In southeastern Ohio this season we have enjoyed perfect growing conditions for roses and the displays have been divine. We had a cooler than normal spring with perfectly timed rains allowing our roses to hold their blooms for a long … Continue ...


A Perfect Year for Roses and more...

A Perfect Year for Roses

In southeastern Ohio this season we have enjoyed perfect growing conditions for roses and the displays have been divine. We had a cooler than normal spring with perfectly timed rains allowing our roses to hold their blooms for a long time. We also enjoyed low humidity which inhibited typical diseases like Powdery Mildew and Black Spot from setting in.

Since moving 8 years ago from Nantucket Island, where at every turn there is a rose covered cottage or a walk to the beach takes you past a bluff covered in fragrant beach roses, it has been my desire to share and encourage a love for rambling and climbing roses. Many of my new Midwestern gardening friends are more accustomed to the ho-hum ‘Knockout’ roses introduced by the landscape industry for their ability to look mediocre in all conditions(which is supposed to be a good trait), or they are daunted by the difficult reputation of the T-roses we often see in those beautiful David Austin Rose advertisements. Not being one to settle for mediocrity when I can possibly help it, here are some beautiful roses that can tolerate both our harsh winters and our very hot, humid summers. The roses I have included in this post are fairly disease resistant varieties and I plan to have many of them available to sell next spring.

“Climbing New Dawn’ and ‘Dorothy Perkins’ on Nantucket:

This is Rosa ‘Aloha’. Here it is growing in an Ohio garden as a 4′-5′ shrub rose. It can also be grown as a shorter climbing rose reaching around 8ft. This is a repeat bloomer so deadhead back to a leaflet that has at least 5 healthy leaves as soon as the cluster has passed to encourage the next set of flower buds.


Below is the ‘Constant Gardener’. It is a very subtle, repeat-blooming, shrub rose. I must say it gets lost in all of the action I have going on in the garden in which I have it planted so I suggest giving it a quiet corner of its own where one can appreciate its delicate color and flower structure.

Here is a rose that often brings tears to my eyes as it reminds me so much of the Nantucket cottages that are literally covered from door step to roof top because of its beautiful rambling habit and where it is often enveloped by the soft morning fog with the sleepy fog horn sounding in the background. Her name is ‘Dorothy Perkins’. This rose can be susceptible to powdery mildew in humid conditions but this is easily controlled by a light spray of a horticultural oil and water solution.
Growing on my home in Chandlersville Ohio

This next rose, ‘Alchemist’, is truly a diva! She has taken me by complete surprise with her looks as I took a chance ordering some bare-root stock having never grown her before. Wow! This is one vigorous, glorious rose but she has an evil side that wields some of the most viscous and stubborn thorns I have ever encountered. As long as you keep her tied to her support and don’t let her venture too far you are safe but, once you let her roam free beware! She will exact a painful price when reigning her back in. I was literally in tears and screaming the day I had to tame her and confine her to the domain of her pergola.

‘Alchemist’ has an overabundance of buds that burst into the most luscious, blushed apricot blooms aging to a rich cream color. The kind of cream you get from a happy grass fed jersey cow. All of this talk of roses and cream has me craving a pot of Lady Grey tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Below is a simple beauty, Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’. Rugosa roses are beach roses so they are very hardy, disease resistant even to Rose Rosette disease, and quite vigorous. This is a very shrubby and thorny plant so put in a spot where it can just fill out naturally without over taking its neighbors. ‘Hansa’ has a more refined appearance than the true beach rose, growing a bit more upright rather than spreading horizontally as the beach roses do, and it has a nice double flower. My favorite aspect of beach roses is there soft, but delicious fragrance that fills the air when the sun hits the blooms. I usually will grab a bloom and bring it in the truck with me to enjoy on my way to work or en route to my next garden to tend. I have ‘Hansa’ planted in a garden at a nearby nursing home and when I am there checking on things I love being able to share a bloom from this rose if a resident happens to be outside sitting in the sun.


