Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Posts tagged ‘roses’

April Rose Diary/Survey Day…And Those Expletive Aphids!

It wasn’t long ago that I was happily declaring that the fight to defend my roses against aphids was being won by parasitic wasps. Well, the wasps have clearly bitten off more than they can chew (as have I) and the aphids are overwhelming me with sheer numbers.

A 'Chicago Peace' bud, showing some stem and bud damage

I’ve squished, squirted and flicked them, but still they keep coming.

Aphids on Mister Lincoln rose - April 2010

I’ve actually lost blooms, mainly due to stem damage. The aphids have feasted on the new growth resulting in weak stems that can’t support the bloom – which may also have been damaged.  It has been a dissapointing Autumn flush.

Just Joey April 2010

Anway putting aphids aside for a moment, I am going to intersperse this post with photos of my April ‘bloom survey’ of those roses that were in bloom on the 26th. I’m having to cheat a little with some photos from the last few days, as I got a bit carried away cutting roses to bring indoors before I took my photos!

'Altissimo' is a spectacular single rose

From now on the 26th will be my ‘rose survey’ day when I take stock of what’s in flower to help get a better picture of my year of roses. If anyone is interested in joining me for a monthly rose bloom survey, you are more than welcome. If I get any takers I’ll work out how to link the posts!

'Camp David' April 2010 - lots of blooms and smells delightful

Back to the little green beasties. Aphids aren’t uncommon in my garden, but they are usually kept in balance by predators and a little bit of squishing here and there. No need for drastic methods such as spraying with insecticides.

I don’t have a lot by way of theories as to why the aphids are so bad just now, but here is what I have come up with:

  • It has actually been quite wet over the last few weeks – good drought breaking rain that is seeming to indicate that our temperate conditions may be returning to a more normal pattern – good for the garden, but good for providing food for an abundance of pests too.
  • Neglect last Spring and early summer had meant that I have paid even less attention to fertilising and caring for my roses than usual. Some of the plants are not as healthy as they should be.
  • Many of the roses are in shaded positions, making them weak and more prone to attack. The roses tend to get tired toward the end of the autumn flush anyway, so it is a hard time of year for them.

Margaret Merill at close range - April 2010

So what is the solution? Give in and get out the spray? A little pyrethrum at least? No, at this point in time I’m just going to force myself to be patient and wait. It’s only about six weeks until it’s time to prune the roses anyway, so I’m cooling my heels and drawing up battle plans. I’ve come over all ‘Art of War’.

'The Dark Lady' is in flower, sadly my photos just don't capture her beautiful rich colour

Pierre de Ronsard powers on. It is one of the few roses in my garden rarely bothered by aphids at all.

So far the plan of attack is as follows:

  • Learn how to attract more beneficial insects to the garden, including re-establishing a ladybug colony in spring. I’ve found some interesting info on attracting ladybugs and will share what I’ve learnt soon.
  • As I’ve mentioned before many of the roses are going to be moved to a sunnier position over winter, so this should help them develop much stronger growth and make them less prone to attack.
  • Moving the roses will be a great time to give them a good tidy up and start them off again with a really good feed, again this should boost their health.
  • I’m also going to look into the viability of purchasing some beneficial insects if I can’t attract them on my own.

'Abraham Darby' still has plenty of buds waiting to open.

Winchester destined for scrap heap as this is a rare bloom on a sickly plant.

It won’t be until next year that I know if these strategies have been succesful or not…but I’ll at least have some idea as to how healthy they are all looking in spring!

Rose Diary – Meet More Survivors and Stragglers

Roses might seem like spoilt children when it comes to shade and damp, but they come in to their own in hot and dry conditions.  My part of Australia is (hopefully) just starting to come through 13 years of drought. The plants I list as ‘thriving’ are truly drought hardy because they almost never get supplementary water.  Note that the ones that are suffering are generally doing so because of too much shade. I am biding my time until winter to move many of them.

