Ropin’ Roses

'Above and Beyond' after its roped up!


‘Above and Beyond’ is an apricot large-flowered-climber. It’s as big as a baby elephant! So I wanted you to see it get corralled. Securing it was like tying up a bucking bronco with thorns! Isn’t it simply amazing? hybridized by Dr. David Zlesak, its:

  1. Winter hardy
  2. Fragrant
  3. Easy-to-grow
  4. Organic, no-spray


  5. AB2_051016
  6. After

    'Above and Beyond' after its roped up!
    ‘Above and Beyond’ roped up! next to Proven Winners ‘Oso Easy’ ‘Fragrant Spreader’ and ‘Paprika’

Memory Lane of Roses

'Moonstone' bred by Tom Carruth Former Director of Research & Marketing, Weeks Roses is as at home in a garden setting as Queen of the Rose Show. #roseshows #gardenchat #rosechat #rosepicoftheday
'Moonstone' bred by Tom Carruth Former Director of Research & Marketing, Weeks Roses is as at home in a garden setting as Queen of the Rose Show. #roseshows #gardenchat #rosechat #rosepicoftheday
‘Moonstone’ bred by Tom Carruth Former Director of Research & Marketing, Weeks Roses is as at home in a garden setting as Queen of the Rose Show. #roseshows #gardenchat #rosechat #rosepicoftheday #weeksroses #Carruth #moonstone #barns #rural

Memory lane is strewn with magnificent roses in central Illinois this summer.

Double Delight with Morning Dew #nofilter #rosepicoftheday
‘Double Delight’ lit by sunlight glistening with Morning Dew #nofilter #rosepicoftheday

Dew glistening on petals of roses appears as ice crystals when lit by the first rays of dawn.

Illinois crops and vegetable gardens are bountiful with enough rain to sustain the corn and soybeans until harvest. Every day reminds me of why I love Illinois summers.

A Gaga's Garden View in July
A Gaga’s Garden View in July. This is the basket I planted for the P. Allen Smith Garden2Blog Event that Proven Winners sponsored. Petunia lovers, can you believe the petunias still look like this through the heat of summer? I used the #Jobes Organics Soil and Fertilizer they sent, as they requested and of course I’ve watered plenty and kept the spent blooms dead-headed.#landsacping #containergardening #G2B14 #ProvenWinners #companionplants

The stages of adding Illinois rose gardens continue. Last fall we planted Dr. David Zlezak’s test roses and Proven Winners winter hardy Oso Easy® Series of Roses. The fall of 2013 is the first time we’ve ever planted roses in the fall.

Proven Winner Series Two Oso® Easy Rose 'Pink Cupcake' bred by Chris Warner, UK
Proven Winner Series Two Oso® Easy Rose ‘Pink Cupcake’ bred by Chris Warner, UK

Last winter then went on to be the 3rd coldest winter in Illinois recorded history. The roses that survived can truly be considered winter hardy. This year has been one of the most beautiful years I’ve seen for the rose garden bloom cycles. I’ve chosen some beautiful pictures to share with you.

A Spray of 'Europeana'
A Spray of ‘Europeana’

Starting over is always a challenge. Yet who could imagine starting first with the floribunda rose garden in 2011 we could have come this far with the stages of the rose gardens. Here are the gardens that we have added since grandfathering our Texas Rose Garden of over 200 roses in 2011 and moving back to Illinois.

'Sugar Moon' by Weeks Roses Christian Bédard will "bull doze you down with its powerful cold cream fragrance"
‘Sugar Moon’ by Weeks Roses Christian Bédard will “bull doze you down with its powerful cold cream fragrance”


Floribunda Rose Garden Spring 2012

Elevated Hybrid Tea Garden Spring 2013

Vegetable Garden Summer 2013

Walkway Grandiflora, HT Summer 2013

Dr. Zlezak ‘Oso Happy’ Rose Garden Fall 2013


Europeana and Monarch Grande Rose (G14) by Dr. David Zlezak
Europeana and Monarch Grande Rose (G14) by Dr. David Zlezak
for sale by wholesaler Plant Peddler, Iowa

Dr. David Zlezak sent ageratum that he has been breeding for over a decade and I planted them as companion plantings around the rose garden. I thought you would especially enjoy seeing it next to ‘Europeana’.


'Neil Diamond'
‘Neil Diamond’

My family is coming to visit from Texas with all four kids, their black Labrador and two cats. Watch for pictures of boating action. I plan on teaching the kids how to deadhead roses. All righty then I have a plan for keeping them out of trouble.

Cherry Parfait Grandiflora Rose, Gagasgarden
Cherry Parfait Grandiflora Rose, Gagasgarden


The Coolest Winter Roses

Oso Happy Candy Oh!

Fall2_W14Fall of 2013 was the first time I planted roses in the fall.

Stunningly naïve of what winter had in store for us I now call the surviving roses the ‘Ice Princesses.’ I usually buy roses in the spring and plant them well after any chance of a late hard freeze. Shoppers, visualize this. It’s a beautiful September afternoon. You enter the store through the garden center. What do you see? Racks and racks of ½ price plants, right? And a few straggly, pathetic rose bushes. Oh… you think to yourself we can save them, right? If not we’ve only lost a few dollars. In the fall any plants left at the end of season are on sale everywhere. We are all tempted by retailers clearing out the garden center inventory getting ready for Christmas. Its true, retailers jump right over Halloween and Thanksgiving to put up Christmas practically as soon as they sell all the plants! It is a good time to buy and plant plants at a very reasonable price and the weather is beautiful. I planted what my husband thought were dead sticks. I told him, “no, they are perennials, they will come back.” They are growing out there as I write this. I shall have to ask Nancy Wallace (follow her on twitter @SassyNancy) or @HousePlantGuru what they are as soon as they bloom. But I only paid one dollar for perennials that usually cost 8.99!  And I planted them on a glorious fall day. See it’s a good strategy.

