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Posts Tagged ‘rose gardening’

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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Passionate Kisses

Drought is a nasty word for a rose gardener. While water is found everywhere, even on Mars, it’s currently in short supply throughout much of the Northeastern United States, including our moderate Zone 6 Rhode Island. We usually receive about 50 inches of rainfall each year. Usually. But we are in our second year of a 25% rain deficit, well below normal, and find ourselves in an official drought and water restraints are suggested. Roses grow best when they receive steady, abundant watering and this long-term lack of rain for the last two years presents a challenge.

Droughts start with a dry winter which is exactly what we had last year. But prior to that, lower than normal precipitation last fall accompanied the long, warm, and very dry weather that lasted until Thanksgiving. The dryness continued throughout the following cold, snowless winter followed by still more dryness. As a result of this departing gift from El Nino, Rhode Island, the Ocean State, surrounded by Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is experiencing a moderate to severe drought and we are not used to this.

The fact that water has also become expensive, due to costly upgrades to local sewerage treatment facilities, adds to the problem. It can no longer be called the “poor man’s fertilizer.” Fully realizing that roses need water, I had to change the way I managed our rose gardens with limited water resources. This is what I did.

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Soil Well

I cut my tap water usage in half. Then I looked first to the soil. Soil rich in organics, which mine was, has the ability to hold water and release it slowly to plants. I scratched in some extra compost anyway. Next, I added 2 inches of mulch to part of the garden and that soil remained significantly more moist than other beds. Not only did the mulch retard evaporation, it also served to control weeds. More mulch next season. Then I built a soil well around the base of each rose bush trapping water and preventing it from running away and refreshing weeds.

I’ve been putting off installing a rain barrel, but I plan to get one next year. Rain is a warm, soft, renewable water source and it’s free. I think any large container will do — just stick it under a downspout. Also, when rain is forecast, I have been putting out muck buckets, pails and any sizable container that will hold water around the garden.  I then ladle out the collected water as needed.

Historically, late July is the hottest time of the year and this year was no exception. In a very hot year, roses will go into a forced semi-dormancy until the heat subsides. Those roses that manage to bloom will be undersized and heat-sensitive varieties like most mauve (purple) roses will shatter and petals fall almost as they open.

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Party Hardy

However, there were some varieties that tolerated the heat better than others. They included Party Hardy, Lady Elsie May, and oddly, Passionate Kisses plus a few others.

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Lady Elsie May

All it usually takes is a few drenching late summer rains to jump-start the garden for a robust fall bloom. Usually. We did receive some precipitation from the what was left of Tropical Storm Hermine a few days ago but most of the rain fell someplace else.

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Passionate Kisses

So as I sit here along coastal Rhode Island bounded by water on three sides feeling somewhat like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, I patiently await those late summer rains.

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2-Rose-Show-RosesThis year our rose gardens peaked on June 20, a few days later than usual, and we had plenty of roses to bring to the RI Rose Society Rose Show on Saturday June 18th.

Mike was the 2016 Rose Show Chair so we spent the Friday before the Show getting the venue ready with other volunteers from the Rose Society. We set up over 30 tables in anticipation of exhibitors arriving on Saturday morning with loads of roses.

1-Rose-Show-Set-UpWe weren’t disappointed. Before the judging began, all tables were filled with stems and sprays of roses — including different varieties of hybrid tea and grandiflora roses, climbing roses, shrub roses, old garden roses, miniature and miniflora roses, even mystery roses with no known name. The room was transformed into a spectacular indoor rose garden with hundreds of vases filled with colorful roses.

8-Rose-ShowWe had arrived at the Rose Show at 7 AM with dozens of stems from our gardens. We especially enjoy exhibiting English boxes and, while our Graham Thomas rose wasn’t in full bloom in time for the Rose Show, we still had enough blooms for the Shrub English Box and Graham rewarded us by winning Best of Class. Graham Thomas never disappoints and when his blooms are fresh they’re tough to beat. We entered a spray of Graham in the David Austin class and he won again.

