Category Archives: Roses

today’s adventure

IMG_20160621_125634the girls and I took a little trip today , and like anytime we spontaeously decide to take off and see garden or two we call  it an adventure. It sounds much more exciting that way , and plus it always involves stops for lunch or ice cream, or both ,and maybe a little shopping too if there is time.
Today’s adventure was to Elizabeth Park in Hartford CT. Elizabeth Park is just over 100 acres of lovely gardens icluding a very formal bedding garden ,  a perennial garden , lots of beautiful open space for recreation, and a beautiful rose garden as it’s pièces de résistance.  I have had this trip on my must do list, but rose gardens in New england peak in late June early July and that time of year is never particularly free for me. So i dream all winter of how I can possibly fit it in, and finallhy this year had time and made the trek.

We did, in fact ,stop to smell the roses, every variety. We also took pictures of the labels on those considered potential additions to The Burrow. Throughout the girls would delight in the color of fragrance of  a particular rose ( Faith leans toward the traditional  look of the floibundas and Erin toward the wild and crazy ramblers)  and say ” this one would be good” to which I would often respond ” we have that one. It became clear to me that although I think there are many roses here it is a case of the familiar “too many yet not enough “syndrome that strikes every garden.IMG_20160621_125233

IMG_20160621_125936093Some roses can be finicky plants and here those that are grow in mixed borders for the most part so if they are not behaving other flowers and foliage will cover their sins. Mostly I grow them to go out and pick for the house or carry around and sniff as I work.   There are also many easy care varieties here, like loads of the Drift Roses from the breeders of the ubiquitous Knockouts, and several knockouts in both pink and red, Magic Carpet roses, and a few from the Earth Kind list put out by Texas A&M.

But the fussier ones are often a little more difficult to chance upon as you stroll, you have to know where to look. I hesitate to add more when I take a second to think about the losses ( Ebb Tide, Baby Cheryl, two William Baffins, Lion’s Fairy Tale, Golden Celebration, 2 of three Christopher Marlowes, Yellow  brick Road, Sharif Asma, Coral Magic Carpet, Pink Home Run, Don Juan, Several Iceberg climbers, the list could go on and on). Some were lost to rabbits ,, some to weather, and a few, including my favorite that I can’t find a replacement for ,Kiss Me from Easy Elegance.  were lost to the fence/pool construction.

So the question remains ……add more  and deal with growing struggles and loss or stick with what is working ? The answer , as you could probably guess is add more!

i really like ordering from David Austin Roses , so will probably stick with them , As we speak the catalogue is on my desk and the post- its are ready to stick. I was really drawn to the wine/purple  colored flowers today so will try to any in those colors to my list,. I may also branch out to look for one that especially struck me today called  Easter Basket .It  is a floribunda bred by Meilland and supposedly widely commercilly available, It also gets high marks for performance from The New York Botanical Garden which is a no spray rose garden .easter basket

Tonight I took a walkabout when we got home with the camera to see what’s going on here rose-wise  and things are not too shabby.  There are many ( maybe a dozen or so) that are still in tight bud, but those that are blooming are looking A-OK.

all the rageDSC_0003 (2)DSC_0005DSC_0006DSC_0008white magic carpetrugosa albachristopher marlowenew dawnrosa de'le'heyjulia child??crown princess margeretaDSC_0023can't find the tag, quitness maybe?DSC_0026 (2)drift pinkDSC_0032DSC_0037


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Down and Dirty Lessons: Training a Climbing Rose to Maximize Bloom

I was out snapping pictures and while I was capturing the rain laden blooms on ‘Cpt Sam Holland’ , a climbing rose, I was reminded of a lesson I give often when talking about roses.

To get the most flowers out of a climbing rose you need to know a few things about how the plant grows.

First and foremost, climbing roses grow on what are called main canes,  these are the primary canes that grow out of the base of the plant, These canes should always remain on the plant  and never be pruned off  unless you have severe die-back or disease issues.

Growing from the main canes are many side shoots, called lateral canes, or laterals  for short, and these canes are where the flowers will come from. Due to a plant behavior called apical dominance, when these canes are left to grow vertically  only the top ( ‘apical’) buds will produce flowers.

