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1-Touluse-Lautrec-and-Stars

Recently, Mike and I went to the exhibit “Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and it didn’t disappoint. The posters of Toulouse-Lautrec, legendary for their depiction of the nightlife, cafes, cabarets  and celebrities of 19th century Paris, illustrated life in Paris and Montmartre during its bohemian heyday. Also included in the exhibit were other notable artists of the time, such as Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent. The exhibit’s astoundingly vivid visual world of Paris’ social scene transported me back in time.

2-Jane-Avril

Through Toulouse-Lautrec’s art, I learned about can-can dancer Jane Avril, who was a lifelong friend of Toulouse-Lautrec and commissioned the poster above to advertise her cabaret show at the Jardin de Paris. I especially like “Divan Japonaise,” (pictured below) which shows Jane Avril enjoying herself at the club.

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Toulouse-Lautrec’s depiction of May Belfort, an Irish singer who performed in Parisian nightclubs with her ever-present black cat, can be seen in this promotional poster.

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Mary Belfort

The exhibit also included several images of Aristide Bruant, French singer and nightclub owner, in his famous red scarf and black cape.

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I loved Le Chat Noir (“The Black Cat”), poster by Théophile Steinlen which advertised the cabaret located in the Montmatre section of Paris in the early 1880’s. It reminded me of our last trip to Paris, when we had purchased a group of souvenir posters from one of the many bouquinistas lining the Seine.

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The “Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris” will be at the MFA until August 4, 2019. If you have a chance to see it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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1-Chutes'-Garden

Mike and Angelina Chute’s Garden

After the holiday hubbub is over and tranquility returns, the new year presents itself and the gardening season begins again, as it always does, with great expectations. While the roses in our gardens are quietly resting under their winter cover, Angelina and I have been unusually busy planning for the 2019 season. We have accepted a number of invitations to present lectures and workshops, including a new home and garden show in Connecticut plus programs in area garden centers. 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.

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Cloud Ten (Radler, white climbing rose)

New this year is “Radler Roses, Beyond Knock Out Roses.” This PowerPoint presentation highlights a number of attractive, disease resistant varieties that have been hybridized by Will Radler, breeder of the famous Knock Out family of sustainable roses. We describe these roses as being “beyond Knock Outs.” as they do not have “Knock Out” as part of their name. Will Radler has served as a consultant to this program and it will debut at the Boston Flower & Garden Show on March 19. (See the complete list of 2019 programs, dates, and times on the 2019 Lecture Series page.) For a description of our programs, visit our web site’s Program page at RoseSolutions.net.

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Our season opens at the Southeastern Connecticut Home & Garden Show on Sunday, February 24 at the Mohegan Sun Casino. Our event starts at 12:15 with a Meet & Greet book signing followed at 1:00 pm by our “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” our most popular program. This is Rose Gardening 101 where we explain how to grow great roses in home gardens in six simple steps. There will be plenty of time for Q and A during and after the program.

6 Boston Flower Show logoOn Saturday, March 16, we return to the Boston Flower & Garden Show at the Seaport World Trade Center to present our new program for 2019, “Beyond Knock Out Roses; Discovering Other Sustainable Roses from Knock Out Hybridizer Will Radler.” We enjoy the high energy of the Boston show and especially the interaction with the big lively Boston audiences. (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.

We are looking forward to our visit to Russell’s Garden Center in Wayland, MA on Sunday, March 24 at 2:00 pm when we present the Six Simple Steps program. This event will include refreshments and door prizes. To register or for more information, go to www.russellsgardencenter.com or call 508-358-2283 x394.

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Display at 2018 Maine Flower Show

We pack up and head north to Portland, Maine on Saturday, March 30, to speak at the Maine Flower Show. We presented a program there last year on cold-climate rose gardening that attracted an audience from across northern New England as well as Quebec and the Canadian eastern provinces. This year we’ve created another customized cold-climate program titled “Fifteen Remarkable Roses for Northern New England Gardens,” which focuses on successful rose gardening in USDA zones 3 through 5.

Home Garden Flower Show (4)We present the “Radler Roses, Beyond Knock Out Roses” program at the Rhode Island Home Flower & Garden Show on Saturday, April 6 at 1pm.  We had presented programs at the old RI Flower & Garden Show from 1998 until it closed a few years ago. Now it’s back again at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence and we’re glad. Go to www.ribahomeshow.com for more details.

Join us at the RI Rose Society’s “Rose Fest” on Saturday, May 4 at Chaves Garden Center, in Middletown, RI. We again present our Six Simple Steps program but in a garden setting using real plants as props instead of a digital PowerPoint program — a fun and unique way to demonstrate rose gardening.

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Mike Chute at 2018 RI Rose Society Rose Show

Saturday, June 15 at 1 PM is the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 21st 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. At 1:30, we will use real roses grown in local gardens by home gardeners as props to demonstrate how simple it is successfully grow roses at home. Free and open to the public.

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 Great Britain, makes early 2019 another active season for Angelina and me.

We are available to speak at flower shows, garden centers, 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.at.rosesolutions.

