Favorite Tulips


First, let me say this: my yard is un-fenced, and deer roam freely. Deer LOVE tulips.

What’s a gardener to do?

Plant daffodils. And that’s no joke! Daffodils come in so many beautiful colors and shapes, it really is no loss to plant masses of them in my flower garden, along the wooded edges of our property, in pots, and just about anywhere else I can think of.

But I still want tulips. So, I plant them in three ways. None are foolproof, but together these strategies ensure at least a few tulips every spring:

  • I plant tulips near our house, especially highly trafficked areas like doorways. I find that deer are less likely to eat these tulips.
  • I plant tulips in containers (see yesterday’s post in “How To”), then keep those pots in the house or on a table.
  • I planted tulips in my vegetable garden: my old vegetable garden was fenced. Each fall, I would plant two raised beds with tulip bulbs. In the spring, I would cut those flowers for the house. By the time the tulips were finished flowering, it was time to plant warm-weather loving tomatoes.

Here are some of my favorite tulip varieties:

Rem’s Favourite: (Pictured above) Purple and white streaks like an antique Dutch “Tulipmania” flower

Blushing Lady: Elegant tulip in pale pink and yellow. Great for cutting.

Dream Touch: Easily the most beautiful tulip I’ve grown. Ideal for cutting and bringing indoors to enjoy the silver-tipped layers. Almost looks like a peony.

Foxtrot and Foxy Foxtrot: Beautiful double tulips in pink and salmon.

Ollioules: One of the most perennial tulips I have grown. A beautiful, silvery pink for flowerbeds. This one does look best against a green backdrop, as the pale color can get a bit lost in the garden.

Queen of Night: Tall, rich purple, almost black. A stunning tulip in the garden or flower arrangement.

White Triumphator: My favorite for the flower garden and for planting around our house. Begins ivory and turns pure white. An elegant, tall, lily-shaped tulip.

Rose Pruning Basics



Early spring is for major pruning. Prune too early and a late-freeze could kill the tender new growth your pruning encouraged. I try to listen to my roses: when they begin to bud and leaf out, I prune.

Summer is for deadheading. Pruning off finished flowers will help your rose bloom more and for a longer period.

Autumn is for trimming back extra long canes that could be damaged by winter wind. Cleaning your tools is especially important now when rose diseases may be present at the end of the growing season.


Clean, sharp snips and pruning tools. I rub the blades down with alcohol on cotton balls or a rag.

Cut on an angle just above a bud. Cut too far above a bud and the stub of wood will shrivel and could spread decay further in that cane. Cut too close and you could damage the bud.


Remember the 3 Ds: Dead, Diseased, Damaged. Begin there by cutting dead wood back to the ground. If the canes are green inside, they are still alive. You can cut damaged and diseased wood all the way back or just well beneath the affected portion.

For shrub roses, I reduce the bush by about a third. Cut back to just above a healthy looking bud break.

Other things to look for: you might prune out thin, wispy growth. You might prune out growth that crosses. When canes rub together they can cause wounds that may weaken or kill the wood.

Finally, clean up. Cart away the pruned leaves and wood in order to discourage pests and disease.

A few additional tips:

  • Climbing roses: much of the above still applies, but you will want to learn more about the difference between main canes and lateral canes; climbing roses flower along their lateral growth
  • One-time blooming roses: These should be pruned only after they bloom. Otherwise, you might not have any flowers that year.
  • Hips: Many rose varieties will set beautiful (and nutritious!) rose hips. These are the fruit of a rose. Toward the end of the growing season stop deadheading in order to let the hips develop. They are beautiful, good food for people and wildlife, and they signal the rose that it’s time for dormancy.
  • It’s very unlikely that you will kill a rose by overpruning or pruning badly. At worst, you might sacrifice of a few of that season’s blooms.

Why “Continuously Blooming” Isn’t Necessarily Better


We had some glorious early spring weather this weekend. I checked on my roses and realized that some came through the past winter better than others.

