Sunday, March 27, 2011

A passionate thought for today

In the grand scheme of important issues - God, family and country - I wonder where roses fit. I briefly ponder this question occasionally, somewhat afraid of the answer, somewhat aware that roses may be too uppermost in my scheme of things. Perhaps it's the depth and breadth of this passion of mine that unnerves me, being only the second passion I have ever known (not counting DH). Is this what I was born for such a long time ago? Am I supposed to be this passionate about roses? Or have I gone off the deep end way too far, moving the axis of my world off center and my equilibrium along with it? Or is this what life is supposed to be rather than the bland, vague slippage that life sometimes eases into, blindsiding the liver of that life in the final moments.

Wait a minute, self. Let's step back from the edge of doubt and confusion a bit. Passion and rational thought are not mutually exclusive, after all. Protection and promotion of life in all of its beautiful parts is an honorable thing, probably even an obligation. Perhaps passions are just the individual's particular part in the grand plan of protecting and promoting life as a whole.  Maybe some of us focus like a laser beam on one tiny aspect of life and some focus like a lightning flash on the whole of life. We're all the same and different, all gifted but not all with the same gift. Reminds me of 1 Corinthians 12 .

The onset of passions can be peculiar, too. Some seem to be passionate about a thing from birth, and others are struck out of the blue and set on a new path entirely. The latter is me and, I think, is the discombobulating part.  The sudden compulsion to have dozens of roses, an unknown commodity theretofore, and the immense drive to incorporate them into my tiny yard by hook or by crook was only the initial manifestation of the passion. Now there is the longing for others to know the beauty and suitability of these roses. And so I take photographs seemingly without number and publish them to this worldwide web to make them known, to call to the world and open its eyes to this wondrous, blooming creation, the wonder being in its self-sufficiency and self-perpetuation in a friendly environment. There's a sort of "build it, and they will come" aspect to these old roses, a mystical impulse toward bringing awesome beauty to warm-climate landscapes everywhere.

Perhaps it sounds a little too earthshaking to some of you, but what is is. Now you know better the motivation of my heart, and I think I do, too, but one thing it is not. It is not in any way an attempt to con or dupe anyone or to lure you into an uncontrollable buying frenzy. The paradox is that one beautiful rose bush can inspire as much as one hundred. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Got a narrow situation? No room?

Going up where there's no room to go out is a way to find some planting space that you didn't think your garden had. Fences, trellises (large or larger), pillars, tripods, arbors, pergolas, trees, wires anchored to the side of your house are all ways to grow vertically. Here you can see the arbor I planned for 'Crepuscule', the apricot Noisette, who promptly refused to grow up onto the arbor, choosing instead to hang a hard left horizontally.  Behind Crep is the top of a rebar arbor bearing 'Duchesse d'Auerstadt', a climbing Tea. The 4x4 wrapped in coated wire fencing is a pillar for 'Princesse de Nassau' who will be wound around the post, getting more bang for my real estate buck. And the tree supports 'R. Fortuneana'.
Thankfully, the lamp post was there, and I was able to drape Crepuscule on it in the direction she wanted to go. I assume she'll eventually go upwards as well, but she's kind of pretty on the lamp post.

