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Show #37/511 - Rose Garden at Elizabeth Park

Today we visit one of the oldest Public Rose Gardens in the country, Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut. They have thousands of Roses in their two plus acre demonstration garden. They have Ground Cover Roses, Climbers, Heirloom Roses and Hybrid Teas. We'll discuss how to select them and how to control pests and diseases.

Mayor Eddie Perez welcomes Garden Smart to Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut. Hartford is a city on the rise, it's a city that celebrates it's heritage and culture while bringing new excitement to urban living. They have great spaces in Hartford for the public to enjoy, places like Elizabeth Park and it's world famous Rose Garden. The City of Hartford and Friends of Elizabeth Park have a joint partnership to make sure that they protect and enhance this beautiful space and make sure that people enjoy it year round, whether for weddings, proms or just a trip to the park. People have been coming to this park for over 100 years. The Mayor invites our Garden Smart viewers to come and visit, to enjoy the quality of life in Hartford and to witness the heritage and cultural institutions. For a city of this size the amenities are second to none, whether visiting the Wadsworth Museum, the second oldest museum in the country, or the new convention center, or witnessing the growth of city housing or enjoying downtown and the central business district, the city has much to offer. The City of Hartford has great people who participate in protecting and enhancing this wonderful city and its' wonderful spaces like Elizabeth Park. The Mayor turns the show over to one of those special people, Donna Fuss the Rosarian for Elizabeth Park.

Donna Fuss as the Park rosarian gets to take care of all these beautiful Roses. Donna tells us a little about the history of the Park. Charles and Elizabeth Pond owned this land. Elizabeth died many years before Charles and Charles wanted to do something for the City of Hartford and remember his wife. Thus he willed the land to the City with the stipulation that it be a public park, that it be named for his deceased wife and that it be free to the public. The City of Hartford took possession in 1897 and hired Theodore Wirth a landscape architect who interned at Kew Gardens in England. Mr. Wirth and his influence is the reason the Park has a formal victorian looking garden. The 1904 opening date of the garden makes this the oldest municipal rose garden in the country. In 1912 the American Rose Society came to the City and asked them to add on a section for testing Roses. Thus this is the oldest Rose test garden in the country. In 1938 The American Rose Society came back and asked the City to add an area to commemorate Theodore Wirth because he was the father of the American Rose Garden and he started in this garden. So, as of 1938 the garden was complete and today the beds are configured exactly as they were then. The Garden is 2 1/2 acres and has 15,000 bushes, the third largest in the country. This garden has a unique partnership between the City and The Friends of Elizabeth Park. In the 1970's Hartford hit some hard times and felt they were no longer able to afford to keep up the Rose Garden and in fact decided to plow it under, which would have been terrible because this is such a great collection of rose varieties. Several groups, the Horticultural Society, Historical Society and Federated Garden Clubs, got together, went to the City and asked permission to form a group to help support the Park and try to renovate it. The first objective was to save the Rose Garden, then the rest of the Park. Thus the Friends of Elizabeth Park was formed and since then Friends have given or purchased things for the City. There is a volunteer group of about 150 people that help out in different gardens.

The Park is like a living encyclopedia of Roses. They have anywhere from species to the most modern hybrids. The oldest species in this garden is Rosa Sericea Pteracantha which goes back to the dinosaurs and is located in the Heritage Garden. In the main garden there are 8 sets of arches, the compass points are covered with Excelsa and Crimson Rambler, Roses with very lax canes, very long canes different from a Climber, which has a stronger cane. Other compass points have the pink Dorothy Perkins and a white version of Dorothy Perkins. The arches are a little past peak but glorious. The Park is famous for its Ramblers and Climbers. They have very old, extremely rare Ramblers that don't exist in other places. They have a collection of Walsh Ramblers, Walsh has a hybridizer out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He hybridized these Roses with long canes and sent them to England and England claims them as their Cottage Roses. This is nice because almost everything else has come to us from Europe and England whereas here we gave them something in return. There are Rugosas, which are common beach Roses and hybrids thereof. Then they get into very old Hybrid Teas and Floribundas, Grandifloras, right up to the Modern Shrubs. A beautiful Roses this summer is Rainbow Sorbet, it carries so many colors-vivid pink, a red, yellow, peach-it really is a rainbow, it's beautiful. One of Donna's favorites is Wild Blue Yonder, it is an informal purple that has a wonderful fragrance.

