When the roses are in bloom I hear many nice comments from friends and neighbors. Roses are a very important part of my garden. I grew up in a home with parents who loved flowers, and I inherited that love. When we built our home in the 1970s I began a labor of love that I am still working on -- my garden.
Roses were one of the first things I planted in beds on the east and west sides of the house. During that initial planting, I also installed some shade trees. As those trees matured, the shade they provided was welcomed by me, but wasn't so welcomed by the roses. The roses declined and I removed them, transforming the beds into shade gardens planted with hostas. There is one rose left from that first planting, Granada. It is in a little too much shade to really prosper, but it still blooms and it is my favorite for fragrance. I can sometimes enjoy the perfume from a few feet away.
I would call myself a fickle gardener because my passions in plants change from time to time. I have had periods of fascination with irises, daylilies, ornamental grasses, hostas, Japanese maples, and others through the years. About 10 years ago, I decided I needed roses again. In my family, we all seem to love acquiring things. If a few are good, many are even better. This philosophy really shows in my gardens! I started removing grass and looking for roses to plant. Luckily, I had two grandsons who helped because they needed some spending money, and I had a patient wife. I chose to make beds in the front yard to take advantage of the sun.
Choosing the roses was great fun for me. I acquired most of my roses at local nurseries. The roses I prefer are the classic high-centered hybrid teas, but I also planted a few grandifloras, floribundas, and miniatures
|Marilyn Monroe||Sheila's Perfume|
Over the next two or three years more grass was removed and more roses were planted. My beds are now as large as I want them to be, and the only time I plant a new rose is when I remove one that doesn't please me and replace it with something I hope to like more.
My roses were bought in various conditions. Most of them were purchased prepotted in containers. This had some advantages and one problem. The upside was that I could choose from several and get the best plant, and I also saw that potted roses produced instant gratification. The downside was that sometimes the plants had not been in the containers long enough to form an extensive root system and the soil fell away at planting. This always set the plants back a little. I was also seduced by a few bare-root plants I saw at big box stores and I ordered a few from Edmunds' Roses.
|Peace, an old favorite!|
The major chore of the rose season is pruning. I don't prune much the first couple of years, which allows the plant to bulk up. The main pruning is done in the spring, just as the new growth begins to show. I remove one-third to one-half of the height, any dead wood, and any crowded branches. I do a little pruning in the fall, removing tall stems which may break after a heavy snowfall. I try to be faithful in deadheading throughout the blooming season to encourage more blooms.
I throw two or three handfuls of a well-balanced rose fertilizer, including alfalfa pellets, around the bushes in the early spring and work it in. I then hope for some rain or snow. Some years I add a layer of compost, which produces amazing results.
I originally created basins around each rose and watered with a hose and water wand, filling each basin several times. Now I am more lazy and sprinkle from overhead with a fine spray. I water about every five days in the heat of summer. Watering from overhead messes up the blooms, but they quickly recover.
Pests and diseases are not a big problem here. There are no Japanese beetles or black spot. I have a little mildew on some plants at the end of the season, but I just ignore it. When I see aphids, I brush or wash them off the roses. Some varieties of roses show a little more winter kill in harsh winters than others. I don't give them any winter mulch. The most tender rose I've grown is John F. Kennedy. I removed it this spring. It was pretty at its best.
|John F. Kennedy|
I have many favorites depending on the day. Others not pictured before include:
|Commonwealth Glory||Sunstruck||Sunset Celebration|
Roses are wonderful plants to grow. They are easy to care for and provide much enjoyment. I hope that you will try some in your own garden!