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Posts Tagged ‘roses’

1-Longwood-GardenLast spring, Angelina and I chose to skip the hassle of TSA and the rigors of a long plane flight and instead decided on a long-awaited road trip. We packed up the car and headed south on a two-week journey, first to the Brandywine area outside of Philadelphia then on to Washington, DC followed by a meandering ride back home with a stop in Gettysburg. The first leg began with a visit to Longwood Gardens located in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, 30 miles west of Philly.

12-Longwood-Garden-EntranceLongwood had its beginnings in 1906 when Pierre S. DuPont purchased a neglected farm in order to save its arboretum from lumbering and began converting it into what would become one of America’s leading horticultural display gardens.

We arrived early on a sunny Tuesday morning in mid May, got our tickets and headed for the rose garden first. This garden was one of the smaller gardens in Longwood but was well maintained with a dozen beds of bush roses, each bed featuring a single variety. Most were in bud stage with peak bloom still two weeks away. One exception was a dazzling bed of Sparkle & Shine, a bright yellow floribunda.

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City of York – Back of Stone Wall

Just behind Sparkle & Shine was a feature that I especially liked, the unique way the Longwood rose gardeners displayed a row of climbing roses named City of York. These climbers were planted along the back side of a six-foot stone wall and then trained to grow up and over the wall and cascade down the front side. Since both sides of the wall received enough sunlight, they grew beautifully with thousands of tight buds tumbling down the front of this handsome stone wall waiting to open. The bloom must have been stunning.

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Topiary

As a backdrop to the rose garden was a Topiary Garden that contained over 50 specimens of yews in various shapes such as spirals, cones and animals.

We took a break here for a few minutes to enjoy the bright sunny morning then strolled over to the Conservatory, an enormous greenhouse with four acres under glass — twenty rooms of plants from around the world. The day we were there, gardeners were removing the displays of spring flowers soon to be replaced with summer annuals which in turn would be followed by fall plantings. Even though the conservatory was in seasonal transition, room after room featured showy floral displays. Very Impressive.

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Conservatory

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Conservatory

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Conservatory

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Mummy Pack

The conservatory even had a Rose Room – one that had several rows of rose bushes. What interested us was the IPM measures employed to control insects. No pesticides were applied but small packets of “mummies” were  scattered among the roses. Tiny wasps emerged from the mummies, looking for aphids on which to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch and the new wasplings eat the aphids which keeps them in check. While not a perfect solution, it seemed to work well enough and avoided chemical pesticides.

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Rose Room

After lunch we wandered over to a section of flower beds that were also in transition from spring to summer. One team of gardeners were digging up clumps of spring bulbs, piling them up into carts then hauling them off to the Longwood compost site. All vegetative matter was converted into compost and nothing was discarded.

Another nearby bed had already been cleared and a gardener was raking it out for planting the next day. According to the gardener, no soil amendments were added at this point but each bed would be amended with compost in the fall when spring bulbs were planted. She went on to say that each section of gardens had dedicated teams that maintained those same beds season after season.

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Wisteria

Nearby was the Wisteria Garden in full bloom. What a display of Japanese wisteria in lavender, purple and white. It was a major attraction and provided visitors with a unique photo op.

By now the weather was getting very warm and we were growing weary so we started back to the car, which was when we noticed the Rose Arbor. This circular arbor surrounded an area which is often used for concerts. We were too early to see the arbors in bloom which would have been a spectacular sight of American Pillar roses chosen by Pierre du Pont himself.

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Rose Arbor

Like other great gardens we have visited throughout the United States and Europe,  Longwood Gardens had clean, modern facilities and the gardens and structures were neat and well maintained with plenty of staff. We had expected a very high degree of horticultural excellence — the ultimate hallmark of every great garden — and were not disappointed. Longwood Gardens should be on every gardeners bucket list.

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June-Bloom - Chute's GardenA few weeks ago I wrote about our “First Blooms” while waiting with anticipation for this season’s June Bloom. Despite all worries concerning our unusually cold and wet spring, our roses bloomed “on time” (on or about June 17) and provided us with a spectacular display of color as well as plenty of possible entries for our RI Rose Society Rose Show.

Gathering roses for the show was not without some drama, though, with torrential downpours arriving in the afternoon and continuing throughout the evening before the Rose Show.  Luckily, we had plenty of roses to exhibit, having cut stems on the morning before the rain began.

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Grooming Roses at Rose Show

Participating in a Rose Show is another way to share our love of roses with other gardeners and is our primary outreach to the public. Here are some photos of our roses that made it to the Head Table.

