Roses For Your Holiday Table


You Can Have Roses From Your Garden On The Holiday Table

Every Thanksgiving it’s fun to see which roses are still in bloom to cut for the table. The pink rose bud you see in the little napkin holder in the video that I’ve made to show you how to easily fold your napkins into a rose bud to complete your rose themed holiday table is a late blooming ‘Kimberlina’.

 Place Setting With Jackson & Perkins Rose Duet And A Fresh Bouquet of ‘Easy Does It’

Late Blooming Roses For Our Thanksgiving Table

‘Kimberlina’ exclusive Jackson & Perkins Rose Blooms Early and into November 

Roses are a hardy plant.

Some varieties are more winter hardy than others. Christian Bédard developed ‘Party Hardy’ for his parents living in Canada to survive the Canadian winters. It was one of the roses we chose to have blooming in the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. This rose garden was the first blooming rose garden at this show at Navy Pier in Chicago in March in over 10 years, so I am told. It was so spectacular I knew I had to have it. When Richard accidentally cut down the butterfly bush at the base of the steps to the deck I knew the perfect rose to be planted at the foot of our party deck: ‘Party Hardy’. This rose was planted as a bare root rose last May. And it’s already 51/2 feet tall and blooming through November! deck (2009)


‘Party Hardy’ Bred by Christian Bédard (2009) To Survive The Canadian Winters Also Is Blooming In November

In most zones in the country where temperatures drop below freezing it takes three days below 21 degrees before roses fully go into dormancy. Don’t forget to check out what your plant hardiness zone is. I like PlantsMap because of the extensive data it provides you. This is the data for my zone in Illinois, plant Hardiness Zone. Each year it’s fun to see which roses are still blooming into November and can be cut for the Thanksgiving table. The rose gardens I had before were in Zone 8a 10°F to 15°F, N. Texas and in November there were more roses blooming at holiday time to choose from. Now I’m in Zone 6a. These are the freeze temp ranges for Zone 6a: -10°F to -5°F., Illinois. Now in zone 6a, it seems very similar to N. Texas in may ways, but about 10 degrees cooler most days, with very little snow and I still have roses blooming in November to share with you. This is a classic I took on Christmas Eve in Texas. I wrote a post called ‘Room With A View’ about this rose.

Rosie O'Donnell on Christmas Eve in Texas
Rosie O’Donnell on Christmas Eve in Texas

Rose Dormancy

It is part of the natural cycle whereby the rose drops any foliage that could be damaged by freezing temperatures.  In a way, the plant begins to create its own antifreeze.  The cell sap begins to thicken, helping to prevent the stems from freezing during the cold winter months. The rose itself goes into an almost hibernation like state where its metabolic systems slow and the nutrients are reserved deep within the core of the rose to aid in bud formation.

Try the Snap-Scratch Test*

To check if your plant is dead or just dormant, Oklahoma State University suggests what they call the Snap-Scratch Test:

Start by selecting the tip of a cane the size of a pencil. Grasp the cane and bend it sharply back on itself. A living cane will bend easily and eventually the stem will split showing moist wood within. A dead cane will snap cleanly with very little pressure and appear dry within. The scratch test is another common method. Use a knife or fingernail to scratch the bark on a young twig.

If the rose bush is alive, it’ll be green under the bark and slightly damp to the touch. A dead cane, on the other hand, will be brown and hard to scrape in the first place.

If you do see brown, work your way down the plant stem, too. Try the scratch test with a lower twig or lower down the stem. The plant may show signs of life as you near the roots. If it does, cut off the dead stems an inch or two above the growth.

* I input the words cane & rose bush vs. tree and branch since its the same for rose wood. 

