It is time for the 6th Annual Rose Walk!

Time flies! Not too long ago, I wrote about rose pruning, and now it is already time for the rose walk. Like for the last 5 years, we have labeled almost all of our roses and will be there to celebrate their beauty for the next two weeks. Right now, only  the earliest roses are blooming: The Rosa rugosa varieties, Stanwell Perpetual and Morden Blush. But the others have big buds and we expect more and more to begin flowering every day. Please find below the guide for our rose walk. And if the roses are still in bud, enjoy the other late spring flowers, for instance the beautiful irises or the last of the tulips.

Henry Hudson and Stanwell Perpetual

Alliums show their purple globes, the first irises are open and the English bluebells are perfect right now.

Guide for the 6th Annual Rose Walk

Welcome to our sixth annual Rose Walk. LaGuardia Corner Gardens is a forty-year old community garden with many roses planted throughout the years. We have tried to identify all our blooming beauties, but we are still unsure of a few. If you can help solve any of these mysteries, we would be happy to hear from you. Meanwhile, as you stroll through the garden, we have labeled those roses that we know by name and hope this will help you identify your favorites. Enjoy.

Enter the gate and look to your left. There is a collection of roses that include Alba White Meidiland, the early blooming Stanwell Perpetual and Charles Mallerin.

Phloxy Baby

Now, continue on the path and under the arbor covered with Don Juan. Through the arbor to your right is Phloxy Baby, a 2016 winner of the American Garden Rose Selections and a newcomer to our garden, At Last, that we received at a GreenThumb rose planting and caring workshop earlier this year. Directly in front of you in the border, The Fairy is planted to the right of the large Rosa laxa. Please take a look at the other roses in this area to your left, which have yet to be identified.

Heading up the path, you will see Madame Hardy in the border, a Damask rose that is considered one of the most beautiful white roses ever bred (in 1832 by Alexander Hardy who named it after his wife Félicité). Next are several specimens of the Floribunda rose Pink Simplicity and the lavender colored Paradise.

Further down the path reveals Lavender Dream. Proudland is the red rose to your left. This area also contains several unidentified roses.

Pink Simplicity

Turning the corner, Dream Weaver appears on the left and there is

also Pretty Jessica.

The next corner contains Chrysler Imperial, one of our oldest roses that was planted in a brick well 39 years ago. It won a GreenThumb contest and a wheelbarrow for the garden back in the ‘80’s.

Turning the tight corner, you will come to a large grove of tall red roses, Dr. Huey, frequently used as rootstock for hybrid roses. You will also see Citrus Tease, and to your right is a rose which we still need to identify.

Orange Honey

Following in the border is White Dawn. Look back into the garden to see Orange Honey Sunny Yellow Knockout and Oso Smoothie Pink. There is also Baronne Prévost, an antique hybrid perpetual, and Green Ice, grown from a cutting a few years ago. In the back, you can see one of our newest additions, the grandiflora rose Anna’s Promise, also a gift from GreenThumb.

Next are Livin’ Easy and further back English Miss. In the border, you will find French Lace, Eglantyne and Morden Blush. In the middle of the garden is one recently planted old garden rose Apple blossom, which was newly grown by the Heritage Rose Foundation and donated to a GreenThumb rose pruning event four springs ago.

By now we are sure you are drawn to Zephirine Drouhin. This thornless beauty has been with us a long time. Happy Chappy and Peach Drift, which came to the garden from an AARS giveaway in Union Square years ago, are also here.

Canary Island Damask

Please continue down the path, past the gate, and on your way to the patio. You will pass Love and Peace, which was planted in honor of two young neighborhood NYPD auxiliary officers, Nick Pekearo & Eugene Marshalik, who were gunned down on Sullivan street in 2007. Next is Chicago Peace. Follow your nose and be enthralled by the fragrance of Souvenir de la Malmaison, one of our Bourbon roses.