 

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Graham Thomas – Best of Class Shrub English Box

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Passionate Kisses – Best Floribunda Spray

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Earth Song – Best Grandiflora Spray

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Dublin – Court of Honor

After the rose show was over, I spent the next two weeks wandering through our rose gardens and taking photos, not only as the garden peaked, but also as the June bloom slowly went by. This is when I get the best new photos to use in our PowerPoint lectures as well as here in our blog and our quarterly e-newsletter, The Northeast Rose Gardener.

 

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Champagne Wishes

We add and subtract varieties each season to keep the gardens fresh and interesting. One new rose we planted this year is the Easy Elegance rose, Champagne Wishes.

It looked even better in person than in the catalogue photos and is a lovely, creamy white rose with double blooms that stand out sharply against dark green foliage.

 

 

 

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Rhode Island Red

Our 21-year-old Rhode Island Red climber — which makes up part of one “wall” of our garden room — had an excellent recovery after very hard spring pruning and produced a bush full of heavy clusters of dark red roses. As I write this, RI Red is shooting out long heavy new canes justifying the dramatic haircut that Mike administered in April.

Clair-Matin

Clair Matin

On our other “wall” climbs Clair Matin, who blooms a week earlier than the rest of the garden and also finishes earlier. Clair produced an amazing display this season and, like RI Red, is reloading now for another bloom cycle in August.

Graham-Thomas

Graham Thomas

Standing alone in the center of our garden is the Grand Duke of the garden, Graham Thomas, which has fully recovered from 2016 winter damage, and is back to producing almost unlimited clusters of long, arching, buttery yellow sprays with fresh blooms opening over night.

Playboy

Playboy

Somewhat hidden by the size of Graham Thomas is our Playboy rose, a fickle floribunda with a radioactive combination of scarlet and gold flowers.  I was able to catch a photo of one of its sprays at its peak. Note the glossy, dark green foliage.

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American Beauty

We had a few roses that really went crazy this season, dazzling us with their floriferousness. One is American Beauty, a hybrid perpetual that traditionally is a bit stingy with its roses. As you can see in the photo, though, this year it gave us spray after spray of fragrant blooms. For a rose that is supposedly a bit tender for our New England climate, I’ve concluded that this old garden rose is more than happy in its spot in the garden where it is nestled in between two modern, hardy roses.

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The McCartney Rose

Another rose that outperformed itself this year is The McCartney Rose. Even more fragrant than American Beauty, The McCartney Rose threw out long sprays of delicate pink roses. The blooms don’t have the greatest form for a hybrid tea, but its saturated color and intense old rose fragrance more than make up for its casual form.

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Passionate Kisses

Passionate Kisses, besides being a prolific bloomer and good exhibition rose, creates a very nice display of floating blooms. Here is a photo of blooms 5 days old.

Chute GardenIt’s hard to capture the beauty of a rose garden through pictures, but since the June Bloom comes around only once a year, photographs will have to do — until next year.

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Clair Matin

Every season I wait to see which one of our roses will bloom first. Traditionally, it’s usually our big climber, Clair Matin. Despite the cold, rainy, dank, dreary, dismal, sunless weather we’ve experienced over the past few weeks (just a few days ago the temperature topped out at 49º), Clair Matin began its June Bloom right on schedule at the end of May, with its first bloom.

3-Clair-Matin-bush-6.4.17Clair Matin on June 4 above. Clair Matin on June 9 below. What a difference a few days make!

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Not so with our other roses that opened almost a week later than last year. While our Yellow Brick Road rose bush was full of buds ready to burst for days, the  first bloom finally opened on June 5. But it was worth waiting for because, atypical of its normal deep yellow, this first bloom had a more intense yellow more commonly found in autumn roses.

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Yellow Brick Road

The Earth Song Mike propagated and has growing in a pot bloomed the beginning of this week. As you can see in the photograph, Clair Matin, in the background, is full of blooms while the rest of our garden is still in the bud stage.

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Earth Song

A few other roses were “early” bloomers.  I found one Macy’s Pride while I walked through the garden with my camera.

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Macy’s Pride

Just yesterday Mike took a photo of Playboy.

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Playboy

The garden is finally starting to show more color and I am hoping that with a few warmer, sunny days, the rest of the garden will bloom in time for the RI Rose Society Rose Show on June 17.

You’re all invited to attend the Rose Show which is open to the public from 1:00 to 3:30 PM. Admission is free and there’s plenty of parking at the North Kingstown Community Center, 30 Beach St. Wickford, RI.

