It’s August. August in the garden in general means early mornings, pace yourself, and you can only do so much.
As I get older I have a hard time with humidity. So until this morning I have not been out in the garden very much in the last week or so. The combination of hot and humid has left the garden somewhat bedraggled.
I got out there in the garden early this morning because I had to focus the sprinkler on specific planting beds – because if you don’t get up and do the sprinkler early it’s useless the water just evaporates as the heat of the day sets in.
I also had to check out a Japanese maple which is suffering from heat stress. I can only pray at this point that the plant will make it and it looks so awful because one day it was beautiful red and healthy and the next day the leaves started to look shriveled and shrunken
I had forgotten the Japanese maples in fact have a widespread but fairly shallow root system. I did have a Japanese maple do this decades ago and I thought it was a goner and cut it down and it sent up new shoots from the roots the following spring. So I am going to leave the tree be and see what happens next spring. Hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to me.
Today was also a day to deal with my roses. I love them and always have. Today was the last drench of systemic feed, systemic insecticide, and systemic disease control for the season. Depending on how things go it will also probably not be a bad idea for me to give them a drink with seaweed extract and a little Epsom salts and or pulverized banana peels in a week or so.
People like to get all uptight about chemicals. I am a cancer survivor I use them judiciously. Roses and other shrubs and trees need them once in a while especially now that we have to deal with the spotted lantern fly (which in nymph form does like roses.)
I use the Bayer 3 in 1 Rose and Flower Care on my roses. It contains the three chemicals that are found to kill spotted lantern fly after they ingest it.
Bayer does not compensate me in any way for mentioning this product. I mention it because I use it. In spring when the roses get their first dose I use the granular version. From June forward I use the drench. I will note that I do not really spray for bugs or disease since I use this product.
The seaweed-type fertilizer I use is Irish Organic Fertilizer. It has the sea weed but it also has goodness from Irish peat bogs. Humic Acid and Moor Water blended with organic seaweed. (Read more about it HERE.) I will also note I use this inside with houseplants as well all year round. Orchids in particular love it.
I was a test garden for this Irish Organic Fertilizer when it first was introduced here in the United States a couple of years ago, but I buy it all year round at this point. I buy it off of Amazon.
Back to my roses. All in all, in spite of the weather it has been a lovely year for roses. I have some I thought were dead that I basically put in little corners of my garden where I have plant infirmaries, and today I had to add a rose obelisk to one because it had recovered so nicely!
While I was out with my roses, I not only weeded around the base of all of them, but I did some deadheading and I also did some pruning to remove some canes that were causing issue with airflow in the middle of my rosebushes, and/or didn’t look so hot.
One problem I have a constant battle with in this garden are rose borers. And when I cut a cane I seal the top with one of two things: nail polish or wood glue. Yes nail polish.
David Austin Rose “Benjamin Britton”
My new roses that I planted this spring are all doing really well. The champion grower is the David Austin English Rose Benjamin Britton. It is a vigorous and gorgeous rose!
The rugosa roses I planted which were antique and old garden rugosas are coming along. The one I purchased from Antique Rose Emporium in Texas called Mary Manners is the most vigorous so far. It bloomed once in a couple of spots when it was tiny and now it has sent out a lot of growth and next year will be fabulous. It was a vigorous grower when I had it in my parents’ garden decades ago.
David Austin Rose “James L. Austin”
The other rugosas I planted at the rear of the berm bed that runs down the side of the driveway came from Heirloom Roses in Oregon. Blanc Double de Coubert (another vigorous grower that I had in my parents’ garden years and years ago) and Bayse’s Purple Rose are also growing really nicely and I can’t wait for next year!
I chose old rugosa roses because like most old and antique roses they are very disease-resistant and they are so thorny the deer don’t like them yet they are habitats as they grow for other animals like birds. The berm bed rugosa roses will eventually help me back the rear of the bed and next year I hope to add more old or antique roses at the back of that berm. I have my eye on Madame Hardy and Comte de Chambourd.
A white David Austin rose “Winchester Cathedral”
The found rose I planted from Antique Rose Emporium has also been terrific. I have been getting its name wrong all summer so I looked it up on their website. Caldwell Pink and I highly recommend it. It is an old rose and it has been blooming nonstop all summer. It gets these little button size carnation pink blooms that smell heavenly. It is called a found rose because they’re not really sure where it came from but it was found in a little town called Caldwell, Texas.
I should probably note that the roses I plant are not only bare root they are own root. I have mentioned this before because when you pay to buy own root roses they are not grown on root stock. They are grown and on their own root and might be smaller when they arrive but you will have in my opinion a much healthier vigorous plant as time goes on.