‘Sugar Plum’ Has Continued To Bloom All Through November #myjproses

Additional Gardening Data You Obtain When You Determine Your Plant Zone

1990 Hardiness Zone: Zone 1b: -15F to -10F Illinois 1990 USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Average First Frost: October 11 – 20 Illinois First Frost Date Map
Average Last Frost: April 11 – 20 Illinois Last Frost Date Map
Koppen-Geiger Climate Zone: Dfa – Humid Continental Hot Summers
Ecoregion: 72j – Southern Illinoian Till Plain Illinois Ecoregions
Palmer Drought Index: Normal Illinois Drought Index Map
Heat Zone Days: 46 – 60 days Over 86°F Illinois Heat Zones Map

Annual Climate Data for Zipcode 62080 – Central Illinois

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Avg Min Temp (°F) 18 22 32 42 53 62 66 63 55 44 34 23 43
Avg Max Temp (°F) 35 41 53 65 75 84 87 86 79 68 52 40 64
Avg Precip (In.) 2.16 2.21 3.51 3.91 4.31 4.15 3.9 3.21 3.1 2.93 3.82 3.07 40.29

Some Roses “Like It Hot”

A Candelabra of 'Pretty Lady Rose' 2nd in the Weeks Roses Series of Downton Abbey Roses
A Candelabra of 'Pretty Lady Rose' 2nd in the Weeks Roses Series of Downton Abbey Roses
A Candelabra of ‘Pretty Lady Rose’ 2nd in the Weeks Roses Series of Downton Abbey Roses | One of My Favorites

Some Roses Like It Hot

This is an updated article I wrote for The American Rose The Magazine of The American Rose Society edition July/August 2014 to now include Illinois Roses 

This is 'Sugar Moon' in the foreground and 'Francis Meilland' in the background
This is ‘Sugar Moon’ HT Roses in the foreground and ‘Francis Meilland’ HT Roses in the background | ‘Julia Child’ a yellow floribunda rose

How hot is too hot for roses?

Moving from Texas to Illinois in June of 2011 I thought I was saying good-bye to mind numbing days of counting the days of temperatures over 100, water restrictions, and days without rain. Then the summer of 2011 the entire nation faced a 100-year drought and record heat. Even though I had had enough of Texas heat it seems I had packed up Texas weather and taken it with me to the rolling cornfields of Central Illinois. The summer of 2011 was also a 100-year draught across much of the nation proving once again a message that rosarians can convey to each other and those new to growing roses. Roses are resilient and can withstand very hot temperatures as long as they are watered regularly. Click to read: Killer Texas Summer Shatters Heat Drought Records.

Close-Up of 'Watercolors Home Run' Shrub Rose
Close-Up of ‘Watercolors Home Run’ Shrub Rose

Fast forward June 2016!

Here’s the Question I was asked to answer for readers of American Rose Magazine July/August edition 2014 

Question: Do you think its better to “use canopies or individual coverings for roses during extreme heat conditions or let your roses sulk in the summer heat”?

'Sugar Moon' Hybrid tea Rose in The Illinois Garden After Sustained Heat
‘Sugar Moon’ Hybrid tea Rose in The Illinois Garden After Sustained Heat

There’s more than one answer to the question:

When roses (and virtually any other plants) reach the point of excessive water stress, they don’t “feed,” nor do they try to grow. They simply try to remain alive. That’s why even when you’re watering daily with what feels like excessive water amounts, many rose bushes will begin shedding their leaves to reduce their water stress. With less leaves and they don’t “sweat”,  transpire it through the foliage. That slows and can literally stop the flow of sap from the roots upward, so no food is taken in. Nature demands balance. Even in times of extreme heat I have seen my roses continue to remain beautiful with just smaller blooms and less frequent bloom cycles. Roses seem to go into almost a dormancy state to conserve energy and water.

'Easy Does It' In The Illinois Garden Close-Up
‘Easy Does It’ In The Illinois Garden Close-Up

Answer: For the purpose of this article I chose to let my Roses swelter in both N. Texas and now Central Illinois heat with protection in mind to identify heat tolerant roses that perform better under extreme heat and low water conditions. 

Here’s ways that we can continue to grow good roses and preserve our plants and maintain water restrictions. In extreme heat like the DFW area I recommend protection and filtered light as protection from the unending heat rather than canopies if possible and here are a few tactics I employed in N. Texas while growing over 200 roses there. I had hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, miniatures, shrubs, David Austin Roses, Large Flowered Climbers, and Knock-Outs.