On the other hand, if you train the main canes horizontally all of the buds will be in essence the top, or apical buds and they will all produce flowers. In this photo I took, although the flowers are currently hanging down with the weight of the rain water, the main cane has been tied to grow at almost 90 degrees from the base,that is why there are flowers all along it instead of just at the top.DSC_0029

Below is  the uncropped photo so you can see the twine that is holding the cane horizontally ( the green stake below that is holding the another cane trained below  this one).DSC_0029

If you are growing a climbing rose on a pillar or obelisk, the way to train the main canes is to wrap them in circles spiraling up the structure so as you get as much horizontal placement of the main canes  as possible, and hence more flowers.

Paul Zimmerman, one of my fav rose experts, has some great videos that explain the process as well and the links can be found by clicking here

The laterals, or side shoots, are also the ones you want to prune when you need to reduce the size of  the rose . the grow anew each year so you won’t loose flowers if you cut them back.

So, in a nutshell, to get the most out of your climbing rose, train the canes to grow at between 45 and 90 degree angles from the base of the plant .DSC_0002

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Plant Profile: Rosa glauca

Way way back in the day I was on a garden tour and saw an incredibly  beautiful  rose in a shady courtyard. It was trimmed into a topiary-ish shape and covered in sweet little pink blossoms….but the foliage  was what stopped me in my tracks. Incredible glaucous blue leaves on red stems and it was  growing and blooming in the shade! I  asked the docents  ( and owner ) if they knew it’s name , sadly they did not. Nowadays I would instantly google and within seconds have said rose on the way to my home, but  there was no google! How did we ever cope!!! I didn’t even own a computer ,  so it was pen and paper that saved the day.

I wrote to a popular garden magazine, yep, a letter, in an envelope, inquiring if they knew of the plant in the photo ( an actual photo taken by a camera with film and then developed at a little hut you drove through to drop off and pick up pictures)  and then waited.  A few months later a copy of the answer given by one of the editors of the magazine identifying the rose in question  as rosa rubrifolia . I then ordered from a catalog recommended by the same editor , again via mail, my very first mail-order plant ( if I only knew then  where this would take me!).

Those original two roses that came in the mail from Spring Valley Roses traveled  here to live with us  in 1998 and still grace the back of the border. Lucky for me, and you, this rose, (now known as rosa galuca), is a species rose and  so all the seeds in the wonderful hips it bears in the fall will come true  and you can not only increase your stock, you can give some to your friends.  

This morning  as I went out to get some photos of tulips, I passed by one of the children of the original two and was just struck again by how much I love the foliage of this rose. Newly emerging red stems with both reddish and blue leaves….this particular one grows in the full sun and is quite a happy camper there although it’s leaves will be more red than one grown in the shade.DSC_0005

DSC_0006If you put rosa glauca into the search bar of my blog you will see how often I speak of it and use it in flower arrangements. I would guess about 40 +varieties  of  roses live here in The Burrow, and the only other one  adore just about as much is the new Easy Elegance ‘Kiss Me’ and that is  more flower and scent  related  than foliage. This rose used to be difficult to source, but is now readily  available at many online nurseries , like White Flower Farm, Digging Dog and even David Austin  I imagine because it is a favorite of Margaret Roach and often spoken of on her popular blog A Way to Garden .   You can prune this rose annually to keep it in bounds , it will grow to 8 or more feet tall  if you don’t. I leave mine to do as they will, cutting them back only every 5 years or so  just to tidy them up. It is hardy to zone 2  and has incredible disease resistance . Although it only blooms once, in June, who cares? All that dreamy foliage is what you are after and then those bright orange  hips  to light up the fall garden.




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A New Favorite Rose

012Saturday I had a lovely group of women here visiting from Milford, MA. On a garden tour when I am walking around with guests , I tend to  point out plants that are great performers, answer  questions about unusual things, and  never miss an opportunity to tell a visitor when to stick their nose in a flower…after all fragrance is one of the great joys of growing them!

The two most fragrant things in the garden now are the calycanthus florida, or sweet shrub that spreads its wonderfully fruity scent all over the Dog’s Garden for almost the whole growing season ( I have chatted about it before, and can’t recommend enough that you purchase and plant one immediately) and my new favorite rose called ‘Kiss Me’ .046

First off let me say how much I adore the name, Really love it. Find it charming and romantic. Want to say it over and over. Think Wil should be around when I do.

‘Kiss Me’ is a relatively new introduction from the Easy Elegance family of roses. They are bred to be long blooming , disease resistant, and grow on their on roots (not grafted).Those of you who have heard me talk on roses know I want it all…..disease resistant, water wise, fragrant,hardy, and lovely blooms…and don’t want to spray anything or fret about delicate specimens that succumb to every insect and pathogen east  of the Mississippi. This rose meets all my criteria, and them some.

