Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, August

Stachytarpheta 'Nectarwand Red', red false vervain, Pipevine Swallowtail. Thanks to Leslie Kuss and the Moth and Butterfly I.D. group on Facebook for their help. Bloom Day.

Hello friends! I’m actually making it to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day this month on the actual day! I think it’s the first time this year. Go me!

Tiered borders with Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm,' 'Becky' shasta daisies and 'Bright Eyes' phlox is blooming with abandon from all the rain.
Tiered borders with Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ black-eyed Susans, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’ shasta daisies and ‘Bright Eyes’ Phlox paniculata are blooming like crazy from all the rain. Thank goodness for black-eyed Susans! They knit my entire summer garden together.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is sponsored on the 15th of each month by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens. Hop over there to see what’s blooming in other people’s gardens all over the world.

Rain again fell on Little Cedar today. We had several pop-up showers that didn’t last long, but when I went out to take photos, it was so humid my camera lens kept fogging up. Then, I came inside and realized all my pictures were black.

Arrrgh! No, I did not forget to remove my lens cap. I have no idea what happened, but it’s all fixed now. I ran back outside and took more photos as thunder boomed all around me. I was quicker than a frog sliding into a lily pond except I hopped back inside.

You know I have to include a photo of my favorite rose, 'Carefree Beauty,' a/k/a 'Katy Road Pink.' If this one ever gets Rose Rosette, you'll find me in the closet having a good cry.
You know I have to include a photo of my favorite rose, ‘Carefree Beauty,’ a/k/a ‘Katy Road Pink.’ If this one ever gets Rose Rosette, you’ll find me in the closet having a good cry.

We didn’t get any rain in June and July, but August has been a different story. I think over three inches fell on my little garden, and that makes my heart glad.

Trying to achieve the ever-elusive symmetry.
Trying to achieve the ever-elusive garden symmetry. Nothing in life is perfect. It’s not supposed to be.

I returned from GWA’s annual meeting in Buffalo, NY, last week, and I’ve been playing catch-up in and out of the garden ever since. I filed two columns with two different editors today and last week. I also harvested a ton of vegetables in my potager and cutting garden. I did a little live video on Facebook of the harvest.

As for blooms, because of the rain, we’ve got some. I wandered my overgrown ornamental garden this morning, and I feel rather bad about my neglect of it. After the garden tour, I lost all interest in these beds and borders.

Perennial garden doing its thing. Tightwad Red crapemyrtle in front. Purple crapemyrtles behind.
Perennial garden doing its thing. Tightwad Red crapemyrtle in front. Purple crapemyrtles behind.

I can hear you clucking. I’m sorry. I just worked so hard in it that I lost myself a little. I tried so hard to make it perfect that I forgot why I even garden.

Do you ever do that?

After the tour, I ran off to Garden Bloggers’ Fling and wandered other people’s gardens on tour, grateful that they weren’t mine. When I returned home, I was still tired. I overworked myself, and there’s a lesson, or as my friend, Mary Ann, of Gardens of the Wild, Wild West, would say, a pony in there somewhere. Maybe stop working so hard and trying to be so perfect? Maybe?

(Click on the photos to make them larger.)

I’m happy to say my vegetable and cutting gardens saved the day and me in July. They just seemed to ask for nothing, which isn’t true of course. I worked steadily in them too before the tour. However, they were ready for harvest, and harvest I did. I still have tons of tomatoes on the vine. I’m going to write another post on the cutting and vegetable gardens as soon as I catch my breath. Anyway, they made me remember why I garden.

Why you ask?

Because I simply must. I’m a writer and a gardener, and I must garden and write if I am to breathe. And, in these trying times, we must all remember to breathe.

Luckily, the ornamental beds and borders, while as wild as western mustangs, are somewhat contained by their formal edges and straight lines. I’m lucky ornamental gardens are forgiving. I just wish the Monarchs I’ve been seeing would get with it and lay some eggs. I’ll bring their caterpillars inside and raise them for a new generation if they do. I have tropical milkweed and perennial Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed, planted in many places–wherever it’s sunny. Oh, and if you live in Oklahoma don’t feel guilty for using tropical milkweed. It’s not going to kill your caterpillars. It dies all the way to the ground each fall so no worries. I’m saving seed this year to grow my own. I like A. curassavica ‘Silky Gold’ better than the orange one. Not being from Oklahoma State University, the University of Tennessee or the University of Texas, my favorite color is not orange.