I will admit I kind of ignored my roses as it got really hot except for occasional deadheading. And they survived. They either got watered by torrential downpours or when I set the sprinkler. During the worst of the heat I gave everybody a little bit of Epsom salts. I do that about three times during the growing season but you have to be careful how much you use because you don’t want to upset the mineral balance in your soil.
A lot of people in the US when they plant roses plant them in sort of standalone beds. Often it’s only roses in a particular flower bed. I look at roses a little differently. I plant them in the English and Irish style. In other words, my roses are in among the rest of my plants.
My style of gardening is easiest described as cottage garden with shade and woodland garden beds. I definitely have a layered garden and it is also turning into a very nice four seasons garden.
My favorite kinds of gardens are the ones that hold your interest in the middle of winter just like they do in the middle of June. I don’t know if that makes sense to a lot of people but that’s what I like. I like having something to look at 12 months of the year.
Now that the last leg of summer has arrived I pretty much do maintenance until the fall. I have not religiously deadheaded things like coneflowers (echinaceas) and hostas and even bee balm (monarda). I have done some deadheading but a lot of it I have just let Mother Nature take her course.
As a lot of the hydrangea blooms fade and die I will trim them because that’s the way you keep the bushes in check. That little bit of deadheading you do really helps keep the size of hydrangeas to where you can deal with them. The one exception to that rule are my Oakleaf hydrangeas on the edge of the woods on the far side of the deck. I rarely prune those. I love their wild look on the edge of the woods.
I know a lot of people are feeling discouraged in their garden this time of year. August is tough. And what makes it more difficult is we are experiencing climate change. So the extremes have been really extreme the past couple of summers.
But don’t lose hope, Garden a little bit at a time and soon it will be September and the temperatures will get a little more even.
Roses are my first gardening love. So once again, I have stopped fighting it. When I evaluated my existing roses it was still winter. But even then I could see which ones I had lost completely. And another which had been weakened by black spot. So I ordered two more David Austin‘s own-root bare root which are already planted and starting to sprout growth – Benjamin Britten and England’s Rose.
England’s Rose courtesy of David Austin Roses
I also decided I wanted rugosas. People think of them as beach roses. You can see them all over, especially New England. They are salt resistant and wind resistant and winter hardy.
Blanc Double de Coubert.
Now they are among the thorniest of roses and I might well curse them vigorously as they grow BUT hey, they are also naturally vigorously disease resistant (less chemicals yay!)
The prickliness of rugosa roses makes them deer resistant yet friendly to birds and small wildlife.
Rugosa roses are also known for their magnificent rose hips. And people make jam from them. Rugosas have smaller, more wrinkled and almost leather-like leaves. Native to the coasts of Japan and Korea, I have decided they would fit with some of my other Asian lineage plants in this garden.
Bayse’s Purple Rose
I decided to go to Heirloom Roses for rugosas. They are located in Oregon. I ordered from them years ago. I don’t think the company is owned by the same people any longer, so I will hope for the best. I have bought a white rugosa I owned years ago, Blanc Double de Coubert. The second one is Bayse’s Purple Rose.
But always a glutton for punishment, I decided to check out another favorite rose source from days gone by – Antique Rose Emporium.
From Antique Rose Emproium I have bought two more roses. The first is another rugosa named Mary Manners. They describe her thusly:
‘Mary Manners’ originated as a white sport of ‘Sarah van Fleet’. It is much more than just another sport though. It’s one of the whitest roses out there and as a Rugosa, you can count on it being a tough landscape shrub. Try using it in place of ‘Iceberg if you have lots of black spot in your area.
They had me at “if you have lots of black spot.”
The other rose sourced from Antique Rose Emporium is a found rose. Found roses are so much fun. They are often lost roses discovered by people. I literally had this book in my garden book library for years called In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher. This is about the search for “old roses”–the original breed which all but vanished after 1867, when roses were hybridized. Not of interest to most people, but I loved it. I recently found a used copy of the book and am happily reading it again.
This everblooming rose, “Caldwell Pink”, is one of the most popular roses with landscape designers in our area. Its double, lilac-pink flowers form clusters that can be seen at a distance, and the compact bush fills out nicely with a minimum of pruning and maintenance. It is not very particular about soil conditions, but prefers a sunny open space. Some rosarians have suggested that this is the old China rose, ‘Pink Pet’, but we feel that it shows traces of wichuraiana or multiflora heritage and fits more naturally in the Polyantha class. The study name comes from a neighboring town, Caldwell, Texas, where this rose was found
I have a bed along the driveway where I am going to rearrange and add in the rugosas. Caldwell Pink will go in a front bed after a bit of rearranging there.
