Peak Roses, Fireblight

Peak Roses!

We have so much great information to share with you this week!  From Eve and Mikl’s (photo worthy!) visit to the Dushanbe Teahouse, special rose profiles, and an informative article on fireblight from Mikl.
Before that, we’ll remind you of our three spectacular classes this weekend.  Saturday at 10 AM, Alison Peck talks about landscapes patterned after nature in “Gardening Advice from Mother Nature”.  This is followed at 1 PM with a ​not-to-be-missed “Natives for Every Garden” by Dan Johnson, Denver Botanical Garden’s Curator of Native Plants!  Dan will share his immense knowledge on water-thrifty plants that attract pollinators, create wildlife habitat, and provide changing year ‘round color – wow!  Then on Sunday at 1 PM, Mikl shares his Composting Success tips.  Join us for one, or all three classes!
Pre-registration is appreciated and highly recommended with a quick call to 303-939-9403. To see the full descriptions of these classes and many more, just scroll down.


Eve and Mikl visited the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Friday evening, and found the rose garden there in absolutely glorious, fragrant, breathtaking full bloom! If you haven’t been there recently, we really encourage you to make it a priority.

The Teahouse garden has never been better, and this is it’s 20th year! Eve and Mikl designed the rose garden, which was installed in May, 1998. From the beginning, it has been a demonstration garden of hardy, own-root (not grafted) roses for the Boulder Valley Rose Society, who care for the garden, using NO pesticides, NO chemicals, EVER! That’s 20 years of beautiful, thriving, fragrant roses of many different types and more than 30 varieties.

Harlequin’s Gardens sells many of these varieties, and with a lot of our potted rose plants in bloom, this is an excellent time to come and choose from our large and wide-ranging selection, from romantic heirloom antiques to super-hardy Canadian-bred varieties, to continual-blooming ‘patio’ roses for smaller gardens.

Here’s an introduction to just a few of the wonderful roses at the Teahouse:

Golden Wings:

Shrub Rose to 5-6’ high & wide, introduced 1956, Cold-hardy to Zone 5
Probably the most asked-about rose at the Teahouse! The center of each large light-yellow bloom is graced with a prominent, lush ring of long, curved deep-red stamens, giving it an unmatched natural elegance. They also possess a wonderful, spicy and sweet fragrance! Golden Wings blooms repeatedly from June until hard frost, and the blooms are followed by a glorious crop of large golden hips in autumn. A versatile rose, it looks appropriate in almost any style of garden.

Stanwell Perpetual:

Unique Heirloom Shrub Rose to 4-5’ high and wide, Cold-hardy to Zone 4
A five-star rose with wonderful old-rose fragrance, covered with lovely 3” wide blush-pink blooms of old-fashioned double form, and lots of unusual gray-green foliage on a gracefully arching shrub. Stanwell Perpetual begins blooming in late May, and barely takes a break until late fall. It blooms through the heat of July, when most other roses are taking a break. Introduced in 1838, Stanwell is thought to be the result of a cross between the once-blooming Rosa spinosissima (Scotsbriar), with it’s finely pinnate gray-green leaves and spiny red canes, and repeat-blooming Autumn Damask. Hardy, adaptable and disease-free!


Hybrid Robusta Large Shrub/Climber, 4-8’h x 6’w, Cold-hardy to Zone 5
Robusta is a rose you simply cannot ignore. It grabs your attention even from a distance, with its profusion of 4”-wide lipstick-red single to semi-double flowers in large clusters almost continuously through the season! This upright shrub develops thick canes, clothed in beautiful, large, glossy bright green leaves and undeniably fierce prickles. The blooms are lightly fragrant. Use Robusta for a focal point, a fence, hedge or impenetrable barrier. No other hardy rose offers this kind of red impact for so long! Robusta was introduced in 1979 by Kordes Roses in Germany.

JoAn’s Pink Perpetual

Found Heirloom Shrub Rose, probable Hyb. Perpetual, 4-6’h x 2-4’w, Cold-hardy to Zone 4
One of the mystery roses from the historical Fairmount Cemetery in Denver. Deep, rosy pink blooms are large, very full and deliciously fragrant on a sturdy, healthy and hardy shrub. Heavy spring bloom is followed by some repeat through the summer. The study name “JoAn’s Pink Perpetual” is dedicated to the proactive efforts to protect Fairmount Cemetery’s roses by former publicity director JoAn Cullen.  (Image from High Country Garden.)

John Davis

Canadian-bred Shrub/short Climber, to 5’high and wide (7-8’h x 3’w as climber), Cold-hardy to Zone3
This double, pink rose looks so charming and old-fashioned, it’s hard to imagine just how tough it really is. But we’ve not only had John Davis climbing happily at the Teahouse for 20 years, but he’s also been thriving as a shrub on the sun-and-wind-battered west side of the blue house at Harlequin’s Gardens for even longer! Taking everything in stride, the blooms don’t fade, they continue through the summer, and the shrub remains healthy as can be; and the flowers are even fragrant!

