How many roses do you have? How many roses are in your garden? It seems like a simple enough question. I have two. Or fifteen. Or three hundred seventy eight. It's a number arrived at by counting. And who cannot do that?
I cannot. I will admit that part of my reason for not knowing the exact number is that I do not care. I care about individual roses. I care about how to cultivate each one well. I care about individual spots in the garden. I care about what the garden looks like and how to make the best of it. But I just do not care about exactly how many roses live in it.
The problem is a lot trickier than it might seem at first. Suppose a gardener has a brand new garden with no roses. Suppose that in 2012 he plants a single rose plant. By 2015 it is clear that the rose is a keeper; it makes blooms that please him and it grows satisfactorily without what he would consider an annoying amount of effort. He has no other roses growing in the garden and the idea of getting more has not yet occurred to him. At this point one might very reasonably assert that his garden contains one rose. Now in September 2016, suppose that a nursery that offers roses in pots pre-sells some of its inventory for the next year at a 50% discount. In September he ordes one more rose for delivery the third day in May the next year, 2016. Now, suppose that the rose will need to be grown on in a pot at least through September of 2017 before being planted in the garden. Suppose further that it will be impossible to know whether the rose is established in the garden until September 2017. At what point is the number of roses exactly 2? Is it when our gardener orders the second rose? That seems too early. He might own two roses, but the second one is not really in his garden. It is a rose of his in his garden in only in some theoretical sense. He has dibs on a rose and the actual plant may not be known to anyone, even if the cultivar is. So does the rose count it when it is taken out of the shipping box May 2016? Well, maybe. But the rose is not yet in the garden. What about after it is potted up and living in the garden? Well, in some technical sense it is a rose in the garden; but it is not established. It is not what realtors would call a fixture. So still, maybe not. What about when it is in the ground?
This brings up the question about how we count roses that are in the ground in the garden. Suppose we plant a rose on its own roots and it grows well but then disappears. We see nothing of it for two, three, or six years. Is it in the garden? Well, if it comes up sometime after this the answer would have to be, yes. it was still in the garden, even if it was invisible. Many rose gardeners who plant lots of roses on their own roots will have the experience of discovering that they once thought was dead is, years later, actually living the garden and blooming. Sometimes it will happen with the same rose every year. There is one rose at the edge of a path - it was put in before the path was there - that grows to six inches high and makes one very pretty bloom in my garden every year. Each fall I imagine it is dead. It has come back six years straight. Do I count it in the spring when I know it is alive? Do I fail to count it in the winter when it is hiding beneath the paving stones?
At any given point in time there are probably something like a dozen roses in my garden that face some very real existential threat. In some cases it's winter freezing or spring drought. In others its my inclination to move the rose. Maybe the rose is dying anyway. Maybe it doesn't bloom very well. Maybe it's a blackspot machine infecting dozens of roses around it. I go into the garden, see the rose, and know it is virtually doomed. I know I will move it. And I know that the chance of survival after being moved is close to zero. (I have a few roses that have undergone major relocation and lived to bloom again. In one case I started with one rose and ended up with two after the transplant was complete.) So there is a sense in which even though there is an actual plant there, soon there will not be one. The rose counts only in some technical definitional sense. Or as a placeholder. Not as a source of blooms of that type going forward into the future for five or twenty five years. If I were selling my house and it were the only rose in the garden, a prospective buyer might ask if the garden has roses. If I answered "no" it would be technically incorrect, but functionally true. If I answered "yes" it would be technically true but functionally deceiving. There simply is not a meaningful way to describe the rose's status without saying something like "Yes, but it is nothing but sharp thorns and blackspot and will be landfill in six weeks' time."
