Garden Roses for Hot and Sticky Summers


Roses have a reputation, don’t they?

A reputation for romance, first of all. But also a reputation for being fussy to grow.

Truthfully, the wrong rose will be a very fussy rose. But the right one?

The right one will be so very, very right.

Here are some tips and suggestions for those of you looking to grow roses in hot and humid summer gardens:

  • The Antique Rose Emporium is worth a pilgrimage for any rose lover. Located in hot and humid central Texas, the growers there have made rugged roses their specialty.

I have learned so much about both antique and modern roses well adapted to extreme summer conditions by studying their catalog, reading their books, and studying the guides and resources on their website, especially The Rose Reader.


  • David Austin roses may come from cool, green England, but their print catalog lists a number of roses that do well in heat and humidity.

The Ancient Mariner, James Galway, The Generous Gardener, Olivia Rose Austin, Princess Anne are the pink roses mentioned. White roses include Desdemona, Lichfield, Angel, and Windermere. Yellow and apricot roses are The Lark Ascending, Roald Dahl, and Vanessa Bell.

Personally, I have found that Lady of Shalott (picture above) blooms well through a warm and humid Pennsylvania summer. Of the roses mentioned above, The Generous Gardener and Olivia Rose Austin are favorites of mine for their good health and near-constant flowering.


  • Search out easy-care shrub roses rather than high-maintenance hybrid teas (the formal roses that look like they just came from a florist’s shop).

Shrub roses include the Knock Out family of roses and many others, such as Bonica and Belinda’s Dream.


  • Look for rose growers and nurseries in your area.

For instance, a new-to-me resource for Florida gardeners is Angel Gardens in Gainesville, Florida. You will have a head start on a beautiful Florida rose garden if you are buying your roses from a reputable Florida grower.

Explore all our Black Barn Garden Library posts here.

Five Bulbs to Order in Spring and Plant in Fall


It may seem strange at first, but the best time to order the bulbs we plant in fall–bulbs like daffodils and tulips–is in spring.

Why would that be?

Two reasons:

  • It is easiest to see which spring flowers you want and where you want them while they are blooming. Spotted an especially beautiful parrot tulip on Instagram? Noticed a bare spot in your yard where daffodils would be ideal? You probably won’t remember that parrot tulip variety or that bare spot when it’s time to plant in fall but order them now and make a note of where you plan to put them, and you’ll have just want you want next spring.
  • Bulbs ordered from mail-order nurseries in spring will be shipped to you at just the right time for planting in fall. It can be difficult to remember spring flowers when the leaves are falling and the garden needs cleaning. There is no better reminder to plant spring bulbs than a box of them showing up on your front porch.

Here are some bulbs to consider ordering this spring:

  • Daffodils: These are deer and pest-resistant and grow up well even through grass. The trick is to leave the foliage alone until it yellows. Those green leaves feed the bulbs for next year’s display.
  • Tulips: I plant these close to the house to deter deer. I also like to plant them in a fenced-in raised bed. By the time I have cut all the tulips for the house, I can put tomatoes in the bed.
  • Scilla: These are tiny bulbs that flower in blue or white. I love planting a bunch underneath a spring-flowering tree to make a delicate blue or white carpet.
  • Crocus: I love planting the larger varieties in my flower beds, but I plant the small tommasinianus variety in splashes across the lawn.
  • Allium: One of my absolute favorites. Individual bulbs are more expensive than other spring flowers because of the size of the bulbs, but they make a huge impact in the garden with their enormous globes of purple, pink, or white. Even the dried seed-heads look great all summer.


  • Peony: Though it isn’t a bulb, peonies do best planted in the fall. Order in spring for fall delivery.

Favorite Lilies


I’d never grown lilies until I moved to Maplehurst in Pennsylvania, but I first began to love them at a farmer’s market in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

There was a flower grower there who sold the strongly scented Stargazer lilies in summer. I was a graduate student on a tight budget, but I learned that for the price of one small bunch of lilies I could fill our apartment with perfume for a week.

Lily bulbs were almost the first thing I planted in the flower garden here. I have always planted mine in spring, but I hear that they do even better planted in fall. B&D Lilies is a great source for online ordering.

There are Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies, various species lilies, and hybrid mixes. I have my favorites, but I also like planting a variety in order to have a long season of lily flowers. The Asiatic lilies bloom first and are usually without scent.

Eyeliner: I often find the Asiatic lilies are too brash and artificial looking for my taste, but ‘Eyeliner’ is a fun hybrid. It’s a pure white flower with a dark brown “eyeliner” edge on each petal.

Casa Blanca: A much-admired white, strongly scented Oriental lily.

Scheherazade: Tall, rich pink-red color, and dozens of blooms on a single stem. I love the petals that curl back so delicately.

Lilium species regale: Beautiful streaks of pink and white, lots of perfume, and it blooms between the Asiatics and the Orientals.

Favorite Peonies

Peonies are easy to grow and among the longest lasting perennials we can plant in our gardens. It is wonderful to anticipate their late spring flowers all year long.

Here are some of my favorite varieties:

  • Sarah Bernhardt: My sentimental favorite. Scented, double pink blooms. An especially romantic peony.
  • Bowl of Beauty: Ruffly pink perfection.
  • Kansas: Gorgeous deep, pinkish red.
  • Duchesse De Nemours: an elegant white peony. I have several of these in my flower garden.
  • Bartzella: This pale yellow peony is a special intersectional hybrid, which means it’s an especially garden-worthy plant. These hybrids are a cross between regular herbaceous peonies like those listed above and tree peonies. They die back just like ordinary peonies, but their stems are strong and never need staking.


Favorite Daffodils


Say the word daffodil, and we tend to picture flowers like the beautiful ‘Ice Follies’ seen in the picture above.

But daffodils (properly called narcissus) come in so many varieties. I love the unique “fancy” daffodils, and any daffodil with scent. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Bridal Crown: A delicate, ruffled, scented daffodil that grows well in containers.
  • Gay Tabor: Like a scented cream puff with hints of orange. Delicious.
  • Thalia: Pure white, delicate, very elegant.
  • Rijnveld’s Early Sensation: The earliest-blooming daffodil I grow. A reliable and cheerful splash of yellow in late winter.
  • Poet’s Daffodil (poeticus recurvus): The latest daffodil to flower. Gorgeous, wild shape and wonderful scent

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