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This Rose is Eating My Rose Walk

My friend BJ asked me how the roses were doing when she visited this afternoon. And I said, “I’ll show you!” and shoved her across the lawn. “This is what one rose is doing, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Of course, I’ll have to wait until after the Rose Viewing. Maybe someone will know who this imposter rose is. Do you?

If you want the story about making this, my first  video, you’ll have to go to BJ’s blog, Fiftyshift.

Walk Down a Rosy Memory Lane

As I prepare for this year’s Annual Rose Viewing, I thought I’d re-run a tale of preparation in 2006, another wet spring. 

Mount Blanc

Mount Blanc

I have been working all week to prepare the garden for the Annual Rose Viewing which we hold the last Sunday in June from 1-4 pm.  In between rainstorms my husband has mowed lawns and trimmed, moved potted plants and been at the ready to weed and prune. 

As I’ve worked, trimming the grass around the roses I’ve been faced with mistakes made years ago and for which I am still paying. One was the idea of growing herbs and roses together which I found enchanting in a medieval sort of way. In addition I had read that tansy keeps away bugs. What better than an herb among the roses that would keep the bugs away. So it was that I planted tansy in the Rose Walk. The little golden flowers don’t bloom until long after my mainly pink and white roses so I didn’t have to worry about incompatible colors.

It took a while for me to realize that tansy is extremely invasive. I  fight it on the Rose Walk, but it has also jumped into the field, and even alongside the road.  I think End of the Road Farm will have sufficient tansy til the end of time.

 And so it was with mint, as well.  I must have been the only person in the world who didn’t know how invasive mint is. Another endless battle.

I’m also reminded of my bad habits, only some of which I have managed to conquer. For example, I have trouble planting my roses deeply enough.  I am very good at remembering to plant my peonies just below the surface of the soil so they will bloom, but the old roses should be planted more deeply and I have trouble achieving that depth.  I think many of the failures I have had in the rose garden are because the roses have not been planted properly making them more susceptible to winter kill.

On the other side of that coin, when a rose, or other plant, flourishes vigorously I have trouble pruning it or cutting it back to keep it in control.  Deep inside I am still the new gardener who was always so glad when something succeeded, it seemed unfair to punish it by cutting it back. Corylus, a low growing rugosa with fine foliage is very spready, and for the first time this year I cut back a big secondary clump growing in the middle of the Rose Walk.

In a similar way Trigintepetala a tall single bright pink rose that is very ancient, and the pink apothecary rose send out babies in every direction. I suppose the perfumers who used the apothecary rose for its scent were very happy with this vigor.

I wonder about some of the roses as I prune.  Why is it that Blanc Double De Coubert is considered the classic standard among white rugosas, when it seems to me that Mount Blanc is much superior in vigor of plant, form of blossom and fragrance.

If I were able to choose a single favorite rose, Apart might be the one.  It is another hardy rugosa with huge double pink flowers that are amazingly fragrant.

            Periodically I gave the roses a respite, and paid attention to other parts of the garden. Another bad habit much in evidence is the way my initial plans for the year fall apart. Even though I start the season with a coordinated planting plan, enthusiasm inevitably gets the best of me. This year I am trying to figure out where I am going to put the last of 10 large dahlias.

Yankee thrift is also a problem. I have tended to be a little stingy and buy very small shrubs and trees which means that they take a long time to get to a substantial size. Figuring I am of an age and have no time to lose I bought a chaemecypris that is already more than 4 feet tall this year. Still the trees and shrubs in the Lawn Bed are all very much of a size, but I think that will change soon when the trees really start to look like  trees.

I can’t escape my failings and failures but when I get up off my knees and wander through the garden I see only loveliness. I enjoy seeing the roses have survived another winter. I enjoy early morning walks in my bare feet across the dewy lawn to inspect the roses. I enjoy sitting in the Cottage Ornee (away from the bugs) with a cup of tea to admire the roses and the view across the field and to the hills. I enjoy the fragrance wafting on the summer breeze. 

And I am delighted to have friends and acquaintances join me in the garden to enjoy the summer day amid the roses. I hope you will join us for the Annual Rose Viewing on Sunday,  from 1-4 pm at End of the Road Farm on Knott Road in Heath.  The Rose Walk awaits.


June 24, 2006

Monday Report June 22



‘It’s raining, raining, raining. I hear the raindrops fall.’  The lawn is sodden, the Sunken Garden is a swamp and the vegetable garden is sulking as morning temperatures  are still in the 50s.

