Posts Tagged ‘roses’

Celestial Eyes

Mike and I received our first Rose Catalogue in the mail last week which has us thinking about what roses we will add to our garden this spring. While word of mouth is the best way to find out about rose varieties that are sustainable and winter hardy for our climate, another way is to pay attention to what awards a rose variety receives.

Luckily, there are organizations that test varieties and designates them as winners if they meet certain criteria. The American Garden Rose Selections (AGRS), an organization that replaces the All American Rose Selection, is one such organization that tests and evaluates roses. Varieties that are entered into the program are planted and evaluated in 12 test gardens located throughout the United States for 2 years. They are evaluated for disease-resistance and ease of care as well as other criteria such as bloom form, fragrance, hardiness and plant habit. Varieties are awarded the AGRS designation based on regions. The closest test garden for us here in New England is the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, NY. Out of the 4 AGRS winners for 2022, two are Regional Choice Award Winners in the Northeast.

Pink Freedom (2018, Christian Bedard) – introduced by Weeks Roses/Spring Hill Nursery is winter hardy to zone 4. This pink shrub rose grows 4’-6’ high and 3’ wide, has 3½” blooms and is a good landscape rose. In addition to winning in the Northeast, it is also chosen for its performance in the Northwest, South Central and Southeast areas of the US.

Pink Freedom

Pretty Polly™ Pink (2019, David Zlesak) – introduced by Star Roses and Plants, is a Regional Choice Award Winner for the Northeast, Northwest, South Central and Southeast. This pink polyantha has cuplike blooms with a compact 2-1/2’ x 3’ wide habit. It is hardy to Zone 4 and attracts pollinators.

Pretty Polly Pink

The other two 2022 AGRS Winners are:

Celestial Night (2019, Christine Bedard) – introduced by Weeks Roses won in 3 regions: South Central, Southeast and Southwest. This deep purple floribunda has cupped and quartered old fashioned blooms, was also a Fragrance Award Winner and is hardy to zone 5. (Pictured as lead photo.)

Easy on the Eyes™ (2018, Tom Carruth) – introduced by Weeks Roses, is part of their Easy to Love series. This mauve shrub displays a large magenta/purple eye on blooms that have 15-20 petals and produces large clusters. It has dark green, glossy foliage, is hardy to zone 5 and won in 5 regions: North Central, Northwest, South Central, Southeast, and Southwest. It is also a Fragrance Award Winner.

Easy on the Eyes

All of these AGRS winners demonstrated disease resistance after going through a 2-year trial and may be roses to consider when looking for sustainable varieties to plant in your garden. For more information about AGRS and previous winners, visit their web site at www.americangarenroseselections.com

All photos are courtesy of the AGRS web site

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Purple Tiger

Striped roses, vivid streaks of two colors on the same bloom, add a colorful accent to a rose garden. Last spring, we planted two striped varieties in formal urns in front of one of our rose beds as focal points. Since we wanted something bright and striking, we selected two contrasting striped varieties, Purple Tiger and Scentimental. Importantly, these dazzling floribundas also have a compact mature growth habit well-suited to container growth.

Purple Tiger, a mauve blend (Christensen, 1991), is not a new introduction, but I love its purple and white blooms that produced dramatic stripe-like configurations on each petal. While “striped” is not an official color class  ̶   two-toned roses such as striped are referred to as blends  ̶  Purple Tiger has the appearance of stripes along its petals, especially from a distance. On closer inspection, you can see that each petal may display splashes of purple interlaced with white or splashes of white interspersed with purple. Either way, the striations and coloring of Purple Tiger is eye-catching.

Purple Tiger in Container

One thing to note, though, is that mauve roses cannot tolerate extreme heat. During our heat waves this summer, our Purple Tiger blooms shattered as soon as they opened. It may have done better planted within our garden that gets afternoon shade instead of in a container that was in sunlight most of the day. Water was another consideration. Both Purple Tiger and Scentimental had to be watered more often, daily in hot weather, since the soil in the container dried out more quickly than the roses planted in the ground.


Scentimental, however, fared better under hot conditions. This floribunda (Carruth, 1999) produces vibrant sprays of red and white blooms. The saturated red on each individual petal is nicely contrasted by the intermingling of white. While Scentimental appears mostly red, each petal is streaked with white, resulting in a striped or dappled appearance. An added bonus is its strong damask fragrance, all the more noticeable because of the large flowers that grow in clusters.

