Garden musings: Enoying the fun of watching a garden grow

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

One of the wonderful things about having a garden is the opportunity to watch things grow. Of course, if you’re in the business of giving out horticultural advice, it’s also a great way to learn. I’ve always felt better about giving out recommendations based on local experience, so here are some musings about some plants that I’ve added to my own garden this year.

Knockout roses are one of the most popular groups of plants in the garden these days for good reason. They bloom from spring through fall and don’t require lots of spraying. Two new selections have been released this year: White Out and Sunny Knockout. I recently added these roses to my garden and also planted them in the Brunswick Botanical Garden in Bolivia.

It’s a little early to be drawing any major conclusions, but White Out looks like a more vigorous grower. The blooms are a good, clear white with no hint of beige. The buds of Sunny Knockout are butterscotch-yellow but quickly fade to a cream color once they open. The color is similar to the Carefree Sunshine shrub rose that’s been around for several years. Right now, Carefree Sunshine, which was developed by the same breeder who does the Knockouts but isn’t technically one of them, is outperforming Sunny Knockout in my garden. Carefree Sunshine didn’t set many flower buds last year during the hottest part of summer, though. I’ll let you know how they respond to the heat this year.

If you’re thinking about adding shrub roses to the garden, you won’t go wrong with any of the Knockout series. The original red, pink and light pink (blush) selections are the most vigorous. Rainbow and the doubles are better selections if your space is limited.

I added a Homerun shrub rose to the garden last year. This truly red rose developed by Weeks Roses blooms slightly earlier than the Knockouts. Based on its growth so far this spring, I’m going to have to do some summer pruning to keep it in bounds.

The Encore azaleas continue to impress. Right now, Autumn Twist and Autumn Royalty have taken center stage, while earlier bloomers such as Autumn Starlight and Autumn Ruby are getting ready for a burst of growth. It’s a bit confusing to have 23 varieties and they are on the pricey side, but the long, bloom season is worth it. I haven’t been disappointed by any of the Encores in my garden. Growing either of these popular groups of plants does require good soil preparation. That means the usual mixing of lots of organic matter and creating that well-drained bed.

If the white-tailed deer population uses your garden as a salad bowl, remember they’ll munch on the Knockout roses and the Encore azaleas.