There are other gardens within this Garden, this is a full horticultural park. It has a lovely perennial garden designed by Fred McGourty, a shade garden, a sunken garden that's 4 steps down, a Heritage Rose Garden, where almost everything is pre-1867 (the date between modern and old-fashioned), there is the Putnam Greenhouse (a cute little greenhouse, open to the public) that was a gift and there are other greenhouses used for production (every planting in the city of Hartford comes from these greenhouses). The plants in the City are either grown by seed or cuttings with the crew at the Park taking care of all those plantings. It's a Park that people feel connected to. Charlie decides to wander around for a while and thanks Donna for her time, direction and expertise. Thanks Donna.

Charlie first looks at a classic Hybrid Tea Rose. This one is called Moonstone and is the Rose you're most likely to find when in a garden center. It's the most popular Rose out there. The way you can tell that you have a Hybrid Tea is if you have one big flower per stem, usually a strong stem. It's the classic cut flower Rose you give on Valentines Day. It's a beautiful Shrub, will grow to 3 or 4 feet tall when mature but it needs care. It likes fertilizer and needs some pest control for disease and insect problems. If you want a good cut flower Rose, the Hybrid Tea is the way to go. The breeders decided they loved this Rose but wanted more flowers on it, a more floriferous Rose. So they found an old-fashioned Rose called Polyantha Rose and crossed it with the Hybrid Tea. We view a Polyantha, it has lots of different flowers all bundled up, but they're very small flowers. The Polyantha when crossed with the Hybrid Tea results in the Floribunda Rose which is another very popular Rose. If you like big flowers and want lots of them the Floribunda Rose is the one to choose. This one is called Travelmunde, it's a beautiful red variety. Floribunda Roses have many flowers per stem, unlike the Hybrid Tea that has just one flower. They're big, but not as big as the Hybrid Teas, but very floriferous, they put out a beautiful show. Floribunda Roses are less finicky about their cultural requirements, they don't need as much fertilizer and pest control as the finicky Hybrid Teas. The breeders said well it's a great idea to have Floribundas but we want to have some big Roses with multiple stems, so they created the Grandiflora Rose. Grandiflora Roses are a cross between the Hybrid Tea Rose and the Floribunda Rose. They have the big flowers of the Hybrid Tea but they have lots of them just like the Floribunda. The shrub itself will grow to 4 to 5 feet tall and is a nice landscape plant, it is a focal point type plant. It requires care, like the Hybrid Tea, but because it's such a nice big Rose it can make a statement around your yard. A lot of the modern roses, a lot of these hybrid Roses don't have the scent many remember. Some of the new ones have a fragrance but many do not. One group of Roses that cross between the old-fashioned and the moderns have scent. Old-fashioned Roses are great, they have beautiful flower shapes and many have a strong fragrance. The problem with old-fashioned Roses is they only bloom once during the season. The modern hybrids that we've discussed are great because they flower all season long. David Austin from England bred them together and created the David Austin Rose or English Rose. These Roses have the beautiful flower shapes of old-fashioneds and the scent, plus they flower all season long. In addition they're a shrub Rose so they get rather big and they don't have as many problems. These Roses are hardy through about zone 5, just like the Hybrid Teas and the Floribundas and the Grandifloras. Any colder than that and they may struggle, that's where you would go for a hardier Shrub Rose.

