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Summer in the Rose Garden

by Mary Jasch

Five mornings a week, Shauna Moore hops her bright green four-wheel John Deer Gator and inspects all the gardens at Colonial Park in Somerset, New Jersey. Shauna came to the park’s Rudolph van der Goot Rose Garden as its new rosarian six years ago. Now she is Supervisor of Horticulture for Somerset County Park Commission’s Colonial Park and Curator of the rose garden.

Horticulture is Shauna’s life’s work. With a MA in Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota and 20 years at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, she was ready! Arriving in February, even with everything dormant, she thought, “Oh my gosh! I’ve got to be here!”

In addition to daily administrative work, marketing, social media, maintaining the rose garden, and curating and maintaining plants in other garden areas, she runs educational seminars, tours, and teaches classes in normal years.

In the rose garden, 3,300 plants of 300 cultivated varieties occupy its 1.5 acres. Many are classic Hybrid Ts “Everybody wants to see Double Delight. Everybody wants to see Mr. Lincoln and the Peace Rose is the most elegant of all,” she says.

“I love plants that are beautiful and fragrant and perform well. I like things that are showy. Beauty is key to me. I don’t want to be blasting the universe with chemicals anymore to attain that aesthetic. I prefer plant species seen in formal gardens. There’s room here for both the hybrid Ts and the natives. I love plants that are a little more challenging. I don’t think it’s worth growing a rose if it doesn’t have a scent.”

New Jersey summer’s sweltering heat and high humidity can rob a rose of its beauty and well-being. So what to do? Shauna shares her tips and tells the way they care for their prized rose collection in the Rudolph van der Goot Rose Garden.

In Spring, they feed Espoma’s Rose Tone, followed by fish emulsion every two to three weeks until September. As a foliar spray, “I really feel like roses drink it up that way.” As a soil drench, it helps build the soil and attracts beneficial nematodes. “We see a really beautiful flush of roses, glorious, even better when the air is cooler and colors are brighter.”

Right after spring pruning they spray Neem Oil, a natural fungicide/insecticide, to smother aphids and mites up until temperatures reach 85 degrees. “In full bloom, the bee pollinators are happening and people want to stick their noses in as they should. In summer we try to keep a low profile.”

M-Pede, a gentle, natural, OMRI-certified pesticide/fungicide, also good for powdery mildew, is used early and sporadically throughout the season. In spring they do one or two applications of systemic fungicide such as Aliette or Honor Guard. “If we have to get the big guns out, we use Mancozeb for spot treatment for black spot.”

This summer, there is lots of black spot and defoliation, she says. “We can count on many of the classics to get black spot. We keep the soil clean and also the plant. When cooler weather arrives, the plant will refoliate.”

Their biggest problem is combatting rose rosette, Shauna says. Surrounded by Rosa multiflora, the disease host, they spend lots of time getting rid of the mites (the culprits) blown in the wind. Some years they’ve lost up to 28 plants, this year just one. “We don’t use leaf blowers; we don’t want to blow it (the disease) around,” she says. A plant stands a chance of survival, albeit small, if the disease is caught early enough and the rose’s infected parts are removed. But best practice is to remove the entire plant and toss it in the trash.

“You can plant another rose right in that hole,” Shauna says. “Even if bits of root remain, it’s still safe to plant. You really need to get rid of that infected rose. Mites can blow 100 miles.” Texas A&M is conducting research on resistant varieties and developing ways to combat rose rosette. Native Rosa setigera, known as “prairie rose,” and other native and species roses, are being tested. Some are showing good resistance to rose rosette.

Japanese beetles, anyone? “We don’t really care about Japanese beetles that hang on roses for three or four weeks. We don’t treat the soil for grubs, and we have cats that hunt for mice and voles.” Staff hand-pick the beetles.

Summer Pruning: After the first flush, they deadhead the roses to trick them into growing like it’s spring again. Best practice: It’s most important to get the seeds off, so snap or twist the dead flower. Rugosas form rose hips with high content Vitamin C until the end of August.

Hybrids are chosen for fragrance, size, disease resistance, cold hardiness and color. “It seems you can only get three out of five,” she says. Now, heading into August, the roses need weeding. Working every day with 3,300 roses they need mulch to keep moisture in the soil. “Most people are really grateful and happy to be back in the rose garden. My goal here is to make roses accessible. This garden is for everybody and I think roses should be for everybody.”

So, what does Shauna like best about her job after six years? “I love working with the seasonal stuff. Every day is different. I love the birds. I love the frogs. I love having all this Nature around. It’s very healing. I like to think I’ve shaped and mentored the way a younger person connects every day with Nature.”

Shauna’s Tips:
 Give them lots of food and water.
 Trust your intuition.
 Don’t be afraid to try growing more because they really are worth the effort.
 Always try to shoot for the fragrant ones.
 Deadheading is key.
 Don’t worry so much about Japanese beetles. They come and go. They’re not worth trying to treat with pesticides.
 Enjoy it.

Some Special Roses:
R.'Blanc Double de Coubert' – 1892, hybrid rugosa, fragrant, blooms summer into fall
R.'La France' –1867, first Hybrid T and first Modern rose, with parentage of Old Garden Rose
R.'My Girl' – 2008, disease resistant, hardy and fragrant
R.'Earth Angel' – Earth-Kind rose developed by Texas A&M University good for the environment, the rose looks like an Old Garden Rose. Winner!
R. 'Louise Odier' – Old Garden Rose, pink, repeat bloom Bourbon classified before 1867.
R. chinensis ‘Viridiflora’ – a green rose
R. eglantine – (rubiginosa) – green apple-scented foliage and stems
R. 'Twilight Zone' – fragrant grandiflora with deep purple flowers
R. 'Double Delight' – hybrid T, one of the most fragrant roses ever
R. 'Lady Elsie May – no fragrance but ever-blooming
Drift – Sweet Drift – huge!
R. 'Belinda’s Dream' – disease-tolerant, fragrant, pink bred by Antique Rose Emporium in Texas
R. setigera – native, pink, fragrant climber

Visit The Rudolph van der Goot Rose Garden!
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10-2
Wed: Closed
Sun: Seniors: 8-9:30; public: 10-4
**Photos by Mary Jasch except as noted

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