  'Rosa fortuneana' is a species cross between 'Rosa laevigata' and 'Rosa banksiae', discovered around 1840 in China by Robert Fortune, the famous British plant hunter. It is a great rootstock in warmer climates like Florida, but I'm growing it up into my oak trees. In a few years this now 3-year-old once-blooming almost thornless climber which can cover 40' in one direction (that's 80' from side to side if you're math-challenged) will fill the canopy of these 12 oaks, covering it with white fully double, violet-scented flowers. It will be a truly amazing sight. The hard part was getting the canes up into the previously limbed-up trees. Standing near the tippity top of a ladder reaching with a grab-it tool was kinda hairy. I see another of these balancing acts in my future.
'Full Moon Rising', a modern Large Flowered Climber, is temporarily leaning on this metal trellis. In an effort to deny the squirrels easy access to her big fat flower buds before they can even open I moved the trellis away from the tree. I'm not optimistic about this working, but I had to do something. The spot is on the south side of the trunk and is fine during winter months, but this oak tree has a fairly wide canopy  and will be shading the rose until late in the afternoon. This might be sufficient sun but might not, so I'm hoping that the rose will climb into the tree canopy, seeking the sun. We'll see. This rose has been described as very disease resistant, and so far I'm pleased with it. Are you wondering why I bought a modern rose? It was $3 on sale and yellow. Sold!
Here she is a few days ago, growing up and then out. Of course, she is tied to the trellis, but her canes are 12-ft long and longer. Then those canes send out many side-shoots that grow equally as long, so she tends to pile her canes on top of each other in a horizontal fashion, getting taller all the time. That's more than 20 running feet of rose bush.
A scant 8 feet is all I have for sideyards. Up was the only way to go. Since Cheap is my middle name, DIY was also the only way to go, and I built this 8' tall x 12' wide wooden trellis for 'Maman Cochet, Climbing', a large and fast-growing Tea rose.  When she reached past the trellis in her first four months, I thought the arbor was a prudent addition to her support structure. The AC unit is right next to her, so I have had to train her very tightly to the trellis. (MC is a very well armed rose.) However, I have learned that her canes do not like to be bent hard, as in turning a perpendicular growing cane parallel to the trellis. The canes always die. So now I simply remove a new cane that is growing the wrong way.
Here you can clearly see Maman Cochet's width. Had I not lopped her a few months ago she would be on the roof - mine and maybe my neighbor's. She hasn't seemed to mind the trimming at all, so I will trim her if need be but I will also throw all the canes I can up on top. It worked well this time. The voluminous, buff-colored rose behind Maman Cochet and in the photo below is 'Reve d'Or', a large Noisette. She is quite a bit easier to deal with because of her lax canes. They're nice and flexible and don't really need to be bent but merely moved around and tied in place. Since she had a very positive response to an earlier trim, I am much more comfortable with trimming them. I need to trim on the neighbor's side of the fence. I figure if I keep the roses trimmed up higher than 6', then they can be walked under and won't bother anyone.

Here is 'Sally Holmes' growing on an arbor that I'm afraid will soon be too small and weak for her and the climber that's just starting to grow on the other side. Alas, I see more carpentry in my future. One of the drawbacks of being new at gardening is the seemingly constant need to back up and regroup. These two roses are the second to be situated on this arbor. 'Don Juan' just didn't work in my no-spray garden. Both of the replacements will become sizable climbers, so new accommodations will have to be made. To throw another twist into the mix, 'Sally Holmes' may not be in love with this southern full-sun position, so I may have some time to play with here. In other words it will be moving time again.

This is the trellis next to my garage at the front sidewalk, possibly a very impractical location for a rose, but 16 square feet of ground is 16 square feet of ground, and my motto is "I'll make it fit." This is also the second rose for this spot. Previously, 'Madame Caroline Testout, Climbing' lived here. Her beautiful flowers did not make up for her ugly blackspot, nakedness and lethal prickles - right at my front door. She and Mr. Shovel had an amicable meeting. The new occupant of this tiny prime spot is 'Climbing Pinkie', a climbing polyantha and the bushiest climber I have ever seen. He's only been in the ground since last September, and he has really grown. He's also almost thornless and reputed to be healthy and always covered with blooms, but I may have to add brackets over the driveway (and maybe the sidewalk) to accommodate his size.

I have five other vertically growing roses which just shows that your property is yours all the way to the edges, so why not make full use of it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Room with a view

Every morning now when I walk out of my bedroom I look across the great room at Reve d'Or. Could there be a more perfect way to start the day?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ken's garden masterpiece

A fellow Florida rose gardener has accomplished a wondrous feat on his spring break. Facing up to all the fears and trepidations that every gardener must face when embarking on a big project, he came away the victor and has a truly beautiful garden. I wanted to make sure the world knows what Ken has done. Go to his blog for the details and more photos.

Friday, March 18, 2011

'Madame Lombard' - Thank you, Susan.

I have ooh-ed and aah-ed over many photos of 'Madame Lombard' aka 'Madame Lambard'. If you like the deeper shades of pink, this is the Tea rose for you. If you like light pink to white, this is the Tea rose for you. If you like reddish pink or even salmon-pink, this is the Tea rose for you. You see, 'Madame Lombard' is variable. She can present herself in so many ways that she has been quite difficult to pin down by those who do such things. The Vintage Garden Book of Roses says, "So variable is it that at one time we grew nearly a dozen collected forms of this rose which all looked different when they were found...."

As different as she can look in photo after photo, I seemed to swoon over them all. As I was selecting roses for my garden, the swoon factor was of primary importance from the beginning so she was on my list, but as the garden filled and the remaining spaces seemed to shrink smaller and smaller, the size factor became primary, and she moved off my list. In the world of Tea roses big, buxom bushes are the norm, especially in Florida. There are no small Tea rose bushes, and you'll be lucky if a medium-sized bush stays 5x5, but you're not that lucky. Sadly for me, 'Madame Lombard' is not a medium but a large Tea rose. So being prudent about my rose addiction, I was always constrained to decline the overtures of this beautiful heart-throb. She was just more than my little garden could handle.

