Saturday, May 7, 2011

Done with roses

A special rose friend of mine in the hot desert of Southern California recently said she's "done with roses". By that she meant she thinks she's reached the "right" number for her garden space (somewhere in the 70 range, I think) and she's going to concentrate on adding companion plants. I knew exactly what she was saying.

I maxxed out my available rose space last year and have just been 'trading places' on occasion. Now the roses are truly getting large, and it's very unsettling. After nipping them back recently I'm not sure that's the way to go. Chinas and Teas are known for 'sulking' if they're cut back more than just a little.  'Le Vesuve' has actually sulked for the last 3 weeks after the thrips removal - no growth, no bloom. Can you imagine the bloom machine sulking? I couldn't until now. Also, the 6 to 8 weeks between flushes (perhaps lengthened by the thrips removal) - meaning no flowers - has been a little weird. It's really been NOT a rose garden, so something must take their place during these quiet times. However, the roses are just starting to bloom again.

My current passion is fragrant daylilies. Wow! Talk about wafting!! I only recently smelled my first Easter lily at Lowe's, and I was bowled over. Imagine my glee upon discovering the fragrant daylilies I have are very similar in fragrance and very strong, so I've been online searching for more of them to add to the garden.

As time goes by I'm guessing that a rose here and there in my garden will under-perform, and I may even decide not to replace it with a rose. 'Mme Antoine Mari' was looking awful with dying canes and only half the bush looking alive. Made the decision to take her out and what did I find? Fully 8"-10" of plant was underground. I don't know how that happened since I only put her in that spot less than 1-1/2 years ago, but that had to be bad for the plant, I'm sure. Well, I'm considering what to put in her place. I have a chance to get 'Souv de Victor Hugo', so that was my first thought, but then I thought of an Encore Azalea that is supposed to bloom sporadically through the summer (can't prove that by me with my other two). Then I thought how about more companions.
The roses in this area are either too small to see yet or are in between flushes, so it's the companions that make the statement. If they weren't there, the garden would be pretty much silent. I really like the interesting statement that the companions make.

In the front garden I may be faced with removing a couple of roses for space considerations and shifting others (oh, joy!). I do like the look of my salvias and would like more of them along with the daylilies.

Can you believe I have been looking askance at 'Bermuda's Anna Olivier'? It may just be her pattern of looking ratty before the real heat sets in, but she has been ugly! And Franny Kruger (Mlle Franziska Kruger) has been that way, too. I guess it's all cyclical. Everything can't look good at one time. It's a constant rotation of change to find what will look good more of the time. I've been very happy with the two old Austin roses that are new to my garden. They are a totally different look from the teas which has stolen my heart. We'll see how one of them does in its shady position.
Speaking of looking awful, this is how 'Souv de la Malmaison' looks bad. You can see she has lots of buds and a few flowers but also lots of yellow leaves. That's because she's holding back on nutrients to older leaves so she can supply nutrients to new growth which will then produce blooms. Shortly, these old yellow leaves will drop off and she will be full of blooms and looking very pretty. This cycling is natural for these warm-climate roses that bloom here 9 or 10 months of the year. After a while the yellow leaves become less noticeable. They're simply nature revitalizing itself.
Anyway, the garden gives me much to do even without more roses - often I think it's TOO much to do which is another reason for not increasing my rose numbers and perhaps even decreasing them. I'm learning that a garden can not remain static for long.


  1. I think you should do what makes you happy :). Some of my supposedly gorgeous roses don't look so great either, and yes, SDLM is one of them. Maybe mine will go. I am big into companion plants, I think roses don't look good on their own, and I am so glad you love your fragrant daylilies and salvias and caladiums and all the rest of them :). They add a lot to the garden.

  2. Sherry, I am just thinking along the same lines, but not because I believe my garden would not look good with even more roses, but I think that the roses are just sooo... much work. Right now I honestly feel a little bit overwhelmed with deadheading the spring flush and having to fertilize again for a second gorgeous round of rose flowers. The only catch is that I am not so sure if perennials are really less work (deadheading dianthus comes to mind...)! They do enhance the look of the roses without question, though. I also notice that roses have their times in the year where they are not that pretty to look at and it is great to have some perennials that can take over in those time.

  3. I've never seen an attractive rose "plant" so yeah we need those supporting players when the roses take some time off. Here in unfertility Florida we need a lot of plants because our climate burns through them like crazy.

    If I may be so bold to ask, how many roses do you have planted?

  4. Hi, Amber, today I have 91 rose bushes and climbers, none of them are modern Hybrid Teas and only one modern Floribunda which was a gift and a very lovely rose (so far pretty healthy, too). I don’t spray fungicides or insecticides, so they have to be very presentable or they’re gone. Most of my roses really are fairly attractive – not because they’re mine but because they are garden roses or perhaps you could call them landscape roses. Either way they’re more of a well foliated shrub that blooms. They don’t produce long-stemmed flowers like the florists use.

    “Unfertility” is exactly right! I had to do a lot of amending!!

    Thanks for commenting.

  5. I am having my first flush of spring roses. My David Austins seem a bit behind this year. I must admit that I really haven't been concentrating on my roses as much as I should because I was flirting with the cymbidium orchids a little too much this spring. Now I must put my attention back on my roses.
    I was scrolling down through your posts and really enjoyed seeing your companion plantings. I do understand taking a rest from roses for awhile. I have one plant that never really pleases me so I think I am finally going to pull it...that makes me so sad.

  6. Sherry, how much shade do you have? And how many hours of direct sun do you get? I was just in England, where the first of the roses are appearing, and while they may get more hours of sunlight in the summer, it's not as strong as ours, so I'm wondering about the trade-off. Any thoughts? (Masha, and any other "way south" rose growers, if you read this, please comment, too.)

    I would love to have more roses, but the back garden is getting too shady, while the sunny side garden is where I grow veggies.

    -- Penny

  7. Here in far Northern AZ, there are yet a few weeks before our first flush of roses. Companion plants get us through spring!
    What do you use for thrips, Sherry? I have a feeling that my Fredric Mistral is prone to them.

  8. P.S. Is that a clematis in the first photo??

    -- Penny

  9. Hi, Sandra,
    Well, I don’t use anything, but this year I removed all the buds and flowers in an effort to rid the garden of those bugs. It reduced the numbers, and some bushes have bloomed again without the thrips, but it looks like Clotilde Soupert has them again. Wonder if I should cut them off again...

  10. Penny, in the shadier places it’s almost an all or nothing situation. I have a couple of spots that only get a couple of hours of morning sun or a couple of hours of late afternoon sun. I think this isn’t enough for good blooming even with our strong sun, but I’m waiting to make my final judgment. I do think 4 hours of full sun might be enough or more than that of filtered sun. I have a ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ that’s in the latter category, and I think she prefers the filtered sun to full sun.

    Yes, that’s a clematis on the arbor – C. viticella ‘Violacea Venosa’.

  11. Thanks, Sherry. I've seen the ever-reliable Louis Philippe growing happily with only a couple of hours of sun. And as it turns out, I just ordered a Duchesse de Brabant from Rose Petals.

    I had no idea clematis tolerated this climate. That's very good news!

    -- Penny