Got Blackspot? Get Milk.

DRAT. While inspecting my roses the other day, I discovered that some of the shrubs (like 'Mary Rose,' above) are showing signs of "blackspot." Details about this insipid fungal disease, and why -- according to extensive research -- a weekly spray of milk and water is the smartest way to control it: Read more »

Prepping for Tours: The Rose Garden

HERE AT A GARDEN FOR THE HOUSE, I'm working daily to prepare my "garden rooms" for a number of scheduled tours which begin (gasp!) early in June. Last week, I focused on the Rose Garden (above). This involved trimming the boxwood, turning on the fountains (I ran into a snag with these), and crying over the sorry appearance of the roses themselves. Read more »

The Organic Way to Beautiful Roses

THESE DAYS, I'm spending a good deal of time in my rose garden (pictured above, during summer), and feeling grateful that I do not use chemicals there. Too often gardeners resort to systemic poisons (like Bayer's honey bee-killing "Rose & Flower Care") in order to avoid the pests and diseases which target roses. But I have found that if hardy varieties are selected, and a sensible cultural routine is practiced, chemical controls are not necessary. And here are my time-tested tips for growing beautiful, healthy roses the organic way: Read more »

Boxwood Beauty the Easy Way

Is there a more elegant shrub than boxwood (Buxus)? I don't think so. Evergreen and tolerant of all kinds of "shape-shifting," it is the ideal plant to edge a pathway, or to frame a garden bed or border. Despite its beauty this box, however, has one major drawback: it is very expensive. But you can have a sophisticated boxwood hedge without breaking the bank. My own ribbons of enduring green, pictured above, are living proof of this fact. Read more »

My Big Job for the Day: Winter Mulching the Roses

WHEN THE GROUND FREEZES SOLIDLY IN DECEMBER, I know it’s time to mulch my roses. Mulching keeps their roots cold and unstimulated, should a freakish warm spell occur between bouts of frigid weather. Furthermore, this insulating blanket ultimately improves the soil: (click photos to enlarge) As you can see from the photo up top, when… Read more »

My Favorite Roses

JUNE IS FOR ROSES, including the luscious, pink ‘Bonica,’ above. This one, and others, too, grow almost too well here at A Garden for the House. Would you like to see them? Here they are — along with a few cultural tips — in a click-to-enlarge photo gallery of color and perfume: I have never… Read more »

Last-Minute Chores

UH OH — two days before the garden tour, and my Rosa ‘New Dawn’ is misbehaving. This exuberant pink climber, which marks the entrance to the Woodland Garden, has sent long, thorny canes over its iron arbor, making the arbor look like an obstacle — not an opening. What am I to do — tell… Read more »