The following section, next to the patio, is the most concentrated rose garden. Within this area, you will find two other Bourbon roses, Kronprinzessin Viktoria and Captaine Dyel de Graville. There are also a rare Canary Island Damask rose next to Munstead Wood and the hybrid Tea rose Leonie’s Appoline. Near the back fence is Pat Austin.

On the other side of the patio, you will find the Rosa rugosa cultivar Henry Hudson and the hybrid Musk rose The Ballerina. The Ballerina appears again with Dames de Chenonceau and a Pink Meidiland. The very last plot has The Fairy, Tropicana and Dan Poncet.

After leaving the garden, please also take a look at our small North Garden which contains a pink double Rosa rugosa variety and Pink Simplicity. You will also find the red floribunda rose Europeana. Finally, there are the European wild rose Rosa rubifolia and the climbing rose Maigold.

Thank you for coming! We hope this has been enjoyable and informative. We appreciate your ideas and input. If you think you can identify any of our mystery roses, please inform the guardian on duty or send us an e-mail: lgcgardens@gmail.com.

Citrus Tease and Dr. Huey

The garden in early May

Spring is such a busy time for gardeners, and not much is spent at a computer. Therefore, I have some catching up to do.
A lot has happened over the last weeks. We finally finished pruning all the roses in mid April. Last weekend, All roses were also fed with special organic rose fertilizer. To fortify the rest of the garden, we got a delivery of compost from the City of New York. This is wonderful, since we cannot possibly make enough compost for the entire garden ourselves, even though we will have two composters soon. We got a grant to purchase a second one!

Meanwhile, the crab apple tree and the red and pink tree peonies bloomed spectacularly. As usual, it rained on them, so by now the show is likely over (but visit soon and you’ll see the yellow tree peony in bloom. It is a little later).

The crab apple was most beautiful on Easter weekend. The tree peonies looked their best a week later.

We actually got quite a bit of rain and the temperature jumped between chilly and almost too hot. But what else can we expect from April?

On Easter Sunday, it was hot enough to need a bath!

In mid April, we resumed our usual open hours, that is, the gate is unlocked in the morning and closed at night on all nice days. On weekend afternoons, a garden member is in attendance to answer questions and chat with our visitors.

There is no spring without tulips. Here are some of our beauties. The one on the top right is the kind for which people sold entire estates during the tulip craze in the 17th century. Today, these tulips are affordable. In case you wonder: The white stripes are caused by a virus.

Earlier this year, I had reported that our bees had survived the winter. But we were fooled! The bees that we saw flying in and out of the hive were robbers from a different colony who came to steal the honey from our hives. This was a disappointment. We were hardly the only beekeepers who lost their colonies this winter. Supposedly, wildly fluctuating temperatures together with the almost unavoidable mite infestation was particularly hard on honey bees this winter.
However, last weekend, we got two new queens, each with a small royal court of a few hundred workers. They were placed into our two hives. This weekend, our beekeepers checked whether they had settled in all right. Things look good in the white hive.

Both hives have new tenants. The white plastic box that Sara removes from the hive in the middle photo contained the queen and her workers. This is how bees are shipped across the country (by mail!) and this is how Sara and Barbara transported them on the subway to our garden. Over the last week, the queen had moved from the plastic box into the hive.

We are also seeing other insects in the garden: large bumble bee queens looking for a nest site, and the first butterflies. It is amazing how fast everything is changing now. Pretty soon, all the roses will be blooming. Our Rose walk will begin on May 18!

A painted lady. This butterfly overwinters far south as adults. This is why it looks a little beaten up and not as brilliantly colored as when it first came out of its pupa.

Earth Day Art

It is now a tradition: the first-graders at the Little Red Schoolhouse create artwork for Earth Day which is then displayed on our fence.

This year, the theme was truly earthy: the students used clay to make prints. This resulted in their most abstract art show yet. It is very fun!

Some examples of this year’s Earth Day Art.

Who can should visit the exhibit. The artwork will be showing for another two weeks. And then, it will be time for the Rose Walk!

