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Ole, Lena and Sven are roses; this is not a joke

Growing roses in central and northern Minnesota has always been a challenge. The University of Minnesota is doing research in developing roses which are low-maintenance, hardy and disease resistant for northern gardens. It has been more than 40 years since the University released a new rose. In 2008, three new, super-hardy shrub roses were released. To carry on the Minnesota Scandinavian heritage the three roses were named: Sven, Ole and Lena. These three roses were a serendipitous discovery of a polyantha rose at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum which led to crosses in 1997 that were selected as potential releases in 2002 and have been in regional trials since.

What is meant by a polyanthas rose? The University Northern Accents polyanthas die back to the crown or ground in winter and by June will have regrown to two feet tall, with a profusion of large clusters of small flowers. They continue to grow to more than three feet tall each season, and are covered in a profusion of blooms the entire season. They need no special winter care. No special pruning is required. Deadwood should be removed in early spring. Cultivated roses perform best when fertilized with a balanced formula in early spring after it has thawed. Then again at the end of the first spring bloom, and a final fertilization in mid to late July.

They do require consistent snow cover in winter, but otherwise need no special winter care. In trials done in Grand Rapids, Minn., they survived a winter with a low temperature of -47 degrees. So they are definitely a zone 3 rose.

Lena is a fragrant camellia flower type with white in the center and delicate pink edges. Ole is a single rose with white petals and ruffled pink edges, and little fragrance. Sven is almost a cabbage rose in mauves and pinks ranging to hot pink, and is the most fragrant of the three. These Northern Accent roses were released to the public in 2008, however trials are still being done on them. Only limited numbers of them have been released to green houses so they are still hard to find. However, if you are looking for a small shrub type rose for this area, they may be worth looking into or waiting to buy.

Do not be concerned that Sven is left all alone, word is that in a couple years another Northern Accents polyanthas rose is coming out by the name of Sigrid.

Pinch out buds for bigger begonias

Moving now to the topic of begonias. Tuberous begonias are monoecious, which means they have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Usually, the buds that develop at the end of the stems open as double flowers, these are the male flowers. Other buds that develop next to the male flowers may develop into other male flowers or smaller, single female flowers. You can leave these adjacent buds alone, but sometimes, the smaller single flowers will crowd and slightly deform the petals of the main male flower.

If you want the larger flowers, pinch out the buds on either side of the center bud when they are about pea-sized, and the plant will direct its energy toward forming larger, showier male flowers. This will extend your begonia's bloom time, as it will not waste energy producing seeds.

The same rule holds true for peony blossoms. They will soon be shooting up buds. There is usually a main bud with two secondary buds on either side. You have three choices. Pinch off the two secondary buds and you will have fewer, but larger blossoms. Pinch off the main bud and leave the two secondary buds and they will develop into larger blossoms, because the main bud is not present to take any energy from the plant. Or just leave the peony as is and have large and smaller blossoms. However, if you are going to pinch some buds, it is better to do it sooner, rather than wait until all buds are well developed.


Kyle Schulz is a Wadena County Master Gardener from Sebeka, and the regular gardening columnist for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The Pioneer Journal and the Echo Press are owned by Forum Communications Company.