absorb the entire Keukenhof experience in one day, our tour gave us three hours in the garden and that was enough. The return ride to Amsterdam was pleasant and we made it back in time for dinner. It was a very good day and a stress-free way to visit Kueukenhof.

To see more of Holland, we spent 3 days in Haarlem, a smaller city only a short distance from Amsterdam where we planned to take trains to Delft and The Hague. It was in Haarlem on a Sunday afternoon while out for a walk that we noticed a commotion a few blocks away from our hotel. When we got closer we discovered the Bloemencorso, Dutch for “flower parade,” parked in Haarlem city center.

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Dragon Float

The parade, an annual event and a very big deal in Holland, had started the day before near Keukenhof and went for 26 miles through other Dutch cities ending in Haarlem where the floats and decorated vehicles remained on display but only for one day — the day we were there. How’s that for serendipity!

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Rembrandt Float

These floats were constructed with bulb flowers only — tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and croci. Some floats even featured bulbs only in the design. These floats were amazing! The quality and imagination, not to mention the hours of tedious handwork, were a testament to the pride that the Dutch have for their famous flowers.

Bulb Float

All Bulbs

Equally amazing were the train rides we took to Delft on one day and The Hague on another. We enjoy train travel in Europe because they’re clean, fast, reliable and an inexpensive way to take side trips. The routes to both cities took us past tulip fields in bloom, row after row of  tulips — rainbows stretching to the horizon. Another unplanned bonus to our trip.

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Tulip Fields

Holland and Belgium were everything we had expected them to be and combining them into one trip was fairly simple. We chose to travel within the two countries by auto and that allowed us the flexibility to wander at will, always a good thing for us. More about this to come.

Time stands still for us when we’re away and this trip was no exception. We are already reviewing the Master Bucket List, eager to start planning our next adventure in 2019.

Tulipmania only lasts for 8 weeks. If you want to experience Tulip Time next year, Keukenhof is scheduled to open on March 21 and close on May 19 in 2019.

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