Rearranging. That is all about garden evolution. As your garden grows, so may your vision of it. So has the case with mine with my roses. I love my David Austins and I have a monster Queen Elizabeth who was rustled by me a few years ago when a nursery was closing. They were just going to toss her out. Queen Elizabeth is a Grandiflora and she is a beautiful tall and fragrant pink rose.
I have decided to experiment with found and rugosa roses because of the disease resistance and although super throny, that is a benefit in keeping deer off of them. But especially with the rugosas they are a rose that as they grow birds love to nest in them and little critters nest below because of the very thorny nature.
My garden is a layered cottage style in front especially, so I need to start experimenting with roses which can be more self-sufficient. And do not require tons of pruning. Rugosas grow glorious hips so it is a rose you do not have to completely dead head if you so choose. You can allow the spent blooms to go to hips.
In other garden news, black haw viburnums arrived today along with my shag bark hicory seedlings. I ordered them from GoNative Tree Farm in Lancaster, PA. They sent me a black gum tree as a present. Black Gums are new to me, so I will have to learn about them and into the rear of the woods it will go.
The last word today are some more current garden photos of my garden. I will note the sky at present is a stark contrast of shades of steely gray with the new green of trees leafing out. We are definitely getting some weather later.
In the 1990s I submitted two articles to the American Rose Society. But when they changed their website from ars.org to rose.org, my articles got lost. I still have the old link to one of the articles, but it goes nowhere. So I decided that twenty plus years later it was time to update one of my articles for the way I garden today.
Call it Roses Thrive on Routine 2.0.
I am now a zone 6A rose enthusiast. Sometimes on some websites, I pop up as a 6B. I used live in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the “Main Line”. Now I live in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
I planted my first rose bush with my father and paternal grandfather when I was fairly little. The rose bush was a Hybrid Tea called John F. Kennedy (my late father’s favorite rose and still one of the most majestic white hybrid tea roses when you can find it), and I have been in love with roses ever since.
My roses used to be my ultimate garden obsession as well as my favorite garden element. They still are a favorite, but as I have grown as a gardener and as my gardens have changed over the years, they have become part of the garden, but not the center of the garden as they used to be. Some years are better than others growing them. That is just the way it is, as it is for other plants in my garden.
When I wrote the article my garden was my parents’ garden. I planted and maintained that garden based upon what my mother preferred, which generally speaking was white and pale flowers, à la Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West’s garden in the UK. (Who was Vita Sackville-West? She was an English poet, novelist, and garden designer who lived between 1892 and 1962.)
In my opinion, routines work as well in the garden as they do in the house. I have
a few basics that would be my pleasure to share. I have updated this for my current best practices.
Once you have established a routine in the garden for your roses, you will not be able to imagine how you could live without a rose or two. When I first wrote this article my then garden has 51 rose bushes. Today I have around ten, depending on what made it through the winter.
I believe in good mulch for my roses. Back then I used to only use licorice root and cocoa hulls (please note that cocoa hulls can grow a fuzzy layer of mold when it is damp, which is unsightly, but has never harmed my plants), or buckwheat hulls mulch. If I couldn’t get licorice root, I looked for a good triple-shredded mulch. I lived on the Main Line and I not have a garden half in the woods so today I used two things predominantly: wood chips my arborists chip down from my own hardwood trees and shredded and not shredded leaf mulch. Thanks to listening to Jenny Rose Carey at a lecture last spring I discovered the fun of having a leaf shredder. The one I purchased is by Worx and is rated number 1 in reviews and is very reasonable in price.
Worx brand leaf shredder
I still mulch twice a year: in the spring for the growing season, and in late fall to provide a winter blanket. In the spring, I USED to remove as much as possible of the old mulch from the winter and previous summer, and apply approximately one-and-one-half to two inches of mulch everywhere. As what I am using now (hardwood chips and shredded leaf mulch) enriches my soil and breaks down beautifully, I no longer have to remove my old mulch.
And if you buy triple shredded mulch from someone , for God’s sake do NOT use COLORED mulch. That dyed stuff is awful. It doesn’t break down properly and the dye will get on your hands and feet and clothes as you garden and on your pet’s paws, babies’ feet and so on. I also no longer use the cocoa mulch ever because dogs eat it and as that is what chocolate comes from and chocolate is poisonous to dogs, I have erred on the side of caution. Besides the fuzzy mold that would grow got to be a bit gross.
I want my roses to breathe, so there is an approximately five-inch magic circle from the base of my rose that only has a peat moss “jacket” (a jacket to me is peat moss only), but no mulch. In the late fall when I apply my second mulch dressing, it merely goes over the old mulch and covers the crowns of my roses. This is where I especially like the shredded leaf mulch now. It is light and fluffy on my flower beds. Every plant benefits, not just my roses.