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David C.H. Austin                    (Photo: DavidAustinRoses.com)

David C. H. Austin, the founder of David Austin Roses Ltd,  passed away in December at the age of 92 in Albrighton, England, the town where he was born. He leaves a lasting legacy of extraordinary horticultural accomplishment having melded the virtues of old garden roses with those of modern roses, a daunting challenge. He had a clear vision of what could be and, through a lifetime of patience and persistence, followed his dreams and, in doing so, forever changed the international rose landscape.

The son of an English farmer, Austin’s interest was in horticulture more so than agriculture, particularly roses. As a young nurseryman in the 1950s, he loved the character and fragrance of traditional old garden roses and bemoaned their decline in popularity. While roses then were still a favorite plant of gardeners everywhere, the modern hybrid teas and floribundas with their repeat blooming ability and much broader color spectrum had pushed the once-blooming, old-fashioned roses with limited colors to one side.

Is it possible, Austin wondered, to capture the flower form and fragrance of the old roses — a rose with no fragrance, he was known to say, is only half a rose — and combine it with the remondancy (repeat bloom) and rich color palette of modern roses?

Thus, starting in his farmhouse kitchen 60 years ago, Austin began a life-long quest for his ideal rose, a quest that grew into an internationally recognized brand that is widely marketed throughout Europe and the United States.

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Graham Thomas

His first introduction was Constance Spry in 1961.  This beautiful, pink, fragrant climber is still available today but it was a once-bloomer and the pursuit of remondancy continued. The breakthrough came in 1983 when Austin introduced three varieties, Graham Thomas, Mary Rose, and Heritage, at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Each had the desired old rose flower form, distinct fragrance, attractive colors as well as the all-important ability to re-bloom more than once per season. He referred to these three beauties as “English” roses and they shot him onto center stage in the rose world and he never looked back. His roses would go on to win 24 gold medals at Chelsea and he was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2007 for services to horticulture.

 

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Heritage

Over time, David Austin Roses developed the largest rose breeding program in the world, yielding 250,000 seedlings each year. Austin’s challenge was to balance the science of plant genetics with a vision of his ideal rose in a never ending search for certain key characteristics.  These distinctive traits include overall beauty, old fashioned floral form, outstanding garden performance, fragrance and “charm” — a British term meaning a unique difference from other roses. Achieving some of the desired characteristics in one variety is notable; achieving them all in one variety is the magnum opus of a career.

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David Austin in Hybridizing Greenhouse   (Photo: DavidAustinRoses.com)

David Austin had said, “Every day, I marvel at my good fortune to have been able to make a life out of breeding roses. My greatest satisfaction is to see the pleasure my roses give to gardeners and rose lovers worldwide.” To that we reply, “It has been our good fortune to enjoy the beauty of these magnificent roses and to have benefitted from the vision of David C.H. Austin.”

 

If you would like to learn more about David Austin Roses, including details about his breeding program, we offer a PowerPoint Program, “David Austin’s English  Roses for New England Gardens.”

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vanessa bell

Vanessa Bell – Photo: David Austin Roses

Every year Mike and I look forward to the new introductions from David Austin Roses. This spring, there will be three new English Roses available to U.S and Canadian gardeners: ‘Vanessa Bell’, ‘Dame Judi Dench’, and ‘James L. Austin’.

We love yellow roses, our favorite being ‘Graham Thomas’. When I saw ‘Vanessa Bell’, with its delicate, soft yellow petals that grow in clusters and fragrance described as “green tea with aspects of lemon and honey,” I decided that it definitely has a spot in our garden this spring. Not only is ‘Vanessa Bell’ floriferous, but is said to have a compact growth habit. It grows 4’ x 3’, is hardy to Zone 5 and is named after the artist and founding member of the Bloomsbury Group.

dame judi dench

  Dame Judi Dench- Photo: David Austin Roses

One of the loveliest apricot-orange roses I’ve seen is the new introduction named after ‘Dame Judi Dench’. Red-tipped buds open to large apricot rosettes with ruffled petals and a button eye. The flowers have a light tea fragrance and the bush has a relaxed, arching growth habit which is 4’ x 4’. It is hardy to Zone 5 and, obviously, named after the well-known actor Dame Judi Dench.

james l austin

James L. Austin – Photo: David Austin Roses

What a beautiful color the rose “James L. Austin’ is — one that will stand out in any garden. This rose has a bushy, upright habit with large, densely-petalled blooms that are an amazing shade of a deep reddish-pink which I would describe as a lovely raspberry color. How fitting, since its fragrance is described as “fruity, evoking blackberry and raspberry …” Growth habit is 4’x3’ and is hardy to Zone 5. James L. Austin is the son of David Austin Senior.

These new introductions are now available at www.davidaustinroses.com and are sold as bare root roses. They will not be available in garden centers as potted roses until the Spring of 2020.

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David Austin Roses has also redesigned their 2019 Handbook of Roses. This year’s 175 page handbook includes a new fold-out” Index by Color” that has over 100 photos, as well as helpful information on rose care and detailed descriptions of their roses together with photographs, growth habit and zone information. We recently received our annual shipment of these beautiful catalogues that we distribute when we present our “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens” programs. You can also order them from David Austin Roses through their web site (see above) or their toll free number (800-328-8893).

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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.
3-Hilled-Up-Bush

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.

 

5-The-Breakers

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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