End of Summer Favorite

I started this blog to write about growing my favorite plants and flowers, but I would be hard pressed to decide whether I enjoy them more for their beauty, or for the sheer joy and gratitude I get from harvesting and cooking with some of these plants. I just couldn’t resist sharing this end of summer favorite recipe with you.

Sadly, I was unable to get my own vegetable garden in this year even after starting all of the seeds for it, but that did not stop me from fully appreciating the wonderful produce offered at various farmer’s markets in my area. The end of summer and beginning of fall is I think my favorite time of year to visit markets. The flavors of the tomatoes seem to deepen and the fresh, crisp apples are starting to fill the stands.

This week I stopped at the Curly Girl Farm Stand and loaded up!

Fortunately we finally got a couple of rainy days here and while working on some garden plans I got to make my favorite late season dish, Ratatouille, with all the goodies I bought. This dish is perfect if you have other chores to do because you basically put everything in the oven and leave it.

My ratatouille comes out different every time I make it. I am a very imperfect cook and I rarely follow one recipe, but rather some combination of many I have read. So, you wont find any exacting instructions or specific measurements in most of my cooking. Typically the dish is made with varying amounts of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic, herbs, and anything else that sounds good.
I prefer the easiest possible method of preparing this dish which is to coarsely chop the vegetables and roast them in the oven. I put them on an edged cookie sheet or in a dish with copious amounts of olive oil and some coarse salt and pepper.


I like to roast the onions and tomatoes together because they take about the same amount of time which is maybe around 2 hours at 375 degrees, or until they are getting browned and caramelized and the juices are starting to disappear.

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Next I combine all the roasted vegetables in a heavy oven proof pot, add about 2 cups of water, sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of coarse brown cane sugar, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste and return it to a cooler oven of 325 degrees for about another 45-60.


I like the outcome to be like a chunky, rich, and concentrated preserve. In my dreams it would accompany a freshly caught, lightly breaded filet of Canadian Small Mouth bass fried in browned butter but, it can accompany any roasted or grilled meat.

The way I eat it most often however, is spread very thickly on a chunky, toasted piece of Country or Italian bread with some shaved Parmesan and chopped fresh basil on top and of course a nice glass of Pinot Noir!



A Little Review of Our Blooms This Season at Mission Oaks Gardens

I am lucky enough to get to spend some of my time working and volunteering at Mission Oaks Gardens in my home town of Zanesville, Ohio. This 5 acre botanical garden is a local treasure and open to the public everyday. If you haven’t gotten a chance to come visit, here is just a little of what you are missing:
This gorgeous, rare cup and saucer Magnolia named ‘Joe McDaniels’ was gifted to the original owner of the gardens years ago by a friend of the breeder.