Then, alas, poor 'Monsieur Tillier', also a large Tea rose, began to have health problems. Though everyone raves about Mons Tillier, he was not happy in my garden, suffering from many more black/dead canes than I thought was normal. So he was pruned with the shovel. Within a few weeks of his departure my dear, dear friend, Susan, said, "Ya wanna rose?" or words to that effect.  I said, "Well, as a matter of fact...what is it?" A symphony touched my, not really. The email said, "I have two ML's. Do you want one?" Yes, yes, yes.

First I had some really deep digging to do to get rid of the crappy soil (see the pile in the upper left corner?) where Mons Tillier had been. Maybe that's why he suffered so. It was replaced with some really good stuff, and the baby ML had a new home.
That's her in the middle on October 10, 2010. Looks like a preemie, doesn't she?

Then on March 4th she looked like this. It's obvious that she's bigger, don't you think? And there are flower buds on the cane to the right. Then on March 12th (at dusk, unfortunately)...
I saw my second 'Madame Lombard' bloom. Wouldn't ya know? The camera wasn't handy for the first, but I do remember that flower did not look like this flower.

On March 14th here she is from the other side, showing off her buds.
Aren't baby pictures fun? Can't wait to see what the next bloom will look like. And the next and...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Bermuda's Anna Olivier'

This is a rose that is completely at home in Florida's heat and humidity. It is one of the found roses called "Bermuda Mystery Roses" where it grows well since the 1800's and people have lost track of the original name. Mine was planted in March, 2009 and is about 4' tall and 6' wide.  It's flowers are large and pale buttery yellow fading to buff in the heat of summer. The yellowy green foliage is wonderfully lush and healthy. BAO is one of the Teas that seems to start out growing low and wide, taking a while to build height. I'm sure if allowed this rose can grow to 6', 7', 8' tall. Who knows? Since size is not an issue yet in her location, I did not prune her this spring, choosing to give her more time to build her structure.

She is an amazing sight when covered with these big, beautiful, fat flowers. Another desirable attribute of 'Bermuda's Anna Olivier' is that her flowers do not decrease in size in the heat. She has lots and lots of petals, probably at least 80. I'll have to count them one day. She's a beauty, carefree and a favorite of mine.
This bloom was the largest I've ever seen on her. I didn't have a ruler, but it was easily 5" across and not fully open yet.

Let me ask the question, who needs finicky Hybrid Teas when this rose loves it here?

This photo of the bush was taken five days ago before the buds opened into these luscious flowers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

E. Veyrat Hermanos

Conditions must be perfect in my garden this spring, judging by this climbing rose. Planted in September, 2008, he is still young by climber standards, but you'd never know it to look at him. These 4x4 posts are ten feet apart and eight feet out of the ground. I haven't quite figured out how to tame him or display him to the best advantage. He needs a structure of some kind. Anyway, EVH is a climbing tea rose introduced in 1895 in France by Bernaix and is very vigorous with canes of at least 12'. This type of rose is humorously referred to as a house-eater, and mine is still growing. Heaven help me!

In his previous two springs he suffered from thrips and balling so I've really never seen a normal flower - until now. This year (so far) there are no thrips and no balling. Daytime temps are in the 70's and low 80's now with 50's at night, and humidity is fairly low for Florida, during the day about 45% (in summer humidity stays in the 60's) but nights range from 80% to 98% at dawn. I mention this because humidity is said to be to blame for this rose's balling (Enchantress is not balling now either, and she's never not balled.), but this is low humidity in my garden though not in California/Mediterranean or southwestern gardens. This is our dry season. And it's not hot yet either. Apparently, since this rose loves heat (as all tea roses do), cool temps are also a contributing factor to balling. Perhaps immaturity is also a factor. All this being said, I haven't a clue why EVH loves it now, but he does. So let's move on to the good part.

I have never seen so many colors in any kind of flower. This morning I cut one that was solid carmine in the middle (about 1.5" diameter) while the outer half inch was peachy pink - just astonishing. Sorry no picture. These were all taken this evening of one flower (only two are open on the whole plant).
The reverse of the outer petals is very yellow toward the center. The actual flower was much more yellow than this photo.
So many colors. Pink, carmine, apricot, peach, yellow, buff.