So it turns out that there are two problems in counting roses. The first is the physical act of counting actual plants in the garden. How does one count the ones that only exist as subterranean roots, for example? Or how does one know that a small rose is hiding beneath a bigger one? Or if two roses that are different cultivars are planted too close together what is to say that a novice will be able to distinguish them? And if a rose growing on its own roots is big enough to divide into several other plants ... in one sense it is one plant. But if one is in the business of dividing large plants and selling them, it is very close to being more than one. The second problem is one of definition. One might find it easy to answer the question about how many candles one might light on a menorah, but when it comes to answering the question about how many entities there are in the Holy Trinity, it's a little hard to say. One? Three? Both? Neither? The problem hinges on definitions. There were a few years during the dark ages when - it might seem - more sheep skins (parchment) were given to answering this question than to helping poor Europeans keep warm in winter. It's not an easy question to answer because the definitions are so tricky. In many senses counting roses an easier problem; but it's still one fraught with many definitional difficulties.
One of the most important definitions is the distinction between physical plants and cultivars. This is a relatively easy one because it is possible to agree on clear definitions; but it, too, might trip one up. When the membership director of the local gardening club was interviewing my wife about my garden she asked my wife "How many roses are there in Steve's garden?" And my wife, who knows as much about gardening as a two year old girl knows about flying fighter jets asked "Are you referring to plants or cultivars." At which point the membership coordinator's head exploded and she is now heading a different committee. Mostly, my garden contains just one of any cultivar. But there are five Mme Alfred Carrieres, six Pink Pets, three or four Europeanas, three Gourmet Popcorns, two or three South Africas, six Julia Childs and so on. I'm pretty sure the number of rose plants lodged in or near the garden exceeds 250. So if I have 256 plants, perhaps I have have 229 cultivars. Of which 14 plants and 11 cultivars exist in pots. More. Or Less.
Who can say? By this time next year the number will be a little different since some plants are on order. But unless I can learn more about keeping roses from being eaten by deer or rabbits outside the fenced part of the garden, the number probably will not get much bigger. Not that there is much reason to care. Fortunately, no sheep skins were consumed in the writing of this. Stay warm this winter. And have pleasant dreams of roses.
When I chose the location as a possible one for growing roses, I knew that the challenges were many. Roses are thirsty plants; but they do not like wet feet. Roses like damp roots but they cannot stand damp air. And there was the question about whether they could possibly retain soil so well as the native grasses that were already growing there. After all, after two inches of rain you could hear the water rushing through the gulch from 200 feet away. It could probably sweep away a small car. It was with some trepidation that I proceded.
Among the first roses to be planted in the gulch were Graham Thomas, Day Breaker, Liebeszauber, Sunsprite, Mardi Gras, and South Africa in one very sunny location just in front of the chain link fence. That would have been around the year 2012. These roses literally took off. So it seemed a promising plan. Next year two Mme Plantier roses were planted in other locations. At the same time, four Prosperity roses and three Red Eden roses were spaced out in regular intervals along the fence. The challenge for these roses was that they were in the shade of an alligator juniper tree. So shade was a potential problem. The Prosperity roses have never minded the shade. It's hard to tell about the Red Eden roses. They have not yet reached six feet tall, which seems a little short to me for a climbing rose in its sixth season. By comparison, Gruss an Zabern in a much drier and shadier location, planted as a band two years later is two feet taller.
Still, the success with Prosperity prompted me to continue planting, and the place is home to a fairly large collection of roses, mostly David Austin roses. Over the eastern half of the planting one would find William Shakespeare 2000, Princess Anne, Young Lycidas, LD Braithwaite, and Lady of Shallott hovering around the well established Prosperity and Conrad Heinrich Soth. Over the western half one would find Susan Williams - Ellis, Darcy Bussell, Lady of Shallott, Ascot, Colorific, Jubilee Celebration, and Colorific all in a jumble near Prosperity and Ghislaine de Feligonde. Somewhere in the middle of the jumble is Erinnerung an Brod. No rose in the gulch looks better out of bloom, and none grows better; but after three years we are still waiting for its best performance. It took five years for Ghislaine de Feligonde to hit its stride, so there is still hope. Near the east end of the planting are two rugosa roses Moje Hammarberg, and near the west end of the planting are two rugosa alba roses. These were selected for flower fragrance and edible hips. Also because there is a lot of sand in the soil and rugosas are said to do well on sand. Near the center of the planting is a Boscobel, and an Auguste Renoir. Queen of Sweden. Moore's Striped Rugsa, and Mary Rose died. White Out has struggled. Awakening, a sport of New Dawn, has moped a bit since being transplanted two years ago. Rosy Cushion grows and blooms almost as vigorously as Darlow's Enigma.
