Monday, 7 July 2014

In search of the perfect rose

Even as a little girl, I have always loved roses.  Not the tea roses but the full bloom, sweet smelling old fashioned cabbage rose.  When I first started my garden about 20 years ago, I had never tried growing roses for myself and it has not been easy.  During this time, I read an article Better Homes and Gardens about 10 easy roses to grow.  The story focused on albas, bourbons and other old fashioned roses rather than the tricky tea rose which according to the article needed a lot of skill.  Old fashioned roses apparently need little care, just water and sunlight the article lead me to believe.  Sounded like my kind of roses.

I ordered about five of the roses recommended in the article, planted them in the Fall, the best time to plant roses, and waited for spring.  And thus, my disappointment or lack of skill perhaps, with the rose began.

The first rose called Alba Maxima was beautiful for a few years before suddenly dying.  This one would be worth replanting as it was truly gorgeous accept it only bloom once.  The second Alba I put in was Blush Hip, the only rose the author would grow if she could choose one.

Blush Hip - from Pickering Nurseries site - where I buy my roses

I still grow Blush Hip but what the picture doesn't show is how small the blooms are.  The have a really nice scent but since Alba's only blooms once, most of the year I have a plain green rose vine of my trellis.  I've been meaning to add a clematis or something to liven it up.

My biggest success is the David Austen Rose- George Hamilton.
Full Blooms

George Hamilton - Full blooms - Scented

Under pine tree
Geoff as I can him, has been very consistent.  When I put him in, I didn't have a lot of room and knowing little about roses he went under a pine tree  which is quite shady but with half sun. He has flourished.  This year, after a really hard winter, I had one little branch left at the base.  Above is how it looks despite only have this one little branch in the spring.  Big roses, lovely scent, decent bloomer.

My other David Austen - Mary Rose, is also still with me as is my original bourbon - Louise Odier.  Beautiful roses that do bloom intermittently throughout the summer.

Mary Rose - David Auston rose
The rose that never stops blooming all summer which was what in my ignorance is what I thought all roses did is New Dawn.  It goes like wildfire.  We cut it back every couple of years and it still grows like gangbusters.  I grow it at the side of my porch at the front so it might like the warmth of the house.  It does not have a scent however.
New Dawn
I have a number of other roses - Pilgrim - David Auston, thre Explorer Roses - Jens Munk, John Davis and Morden Blush.  All three produce lovely roses, with Morden Blush producing the most old fashioned rose like of the three.  They are all recurrent, but much more sparsely and they are unscented.

So, my quest for the perfect rose - in my eyes, large blooms, sweet scent and actually has a  growth habit that flowers almost continuously from June to the end of September continues.  In the meantime, below are the top things I had wished I knew about roses when I first started:

1.  Websites provide guidelines. However just because the site promises continual bloom, that may not be the case in my garden.  
2.  Give lots of room to roses.  Roses despite best efforts get black spot.  I like a full garden look.  However, I didn't give the roses enough air to circulate. 
3.  Pictures are deceptive - they don't really show the size of the rose.  Also, roses in real life rarely bloom as profusely as the picture shows.
4.  Trial and Error for site.  As I said, Geoff loves under the tree.  I suspect others may not.  I moved Jens Munk from a shadier spot to full sun with better results.  Don't be afraid to move a rose.
5.  If you really don't like a rose, it is okay to scrap it and try something else.  I use to feel so guilty if I took out a plant.  However, if it is not working, it is okay to try something else.

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