A Garden Is A Marshmallow World

PROVEN WINNERS © 'Magic Hibisbus Cranberry Crush'
1. The fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect. 

“The juxtaposition of country & tropical creates a marshmallow garden world.”

PROVEN WINNERS © 'Magic Hibisbus Cranberry Crush'
PROVEN WINNERS © ‘Magic Hibisbus Cranberry Crush’ 

Shown above is a Proven Winner genus of plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae known for large showy flowers simply known as hibiscus, less widely known as ‘rose mallow. The magical quality of the hibiscus enchants me to sing out loud, “A Marshmallow World.”


Most of the mallows from the hibiscus (also known as ‘rose mallow’) have been used as food recorded throughout history by early classic writers. A dish of ‘marsh mallow’ considered an edible vegetable during Roman times was considered a delicacy. According to Wikipedia Prosper Alpinus stated in 1592 that a plant of the rose mallow kind was eaten by the Egyptians. Many of the poorer inhabitants of the world have subsisted for weeks on herbs, of which marsh mallow is one of the most common.

Hibiscus Summerific® 'Berrylicious'
Hibiscus Summerific® ‘Berrylicious’

The juxtaposed look of country; the little red barn & tropical the; the ‘Rose Mallows’ give the garden a Marshmallow World effect. You too can have a Marshmallow World. I love these Proven Winners Summerific ‘Rose Mallow’ plants, don’t you?

Hibiscus Summerific® 'Berrylicious'
Hibiscus Summerific® ‘Berrylicious’
PROVEN WINNERS © 'Magic Hibisbus Cranberry Crush'
PROVEN WINNERS © ‘Magic Hibisbus Cranberry Crush’

Proven Winners ‘Meteor Showers’ next to my conifer,  and the ‘Rose Mallow’ Hibiscus.

PROVEN WINNERS © 'Meteor Showers'
PROVEN WINNERS © ‘Meteor Showers’ | ‘Cranberry Crush’ Hibuscus
PROVEN WINNERS © 'Meteor Showers' Pollinator Attractant
PROVEN WINNERS © ‘Meteor Showers’ Pollinator Attractants

The smartest, most beautiful woman I know, my daughter-in-law said to me,

on mixing tropicals in a country rose garden landscape: “Its the juxtaposition that I love.”

Family Relationships Grow
My beautiful Daughter-In Law| The Best Mom I Know | Loves A Little Bit Of Country and A Whole Lot of Tropical  ‘Rose Mallow” This is us planting the ‘Kids Garden’ in Virginia

*Please visit Instagram where I can give some credit to my dear sister-in-law, Martha Proctor who I first saw ‘Cranberry Crush’ blooming in Wisconsin and was enchanted by it.

So I say mix ’em up Roses & Tropicals!

Proven Winners 'Summerific' Hibiscus
‘Summerific’ Hibiscus | I have a ‘Crush on ‘Cranberry Crush’ & Roses in the Rock Rose Garden with ‘Earth Song’



3 Climbing Roses ‘Big As A Barn’

'Stormy Weather'
'Above and Beyond' As Big as a Barn
‘Above and Beyond’ As Big as a Barn Ready to Burst Into Bloom

One qustion I am ask frequently is “what’s a great climbing rose?” Here are three early spring blooming climbing roses. Two that are as “big as a barn.” One is a compact ‘mysterious deep smoky purple that’s simply a stunner!

1. Above and Beyond’ LCI

  1. Winter hardy
  2. No-spray
  3. Minimal care
  4. Highly Fragrant
    'Above and Beyond' loaded with buds | Hydridized by Dr. David Zlesak | Winter Hardy, Easy-Care
    ‘Above and Beyond’ Large Flowered Climber loaded with rose buds | Hybridized by Dr. David Zlesak | Winter Hardy, Easy-Care, no-spray

    'Above and Beyond' loaded with buds as 'Big As A Barn'
    ‘Above and Beyond’ loaded with buds as ‘Big As A Barn’ | Next to ‘Above and ‘Beyond’ is Proven Winners Oso Easy ‘Paprika’ and ‘Fragrant Speader’

It is winter hardy, no-spray, minimal care and so enchantingly fragrant. Although it blooms just once a year in the spring, its worth having just for this spectacular bloom.