Striped roses attract attention by providing lively color and creating an impressive dimension to every garden. We chose Purple Tiger and Scentimental because we liked their colors but we could have picked any number of other striped varieties since there are so many to choose from.

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‘Eustacia Vye’ (Photo by David Austin Roses)

This year, David Austin Roses celebrates English novelist Thomas Hardy with two new English roses for American and Canadian Gardeners –  ‘Eustacia Vye’, and ‘Gabriel Oak’. These fragrant, vigorous and disease resistant varieties are available in 2021 only by mail order from davidaustinroses. They will be carried in garden centers starting in Spring 2022.

Eustacia Vye:

‘Eustacia Vye’ is a medium shrub that grows 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. It produces rosette-shaped mid-pink to apricot flowers with a strong, fruity fragrance that contain approximately 90 petals. An added bonus is the red-tinged stems which support each delicately ruffled bloom whose color gradually become paler as it matures. Winter hardy in USDA Zones 4-11, this beauty will flower from early summer through fall and maintains a bushy, upright growth habit. ‘Eustacia Vye’ is named after the beautiful and restive heroine of  Thomas’s The Return of the Native.

‘Gabriel Oak’ (Photo by David Austin Roses)

Gabriel Oak:

The striking deep pink blooms of ‘Gabriel Oak’ caught my eye and is now on my list of “must have” roses. This vigorous rose grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide, a perfect size for a home garden. In addition, it has an intense fruity fragrance, heavily-packed rosette-shaped blooms with 125 petals and lush dark green foliage. Named after the beloved character in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd,’ Gabriel Oak’ repeats throughout the season and is winter hardy in USDA Zones 4 – 11.

These two 2021 introductions are the latest additions of David Austin varieties that continue the late Mr. Austin’s passion for English literature. ‘Eustacia Vye’ and ‘Gabriel Oak’ join past introductions from Thomas Hardy novels  – ‘Bathsheba’ (named for the heroine in Far from the Madding Crowd) and ‘Wildeve’ (a character in The Return of the Native).

Even though it will be several months before we can plant roses here in southern New England, Mike and I can enjoy looking at the David Austin Handbook of Roses that arrived in the mail a few days ago. If you haven’t received a copy, go to davidaustinroses to request one.

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June Bloom in Chute’s Garden

It’s early February and the coldest time of the year, the landscape is still and winter’s long post-holiday shadow has drifted in. Despite the pall cast by the corona pandemic, Angelina and I are optimistically planning for the upcoming year that includes our 2021 Lecture Series, additional writing, and catching up on delayed projects.

Since in-person lectures are not currently possible, we have converted all of our programs to virtual formats like Zoom. We have been presenting Zoom programs for the past several months and will continue to do so for, at least, the early part of 2021.  The unanticipated benefit of Zoom, however, is the ability to present programs to groups in far away places that otherwise would not have been possible. For example, we spoke  to a group in New Jersey last fall from the comfort of our Zoom Room and avoided an 8-hour drive.

Last year as contributing editors, we wrote a column titled “Every Day Roses,” for the American Rose Magazine, the official magazine of the American Rose Society. The column included a series of five articles where we delved into sustainability, winter hardiness, hardy shrub roses, rose selection, and described our visit to Italian rose gardens, all topics of interest for everyday gardeners. The response was very positive and we have agreed to contribute additional articles in 2021.

Page reprinted from the March/April 2020 Issue of the American Rose Magazine

Our quarterly e-newsletter, The Northeast Rose Gardener, is available to anyone who wants to learn more about rose gardening in the northeastern United States. It’s written for New England gardeners by New England gardeners with each issue drilling down into some topic of rose horticulture specific to the northeastern climate. To sign up for the e-newsletter contact angie@rosesolutions. The Northeast Rose Gardener is free and we do not share email addresses with anyone. The next issue will be published in February.

Our 2021 Lecture Series includes some re-bookings that were cancelled last year as well as new ones. Our entertaining PowerPoint lectures, workshops and seminars are designed to educate and make rose gardening appealing to even the most reluctant gardener. (See the complete list of 2021 programs on the 2021 Lecture Series page.) For a description of our programs, visit our web site’s Program Page at RoseSolutions.

Most of the New England area flower and garden shows have been cancelled for 2021 with the exception of the Southeastern Connecticut Home and Garden Show scheduled for May 14 to 16 at the Earth Tower Expo & Convention Center at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. We have accepted an invitation to present our popular “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening.”  This program covers all the rose gardening basics including the right way to plant and prune roses plus lots of Q and A– everything necessary to grow beautiful roses in home gardens this spring.

