“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.




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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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.



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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

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