And yet, and yet, the rains have mostly been gentle and the roses have drunk their fill. Applejack, at the head of the drive is all grace, and the rugosas are blooming fragrantly. Rose buds are swelling on every bush. I think this will be the best show for The Annual Rose Viewing ever. The date is Sunday, June 28 from 1-4 pm at End of the Road Farm, off 8A North in Heath.

Since there isn’t very much going on in the garden except the roses – and peonies –  right now, and because I love sharing my hardy roses I am entering the Rose Photograph contest over at Gardening Gone Wild. I have a modest camera and even more modest skill, but in the interest of sharing, not winning, I’m putting up my three photos.  Above is Applejack, a hardy Griffith Buck hybrid that has exactly the graceful but blowsy form I love. A couple of skunks that we had to fish out of one of our dug wells is buried beneath it, but the fragrance has not been affected.

Rosa glauca (formerly rubrifolia) is a rose I have in the garden for its foliage not its tiny pink flowers as pretty as they are. This is the stunner when we have our Annual Rose Viewing. It is impressive in size, probably nine feet tall, and so graceful that everyone wants to know what it is.  And many people get to take a plant away. In the early spring when I find lots of little babies sprouting around it I pot them up and give them away.

Mount Blanc rugosa

Mount Blanc rugosa

 Mount Blanc is a fabulous rugosa. The flowers are large and double and very fragrant, on a big 6 foot tall bush that gets bigger every year.  All three of these roses, Applejack, R. glauca and Mount Blanc are incredibly hardy and trouble free. No bug damage (I have put down milky spore disease to control Japanese beetles) or disease.  Of course, the bloom period is short – but you can’t have garden fresh strawberries in December either.

The roses are starting to bloom and the mock orange is also in fragrant bloom. I planted it at the corner of the Cottage Ornee where that fragrance can be enjoyed in the shade and away from any bugs.  Cookies and lemonade will be served in the Cottage at the Rose Viewing.

For those who cannot attend the I am building a Virtual Rose Viewing Page.  Look for it in the column to the right and click.  The Page will continue to grow as I photograph more roses coming into bloom during the week. Surely we will have some sun.

Monday Bloom Day

Happily for me my Monday Report coincides with Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens Be sure and visit there.  This is an exciting time because the roses are just starting to bloom in my garden. They loved all the rain last week.

Rosa glauca
Rosa glauca

Even though the roses on Rosa glauca (formerly known as Rosa rubrifolia) are tiny and inconsequential, this is the rose that gets the WOWs at the Annual Rose Viewing.  The bush is a graceful vase shape, at least 9 feet tall and the foliage, bluish-reddish, is a stunning show stopper. It is one of the first roses I planted in 1984 and never fails to survive, thrive and delight.

Belle Poitvine

Belle Poitvine

The rugosas are the first roses to bloom. Belle Poitvine is not only double she is sweetly fragrant.  I visited a garden yesterday with two Belle Poitvines, much larger than mine, and not as old.  My usual excuse is that I live in Heath where it is cold!  But it probably doesn’t help that this rose is growing in a fair amount of shade of a linden tree.
Apart rugosa

Apart rugosa

Apart is probably my favorite rugosa. It is so double and so fragrant. The bush took a real beating this winter. Lots of winter kill, but new shoots are coming.


Leda is another rugosa with a surprising flower. The tiny buds seem to promise a brilliant red flower, but the small tightly furled blossoms are white, edged with red.  I was assured in one of my early Bloom Day posts (when not much was happening) that Buds Count. Hence this photo.  Very few blossoms will be around to celebrate July’s Bloom Day.
Other rugosas in my collection that have open flowers today are: Dash’s Dart, Mrs. Doreen Pike, Mount Blanc, Blanc Double de Coubert, Scabrosa, and the low Corylus. By the time we have our Annual Rose Viewing on the last Sunday in June I’ll have a special page up for a virtual tour.
The Fairy

The Fairy

The polyantha The Fairy is a dependable rose. She begins blooming early and is one of the few roses in my garden who will be in bloom all summer.
Harrison's Yellow