Mister Lincoln - 4th April 2010

I’m looking forward to getting past the ‘listing’ stage of my rose diary.  I want to rush on and share with you a bit more about some of my favourites and my plans for some of the beds. Sadly that would defeat my record keeping purposes, so on with the next set of introductions!

Oh, and I’ve mucked up the tables so I can’t edit at the end again – but after this lot, you’ve met almost everybody – just a few ‘lost roses’ to go which you might be able to help me identify next time!

This next bed is what I call the ‘Elder Bed’ which is rapidly getting shaded to the East by ‘Mother Maple’. I have big plans for this bed, but more on that later!

Rose/Breeder: The Dark Lady (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Many loose petals. Deep crimson red/pink.
Position West facing, now just under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’.
Condition: Getting leggy and sparse, which is sad to see in one of my favourite roses, can’t wait to move her into the sun!
Perfume: Yes, rich and just lovely!
In flower? A couple of sparse blooms.
Rose/Breeder: Blue Moon (Tantau)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. ‘Blue’ mauve.
Position West facing, living almost completely in the dark under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’.
Condition: So sad, almost leafless. I don’t kill many roses, so hopefully I can move Blue Moon before it’s too late.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No , not a chance!
Rose/Breeder: Mary Rose (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Loose petalled.  Bright mid pink.
Position West facing, living almost completely under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’, with just a bit of afternoon sun.
Condition: Getting very leggy and sad looking. Also needs a new home ASAP.
Perfume: Yes, soft.
In flower? No.
Rose/Breeder: Mister Lincoln (Swim & Weeks)
Type/colour: Hybrid Tea. Dark velvety red.
Position West facing, just under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’, some afternoon sun.
Condition: Strong grower, even in the shade. This one reaches for the sky without looking leggy or weak. Flowers have diminished in the shade though.
Perfume: Yes, spicy and strong.
In flower? Yes, just a couple at the moment, but gearing up again.

Angel Face - 4th April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Angel Face (Swim)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Unusual pinkish mauve.  (‘Stirling Silver’ is one of it’s parents)
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Weak grower, few blooms, but over a long period.
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? A couple of flowers.
Rose/Breeder: Julia’s rose (Wisbech)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Milky coffee colour.
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Weak grower, few blooms.
Perfume: No.
In flower? No, just finished.

Chicago Peace - this photo was taken in January and the bloom is a little sunburnt from a very hot day.

Rose/Breeder: Chicago Peace (Johnson)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Similar colouring to the original ‘peace’ rose, but the colour much stronger and more yellow / darker pink edging.
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Doing well, putting out new growth, getting ready for an autumn flush.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No flowers, but some buds appearing.

Ambridge Rose - April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Ambridge rose (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose, with cupped shell like petals very soft peach/apricot.
Position West facing, sun from late morning on.
Condition: Thriving, strong plant – one of the star performers who repeat flowers and will grow to a couple of metres in a season.
Perfume: Yes, lovely sweet fragrance.
In flower? A few flowers, just starting it’s autumn flush.
Rose/Breeder: Evelyn (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose, with open shallow blooms. Mid apricot/pink.
Position West facing, sun from late morning on.
Condition: Doing well, medium sized bush that flowers well over long period.
Perfume: Yes, quite strong ‘old rose’.
In flower? No, but several buds.
Rose/Breeder: Winchester Cathedral (Austin)
Type/colour: White with an occasional touch of pink.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Not thriving. Susceptible to black spot. Disappointing blooms shatter easily.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Yes, but only a smattering of blooms.
Rose/Breeder: The Swan (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. White.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Not thriving. Susceptible to black spot. Erratic flowering with blooms that don’t last well.
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? No, but some buds.

This is Mary Webb - I think!

Rose/Breeder: Mary Webb (I’m pretty sure it is, but not 100% certain) (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Pale buttery yellow.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Little growth but healthy. Has been shaded out by a shrub that was recently removed, so should bounce back.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Just finished.
Rose/Breeder: Leander (Austin)
Type/colour: Climbing multiflora English rose. Strong apricot.
Position South/west facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Strong grower shoots out new growth that is thick and strong and over a metre high. Needs to be move somewhere where it can be trained properly to increase flower production.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No flowers, but some buds.

