Climbing roses

climbing roses

Climbing roses reaching across an arbor or creeping up a wall can be eye-catchers. This makes climbing roses an excellent focal point in the garden. Roses are susceptible to disease so when choosing climbers for your garden, look for disease resistant varieties.

Victorian beginning

Climbing roses were very popular back in the Victorian era. The roses bedecked arbors, fences, pergolas and were trained to wrap around wire pillars. Unlike flowering vines with their tendrils that grasp to a trellis or side of a house, climbing roses have to be secured to structures with strong cord or wire. The cane of some climbing roses, like Westland, may grow as little as seven feet. While climbing roses like, Climbing Cecile Brunner, can reach lengths of 20 to 30 feet.

Uses for climbing roses

Climbing roses can be grown up, down and across a fence to add beauty and scent, and to deter people from climbing the fence. A vertical or horizontal trellis secured to the house, garage or shed and covered with climbing roses provides a beautiful focal point. An arbor heavily laden with blooming roses beckons visitors to pass through its archway. Climbing roses trained to grow over a pergola will provide shade. Privacy can be achieved on an open porch by growing roses on lattice installed on the side of the porch facing the neighbors or vehicle and foot traffic.

Growing climbers

Plant climbing roses in an area where they will get full sun or least five hours of sunshine. Follow the planting directions on the bareroot, or bagged or potted plant that you purchase. As climbing roses grow, the base of the cane near the ground will become woody, with little to no leaves. By planting low to mid-height plants in front of the rose, you can hide the bare cane. For the healthiest roses, fertilize two to three times from early spring to late summer. In the spring, you can either prune the cane back to about three feet above ground or just thin out cane that is dead, damaged or growing the wrong direction.

Climbing roses will need winter protection if planted in northern states where the winter temperature remains below zero for more than two weeks. In those frigid areas, the cane needs to be removed from the structure, laid on the ground and covered with six inches of soil and two inches of mulch. Most areas of the Unitized States, however, do not have to take this extreme measure.

Rose diseases

Two common diseases of roses, both a fungus, are black spot and powdery mildew. Black spot shows literally as small black spots on the leaves of roses. Caused by hours of continuous moisture, black spot may be avoided by giving the rose more airflow through removal of tall or wide nearby plants or relocating the rose to another location. Powdery mildew is a grayish-white fungus that can affect leaves or buds of roses. Powdery mildew can be caused by humidity, particularly high humidity at night.

Disease resistant climbing roses

Not wanting to deal with fungal infections of roses has led gardeners to buy disease resistant climbing roses. Disease resistant roses are less likely to contract fungal infection. If they do, the damage will not be as overwhelming (fewer leaves will fall for example) as a fungal disease infection on other roses.

Some varieties of disease resistant climbing roses include Aloha, America, Darlow’s Enigma (rambler), Portlandia and William Baffin.

About flowering abelia shrubs

abelia shrubs

If I had to choose just one landscape shrub, it would be glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora). In USDA plant hardiness zones 6 though 9, abelia is semi-evergreen according to North Carolina State Cooperative Extension. Abelia grows in most of the continental U.S., exclusive of states with severe winters such as North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and northern Maine.

Why I prefer abelia

abelia shrubs floweringAs a landscape shrub, the canes of abelia produce trumpet-shaped blooms of that are white to pinkish in color. Better yet, the blooms are fragrant and appear from early summer into late fall. The blooms attract bees and butterflies. Abelia grows 6 to 8 feet tall in full sun to part shade. In my area, USDA zone 7, the loamy soil proved to be the perfect setting for abelia. The shrub grew taller than 8 feet. It was one day when I found myself snipping the tops of the shrubs from inside the house through a second floor window that I decided it was too tall. I cut the shrubs to about 8 inches above the ground in mid-summer. The following year, the shrubs grew several feet high.

Planting abelia

Plant abelia shrubs in early fall or early spring. Choose a sunny to partial shade location in the landscape to plant abelia, which grows well in most soil conditions without amending the soil. Abelia shrubs can grow 6 to 8 feet wide with a base narrower than the fountain-like top. Because of that, you can set the shrubs 3 to 5 feet apart. I planted my shrubs at one end of the porch to create privacy. Small leaves cover the canes of the shrub, providing a subtle screen while still allowing some light and breeze to pass through.

Dig the hole for the shrub twice as wide as the root ball (plant container). Dig the hole as deep as the root ball is tall. Remove the shrub from the container and place it in the center of the hole. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding ground. Backfill the hole with the soil removed from the hole. Water deeply. Spread 3 to 4 inches of mulch, like pine chips or leaf mold, around the shrub to hold in moisture and help block weed growth.

Glossy abelia
Faded blooms on glassy abelia.


If planting in the fall, water about every 10 days if there is no rainfall and then stop watering at the first hard frost. In the spring the following year, and if planting in the spring, if there is no rainfall, water every two weeks in spring and fall. Water more frequently in the summer, which may mean watering every seven to 10 days. The following year, rainfall alone should be enough, especially since the abelia shrub is drought tolerant.

Prune to retain a shape by cutting back up to one-third of the shrub after it finishes blooming. Use hand pruners or hedge clippers. As mentioned above, cut the shrub almost to the ground for a fresh start if desired.