The first Harrison’s Yellow I planted died. So did the second, I thought.  By the time I planted the third, the second sent up new shoots. I now have two of these spiny yellow bloomers that I hope will become lush clumps.
Other roses starting to bloom are the ancient Apothecary Rose, and the new Double Red Knockout.
The last of my lilacs is the pink Miss Canada, blooming behind a large clump of the blue flags that every garden in Heath enjoys.  Once I was thinning a clump and threw the extras onto the side of the road, where they  continue to bloom.  I must have done the same with another thinned clump because they are blooming in the field near our brush pile.
A white iris was also blooming here at the End of the Road when we  bought our house. This clump lives around an amazing 30 foot deep stone lined dug well behind our house, sharing blooming space with large clumps of comfrey, and the weedy bladder campion and galium.  All here before we were.
The early peonies start to bloom at the same time as the rugosas. Many of the peonies will still be in full bloom at the Annual Rose Viewing.
I love this old pink heuchera which I am encouraging as a ground cover.  I also have a dark foliaged heuchera with white flowers, but it is not a favorite. It will bloom later.
Other bloomers this June 15: a viburnam, highbush cranberry; Joan Elliot campanula; geraniums; cheddar pinks; an undistinguished salvia;  purple columbine; anemone canadensis; and alchemilla, lady’s mantle.  My pots are filled with pelargoniums, verbena and Million Bells. Nothing exotic, but appropriate for an old farmhouse I think.
Of course, at this time of year the surrounding fields, and even the lawn are filled with wild flowers: daisies, buttercups, red and yellow hawkweeds, clover, summer asters, bladder campion and wild sweet william. The whole world seems in bloom.

The Garden is Now Closed

That’s me in the blue dress, chatting with visitors to The Annual Rose Viewing. The weather reports were threatening, but so far our luck has held and it has never rained on the Rose Viewing. In fact, there was so much sun that my husband was busy handing round extra garden hats and parasols, but as the afternoon progressed it became less humid and one of Heath’s lovely zephyrs began to whisper across the hill.

Even so, some visitors were happy to sit in the Cottage Ornee, drink punch, eat cookies and strawberries and visit and chat. The perfume of the roses wafted into the Cottage, but there were lots of stories about bears! They are not unheard of in these environs, even though most of us have sworn off feeding the birds in the good weather. It seems prudent to wait until hibernation season.

Other visitors continued their perambulations.

Past Alba Semi-Plena,

and Celestial,

and the Queen of Denmark (Konegin de Danemark), and all the other roses that were still putting in an appearance.

The garden is not really closed, but the Annual Rose Viewing has come and gone, the applause has died down and other summer celebrations will be more modest. But the garden, with or without roses will continue to give the Commonweeder and her husband great pleasure.

Rachel’s Rose

Not all of my roses came from nurserseries. Not all of them have official IDs and names. I have several Farmgirls tht have come from neighbors in Heath. This magnificent rose was given to me by Rachel Sumner the summer before she died. She told me this was a mighty and vigorous rose. Many years before her husband was building a big garage which required substantial excavation; he piled all the excavated soil on top of her rose. She was not best pleased! However, the rose barely noticed and grew right up through all the soil to continue her robust bloom.

I took her home and planted her at the end of the Rose Walk where she thrived. Then we decided to build our Cottage Ornee, essentially a screened porch that is not attached to the house. Upon the advice of our consulting architect, we decided to use four large boulders as footings for the four corners. One had to be placed exactly where the rose, we named her Rachel, was growing. We dug her up and planted her at the other end of the Rose Walk, where she thrives to this day. See photo above.

However, we obviously left a bit of root under that boulder, because three years later another generation of Rachel joined the alba Celestial that we planted next to the boulder. See photo below. They both thrive and are putting on quite a show for the Rose Viewing. Tomorrow!

Greenfield Garden Club Visits

If you take the long view, from my bedroom window, things look pretty neat. You even get a little more sense of the roses in bloom than the picture shows. I hoped the Greenfield Garden Club would be happy with the big picture, and wouldn’t be too bothered with details like weeds.

After slathering ourselves with bug repellent we took a walk to the Shed Bed which has really good soil, possibily because it is right next to the hen house with all that good manure. This is where I have planted the Austin rose, Mary Rose, rugosa Mrs. Doreen Pike, Leda and Belle Amour. You can’t tell from the photo but the vine on the shed is a hardy kiwi, notable for the pink and white blotched leaves.

The Rugosas which bloom earlier than some of the other varieties are putting on a good show. I have the standard single pink and white, and Scabrosa which I don’t think looks much different than the familiar beach rose, but I do have some favorite Rugosas.

Apart is one of my favorites. It has a large fragrant blossom, nodding more than usual in this photo because of all the rain we have had. Like all rugosas it is about as easy to grow as any plant. The only drawback is the short season of bloom.

Belle Poitvine grows along the pasture fence. It is more double, and a shorter shrub, so far anyway, but the fragrance is equally delicious.

This is Mount Blanc. The only double white rugosa that ever gets mentioned as a superior plant is Blanc Double de Coubert, but in my garden Mount Blanc is a bigger more vigoruous plant, sending out more shoots to dig up and give to friends. I think the flower is also superior in form and in fragrance. If you want a double white rugosa, this is the plant to look for.

The Garden Club got to see at least a single blossom from most of the roses, but they are still coming. The Official Rose Viewing is on Sunday.