I think Magnolia ‘Big Dude’ below is my favorite. The immense size of the flowers, often exceeding 12 inches in diameter, remind of me of the prehistoric nature of the magnolia and its need to have large tough flower parts to survive pollination in a time when large beetles were the pollinators instead of some of the delicate species of insects that exist today.
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Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ never fails to cheer me up with the sheer mass of creamy yellow flowers that seem to fill the sky.
Spring '15 008Here is ‘Coral Lake’ in beautiful muted tones on a cloudy day.
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And here it is transformed on a bright, sunny, spring day!
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I love these little ‘Autumn Maple’ irises both because of the warm spring color they offer and because they bloom just as heavily a second time in October.
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Strolling through the gardens in spring is like walking through a real life fairy garden. There are over 100 different species of Rhododendron and Azaleas throughout the gardens with more being planted everyday!
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May is the month that the Perennial Garden begins to make itself known.
Who can resist the Itoh Peony ‘Bartzella’.
Evening light is making its way out of the garden lighting up the white flower masses of the Fringe Tree in the distance and Baptisias ‘Australis’ and ‘Screamin Yellow’ are making a last statement before dark.
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Baptisia ‘Screamin Yellow’ the next morning.
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Echinacea ‘Solar Flare’ has surprised me with its hardiness these past couple years and has come back stronger each season.Unfortunately one can not say that about many of the new varieties of echinacea these days.
Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’ is best up close and personal.
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Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ is my favorite beebalm. It does so well in shade and is just a gorgeous, eccentric looking flower.
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For you chartreuse lovers out there variegated Comfrey is a must have!
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I love all the different foliage and textures that came together in this corner of the garden. The purple heart shaped leaves of Katsura, the delicate leaflets of Wild Senna, the red shade dwelling Spygellia, a little Mukdenia, and the bright orange flowers of Milkweed tuberosa.
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The Oriental lilies over near our volunteer building have really outdone themselves this year.
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Hydrangea paniculata ‘Strawberry Sunday’ has finally earned my respect. I think it may have the prettiest and most delicate flower form of all the paniculatas.
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The lovely Dahlia ‘Elise’ is just beginning to bloom.
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The less showy but very sweet little Dahlia ‘Gala’ is blending nicely with some variegated coleus here.
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Last but not least for the mid-season highlights is my favorite angle of the perennial garden at the moment.
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The new Hydrangea paniculata ‘Passionate’ that frames the above picture on the left side has astounded me with the massive size of its flowers. They are well over a foot long!! Unfortunately the deer ate most of the blooms off of this tree so we can;’t get the full effect that his new variety has to offer but wow, just wow! I will be sure to cover this with netting next year so we get to see what it really has to offer. This lovely tree was planted by the Nashport, OH Girl Scouts troop when they came to the gardens to learn and obtain their Tree Badge. Thanks girls!!

Stay tuned for highlights from the second half of the season!


Update to Easiest Little Salad Garden Ever

Back in mid-March I posted about the easiest little salad garden I have ever started in my kitchen in recycled spinach containers. Four days after planting the seeds the lettuce was already coming up and a few days later the tomatoes and basil followed suit. By March 30th it was time to transplant the lettuce into more spacious rows in another spinach container. The tomatoes and basil were getting cozy in their original container but could handle another two weeks or so staying put.
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It is now April 15 and the lettuce is ready to go to an outside bed or container. I have not yet prepared the ground for my vegetable garden so in the mean time I am going to get a jump on things by planting this batch of lettuce in a wine barrel just outside my front door.

One of the most difficult but necessary things to try to keep up with if you like having fresh salad greens is to make sure you start new seeds every 2-3 weeks.

The tomatoes and basil are ready to be bumped up into another spinach container and spaced out or, into their own small individual containers. They will not be ready to go outside here in Ohio until at least mid-May.
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Doug Beilstein of Hostaworks will be speaking at the Muskingum Valley Park District This Week

Mission Oaks Gardens and the Muskingum Valley Master Gardeners invite the public to come this Saturday March 28th to listen to horticulturalist and hosta grower and hybridizer Doug Beilstein from 2:00-3:00 at the Park District Volunteer Building in Zanesville on the corner of McConnell and Euclid. doug_prop Doug and his wife Mardy own and operate their greenhouse business, Hostaworks, in Mansfield Ohio where they currently grow 6-7,000 seedlings. He has been a hosta hybridizer for over twenty years and was recently president of the American Hosta Society. He has spoken at many local, regional, and national conventions on hybridizing. He loves to share his knowledge about this beautiful shade addition to the garden. Doug is familiar with this part of Ohio as he attended Muskingum College.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn about what to look for in selection, and on displaying and caring for this beautiful shade plant. He will also offer suggestions on the use of other companion plants for your garden beds.

Seating for this Garden Speaker Program is limited to 50 people. Please register with Darlene Turner by calling 740 450-8050 ext.0
Admission is free but donations are accepted.

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