Daylight Saving Time, The Polar Vortex and Spring Chores

Okay if you are the geeky, grammar type like me and thought there was a typo in my title because I left out the S at the end of Saving, I have to tell you it really is officially Daylight Saving Time. I know. I know. It just sounds wrong. But, in my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with DST. I just love it. It allows me a whole extra hour of daylight to work in the garden after work, so I’m all in for DST.


The Polar Vortex has left us winter weary around here. We have had a record-setting 50-something inches of snow. And, even though it is still lingering, it is soon to be history! Warmer temps are coming and I am in full spring-fever mode.

First up this spring will be to assess the damage left by our winter companion, Mr. Polar Vortex. My quick tour of the garden last week encouraged me as I saw a great deal of green at the base of the roses I could see. (Some were still snow covered.) So, I think they are going to have a slow but sure start. Roses are not the “Prima Donnas” some think them to be.

Next on my list will be to use a weak mixture of lime-sulfur on the roses that were showing fungal disease last fall. This is something you do only when the roses are dormant. (You can read more about using lime sulfur from Paul Zimmerman on the Fine Gardening blog here.)


I am often asked what I do in the spring to “all those roses.” So here are some tips that I follow for getting my roses off to a good start.


For early April planting, I buy bare root roses from online vendors. (Click here for a list of rose companies.) When they arrive they are “bare roots” wrapped in wet newspaper and plastic. Very humble beginnings for a plant that will be so lovely later!

Bare roots soaking in Moo Poo Tea...
Bare roots soaking in Moo Poo Tea…

I immediately unpack them and soak them in a bucket of Moo Poo tea for 24 hours before planting. Click here for a great video on planting bare root roses by Guinivere of Roses of Yesterday and Today.


Planting decisions are dependent on the type of rose…

Grafted Roses: Most hybrid teas, floribunda and grandifloras are grafted roses.

This means that a rose is created by being grafted onto strong, hardy root stock, creating a “bud union.” Plant the bud union (knobby part just above the roots) 3” below the soil line to protect it from harsh winters.

Own Root Roses: Roses that have not been grafted but were started from cuttings, so there is no bud union to protect. In the past I have always planted them as I would any other shrub (to the same depth as they are in the pot they were growing in), however, after such a harsh winter, I now plan to plant even the own root roses about 2″ below the soil line for some extra protection.

Soil: We ask roses to bloom for us all summer, year after year, so it is best to give them a good start by planting them in good, rich soil. Our neck of the woods has horrible gray clay soil so we dig BIG holes–holes much deeper and wider than the root system to allow for soil amendments and deep enough to protect the bud union. To the soil removed, we add compost and a quality grade of top soil. Your roses will appreciate your gifts of more nutrients and better drainage and will reward you handsomely! You will never regret giving your roses a good start.


It is  difficult to know when winter is really over and it is time to prune, so I let the forsythia tell me. When the forsythia is blooming, I start pruning. All you need are protective gloves and a sharp pair of pruners. I must have been very good because Santa brought me a pair of Bionic Gloves and Barnel Pruners from Wendy Tilley, owner of The Rose Gardener Garden Shop and Harlane Garden Labels. Maybe Santa listened to our Rose Chat Podcast with Wendy. You can listen to Wendy too. Just click here.

Gene Boerner Floribunda

Pruning tips for different types of roses…

Hybrid Teas: For hybrid teas, I shape, cut out any dead wood and remove the canes that cross the middle to create more air circulation in the center of the plant which can help control fungal disease. These roses I will cut back to about 10 – 12″ high to give them a strong start. If you are going to exhibit roses in a rose show, there are some other tips you will need and the American Rose Society website is filled to the brim with excellent information.

Old Garden Roses: To me bigger is better as far as old garden roses are concerned so I do very little pruning. For one-time blooming roses, do not prune until after they bloom! And, when you prune, just thin out old wood, remove any dead wood and spindly canes.

David Austin English Roses: Very little pruning is required as they don’t appreciate a lot of cutting, just remove dead wood and give them a light shaping. Except in the case of some of the ones that tend to get very tall, like Graham Thomas, I prune those down farther to keep them within bounds.

Sunny Knock Out Rose

Shrub/Landscape Roses: These are so easy… Just shape to fit your space. I have several Knockout and Drift roses and I usually trim them back about 1/2 their size in the spring, but it is not required. I often give them another hard pruning in mid summer to refresh them into another spring-like bloom cycle in early fall.