'Above and Beyond' Roses in Bloom in the Rose Garden
‘Above and Beyond’ Roses in Bloom

2. ‘Nevada’ Hybrid Moyesii

  1. Winter hardy
  2. Minimal care
  3. Blooms twice per year, white in the spring, pink in the fall!
  4. Highly fragrant

When the gentle spring breeze blows its petals appear to look as if the entire bush is filled with butterflies. The fragrance is divine.

'Nevada' petals looks like butterflies when the wind blows the petals
‘Nevada’ looks like butterflies when the wind blows the petals
'Nevada' Hybrid Moyessii | Blooms twice a year, very fragrant
‘Nevada’ Hybrid Moyessii | Blooms twice a year, very fragrant
'Nevada' a Hybrid Moyesii "loaded with buds ready to burst into its spring bloom 'big as a barn'
‘Nevada’ a Hybrid Moyesii “loaded with buds ready to burst into its spring bloom ‘big as a barn’
'Stormy Weather'
‘Stormy Weather’ appearing as big as a barn

3. ‘Stormy Weather’ LCI Large Flowered Climber

  1. Mid-size climber with full size roses, 8-10 feet
  2. Repeat blooms in uncommon intense color, creating the perfect contrast w/oranges, reds, whites & yellows.
  3. Fragrant­
    'Stormy Weather'
    ‘Stormy Weather’ Rose Blossom

    'Stormy Weather'
    ‘Stormy Weather’ beginning to blooming

Engaging Kids In The Garden 

Kids Love Tools
Kids Love Tools
Kids Love To Use Tools

Life happens in the garden. From the miracle of seed germination, to watching the plethora of pollinators that converge on the garden, gardening is an interactive way to engage children. From growing your own food, flourishing relationships, to caring for the earth it all begins at ground level. Get out and play in the dirt with your kids!

Ten Ways To Get Kids In The Garden

  1. Provide a dedicated space for the garden

    The Raised Kids Garden
    The Raised Garden: Insignia Concrete Block
  2. Start your seeds inside then transplant together in your garden

    'Sow' Easy A Baby Can 'Sow Seeds' For The Kids Garden
    ‘Sow’ Easy A Baby Can ‘Sow Seeds’ For The Kids Garden
  3. Kids love tools; get them their own set and teach them how to maintain them

    Kids Love Tools
    Kids Love Tools
  4. Buy plants with a proven track record of success like Proven Winners

    Salvia, a perennial pollinator attractant
    Salvia, a perennial pollinator attractant
  5. Gardening gloves for kids are always a favorite

    Kids Love Gardening Gloves
    Kids Love Gardening Gloves
  6. Kids love to haul things in carts & wheelbarrows. Have them available if possible for easy tasks.

    Kids Love To Haul Things As Helpers
    Kids Love To Haul Tools
  7. Let kids dig, plant & measure plant growth Kids Getting Down

  8. Count and list visitors to the garden Catching Frogs & Roosters


    Share the bounty with friends & neighbors

    Veggies for Sale | CSA
    Veggie Bounty | Kids Garden Veggie Stand CSA
  9. Start a veggie stand to sell extra tomatoes as a neighborhood CSA

    Family Relationships Grow
    Family Relationships Grow
    Starting The Raised Bed From The Ground-Up
    Starting The Raised Bed From The Ground-Up

    The Sniff Test
    Fragrance Is Important To Kids


Easy Steps To Bare Root Rose Planting

'Miracle on the Hudson' at The Biltmore the day it swept the show winning 'Best Overall category

Miracle_W14“It seems that Canadian Geese are one of the most followed bird groups in the US. Their overhead migrations are a sure sign of the changing of the seasons.”  ~ Lisa Shea

Canadian Honker in Flight
Canadian Honker Flying North for the Summer and Other Signs of Spring Will Be Here Soon

