Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
June, 2008
Regional Report

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Plant 'Abraham Darby' rose where you can easily catch its arresting perfume.

Early Summer's Sensual Specialties

Come smell the 'Abraham Darby', I insisted. Often we get so caught up in garden chores that we need and appreciate a reminder to "stop and smell the roses." These large peach, pink, and yellow blooms are subtle charmers. No bright red calls for attention. Rather, the gardener's nose lifts for a whiff -- which leads to lingering for more crisp, citrusy fragrance. This gives the opportunity to more closely admire the cupped, many petalled flowers that are irresistible for cutting to bring indoors.

Needless to say, we took turns pruning off the dead lavender flowers on the neighboring lilac, eager to stay within reach of Darby's scent for as long as possible. A David Austin English Rose, 'Abraham Darby' flowers early and repeat blooms into autumn. David Austin's English roses are known for combining the form and fragrance of old roses with the modern rose's repeat bloom. 'Abraham Darby's parents are 'Aloha', a hybrid tea climber with double, sweetly scented, rose-pink and salmon-pink flowers, and the floribunda 'Yellow Cushion', which has repeat bloom and strong fragrance.

Unfortunately this rose isn't disease resistant here in East Falls, Philadelphia. Its leaves had black spot, so I sprayed thoroughly with Messenger, a growth enhancer that stimulates a plant's natural disease resistance.

Many roses leafed out early this spring and were budding and blooming before I did preventative spraying with Messenger. It's best to apply it when the leaves unfurl before black spot and powdery mildew set in. It's okay to spray after the fungi infest. New growth will be clean and healthy even though old, damaged leaves will look bad before yellowing and dropping. That dead leaf debris should be disposed of, not composted.

Eye-Catching Combos
The cherry red 'Double Knock Out' rose blossoms fronted by tall, purple, bearded iris is a Wow! early-summer color and texture combo. My perennial herb containers look better than ever. Planted two and three years ago, they survive winters winter with no care beyond storage in a sunny, plastic greenhouse.

Before I left on a recent trip to Hawaii, the pots showed little but soil. After two weeks of rain and warm weather, they're flush with savory foliage and a handful of flowers. In one tan Styrofoam pot, purple-flowering chives and sweet fennel wave while sunny yellow 'Thumble Variety' and creamy-edged variegated oreganos crowd the sides. That pot's twin holds purple-stemmed 'Tricolor' sage and gray, felt-leaved 'Berggarten' sage, surrounded by creeping 'Blue Chip' campanula.

As plant sculpture in a broad, shallow, terra cotta basket, two Juncus effusus 'Curly Wurly' spiral around a purple and light green 'Tilt 'a-Whirl' coleus . In the background, two spiny Juncus effusus 'Quartz Creek' should reach 2 feet.

Two, young Weigela florida 'Eyecatcher' frame the picture with bright yellow and grassy green variegated leaves and rosy pink tubular flowers.

With serrated leaves emerging yellow-rose and maturing to burgundy, ninebark 'Center Glow' (Physocarpus opulifolius) is keeper and coordinator. My containerized, 2- to 3-foot specimens sit among pots of rich green Monarda dydima 'Coral Reef'. I'm eager to see the peachy bee balm flowers in 'Center Glow's coppery halo.

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