Garden Photo of the Day

A new season in May’s garden in British Columbia

'Rambling Rector' was the first rose planted along the east section of fence. Very aptly named, it has never stopped growing. In front of it is a grape vine, to the left of which are blueberry bushes, hidden by the shrubbery in the front.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

Remember visiting May Kald’s garden on Vancouver Island in British Columbia last month? (Refresh your memory HERE and HERE.) Back then, we were dazzled by her collection of rhododendrons. Now she’s back to dazzle us with her roses! It’s like a completely different garden! 

R. ‘Rambling Rector’ competes with the Jackman clematis to see who can demand most of the attention. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

May says, “Gardeners are always facing new challenges. As years passed and my garden grew, so did the numbers of rabbits and deer in the neighbourhood. My first solution was to put barriers around the more susceptible plants. The list of vulnerable plants needing protection kept increasing, in spite of my choosing “deer-resistant” varieties, until one day I realized that I was not looking at a garden, I was looking at a series of wire and mesh barriers.

A later addition on the east fence, the climbing rose ‘Blushing Lucy’ waits politely for the ‘Rambling Rector’ to finish blooming before she opens her buds. She is a repeat bloomer, but her first show is the best. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

“I tried using an electric fence around a newly-planted section. That seemed to work for the deer, certainly it zapped me often enough when I was not careful, but it was unsightly and was not feasible for most of the area I wanted to protect.  Next I tried a motion-activated water spray. Again, it was not the right solution as the area protected was small, it soaked not only the deer but anything else that moved, myself included, and was not useable on windy days at all. So in 2002 I started to build fences.

A close-up reveals that the newly opened flowers are bright pink and then fade to pale pink and white. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

“Did I mention that this is a rocky, hilly acre? Digging holes for fence posts can be difficult to impossible (without blasting or drilling rock). Wherever it was possible, I put actual wooden fences, in other places I used deer netting or other physical barriers. I designed and built the fence panels myself, preferring an open airy look, a physical rather than a visual barrier. And loved the result. Both my eastside neighbour and I planted old-fashioned rambler roses along that section, which is stunning when they are in full bloom. The beauty of those first roses led to a period of rose frenzy for me.

This is the north fence, the front of my property, with the old fashioned rambler rose named ‘Bennett’s Seedling’ on the right and ‘Adelaide d’Orleans’ on the left. This photo was taken in 2007, only 4 years after I started both of these roses from cuttings. They now bury the fence and grow up the trees behind. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

“I learned about, purchased or propagated roses from friends’ gardens until I had over a hundred roses, some in new beds, most tucked between other shrubs and perennials. Eventually, those areas of the garden looked fantastic during the first flush of rose bloom every May/June. And my fences kept the deer predation to a tolerable level.

A close-up of R. ‘Bennett’s Seedling’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

“However, as my young trees and shrubs grew, they and my neighbours’ trees created far more shade than most roses prefer. They also competed with the roses for water and nutrients. Unhappy roses become weak and diseased. Though some died, mostly I dug up and gave away those that could no longer thrive.

This is a partial view of the west side of the front garden.  The ground drops sharply and unevenly on the west side, partly sheer rock, making traditional fencing impossible for me.  To create barriers I have used large compost bins, an old cedar sauna, zigzag panels and lots of deer netting to fill in the gaps.  And then of course, I planted roses wherever I could. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

“At this point, I still have a lot of roses, but many have been replaced with rhododendrons, which I also love, as they preferred the increasing shadiness.  And so the garden evolves and matures. Hope you enjoy today’s glimpses.”

Beautiful, May! I can’t wait to see what the next stage brings.

A closer look at the sauna, covered by the old favourite rose ‘New Dawn’.  The sauna came with the property, but was never functional. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald
Now in the back yard, left of the gate is a beautiful, fragrant climbing rose that I started from a cutting from a friend’s garden.  We have not been able to identify it.  The paler pink shrub rose in centre stage is ‘Bonica’, stunning when in full bloom, which it will be in a few weeks.  Just visible to its upper right is  the chocolatey-red ‘Hot Cocoa’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald
A close-up of R. ‘Bonica’.  This rose keeps blooming till hard frost.  We had a milder than average winter and I finally cut off the remaining flowers and plucked off the leaves in January. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald
A different view of the roses near that corner of the deck.  R. ‘Bonica’ and ‘Hot Cocoa’ are behind the Fig Negronne but R. ‘Belinda’ is blooming happily in its pot just right of centre. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald
Close-up of R. ‘Hot Cocoa’.  It is an unusual brownish-red colour and the petals are irregularly wavy edged. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of May Kald

Want us to feature YOUR garden in the Garden Photo of the Day? CLICK HERE!
Want to see every post ever published? CLICK HERE!
Want to search the GPOD by STATE? CLICK HERE!
Check out the GPOD Pinterest page! CLICK HERE!

View Comments


  1. user-1020932 06/28/2013

    i LOVE everything about May's garden this time as well as the other features. the deer barriers are a visual part of the garden as well as functional my favorite part,,,,,,,,,,,the cedar sauna! i expect Frodo Baggins to open the door and invite me in . nothing cool came with my property just stuff to get rid of . GREAT garden , May!

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/28/2013

    My goodness, May, what a bundle of productive energy you have been throughout your gardening life. Your rose collection is just beautiful.It's amazing to think you first sought them out for the protective aspect of their's like if the most effective fighting units of the military just happened to be filled with beauty queens!
    Your one pictured clematis/rose combo is stunning...have you paired a clematis with any of your other roses?