Pruning roses

As you may know, we are proud of our roses. We are blessed with over 50 varieties that gardeners have accumulated over the years. Every year, they put on a wonderful show of abundant flowers. To be at their best for our Rose Walk in May (this year scheduled for the weekend of May 18/19), we need to take care of them now.

Most roses need a pruning in early spring, before they start growing. This year, we offered a rose pruning workshop through the community garden umbrella organization GreenThumb. Because we have so many different types of roses and one of our gardeners is a rose expert, we wanted to share our expertise.

Workshop participants check out different pruners. For pruning roses and any other woody plants we really only want to use bypass pruners. Stems thicker than a thumb are better cut with long-handled loppers.

On a beautiful sunny day in March, a group of gardeners from as far away as Forest Hills in Queens gathered to watch Shinichi take the bypass pruners to our roses. First, we tackled some of the hybrid tea roses. For them to grow nice, large blooms, they can be cut back by 2/3 of the length of the stems. To encourage a nice shape of the new growth, we prune the stem to an outward facing bud. This will prevent later criss-crossing of the stems.

Roses are cut above an outfacing bud. These here are seen a couple of (cold) weeks later when the bud below the cut started to swell.

Next, we tackled “Livin’ Easy”, a large Floribunda rose that had grown very tall last year. Here, we wanted to simplify the structure of the plant by cutting out crossing stems from the middle and shortening the canes by about half. Like hybrid tea roses, Floribunda roses can deal with pruning beyond the usual 1/3 rule, especially if the rose is as vigorous as our Livin’ Easy. (This rule says that pruning by more than 1/3 at a time is weakening the plant. It applies to all shrubs and trees.)

Livin’ easy before pruning. It had grown really tall over the last year (Photo: Elisa Monte). The inset shows one stem as it looked a month later. This is really a vigorous rose!

Everybody offered suggestions, where to cut Livin’ Easy back. When we were happy with our work, we gathered for a group photo. Check out below how this rose looked after pruning.

Some participants of our workshop with Livin’ Easy in the foreground (Foto: Elisa Monte).

Finally, there are species roses and the old garden roses: Damasks, Bourbons and Hybrid Musk roses. These are not pruned at this time of the year. They flower only on the canes from the previous year, if we cut now, we’ll remove all flower buds! Of course, the three D apply to all shrubs, so we did cut back all damaged, diseased and dead canes. We also removed criss-crossing branches and shortened the tips of the canes just a little to maintain the shape of the rose.

Discussing how to prune Madame Hardy, a Damask rose. Here, only  the tips of the branches were cut. A few weeks later, the buds are growing nicely.

With so many roses, we are still not quite done with pruning all of them. Fortunately for us, it has been pretty cold since the beginning of March, and it is not too late to finish the job this weekend. I better get my shears ready!

Spring is here!

Snowdrops, Helleborus and winter aconites are in bloom right now.

Today, it was warm enough for taking off that winter jacket. It was also warm enough for our bees to come out of their hive in numbers. We were so very happy to see them. Not every year do the bees survive the winter, but this year, they did!

Bees at the entrance to the hive. Some were feeding their sisters, probably with fresh nectar from some of the flowers nearby.

Some winter aconite flowers had opened a few days earlier right in front of the hive. At first they had no visitors.

Visitors of the winter aconites. The one on the bottom left corner pretends to be a bee. It is, however a hover fly. The others are indeed bees from our hive.

Now, however, bees (and a fly) were busy drinking nectar and collecting a little pollen from these lovely yellow flowers.

Most bees seemed to come home to the hive from further away. None of them brought back a lot of pollen. There is just not much blooming right now, although in the plantings nearby, daffodils had opened their flowers almost over night. Unfortunately, these daffodils, bred by us humans for large colorful flowers, are not very attractive to any pollinator. Bees seem to mostly ignore them. Hopefully, other flowers will open soon and provide the pollen that our bees need to raise their larval sisters.

Daffodils are not very attractive to pollinators. But crocus are.