Roses for New England
So much of the information published on selecting and growing roses seems to be for those in climates more benign than ours. That's why I was glad to see the new book Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening by Mike and Angelina Chute (Forbes River Publishing, $18.95). The authors, co-owners of Rose Solutions, a Rhode Island landscape consulting company that specializes in roses, have years of experience growing roses in our region. Their book contains regionally appropriate information on selecting, planting, watering, fertilizing and pruning roses, as well as advice on managing pests and diseases and getting roses through our tough New England winters. Best of all is a section on sustainable roses that lists over 150 varieties that are winter hardy and remain attractive without the use of pesticides. The book is available at www.rosesolutions.net
Favorite or New Plant
'Hameln' Dwarf Fountain Grass
While I like the look of of ornamental grasses, many are too large for my modestly sized gardens. Also some of the grasses tend to get floppy, especially when they're weighted down with fall rains. So I really appreciate the small size and erect habit of 'Hameln' Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'). Its fine-textured, bright green, arching foliage makes a nice backdrop early in the season. Then in late summer the bottlebrush-shaped, buff colored flower heads emerge, looking so soft you want to stroke them. As the weather cools, the leaves take on shades of gold, eventually turning a soft tan. Growing in clumps 18-24 inches tall and wide, dwarf fountain grass does best in full sun and well-drained soil. While many sources list it as hardy in zone 5-9, mine have prospered unprotected for several years in my zone 4 garden.