After I prune my roses I apply fertilizer. Most any fertilizer will do—but do read labels carefully–too much of a good thing can be harmful! I use a combination of Moo Poo Tea and Mills Magic Mix on my roses.


Once the fertilizer has been applied you will want to give your roses a deep watering to get those nutrients down to where they can do some good. A good rule of thumb is to water at the base of the plant especially if you are watering in the evening, as wet rose leaves are more susceptible to fungal diseases (e.g. Black Spot & Powdery Mildew). Although, if I am watering in the morning I give them a good all-over shower. This is great way to remove any aphids that have shown up for the tasty and tender buds! I think roses appreciate a refreshing shower just as we do, just don’t put them to bed wet.


This is one of my favorite parts. Mulch is so good for your roses … retains moisture, helps to keep down weeds and gives the garden that fresh, finished look!

One thing to remember when applying mulch … when mulch breaks down, it uses nitrogen in the process, so add a layer of compost on top of the soil before you add the mulch layer then the nitrogen in the soil can be used by the rose. If you are working in an established bed and last year’s mulch is still there, leave it… it becomes a “compost layer.” Win. Win.

My garden…


My favorite tip is always to visit your roses daily or as often as you can to enjoy their beauty and to get to know them. Getting to know them can be key in early detection of any pest or disease.

And, when you have beautiful roses outside, who can stay in!

2014 Rose Introductions: Weeks Roses

This week on the Rose Chat Radio podcast, the delightful Karen Kemp-Docksteader, sales and marketing manager for Weeks Roses, joined us to chat about some wonderful new rose introductions for 2014! Podcast link.

Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King Grandiflora Rose
Named for the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, this rose is not only lovely but very disease resistant. Chris, (The Redneck Rosarian) had an early release of this rose and it has performed beautifully for him this entire summer!

Good as Gold
Good as Gold

Good as Gold Hybrid Tea
A very unusual gold color! Karen said it is stunning in the field and she can hardly pass by it without stopping. This rose is known as a blooming machine!

You’re The One

You’re the One Miniature Rose
Karen pointed out to us that “miniature” does not refer to the growth habit of this rose but rather the blooms are miniature. Isn’t it just so cute! Perfect rose show form!

Jump for Joy
Jump for Joy

Jump for Joy Floribunda
Like its parent, Julia Child, this rose is known for disease resistance and beautiful foliage. This is another blooming machine that will fit well into any landscape.

Happy Go Lucky
Happy Go Lucky

Happy Go Lucky Grandiflora
This beauty has the multi-petaled old rose form with a lovely tea fragrance. I find yellow roses hard to resist so this may quickly go on my wish list!


Karen shared with us that it is confirmed there is to be a new line of Downton Abbey Roses. Starting with the first in the series, Anna’s Promise.

Look at this beauty…

Anna's Promise
Anna’s Promise
Anna of Downton Abbey
The beautiful Anna of Downton Abbey

We look forward to having Karen back to talk more about this new line of roses! 🙂


Harvest at Weeks Roses begins next week, so follow along with the progress of their work in the fields of roses on their Facebook page.

Now back to working on my wish list for 2014. How about you, what’s on your garden wish list?

Bloom Thyme Friday: This week in the garden…

Here in my world the temps are lower than normal and that makes for some wonderful garden thyme! The garden is looking more like spring than fall this week as the roses are coming back to bloom! Know that I am totally in denial about the leaves on the trees that are beginning to change color and the cicadas that are singing!

Here are some of my pretties…

Julia Child
Julia Child
Peach Drift
Peach Drift
Francis Meilland
Francis Meilland
Beverly in bud...
Beverly in bud…
Beverly in bloom...
Beverly in bloom…

Here are some of the other blooms I’m getting to enjoy…


And we have butterflies everywhere!


Thanks for stopping by! I am wishing you a wonderful day filled with what you love best!

Rose Parade: The Grande Dame

The Grande Dame in my garden Summer 2012
The Grande Dame in my garden Summer 2012

The Grande Dame is a lovely and very fragrant hybrid tea.

Here’s what Weeks Roses has to say about this 2011 release…

Grande Dame…

Everything old is new again … or is it the other way around?

Here’s a clean mean flowering machine whose big bountiful beauties reek with old rose romance, style & fragrance. Each lovely blossom invites you to bury your nose…to swoon from the perfume of the ‘old time’ roses of your dreams. A big vigorous ‘shrubby’ bush whose nodding clusters, abundant deep-green leaves & low-thorned cutting stems provide a perfect touch to a landscape or bouquet.