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Graham Thomas English Box on right. Day Breaker English Box on left

Other English box winning entries were Day Breaker and Cherry Parfait. Day Breaker is a big favorite of ours but we had to replace the bush this spring due to excessive winterkill. The day before this year’s  Show, the new Day Breaker had only a dozen or so blooms, but they were all the same size and perfect to enter in the English Box for Floribunda Class.

Cherry Parfait is a floriferous grandiflora so we had an abundance  of blooms from which to choose. I think its striking lipstick-red and white flowers against the black of the English boxes makes a great presentation.

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Cherry Parfait English Box

The theme of this year’s show was “The Rose – America’s Flower” and the theme class was one stem or spray of any white and one stem or spray of any red rose displayed in a cobalt blue vase. We had a difficult time finding a white rose to display with our red Super Hero rose, but at the last minute a spray of Macy’s Pride, an Easy Elegance rose by Ping Lim, opened and the combination produced the red, white and blue we were looking for.

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The Rose-America’s Flower

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American Beauty Rose

The rose I was hoping we could enter in the Show was American Beauty. It is the only old garden rose we grow and I like to enter it in the Old Garden Rose Victorian Rose class which is for roses introduced in 1867 or later. American Beauty is a hybrid perpetual rose introduced in 1875 and tends to bloom early. This year, though, American Beauty started producing great clusters of roses the second week of June. To my surprise, it continued to bloom until the end of June. We have been growing American Beauty for 5 years and in its first season it produced 3 roses. Since some varieties take a few years to become established, we waited until the second season, but didn’t get more than 8 or 10 roses. Still, we waited. And this year American Beauty exploded into bloom with dozens of fragrant cabbage-like roses in great sprays. The rose bush was spectacular and American Beauty did win Best Victorian Rose. Patience paid off.

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Awards Table

Early each June I wonder if we’ll have roses in time to exhibit in the Rose Show and each year we always do. We just never know what varieties they will be. But no matter. All the roses at this year’s rose show — and there were hundreds of roses on display — were beautiful. While we always enjoy all the roses in the June Bloom in our garden, there’s nothing quite like Rose Show Roses.

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3-Winter-Moth

Winter Moth larva

Here in the Northeast, spring is taking its time arriving. Mike had to postpone pruning because of cold temperatures and a snow storm on April 4th that brought us 5″ of snow. Now with temperatures a bit more in the normal range, our roses are starting to show a burst of new growth, but with warmer temperatures comes a new annual event — the arrival of winter moth larvae.

Winter moths are small, light brown moths that were first recorded around 1930 in Nova Scotia. They slowly migrated south along the east coast into New England, were detected in Massachusetts in the 1990s and arrived in Rhode Island in 2004. Our first encounter with them was several years ago. The moths mate in early December, hence the name, and lay their eggs in trees and shrubs. The eggs hatch sometime in April in our garden. It’s this larvae stage that does the damage by feeding on a wide variety of plants including our roses and blueberries.

1 Winter Moth Damage

Foliage Damage

Mike noticed chewed-up foliage and discovered moth larvae yesterday — small, green caterpillars that had rolled up in a silky cocoon inside our rose leaves. This is when they surreptitiously eat away on the foliage and young rose buds unless an intervention takes place.

While we very rarely apply insecticides in our garden, we do spray our roses, as well as our blueberry bush, for winter moths with a very low toxicity product called Spinosad. This is a naturally occurring soil dwelling bacterium that works on larvae by contact as well as by ingestion — IF applied at the right time. The best time to apply Spinosad is immediately after egg-hatch in early spring before the tiny worms tunnel into buds.

2.Captain-JackSo today Mike applied his first dose of “Captain Jack’s Deadbug,” an organic pesticide containing Spinosad.  (Another effective product is “Monterey Garden Spray.) Usually, spraying twice, seven days apart will solve the winter moth problem and as an added benefit, rose sawflies will be controlled at the same time.