Some roses had very little dead or diseased wood needing to be pruned out, while with others I had to cut out almost half of the canes. Unfortunately, that happens frequently here in my Pennsylvania zone 6 garden. Extreme cold is rarely a problem for my roses, but our fluctuating temperatures (first cold, then warm, then cold again) are really hard on some of these shrubs.

Early spring pruning is always exciting though: each little pink bud is the promise of new growth and glorious flowers. If you’re thinking of planting a rose this spring, I encourage you to consider those antique or heirloom varieties that only bloom once each year.

Why do that when we could choose a repeat-blooming rose?

Because my once-blooming roses are some of the most beautiful and most abundant roses I grow. They may flower only once over a period of two or three weeks, but during those weeks the number of roses is astonishing.

These roses are worth the wait.

Consider this: we don’t fault peonies for blooming only once each year. Instead, we anticipate those special flowers all year, and we soak up their beauty while we can. Once-blooming roses are like that: something to anticipate all year, and a fulfillment of anticipation that is almost beyond imagining. I love all my roses, and I am grateful for those shrubs that offer flowers steadily through the summer or in nice flushes in spring and again in fall.

But one-time blooming roses? There’s really nothing else like them. Here are some favorites:

  • Cecile Brunner
  • Madame Hardy
  • American Beauty, Climber
  • Albertine
  • Constance Spry (not technically an antique but a beautiful once-bloomer)


Self-seeding Flowers

Some annual flowers behave almost like perennials because the seeds they drop at the end of the growing season germinate and grow the following year. It’s always a fun surprise to wait and see where they will pop up next, and you can manage the process a bit by shaking their seeds in those areas where you want to see them grow.

I love to include self-seeders in my garden, though I recommend asking around to make sure that you aren’t introducing something that might be invasive in your local area.

Here are my favorite self-seeding flowers:

  • Verbena bonariensis: A beautiful, airy pinkish-purple flower that grows on tall stalks. Butterflies love it.
  • ‘Dara’ laceflower: Actually, a form of carrot, this is like Queen Anne’s Lace but in beautiful pink and chocolate-brown colors.
  • Viola: I love the old-fashioned viola commonly known as ‘Johnny-Jump-Up.’
  • Cosmos: The return of these flowers is very hit-or-miss for me, but when they come back, I am always glad to welcome them.
  • ‘Lauren’s Grape’ Poppy (papaver somniferum): A beautiful, purple poppy. Even the seedheads are gorgeous in the garden.

My Favorite Roses


To name my favorite rose varieties is a bit like being asked to name my favorite children. All of them! I want to say. But when you have one spot for a rose and thousands to choose among, a “Favorites” post is a very helpful thing.

Of course, it is only a starting point. Like a diving board into a very deep–and very wonderful–pool, let this little list be a starting point only. Because every garden is different, and every rose will respond differently, and, well, don’t let that overwhelm you. If you decide a rose isn’t happy in your garden–give it away! Or add it to the compost pile and try again.

This is supposed to be fun. And it is!

  • ‘Queen of Sweden’: A David Austin rose (pictured above). Tall, but not too tall. Graceful and healthy. This is one elegant, easy-to-grow rose.
  • ‘Lady of Shalott’: Another David Austin, this coral beauty blooms and blooms and blooms. It needs a bit of room for its tall arching canes. Very healthy in my hot and humid garden.
  • climbing ‘Cecile Brunner,’ the “Sweetheart Rose”: the climbing form of this rose is healthy and vigorous (mine used to romp all over the enclosed chicken run). I love the juxtaposition between small, perfect boutonnières and the vigorous size of the plant.
  • ‘Bonica’: A healthy, medium to large shrub covered in continuously blooming, ruffled, shell-pink roses. Just what a rose should be. The beautiful orange hips are an autumn bonus.
  • ‘Madame Hardy’: beautiful, spring-blooming antique rose. Flat white flowers with a green-button eye.

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