Nature Got a Little Confused

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This was the scene just a week ago–roses in about 7 inches of snow.

Now, yes, Connecticut has gotten snow earlier than this, and it’s even gotten more snow earlier than this, with catastrophic results. But this still isn’t common, as these blooming roses indicate!

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This is a very wintery scene from my backyard. Much of this is gone now because we’ve had a couple of very cold rains (36 degrees and rain–ugh–but at least it wasn’t more snow–or ice!)

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Here you can see how many leaves were still on the trees when the snow fell.

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And finally, this is my raised bed. I didn’t grow much that was edible in here this year because of last year’s poisoning. Still, I put some parsley in it, hoping for some swallowtail larva. I got a few near the end of the season, meaning, I hope, that our washout of a summer has finally cleansed this bed and I might at least be able to grow edibles again next year.

But notice the spikes standing up right at the front of the photo–that’s evidence that something was eating the parsley right before the snow fell–so again, at least the parsley’s edible!

At this point, summer seems a long way off–but as Mark Twain once said, if you don’t like the weather here, wait 5 minutes!

Rose Reckoning

If you ask me about my favorite plant or flower in the garden, I unfailingly respond, “roses and hydrangeas.” I can’t help it.

While I do love and appreciate native plants–and try every year to add more and more of them to my garden for my pollinators–they are not yet my favorites. Maybe someday.

But my favorite roses–the lovely cottage garden-y David Austins–I pulled out of my gardens probably 4 years ago now. Every spring when I see them at the garden centers I still swoon–and then I walk on by to the more practical things I have come to buy.

What happened? Two things: the usual bane of an organic rose growers existence, black spot, and the rose sawfly larva.

Black spot is bad enough and there are ways to “manage” it organically but I am truly a hands off organic gardener. I try–unless it is absolutely necessary–to spray absolutely nothing ever. That’s one benefit to living in a climate where the only seasons are winter and July. “Winter” kills most of the obnoxious pests–or prohibits them from running too badly amok.

If I lived in a climate that was the other extreme, as one of my prolific commenters calls it “summer and January,” well then all bets would be off. I would definitely have to “manage” my landscape more intensely.

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This is a photo of the rose sawfly larva. It may be a little hard to spot–it’s on the lower right hand quadrant of the leaf. It looks like a little green worm or caterpillar.

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And here’s a photo of the damage. Now mind you, this is damage to a yellow Knockout rose. Considering how pest, disease and carefree the Knockout family of roses are supposed to be, you can imagine how badly the David Austins took this sort of thing! It’s not that they got defoliated–but you almost wished that they had!

Then just about when they had re-flushed out, the black spot hit. Nope, sadly, they had to go.

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So this is what I replaced them with–all nice shrub roses.

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I am in love with the Drift roses. I have them in 3 colors, Pink, (which is a single, shown above) Sweet (which is a double pink, immediately shown above) and Red (shown below). They are easier and more carefree than Knockout, in my opinion, although they grow lower.

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They are not fragrant or good cutting roses however.

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Another fabulous shrub rose–but alas again not fragrant or good for cutting–is the OSO Easy rose. I have OSO Happy Candy Oh! (Shown above). And I must say that unless you are careful, its thorns will positively impale you! So you will want it in an out of the place.

Bees regularly visit these–there’s a bumble bee on Candy Oh! in the photo. So again, while I prize my natives, don’t feel that you must grow only natives to please your bees!