What makes this place unique? Below is a shot of the western end of the gulch planting in which one might be able to find Boscobel, Prosperity, Darcy Bussel, Ascot, Colorific, Jubilee Celebration, and Lady of Shallott. And, of course a lot of eight inch river rock laid over landscape fabric. There are some daylilies and two Louisiana iris in the photo, all in their first season in the garden. To the left one can just make out the chain link fence that encloses the garden, marking where the rose bed ends and the arroyo grasses start. The fence is on the south edge of the bed. On the north edge of the bed is an elevated path built atop a 20 inch wall of 85 lb concrete landscape blocks. We did this to keep the roaring stream from eroding the raised beds to the north and to keep the flagstone walk from sinking into the muddy stream.
This area is a gulch or arroyo. In the Northeastern United States and in Northern Europe there is no term for this geographical phenomenon; it does not exist. Here in the mountain west of the US, though, it's common enough. It's a place where water runs for part of the year. Over other parts of the year it can be bone dry. As arroyos go, this one is somewhat modest in its moisture swings. It receives underground seeps for much of the dry season, Feb-May. And it drains quite quickly during the rainy season; there is very little standing water. In May the relative humidity of the air can be 12%. When we have a really good monsoon season as we did this year, the gulch runs with water continuously for maybe four weeks, and the relative humidity can approach 100% for several weeks at a time. The air in this spot passes through freezing maybe as often as 100 times in a calendar year, though it is possible for the soil in this location not to freeze or to freeze only two or three inches deep in the depths of winter in late January. In the brightest moments of the year - most of the month of June - the UV index is 10. A person with fair skin can get a painful burn in less than 15 minutes.
Madame Plantier at the western extreme of the garden, about two weeks prior to peak bloom, with Hollywood Nights at her feet. The grasses native to the arroyo, shown in the background, are quite tenacious
So the potential problems for roses in this location include: wet feet, drought, dry air, high humidity, bright sun, excess shade, and late killing frosts, and competition from grasses that are very well adapted to the location. I have paid some attention to how suitable a rose is for shade in my plantings. I have also tried to plant blackspot resistant varieties - although my level of success here is far from perfect. Ghislaine de Feligonde, for instance, bears most of the brunt of the alligator juniper's shade. It is almost directly north of the tree. At high summer it is far enough away that it gets only the lightest shade near noon. At other hours the sun is high enough in the sky that it gets sun. Near either equinox, though, it may not get four hours of sun. Also near the tree are two of the four Prosperity and one Erinnerung an Brod. G de F bloomed for a full six weeks straight this year. Prosperity is showing just a touch of mildew this August, but none of these cultivars has been touched by blackspot.
Ghislaine de Feligonde
Prosperity, William Shakespeare 2000, and Conrad Heinrich Soth
I have been worried about losing soil and about controlling weeds, so a year ago I had sixteen tons of 6-8 inch river rock installed over landscape fabric in this area. This has had a profound effect on erosion and on weeds. I find that I can almost control the weeds over the entire area by informally pulling up the occasional bit of grass or nutsedge as I walk through the area taking photgraphs. Acknowledging the arroyo for what it is has improved its performance as a rose bed and it has maintained its function as a repository for good soil.
But what about wet feet and fungal disease?
I have certainly lost roses to these factors. Queen of Sweden and Mary Rose, are among the roses that have died. But they died over the winter. Or during a dry season, or before getting established. Peter Frankenfield lost all its leaves during a spring flood, then regained them; but it has not looked good since. I've lost track of which rose appears below, but I suspect it is Jolie Veranda. It is planted in one of the lower spots in the gulch and its roots would have been submerged for most of six weeks starting in the beginning of July.
