“Frühlingsduft” under assault in July. The entire bloom was gone by midday.


The Japanese beetle plague has been so awful this year, I’ve taken to removing one-time established garden beauties. Gone are my Sargent Cherry, my yellow birch and as of this month, many of my favorite roses (“Golden Wings,” “Applejack,” “Prairie Princess,” “The Fairy,” “Granny Grimmetts” and ‘Sweet Chariot.’ My one-time rose garden had over 300 roses. I expect to be down to 20 by next year.

When you live in an area of mostly flower-free yards and yours is always filled with blooms, you come to realize that you created one big beetle lure. They fly from afar to strip my plants. The swarms are bad. When I mow the lawn, I raise hordes of beetles from the shrubs. They cling to my clothes. They land in my hair.

I never held much of a lawn fetish: I appreciate green swards, but I won’t spend a lot on chemistry and I rarely water it. I do dote on a green swath between the rose beds. That was our croquet lawn. Thick, cool fescue to enfold bare feet. No more.

That area is mostly bare now — Japanese beetle grub damage — and I will resort to insecticides for the first time. I wanted to do the natural approach by applying natural grub predators. But nematodes are expensive and require difficult application conditions. The University of Minnesota extension service dismisses milky spore as ineffective. So, the poison.

I feel like I am losing part of my identity. I have been gardening for decades, enjoying my garden as it matures, and yet … my beloved hobby is diminished. We have so little time to garden here in Minnesota. I might as well just plant spreading junipers around the place.

Sigh. I can’t give up…



“Frühlingsduft” first flush in June was glorious. The beetle plague was just weeks away.


 Violent retribution makes me feel better: I scoop the nasty things into a pail of soapy water and watch them drown, pop them in my fingers, or grab a handful and stomp them to death on the pavement.

Is coexistence is the key? The beetles are here to stay and so I must adapt. I snatched up some sale plants at local nursery, cultivars that won’t attract the beetles. I matched to size and color to replace the departed roses in situ. I’m actually thrilled by a chartreuse Cotinus that is lovlier than the yellow rose it replaced. It holds the light in a wonderful way.

My old-garden roses (OGRs) will stay. These are fragrant and bloominous in the spring, and they’re done before the bugs swarm. Hardy, too.

The beetles and rabbits chomp away. The emerald ash borer, another exotic pest, is just a few miles to the south and migrating here. That’s three plagues for me. Pharaoh Ramses endured ten plagues before he gave up. I can manage.

Maybe the beetles are an opportunity to adapt and discover exciting new plants. The garden evolves. Gardeners know this. I just forgot.







It’s a steamy morning. I shot these from behind the window at my house.




Taken with my iPhone 4s using the Camera + app.

iPhone 4s Camera, Close Up Shots


Native (mostly) Minnesota wildfowers


My dog, Marble, and I went for a walk today on a wooded trail. June is the time for wildflowers Minnesota. Forest blooms are subtle and muted. You must get close to appreciate them.

All I had with me was my iPhone 4S. I was surprised at how close I could get to the blooms. The quality is better than I expected.

Below are a few of the pictures I took. I used the Snapseed app for editing. All on my iPhone.

The best little nursery in Minnesota

  Spring Flowers


Each May my friend Steve and I visit Kelley and Kelley Nursery in Long Lake, MN. It’s a bit of a journey (40 miles) to get there from the east side of the Twin Cities metro where we live. We always come home with more plants than we intended to buy. Still, garden retail therapy is abolutely essential after seven months of Minnesota winter.


Garden Bench 

The perennial meadow is planted with bluebells, trillium, minor bulbs and tulips.


Kelley and Kelley is a family-run business, third generation I believe. The people at Kelley are part of the reason the place is so special. The owner takes time to visit with you. And the friendly staff go far out of their way to be helpful.


Tulips  and Bluebells

Tulips and bluebells, close-up


Kelley and Kelley offers ‘you pickem’ plants. You can select plants from a spreading field of spring ephemerals or their raised beds. The field staff will dig and pot them for you. Kelley’s also sells pre-potted perennials.

Their selection ranges from typical plants you would find at gardenmarts to unusual varieties for the collector. But the big draw for me, and many others are the bluebells. They are the only nursery I know who sells them in the Twin Cities.