Roses have a reputation of having lots of insect and disease problems but it doesn't need to be that way. You can select disease resistant varieties that don't get a lot of fungal diseases. Also it is important to clean up the plant during the growing season and into the Fall so you don't have those diseases and insects over wintering. Charlie now shows us his apothecary. There are lots of home remedies and sprays that are safe and effective for Roses. The first thing is to wash the disease spores off the leaves. Get your sprayer or garden hose and in the early morning go through and wash the leaves. What that does is blow disease spores off so that they don't get started and a disease that doesn't get started is not going to get established on a plant. Another home remedy is milk. A solution of 1 part skim milk, nine parts water put in a sprayer and sprayed on the leaves will prevent Rose diseases like Powdery Mildew. Another home remedy is baking soda. Mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda, some summer oil, soap and a gallon of water. Find a 1 gallon sprayer, add the household baking soda, include a tablespoon of summer oil or horticultural oil (a low grade oil effective on foliage but doesn't harm it) which helps the mixture stick, add several drops of liquid kitchen soap, which also helps the mixture stick on the leaves, then put the mixture in the sprayer and spray it on the leaves, usually early in the morning. You may need to do this repeatedly, once every week or so to prevent diseases from spreading. This mix is effective in combating Black Spot and Powdery Mildew. If you want to purchase a product you might want to try Neem oil. Neem is a tree that grows in India and they extract the oil from the seeds. It is very safe, in fact, in India they make toothpaste from Neem oil. It is good at preventing disease from spreading and is effective in keeping insects away. Speaking of insects, there are several that like Roses. Aphids and Thrips, for example, are soft bodied and easy to kill. A nice product to use for them is insecticidal soap. It is soap that's been formulated to be effective on Roses but doesn't harm anything else and is probably better than using dish soap. Put it in a spray bottle, you may need to use repeated applications because Aphids reproduce like rabbits. There is a new product used to control caterpillars in the garden, it's called Spinosad. It's made from a bacteria that's naturally occurring in the environment that's formulated to spray on foliage and any caterpillars that are present will eat it and die. It's safe for other beneficial insects, for pets and humans but effective against caterpillars. The Japanese Beetle is a problem for Rose growers in the East and the South. It is a coppery-colored beetle and loves Roses. They come out in June or July depending on where you live and will flock towards Roses. Their main purpose in life is to mate and feed. Use this to your advantage, there is a trap that has a pheromone lure, it is aromatic and has a sex pheromone that attracts them for mating. Put this in a trap about 3 feet above the ground, place them upwind and the Japanese Beetles will come from miles around to hit the trap. It has gotten a bad rap because if you're the only one using this trap in your neighborhood, you'll attract the beetles from others' yards. Thus you must get everyone to join in, put them in shrubs and trees and your flowers should be protected. You could also hand pick Japanese Beetles, especially early in the morning when they're sluggish. You could also spray beneficial nematodes on the lawn to kill grubs. If you use all these home remedies you can control most of the Rose problems you might have.

Reggie DeLarm works at East Knoll Pottery and today shows us how she makes reproduction heirloom yelloware pottery. Pottery like this was made in the middle of the 1800's, maybe earlier. Yelloware is identifiable by its' yellow clay which is under a clear glaze. Today Reggie shows us how she makes a flower pot. Her potters wheel is electric, she starts by centering the clay. When the ball of clay is centered you open it up. She uses a sponge on the outside, squeezing the inside and outside together, leaving the only place for the clay to go is up. When the pot is formed she then forms a rolled rim to make the design a little stronger. This old fashioned craft is still interesting and the dishware Reggie makes is stunning. Thanks Reggie.

The Sun Sprite Rose has a nice fragrance but you want to keep it healthy by fertilizing it. Roses are heavy feeders so Charlie suggests adding compost in the Spring, really building up the soil, maybe put in some time release fertilizer pellets, then use regular Rose food to keep the Roses really looking good. Another home remedy involves fertilizing with coffee grounds. Coffee grounds sprinkled around Roses about a quarter of an inch to half an inch thick will help Roses grow and bloom better. So after you perk your coffee, save the grounds, dry them out, then sprinkle them around. You'll find your Roses perform better.

Donna mentioned the Rambling Roses at Elizabeth Park. Charlie takes a look at a Rambling Rose and explains what a Rambling Rose is. Rambling Roses have long supple canes. We view a cane that is 1 year old and it's about 10 feet tall and still growing. That is why you can train them on big arches. If at home the arch will need to be a strong metal or a strong wooden arch because the canes can get pretty heavy. The canes will come up in multiples, there will be lots of them, and the only way to keep them on the arch is to tie them in. Here they've used twine, you could use wire. Tie them in tightly so that they will hold onto the arch, thereby enabling the rose to go all the way across providing the beautiful arch of 180 degrees. Rambling Roses, like Climbing Roses, don't flower much on new growth but they flower on the 2nd years growth. When looking where flowers are coming from, the side branches in this case are loaded with flowers. The main growth is going up and creating more and more side branches. That is how you get flowers all the way around.

Today we've learned about great kinds of Roses here at Elizabeth Park, from the Hybrid Teas and the Floribundas to Ground Cover Roses to coffee for fertilizing Roses to insect and pest control. Elizabeth Park in Hartford Connecticut is a wonderful place to visit. We thank everyone who helped us make this show possible.

Links:

The Litchfield Inn

Regina DeLarm, East Knoll Pottery

Elizabeth Park

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