Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rose Garden in Early Summer

The transition from spring to early summer is marked by the flowering of Giant Allium (ornamental onion). These huge purple globes fill the uncomfortable gap between early bulbs like tulips and daffodils, and summer flowering peonies and roses.

Giant Allium bloom in the pause between spring and summer

Allium foliage begins to die even as they bloom, and is an unsightly mess - however I cannot resist their fantastical effect on the garden. It's best to tuck them away behind something bushy. I am counting on my purple-leaved Cotinus shrub to grow a bit more and play the role of concealer.

Nepeta 'Little Trudy' begins to bloom just before the roses do

Another plant that begins blooming in early summer is Catmint (Nepeta). Most Catmints get quite large, but this is 'Little Trudy' - a very tiny cultivar which is under a foot tall. It is relatively new in my garden and I am still evaluating its performance, but so far I am pleased with the flowers and form. The larger ones - such as 'Walker's Low' - are more floriferous, but there is no space for them here. I think 'Little Trudy' makes a nice edger.

Cotinus 'Velvet Cloak', Lamb's Ears, and Abies balsamea 'Piccolo'

By mid-June, the Lamb's Ears are stretching upwards, and the Cotinus is fully clothed in its beautiful leaves. I'm not particularly fond of Lamb's Ear in flower, so I often snip off the stalks (have not done that yet here).

Cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma), Cotinus, and Geranium 'Patricia'

The strident yellow bracts of the Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) have now faded, revealing reddish seedheads. I like this plant near the purple-leaved Cotinus - they make an attractive pair in multiple seasons. Geranium 'Patricia' blooms in June as well - this Geranium has very strong magenta flowers that are somewhat softened by the dark purple nearby.

Pulsatilla vulgaris seedheads, Geranium 'Patricia'

The Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), which bloomed so early in Spring, in Summer is adorned with freaky-looking fuzzy seedheads. It has been seeding itself around somewhat aggressively - I'll let them flower and then decide which ones to keep. I like this Geranium for its personable black centers and neat veining, but it is one of the sprawlier Geraniums I grow. I sometimes end up shearing it back multiple times per year.

Heuchera 'Pinot Gris', Alchemilla mollis, and Geranium 'Nimbus'

At the front of the bed, Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and Geranium 'Nimbus' begin flowering in mid-June. 'Nimbus' is one of my favorite Geraniums (so far!) - it has pretty blue-purple flowers, a long flowering period, attractive cut-leaf foliage, and a neat mounding/spreading habit (unlike, for example, the popular but formless 'Rozanne'). Heuchera starts flowering at this time as well - this is 'Pinot Gris', one of my favorite Heucheras for both foliage and elegant, long-lasting flowers. Most Heuchera are good for foliage OR flowers, but this one has both, in my opinion. You can see the grassy foliage of the Crocus that bloomed earlier here too - it hangs about like this for a while, then disappears suddenly almost overnight.

Heuchera 'Pinot Gris', flowering in June

Here is the Heuchera again, now in full flower. It retains its pretty flowers for an extended period.

Iris tectorum var. alba, Amsonia 'Blue Ice', and Alchemilla mollis

More June-bloomers in this area include a white-flowered form of Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris) and Amsonia 'Blue Ice'. They are at the front edge of the border in a fairly shady spot, but seem to be tolerating it well so far. The Amsonia grows slowly and is still quite small. I am very pleased with the Roof Iris - the large, delicate flowers are intricate and graceful. The upright spikes of foliage are a refreshing light green color, and retain their healthy good looks throughout the season. (I am not fond of Bearded Irises due to their icky post-bloom deteriorating foliage.) I have always heard that Roof Iris needs a "sheltered" spot - not quite sure what that means, but so far it seems OK along the edge of the sidewalk here.

Rose Garden in mid-June: Rosa alba, Geranium 'Patricia'

Now for the roses: I named this area the "Rose Garden" because I originally planned to have about 10 different roses planted here. This ended up not working out for a variety of reasons (rabbits, disease, winterkill, too much shade...) and the area currently has only four varieties of roses. Some of the original roses had to be shovel-pruned, and some were relocated to other more hospitable areas. The large rose bush above appears to be a Rosa alba, possibly 'Great Maiden's Blush', although I cannot be sure. I had ordered a Rosa gallica, which this very clearly is not.