Ease your winter-weary soul

Visit the 2011 Minneapolis Home and Garden Show



A scene from Natural Landscape Minnesota, Inc’s display garden


It’s March in Minnesota. There’s only a few weeks of Serious Winter left. Rather than sit home and endure the home stretch of grey and cold, why not visit a garden show? Each year I take a Friday afternoon off and head to the annual  Minneapolis Home and Garden Show. Just walking into the big convention hall brings summer to you; the whiff of flowers and hot dogs is a powerful winter antidote.

Fellow garden nut Karen and I strolled up and down the aisles. We went straight to the garden displays. There I met Jim, the owner of Natural Landscape Minnesota. He had the best display, of conifers, waterfalls and stone. He told me about the way hexangonal basalt columns were formed billions of years ago. There were several columns for sale there. Jim is also sculptor of stone; he has several pieces of his work, most were already sold.

I may have to visit Jim this summer.



Two ancient works. One, Jim’s creation, is 3.6 billion years old. The other is slightly less old.


Magnolia ‘Ann’ is a smoky purple must-have at Linders’ display. I’m going to have to find room for it at my place. The pink rhododenron is a Finnish hybrid, hardy in MN.


Karen and I spent a half day browsing the garden booths. I got some ideas for outside projects including an easy way to make a beautiful fire ring for my back yard this summer. We snacked on free samples. I should have tried the frozen wine, but I passed it over for some homemade caramels.

There are all sorts of ideas for the house and yard, so go, fill your head with anti-winter thoughts and visit the Home and Garden Show. It’s open through Sunday, March 6, 2011.



Checking out plant porn in the MN Horticultural Society booth. Lots of heavy breathing.





Late Winter Resurrection

Amaryllis Study 



I’ve kept this same bulb alive for years. Each spring I put it outside. When October comes, I put it in the basement and let it dry out. In December I take it back upstairs and start watering it again. It hoists 3-4 enormous redred blooms by Valentine’s day.

The color is vivid, glowing scarlet, especially when the flower is backlit.


“Many of these trees were my friends. Creatures I had known from nut or acorn”



Today we went for a walk through the park on Harriet Island. I found this marvelous, monsterous old cottonwood. I named it ‘Treebeard’ after  the Tolkien   character.  This Treebeard is ancient and on the decline; the telltale trails of carpenter ants mean he’s hollow.



All I had was my iPhone 3G with me. If I return, I’ll bring my better camera.



I see an owl. Do you?



Burls and swirls, grottos and caves.






Your Weekly Roses, 2010-June-21


‘Dakota Song’ was developed in South Dakota, a place not known for lovely roses. Peach is a rare color for hardy roses. This rose is hard to find. I bought mine from Kedem Nursery in Hastings, MN.



‘Evelyn’ is named for the woman of ‘Crabtree and Evelyn’ reknown. In a nod to its namesake, this rose is beautifully scented. Not a large or productive rose in MN.



‘Charlotte Brownell’ is a “hybrid hybrid tea,” a back cross of a tender florist rose with a wild species rose. Colored like the famous ‘Peace’ rose, but sweetly scented. Very large flowers.



‘Teasing Georgia’ has pale yellow flowers. It’s a short climbing rose for me. I grow it on a low iron  trellis.



Bountiful and productive, ‘Graham Thomas’ opens a rich yellow and fades to pale cream on the second day. Scented of old rose and tobacco leaves. I find it hard to take my nose out of a bloom.


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Want to see more of my roses? Then click here.

Your Weekly Roses, 2010-June-13



‘Love and Peace‘ is a vibrant hybrid tea rose. Large blooms. I grow it for the amazing color. Sadly, it lacks any scent.



 A spray of ‘Heritage’ about to open. This thornless rose is well perfumed with citrus notes.




‘Prairie Harvest’ is sweetly scented. Developed in Iowa. Does well in our harsh, MN climate.



‘William Lobb’ is as a very old rose, with some bourbon rose in his background. The once-blooming climber throws deep pink flowers that turn to mauve-grey-purple after the first day.

Beautifully scented. One of the best.



Want to see more of my garden? Click here.

Want to see more of my roses? Then click here.

June Color In My Minnesota Garden

Here are a few pictures from my garden I took this morning:



Clematis ‘The President’



One of the garden paths. Yarrow ‘Moonshine’ in the foreground  



Another path. Roses surrounded me. The scent was rich in the morning air 



Shrub rose ‘Les Sjulin’ has pink petals with a darker reverse. The blooms look like conch shells when fully open.


I have a ‘June garden.’ That’s when the color peaks. There are flushes of other bloom cycles later in the summer, and autumn brings another sort of color climax. But I live for spring

Want to see more of my garden? Click here.

Want to see more of my roses? Then click here.