Margaret Merill - April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Margaret Merril (Harkness)
Type/colour: Cluster flowered floribunda. White.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Grows very well and produces many flowers over long period. Flowers do tend to get marked easily.
Perfume: Highly scented, quite spicy.
In flower? Yes, lots of flowers.

Katy Did It!

The good news is that the aphids are all but gone. The little wasps are still busy doing their gruesome alien emergence thing, but that’s fine with me because it works. No chemicals and (very nearly) no aphids. Lovely.

The bad news is that no flotilla of ladybugs appeared. I’m starting to wonder if the little wasps are too much competition for them. Something I read (can’t remember where now) did say that the parasitic wasps were a more effective biological control for aphids than ladybugs or lacewings. I wonder if being out-competed is the real cause for the loss of my ladybug population.

I’m going to have to look into that, but today I’ve been on an identity search for prime rose chewing suspect number one. Did you see her perched there amongst the roses?

Who is this fiend?

Because I work hard (stand back and let nature take it’s course)  to avoid using insecticides on my plants, the occasional bug does come along and do some damage. It’s never as bad as you might think and I only loose the occasional bloom. I think that is a small price to pay to have the bees, the butterflies and the creepy little parasitic wasps visit.

But I think this critter has been taking big mouthfuls out of some of my blooms and I’ve been trying to figure out who she is since January.

A harlequin bug copping the blame

In January I was still considering blaming the Harlequin bugs (Dindymous Versicolour) for my rose bud damage, but my suspicion was aroused when the creature  below was found near the scene of the crime.  I’ve since found it loitering nearby on two or three more occasions, so it has become prime suspect number one. It has taken me ages to figure out what it is exactly as it looked to me like a cross between a grasshopper and a leafhopper.

Caedicia simplex?

Turns out grasshopper was closest to the mark and some of you probably recognised it instantly as a Katydid, who has both British and Northern American cousins. I think this one is an Inland Katydid (Caedicia simplex).

Turns out they like to munch on flower buds. Hmm.

Rose Diary. A Parasitic Wasp That is a Friend to the Roses.

Week Two of my Rose Diary…

Over the last couple of weeks many of the roses have started to sprout new growth for an autumn flush. I’ve really only just learnt that I should do a summer pruning (which is not quite as hard as a winter one) so they can be at their best, but I’ve left it too late this time around. Next year. Already I have a lot of jobs on the list for next year!

New rose growth has attracted a stack of aphids. Us rose gardeners can have a reputation for being pretty quick to reach for the spray, but I don’t.

Aphids having a lovely time muching my roses

Aphids having a lovely time munching on my roses.

I am fortunate that if I wait a beneficial insect in the form of a little parasitic wasp (Aphidius rosae) will turn up and deal with the aphids. These wasps are an introduced biological control.

An adult Aphidius Rosae circled. Notice the pale aphid 'mummies' above it.

It can seem like an age for the wasps to turn up while the aphid population explodes, but they are usually here within a week of an aphid outbreak and the aphids are then gone within a week or two.

The wasps manner of dealing with the aphids is quite gruesome. They lay their eggs inside the aphid and the aphid then provides food for the wasp larva. You can read more about it here.

Most years I can also rely on ladybugs coming to the rescue too, but this year we’ve barely seen them and we’re all still a bit sad about that.

Anyway, time to look at what the next lot of roses are doing today. These ones are scattered around the side and back of the shed.

As an aside – I keep mucking up the layout of the tables which seem to limit where I can edit, so this diary entry will end abruptly after the last table!

Rose/breeder Kathryn Morley (Austin)
Type / Colour Many petalled English rose / Soft shell pink
Position North/West facing – beside robinia (part sun)
Condition Quite tall (over 1 metre), getting a bit leggy. Doing quite ok, but I reckon it will thrive in a better position.
Perfume? Yes, soft
In flower? No, a couple of buds

Camp David, as high as the shed.