Rosa alba, possibly 'Great Maiden's Blush'? - on first opening

It definitely appears to be an alba rose. It has the characteristic alba foliage and divine fragrance. Nice fat buds and lovely button eye in the center. It is a large, shrubby plant - much different in form from my other two albas (which are tall and lanky). Ironclad disease resistant foliage, despite the somewhat shady location. Overall it has the nicest plant habit of my albas and is very well-foliated. It blooms incredibly profusely, and opens its blooms gradually, over an extended period of several weeks. The color starts out a strong pink, but quickly fades to a somewhat pale, washed out color.

Rosa alba (possibly 'Great Maiden's Blush'?) - faded blooms

The color fading is really my only complaint about this rose. That and the fact that I had envisioned a dark purple-crimson Gallica here, which would have looked so fabby with the purples, grays and mauves going on in this area... But, I just can't bring myself to move this dame, as she seems so happy here - whatever her name is. Sigh.

'Eglantyne' Rose with Salix 'Hakuro-Nishiki'

The other roses remaining in this area are all David Austin English roses. Here is 'Eglantyne' - a very tall rose which apparently has at least some Alba parentage. The large flowers are a lovely shade of warm pink suffused with yellow, and the fragrance is very pleasing. This rose does get a fair amount of blackspot for me, and seems to be a favorite of the Japanese beetles, which are a major pest here. It does not ever bloom very profusely, but has a nice steady crop of flowers all summer and into fall. I've also had difficulty figuring out what to do with its lanky form. Here it is growing as a floppy bush, but by late summer it ends up sprawling all over the ground if not supported. It also becomes very defoliated at its lower limbs. I have installed a tall obelisk, and plan to try wrapping it around in twisty curves. We'll see how this works next year!

David Austin rose 'Sophy's Rose'

'Sophy's Rose' is another Austin rose in the Rose Garden. I have three of these smaller shrubs clustered together. This is perhaps my favorite of the Austins so far - the color is eye-popping, the "Chinese" looking scrolled flower form is enticing, and the fragrance is light but unusual and very appealing. This rose has also been much healthier than my other Austins. The attractive, red-edged foliage always looks fresh and healthy. This one seems to bloom in one large flush in early summer, then again in fall. I did not like the original site I selected for it, so last year made the perhaps unwise decision to transplant all three bushes in mid-summer. They were in shock for quite a while, but bounced back by fall and I am looking forward to good things from them next year.

Austin rose 'Winchester Cathedral', with Geranium 'Nimbus' and Allium 'Drumstick'

The last rose in the Rose Garden is the white Austin rose 'Winchester Cathedral'. It is a lovely rose with fine fragrance and enticing pink buds. I have had some serious blackspot issues with it, but that is perhaps because it is sited poorly in too much shade. I plan to move it to a sunnier spot in my back Patio Garden next year, where I hope it will be happier. It's a shame because I do like its purple and chartreuse companions in this spot, but it is clearly not happy here so something must be done.

Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella' in the June Rose Garden

Also blooming in early Summer is my 'Bartzella' Intersectional Peony. Intersectional peonies are hybrids between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. 2014 was its first year of bloom - hopefully there will be more of these glorious fluffy yellow orbs in the future. In addition to lovely blooms, Bart has a pleasant light citrusy fragrance, excellent plant habit and flower carriage, and stellar foliage throughout the seasons.

Austin rose 'Winchester Cathedral', with Geranium 'Nimbus', Allium 'Drumstick', and Lady's Mantle

The Rose Garden may have few roses in it, but is coming along nicely. Some areas need a major overhaul, and I will be rearranging things and filling some gaps in the coming seasons.


  1. Wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your photos. You do a great job of naming the cultivars which is appreciated. After spending a half hour looking at your photos, I can almost believe spring is near, almost:) I'm just west of Rockford in northern Illinois. I always like to see whats doing well in nearby gardens.

    1. Yes, keeping track of everybody's name is a lot of work, isn't it? I'm always looking for info about how specific plants do in similar environments, so hopefully my experience will be helpful to others as well. It's not looking like spring at all outside right now... going through the past season's garden photos helps me get through the winter! Sometimes I think I can actually smell the flowers.

  2. Loving all the combos you have going on with the roses. I think you've selected some lovely roses and R. Winchester Cathedral is a beauty. I've often considered buying one for my garden but never quite got round to it.

    1. Yes I think Winchester Cathedral is a great rose. It's only getting blackspot now because I've put it in a terrible spot - I intend to fix this next year, then we'll see what it can really do! Considering how badly I've been treating it so far, it's really been a very good sport.


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