Without the use of Spinosad, the foliage on our trees, roses and blueberry bushes wind up looking like Swiss cheese. Since Captain Jack’s toxicity is extremely low, we find that using this product gives us the best outcome.

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Passionate-Kisses

Passionate Kisses: One of our 25 Favorite Roses

Tempus Fugit…it really does. 2015 has gone by in a blink and now the Christmas season is upon us with the New Year arriving in a few weeks. This means the spring flower shows and the start of our 2016 Lecture Series are right around the corner.
Our entertaining lectures, seminars and workshops are designed to illustrate to every gardener the enjoyment of growing roses. We have developed two new programs recently to add to our repertoire – “Rose Gardening Season by Season” which follows our second book, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, published last February. The second program is “12 Great Roses Anyone Can Grow” which identifies 12 attractive easy-care varieties.
RI Flower ShowWe open the season in February with two New England Flower Shows. On February 18, Angelina and I demonstrate basic rose care at the Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show and return the following day, February 19, to present “Rose Gardening Season by Season.” (See the complete list of programs, dates and times on the 2016 Lecture Series page. See tab above.)
Ct Flower  Garden Show BannerOn Saturday, February 20 we hit the road to Hartford and the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show with two programs. At 11am we present our “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens”, featuring several new Austin 2016 introductions. And at 2pm Angelina and I reprise our “Twenty-Five Fabulous Roses” program that we introduced last year. A busy weekend.
Boston Flower ShowWe travel north to Beantown on Saturday March 19, to début a special lecture at the Boston Flower and Garden Show called “Rose Gardening Season by Season – Let nature Show the Way.”

 

Olivia Rose

Olivia Rose Austin: 2016 David Austin Introduction       Photo by David Austin Roses

On April 2, in Newport RI at the American Rose Society’s Yankee District Convention, we again present “Twenty-Five Fabulous Roses”. And On April 7, we continue to promote sustainable rose gardening with “12 Great Roses Anyone Can Grow” for the Barrington (RI) Community School.
On June 18, Angelina and I discuss rose-garden basics at the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 18th annual rose show in Wickford, RI. This is a short talk followed by lots of Q and A from the public.
In between all these events our schedule includes visits to garden clubs and other horticultural organizations throughout New England plus time out for a trip to The Netherlands, Belgium and France, making early 2016 another busy season for Angelina and I.
So as one season melds into another, we again look forward to making new acquaintances as well as catching up with old friends, some that we only see once a year. With the New Year also comes the realization that we have been presenting lectures, conducting seminars and leading workshops on all aspects of rose culture for over two decades and yet 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.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Mike and Angelina

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It’s mid November and we’re preparing our rose gardens for winter before we put away the gardening tools. Last year at this time we were wrapping-up our 2nd book, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, and getting it ready for publication in time for the spring flower shows. This year Mike and I have started another project: a complimentary quarterly E-Newsletter called “The Northeast Rose Gardener.”

Since 90% of the questions we receive revolve around the nuts & bolts of basic rose care, we decided to publish a seasonal electronic newsletter to address fundamental rose gardening. In each issue of “The Northeast Rose Gardener” we’ll delve into on the seasonal tasks that need to be performed as well as basic rose horticulture. We plan to include tips and anecdotes from our two decades of rose gardening in the northeast corner of the United States.

Our first issue explains winter protection for roses and includes a few Do’s and Don’ts. If you would like to receive our free newsletter, send your email address to angie1@rosesolutions.net (Subject line to read The Northeast Rose Gardener) and I’ll add you to our mailing list.

To kick off “The Northeast Rose Gardener’s” debut, Mike and I are providing a Special Holiday Gift Offer on our web site www.rosesolutions.net

1.Note-CardsReceive 2 FREE note cards of my rose photographs of Sexy Rexy and Julia Child with the purchase of any 2 of our books. This offer is good until Dec. 17, 2015.
Happy Thanksgiving

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