Hope for Humanity

Canadian-bred Shrub rose, 5-6’h x 4-5’w, Cold-hardy to Zone3
Aside from the inspiring name, this is a great and unique rose, with a color unmatched in hardy roses – deep blood red opening to rich, unfading crimson. The loosely double flowers are held in large terminal clusters on arching canes, and blooming repeats through the season. Alas, there’s not much fragrance, but Hope for Humanity is very resistant to disease and easy to grow. It was bred in Canada and released in 1984.

John Cabot

Canadian-bred Shrub/Climber, 8-10’h x 3-4’w as climber, Cold-hardy to Zone 3
Brilliant orchid-pink semi-double blossoms almost cover this fast-growing, easy-going shrub or climber, making quite a show! The first climbing rose in Ag. Canada’s Explorer Series, John Cabot was bred by Dr. Felicitas Svejda and introduced in 1977. With excellent hardiness, vigor, disease-resistance, repeat bloom, and even some shade tolerance, John Cabot is hard to beat, especially as a climber. Grown on an arbor or spread out along a fence, it can be quite a bit wider than 4’. Canes are thick, sturdy and upright, and prickly. One has to take the thorns with the roses, right?

Fighting Fireblight

This is a bad year for fireblight which is a bacterial disease affecting mostly apple, pear, crabapple, hawthorn and Mt. Ash. It is spread in the presence of moisture and enters the trees through wounds and open blossoms. Colorado is the worst state in the US for fireblight.

Because of our moist spring and extra wounding caused by hail, there is a lot of infection. Symptoms include black, hooked twig ends, brown or blackened leaves, dried up fruits and sunken cankers that can be a dull orange or black. Fireblight is a difficult disease to manage because there is no cure. Spraying chemicals is not recommended by CSU because they are not very effective, timing is critical and spraying must be repeated.

Pruning out infected branches is the main active solution that can prevent the spread of the disease, but it is tricky because pruning can spread or worsen the disease. There are many views of the “right” way to do it.

Mikl Brawner dealt with fireblighted trees as an arborist for over 35 years. Here is a simplified version of his approach:
Do not prune in spring because the moist conditions and pruning cuts create opportunities for the fireblight to enter the trees. Once conditions are drier, prune fireblighted twigs and branches back 6″-8″ from the infection, and sterilize tools after every cut with Lysol, alcohol or a bleach/water solution.

If there are hundreds of blackened leaves and twigs, wait until the leaves are falling to prune, because when the tree is dormant, pruning can be done without sterilizing every cut. In general make more small cuts than big cuts which take longer to heal and cause more stress to the tree. The infection can be superficial and not as bad as it looks, so pruning less can be better. Also radical pruning stresses the tree and creates more sucker growth, both which increase infection by fireblight.  (Image from Chipps Tree Care Inc.)

Prevention is important when possible. Plant fireblight-resistant varieties. (there are conflicting views, unfortunately) Irrigation that sprays the leaves and keeps the soil saturated encourage fireblight. Strong chemical fertilizers cause fast soft growth that is especially susceptible. Do water when soil is really dry, because stress makes fireblight worse.

There is evidence that organic fertilizers and mineral supplements (like rock dust) applied in September can prevent or reduce fireblight infection by increasing nutrient availability and vitality. Inoculating new tree roots with mycorrhizae can also be helpful.

Don’t ignore fireblight or it will spread, but don’t be afraid to take 2 or 3 years to prune out diseased wood if that allows for smaller cuts. A susceptible variety like Jonathan apple or Bechtel crab may die or have to be removed.

This year may also be bad for fungal diseases like Powdery Mildew which appears as a white covering of leaves and stems with curling of leaves and stems. This can be managed and cured with Green Cure, Neem, Compost Tea and Fungus Pharm—all non-toxic products.  (Image from

Cultural Prevention: Water deeply and only once or twice (3x in July?). It is best not to spray the leaves with water, and best to water in the morning so the soil can dry out by evening when our cool nights can condense moisture onto the leaves. A mulch reduces fungus spores from splashing up onto leaves.

Classes List

We offer empowering classes with great teachers throughout the season.  Coming soon will be more of our class offerings.  Our teachers have spent years honing their skills in Colorado and will help guide you to success. We are charging $15 to support our speakers and Harlequin’s educational direction. It is best to pre-register for these classes both in case they fill up or too few people register, and we have to cancel. Pre-payment assures your place in the class.  Pre-registration is appreciated and highly recommended for all classes with a quick call to 303-939-9403.  (This list is also available on our website.)