Rose/breeder Camp David (?)
Type / Colour Hybrid tea / deep red
Position West facing behind the shed
Condition Thriving, can get close to two meters if let go, can produce more long stemmed blooms than it can support if not kept in check.
Perfume? Yes, quite strong
In flower? Yes
Rose/breeder Lorraine Lee

(Alistair Clarke – Australian bred rose)

Type / Colour Climber, tea shaped buds / pink with an apricot tinge
Position West facing behind the shed
Condition Monster climbing rose! Flowers sporadically but over many months. Beautiful buds, but they don’t last in the vase.
Perfume? faint
In flower? No

Abraham Darby, quite an apricot shade at this time of year.

Rose/breeder Abraham Darby (Austin)
Type / Colour Many petalled English rose/ varies from pink early in season to  more apricot later.
Position West facing behind the shed
Condition A big thriving plant over a metre high and wide. Flowers repeatedly and generously
Perfume? Yes, just divine!
In flower? Yes

William Shakespeare March 2010

Rose/breeder William Shakespeare (Austin)
Type / Colour English Rose / crimson
Position North/West facing – beside smaller Japanese maple (part sun)
Condition Very good. Quite tall (over 1 metre). Quite a bit of new growth, getting a tad leggy.
Perfume? Yes
In flower? Yes, buds present
Rose/breeder Camille Pissaro  (Delbard)
Type / Colour Cream and pink bicolour
Position North/West facing – beside false acacia (part sun)
Condition Poor. Not in a great position, but still the least successful when compared to those around it.
Perfume? No
In flower? No, a couple of buds

Fiona's Wish hiding her yellow centre

Rose/breeder Fiona’s Wish (?)
Type / Colour Hybrid tea / strong yellow dark pink edging
Position North/West facing – beside robinia (part sun)
Condition Ok, some new growth, but not really thriving
Perfume? Yes
In flower? Yes

Rose Diary – Week One

Did I mention that I reserved the right to change my mind about how I was going to go about this? No? Oh well…I’ve changed my mind!

For a start I don’t seem to be able to add new posts to my rose diary page. Ooops. Still working on this and will move posts in there later if I can!

I was going to go back and start the diary from January. It doesn’t make any sense from the garden’s point of view to do that because the roses don’t start any new phase in January, but it made some sort of sense to me from my calendar focused perspective. After all, this was meant to be ‘A Year in a Gippsland Garden’ and if I am to start my rose diary in March that kind of mucks things up a bit, doesn’t it?

Never mind,  I may just  have to come up with a creative new title for my blog…something like ‘A Year and Another Year in a Gippsland Garden’

'Devon' rose is now on the 'lost roses' list as I can't find any reference to a rose of that name!

Another small problem I’ve  encountered is how many different roses I have. They come in at 40+, so a long list of what they are all doing every post is going to be more than a little dull. In fact, I’m becoming increasingly concerned that the whole venture is going to be more than a little dull for everyone else but me. Feel free to wander off and get a coffee.

Anyway, even if I am talking to myself, here is the new plan for now:

I am starting my rose calendar in March 2010.

Each week of each month I will update, in order, one of  four rough groupings of roses based on their current location.   I’ll give details of each rose first time round, but just update if it is blooming or not with a photo if possible from there on in, so it won’t be so long winded. Occasionally I might focus on a favourite rose. If you are still awake and paying attention you will soon see there is no rhyme or reason to the current plantings.

The groupings will be: By the house, The Elder bed, By the shed, and ‘The lost roses’.

At some stage in winter I will move all the roses about so the whole plan will be turned upside down and confusion will reign.

