Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Blue-leaved Rose in Winter

Say "roses" and who doesn't immediately think "flowers?" April through November, that's fine: It's impossible not to have one or another of the thousands of different shrubs in this huge genus in bloom in New England.

 

But that warm-weather talent doesn't mean bupkis when Winter is still slogging through March. Fortunately, flowers are the least of the charms of some roses, which bring sui generis pizzazz when their soft and fragile floral displays are still weeks away.

 

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Far in advance of its foliage, let alone flowers, the stems of this rose are red-barked, and bristling with gray-white thorns. In Summer, would I have ever noticed?

 

As it happens, this shrub's charms have evolved beyond the obviousness of mere flowers. Those of Rosa glauca—literally "blue rose"—are small, single, pink, and forgettable. The "blue" refers to the leaflets, which are underlaid with a perfectly-coordinating burgundy that extends out to the leaf stems and even, as here, the young twigs. The rose's former name, R. rubrifolia, better suggests the interplay of burgundy.

 

Rosa glauca is both foliage plant and a "stem" plant. Even without the leaves, the burgundy of the young twigs is worth a look...

 

rosa-glauca-new-stem-fingers-30614-640

 

...and would be worth a second look if the older branches, with their boring gray bark, weren't in the picture. 

 

rosa-glauca-old-stem-30614-640

 

A couple of minutes with loppers, and all the old stems have been excised right at the base.

 

rosa-glauca-new-stem-after-removal-of-the-old-ones-30614-640

 

For once, here's a rose whose pruning doesn't need to consider when, or even whether, flowers appear. The shrub is extraordinarily hardy—down to Zone 2, which is colder, even, than Nome, Alaska—so pruning also doesn't have to be scheduled to leave time for the resultant new growth to harden before the arrival of Winter.

 

See a branch that's old enough to have lost its burgundy bark? Cut it out any day of the year you have the yen.  Happily, such pruning puts you and your Rosa glauca on a "virtuous spiral" of better and better visuals. When older stems are pruned away, the growth of current young stems is enhanced, and the formation of brand-new stems is encouraged. Yes, in a year or so, the bark of this colorful new growth will also mature to gray, but if you're prompt with the pruning, overall the result will be always be more and more new stems.

 

This entire shrub of Rosa glauca is now just the three young stems in the picture. After a few years of "out with the old," could there be ten or twenty?

 

Is there a limit? How many bristling burgundy new stems can any one shrub of Rosa glauca bear at once?

 

Let's find out.

 

Here's how to grow another rose with modest flowers, lovely foliage, and spectacular stems in Winter: red-winged rose, Rosa sericea f. pteracantha. It enjoys the same soil and sun, and also responds to the same kind of pruning as recommended here for Rosa glauca by producing new stems that are particularly showy.

 
 
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