One can, of course, see a little blackspot moving in, but this is an opportunistic infestation: the rose leaves had already yellowed by the time the BS hit. One of three Darcy Bussell has experienced similar yellowing. These are the only two roses in the planting that are at serious risk of dying as a direct result of having their roots submerged for six weeks this summer. By now the water is receding. There is no running or standing water in the arroyo right now and there has not been for a week. So there is some chance that both of these roses will survive.
Fungal disease in the garden has been interesting this year. I moved two roses that were hit hard by it last year. And I have been using Actinovate, though not so carefully as I should have been. These factors seem to have made for a later onset; but where it hit this year it hit quickly. In the gulch, Colorific was the first rose to suffer. Not long afterwords, neighboring Teasing Georgia was hit. At about the same time at the other end of the garden, the older leaves of Sunsprite suffered from it. Then the old leaves of South Africa did. Next, it was newer foliage on Liebeszauber and Day Breaker. The whole process took maybe two weeks.
Colorific, with water flowing over its roots and leaves starting to get black spot.
A week after this photo was taken, virtually every leaf on Colorific shows infection. Old leaves on many roses throughout the garden show signs of disease. I have never before seen blackpsot on Hermosa, for example; but all the old leaves on this plant are covered with it. New growth leaves, fortunately, remain untouched. The distinction is essential because a rose that can retain its new growth leaves despite infection can continue to function. A rose that loses its new growth leaves quickly to the infection has ceased thriving and has started on a downward slope toward death. It will suffer until it can sustain new growth leaves for some weeks without BS infection.
It is a matter of some frustration to me that just two or three weeks after the conditions for Colorific and Liebeszauber became satisfactory for them to grow vigorously they contracted black spot on new growth leaves. No other roses in the garden this year have been quite so perverse. In the case of Colorific, I think the plant is vigorous enough to overcome the problem. I'm a little less certain of Liebeszauber. This is the first year I have noticed BS on Liebeszauber; but this is also the first year in about five that it has attempted making new canes. I am disappointed with South Africa and Day Breaker; but I know the disease started on neighboring Sunsprite. I wonder whether the three instances of this rose will have to be moved this winter. The more I consider it, the better the idea seems to me.
The jury is out about what will happen next. The rains have let up a bit. The air is a little cooler and drier. From here on out we expect new blackspot infestation to be slower than it was two weeks ago. But we also near the end of the useful new foliage period. Foliage that forms after mid September here does not always provide so much nutrition to the plant as the energy used to form it, especially if we get early frosts in October.
Blackspot has been a problem, but it has hit a smallish number of roses fairly late in the season. And only two roses have any measurable amount of BS on foliage formed after the start of August. So it seems unlikely that the disease will endanger the lives of any of the roses in the garden this year. Overall, it has been a pretty successful experiment. Let's look at some of the successes.
Ascot blooms with Jubilee Celebration
Pomponella Fairy Tale rose grows on a slightly elevated bank of the gulch
Double Red Knockout in its first season photographed near the start of the deluge. Its leaves have yellowed a bit since
Darcy Bussell in late June. At its best the flowers are drop-dead gorgeous in their deep wine red color. Though quite generous in bloom, it can be a little uneven.
The once-blooming James Mason is very well adapted to this environment, growing vigorously and never complaining about shade, drought, high humidity, frost, or pretty much anything.
Peter Frankenfield (presumed to be) in July before the monsoons started
Colorific in mid June before the monsoons started.
Teasing Georgia in mid June before the monsoons started.
Graham Thomas blooming in front of the chain link fence with some Day Breaker roses in front.