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/28/2013

    Beautiful. It is so fun to visit a garden through various seasons and see the succession of beautiful plants and containers. Please continue to share your garden.

  4. cwheat000 06/28/2013

    How refreshing to here how difficult gardening really can be. Your garden is gorgeous thanks to your can't be defeated attitude. Your practical solutions turned out to so charming. The results are far better than the staged photos some other magazine show. I love the zig zag fence sections and that hot cocoa rose is an amazing color. Keep fighting the good fight and keep sending us pictures.

  5. GrannyMay 06/28/2013

    Yes, tntreeman, the cedar sauna looks great from the outside, hopefully will last until R. New Dawn smothers it completely!

    Meander1 I do still have R. America Pillar combined with C. Polish Spirit, both doing well. Another combination, a yellow large-flowered climber R. Goldstern, a small-flowered purple R. Veichenblau, with white clematis Madame le Coultre and blue clematis The President, unfortunately just did not thrive. Their location, a trellis/gate/fence at the corner of the back garden, turned out to be too rocky and dry to sustain them for more than a couple of years. Only R. Goldstern still clings to life, but is not happy there. Clematis seem to struggle here, even the strong varieties like C. montana and C. armandii. One huge rambler, R. Amaglia has recently grown to the point that it is blocking me from visiting a lower western section of the front garden. Of course it does keep the deer from coming in at that point too.

  6. mainer59 06/28/2013

    I love your garden, in this post and the previous ones. As to the fading rose (4th down, left column), from pink to white, that is true of many old roses. One possible identification, mentioned by grannymay in her post, is American Pilar, although yours seems to have more petals per blossom and may start as a paler pink. It is just coming out now in my Maine garden and is retaining a bright pink color because the sun has yet to shine on it in a series of rainy days. When it has been blooming for a while it takes on a multicolored effect with newer blooms a brighter color. Question: are your roses plagued by Japanese beetles? I grow mostly old ones that bloom once so that the flowers are gone when the beetles emerge, but I'd like to try repeat bloomers.

  7. Quiltingmamma 06/28/2013

    Just love your garden. Thanks for sharing it throughout the seasons. Roses seem to love the Island. Brings back memories of my mother's garden with her 100+ roses. I love the combination of clematis and rose.The sauna is a great touch. Would make a great tool shed, I expect, but looks like the inside doesn't get used.
    Feel free, in December or January, to share photos of the last few blooms in the garden. For some of us, it will make us green with envy, and it will be the only 'green' we get until May.

  8. janeeliz 06/28/2013

    I love your garden, May. It has much charm and character -esp. from all the unique approaches you used to solve your deer and other challenges. Your roses are spectacular! That chocolate one is 'drop-dead gorgeous! Do you get Japanese beetles? If so, how do you handle them? I have a limited # of roses, well-about 6 , mostly small. Same goes for lilies and fritillaria and the Asian Lily beetle...I'm only willing to hand-pick so many and I don't want to use pesticides. A ground hog just moved in under my shed. Hmm.....Time for new strategies...that's part of what keeps us gardeners going, I think!

  9. bee1nine 06/28/2013

    Glad to have time to pop in- and this time I get to admire
    your beautiful rose collection! Such lovely varieties that
    grace your surroundings, May!!
    Don't know if you have trouble with what they call Rose Slugs? But have noticed on one of my David Austin English rose bushes to have what appears an attack of. Apparently, it
    can look like fungus damage, but be this little worm-like
    Rose Slug creating defoliated leaves and turning brown.
    In my case, I know it's not Japanese beetles or Winter moth!
    So I'm guessing. How 'bout you?

  10. greatdanes 06/28/2013

    Beautiful roses! Love roses but don't like their defense system. They've attacked me more times than I'd like to remember. I'm so jealous of British Columbia's growing conditions compared to Nebraska. Thanks for sharing.

  11. bee1nine 06/28/2013

    Well, wouldn't you know, after posting my comment, went online to look up Rose slug and lo 'n behold - found it to be
    the larval stage of the Sawfly insect!
    Have a great week-end, everyone!!

  12. GrannyMay 06/28/2013

    Thanks everyone. tractor1, a very interesting article, makes me glad my parents did not name me something unpleasant! Of course not all roses have a fragrance and their names frequently give no clues.

    Mainer59, sorry for the confusion. Picture 4 is a close-up of R. Blushing Lucy. I didn't show a close-up of my unidentified pink rose... it is somewhat like R. Fantin Latour, but a deeper pink, with the petals curving back as it opens, very fragrant, climbs to 10 feet, flowers in small clusters, and is relatively thornless.

    I don't spray at all, so I do get aphids,slugs and other bugs (currently masses of Tent Caterpillars), however Japanese Beetles have not been a problem. The old rambler roses usually only bloom once, so generally don't suffer from predators (except deer and rabbits!) before their flowering is over. I've gradually phased out most of the roses that seem more susceptible to disease and bugs. Once they don't look nice most of the time, it's time to give them a home somewhere else.

  13. PeonyFan 06/29/2013

    This garden is beautiful and the write-up inspirational. How wonderful that you are propagating roses that might disappear from the trade because new varieties are constantly being introduced. When I lived in a warmer climate (now in zone 4) I grew many old garden roses. They only bloomed once a season, typically, but so prolifically on long canes. Thank you for sharing your garden.

  14. crazeknot 06/30/2013

    What a beautiful garden. You have such energy to keep a lovely garden going.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest

Shop the Store

View All Products