Gardening in the Valley of Heart's Delight
Tournament of Roses
Climbing Gold Rush Climbing Gold Rush The roses have been magnificent this year. Even though most of them continue blooming throughout the summer and fall, nothing quite compares to that initial explosion in the spring. I have quite a number of old-fashioned roses, so spring really is their strongest season. The oldest varieties of roses bloom once a year, generally in the spring, like many other flowering shrubs. It was quite an exciting breakthrough, back in the 19th century when repeat-blooming roses were developed.
I like the look of old-fashioned roses and find the variety of shapes fascinating. I keep being surprised when people exclaim, "They don't look like roses!" Hybrid teas became so popular in this century, that for many people they are the only kind of rose. But what a shame! Compare Graham Thomas on the right, a new 'old-fashioned' rose developed by David Austin with Gold Rush above, which is a classic hybrid tea shape. Nothing wrong with hybrid teas, but there's so much more to roses than just that. Graham Thomas Graham Thomas
Madame Isaac Perriere Madame Isaac Perriere There's rising interest in old-fashioned roses, both truly old ones and new 'old' ones like Austen's "New English Rose" line. Many old roses are more disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, and insect-repellant than modern roses, in addition to being beautiful and strongly scented. Austen has been trying to capture all of that in the new line, with great success.
Speaking of diseases and insects, I believe in tough love and try to maintain a pretty organic garden. So, no, I don't spend a lot of time spraying my roses with noxious chemicals. In the spring I spray aphids with soapy water. In the summer I occasionally spray with a baking soda mix for powdery mildew. The rust and the earwigs, I just look at and sigh. I mulch the roses thoroughly, fertilize them sporadically, and water them rarely and deeply. And if they can't live with that regimen, then they don't belong in our yard. I haven't lost any yet; most are even pretty happy! La Reine Victoire La Reine Victoire
Blanc Double de Coubert Blanc Double de Coubert But if you want really easy to care for roses, nothing beats the rugosas, like Blanc Double de Coubert pictured here or Magnifica which is featured on the rose jelly page. Closely related to the wild roses, rugosas have stiff foliage that seems to defy all comers. Plus, they produce big, often brightly-colored rose hips which you can harvest or leave for winter decoration and bird feed. My parents had a dog once who was fond of rose hips and had learned to very carefully draw her lips back so she could nip them off the bushes!
One of my rules is to always plant scented roses. Nine times out of ten, when you show a person a rose, they lean over and sniff it. And nine times out of ten, if it's a modern rose, it has no scent! Like flavor in supermarket tomatoes, scent just wasn't high on the list of characteristics that breeders were selecting for. Nicely scented moderns like Brass Band do exist; you just have to look for them. Brass Band Brass Band
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Copyright 1997 by Karen Schaffer
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