According to the language of flowers, the rose belongs to the month of June symbolizing love and passion, gratitude and appreciation. Well I am passionately in love with and greatly appreciate all of June’s flower blooms, including roses.

Rose, red climbing-1

Roses can be found in home gardens, public gardens and even commercial parking lot plantings, usually as tough shrub rose varieties needing little care. Hartford is the proud location of Elizabeth Park, the oldest municipal rose garden in the United States established in 1904. Within its boundaries are beds and arches filled with hundreds of rose plants loving tended by professionals and volunteers, all taking pride in creating a beautiful and scent filled space for all to enjoy.


Check rose plants carefully as gypsy moth caterpillars are feeding on leaves currently. Hand pick off and kill the little buggers by squishing or dropping in a container of soapy water. Signs they were there and left are shown by them leaving their shed exoskeleton after they molt.

gypsy moth caterpillars and rose

Gypsy moth on rose leaf, C.QuishPhoto

gypsymoth molted exoskeleton

Gypsy moth caterpillar shed exoskeletons. A sign gypsy moths were here. CQuish photo

Not all roses are a considered a ‘bed of roses’ or a good thing. The multiflora rose, Rosa multiflora, is an invasive species of rose, overtaking and displacing native plants. It was introduced to the U.S. from Asia in 1866 for use as rootstock and later widely planted as hedgerows and living fences.  Due to its very thorny nature, animals did not attempt to cross. Multiflora roses can be identified by its fringed petioles which differ from most other rose species. When in mass  blossom, the make the June air incredibly sweet.

Rose, multiflower, C.Quish

Fringed petiole of multiflora rose, C.Quishphoto

A few other fabulous flowers caught my eye and camera lens this month so far. Lunchtime walk on the Storrs campus I found an unusual shrub in front the Castleman building. False indigo, Amorpha fruticosa, was sporting spires of purple and orange flowers similar to butterfly bush. I had never seen it before, and after researching its identity, I am glad I haven’t as the CT Invasive Plant Working Group has it listed as ‘Potentially Invasive’. It seems well behaved in the restricted spot surrounded by buildings and pavement, but pretty still the same.

False indigo bush cquish

False indigo, CQuish photo

The perennial Helen Elizabeth Oriental poppy is a lighter pink, eschewing the brazen orange color of traditional oriental poppies. Helen Elizabeth is softer on the eyes and blooms a little bit later than the orange one.


Annual poppies are just beginning to bloom in my garden. If you let them go to seed and collect the seed once the pods go brown, dry and rattle, you will have an incredible amount of seed to save, share or spread the beauty in other areas.


Foxgloves, Digitalis sp, are shooting up their towers of flowers in different colors. Some species are biennial and others are perennial. The spots on the throats of the flowers are believed to be nectar guides showing the bees and other pollinators the way in to find the location of the nectar.

Visit local, independent garden centers and nurseries for unusual plants not found in the big box stores or chain centers. I found the annual Popcorn Plant, Cassia didymobotrya, whose leaves smell like buttered popcorn when stroked, at Tri-County Greenhouse on Rt. 44 in Storrs Mansfield. A treasure trove of unknown annuals and surprising perennials, and large variety of tomatoes and vegetables were all over the sales yard. I especially love the philosophy of the place hiring very capable people with intellectual disabilities along with some great horticulturists.

June also brings disease and insects to the garden. A few of the things we are seeing from submissions for diagnosis to our office are shown below. Azalea galls were sent in from South Windsor and are being reported around the state. The fungal disease, Exobasidium vaccinii, develops from an overwintering infected plant part of azalea leaf, twig or flower, and malforms the plant tissue into a curled and thickened gall.  As the gall ages it turns white releasing more spores to infect fresh tissue. Control should be to hand cut off and destroy galls before they turn white.

Azalea gall, b.zilinski 2

Azalea gall, B.Zilinski photo

Another sample image sent in were sweet birch leaves with bright red growths called Velvet Galls. These red patches are soft felt-like growths made by the plant in response to  to wall off the damage by a tiny eriophyid mite feeding on the leaves. The red patch is called an erinea. Unsightly while still being pretty, the damage is considered only cosmetic and causes no lasting harm to the tree. Thanks to Jean Laughman for her photos.

velvet gall on birch 2 Jean Laughman photo

velvet gall on birch,Jean Laughman photo, 6-8-18

Another great photo was sent in by Shawn Lappen for insect identification. The Dusky Birch Sawflies were striking a classic pose while eating the heck out of the leaves of a birch tree. Sawflies are stingless wasps whose larvae are plant feeders. The larvae are not caterpillars as this insect is not in the butterfly and moth order of Lepidoptera. Feeding damage usually does not cause much damage to a tree in good health. If control is needed, insecticidal soap will suffocate the larvae when sprayed on them.