  • Height / Habit: Tall/Upright & bushy
  • Bloom / Size: Full, old-fashioned, in nodding clusters
  • Petal count: Over 30 broad petals
  • Parentage: Meredith x Wild Blue Yonder
  • Fragrance: Intense old rose
  • Hybridizer: Carruth – 2011
  • Comments: A modern antique for all climates.

Mixing old and new is what my garden is all about!

Here is the Grande Dame in my garden last summer. Stunning!

IMG_7023 IMG_7190

I now have 3 of these lovelies!

Roses … Old and New

There are many types of roses from species (wild) and old garden varieties (OGRs) to the modern hybrids and landscape roses. And I love them all. I can honestly say that every class of rose is beautiful to me. Each has their strengths and their weaknesses.

OGRs are any roses grown prior to 1867 when the first Hybrid Tea, La France, was introduced. Most Species and OGRs have a one-time blooming season most usually in late spring or early summer. But what a season it is. Hundreds and hundreds of wonderfully fragrant blooms! This is something I wait all winter for!

The modern Hybrid Tea, Floribunda and Grandiflora roses produce blooms in waves throughout the summer and early fall. Many of these are fragrant as well, but the blooms are on longer stems that make them very popular in the world of florists.

Modern shurb or landscape roses give us disease resistance and season long blooms and fit very well in most any landscape or garden.

Here is a brief description of the most common types of roses…


Albas are tall, slender, upright bushes producing flowers of blush pink or white. Albas are very hardy and thrive under difficult conditions, even partial shade. They are almost completely disease-resistant and require little pruning. These roses have a strong, rich perfume. I have Felicite Parementier on order for next year. Another beautiful Alba is Madam Plantier.

Felicite Parementier


Bourbons were the roses of Victorian England. They produce beautiful, large, full old rose blooms on vigorous growing bushes with blooms of wonderful, heady fragrance. Many Bourbons repeat bloom. One of my favorite bourbons is Bourbon Queen although it does not repeat bloom for me.

However, when she blooms, she blooms. Last year I sent a picture of Bourbon Queen in bloom to The American Rose Society and she was chosen to be in the 2013 calendar. So, you could say the Bourbon Queen is a calender girl.

Bourbon Queen


Also known as Cabbage Roses have large blooms of many petals. Centifolia means 100 petals. These roses are summer flowering and extremely fragrant! I don’t have any Centifolias (yet), but there are two that are standouts in the rose catalogs–Fantin Latour and Tour de Malakoff.


Damask roses are very old, having been grown in Biblical times. They are known for their distinctive, rich damask perfume and beautiful pink or white blooms. My favorite Damask rose is Madam Hardy … amazingly fragrant white blooms with a unique green eye.
The Damasks I grow are Rose de Rescht and Madam Hardy.

Madam Hardy was named for the wife of Empress Josephine’s head gardener … Mr. Hardy. 🙂

Madam Hardy


These roses combine the best qualities of their parents–hybrid teas and ployantha roses. From the polyanthas come increased hardiness, low growing habit and continuous bloom and from hybrid teas they inherit their flower form and foliage. I have several favorite floribundas … three favs in my garden are Gene Boerner, Bill Warriner and Janice Kellogg.

Bill Warriner
Bill Warriner up close
Gene Boerner
Janice Kellogg


David Austin’s English roses came on the scene in the 1960s. The first English rose, the fragrant Constance Spry, was released in 1961. This new breed of rose combines the form and fragrance of the old roses with the repeat blooming and wider range of color of the hybrid roses. Two of my favorite David Austin English roses are Mary Rose and Charlotte.

And I’m adding a few more this year. You can read my thoughts on David Austin and his roses here. I’ll warn you, I am totally infatuated!



Gallicas are the oldest of the garden roses, having been grown by the Greeks and Romans! Gallicas are spring blooming shrubs with wonderfully fragrant blooms of pink, red and even some purples. My favorite Gallica is Rosa Mundi …. the earliest known stripped rose that dates back to the 1500s.