Nothing can lull us into thinking we have plenty of time to get ready for spring than the heater running full blast and a few snow flurries swirling around. I was idly starring out the window when what to my wandering eyes should appear? No! Not a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. Hundreds if not thousands of majestic Canadian Honkers flying in their classic V-shaped formation due north signaling the transition from winter to spring. And their haunting sound echoing across the cold, brown corn fields of Illinois. Guess what can hurl me out of my winter doldrums faster than a jet propelled water slide? That’s right! Canadian honkers on their way back to what we are thinking is still the frozen tundra. Images of icebergs floating in Lake Michigan appeared in my mind and I think “what’s the deal with these geese?” Don’t they know its still winter? It was -8º the other day. Do they know something I don’t? Obviously they do. They know spring is just around the corner and they don’t want to be caught in the wrong zone at the wrong time of year. What are three sure signs that spring is not far off in northern climates? Canadian Honkers heading north, the first robin and little crocuses peaking out of melting snow.

'Miracle on the Hudson' at The Biltmore the day it swept the show winning 'Best Overall category
‘Miracle on the Hudson’ at The Biltmore the day it swept the show winning ‘Best Overall category

Tell Your Local Independent Garden Center (IGC) The Roses You Want

Listen, many folks who order roses for Independent Garden Centers (IGC) order what they feel is the ‘safe bet’ and only order traditional roses that they think will sell. And then they only carry a limited number of popular varieties like ‘Mr. Lincoln’, ‘Peace’, or ‘Queen Elizabeth’, and KnockOuts®. JuliaChild_W14Lovely as they are, what if you want ‘Neil Diamond’, ‘Julia Child’, ‘Francis Meilland’ or Sunblaze® Miniature Roses?

Star Roses and Plants 'Francis Meilland'
Star Roses and Plants ‘Francis Meilland’

Or even ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ the Certified Rose hybridized by Robert Neil Rippitoe that swept the show at The Biltmore Estate  when I was a judge at the International Rose Trials. Question, will your IGC have them? Probably not, if the person ordering roses, as they say, “doesn’t know roses” which 9 times out of ten is the case, sometimes they just go down the Weeks Roses and the Star Roses order form and choose roses based on names they like. I know this for a fact based on my investigations. My suggestion is that you learn who places orders for roses at your favorite Independent Garden Centers (IGC); after identifying roses you want from studying the Star Roses and Plants, and Weeks Roses online catalog or any of the catalogs below then ask them to order these roses for you. But you have to do this a season ahead of when you want these roses.

If you are a Consulting Rosarian work with the ordering department of your local IGC to order roses based on the American Rose Society’s Handbook for Selecting Roses rating system or getting the varieties of roses you want locally in your Independent Garden Centers is not going to happen by itself.

Let’s talk about what needs to be well underway for your spring rose garden. If you are in the country and cannot count on running down to your local well-stocked nursery and IGC,  that has many of the roses you see pictures of all winter on the Internet that sell roses in 3-5 gallon potted containers then you need to have placed your orders from your favorite rose catalog listed below so your bare root rose will arrive after the last hard freeze for your USDA plant hardiness zone.

Susan Fox, Speaker at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show
Susan Fox, Speaker at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Roses that will be at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Have you been dreaming  and planning from the selection of what you see in the magnificent Star Roses and Plants online catalog and the Weeks Roses Catalog or one of the catalogs listed below, then you better get used to the ease of ordering and planting a bare root rose. Because the roses you want may only be available from the mail order suppliers. Here are my favorite must have catalogs for selecting the most beautiful roses today. Several of the catalog sellers of roses are offering free shipping if you order through the end of February. You Pinterest fans there is no better place to start pinning then the list of online catalogs I have just linked you to below. Let the pinning begin. But better yet rather than pin roses why not plant some bare root roses. It’s easy.

Weeks Roses 2014

Roses® and Plants/Conard-Pyle

Certified Roses, Inc.

Proven Winners (Oso Easy Landscape Roses)

For Love of Roses (Miniature Roses)

Weeks Roses And Star Roses are wholesaler’s. Here’s how to enhance your rose shopping experience, you could go to the online wholesale catalogs to identify the roses you want then locate a supplier who has the rose you have identified then order it if you cannot locate it your garden center. You need to get a move on. As of the first week in April I am still receiving email offers for free shipping, etc. on orders over $100.00, etc. so you can call to see if there are special offers going on.