'Bolero' In The Illinois Garden Setting
‘Bolero’ In The Illinois Garden Setting
  1. Select roses suitable for a hot climate. I have a list of modern roses that I have proved can survive extreme N. Texas heat for 20 + years. And you can also plant OGR’s that are adapted to heat, those in existence before 1867. The beauty of these roses lie in their heady fragrance and can include Hybrid Perpetuals, Teas, Chinas, Hybrid Musks, Bourbons and other Classes like these. Avoid using antique roses bred for colder climates such as the Kordes Roses and Rugosas.
  2. Just as dark colors retain heat and light colors keep us cooler, lighter-colored roses can hold up to extreme heat better than dark reds, and oranges do. Plant darker colored roses where there is some protection or perhaps less than full sun. Choose some white, light-pink and pale yellow roses that seem to hold up better to extreme temperatures.
  3. The elevated beds I put in in N. Texas allowed me to put in a laser cut drip irrigation watering system. I watered deeply and at the base of the plant, not directly on the leaves of the plant. I set timers to water very early in the morning not ever during full sun. During times when water restrictions were in place we could use the hose and I deep watered allowable amounts and my roses did just fine. Remember that dehydration during summer months can put your plants in peril. If you have an irrigation system in place be sure that it’s set to water at least 2 inches of water per week, and does not water directly on the leaves of the plant during full sun. This is difficult to determine when you take into consideration factors like wind, temperature and type of soil. So you may want to purchase a moisture gauge for your rose garden.
  4. Fertilize from two weeks to 30 days prior to when you expect hot weather to reach and maintain temperatures near 98F. Organic fertilizers and soil amendments are far less likely to burn your plants even during sustained high temperatures. For those of you living in zones where temperatures really start to warm up in late-February, this is a time to begin fertilizing. Then fertilize monthly until mid-May when temperatures start to rise. You really have to watch carefully your fertilizer to water ratio during the hottest months. That should be your signal to start reducing your fertilizing until late in the summer.
  5.  Shredded hardwood mulch retains moisture and keeps the soil cooler; I use layers of hardwood mulch over Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss that I add each season.
  6. Plant roses with protection from afternoon sun and be sure they still receive at least 6 hours of direct morning sunlight.
  7. Roses love to grow in largely organic soil with good drainage. To grow the best roses in summer heat, plant your rose in a deep hole that drains well. Water regularly and deeply, In Texas my roses in the front yard had indirect afternoon sun with the dappled light of oak trees I planted that grew to be mighty shade providing oak trees, and this provided a canopy of well-needed cooling shade cover.

    'Bolero' In The Heat of Summer In Illinois
    ‘Bolero’ In The Heat of Summer In Illinois

You can use a shade cloth cover if that is aesthetically acceptable to you. Don ‘t plant roses next to a South or West facing wall, especially stone or brick because the stone holds heat that can also burn your plants and will reflect too much heat. My roses that I planted and added stones along a path held heat late into the evening on a hot summer day due to absorbing qualities of the stone and I could see these roses suffered from the excessive heat of the stone, the roses with grass next to them were far cooler. Don’t forget that layers of mulch help to keep the soil cool. Spraying off the roses in the evening helps to cool your plants and wash away spider mites but never spray during direct sunlight.

My Susan Fox Top Ten List from my Texas  & Illinois Garden Garden

  1. Julia Child, F
  2. Francis Meilland, HT
  3. Sugar Moon, HT
  4. Pretty Lady Rose, HT
  5. Bolero, F
  6. Easy Does It, F
  7. Take It Easy, S
  8. Pumpkin Patch, F
  9. Watercolors Home Run, S
  10. Europeana, F

I also thought I would ask Minnesota Rose Gardener Jack Falkner about heat in the a northern climate and here’s what Jack had to say:

“Folks are often surprised to hear that we get a lot of hot weather in Minnesota in the summer.  It’s not at all unusual for us to see temperatures upwards to the high nineties and 100, along with very high humidity.  That’s when I wash my roses at mid-day to cool them down.  Syringing is also the best thing you can do to control spider mites.  You can use any kind of nozzle that delivers a sharp stream, but I use a spider mite blaster that shoots a high-pressure fan of water up from the bottom of the plants and they love it.  An added advantage is that I get pretty wet in the process, which makes me feel like a kid running through the sprinkler on a hot day.” ~ Jack Falkner

Magnificent 'Take It Easy' in Full Bloom
Magnificent ‘Take It Easy’ in Full Bloom
'Pumpkin Patch' Candelabras Light Dawn With An Orange Glow
‘Pumpkin Patch’ Candelabras Light Dawn With An Orange Glow



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


Teacher’s Dream Garden Shed

Teacher's Dream Potting Shed
Teacher's Dream Potting Shed
Teacher’s Dream Potting Shed

The story of Barb Kingery’s potting shed went viral. Why? Because Miriam Illions of Hometalk saw a picture I posted of it on Twitter. She tweeted to me and asked me to post it to Hometalk, her network, the largest home and garden social network on the Web. Its been pinned 7.8k times and shared 10k times.  Now Barb says, “Susan, we live on the edge of fame.”

The Power of A Well Timed Tweet & A Photo

Barb reflected, “Susan, wait a minute, I think I am famous, just Google Barb Kingery.” 

Antique Brass Chandelier
Antique Brass Chandelier

At Miriam Illion’s request I joined the network and subsequently also became a spokeperson for Hometalk. I then posted the complete series of photos at that time at Since then Barb’s ‘”Teacher’s Dream Garden Shed” with an antique crystal chandelier has become quite famous. A few weeks ago Hannah Vaughn of Hometalk contacted me and asked if Country Living Magazine and Good Housekeeping, a Meredith Corporation could reprint my photos and the essence of the story. Barb now happily lives “on the edge of fame.”

Teacher's Theme
Teacher’s Theme

Here’s her story as I posted it:

A 35 year career 2nd grade teacher, Barb Kingery from Illinois designed her dream potting shed herself. The potting shed design is an adaptation of plans that were in the 2005 July/August Handyman magazine. Barb purchased the red door at an antique store, and the builder turned it into a Dutch door as well as building the carriage doors. Every item including the brass and crystal chandelier was bought at garage and yard sales driving out in the country hunting for gardening themed items. The interior items cost her around $300.00. She contracted the work that had to be done by any outside labor. Functional in every way this potting shed coverts into a playhouse for grand kids to play school and store when not in use planting the fall bulbs.

The School Room Setting
The School Room Setting

Antique Sewing Machine | Watering Can
Antique Sewing Machine | Watering Can

You can learn more about gardening projects at

The Garden Shed Side Door
The Garden Shed Side Door
Barb Kingery | Living On The Edge of Fame
Barb Kingery | Living On The Edge of Fame


*Reflection notes for Diary of A Marketing Mom: the discussion Master of the Marketing Analytics Universe, Michael Fox and I have been having is this, let’s say Meredith Corporation tracks their new readership data with Google Analytics. They have to have this data to sell advertising. Trust me based on the 10k Retweets and the 7.8k pins I had on Hometalk for my post ‘Teacher’s Dream”this article is going to boost their readership. The new readership they gain all due to Barb’s “Cute Potting Shed”. The true source of this data actually would be Hometalk, via Twitter. Side note about Twitter is although enormously popular Twitter struggles to show value to advertisers. Our mantra in the departments I managed was if you can’t measure it it’s of no value. Change your strategy until you find what works, then be able to track and measure those results.  Its essential to source true data of what works, more than ever because of the disparity in the understanding of management of ‘what is’ and ‘how does it add to the bottom line’. the social media activity department within marketing departments must prepare them self with case studies and be able to account for every dollar spent. Budget line items the ‘C’s often times cannot equate to the bottom line are the first to be cut are quite frankly social media, and public relations. A bit more of a challenge are the companies who haven’t seen how ‘social media’ is really just a strategic arm of the marketing department. Use this case study for your marketing department to show how a social media works and single tweet can result in a measurable ocean of data and trackable new readers, prospects, customers.