Legend has it that Rosa Mundi was named after Fair Rosa- mund, a mistress of Henry II, England’s monarch from 1154 to 1189. In The Book of Old Roses, Trevor Griffiths tells the story of their tragic affair. Henry was forced to marry a princess who, brooking no competition, is said to have murdered the lovely Rosamund. By Henry’s order, Rosamund was buried at Godstow Nunnery near Oxford, England, and each year on the anniversary of her death, he ordered her tomb to be decorated with masses of Rosa Mundi. -Virginia Kean / Historical Rose Society

Rosa Mundi


This group of roses is the result of crossing between hybrid teas and floribundas. The flower form and long stems are carried from the hybrid teas and the increased hardiness and abundance of flowers of the floribundas. One of my favorite grandifloras is Gold Medal.

Gold Medal


These roses were developed as hardy garden plants between 1840 and 1900, by crossing the Portland, Bourbon and Gallica roses and were mostly used as cut flowers. My favorite Hybrid Perpetual is Reine Des Violettes (Queen of Violettes).

Reine des Violette


Hybrid Tea roses are the most widely grown roses and most used as “florist” roses. Long, narrow buds open into full delicate blooms on long, sturdy stems. Blooming occurs in waves from early summer until frost. My favorite Hybrid Tea… well today… is the Peace Rose. Chrysler Imperial put on a show this summer too.

I am adding several new HT’s this year as I make my way into the world of rose exhibitionists. Read on for details.

Chrysler Imperial


Is a class of roses that originated in Charleston, South Carolina prior to 1812. John Champney, a rice farmer, received ‘Old Blush‘ from his neighbor Philippe Noisette, the superintendent of the SC Medical Society’s Botanical Garden. Champney crossed Old Blush with Rosa Moschata and Champney’s Pink was born. John Champney gave Philippe seedlings of ‘Champney’s Pink and Phillippe sent plants to his brother in France and the rage was on!

While visiting the Church of the Intersession in NYC last summer, I saw Champney’s Pink blooming in their enchanting garden. I couldn’t help but fall in love with this dainty, beautiful, fragrant rose steeped in history. I understand it is hardy to Zone 6. My garden is in Zone 5 but that is pretty close so I may have to try one. It would be such a nice addition to my old rose collection. Here is Champney’s Pink growing in the NYC garden…

Champney's Pink
Champney’s Pink


Polyantha roses are a cross between two East Asian species (Rosa chinensis and R. multiflora). The plants are compact and bushy and are rarely without blooms. My only polyantha is The Fairy Rose and this rose has been around since 1932. I love the clusters of tiny pink blooms. They look so nice in a mixed bokay of roses! These plants are very low maintenance and disease resistant!

The Fairy Rose


Portland roses are a natural cross between Damasks and China roses so you can imagine how wonderfully fragrant they are. These roses are vigorous growers, and were one of the first of the repeat bloomers. I grow Comte de Chambord and it has a fragrance that wows!

Comte de Chambord
Comte de Chambord


Rugosa roses are species roses native to eastern Asia. These roses are tough, trouble free shrubs that need very little maintenance and produce masses of beautiful, highly fragrant blooms. Rugosas are good repeat bloomers. An added bonus is the large red-orange hips produced in the last days of summer. My favorite Rugosa is Roseraie de l’ Hay. I have several of these in my garden! But, I also love my RF Grootendorst and Hansas! I also grow a white rugosa, Blanc Double de Coubert.

Blanc Double de Coubert in the background


From Knockouts – Drifts, there are many shrub roses on the market today. These roses are disease resistant, prolific bloomers that fit well into most any landscape. Some of my favorite shrub roses are Carefree Wonder, Sunny Knockout and Amber Flower Carpet.

A great resource for these roses is Paul Zimmerman’s book Everyday Roses. Easy growing tips and beautiful pictures of roses in home landscapes.

Carefree Wonder
Sunny Knockout
Amber Carpet


The Species and Hybrid Species roses are the original rose varieties found in nature from which all the others have been bred. The flowers are single (5 petals). One of the earliest of these roses is Rosa Foetida. One of the first yellow roses was the species rose–Persian Yellow.

I have a hybrid rose cultivar which originated as a chance hybrid seedling of Rosa Foetida… Harison’s Yellow. Read all about Harison’s Yellow HERE.

Harison’s Yellow

If you are looking for more information or for specific roses, here are some great resources…

American Rose Society
David Austin Roses
Roses of Yesterday and Today
Heirloom Roses
Weeks Roses
Paul Zimmerman Roses
Certified Roses
Conard Pyle / Star Roses
Edmunds Roses
Witherspoon Rose Culture