I will admit  that in order to achieve my rose goals, I sometimes have to stop short on one or another of the criteria. Sometimes it is bloom size, or maybe fragrance. This rose does not require even the smallest of compromises.

Kiss Me is  a beautiful color, one that appears peachy from a distance, but is actually more pink than peach up close . Kiss Me’s  sturdy stems are just loaded with buds, and the fully opened flowers are about 4 inches across and  have the  romantic look of English Roses. The scent is sweet and slightly fruity, sort of like my other most favorite rose, David Austin’s  ’Christopher Marlowe’

So far the foliage looks glossy and untouched by the dreaded blackspot, and talk about vigorous! I ordered  this rose from White Flower Farm and it came as a rose typically does, a few bare canes and roots. I  placed it in a large container  just temporarily until I found it a permanent home……3 months later it is still in the container and doing beautifully. An added benefit of my laziness is that the container lifts it up to perfect height for inhaling the delightful scent, no bending needed! I will plant it in the ground in the fall and keep my fingers crossed it does well over the winter,but my experience with Easy Elegance roses on the whole is that they do fine here and I am sure it will overwinter without a problem.052

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Rose love

I adore roses. Let’s be clear, that statement is meant to include ALL roses, I am in no way a rose “snob” demanding a certain petal count, specific color, intense ( or even any) fragrance , or a pretty French name.

I like single roses, I like double roses, I like tea roses, florists roses, old fashioned ramblers, shrub roses, landscape roses, rose hips, gosh I even like rose potpourri.

I could do without the thorns that puncture my always gloveless hands, the blackspot that although it has yet to affect the bloom or life span of any rose here, looks messy, and the rabbit damage that still has me confused because they always chew the thorniest of the bunch and I just don’t get how they do not leave a blood trail from their evil little mouths when they do.

In September and October the roses here are one of the joys of my gardening year. They standout in full bloom taking up the slack from their  perennial bed mates that have gone past . The list of who is in bloom is always a long one , yet varies year to year . Right now all of the Drift Roses are in bloom filling up their corner of the world with sweet little blossoms clustered  tightly hovering over the ground ( they are in order  ’Coral’, ‘Peach’ ‘Sweet’ and ‘Pink’)005peach drift007Sweet Drift

The Knockouts, yellow ‘Sunny’  the double pink, and red are all positively smothered in flowers and buds.040024023

Three climbers, an unknown red and Captain Sam Holland, and ’New Dawn’ are still trucking along and ‘Sea foam’ is covered in fat buds ( picture is of its first flush of bloom earlier in the summer).Cptn Sam HollandNew Dawn043

I cut the last bloom off the very fragrant ‘Sharifa Asma’ last week and kept in on my desk  to inhale while I worked. ( I forgot to snap a photo, sorry, but really what you missed is it’s incredible fragrance and I can’t give you that anyway )

‘The Fairy has been in bloom since June non-stop, as has ‘Carefree Spirit’.031

                                                       Back for their late summer show after a short mid-summer break  are the Magic carpet roses ‘Alba’ and ‘Coral’ as well as two shrubs,  ’Julia Child’ and ‘All the Rage’ ( no photo)magic Carpet CoralMagic Carpet alba

Julia Childand the hips on Rosa glauca are incredible as always.rose hips

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Plant Profile: Peach Drift Rose

005 (6)Although I am familiar with the Drift roses, the first time I saw the one called Peach Drift I was in L_O_V_E. Drift roses are bred and brought to you by the same people who gave us the KnockOut! family of roses.

Let me just interject an opinion here ;) , I have heard many many  gardeners knock the knockouts. Just as recently as last week I overheard someone in a nursery saying with disgust “Don’t even show me any of those knockouts, I HATE them.” Ahem, why????  They  bloom their heads off, they are disease resistant, they tolerate all forms of neglect, they tolerate all types of soil and even do ok in shadier conditions, and the double pink and Sunny are fragrant, so what’s the problem? Don’t plant them if you don’t want to, but don’t knock a perfectly useful and beautiful garden plant without a good reason.

