By Mike Fuss
In my opinion, the most challenging part of growing roses in my area of Southern New England is the variable winter weather. Notably, the temperatures range from below freezing (sometimes below zero) to the forties and fifties – sometimes within days. This can cause the roses to start and stop growing during the winter and also in the early spring. My efforts to get the roses cold and keeping them cold include planting budded bushes with the bud union about 3 inches below ground level and using a lot of mulch around the base of each bush. For some of the smaller bushes, I use Rose Kones. (sometimes filling the Kones with mulch). Many of my bushes are now large shrubs. I used to use about 100 Kones and now use 36. The bigger bushes are pretty winter hardy and I prune relatively little dead wood from them. I start winter protection after a few hard freezes (25 degrees or below) and leave the protection in place to mid or late March depending on weather.
The main challenge of the summer months is the heat and humidity which keeps me from being in the garden during the day and the lack of rain which requires much watering. My part of Connecticut is in a severe drought condition. Fortunately, our water system has a large reservoir so we are not required to restrict water yet. I don’t know what the coming summer will bring. A timer controlled water system brings water to the base of the plants in the early morning hours and this is a great help.
So much for the challenges of rose growing in Connecticut. My roses bring beauty and fragrance to my little area of the world from late May (Harison’s Yellow) to color all season and into late October (Lady Elsie May). On a number of occasions, I have had roses on Thanksgiving. The beauty and enjoyment that they bring to me and others is more than worth the effort involved.