As far as my soil goes, I used to follow the same routine every year. Now, I work any of the following ingredients into my rose and perennial beds depending on what I think is needed: peat moss, dehydrated cow manure, cottonseed meal, green sand, dried blood, bone meal, and some iron sulfate. I also like the lobster compost, chicken manure and mushroom soil.
Lobster compost is a newer obsession. It is made with chitin and calcium-rich lobster shells, compost and peat humus. The result is a dark-brown, complex soil that drains well and is ideal for conditioning beds and borders, vegetable gardens, herbs and annuals! The stuff I buy is usually made by Coast of Maine. Coast of Maine sells great products and if you look (or ask them) they can tell you locally where to find their products or on Amazon.
Minus the peat moss, you will find most of these ingredients in their chemical form in a granular rose food. Most of these granular foods and separate ingredients can be easily located at your local garden center or hardware store. For those who feel most comfortable with a pre-mixed granular, I would still strongly recommend also including soil amendment as needed. It is always important to keep your soil happy. Happy soil equals happy rose bushes!
After the soil is amended when needed, I apply a weak epsom salt tea to encourage new basal growth. I am always careful to use epsom salt judiciously because it is not a good thing to build up too much of a magnesium residue over time. When magnesium is built up past the essential mineral level, it can stunt growth instead of helping boost new growth. This is why that throughout the growing season, I will give my roses and perennials and annuals a boost with Irish Organics Humic. It is one of my favorites – it is a kelp (seaweed) and peat mixture from the bogs of Ireland. This is my friend’s product and I was a test garden early on when they were first bringing it into the US. It is incidentally, certified organic in the US. (OMRI)
Once my roses have shown me at least one and one-half inches of new growth each spring, I dig in my granular feed. I will tell you I use a systemic granular feed that has insecticides and fungicides. I usually do this around Mother’s Day because where I live that is when the danger of frost is mostly over.
Then , I apply a little more peat moss and then my mulch. Also, whenever I have banana peels, I use them into my rose beds. Banana peels are the true junk food of roses!!! They love the boost a banana provides from potassium and other elements contained within the banana and its peel. I learned about Banana Peels from Old Wives Lore for Gardeners by Maureen and Bridget Boland. You can still find these books on Amazon and Ebay and from other used book dealers. They also recomeend beer for hollyhocks. It’s a fun book.
I have learned to make my old banana peels into a rose smoothie, so to speak.
I used to dig the peels in around the base of each bush, but given the critter population living with woods and farmers’ fields I have developed a rose smoothie which I dig in around the base with a small spade I use to transplant seedlings.
The formula for the smoothie is I collect a bag of banana peels and keep them sealed in a plastic bag in my freezer until I use them. Then I rough chop the peels and toss into the blender with whatever spent coffee grounds I have on hand and a couple of cups or so of very warm tap water. (I never drink flavored coffee and I would never recommend using artificially flavored coffee grounds. I don’t know how the artificial flavor chemicals would affect the plants.)
The consistency of this smoothie for rose bushes should be on the thick side , but pourable. I don’t take my blender outside I pour the goop into a plastic pitcher. I then go around to each bush and dig a few ounces in around the base of each bush. I have a standard sized blender and only a few rose bushes right now, so one batch of rose smoothie is all I need every time I do this.
I will feed my roses this concoction every two weeks until Labor Day. Sometimes I am not so religious about this as I have a large garden, but I try my best.
As far as pruning, I have these thoughts: everyone should own a good pair
of pruners used only for their roses and own a good, basic, descriptive rose book. I am partial to ratchet-action pruning anything these days, in addition to the bypass pruning shears. And pruning shears are not indestructable. I have some old-school by-pass pruners I
can still get sharpened if I can find someone to do it, but the others? Like vacuum cleaners they have to be replaced every few years.
Pruning is such a visual thing to learn, and that is honestly how I learned: descriptions, photos and diagrams. I purne from around Halloween into November, and again lightly in mid to late March when I can see what the winter damage was. And keep those pruning shears clean!
With my roses I have also learned a lot from Monty Don, who is has several English television gardening shows including Gardeners’ World (in the US we can get this on streaming services a little bit but not all of the season), writer and speaker on horticulture. My other main go-to source is Fine Gardening. Fine Gardening is the best U.S. based gardening magazine and buying a subscription also gets you unfettered online access to their articles and tips and so on and so forth.
I will use an old toothbrush just for the purpose of cleaning my hand held pruning shears . I mix a weak solution of bleach and very warm water in a metal bowl. I use the toothbrush to thoroughly clean them . Then I rinse the pruners well under running water and wash them again with a little mild dish soap, rinse them again
and dry them carefully.
These gauntlet gloves are by Fir Tree. I own a pair of this brand.