9 Self-seeding perennial flowers


Great decision to add perennial flowers to your garden center shopping list. Perennials will provide bloom color year after year in your flower garden. Before you finalize your list of perennial flowers to purchase, consider perennial flowers that reseed, or self-seed or self-sow, increasing your flower power without additional labor.

Perennial flowers that reseed can lend a helping hand to populate an English cottage garden. Sometimes, though, the dropped seeds may be relocated by hard rainfall or the wind. To avoid potential upstarts in unwanted areas, like in the lawn, pick off spent flower blooms before they have a chance to produce seeds. The alternative is to pull the upstarts as you see them. And keep in mind, that you can also propagate most perennials be digging up the root ball about every 3 years to divide it into more plants.

1. Japanese Primrose

Japanese primrose (Candelabra primrose), which is cold hardy in USDA plantings zones 3 to 9, grows 12 to 24 inches tall. Plant Japanese primrose in full to part shade and it will reward you late spring to early summer with whorls of flowers in colors of pink, red, purple or white.

2. Black-Eyed Susan

Placed in full sun, black-eyed Susa (Rudbeckia fulgida) will grow 2 to 3 feet tall. From mid-summer to early fall, black-eyed Susan produces daisy-like blooms of yellow-orange with a brown center. Black-eyed Susan is cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9.

3. Tartarian Daisy

The mauve colored petals of tartarian daisy (Aster tartaricus) appear in late summer and into early fall on top of stems 3 to 4 feet tall. Plant tartarian daisy is full sun in USDA zones 3 to 8.

4. Astilbe

The springtime blooms of astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii) display like tiny blooms of white, pink or burgundy on a feathery stem. Astilbe, which is cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, grows in full shade to part sun and reaches 18 to 24 inches tall.

5. Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) grows 2 to 4 feet in USDA zones 2 to 10. This coneflower prefers full sun but can tolerate part shade. The daisy-like blooms of purple coneflower appear from summer into early fall.

6. Winter Aconite

Presenting yellow blooms in late winter to early spring is winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), which grows to about 6 inches tall. Plant is USDA zones 3 to 7.

7. Grecian Windflower

Preferring light shade, Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda) grows 6 to 12 inches tall. Spring time bloom colors may be white or shades of pink, blue or purple. Grecian windflower is cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10.

8. Common Sneezeweed

Common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) grows 4 to 6 feet tall. They produces blooms of yellow, orange or maroon in late summer to early fall. Plant common sneezewood in full sun in USDA zones 3 to 8.

9. Dame’s Rocket

Dames Rocket drivewayGrowing 3 to 4 feet tall in full sun to part shade and producing white or lavender colored blooms, Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is very easy to grow. In some areas, it is considered invasive. To curb the flower’s enthusiasm to spread uncontrolled, plant in an area surrounded by pavement.

Stargazer Oriental Lily

Star gazer lily close-up

Stargazer lily returns each year to set an explosion of pink and white star-shaped blooms in late spring to early summer. The six petals of the bloom open on stems 2 to 3 feet tall. The blooms can reach up to 8 inches across. The blooms display for about two weeks.

Star gazer lily bunchWhere to plant stargazer

Stargazer lily is cold hardy in USDA planting zones 4 through 9. Choose a well-drained location in full sun. Plant this highly scented perennial along a walkway or close to an open window to enjoy the strong fragrance. In the colder zones, protect the bulb with about 3 inches of mulch, like pine bark chips or leaf mold.

Enjoy cuttings indoors

To gather stargazer lily blooms for indoor floral bouquets, cut no more than half of the stem. The remaining stem and leaves will help nourish the bulb. To increase indoor bloom time and reduce mess by the vase from dropped pollen dust, snip off the orange anther.

Stargazer anthers

The picture above shows the orange anthers that are supported by yellow-white stems called filaments. The color of the anther fades as the flower ages. Together, the anther and filament form the stamen. Sprouting from the center is the three-node stigma supported by the style. Once cut, the flower no longer needs these parts so to make it easier, snip off all the center stargazer lily parts to prevent dropped pollen.

How to harvest yarrow seeds – Collecting seeds from yarrow, a perennial herb

yarrowYarrow (Achillea millefolium), like this Coronation Gold variety, is a sun-loving perennial herb. The easiest way to propagate yarrow is through division of the root ball or by collecting seeds in late summer.

Cutting the stems

Allow the blooms to fade and go to seed while still on the stem in the garden. The shape of the bloom remains the same as the seeds and chaff (the seed covering) turn brown. Once the stem has dried at least 6 inches from the flower-turned-seed-factory (the stem is dark brown to black), the yarrow seeds are ready for harvest. Clip the stem of the dried yarrow and place it in a paper bag or on sheet of newspaper (my preference).

Collecting the seeds

yarrow-seedsYarrow seeds are tiny, smaller than a gnat. To harvest the yarrow seeds, hold the stem and turn the seed-packed flower upside-down. Tap the dried bloom on a sheet of newspaper or push the dried bloom on the the palm of the opposite hand. Gently squeeze the bloom to release the seeds and chaff. Don’t worry about separating the chaff from the seeds; nature takes care of the chaff when it’s planted. Following nature’s pattern, immediately plant the seeds outdoors in a well-drained, full sun location.