(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  have been on the lecture circuit presenting lectures, conducting seminars and leading workshops for more than two decades and it never gets old. We are always  available to speak at flower shows, symposiums, conventions, and garden club meetings and with Zoom we can travel anywhere on the planet. 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, even if you live in Timbuktu, contact mike@rosesolutions – we can help.

So as we slug our way through these uncertain times during this winter of our discontent, rest assure that better times will return.

As we like to say, there is no one more optimistic than a gardener in January.

Happy New Year.

Stay Safe

Mike and Angelina

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The Louvre

Like many of you, Mike and I have been home bound since March. Back then, events we would normally attend, such as flower shows, were cancelled and non-essential businesses were closed along with our favorite restaurants. Since our two favorite things are traveling and roses (and going out to eat), we felt at loose ends. But we cancelled our trip to Santa Fe as well as all our lectures and concentrated on staying well and following the guidelines as they changed day to day. Things would get better and, as everyone said, “we’ll get through this.”

June Bloom in Chute’s Garden

We stayed busy working in our rose gardens, enjoying what was probably one of our best June blooms. We became familiar with webinars and using Zoom to attend meetings as well as provide our PowerPoint programs to rose societies and garden clubs. But after a few months, we started having what I call “travel withdrawal.” So I hauled out some photos of our memorable trips and watched some Rick Steves travel programs — which just made my withdrawal symptoms worse.

Mike & Angie at the Grand Canyon

While a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s no picture (or video) that can take the place of seeing something in person, whether it be a city, a historical site, or a rose garden. All the pictures of the Grand Canyon, for example, pale in comparison to standing on the South Rim and experiencing its vastness.

Renaissance Garden at David Austin Roses

All the photographs we saw of the gardens at David Austin Roses, while lovely, didn’t prepare us for the beauty and tranquility we saw and felt by being there in person. And Paris? One can only understand and feel the magic of Paris by strolling along the boulevards and backstreets, dining in small neighborhood cafes and exploring its museums, cathedrals, churches and parks.

As our travel withdrawal continued, we began thinking about our 2021 trip to France, a trip we were really looking forward to. Our itinerary was roughed in: we’d fly into Charles de Gaulle, rent a car then meander along the Seine through small towns on our way to Normandy. There we would spend a week rambling along the coast to Mount St Michelle, past Omaha Beach to Bayeux, Caen, Honfleur and maybe more. Then we’d head back to Paris for another 10 days to revisit our favorite places and take the train to various places like Lyon to see its famous rose garden. Voila. 

Four months ago we thought May 2021 was far enough away that surely Covid-19 would be behind us. Now, we don’t think so. Still, I wasn’t ready to scratch our plans just yet. So out of curiosity and boredom, I went on-line to see what international travel restrictions were in place.  

Sadly, what I found out is that, currently, non-essential travelers from the United States are not allowed in France. I also discovered that our favorite hotel in Paris, where we planned to stay, is closed indefinitely due to the pandemic. In addition, even if we were allowed to go to France, the thought of a long flight, despite the fact that planes are supposedly cleaner than they have ever been, was unappealing in itself. Taking all this into account, we realize that our 2021 trip just won’t happen.

So what about a road trip to a destination closer to home? At the present time, while travel restrictions between states here in New England change week by week, our travel options are limited and I don’t see that improving in the near future.

Armchair Travel Program

One way we have eased our travel withdrawal symptoms is by focusing on travel and roses, so we created an Armchair Travel program called “Rose Gardens of Europe,” a virtual way to visit the rose gardens at David Austin Roses as well as two Italian rose gardens — one in Rome and one in Florence. It will be ready to share with garden clubs and rose societies no matter where they’re located since we’re becoming more adept at Zoom presentations. It’s also a great way to remember and share our experiences at these memorable gardens.

River Seine – Paris

It seems there is no magic cure for our symptoms of travel withdrawal. If you have any suggestions, please pass them along. Meanwhile we’ll keep watching Rick Steves, pour over our photos with an eye to organizing them into additional Armchair Travel programs and with a few glasses of wine and good imaginations, we’ll be virtually walking along the River Seine and feeling the magic of Paris.

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Walsh Ramblers

In early July, Angelina and I visited Woods Hole, a picturesque seaside village located in the town of  Falmouth on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod. The main street is a typical Cape Cod scene with shops and eateries along the waterfront that leads down to the ferry landing. Here travelers can board the popular ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.