Bar Root Roses Arriving Early
Bare Root Roses Arriving Early

Planting A Bare Root Rose

I want you to feel confident planting a bare root rose so I am going to go over planting and care of a bare root rose. First identify your Plant Hardiness Zone. I am in planting zone 5b according to PlantMaps and  according to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map I am in zone 6a. Most shippers of plants will ask you your zip code and identify your plant hardiness zone so they will ship to you in after the last possible chance of a hard freeze. If you receive your plants early you can plant them in pots.

Some of our savvy rose friends plant them in pots and let them harden by placing them in their green houses. I have bought potted roses and hardened them by taking them inside the warmer garage each night and taken them out in the sunshine until they acclimate to cooler temperatures than the greenhouses they just came from. However, let’s talk about what I did with the bare root roses I received early.

Look for and expect grade 1 roses:

Unpacking Bare Root Roses

  • It’s key that you unpack them immediately
  • Most shippers include very good instructions with their roses
  • Your new bare root rose should never be allowed to become dry.
  • Immediately place your roses in a large bucket of water
  • I used Haven Brands Moo-Poo Tea to soak my roses


  •  Before planting, broken or dead roots and stems may be gently pruned.
  • Now dig a hole large enough and properly shaped for each rose on 2 ½ to 3-foot centers.
  • Minor pruning of long roots is fine as well.
  • Prepare the mound in the bottom of the hole that allows the roots to be draped around it. This provides a firm base for the plant and minimizes captured air. The mound should be a height that would allow the bud union to set at ground level. While no fertilizer is used in the planting process, a cup of bone meal can be mixed in the bottom of the hole and in the mounded cone as well and I add plenty of Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss.

After arranging the roots around the cone, cover the roots with a small amount of soil and check the plant position of the plant. Fill the hole with water and let the dirt settle, repeat until ground level. With proper drainage, the water will settle in a few minutes. Firm the soil with your hands, do not stamp in. Mound loose soil or mulch around the bud union. Then after the possibility of freezing temperatures pass slowly remove the mulch until the bud union is completely exposed to the warmth of the sun.

Planting Bare Root Roses Is Easy

Many folks simply do not know that the lovely potted 3-5 gallon roses you see at the nursery and garden centers are arriving now and earlier from my favorite growers as bare root and they are planting them in 3-5 gallon pots to leaf out and grow strong and for you to buy in a matter of a few weeks later.

There is no reason for you to be afraid of planting your own bare root roses if you want the kinds of roses you see and can only dream of in the Weeks Roses, Star Roses and Plants, and Certified Flip Online Wholesale Catalogs then let’s become one with the bare root planting process. It’s easy, fun and rewarding. Its not too late to order from the retail bare root sellers of their roses.

'Honorine' at The Biltmore Last Year
‘Honorine’ at The Biltmore Last Year

Happy Ordering Online. Shop for free shipping deals and coupons. I’ll be doing presentations at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show and the American Rose Society is offering Continuing Education credit for the presentations for those of you who need to keep up you Consulting Rosarian designations. Richard and I will have the forms at our presentations. See you at the show!






Planting Roses in The Fall

'Weeping' Rose and Leaves

“The tints of autumn…a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost.”
― John Greenleaf Whittier


'Weeping' Rose and Leaves
‘Weeping’ Rose and Leaves

Beveridge D. Fergusson’s Scottish Proverbs circa 1641 proclaimed, “An open confession is good for the soul.” I openly confess I have never planted a rose bush in the fall. I accept absolution and shall proceed with the task at hand. Its never too late to teach an old rosarian new tricks. Now why do you suppose I haven’t planted a rose bush in the fall, hmmm? All the books say you may plant your roses in the spring or the fall. And I bet you noticed the rose retailers and the mail order houses had great fall sales right? They need to move that inventory, they don’t want to store plants for the winter now do they? As long as we are in the confession mode I shall tell you. I didn’t want to. Growing up in the frozen tundra on the beautiful N. shore of Lake Michigan permanently affected me. The tingle of near frostbite comes to mind, drying gloves and boots all day on heat registers and the smell of smoldering wool in school wafting from the window sill. I didn’t have the heart to plant a hardy, healthy plant, wait for a season and see if it survives the winter. That’s it.