Sat, Jun 9 at 10 AM – GARDENING ADVICE FROM MOTHER NATURE with Alison Peck

When we move from plant collections to landscapes patterned after nature, our gardens become richer, healthier, and more abundant. We’ll share ecological understandings that allow us to work with nature to conserve resources (including our time), create better habitat for us and wildlife, and weave native plants into regenerative native landscapes.   $15

Sat, Jun 9 at 1 PM – NATIVES FOR EVERY GARDEN with Dan Johnson

Imagine a group of water-thrifty plants that could attract pollinators, create wildlife habitat, provide changing year ‘round color, motion and texture in the garden, mingle happily with other durable plants from around the world, and thrive in all extremes of our Colorado weather. Asking too much? Then you haven’t considered our own native Western plants! Not just for the purist or specialist anymore, natives have gone mainstream. We’ll look at the best of the best and where to use them. From vibrant rock-hardy perennials to swaying grasses and bristling cactus, there a native for every garden niche. Class lasts 1 hour.   $15

Sun, Jun 10 at 1 PM – SUCCESSFUL HOME COMPOSTING with Mikl Brawner

Learn how to turn waste into wealth by cultivating soil microorganisms. Nature does the work if you know how to lend a hand.  In this class, you will learn what works in our climate, and what doesn’t. Mikl has been composting for 35 years.   $15

Sat, Jun 16 at 1 PM – What to do about the Japanese Beetle Invasion with Katie McAllister

Tried and true methods of Japanese beetle reduction by Matrix Gardens’ Katie McAllister. Learn the phases and life stages of this insect and how and when to take environmentally-friendly (but beetle-deadly) action. $15

Sat, Jun 23 at 10 AM – HONEY BEE MEET & GREET with Kristina Williams

Have you ever watched bees coming out of a knot hole in an old tree or seen those stacks of boxes near a field and wondered what was inside?  Come take a peek inside a working hive of honey bees and chat about what it takes to have a hive of your own or to help bees in general.   Please wear long sleeves and pants.   $15

Sat, Jun 23 1 – 2 PM – HABITAT HERO – WILDSCAPING 101 (Free!) with Laura Somers

Laura Somers, Wildscape Ambassador, representing Audubon Rockies and Colorado Native Plant Society will demonstrate the importance of restoring our communities, one garden patch at a time. From a birds-eye view, learn how to create wildlife-friendly gardens that help combat the loss of open spaces and create green corridors that link your wildscape to larger natural areas by providing habitat for wildlife.   (Free!)

Sun, Jun 24 at 10 AM – COLORADO NATIVE BEES with Kristina Williams

If you have a backyard garden, it’s probably being pollinated by some of Boulder County’s 500+ species of native bees.  We’ll talk about some of the basic types and how you can create bee friendly habitat to invite them to your yard.  Then we’ll walk through Harlequins’ demonstration gardens to observe some of these bees in action.   $15


Learn how to look for and identify common pests, and how to judge if anything needs to be done. Learn which organic solutions are the most effective, for what, and how to do it. Mikl has been walking this talk for 35 years.    $15

Sun, Jul 15 at 1 PM – TIPS & TRICKS OF XERISCAPE with Mikl Brawner

Gardening with less water is not that hard if you know how! There are tricks that will improve your success. Mikl’s will pass on his 30 years of xeriscape experience.   $15

Sat, Jul 21 at 1 PM – BASIC LANDSCAPE DESIGN with Elaine Walker

Elaine is a landscape architect who will show you the elements of designing areas of your property. Learn how to observe your site, identify goals, take a site analysis, create a comprehensive design, and how to approach installation in manageable pieces.              $15

Sun, Aug 5 at 1 PM – PRUNING FOR STRENGTH, HEALTH, AND BEAUTY with Mikl Brawner

Learn how to train young trees, restructure shrubs and trees damaged by storms, and to prune roses. Mikl has over 35 years of experience in pruning. (Repeated on Sep. 16.)   $15



Join Zach for a class about the many ways you can incorporate mushrooms and fungi in your garden and lifestyle. You will learn the basic techniques for growing mushrooms, how to encourage fungal activity in your soil, and about the health-giving properties that you can experience from eating more mushrooms!   $15

Sun, Aug 26 at 1 PM – LOW TECH GREENHOUSE DESIGN & OPERATION with Mikl Brawner

Mikl has been researching, building, and using simple greenhouses for 20 years. This class will focus on five designs on site at the nursery.   $15

Sun, Sep 9 at 1 PM – HOW TO MULCH with Mikl Brawner

Weedbarrier, wood chips, straw, fine gravel, bark? Which mulches should be used and where? Why is mulching so important? What’s wrong with redwood and cedar? Mikl will discuss these questions and suggest solutions.        $15


In this class, you will learn the basics of mushroom identification and what you should know before going out on a hunt. We will also introduce a variety of local mushrooms and their identification features. A good class for beginners as well as those who have done some foraging before.   $15

Sun, Sep 16 at 1 PM – PRUNING FOR STRENGTH, HEALTH, AND BEAUTY with Mikl Brawner

Learn how to train young trees, restructure shrubs and trees damaged by storms, and to prune roses. Mikl has over 35 years of experience in pruning. (Repeat of Aug 5.)   $15


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We’re looking forward to seeing you this week!
In gratitude,
Eve, Mikl and the super hard-working Staff at Harlequin’s Gardens