However, had we made this trip 100 years ago, the landscape would have been very much different. On the hillside by the road entering town, we would have seen potting sheds, greenhouses and rows upon rows of roses. These roses were hybridized and grown for sale by Michael Walsh and the roses he bred became known as Walsh Ramblers.



Walsh had arrived in Woods Hole in 1875 and worked for a time as a gardener. In the 1890s, he began hybridizing ramblers, a climbing rose form having long, thin, supple canes with large clusters of small flowers. These were characteristics inherited from Rosa wichurana , a species rose that Walsh used extensively in his hybridizing program and is in the near background of most of his ramblers. These climbers are once-bloomers with an extended bloom cycle lasting from late June through mid July.

100 year old Walsh Rambler

100 year old Rambler

The reason for our visit was at the invitation of  Gretchen Warren, a Woods Hole resident and Walsh Rambler expert. We met up with Gretchen at the Woods Hole Historical Museum, the starting point of her fascinating walking tour of Walsh Ramblers. This tour weaved through quiet neighborhoods only a few blocks away from busy Woods Hole Road. She began by explaining the history behind these roses and how they came to be. As we walked along these tranquil side streets, Gretchen pointed out ramblers growing casually by the side of the road, along fences, and up and over stone walls. Many of them date back decades when they were planted by nursery workers who had lived in the area. Others were planted in lush private gardens of friends of Gretchen who graciously welcomed us in to visit. These were intimate English style-gardens half hidden from the road featuring roses and lots of other plants. This remarkable longevity, also inherited from wichurana, was highlighted as we passed a robust rambler, believed to be a Walsh Rambler, in a front yard that has been reliably dated back more than 100 years.



Ramblers grow rapidly and possess above average –– way above average –– disease resistance. Gretchen pointed out a few cases of powdery mildew, but for the most part the foliage we saw was amazingly clean.


Lady Blanche

From the late 1890s through 1920, Walsh introduced 35 varieties  ––  a prolific achievement considering that his professional rose hybridizing career only spanned 25 years. Rose names are important for marketing purposes and Walsh had a fine touch. Charming names that we like include Excelsa, Arcadia, Evangeline, Hiawatha, Maid Marion, Lady Blanche, Coquina and Nokomis. (Gretchen gave us a rooted cutting that she believed to be Nokomis ––  fragrant pink and lavender blooms –– which I’ve planted along our fence with plenty of room to grow.)



Now knowing what to look for, we spotted anonymous feral ramblers in full bloom scrambling along stone walls and fences on the way out of town surviving nicely on rain water and nutrients gleaned from the soil.



It doesn’t get much better for a couple of rosarians than a day trip to scenic Woods Hole to explore Walsh Ramblers and enjoy the hospitality of Gretchen Warren.

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Therese Bugnet

Mike and I know our roses fairly well and can predict with some accuracy which will bloom first. Every year I keep track of  these first blooms in my rose journal and expect to see some buds open by the end of May. Below are some of our “first bloomers.”

It was no surprise that Therese Bugnet was the first to bloom in our garden in late May. This extremely winter hardy (to zone 3) hybrid rugosa has been in commerce since 1950. Its popularity continues because this is basically a “fool proof” rose that yields old-fashioned, very fragrant, medium pink flowers on a disease-resistant bush that grows 6’ to 8’ tall and repeats later in the season. She’s planted on the edge of the property and receives no water or fertilizer and definitely needs no winter protection.


Clair Matin

Historically, Clair Matin, a climbing rose, is another early bloomer in our garden. Introduced in 1960, we planted it over 20 years ago where it grows 10-12’ tall and 8’ wide. The medium pink blooms have a slight hint of fragrance and the June bloom on this large rose is impressive.


Scarlet Sensation (aka Everblooming Pillar No. 73)

Another climbing rose that’s been a fixture is Scarlet Sensation (aka Everblooming Pillar No. 73), introduced by Dr. Walter Brownell in 1954. The first of our Brownell collection to bloom this year, it has large dark pink, fragrant flowers that bloom in clusters on a bush that grows 8 feet tall. Hardy to zone 5, it also is very disease resistant to black spot. Unfortunately, it is no longer widely available commercially.


Prairie Princess

A newer addition to our garden is Prairie Princess, one of Griffith Buck’s winter hardy and disease resistant shrub roses. Mike planted it a few years ago and this year it produced its first blooms of the season on June 1. As you can see from the photo above, it has glowing golden stamens in the center of vibrant pink petals. We have it planted in the midst of chives in our sustainable rose garden.