Back to the Peach Drift……..Any way, I was touring the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden when I spied Peach Drift absolutely foaming  flowers all around a set of benches in the garden. I drifted  over (couldn’t resist) and was immediately taken by the clusters of bloom that open from dark peach buds to adorable little yellow tinged mini roses and fade off to a more delicate shade of peach, and guess what?  they are ever so sweetly fragrant. I took tons of photos and added” Peach Drift” to my “must-have” list, then promptly left my camera on the train. Sigh

Here in the Burrow I  was already growing the Coral Drift, Sweet Drift, and Pink Drift and was continually struck by their long bloom time ( spring to hard freeze) and disease resistance. I was trying to figure out where I could squish in the Peach Drift when I came across the very plant being grown as a standard! Woo-Hoo!! Perfect! ( for those who are confused by the term, a standard is when a rose or other plant has been pruned into a sort of tree form, like topiary,) Not only does that make them easy to fit in  ( I grow other roses on standards nestled in between boxwood hedges) but it also lifts up the plant to the  perfect level for enjoying the fragrance.009 (6)

The two Peach Drifts I bought now grace the landing at the foot of my porch where we eat breakfast every day in good weather and are a constant source of delight.003

Some basic info: Peach Drift or Rosa Meiggili is a cross between a groundcover and a miniature rose. It is hardy in zones 4-11 and disease resistant. It flowers in cycles that last 5-6 weeks from spring until a really hard freeze ( not frost, it scoffs at frost). It is the most floriferous of the roses in the Drift series, and that is saying a lot! It will grow to about 1 1/2 feet tall to 2 feet  wide .

You can deadhead the spent flowers to tidy it up and speed up the bloom cycle , but if you don’t it will shed them on its own and re-bloom without your help. Since my Peach Drifts are being grown in containers, I will have to water and probably fertilize them, but in the ground they would not need such coddling.004 (5)007 (4)

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Garden Tour

We had a little garden tour here last weekend and welcomed some members of the Chartley garden Club ( thanks to Patricia for organizing), the Natick Garden Club , the Norton Garden Club and a few of my Master Gardener friends. the weather was spectacular, the promised rain showers fizzled into glorious sunshine by late morning and the temperatures stayed warm but never uncomfortable. Usually garden tours here end up on days that are in the 90′s with opresive humidity making a garden walk in the sun unbearable, but we lucked out and I am grateful.

In June there is so much in bloom , the butterflies , birds and other pollinators are busy busy busy and the gardens are so alive and vibrant it is a joy to show people around. Thanks to all who came to share the day!

Here is a slideshow of photos from the garden this weekend

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If you are local and you or your garden club are interested in getting notifications of tours and open days here, contact me via the contact link above and I will add your email to the list.

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Happy Spring….Get Ready for Autumn

Happy Spring! So how should we celebrate the vernal equinox here in The Burrow???? hmmmm, I know….Let’s plan for autumn!

All too often I hear  gardeners( and the general public too ) complain that late summer and fall  hold in store  a sad garden that is past its prime , brown and dull. Well that is just poor planning my friend. And when, do you ask ,is the right time to gear up for August and September? Why, it’s March of course!

Right now you should be assesing any downtime you may have had last fall and looking through nursery lists and of course shopping  for plants to fill the voids.

In late springtime , when the soil is drier and workable, it will be the time to plant out all the lovely perennials that will make your fall garden an absolute joy…and you need to be prepared!

Luecanthemum species, or mums as we call them are the obvious first choice, BUT most nurseries will only sell  them in the fall, when they are in bloom, and when they will likely not survive transplanting. They also sell varieties that are not winter hardy here in the North East  and are doomed to death at hard frost.

The trick, my gardening friends, is to order them direct from a grower or catalogue , and plant them now giving them time to establish before winter. The great thing is that almost all of them….though planted as teeny tiny starts….will grow and bloom within their first year, causing excited utterances upon viewing in September. Faribault Growers in Minnesota has quite a lovely selection, and extremely reasonable prices, and the plants arrive healthy and every single one of them I have ordered and planted in spring has bloomed that fall and overwintered just fine. An added  bonus is that Faribault  gives in their catalogue description the expected weeks of bloom for each plant so you can order several  varieties to have blooming over many weeks. How great is that?

Lest you think I am abandoning my  favorite plant, now is the time you should also be scooping up as many clematis plants as you can afford to add lots of color to the fall garden.Plant them to grow through lilacs,  forsythia, hydrangeas, once blooming roses, hollies……really just about any shrub for a much needed infusion of drama on your green blobs shrubs in August and September. Here is a partial list of who was blooming in my garden late last year…..

Comtesse de Bouchard


Elsa Spaeth

Pope John Paul II

sweet autumn (terniflora)

vitacella ‘Betty Corning’

texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty’



.                                                                     .                                                                                           ‘Dr. Ruppel’


tanquitica’Bill McKenzie’ and two herbaceuos species, joiniana’Mrs Robert Brydon’ , and integrifolia ‘Rosea’ ( all with no photos , guess I got lazy)

Not bad for a dull fall garden huh?