Also, do not forget to invest in good gardening gloves. When dealing with roses, average hand covering only gardening gloves won’t do. You need gauntlet gloves. I will also note I go through a LOT of regular gardening gloves in a season. But the gauntlet gloves I bought are now into their fourth year and still in great shape. I bought the Fir Tree brand on Amazon. It was just dumb luck that I discovered them because until I bought their gloves, I was destrying gauntlet gloves at a rapid rate too. I should also note that the things I recomeend I buy from the companies. I am not a compensated blog.
Now how about planting? Let me also state that I do not grow those knock out roses. They are not roses to me. They do not even really have a scent. I have mostly David Austin roses today plus a hybrid tea (John F. Kennedy my first rose) and a Queen Elizabeth, which is a grandiflora.
I used to plant a lot of different kinds of roses (modern and antique) but in this garden, my favorite shapes and smells are the David Austins because they combine old roses with the new and as my space is limited on sun in this garden, I want roses I know will perform well. And an added bonus for me is that with David Austin roses I can buy own-root roses. They are not grafted and I find that a bonus because I did have an instance where a rose died and I thought I had gotten all of the root stock out but I hadn’t and I am still getting rambling rose rootstock popping up every couple of years that I do not want and do not have room for. Own root roses are the same plant above and below the soil line. I find it makes a better rose bush. New canes (rose branches so to speak) can be grown from the rootstock without fear of the grafted rootstock taking over.
When planting a new bush, I always dig my hole at least eighteen to twenty inches wide, and at least as deep. If the soil has a large proportion of clay, then I add
sand (or green sand), gypsum or Chicken grit (which is insoluble stone – often granite or flint) or ground up Oyster shells, lobster compost/dehydrated manure/mushroom soil (just depends what I have on hand at the time) and peat to break it up thoroughly.
The soil around my current house had a very high clay content when I first started to plant my garden, but I know it is improving with soil amendments, judging by my toadstool barometer. Toadstools and edible mushrooms only like to grow in good, rich soil!
When planting a potted rose, as well as a bare root rose, I have what I call my
parfait theory. I visualize what a parfait looks like: layers. The bottom of my
hole has sand, peat, soil, and a couple of chopped up banana peels (Iknow that sounds confusing but I will start a rose with banana peels because I am digging a pretty big hole and they are at the very bottom, not just dug in a couple of inches around the top of the soil.) That is the first layer. Then I alternate layers of soil and peat until I reach the halfway point and I place my potted or bare root rose in my new hole.
If planting a potted rose, I like my rose to be at the same level as it was in the pot, and if
bare root, I like my crown (looks like a knob to me) to be at soil level. If
planting a bare root rose, I am careful to make sure that the roots are supported
from underneath with enough dirt, as well as being careful not to break, stress,
or crowd the roots rather than enlarge my hole if necessary.
(Please note that if you are planting bare root, it is important to soak the roots 12 to 24 hours in a bucket of water out of the sun. I like to mix in a little liquid seaweed or whatever liquid humus I have around to that bucket of water to give a little more of a boost. )
After I have reached my “halfway parfait” point, I water the rose and the hole a
bit. I water in approximately one half of a gallon of water with seaweed extract or my Irish Organics Humic. I do this to help cut down on potential transplant
shock. The water should soak in quickly, and I finish off my parfait layers,
alternating between soil and peat moss.
My top layer is always peat moss. After the parfait is complete, I dig in about a quarter to one half a cup of a granular (or liquid) rose food in a circle around the bush, depending on the size of the bush and the directions on the package. Then I water in about another half-gallon of water. I will note that if you are against granular rose food with insecticide and fungicides in it, David Austin Roses makes a very good granular rose food.
Finally, I mulch well, leaving my five-inch magic circle from the base of the
plant. The magic circle is only peat at the top so my rose breathes properly.
Roses should ideally get a good solid one inch of water once a week. If I have
just planted a bare root rose with no growth, I sometimes mist the canes with water
once a day, preferably in the morning before the sun is high. (I say sometimes, because sometimes I forget!)
Except for new plantings, roses should be fed once a month as they are heavy
feeders. The new plants are not fed again for five to six weeks after initial
planting and feeding. Then they go on the regular schedule.
As the season progresses, I do keep my rose beds clean, discarding dead and fallen
leaves, etc. I am a believer in preventive, albeit judicious, spraying. If you are a sprayer only spray early in the morning (before 7 a.m.) to avoid causing my leaves to burn in
the sun. I have learned if a rose is purported to dislike spraying (some Old Garden Roses and Rugosas come to mind, for example), PAY ATTENTION! I have exfoliated a bush or two in my past spraying career! (Another “live and learn,” I suppose, but well-learned.)