I do, however, like a soft orange bloom, and some flowers are exquisitely beautiful in various shades of orange. Take agastache for example. Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia is growing in a container on the deck. I never could grow agastache in my garden. The plants always rotted about Midsummer no matter how I prepared the soil. In a weird moment of buying plants online in a snowstorm last winter, I ordered two agastache plants. When they came, I was horrified and told my friend, Faire from Fairegarden. She calmly suggested I grow them in pots since it worked for her in Tennessee. Faire is a gardening guru in my book so I tried it. When it worked so well, I bought two more. I plan to bring these inside my greenhouse this winter and keep them for next year. I just used good potting soil, but if you’re worried, you could work in some sand too. The hummingbirds and I are very happy.

Agastache Kudos Ambrosia.
One bloom spike of Agastache Kudos™Ambrosia.

Another plant that’s really pleasing the butterflies and me this year is Stachytarpheta ‘Nectarwand Red’, red false vervain, a Bustani Plant Farm Introduction. Isn’t it beautiful? How about this Pipevine Swallowtail? Be still my heart!

Special thanks to Leslie Kuss of Growing a Garden in Davis, and the Moth and Butterfly Identification Forum on Facebook for their help in identifying this butterfly.

This is why I garden. Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Rose Rosette Disease in Oklahoma

P. Allen Smith's new rose garden at Moss Mountain Farm.
P. Allen Smith’s new rose garden at Moss Mountain Farm.

Last week, when I was at the second annual Garden2Blog, I asked Allen if he’s seen any Rose Rosette Disease in Little Rock. He knew immediately what I was talking about, and he said he hadn’t seen “witch’s broom,” the more common name for what is currently being classified as a rose virus. As we sat in Allen’s new and exquisite rose garden, I thought . . . No, I hoped RRD wouldn’t touch his peaceful valley dedicated to Lady Elizabeth Ashbrook, his friend and mentor. One of the reasons I attended Garden2Blog this year was to see the new rose garden at Moss Mountain Farm. Bloggers saw plans last spring, but now the garden is a reality. I love to see things come to fruition.

Rose bed at Moss Mountain Farm. It's a new garden, but one day, those roses will climb up into the tuteurs. Rose Rosette Disease in Oklahoma.
Rose bed at Moss Mountain Farm. It’s a new garden, but one day, those roses will climb up into the tuteurs.

Steve Hutton, President of The Conard-Pyle Company, which distributes the Knockout® family of roses and many other roses including the Romantica® Collection, Star® Roses and Drift® roses in the U.S., talked to us about new, disease-resistant cultivars, the star of which is Francis Meilland™,  the 2013 AARS winner. I’m testing two Star® roses in my garden this summer, ‘Meikanaro’ a/k/a Sunshine Daydream, the 2012 AARS winner, and another cultivar I’ve yet to identify–as it came without a tag. As Steve talked, all I could think about was Rose Rosette, and how it is spreading rapid-fire throughout central Oklahoma. After he finished, I asked him his thoughts about RRD. I was encouraged that Conard-Pyle is well aware of the problem. In fact, their company is funding research through the University of Arkansas. Here is their statement which they sent me when I emailed them after I returned home from Arkansas:

“Conard-Pyle is working with Dr. Ioannis E. Tzanetakis at the University of Arkansas.  Conard-Pyle is really committed to combatting RRD, and continues to aggressively fund and coordinate research on many different levels with many industry professionals.”