One Graham Thomas blossom
South Africa blooming through the black spot
After about five years of experience of growing roses in this particular arroyo, what do we know? Prosperity and Ghislaine de Feligonde are well suited to the gulch. Conrad Heinrich Soth is so vigorous that the question is more about whether I will dig it up to keep it from overrunning the garden than it is about whether it could survive there. Pomponella Fairy Tale and Rosy Cushion are definitely happy. I'm pretty sure that Jubilee Celebration and Lady of Shallott are keepers in this location. Most of the other David Austin roses, I think, are keepers; although I feel a little embarrassed to have lost track of the identies of most. I cannot, with any certainty, distinguish among Wm Shakespeare 2000, LD Braithewaite, and Young Lycidas. The rugosas seem to be doing well, though they are not yet very foliferous. I have no reservations about Graham Thomas. I'm pretty sure I will do what it takes to keep Day Breaker and South Africa alive in this location, even if it means removing Sunsprite. Colorific has put on such a show this year in its second season that I intend to tend it carefully over the next growing seasons to keep it from being too seriously damaged by blackspot. Experience with Cressida and Winchester Cathedral suggest to me that some DA roses can be quite materially affected by blackspot while still thriving; so I am quite hopeful about Teasing Georgia. It is still in better shape than Golden Celebration was at this point last year. It has taken Golden Celebration most of this season to recover; but TG strikes me as a more vigorous rose.
I am ready to declare the experiment a success. I cannot say with any certainty which roses will be growing in the gulch ten or fifty years from now; but I am very pleased with what I see there now. I pass many pleasant hours in the garden and the experience just would not be the same were the gulch not chock full of roses.
Winter and early spring rainfall was generous in comparison to the drought of the last five years or so. This has not meant that we've had any rain to speak of in the last three months, but it has meant full lakes which have encouraged some of us to water a bit more. The damp winter and early spring followed by normal two to three months of drought has meant a great crop of dry grass and summer wildfires such as the nearby Goodwin fire which cut off one route out of Prescott for two or three days. It has also meant more flowers in the garden. We watered the roses more generously this year, although it's hard to specify exactly how much more. And the neighboring iris and daylilies have been responding to this bounty. Some of these daylilies have graced the garden for three or four years without blooming. So this is a watershed moment for the garden.
As ever, we are mostly clueless about which daylily is which, although we do expect that Hyperion (Soft Yellow), Mary Todd (Yellow), Rocket City(Orange) and Alabama Jubilee (Vermilion), Marquee Moon (Nearly White) might appear above. We are pleased with the batchelor buttons acquired at Annies Annuals. They really complement the yellow and orange daylilies nicely.
Even as we approach peak daylily season there are still a few roses in bloom. Larissa is the most notable, but in the gulch Jubilee Celebration blooms very generously along with Ascot.
And just beyond the fence, a visitor waits for Stephen to vacate the garden so she might resume feasting on rose blossoms...
Here in the American Southwest, the siesta is a time to kick back and relax between the early morning vigors of work and the late evening rigors of revelry. For roses we approach siesta season. By mid June, roses in my garden are typically starting their midsummer break, here in the mountains of Arizona. It is a seasonal rhythm I learned first when gardening roses in Texas decades ago. Five days ago I was tempted to believe this year was going to be an exception, that the roses would just keep on going. A recent record-breaking heat spell has meant otherwise. Most roses are now approaching that moment.
For each rose there is a slightly different story. Neil Diamond never quite got fully open before its flower dried out (Below, Far Left). This was a brand new rose this year, and the root system is still getting established. The same thing happened to Big Purple for the same reason. Jubilee Celebration (Below, Mid Left) is entering its third growing season in the gulch, and its roses are opening fully, aging, and then drying out.
I am pleasantly surprised by the success of the roses in the gulch. Even though they get a little shade it does not seem to slow them from blooming. The Darcy Bussell with the most sunlight blooms most vigorously, but its flowers fade fastest, too. Most of these roses, like Darcy Bussell, are David Austin roses. They are bred to do well in climates generally cooler and a little more humid than the mountains of Arizona in June. A good portion of these cultivars bear flowers with thin petals which, in hot dry weather, dry out fast. My guess is that in most normal summers this problem is not so severe as it would be in, say, California's central valley. Or in Phoenix, for that matter. But this year the problem was exascerbated by a more severe problem with thrips.
Baronne Prevost's roses simply do not open in spring, here. they crisp up long before. Evidently they are thin petals, fragrant, and early. It is only in fall after a good monsoon that the rose makes open blossoms. Other roses that crisped up before even opening include Red Eden (Above, Mid Right), Marchioness of Londonderry, The King's Rubies, Blush Noisette (Above Far Right) and a kissing cousin, Joan of Arc. We imagine that thrips figured as part of the reason for several of these roses. The thrips problem was most evident in mid May on fragrant roses. On roses that are not fragrant and ones that set buds three weeks later - after the thrips had been mostly brought under control by predators - the problem nearly totally gone. We can say this with some confidence because Abraham Darby in the beginning of June was covered with crispy flowers, but it now has normal ones.