And so many petals, probably a contributing factor to its tendency to ball.

In hotter weather he's more apricot than carmine.

It's quite a large flower, too, at least 4" across.

And to think that this plant is covered with buds up and down its canes. If even half of them open at the same time, it will be breathtaking.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In praise of 'Duquesa'

'Duquesa' is a Tea rose that has only been in my garden since September. Yesterday I clipped off her first bloom, the one that you saw in Thursday's post, trying to start off on the right 'deadheading' foot, you know? I lifted the flower up to my nose and was amazed. Most Tea roses have a light fragrance but not 'Duquesa'! Such a strong, sweet fragrance, but I couldn't identify it. I kept sniffing but couldn't put a name to what I was smelling which is often the case for my, apparently, uneducated nose. I kept returning the flower to my sniffer until finally I remembered this rose's parentage, 'Monsieur Tillier' x 'Duchesse de Brabant'. Hmmm, was this the sweet raspberry tea fragrance I remembered from 'Duchesse de Brabant'? Not really. And besides that, DdB's fragrance was always fleeting to me, available at the first sniff and then strangely not for the second and third and so on, no matter how hard I would inhale from her petals. This 'Duquesa' flower was definitely unlike DdB in that her fragrance is 100% available, strongly available, even available the next morning in the bowl of water. Delicious and strong and sweet and long lasting, 'Duquesa' may be in a competition with 'Mrs B R Cant' for strongest and best fragrance in my garden. I am so thrilled with this rose. Beautiful flower form and fragrance! She's definitely a winner. How fortuitous that she's located in prime real estate!
She's a little bit peachier than this photo shows.
Thank you, Rose Petals Nursery!

Friday, March 11, 2011

&%#$$% Squirrels! ARRGGHH!

"Why the heck is part of this bed dry?", I wondered, "and why is the wet area only 6' in diameter instead of 12'."  Doubting that I can figure out the problem, I turned on the system to manual to watch it run and try to find the reason for less water pressure. Then... Whoa! Three geysers right next to me, and I saw THIS.

He chewed everywhere and broke through in three places. I wish the first hole had taken his head off, but I guess it didn't. I cut out the damaged tee-joint and installed a new joint this evening, buried it and put a dirt-filled pot on it. The plant died a while back - too much water, oddly enough.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More early blooms

'Bow Bells' - Shrub by David Austin, 1991
'Duquesa' -Tea rose, 2005, by Turner in USA
'Pink Perpetue' -Large Flowered Climber, 1965, by Gregory in UK
'Mary Guthrie' - Polyantha, 1929 by Alister Clark, Australia (Though this rose is called disease resistant, Australia doesn't have our humid conditions, and this rose isn't very disease resistant in my garden. She's very pretty but may not be here long.)
'Souvenir de la Malmaison' - Bourbon (bush), 1843, by Beluze in France
'Gruss an Aachen' - Floribunda, 1909, by Geduldig in Germany (same bloom posted a few days ago)
'Enchantress' - Tea, 1904 by John Cook & Son, USA (Will she ball or not?)
'Double White Stock', Matthiola incana, grown from seed
'Climbing Pinkie' - Polyantha, 1952 by Dering in USA
'Maman Cochet, Climbing' - Tea, 1909 by Upton  (She's more than 10' tall, probably runs 20' sideways and 10' perpendicular to the trellis. She's 3 years old.)
'Reve d'Or" - Noisette, 1869, by Ducher in France
Here's a great example of new growth (bottom right) emerging from the budeye of an old leaf which is now turning yellow because energy is being diverted to the new growth. Though there is blackspot, it really isn't the problem that it is in modern roses.
After her haircut
R. Fortuneana - Discovered in 1840 by Robert Fortune (climbing up into a couple of oak trees and cascading down as well)
'Souvenir de la Malmaison, Climbing' - Bourbon, 1893, by Bennett, UK
'Leonie Lamesch' - Polyantha, 1899, by Lambert in Germany
'Mrs B R Cant' - Tea, 1901, by Cant in UK
'Louis Philippe' - China, 1834, by Guerin in France
'E. Veyrat Hermanos' - Climbing Tea, 1895, Bernaix in France
'Mademoiselle Franziska Kruger' - Tea, 1879, by G. Nabonnand in France
Same Mademoiselle Kruger just an older bloom. Pointed and rolled petals are called "quilled".
'Le Vesuve' - China, 1825, by Laffay in France (This is the same bloom I posted a couple of days ago that looked like this one below.)