You may not know, but Rose Rosette Disease flourishes in Oklahoma, especially in Edmond, where the original Knockouts® have been planted anywhere there was room, Rose Rosette flourishes, and it seems attracted to the Knockouts®. Perhaps, it is because they are planted so close together so that RRD spreads more easily. It could also be because Knockouts® grow so quickly, and the virus simply shows up in them first. In Edmond, I’ve only seen it on the original red so far. I find it odd that the original Knockouts® are being hit so hard in the city because, thus far, none of my Knockouts® indicate the disease. I grow the original Knockout®, Rainbow Knockout®, Double Knockout®, single Pink Knockout®, Blushing Knockout® and ‘Radsun’ a/k/a Carefree Sunshine. I also grow the later introductions: Home Run® and Winner’s Circle®. These roses are the backbone of my disease-resistant garden, and I would be sad to lose them.

To identify RRD, look for large, tender shoots showing unusual thorns and foliage that looks sickly and broom-like such as this below. By the time you see the “witch’s broom,” the disease is well on its way to killing your rose.

Rose Rosette Disease on my 'Zephirine Drouhin' rose. Note the sickly pinkish color, and the misshapen roses behind the "witch's broom."
Rose Rosette Disease on my ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ rose. Note the sickly pinkish color, and the misshapen roses behind the “witch’s broom.”

In 2010, I lost one ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, an ‘Old Blush’ shrub, and two ‘New Dawn‘ climbers to this scourge. Because current literature states there is no cure, I dug all four roses and disposed of them in plastic bags in a dumpster at our company, far, far away from anyone’s roses. Landscapers need to take this problem seriously and dig up effected roses immediately and plant something else in their place. Wingless, microscopic Eriophyid mites carried on air currents spread the disease from plant to plant.

To combat the disease, space roses far enough apart to keep these non-flying mites from spreading the virus. I also grow my roses as shrubs with other plants. I hope this helps retard the disease’s progress in my garden. Note that chemicals have limited success on Eriophyid mites. I don’t use chemicals, but the Virginia Extension Service indicates what does work if you want to go the chemical route. Miticides for spider mites apparently do not work.

From the Virginia Cooperative Extension (emphasis added):

“Some symptoms, such as leaf coloration, may be subtle. Although some diseased plants develop very obvious red pigmentation, others exhibit a less striking reddish pink color on leaf undersides or along the margins of otherwise green leaves. Since the new leaves of many rose cultivars normally have reddish pigments, it may be difficult to determine whether the reddish color is abnormal or not. Therefore, it is important to continue to monitor symptoms on suspect roses. On RRD-infected plants, the reddish color does not go away, whereas on healthy plants, the reddish color usually disappears as the leaf matures. Witches’ brooms on some diseased plants may be an unusual color of green that can be mistaken for symptoms of a nutrient deficiency. However, nutrient deficiency should affect the whole plant. If these symptoms appear only on parts of the plant, they are probably not due to nutrient deficiency, and RRD is more likely.”

The people from Conard-Pyle stated that any rose with Rosa chinensis in its background was susceptible to the virus. This news especially saddened me because R. chinensis is in almost every modern rose. It is what makes roses remontant, or reblooming.

I am concerned for anyone in Edmond who grows roses. If you see roses with RRD, consult the local authorities and refer them to online sources about the disease. Roses with RRD must be destroyed, but not composted. Also, because any roots retain the virus, you cannot plant roses in the same spot unless you dig two feet of soil from the area where the roses were and remove all of the roots. Do you know hard it is to completely remove rose roots? I still get shoots of ‘New Dawn’ now and then. I dig and destroy them.

This is a very serious problem. I’m grateful that Conard-Pyle is trying desperately to solve it. It saddens me to think I might one day have a garden without the scent of roses, but I’m willing to destroy every plant to halt this plague if I must. I hope it won’t come to that.

Note: As with all of those who attended Garden2Blog 2012, I received transportation, accommodations and meals during the event. I did come one day early and pay for my own hotel room. Event sponsors, like Conard-Pyle provided information, samples and product giveaways at no cost or obligation. Before I attended Garden2Blog, Conard-Pyle sent me two roses to test in my garden at no charge. All of the other roses mentioned in this blog piece like the Knockouts® I grow I paid for with my own money. I’ve grown Knockouts® since they arrived on the scene years ago, and I love their carefree ways.