Rock Path Garden, Tall Grasses
Rock Path Garden, Tall Grasses

Roses Can Be Planted in The Fall


With that said let’s pause for a moment and reflect upon how limited the thinking I have just out-lined is! People who love roses and read this Web site live all over the world and many don’t have seasons or the seasons are reversed.  For instance one of my readers and Twitter followers LeeHarth, @greatgagagodis from Australia. I am devoted to Lee, he takes beautiful pictures of Oz, what they call “the land down under.” How many people have their very own personal “great gaga god?” I digress. Therefore we are about to embark on an adventure together. I love adventures, don’t you?! And individual case studies are invaluable educational tools. So come along with me on a magical, mystical, mystery rose adventure tour. Also my dear friend Brenda Haas of BG Garden, creator of gardenchat sent me a tweet and asked me to share some fall leave pictures this week for her flipboard magazine. She included some of the most beautiful fall pictures from her garden and all over the country so I’ve included the link for you to enjoy. I’ve posted the fall color shots from around the garden so you can see how these gardens look as the Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden is planted. Thank-you Bren for being an inspiration to so many gardeners.


Country Lane at Fall Sunset
Country Lane at Fall Sunset

Winter Hardy, Disease Resistant Roses

 Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden Planted in The Fall

When I was invited to be a guest speaker in Minneapolis I had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Zlesak who tests and is developing winter hardy and disease resistant roses. I mentioned in my last post that he developed an extremely popular rose called the Oso Happy Roses available at Spring Meadow Nurseries. These roses are disease resistant and winter hardy.I did not expect, nor did Dr. Zlesak mention that he would be sending me some roses. When I returned home a box of roses arrived from him practically as soon as I got back. I emailed him and asked him:

·      Have the roses been in a greenhouse?

·      Should I plant them now? In the fall?

·      Are they hardened off and ready to survive the winter?


Dr. Zlesak said the roses had been in the ground in Minneapolis and it would be best if I planted them now. I thought “this is so exciting.” Here is the plan. You may or may not remember, in outlining OUI Theory, Mr. Fox thought “oui” were limiting the number of roses in the new Illinois rose gardens “oui” were planting. Preposterous.


Introducing The Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden

Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden Planted in The Fall
Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden Planted in The Fall
Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden View From The Deck
Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden View From The Deck
Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden Fall Planting, Foreground, Nevada in the Background
Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden Fall Planting, Foreground, Nevada in the Background
Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden Along the Deck
Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden Along the Deck



Planted in the fall

Arrived through the mail

Planted directly in the ground

Organic soil amendments added to sandy loam only




‘ZleEltonStrack’ ~ Dr. Zlesak’snew hardy apricot colored climber coming out in 2015 (maybe a limited release in 2014).  It gets large and has one strong early bloom and then some stray repeat much like ‘William Baffin’ 


Marie Daly ~ the pink sport of the polyantha ‘Marie Pavie’


Plaisantarie ~ A delightful Lens hybrid that is a cross of a hybrid musk and ‘Mutabilis’. It has some color transitions and a habit of the hybrid musk. 


1T52 ~ Oso Happy Petit Pink


Princess Verona ~ Dr. Buck Shrub



Next Step

We’ll watch the Dr. Zlesak Rose Garden go into dormancy. Then in the spring I’ll be taking pictures and you will see how disease resistant and beautiful they are in full bloom in the spring.


About David Zlezak

“Dr. David Zlesak is using hardy species roses with modern shrub roses to try and generate roses with greater disease resistance, winter hardiness and diversity of flower color. Focusing on roses that are adapted to the Northern climate, David finds it rewarding and exciting to see new seedlings develop and work towards his breeding goals. He bred the Oso Happy Series of roses released by Spring Meadow Nursery. Dr. David Zlesak’s passion and enthusiasm for roses, as well as his broad range of research, has resulted in a body of work that will definitely make its mark on the world of roses today and in the future. From helping Dr. Lockhart from the University of Minnesota characterize new rose viruses, to overseaing the Northern Earth-Kind Rose Trials, to breeding his own roses and his research on controling blackspot, Dr. Zlezak’s varied efforts are all leading to one goal: a world of disease resistant beautiful roses!” American Rose Society American Rose Annual Nov/Dec 2012