I also do NOT ever reccomend homemade remedies of soap and baking soda and Listerine and whatever other fakakta sprays people think are so much better. They aren’t. They are kind of like the whole spraying vinegar and whatnot to get rid of weeds. People do not seem to get how bad that is for other plants, the soil, your pets, humans, and wildlife. Plus you can fry your plants in the heat of summer by spraying
For diseases like rust, blackspot and powdery mildew I used to spray when needed. But then I discovered drenches which are much easier on the rose. I use Cease Microbial Fungicide and Bactericide, which is OMRI Listed, by BioWorks. You can buy it from Amazon and other places. It is expensive but worth it. One of my other horticultural mentors taught me about using a biofungicide. It also is marvelous when I have to deal with daylily rust.
Cease is a aqueous suspension biofungicide with proven effectiveness in controlling a wide array of both fungal and bacterial pathogens, while providing outstanding plant and environmental safety. Based on a naturally occurring, patented strain of Bacillus subtilis (strain QST 713).
Cease Microbial Fungicide and Bactericide can be used as a foliar spray and soil drench on ornamentals, trees, shrubs, flowering plants and greenhouse crops and vegetables grown under cover. It is a broad spectrum biofungicide targeting common fungal and bacterial diseases such as Botrytis, Pseudomonas, Xanthomonas, Erwinia, Powdery Mildew, Leaf Spot and Speck, Anthracnose and Rust. There are other biologic fungicides out there, but Cease is what I use.
For the pest problems like aphids and their ilk, I use a horticultural oil spray like Neem or something with Pyrethrins. Sprays with Pyrethrins are the best things to control outbreaks of white fly. When the weather gets too muggy, hot and humid I do not spray. I used to use a rose dust, but a few years ago I decided that skeeved me out and settled on another drench. The one I discovered by accident and use VPG/fertilome’s Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Drench.
This insecticide drench controls most bugs I can think of that will bother my roses, perennials, and shrubs. As a drench, it is watered in (I have a special watering can I use ONLY for drenches). The product is mixed with water, dissolves in water, moves down through the soil, and is absorbed by the roots. You drench the plant at the base, the root level. It is NOT like a spray so you don’t hit the above ground plat at all. Once absorbed, it moves up through the tree or shrub, providing year-long protection even into new growth. It contains Imidacloprid and provides 12-month Systemic Protection. Again, I discovered this completley on my own. My most pervasive rose pest seems to be borers and it has helped with them.
Look, I am a cancer survivor. I do not like using chemicals. But sometimes you just have to in a controlled manner. I have a lot of time, money and sweat equity involved in my garden. I will treat it right. A website which helps find biologic alternatives is Forestry Distributing. I discovered them by accident when trying to learn in terminology I could understand what biologics did and how they worked.
I have also discovered that other old wives’ tales have some truth to them: planting pungent herbs are natural pest repellants. Plants in the edible Allium family
are repugnant to aphids. Planting chives and garlic in and around my roses along
with lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme has dramatically cut down my personal
aphid population. I also plant purple sweet onions around and near my roses and other plants aphids like. I buy the starts in the spring.
Old wives tales also say that parsley planted near the feet of roses makes your roses smell sweeter. I don’t know it THAT is true, but hey! why ruin a good thing? I do it anyway! I can also tell you that it is very true that strawberries and roses get on well together.
I experiment every year with at least one new companion plant for my
roses. If they crowd my roses or I don’t like the effect, I simply move that
companion plant to a new location! I don’t like to ever waste a good perennial,
bulb, shrub, or herb. My garden is definitely a layered one and is reminsicent of an English or Irish cottage garden.
Well, there you have the thumbnail version of my rose routine. It works extremely
well for me, and I hope I have helped. All of the photos of roses were taken by me and are my actual roses from my garden. Happy rose gardening!
You can’t smell the roses, but you can imagine them. So on this pretty Easter morning I took a walk through the garden to see what was happening. Some of my perennial herbs are starting to show new growth, bulbs are starting to stick their little heads up, and the pussy willows are all fluffy with catkins.
I decided to push my luck and feed my rose habit. So I ordered two more roses from David Austin Roses. They get shipped to me bare root, and I have been ordering from them for decades at this point through various gardens.
Bare root means exactly how it sounds. They arrive roots and sticks. You soak them overnight and then you plant. It really is simple.
Roses are just about a garden routine. I love roses and have planted them in every garden I have ever had. I had 50 different kinds in my parents’ garden. And this year I am using milky spore to combat the Japanese beetles. It’s the only thing that works well unless you want to squish them one by one.
David Austin English Rose “Maid Marion”
Over the past ten years roses have been disappearing from a lot of American garden centers. Basically it’s because people don’t want to do the work for the queen of the garden flowers. I get it but they’re so worth the work. I prefer planting bare root and growing old garden and English roses. I don’t plant as many roses as I did once upon a time because I just don’t have the garden space and the uniform light needed for them all the way around. But I could never have a garden without having some roses.