Right, so here is week one, the roses ‘By the house’ on the 7th March:

Double Delight - 7th March 2010

Rose/Breeder: Double Delight (?)
Type/colour: Hybrid Tea Rose – cream with dark pink edging
Position North facing side of house – morning and midday sun
Condition: Quite healthy, but slow growing
Perfume: Yes, lovely!
In flower? Yes, blooms and buds present

Pierre de Ronsard March 2010

Rose/Breeder: Pierre de Ronsard (Meilland)
Type/colour: ‘cabbage’ style blooms on climber – white with soft pink edging
Position North facing side of house – morning sun
Condition: Excellent. Strong growth and glossy leaves
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? Yes, lots of blooms and buds present

Pat Austin 7th March 2010

Rose/Breeder: Pat Austin (David Austin)
Type/colour: English Rose – Copper orange
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Excellent. Strong growth and glossy leaves
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Yes, lots of blooms and buds present
Rose/Breeder: Scentimental  (Tom Curruth)
Type/colour: Floribunda – red and white bicolour
Position North facing side of house. Shaded out.
Condition: Poor, not surprising with virtually no sun
Perfume: Yes, spicy, but not strong.
In flower? Yes. But only a couple of blooms and no buds

Mermaid Rose

Rose/Breeder: Mermaid (?)
Type/colour: Large single petal old rose climber – pale yellow
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Excellent. Very vigorous and on a mission to take over the world.
Perfume: No.
In flower? Yes, a few blooms and getting ready for another flush
Rose/Breeder: Valencia (Kordes)
Type/colour: Large flowered Hybrid Tea Rose – mid orange
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Quite good, but being overtaken by neighboring Mermaid rose
Perfume: Yes, sweet.
In flower? No, but a couple of buds present

New 'Kleopatra' - March 2010

Rose/Breeder: New Kleopatra (?)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea rose -Strong yellow with dark red edging
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Very good, strong new growth
Perfume: No
In flower? Yes

Recording a Year of Roses

I’ve decided to try my hand at setting up another page of my blog as a ‘Rose Diary’.  The diary will not just be a record of the roses that are blooming, but how they are faring comparatively throughout the year. It will also look at the mistakes I’ve made with roses (which are beautifully forgiving creatures) and hopefully how I’ve learnt from those mistakes.

Devon Rose 3rd of March 2010

If all goes according to plan, the diary should also record a significant change to my garden in 2010 as I start to re-arrange the rose beds to give these plants the best chance of thriving.  Hopefully that is thriving without turning my garden into a forest of ugly sticks in the middle of winter!

You can pop in to the (only just beginning) rose diary via the ‘My Rose Diary’ tab at the top of this page. Ideas and suggestions are always most welcome!

When a ladybird isn’t a ladybird at all!

I have been bemoaning the absence of ladybirds in my garden this year, so you will understand how excited I was when last night I spotted a flash of red on one of my roses. Unfortunately, when I stopped for a proper look, I saw a lot more little red bugs and it was clear that although these were indeed red with black spots, these were no ladybirds. They are about the size of ladybirds, but they were looking and behaving suspiciously like something else.

The image immediately put me in mind of the little red bugs I had recently  looked at on a Roselle in Bangchik’s lovely  ‘My Little Vegetable Garden’ blog which at the time had reminded me of one of my arch enemies in the garden. Hmmm…

Sure enough when I looked closer still I noticed that an adult Harlequin bug was amongst the little critters. Some comparisons between body shape and markings could be made. The little critters have red boddies and vague black markings on their bodies unlike the distinctly pattered adult Harlequin, but share the same body shape as the adult and a little white dot half way up the antenna (which you can’t really see in the photos, sorry).

I blame Harlequin bugs for some badly damaged rose buds in my garden, but in fairness I’ve never spotted them doing the damage. The bud they are clustered on in the photo looks none the worse for wear for them being there, but we shall see!

The large bug is certainly a harlequin bug!

Apart from the fact I’m not keen on insecticides and figure things generally balance themselves out bug wise in the garden,  I’m staying my hand to learn a few things…

Question one – Can I find any more evidence to confirm if these little beasts really are young Harlequin bugs?

Question two – Will they chew through my rose bud and prove they deserve my wrath?

Question three – Will a natural predator turn up and deal with them? If so who and how?

I’ll update as investigations develop!