By PAULENE POPARAD
June is for .... our love/hate relationship with roses.
Some rosarians will tell you these most beautiful of summer beauties are not
really that much work and there is no secret art to pruning them.
Bunk, I say.
But that hasn’t stopped me from growing roses. No rose fanatic I, mine are
probably not the largest blooms I could grow, the healthiest plants I could
raise or the best pruned, but they fill my senses with joy each time I
admire the opening buds.
As of June 4, no roses have unfurled although several are poised to do so. I
better have lovely blooms this year because by July, I probably won’t have
any leaves. Most of my roses, even the disease-resistant ones, are riddled
with black spot.
Never have I ever had black spot, a fungus that eventually causes leaves to
yellow and drop off, this bad this early in the season.
It’s not just me. Others in the area have reported black spot also. It’s
probably another thing we can blame on the unusually strange spring.
Thinking it was too cool for black spot despite the gray, damp days, I
didn’t spray with fungicide as I should have and now I’m paying for it.
I recently spent more than a day hand-picking each diseased leaf off the
roses and pruning them hard in the recommended vase shape so the center is
open to promote air circulation. I sprayed with fungicide -- the canes, the
leaves both top and bottom, and the ground below the plants -- and laid a
new mulch of crushed leaves at their feet.
And when the vibrant coral/red hybrid tea ‘Dolly Parton’ opens and I get a
whif of her heady perfume, I won’t remember a minute of the work it took to
get there. Roses have a way of doing that to people.
June 15 at 10 a.m. Four Seasons Landscaping Nursery is having a
representative from Jackson & Perkins, a well-known supplier of quality
roses, share his growing tips. No doubt he will be asked about black spot.
Speaking of Four Seasons, they erected an attractive new arbor area for
roses and vegetables. Walking through the perennial section, two plants
caught my eye: the shrub clematis ‘New Love’ and a ‘Shogun’ Japanese aster.
‘New Love,’ which has clusters of fragrant bi-color dark violet flowers in
midsummer, gets 30 inches tall and about 27 inches wide preferring more sun
than shade. It’s a clematis (pronounced clem’ uh tis) heracleifolia and the
grower DeVroomen of Holland raves it’s “superb” and “spectacular.”
There are several types of clematis with varying pruning requirements
because some bloom on old growth and others on new growth. Most are vining
and appreciate support, however, some gardeners leave them to ramble as
groundcovers and or to sprawl through deciduous shrubs.
The Japanese aster or kalimeris grows 15 inches tall and wide, preferably in
sun, and is said to provide a long season of pale lavendar blooms if grown
in moist, even boggy, conditions.
The aster leaves were an attractive green and white. The recently arrived
Wayside Gardens fall 2002 catalog has several common shade plants with new
leaf color or variegated forms, among them a pink-flowered, gold leaf
bleeding heart or dicentra spectabilis dubbed ‘Gold Heart’. Also
eye-catching is the wavy-edged tiarella (foamflower) ‘Crow Feather,’ so wild
with pink and red splashes in the fall it looks like a coleus.
The trend continues with toad lilies. Tricyrtis macrantha ‘Tricolor’ shows
green leaves with pink and white stripes in the summer. Tricyrtis ‘Lightning
Strike’ boasts up to 300 blooms per plant, Wayside claims, with gold/green
leaf streaking. ‘Tricolor’ blooms yellow and ‘Lightning Strike’ white. For
anyone who hasn’t tried tricyrtis, I highly recommend it as a fine
fall-blooming perennial with small but no less beautiful flowers.
Recently I picked up a plant order I placed last fall at Trillium Woods
Nursery, a gem just east of Chesterton. Knowledgeable owner Dan Coffman
conducts two spring open houses each year although the nursery is open by
appointment at 926-7990 the rest of the growing season. Watch for a possible
Dan has more than 350 hostas as well as an interesting selection of shade
companion plants, especially ferns. I’m trying my third attempt to grow
‘Hart’s Tongue’ fern (phyllitis scolopendrium). Although the name sounds
like some kind of skin rash, the 16-inch long leaves are wide and wavy, not
the delicate serrated fronds of other ferns. Perhaps I previously planted
the crown too deeply.
In addition to the black spot, the awful spring weather left another legacy
-- many stunted or damaged hostas, a few only half their normal height, and
sickly brown streaked leaves on some daylilies. This likely is a result of
the late May frost; fortunately, neither case is fatal. As more daylily
leaves grow, the disfigured ones can be clipped off. You could do the same
for the hosta, but there’s always next year.
I and other members of local garden clubs had the pleasure in May to tour
the well-known Bill Brincka/Basil Cross garden in Furnessville. More than
four acres is planted in a dizzying display of both rare and native
specimens, many of them unusual trees and conifers that Bill, who passed
away last year, either went to great lengths to secure or cajoled out of
someone, whether an amateur hybridizer or famous botanist.
Basil said if he found Bill chain smoking, gazing out the window at the
garden, he knew it was time to get out the shovel. One year Bill moved about
70 hostas to plant two new ones. “I hated to admit it but they did look
better when he was done,” said Basil. And the planting holes? “When Bill dug
a hole, it was cave time. You could build a walk-in basement.”
Basil stressed that as a garden ages and grows, it changes. “Be sure you
find out what someone else’s definition of ‘dwarf’ is,” he cautioned.
In describing their treasures, from the many showy magnolias and
rhododendrons to the odd columnar sugar maple Bill found grafted in a field
by Mr. Linderman at his U.S. 6 nursery years ago, Basil conveys an affection
for each plant and its history. If only we all someday can have such special
things in our own gardens.
In closing, I’d belatedly like to thank a special person in my life even
though I didn’t know her name until now.
Mildred Wirt Benson of Toledo, Ohio, who died recently at age 96, in many
ways helped shape who I am today. In addition to my parents, she taught me
confidence, determination, poise under pressure, resourcefulness, proper
grammar and a flair for words.
A newspaper columnist, Mildred’s pen name was Carolyn Keene and in 1930 she
began writing 23 of 30 original Nancy Drew books. Nancy was my hero.
Fortunately, Mrs. Edman and her daughter Betty Carlene, who lived across the
alley from our Morgan Park home, had most of the Nancy Drew books and would
loan them to me. Reading needs a quiet place, so sometimes I would climb a
tree and read there.
Whether restrained in a room, trapped in a trunk or stuck in a stairwell,
Nancy never gave up. She didn’t just walk; she springed lightly. Merely
gazing wasn’t enough for our little trooper. Her eyes danced with
excitement. And why would a girl settle for being happy when she can be
When danger presented itself, Nancy would become defiant instead of fearful
and knew just what to do, yet she was only 16. Whether fixing flat tires on
her own roadster or thumping thugs, Nancy was perfectly coifed and dressed
down to her hairpin, handkerchief and heels.
Nancy’s words found on page 135 of “The Secret of the Old Clock” have served
me well throughout my life. Even though she comes close to tears after
initially panicking when robbers leave her to starve in a locked closet,
Nancy vows to break free.
When all else fails, she tells herself, keep your head and think your way
out of a bad situation.
Whether dealing with a family crisis or a gardening disaster, it works. And
yes, I still get the urge to climb a tree.
Posted June 10, 2002