Roses have also gone out of favor as growers have gone under. Truthfully if more people, don’t start planting roses a lot of the varieties we grew up with and took for granted in gardens will disappear from our garden and landscape forever. Is the case with many of the hybrid teas.
My roses have sort of survived the cold this winter. A couple look a little worse for wear and I’m not sure how they will do. So to hedge my bets, I have ordered two more bare route from David Austin roses. This year I ordered Maid Marion and Abraham Darby.
If you were thinking about ordering roses to plant your garden have to do it over the next couple of weeks because David Austin stops shipping in May for the year.
Morning is filled with the sounds of bird song . I can smell the garden phlox and roses as I water the rest of the plants. The garden is exploding with the colors of the end of mid- summer.
In the background I can hear my neighbor’s chickens clucking with some indignation of an inter-chicken family squabble.
A brave jack rabbit hops tentatively up a garden path.
A hummingbird along with a hummingbird moth flit from flower to flower in the main perennial bed.
I can now also hear in the background the hum of cicadas. To me, that is always the signal that another stage of the season called summer is about to begin.
The day started out with a heavy humid dampness, and is no doubt going to be somewhat of a scorcher before all is said and done and the sun is down. But these are the beautiful days we should cherish in the middle of winter and in our memories forever.
People often mock anyone who refers to life’s simple pleasures, but this is indeed one of them. To be able to sit in a porch chair and look at what you have created and what is growing is such a rare treat.
It may be an old cliché that people need to stop and smell the roses, but sometimes you just have to. With all the ugliness that exists in this world, there’s nothing more beautiful than a garden in bloom. I feel really sorry for people that are so miserable, mired down, and stuck that they can’t experience the simple goodness of things like this. Gardening truly is good for your soul.
This past winter was hard on gardens. Actually, that is an understatement.
My friend Susan asked the following question on Facebook:
Chester county gardeners…. anyone else have what appears to be totally dead butterfly bushes? All 3 of mine look dead. Hydrangeas aren’t looking very good either.
Yes and yes. I know what she is talking about and so do a lot of us.
I have (or had) a butterfly bush (buddleia) that was decades old. It was a beautiful purple color in late summer. It has sent no shoots and every branch left on after this winter was dead. I had cut it back in late fall and mulched it and then put a blanket of leaves over it, but I think it may be gone. I cut off the dead branches but have not dug up the root ball. I will leave it alone to see what happens. I don’t hold out much hope, but maybe it will surprise me.
I had wanted to plant buddleia in other places, so I have already bought and planted more. Buddleia gets so tall that I prefer it in the back of things where it’s height is more appropriate. We will see how the buddleia grows.
Another usually indestructible and woody perennial that may have bitten the dust due to the winter is my Caryopteris. Caryopteris is commonly known as blue beard or blue mist shrub. This plant can take the worst of summer and still get these delicate branches of blue-purple flowers. It’s a perennial that blooms on new/current growth, but I think the winter may have rendered it D.O.A.
Caryopteris is one of those plants that I have read only lasts a few years I some cases but I have friends who have had it in their gardens for more than a few years. For me this perennial was a surprise- it had appeared when I cleared some weeds and vines away in one spot in the garden. I am not sure if I will replace it or not. As with the buddleia I cut off all the dead stuff and am leaving the roots alone.
Hydrangeas were also very hard hit by winter. I did get mine ready for winter with winter mulch and leaves and a lot of my bushes lost every bud and every stalk. Some bushes escaped relatively fine and are leafing like normal.
The more tender hydrangeas which lost everything above ground in the ice and snow are surviving for the most part. They are sending up shoots from roots.
The hydrangea cultivar I have which was hurt the worst by the winter is “Pistachio”. Pistachio has a cool pink and green flower head but I knew it was finicky when I planted it, the grower warned me. Well one did. I sourced this hydrangea from two places. So I am going to wait and see. If it doesn’t come back, I will pull it and replace it with a more hardy variety.
Hostas also were affected by this winter. Some are slow to emerge, and some have had their first leaves look somewhat stunted and distorted. I am told by hosta growers that this is normal given the winter we had along with a comparatively cold spring. Most of my hostas seem to be back, although there are a few just sending shoots up now.
I did lose all but one tall bearded Iris. Irises are something I am not great with, so I don’t know if the bearded ones will eventually be replaced or not. I have clumps of yellow inherited ones that I think are more like a flag iris that are returning in good shape, so maybe I will stick with those.
My daisies are back, but a lot of the cone flowers and rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans) are not. Or not yet. I have not decided what to do about that yet, but did decide this year to plant some shorter sunflowers and zinnias. I love zinnias in the garden. They are so cheerful. Yes they are annuals, so if they do well I will collect the seeds in the fall for next year.