Fall3W14Here’s how I came to plant my first roses ever in the fall of what was going to be the 3rd worst winter on record: Last year I was invited to Minneapolis to speak to the Twin Cities Rose Club. This rose club is a very active and wonderful group with good leadership. Norma Booty, is the president and all of the board are very supportive. Lots of you know Jack Falker who is also a member and writes under the pen name of the Minnesota Rose Gardener, (follow him on twitter @MNRoseGardener)Writer, friend and editor for The American Rose Magazine, Elena Williams, The Transplanted Gardener  (follow her on twitter @ElenaWill) came from the area as well.  So last year I was invited to Minneapolis to speak to the Twin Cities Rose Club at their officers’ installation banquet. Chance had it that I was seated at the same dinner table with Dr. David Zlesak who attended my talk about how I learned to grow roses in Texas after initially learning how to grown them in the frozen tundra of Northern Illinois. He is one of the most charming and delightful people you can imagine. He is also making a tremendous contribution to the world of creating winter hardy and disease resistant roses. Dr. Zlezak has done more in the area of testing roses for winter hardiness than any one I personally know. Dr. Zlezak is an Assistant Professor of Horticulture at the University of WI and a rose hybridizer of disease resistant roses. His broad range of research has resulted in a body of work that will continue to make its mark on the world of roses today and in the future.

Dr. Zlesak's Apricot Climber
Dr. Zlesak’s Apricot Climber


When I returned home I received a parcel with roses from Dr. Zlesak’s personal test rose garden. Thus began my foray into the world of fall rose planting. These roses are simply called:

Dr. Zlesak's Rose 1T52
Dr. Zlesak’s Rose 1T52



Apricot Climber







Then I also received and planted the roses Dr. Zlezak developed for Proven Winners called ‘Oso Happy’ series of roses.  These roses were planted in the fall just prior to the Winter 2013-2014, which was the 3rd coldest on record in parts of the Midwest, according to the government’s official monthly climate report released mid-March 2014.

Oso Happy® Roses Ice Queens

Here are the ‘Oso Happy’ Roses that survived the 3rd coldest winter ever on record in zone 6a, S. Central Illinois planted in the fall surviving their first winter in the ground. They are some roses that you can definitely put on your list of first year roses, very winter hardy roses.  I will be posting pictures of blooms throughout the growing season of these roses in the Dr. David Zlezak and the ‘Oso Happy’ Winter Rose Garden.You can click the Proven Winner link for retailers and Independent Garden Centers that sell these amazing little darling shrubs that are so amazingly winter hardy.

Oso Happy® Candy Oh!

Oso Happy Candy Oh!
Oso Happy Candy Oh
Oso Happy 'Italian Ice'
Oso Happy ‘Italian Ice’

Oso Happy® Italian Ice

Oso Happy 'Pink Cupcake'
Oso Happy ‘Pink Cupcake’

Oso Happy® Pink Cupcake

Series One: Oso Happy® roses
All bred by David Zlesak:
·         Oso Happy® Candy Oh!
·         Oso Happy® Petit Pink
·         Oso Happy® Smoothie

Series Two: Oso Easy® roses
Varieties bred by Chris Warner, UK:
·         Oso Easy® Fragrant Spreader
·         Oso Easy® Honey Bun
·         Oso Easy® Italian Ice
·         Oso Easy® Lemon Zest
·         Oso Easy® Mango Salsa
·         Oso Easy® Paprika
·         Oso Easy® Pink Cupcake

Varieties bred by the late Colin Horner, UK:
·         Oso Easy® Peachy Cream
·         Oso Easy® Strawberry Crush

Varieties developed by Meilland, France
·         Oso Easy® Cherry Pie
·         Oso Easy® Double Red (new to retail 2015)*

*Thank-you to Shannon Springer of Proven Winners for providing this information

NOAA/NCDC Top 10 Coldest State Rankings Winter of 2013
States registering either a top 10 coldest (blue) or top 10 warmest (yellow, red) December-February period in 2013-2014. (NOAA/NCDC)

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center said that the period from December 2013 through February 2014 was the 34th coldest such period for the contiguous 48 states as a whole since modern records began in 1895.

Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri registered a top 10 coldest winter. Seventeen other states from Washington state to the northern Gulf Coast to New York were colder than average.

The first two months of 2014 were among the top three coldest on record in the following cities:

  • Green Bay, Wisc. (second coldest)
  • La Crosse, Wisc. (third coldest)
  • Rockford, Ill. (third coldest)
  • Detroit (third coldest)
  • Dubuque, Iowa (third coldest)
  • Waterloo, Iowa (third coldest)

Some Like It Hot, I Like It Cool, It’s Better Gardening Weather

Dragon Clouds Over Lake Shelbyville, Illinois
Dragon Cloud Over Lake Shelbyville, Illinois


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