Don’t forget roses either. Spring is the only time to order and plant bare root roses and last year I had  lots that carried the garden right into late October .The latest were the knockouts- double pink and red, the drift roses both’sweet’ and ‘pink’, the polyantha “The Fairy” and  the magic carpet roses

Ending right before them were the David Austin’Christopher Marlowe’, ‘Carefree Spirit’, Easy Elegance “Yellow Brick Road’, ”Seafoam’ and climbers “New Dawn’ and “Iceberg”…who says roses are only for June???

Other easy to grow plants for late summer/fall are caryopteris or blue mist shrub which has many new variegated and yellow leaved cultivars, the new cultivars of Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon) many of which are sterile  so no seeding issues, late season hydrangeas like h.paniculata ‘Limelight’ and it’s new dwarf cousin ‘Little Lime’ , turtle head or chelone galabra, tricyrtis or toad lillies, and Naked Ladies or lycoris squamigera.

One plant I pot up now and play the ” indoors-outdoors game”, ( which is when you lug pots inside the house when cold or frost threatens and leave them outside on sunny warm days, and is only fun for spying neighbors who get a kick out of your wackiness), is dahlias. This plant is waaaay underated for the long season of bloom it can give you. Started indoors and easier than any seed you will ever grow, the dahlia tubers sprout quickly and grow very fast and are blooming quite early on here and last until several frosts finally  kick them down. Wether or not you overwinter the tubers inside, they are still a bargain for the amount of blooms per plant per season and great for cutting and arranging.

Those are my faves….do you have any I need to add?

Let’s  get planning!  Spring is here!


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….and speaking of roses

Tonight I am giving a lecture on “Easy Care Roses” at the Blackstone Public Library, so while I was out cutting some roses to bring along, I took the camera out and snapped some photos.

June is when the roses come in to their own and start what for many will be 5 months of bloom. That is a lot for one flower to give.The secret to a long bloom time, not having to  spray for foliar diseases, and NO DEADHEADING (my least favorite chore in the hot summer garden months) is the selction of the right cultivar, and that is what I will be speaking about.

I cheat a little here  and grow a few roses I would describe as anything but easy care, but I am weak sometimes, and their beauty and fragrance drew me in, and now I am a slave to their whims . But most I grow are super easy and put on a spectacular show all summer.

This is an unknown red climber given to me by my mother. It looks lonely today because it’s companion plant , a Betty Corning clematis, was looking very funky lately and got sent off to UNH Plant Diagnostics Lab yesterday.

This next one is a rose I can no longer find in cultivation from a series named after National parks and landmarks, it is called the Canyon Rose and is a large shrub, or as grown here, a short climber.

Not yet blooming, but loaded with buds (in this photo) is the rose we call Grammy’s Rose. It was grown from a cutting taken in my grandmother’s garden from a old fashioned rambler that was a gift from her mother in the 1930′s. It gets black spot like nobody’s business, and often powdery mildew too. It is thorny as all get out and blooms only once a year for five minutes (well really about 3 weeks. ) Here it is in bloom  so you can see why , besides sentimental reasons, I keep it around.

This pretty pink is Capt. Samuel Holland, one of the Canadian Exporer Series, I grow it as a standard…

and this is another climbing red(name unknown) growing on the arbor leading to the newest gardens.

The knockouts, pink hereand red are two of my favorite shrubs. They bloom like crazy.

Rosa Gluaca has just about finished blooming but it’s foliage will serve as the backdrop to my perennials in the back 40.

Flower carpet is amassed in bloom near the end of the boxwood walkway…

and New Dawn is just getting it’s act together after some horrible encounters with the rabbits.

Christopher Marlowe is my favorite David Austin rose, I love the color……

the pink rugosa is loving life where I planted way out back so it can run to it’s hearts content without having to be thinned which causes  me incredible pain since it is so thorny.

The Fairy rose is just starting to open for its summer long show

and yet to even open are Golden Celebration (another David Austin), Climbing Iceberg, Don Juan, and Carefree Beauty. I am glad they are not flowering yet, as it can get a little garish here at times, plus I like to extend the show as long as possible.

After they are finished blooming , many of them have beautiful hips (the seed capsules or “fruit” of the rose) of which RosaGlauca’s are my favorite. They are just starting to form now. Wish me luck tonight!

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