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The holiday season is over and planting passions are rising like sap in a maple tree as gardeners have been waiting impatiently for the holiday hullabaloo to fizzle out. Paper and online plant catalogs are arriving daily, fuelling this annual horticultural mojo. There is no one more enthused, more filled with anticipation and more optimistic than a gardener in January.

2-creating-an-easy-care-rosThis also signals the beginning of our 2017 Lecture Series and we can’t wait. Our entertaining lectures, seminars and workshops are designed to illustrate to every gardener the enjoyment of growing roses. We annually review, revise, and refresh our program list as well as add new ones. We are currently developing a new and different program based on our travel and garden experiences. We are excited about this and will have it ready later in the year.

Our 2017 season starts with some sad news as well as some good news. The sad news is the demise of the long-running Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show where we presented annual lectures and rose care demonstrations since the late 1990s. We will miss the floral flash of color and the pungent tang of fresh mulch each February.

Boston Flower ShowThe good news is we return once again to the Boston Flower and Garden Show on March 25 at 2:30 with a unique PowerPoint program and lecture titled “Twelve Super Roses Anyone Can Grow” which follows this year’s show theme “Superheroes of the Garden.”  (See the complete list of programs, dates and times on the 2017 Lecture Series page.)

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Mike speaking at 2016 Boston Flower Show

On April 8 at 10 am, we will be in the Victorian Rose Garden in Roger Williams Park in Providence with a hands-on pruning demonstration as part of the RI Rose Society’s “Rose Day,” when we open the Victorian Rose Garden. Come learn spring rose care, including the best way to prune roses, then practice on bushes in the garden — bring pruners and gloves. This event is free and open to the public

Saturday June 17, at 1 PM is the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 19th annual rose show in Wickford, RI. Join Angelina and me at New England’s premier display of  roses of every type and color.

On Saturday, November 11, we will be back in the Victorian Rose Garden with the RI Rose Society, providing tips on fall rose care along with a demonstration on winterizing a rose garden.

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In between these events our schedule includes visits to garden clubs and other horticultural organizations throughout New England plus time out for a springtime motor trip along the Atlantic coast through Philadelphia, Washington, DC and down into the Carolinas with lots of stops along the way.

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Angelina and I have been on the lecture circuit presenting lectures, conducting seminars and leading workshops for over two decades and it never gets old. We are available to speak at symposiums and conventions and will travel to just about anywhere. We can customize programs and even produce one-of-a-kind presentations. We continue to add bookings throughout the year so keep checking in. As always, if your organization needs a program at the last minute maybe we can help. Contact me at mike@rosesolutions.net.

Happy New Year

Mike and Angelina

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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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Natural materials gathered locally make great garden hardscape. We embellish our gardens with an eclectic mix of local stone, quahog shells, an old concrete bird bath, stepping stones, and a large piece of driftwood.

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Driftwood Serpent

We even include seaweed mulch that adds visual interest as well as a soil amendment. These coastal items make sense because, after all, Rhode Island is the Ocean State surrounded on three sides by Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

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The use of stone dates back to the beginning of time. From the famous Poulnabrone Dolmen in the Irish Burren to simple cairns, man-made stacked stones are used as landmarks, trail pointers and indications of ancient burial sites.

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Poulnabrone Dolmen

Last year when Angelina and I were in British Columbia, we discovered another unique use of stone called Inuksuks, stones assembled in the shape of a human being, widely used in arctic regions.

6-Stone-Man-2We employ all these natural elements as creative, easy-to-make garden hardscape that adds interest and welcomes visitors into our garden room of roses.

The Inuksuks, or stone men as I call them, are the latest addition to our garden. Any stone will do as long as it can somehow be stacked one upon the other without toppling over as soon as I turn away. As I am no mason, I quickly discovered that flat stones become important. I’ve now divided my stone cache into leg stones, arm stones, neck stones, and head stones.

7-StonemenI even stacked small stones to make a gang of stone boys hanging out under Graham Thomas. I use no adhesives, just gravity and a few well placed shims to keep the stone people upright. I keep the size of the stone men in scale with the roses, adding a sense of strength that does not distract from the horticulture.

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The Stone Boys

I like my stoic stone men; each one is different; each one is my new garden buddy. It’s mid summer now but looking ahead to the end of the season when the garden is completely dormant and roses are dozing, I expect these sturdy, snow covered stone people will serve as steady sentinels in the silent stillness of the winter garden.

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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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