Garden Notes: It’s been a great June for roses
Not sophisticated enough for the landscaped garden, the old-fashioned combination of rambler roses, tawny daylilies, blue hydrangeas and Japanese honeysuckle is a hallmark of Island July.
They hold their own, sweetly collide without fancy watering and other fuss. While I appreciate the art and labor of well designed, sophisticated gardens, I also have a fondness for these simple ones. You’ll do without the necessities of upscale 21st-century island living.
June ended as a beautifully blooming month with flower gardens, trees and shrubs bursting into lush growth. The growth that is being made is phenomenal, something that I, as an observer and obviously not a scientist, attribute to the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Up to a point, all growing plants use it; it is “secreted” or stored in the structures of plants and is the carbon we often read about in news and climate reports.
In a simplified version, if carbon dioxide is overproduced, they will achieve amazing growth as long as there are plants in conditions that can use it. And that’s just as well.
More roses for more gardens
In this particularly blooming June, roses seemed to outdo themselves. Generally, roses prefer full sun and an inch of rain or water per week, and yet this is not possible for every garden or gardener in need of a rose.
It may not be a classic, high-potency hybrid tea or have a heavenly scent, but there is now a rose for almost every garden and every level of gardener. So-called landscape roses, such as the ‘Oso Easy’, ‘Meidiland’ and ‘Drift’ series, could almost be described as ground cover roses; and the Wichuriana and old-fashioned Rambler roses mentioned above may be used in this manner, or grown on fences or trellises.
‘Knock Out’ roses are now well known and have taken gardeners and garden centers by storm over the decades since their introduction; The series now includes a wide range of colours.
When the garden is shady – and all gardens become shadier over time – it is more difficult to grow roses without disappointing performance or becoming susceptible to disease. However, comprehensive guides to roses, of which there are a number of excellent ones such as Taylor’s Guide to Roses, provide color compatibility recommendations.
A shade-tolerant rose that we planted in four different gardens in four different locations is ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’, a fragrant, rich pink climber that is virtually thornless. An old variety said to be a Bourbon rose, and one of the few roses David Austin Roses sells that is not from their breeding program. This year it was lush and can bloom well.
Roses require a lot of nutrition, fertilize them regularly with organic, low number soil foods that provide the microorganisms that roses need to achieve the vigorous growth and rebloom they are demanded of. Black spots and rust can be a problem for many roses in our humid climate. Neem oil sprays and other control measures seem to work well. It is always advisable to limit the use of fungicides in the soil environment.
When the first bloom is over, there is petal waste to clean as much as possible. While ‘Knock Out’ and other low-maintenance roses are proclaimed as requiring no maintenance, the death of a rose allows the gardener to pre-emptively collect the spent petals before having to break them off.
Roses are tasty, and many creatures enjoy eating them, both insects and other arthropods and quadrupeds. Regularly used repellent sprays work well up to a point. A sheltered location or cage housing is unfortunately required when rabbits, deer or even pets are a problem.
In the garden
Elsewhere in the garden, it’s time to catch up with the change of season from late spring to summer. Pansies planted for spring beds and tubs will be unhappy in the heat but can sometimes be brought in for a fall renaissance by pruning, fertilizing and moving to a cooler or shadier location. Replace them with warmth-loving annuals such as ‘Profusion’ zinnias, bedding dahlias or pelargoniums.
Annuals and biennials that bloom early in the season such as foxgloves, poppies (pictured), and feverfew, can be cut back or discarded altogether. Look for their offspring to ensure next spring’s show. Early flowering perennials like Nepeta and Salvia, if cut back now, will produce a second and even a third bloom.
The staking and weeding continues. Unwanted self-seeding and weeds appear as if by magic. One of these is the sow stele, with a fluffy seed head like a dandelion that shoots up in an otherwise well-mannered bed. And crabgrass is forever.
Early lilies, like the highly scented L. regale, bloom, but predation by voles, chipmunks, rats, mice and other small creatures have robbed many gardens of their lilies and other bulbs this year. I hope to have a feline fix by the end of the month. Be smart with bird feeders, composters and garbage storage.
Wildfires fueled by western coniferous forests make us unusually fire conscious, although island conditions are different, with the exception of pitch pine and scrub habitats. If I were master of things, I would require that a shade tree be planted for each new subdivision lot created. No “Christmas trees” or arborvitae stockades whose volatile oils would burn like kindling (remember those “naval supplies” from school days?), but true hardwood shade trees whose crowns soften the microclimate and create dewdrops.
air we breathe
The weather and the heat of summer are here. For visitors and the uninformed, Massachusetts has an Idle Law, Mass General Law Chapter 90 sec 16A. It states that vehicles may not be idle for more than five minutes unless they are being serviced or used to deliver or receive goods where engine-assisted performance is required.
Many suffer from post-COVID issues and other breathing-related issues, such as: B. chronic pulmonary obstruction. Let’s look at chapter 90 sec. 16A is rigorously enforced for the benefit of all in the island’s outdoor public areas.
Tick control every evening!