Vanessa Bell

Last year we planted Vanessa Bell, a 2019 new introduction from David Austin Roses and the first of our Austin Roses to bloom. Vanessa Bell has beautiful, pale yellow many petaled, cup-shaped roses as well as a sweet tea fragrance.

It’s always rewarding to see these “first blooms” early in the season and know that in just a few weeks all the varieties we grow will join them in producing a spectacular June Bloom.

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Photo by David Austin Roses

If you’ve received David Austin’s Handbook of Roses for 2020, you have already seen the introductions available this spring for US and Canadian gardeners. If you haven’t received the handbook, you can read about Austin’s 3 new varieties:  ‘Tottering-by-Gently’, ‘Emily Brontë’,  and ‘The Mill on the Floss’ below.



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Photo by David Austin Roses

When we visited David Austin Roses this past summer, ‘Tottering-by-Gently’, a cheery yellow single rose, caught our eye, but we knew it would not be available in the US until 2020. While Austin roses are better known for dense, many-petaled roses, this is their first yellow single rose. And it is stunning. It has masses of flowers growing in large sprays. Its five petals surround golden stamens that attract beneficial insects as well as pollinators. This shrub has a musk fragrance and grows about 4 feet by 4 feet. Another benefit is it can produce orange-red hips if not deadheaded. ‘Tottering-by-Gently’ was named in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the cartoon of the same name, created by Annie Tempest, that was first published in “Country Life” magazine.


Emily Brontë

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Photo by David Austin Roses

What a charming rose Emily Brontë is with soft pink blooms of 100 petals. The soft pink is accentuated with pale apricot inner petals that surround a button eye. It is described by Michael Marriott, technical director and senior rosarian of David Austin Roses, as having flowers that “open with a fine tea fragrance” that changes in mid-bloom when “the tea fragrance wanes and old rose fragrance comes on strong.”  The growth habit is about 4 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide. It is named for Emily Brontë, well-known author of Wuthering Heights.


The Mill on the Floss

3 The Mill on the Floss

Photo by David Austin Roses

Unique coloration is distinctive of ‘The Mill on the Floss’. The deeply cupped blooms present as medium pink, but as they open further the pink becomes lighter and the petals develop a carmine-red outline. The rose blooms in clusters of 100 petals or so and have a nodding habit, characteristic of many Austin varieties. This rose, named for the novel by English writer George Elliot, has a sweet and fruity fragrance. Growth habit is 4.5 feet tall by 4 feet wide, but in warmer climates, it may grow larger.


These new introductions can be ordered as bare root roses from davidaustinroses.com. They will not be available at garden centers in the US until Spring 2021.

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Mike & Angelina’s Rose Garden in June

It’s January, the coldest time of the year. The rose gardens are dormant, the landscape is still and winter’s long post-holiday chill is just beginning. While this is the quiet time, Angelina and I are actively making plans for the upcoming year and preparing our 2020 Lecture Series.

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. New this year is “Rose Gardening Simplified” where we explain in simple, easy-to-understand language how to grow attractive, sustainable roses at home. (See the complete list of 2020 programs, dates, and times on the 2020 Lecture Series page.) For a description of our programs, visit our web site’s Program Page at RoseSolutions.

HomeGarden_Vert_2_23We open the season on Saturday and Sunday, February 22 and 23 at the 2020 Southeastern Connecticut Home & Garden Show at the Earth Tower Expo & Convention Center at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. We will present our popular “Roses for New England” program at 1pm on Saturday and 11am on Sunday. This home and flower show continues to expand its garden-related programming and we are delighted to be involved. We are looking forward to this mid-winter double header at this fabulous casino venue.


6 Boston Flower Show logoOn Friday, March 13, we return to the Boston Flower & Garden Showat the Seaport World Trade Center and debut our new “Rose Gardening Simplified” program. Gardeners throughout the region flock here every March looking for an early taste of spring. This flower show is very special to us and we always enjoy our annual visit and the large, enthusiastic Beantown audiences.


Maine FS logoAnd on Saturday, March 28, we pack-up for an overnighter to Portland, Maine to speak at the Maine Flower Show, our third year at the this show located at Thompson’s Point along the Portland waterfront. This year’s presentation is an updated “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” program with time for plenty of Q and A. The audience here is an eclectic mix from all over northern New England as well as Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes.