Abe Darby makes an interesting study of the problem. Roses made much before 24 May 17 (Below, Left) were a total loss, being crispy long before they opened. As the thrips problem came under control they began to reach full maturity, as is seen in the third photo (Below Right) taken 15 Jun 17.
That said, the crispy dried rose issue is not completely gone. Even once the thrips are under control we observe some roses that have crisped within a day: William Shakespeare 2000, and Falstaff. The flowers on Prosperity and Chevy Chase crisped up pretty convincingly, but these roses had been in bloom for something approaching three weeks before this happened. Which roses have not gotten crispy? The hybrid tea roses that survived being pruned severely this spring, Grande Dame and Fire Fighter are just now putting out their first blooms of the season. These are not turning crispy, yet. Interestingly, these are HT roses known for their fragrance, so just as Abe Darby does, they should be subject to the problem while it exists. Looping never crisped; as beautiful as it is it does not have a fragrance to match. Selfridges, though early and fragrant only got a touch of damage at the tips of the petals.
Most of the roses in the gulch, even the David Austin roses, are not getting crispy - at least not in an untimely way. This includes Darcy Bussell, Jubilee Celebration, Mary Rose, Princess AnneLady of Shallott, Teasing Georgia, Pomponella FT, South Africa, and Day Breaker. Graham Thomas, after a glorious bloom is taking a break. Ascot is planted in two locations. In the one that gets just six hours of sunlight, its flowers are not crisping up. Those on the one getting a full twelve hours of AZ sunlight are crisping a bit. Looping's roses faded completely before crisping, a process that took maybe three days. One might argue that the problem is that the roses are not getting quite enough water. Surely this is a factor. The multifloras like Conrad Heinrich Soth and Rosy Cushion were untouched by thrips. Most of the DA roses in the gulch get enough shade that their bloom time was delayed by a week or two, so the thrips problem was under control. Any crispiness is going to be thanks to moisture problems in the rose petals.
At this moment, the star of the garden is Colorific (Below, Far Left). It set one beautiful rose about two weeks ago. And each third or fourth day just as the predecessors are dying, it produces half again as many new ones. Planted nearby, Darcy Bussell (Below, Mid Left) produces deep purple blooms that fade to rosy mauve as they age. Falstaff (Below Mid Right), on the other hand, produces new flowers that start out almost raspberry red and darken toward purple as they age and crisp in the hot sunlight. It's a process that completes in a day or two for this cultivar. Entering its third year in the garden is Teasing Georgia (Below, Far Right), which seems to be providing fresh surprises daily. It seems to be sending up new canes every third week or so, a pace it cannot keep up for long in this heat. And each new cane produces great masses of pale yellow flowers that fade to cream in our bright sunlight.
Some of the rose blossoms prove very durable. Gemini may be the best example. Below are shots (Left) of the exact same rose taken one day apart. The poor plant has been suffering in my garden for three years, not growing above knee height. But thanks to a little extra water this season and some extra attention to the gopher problem, it is blooming well. This particular blossom is still on the plant a week later. It has faded to the point of ugliness, but it is not crispy yet. I had expected something like this from Liebeszauber (Love's Magic, Mid Right), but the poor thing crisped up in two day's time. Rainbow Sorbet (Below, Far Right) usually has no problem with crispy edges, but it is lightly touched by the problem this year. Once again, curiously, a photo I took of this rose to demonstrate how ugly it looks this year seems to undermine that point completely.
As suggested earlier this is the time of the summer when attention begins to pass from the rose to the daylily. Since daylilies offer somewhat less variation in terms of plant performance, we have little to offer but pictures. With apologies to daylily experts around the world we will mention that our yellows include Mary Todd, Aztek Gold, and Hyperion, and our oranges include Rocket City, and Alabama Jubilee. The photos below may or may not depict one of these cultivars...
