It is May and time for our annual Rose Walk!

LaGuardia Corner Gardens is a proud owner of more than 50 different rose varieties. There are species roses, old garden roses, classic hybrid tea roses and some new varieties that were released just recently. We have miniature roses, small and large shrub roses, English roses, climbing roses and more.

At this time of the year, we mark our roses with colorful labels so that everybody can learn their names. We also composed a guide that leads visitors on a tour around the garden to view the roses.

At the moment, some roses are still in bud, but the earlier varieties are already open. Things will change daily now, especially since we are having a mid-May heat wave with temperatures around 90ºF. This should be over on the weekend, though. We will get a few perfect days for a stroll through the garden.


Here are the some pictures of the roses that are currently in bloom:

Stanwell Perpetual and Zephirine Drouhin

Pink Meidiland and the double Rosa rugosa

Oso Happy Smoothy Pink and our Canary Island Damask

Plant profile: Stanwell Perpetual

Our first roses are blooming. One that has never been prettier is Stanwell Perpetual.

Stanwell Perpetual in full bloom

Stanwell Perpetual is an unusual rose. It was supposedly discovered in 1838 as a seedling that resulted from a cross of a Scot Rose with an Autumn Damask Rose.

Scot Roses are cultivars of the dune or burnet rose Rosa spinosissima (syn. Rosa pimpinellifolia), a wild rose that grows on sandy soil in Asia and Europe, including Scotland. Burnet roses are characterized by very prickly stems (this is what “spinosissima” means). They also have leaves with 7 or more leaflets that resemble those of burnet (Sanguisorba species) or Pimpinella, the plant genus that brings us anise. This is what the famous taxonomist Linné had in mind, when he gave the Scot Rose its two scientific names (he initially thought that there were two species).

Stanwell Perpetual inherited these features from its Scotch parent. Count the leaflets on the picture below, there are often 9 of them. Also, the twigs are wickedly spiny.


There are at least seven leaflets. Photo: Hubert Steed)

A lot of thorns are typical for this rose

From its Damask parent, it got the ability to flower “perpetually”, not just once in spring. The old rosarians liked this feature and selected for it. Modern roses are almost all repeat-blooming, although the biggest bloom is still in May and June.

Look near the gate for Stanwell perpetual’s small light pink flowers that fade to white. Also, smell their delicious scent.

Stanwell Perpetual’s flowers are often light pink

Some other roses are blooming now, too, which means that our annual Rose Walk is coming up. We already placed labels on all roses and are updating the guide. 


Mid May: ready, steady, bloom!

May is our most spectacular month. In fast succession, irises, peonies and roses are opening their buds. We had some nice rain and it will get warm, so be ready for the show! Some migratory birds are stopping by, too. I saw a common yellowthroat this morning.

Here are some impressions from the last days:

Iris buds have opened

Irises for all tastes: simple in shape and color or frilly and opulent or “unusual”.

Look in the smaller North Garden for this gorgeous Rhododendron, and all over the garden for the last of the bluebells.

The peony buds are ready to pop open. Something on the outside of these buds must be irresistible to insects. There are almost always ants on them, sometimes flies, and here a large wasp that was probably on a hunting trip.

Every day, something new is coming up now. Who can should visit this month!
The best time to be in the garden, by the way, is in the evening and on weekends. There is a rather noisy construction site right next door, lest we forget that our little oasis is in the middle of New York City.

Vertical gardening

New York has a lot to offer to its citizens, except for one thing: space. This is true for the subway, for those “cozy” apartments, and for gardens, too. But some New Yorkers are resourceful. If there is not enough horizontal space, one can go vertical!

This is what Sarah has done for the last two years to get more gardening space: A wooden pallet, set on its side, lined with plastic and filled with potting soil is her garden. She plants flowers and herbs through holes in the plastic. This works particularly well with hanging plants, and for this year, she chose colorful coral bells.

Sarah and Susan are preparing this year’s vertical garden

The plants can be watered through the holes and from above. In the past Sarah has tried to plant both sides of the pallet, but the back gets almost no sunlight, and even shade tolerant plants became unhappy. The ones on the sunny side were growing well, though, as seen on this photo from July 2015. Pretty ingenious, right?

Sarah’s vertical garden in 2015 (Foto: Hubert Steed).

Busy days in late April

Things are happening so fast now that it is hard to keep up. I almost missed our beautiful tree peonies. Most of the blossoms opened during the warm days last week and are already gone.

The last of the tree peonies.

The weeds are growing quickly, too. We are currently fighting with the lesser celandine (Ficaria verna), a plant that once came from Europe. There, it is a beloved sign of spring when it opens its cheerful yellow flowers on the floor of beech and oak forests. In the New World, the lesser celandine grows a bit too well and suppresses native early spring flowers. Fortunately, the above-ground life of this plant is brief. Pretty soon, it will be gone completely.

The lesser celandine Ficaria verna (Foto H. Zell/Wikimedia)


Not just gardeners are active on such a warm and sunny day. Our bees are busy, too. They love the tree peonies. However, even more popular seem to be the flowers that are growing on last year’s kale. Good that we did not harvest all of it.

Our bees like kale, just like other New Yorkers, peonies, too.