Garden at the 2019 Maine Flower Show

(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.)

On Saturday, May 2 at 10 am, we will be at Wildwood Nursery in East Greenwich, RI giving a lecture on basic rose gardening. This is part of the Rhode Island Rose Society’s annual “Rosefest”, a four-hour workshop on rose horticulture for home gardeners. Here’s an opportunity to learn rose care, including the best way to plant and prune roses from local rosarians. This event is free and open to the public.


3-Six-Simple-Steps-Title-SlOn Saturday, May 9 at 10am, join Angelina and me at Lincoln-Sudbury Adult Education in Sudbury, MA where we will present an expanded two-hour seminar of our “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” program. We cover all the rose gardening basics including the right way to plant and prune roses plus lots of Q and A– everything necessary to grow beautiful roses at home this spring. (Visit their web site: www.lsrhs.net/community/adult_ed or call 978-443-9961, x3326 for more information or to register).

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 Santa Fe and the American Southwest, makes early 2020 another busy season for us.

Mike and Angelina Chute

Mike & Angelina

We  have been on the lecture circuit presenting lectures, conducting seminars and leading workshops for more than two decades and it never gets old. We are always  available to speak at flower shows, symposiums, conventions, and garden club meetings 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, contact mike@rosesolutions– maybe we can help.

So, even as the snow flies and the thermometer plummets, there is no one more optimistic than a gardener in January.

Happy New Year.

Mike and Angelina

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Rhapsody in Blue

We received our first 2020 rose catalogue in the mail and inside was a stunning dark lavender-purple rose. This new introduction, ‘Perfume Factory’, is a hybrid tea and the photo shows it at its most perfect form with petals swirling around a spiral center. What caught my eye was the tantalizing, deep purple color and I knew almost immediately that this new beauty was the creation of Tom Carruth. (To see a photo of ‘Perfume Factory’ go to edmundsroses.com).



Blueberry Hill

Carruth, former Director of Research for Week’s Roses, has hybridized a series of mauve roses. Tom’s hybridizing quest for a “true black velvet purple” rose began with his introduction of  ‘Blueberry Hill’ in 1998. We originally bought the rose because its name took us back to the 1950’s and Fats Domino’s rock and roll version of Blueberry Hill as well as to the 1970’s with Richie Cunningham (Happy Days) belting out “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.” But the rose ‘Blueberry Hill’ earned its place in our garden with its unique light bluish-lavender ruffled petals that formed large 4” blooms surrounding yellow stamens.



Outta the Blue

Next came ‘Outta the Blue’, one of our favorites, when it joined our growing number of Carruth’s mauve roses in 2000. It has the look of an old garden rose with blooms of deep magenta flecked with gold. And the intoxicating clove fragrance of its numerous sprays, together with its disease resistance, makes this a most desirable garden rose. It is also is a good exhibition rose and has won Best Modern Shrub in our rose show.



Outta the Blue Spray

In an interview Mike had with Tom Carruth, Tom related that he easily recalls the exact spot on the bench in the research greenhouse where his eye caught sight of the first bloom of what would become ‘Outta the Blue’. He describes the rose as having “a glowing luminescence that no photograph has ever completely captured.”  I agree. I have photographed ‘Outta the Blue’ over and over and while some photos show its luminescence, none show the intensity of its color that can only be caught by the naked eye.



Route 66

Mike and I go through different color phases when selecting roses and we became captivated with Carruth’s mauve roses – hence we went through our purple roses period. Carruth introduced numerous mauve roses, including the deep purple ‘Route 66’ (Tom has a knack for naming roses and when we visited New Mexico we made it a point to travel along part of Route 66) and the floribunda ‘Ebb Tide’ (I remember the version of that song by the Righteous Brothers in the 1960’s) that has full, ruffled mauve blooms and a spicy, clove-like scent.


Ebb Tide

We didn’t limit our pursuit of purple roses to Carruth roses. One of our favorite purples is ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ (Cowlishaw, 1999), named after George Gershwin’s  iconic composition. While being influenced by the name and the music, it was the combination of the rose’s deep purple petals, streaked with white stripes, surrounding incredibly dramatic golden stamens, that attracted our attention. ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is very photogenic and while I have taken many photographs of this mauve beauty, my favorite is the one below that I framed and now display on our wall of rose photos.


Rhapsody in Blue

We may have outgrown our “purple rose phase,” but a rose as beautiful as ‘Perfume Factory’ is hard to resist and we may just reconsider.


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