I think it is going to be a marvelous year for peonies. They seem to have come through the winter unscathed and are budding nicely. Peonies are so lovely and lush a flower and they smell as good as they look. Peonies are a plant I am always happy to add more of, and one of my favorite sources for peonies is Applied Climatology at the West Chester Growers Market.
My roses seem to have come through the winter fine. They are leafing out well and I have new growth too. They have been fed for spring and now I wait for them to bloom the first time. I also cleaned their beds out well because roses can be so finicky. People think roses are so difficult to grow. Really , they aren’t – you just need a routine.
A rose tip is to remember banana peels – think of it as junk food for roses. You can cut the peels up and freeze them and either bury them a few inches down or put them in a food processor with a little bit of water and old coffee grounds (not flavored coffee grounds) and make a sludge that looks pretty gross but if you dig it in around your roses the plants will love it.
As for annuals, I was happy to see impatiens are back this year. Last year they were wiped out by downy mildew so no one carried them. I am not sure how busy Lizzies (one of their common names) will do, so I did not by many plants. And no, I am not a begonia or New Guinea impatiens person as far as bedding plants go. I do, however, like New Guinea impatiens in hanging baskets.
Other annuals I am trying this year include Lisianthus or prairie rose. This wonderful old fashioned flower is one I have not seen in years, and saw out at Black Creek Greenhouses in East Earl. Lisianthus grows wild (or grew wild) in the plain states. It is a favorite of florists because it’s rose-like flowers can last a good ten days in cut arrangements. I used to plant this all the time in my gardens growing up and then I just stopped seeing the plant in nurseries.
Some of my friends with decades-established gardens have given me some old-fashioned favorites to add to my garden this year. Lambs ears, ferns, lily of the valley, pinks, nepeta, and lily turf (lirope). These are all plants they needed to split, so some have come to me. And down the road when I have plants that need splitting, I will do the same. Gardening is a personal thing but a communal thing to share with friends and family much like a well-loved recipe. As long as I have been gardening I have been swapping plants with people.
Our local nurseries in Chester and Lancaster Counties are full of fabulous plants now. If you don’t see something you like, ask. I will comment that I have noticed prices have increased at area nurseries, which is also undoubtedly due to the hard winter we had.
Yes you can buy plants at Home Depot, Walmart, and Lowe’s but the reality is cheap plants are just that, cheap. Don’t necessarily expect a lot from them as a lot of plants sold by big box stores aren’t always grown in the same zones as we live in.
These big box stores truck in plants that are not always grown in compatible growing zones that are also all gorked out on plant boost food. This means you might plant them for an instant garden fix but they may or may not survive long term or even the season. I have included the USDA’s hardiness map for Pennsylvania at the bottom here so you can see our zones. I am not saying don’t buy from these places, but merely buyer beware. Check to see if the plants say where they are from.
It is yet another beautiful day out there, perfect for gardening. Gardening is such a terrific thing you can do for yourself. And don’t think you can’t garden because you can. It’s a process, so start small and see what you like. Some people love container gardening, some growing herbs and vegetables in raised beds. Some love woodland gardening that are wild and rambling and others like gardens which are more formal.
Gardening is always good for the soul. Enjoy the day!
I thought I was finished for the season. I really tried to be finished for the season.
And then my friend Rebekah from Woodlawn Garden Center and Nursery texted me that shrubs and perennials were 40% off, and roses were five dollars each.
Hello Gardenholics Anonymous?
So now I am planting yet another car full of plants! And how can I resist?
Ever since two major rose growers went out of business, a lot of the old classics as far as roses go no longer exist after a couple of years. And there she was one of the grandest grandiflora roses ever: Queen Elizabeth. She was struggling in her pot, yet still stood regally tall and had blooms. (Her flower is what is in the photograph above.)
They had one of my favorite daylilies of all time: Joan Senior. Tall with a large pure white flower, she is quite beautiful in the height of summer. had other amazing daylilies like Francis of Assisi.
They also had Lucky Charm Tradescantia with its pale green leaves and violet blooms, and my favorite Clematis Henryi – pure white flowers and a hearty grower.
Woodlawn is loaded with fabulous plants looking for homes before winter sets in. Trust me, their prices can’t be beat. They are as good as Applied Climatology from the West Chester Growers Market, which always has great prices along with fabulous plants due to their low overhead.
I have taken a bit of a break on this cool and damp fall day, and I am covered in mud. But I am so happy. To dig in the dirt and garden is blissful indeed. So I’m going to get back to it.
Enjoy your afternoon everyone, and even in the midst of a grey day enjoy the fall foliage colors.