Dusky Birch Sawfly, from Shawn Lappen

Golden tortoise beetles are attacking morning glory and sweet potato plants. They look like a little drop of gold but their beauty belies their destructive nature. Hand picking and dropping into a container of soapy water will kill them quickly.

Golden Tortoise beetle

Be on the lookout for Luna moths during the month of June. It is one of the largest silk moths and is attracted to lights at night. After mating, the female will lay her eggs on one of the host plants for the caterpillars including white birch (Betula papyrifera), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), hickories (Carya), walnuts (Juglans), and sumacs (Rhus). The photo below was sent in to us last June 4 by A. Saalfrank.

Luna moth A.Saalfrankphoto 6-4-2017

Leave the light on to attract Luna Moths

-Carol Quish

Here it is more than halfway through the month of June and I still don’t have my
whole vegetable garden planted yet. The continuous supply of cool, wet weather
we have been experiencing for the past couple of months has made conditions
perfect for slugs but not for many vegetables. I planted a 4 foot row of
radishes back around the first week in May and they did germinate quickly but
then the seedlings just sat there as the soil became saturated with rainfall.
Slugs ate about two-thirds of them and all the rest (except for one perfect
radish that I had on my salad today) were so stress that they are now being to
bolt (form seed) so that will be it for the spring radish crop. I will plant
more in September.

Bolting spinach in front, tetragonia coming along nicely behind it.

Same goes for the spinach I planted. Piddling, stunted, yellowish plants will not
produce even enough greens for one meal. Thankfully I also planted some New
Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonoides), which is not a true
spinach but produces leaves that taste similar. It is very slow to germinate,
taking 2 to 3 weeks. Some of those seeds rotted too but since this plant
tolerates heat, there is still time to plant some more seeds. Also, I am
starting some Malabar spinach (Basella alba) plants. They do well in summer heat and form long vines so they will
be places next to a fence as the peas start to die back. I have heard that they
have a distinct flavor that you either love or hate, and also that they are
mucilaginous so stir fries seem like a good use for them.

In the overall scheme of things, I think I will accept the extra rainfall and be
grateful for no forest fires, massive flooding, and that the recent Springfield
to Southbridge, MA tornado missed my house by about 5 miles. Every day now I
drive past some of the devastating damage that was left in its wake – huge
trees splintered and tossed like toothpicks, damaged roofs, destroyed buildings
not to mention the impact on human lives and livelihoods. It was a little nerve
wracking the week after the tornado when our neighborhood began to be pummeled
by hail and we quickly checked the news for any ominous forecasts. The cannas
showed the most hail damage emerging with tattered leaves, but many other
plants, like these tiger lilies, have abrasions on their leaf surfaces.

Small spots are from last week's hail storm.

Narrow, vertical leaved plants were unscathed so I can now enjoy the huge blooms of my
Japanese irises. I don’t think there exists is an iris that I don’t like. From
the March blooms of the netted iris (Iris reticulata), through April’s I.
, and May and June’s finale of crested (I cristata), bearded (I.
germanica), Siberian (I. siberica), and finally now, the Japanese irises (I.
kaempferi). Speaking of which there were some exceptionally lovely ones at
bloom at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT yesterday.

Irises, yarrow and lamb's ears at Elizabeth Park

After attending a meeting in Hartford, I found myself totally unable to control the
impulse to stroll through Elizabeth Park in mid-June which is when their many,
wondrous rose-covered archways are in full bloom and coveted, I am sure, by
many a bride for unforgettable wedding photos. If at all possible, do go for a
visit to Elizabeth Park, named after Charles Pond’s wife.

Mr. Pond was a wealthy industrialist who bequeathed his estate to the city of
Hartford and requested that it be named for his wife. It was decided that a rose
garden would be most pleasurable for the people living in Hartford and that was
the beginning of the planting of some 15,000 rose bushes.

Rose arch at Elizabeth Park

I must say that after touring the very lovely and fragrant rose gardens at
Elizabeth Park and also the well-designed annual beds and perennial gardens,
that Charles’s wife, Elizabeth, must have been incredulously loved and I am so
grateful for the gift of botanical commemoration he bestowed upon her. We
mortals get to feast on such a heavenly vision each June with the roses all
opening to her goodness and beauty. If you have any time in the next week or
so, do go to Elizabeth Park. You will be glad that you did.

Stop and smell the roses!