There is no crispnes here. Daylily flowers have the grace to disappear when they cease to wow. It's a trick one might wish more roses could learn.
Exceptional beauty, by definitition, is short-lived. This is one of the reasons we are drawn to certain roses and to daylilies. James Mason, which blooms but once a year, and not for a whole two week stretch, was a big hit this year with gardem visitors - people and bees alike. This plant produced several dozen three to four inch flowers like the one below. The bright red would fade in a day, and in two or three the flowers would fall. This photo was taken 21 May 17. Bees are also found of Rosy Cushion, blooming nearly two weeks later.
The gulch, an area of the garden where we've planted about twenty roses in an occasional stream bed, hit its stride this season. Prosperity, the hybrid musk rose that has been there for four or five years was covered with great clouds of white roses for nearly three weeks. The David Austin rose Princess Anne, starting its fourth year, mixes with it pretty well. Deeper purple notes were provided by William Shakespeare 2000, LD Braithwaite, and Erinnerung an Brod (not shown). The early blooms of Nicole were evenly spaced over this very nicely branched plant. Later on it would push up stalks with lots of smallish flowers that started looking a little ragged (not pictured)
Caramella Fairy Tale rose made roses of the right color for the first time this year. We're unsure whether it was the fact of having a few years to settle in or that it got more water. Either way, we are pleased; and we are pleased to pronounce the rose 'a keeper,' a surprisingly rare declaration that the rose has established, is vigorous and healthy, and that it makes enough blooms to warrant its place in the garden. And that we like where it is in the garden. It joins Malvern Hills, Cherry Parfait, and Ilse Krohn Superior in earning this distinction. (30 May 17)
Some of the companion planting ideas are working. Lady Pamela Carol produces lovely pale yellow blooms that look good with Moonlight yarrow and Blue Hill salvia. Caldwell Pink hovers just above nepeta Walker's Lowe. (31 May 17) At this time of year, the nepeta can be heard humming. The same holds for the salvias Blue Hill, Caradonna, and May Night. (Not pictured.)
Rainbow Sorbet might be the most photogenic rose out there. On the plant this bunch of spent flowers and buds looked a mess. Somehow, though, the mess translated into an interesting photo. Usually it's the other way around.
This is one of the few blossoms not ruined by thrips on poor Abe Darby. Teasing Georgia, entering its third growing season is less affected by thrips damage. Chris Evert struggles to get enough water, and the blooms will sometimes be nibbled away; but it does produce pretty flowers.
Orfeo, in its fourth year is tall enough to train on a pillar. Not all of its flowers are this color. They can be a softer rosy crimson color. And when they get a bit dry they turn maroon. Looping has its own progression of soft orange sherbet colors. The buds are a bright pastel orange, and they fade just a little toward cream. Colorific's blossoms take two or three days to progress from soft yellow to a vermilion blushed shade of pink.
We wish to welcome to the garden a few roses planted this spring: Big Purple and Vavoom. We do hope that as they establish their blossoms will become just a little better, but we are pleased that they are making a good start:
We note in passing that roses that have been severely pruned have certainly had delayed blooming. Grande Dame and all the newly planted roses are good examples. Pruning also made Abe Darby more productive. It took a toll on Crocus Rose. The plant produced a lot of new fresh growth which is good; but it went on to produce lots of tiny flowers in bunches. And they lacked color.
Not everything is roses. A prickly pear cactus flaunts its yellow blossoms, below. This year we had an unusually damp spring, and this prickly pear cactus shows its appreciation with extra flowers. Giving the garden just a little more water this year on top of nature's bounty has been good for the daylilies, too. Alabama Jubilee doles out its first blossom while more established Aztek Gold cranks them out in clouds. An unknown yellow daylily is backed by Showbiz rose.
It's a pleasant surprise to find roses and daylilies blooming together, especially when we find their colors to be complementary. The garden is still a wild place, but its colorful blossoms and many rich fragrances they bring make the place a glorious outdoor living space, if only for a few days a year.