The Roses of Summer

My favorite rose started blooming in late May, bloomed right through the dryness of August, and will continue for a while yet. At this point, I’m leaving the hips on to ripen, as they turn a very nice orange. It’s a David Austin rose called Windrush, which has a fabulous scent.

The rose Windrush in full bloom. In the upper righthand corner there are columbines; to the right, there are geraniums, Johnson’s Blue. Photographed on June 9, 2020.

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Maintenance: Moving a Prickly Rose to a Safer Place

Rosa setigera is an early summer-blooming native with a variable growth habit. Depending on what you read, it grows from 3–4 feet to perhaps 12–15 feet. This one is certainly in the double digits. I clipped long canes from July onwards last year, and came to the conclusion that I would have to move the rose further from the sidewalk. Its thorns are numerous and sturdy; I would not want a neighbor dog or child to tangle with it. There would be yelping. There would be tears. Continue reading “Maintenance: Moving a Prickly Rose to a Safer Place”

Prairie Rose’s Show Is Brief but Lovely

The prairie rose, Rosa setigera, is a native that dodges budworms by budding up after the budworms have hatched and are munching on nonnative ornamental roses.

This year it stayed chilly well into May, delaying both budworms and rosebuds. The prairie rose made the most of our unusually wet weather by putting out several new canes. It seems to be quite happy in a high spot in the rain garden on the east side of the house, where there is plenty of morning and early afternoon sun. Continue reading “Prairie Rose’s Show Is Brief but Lovely”

Prairie Rose Is Hymenopteran Heaven

No one would call me adventurous, but I decided to take a risk and put our native prairie rose, Rosa setigera, in a relatively high spot in the rain garden. It started budding up in slow motion—handy when budworm eggs were being laid—the buds were not even there yet when my earliest rose buds elsewhere in the yard were being infiltrated. Some of the size difference is due to the number of petals in the flower, but much of the difference is due to timing of development.

Side-by-side photographs, taken about 3 weeks apart. The Morden's Blush bud was significantly larger in mid-May than the prairie rose buds photographed 3 weeks later.
Roses in bud: Prairie rose, left, photographed on June 6, 2018; Rose ‘Morden’s Blush,’ right, photographed on May 17, 2018.

The sprays of prairie roses start out as hot pink single flowers with a beautiful yellow crown of stamens and a very obvious pale green pistal, then fade to a pale pink or white flower with pink spots and a small heap of dried-up stamens curled up and into the pistal.

A spray of Rosa setigera, from a hot pink bud and newly opened flowers to fading flowers that will shortly lose their petals, with 2 metallic green bees collecting pollen, one in side view and the other in top view.
Rosa setigera in bloom. Photographed on June 30, 2018.

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More Rain Today Than in the Month of June

I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I was very happy to be blasted out of bed shortly after 5 a.m. by very loud thunder. When I looked out the window, the rain garden had plenty of puddling in it, so it was doing its job keeping at least some of the rain from running off down the sidewalk and into the overtaxed storm drains.

By 8 a.m., the silver maple had stopped dripping enough that I could walk around and enjoy my second cup of coffee. The hydrangeas looked terrific. Looking more closely, I realized that a month with many more promises of rain than actual rain had taken its toll. The flowers heads are smaller than usual, and the individual flowers are quite a bit smaller, but the green of the leaves was already shifting from that piny, water-stressed blue green to a much brighter and greener green.

Annabelle hydrangea, closeup. The individual flowers are just over half of their usual diameter, due to a very dry June. Usually the petals hide the stems behind them completely. Photographed July 7, 2017.

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Rain Garden Planted in the Nick of Time

A week ago Saturday, on May 20, I helped sort plants purchased through the Washtenaw County Water Resources Office by people who were putting together rain gardens—like me. The advantage of helping out was that I got to take my order home that day instead of the following one—one more day to plant!

I planted them Sunday. I had done a partial planting last fall, so the plants I picked up just about completed the garden, with the last pieces coming from transplants from other spots in the yard.

The Rain Garden

We had better start with a schematic. You cannot see from one end to the other due to the redbud, so this will keep you oriented.

Site plan showing rain garden layout in relation to front of house, sidewalk, and road.
The rain garden, as planted in 2016–2017. The rough brown lines represent exposed tree roots. There are three green circles with perhaps too-tiny numbers in them; from left to right, they are (1) Rosa setigera, (2) Clethra alnifolia, and (3) Cercis canadensis. Adobe Illustrator file updated May 27, 2017.

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