Archive for Roses

Leafcutter Bees – Holes in Roses

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Leafcutter Bees – Holes in Roses

By George Giltner, Advanced Master Gardener

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A leaf cutter bee in action on a rose. Photo: itsnature.org

The rose enthusiast may recognize nearly circular, up to ¾ inch holes in rose leaves and petals that are cut at first glance, by what appears to be a fly.  The bug may also be observed going into pruned, thick rose piths.  Wait! Put down the bug spray.  This may be the leafcutter bee, a solitary beneficial bee.

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The leaf cutting bee has large jaws or mandibles. Photo: D. Almquist and David Serrano

Leafcutter bees can be identified by their stout, black bodies with light bands on the abdomen.  Pollen is not transported on the legs like typical honey bees. Instead the underside of the abdomen has thick, yellow hairs (scopa) for carrying pollen. The size is varies from 1/5 inch to one inch depending on which of the 60+ species is viewed.  Also note that flies have two wings, but bees have four.

The value of these bees is as with honey bees, they are important pollinators of fruits (blueberries, etc.), vegetables (onions, carrots, etc.), and many wildflowers.  Alfalfa and blueberry crops are commercially pollenated with Osmia species.

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Nesting house for Leaf cutting Bees. Photo: US Forest Service, Beatriz Moisset

Leafcutter bees are literally “holed up” nesters.  They make their nests in cylinder cavities, by excavating in rotten wood to soil to straw cavities (rose piths).  A bee house can be made for the garden by drilling bee-sized holes in driftwood.  The nest will occupy several inches of depth with a sawdust or leaf plug at the entrance.  Multiple egg cells are laid in the leaf-lined tunnels, each packed with a larval food supply of pollen and nectar. A single female will lay up to 40 eggs in its two-month life span.

 

Roses seem to be the preferred broadleaf for constructing nests, however green ash, lilac, Virginia creeper, azaleas, redbud, crepe myrtle bougainvillea and other plants with smooth thin leaves are also used by leaf-cutting bees.

 

If the leaf-cutting is a problem, the recommended control is to simply lay cover cloth over your prize ornamentals.  Normally, the leaf damage is minimal, and the value of this important pollinator compensates for its cut-out leaf circles.

 

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Book Review: Chasing the Rose

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Book Review: Chasing the Rose

By: Emily Shirley, Adv. Master Gardener

Chasing the Rose

Because people that know me know that I love to read, I am often asked “What are you reading?” At the moment, I am reading a book titled “Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside

This book is Andrea di Robilant’s quest for the name of a rose that grew on his family’s former estate near Venice. His journey took him from the wild overgrown park on the estate that had left his family decades before, to Eleanora Garlant and her rose garden, the largest in Italy with 1500 roses, as well as tales of his great-great-great-great grandmother Lucia with her love and knowledge of roses, the Empress Josephine and the histories of many individual roses.

For centuries people have considered the Rose a romantic flower, inspiring poets, artists and rose hunters who dared the treacherous and distant mountains of faraway China. Di Robilant’s researches are a romantic quest in themselves, and while his explorations and discoveries are fascinating to a rose gardener and lover, there is an enchantment in his travels, captured by Nina Fuga’s simple and graceful watercolor illustrations.

“When I planted my first old fashioned roses I chose Madame Hardy, Comtesse de Murinais, Konegin von Danemark and Madame Plantier and other lady roses who were famous enough or loved enough to have a rose named in their honor. When I walked past these roses early in the dewy morning I imagined us all primping and preparing for the day together. My reaction to the roses is very similar to di Robilant’s in Signora Galant’s garden. “When I saw the ‘Empress Josephine’ spread out against Eleanora’s corner pergola, I inevitably conjured up the real Josephine. And so it was with the other roses arrayed around it. I was no longer simply walking along a path looking at the roses on display; I had stepped into a crowded, lively room filled with roses that were looking at me.”

Although di Robilant sometimes writes of the gardens of the wealthy, it is the stamina and resilience of these old roses that fascinate him, and me. I was moved by the amazing story of Pierina, a teacher who married a civil engineer and followed her husband to Irkutsk in Siberia where he was overseeing the building of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. There she continued to teach school, and wrote about conditions for labor organizations. She survived the Russian Revolution and many other trials until at age 74 she walked to Vladivostok, and from there made her way home – and continued to teach!  Stamina and resilience. Signora Galant named one of her new hybrids Pierina.

This is definitely a book for anyone that loves roses. I almost felt as if the roses discussed were people that I got to know through the book.  Would I recommend this book to others, especially gardeners, and especially to rose gardeners?  YES!

Emily Shirley

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