Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
April, 2001
Regional Report

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'Old Blush' rose is one of many dependable repeat-blooming antique roses that can survive with minimal care and spraying in our southern landscapes.

Everything's Coming Up Roses

This spring we're having one of the best rose shows I've seen in recent memory. Plentiful winter rainfall and moderate temperatures have definitely put our roses in prime condition for the season. Everywhere I drive roses are putting on a fantastic display.

Tough and Beautiful

I must admit I have a strong partiality to the old roses. There is something simple about their beauty and something admirable about their tenacious ability to withstand our climate without pampering.

While not all old-fashioned roses are disease proof, most seem to avoid diseases or bounce right back after an attack. A recent drive through an old cemetery brought this point home. While few plants had survived there, a handful of old roses were aglow with a display of blooms that would put the pampered specimens of our botanical gardens to shame.

Old Favorites

Space won't allow me to mention all the outstanding roses for our southern landscapes, so I'll limit myself to a few that have proven themselves in my garden. The first antique I ever grew was 'Old Blush', a large shrub rose with double pink blooms. Another great shrub rose is 'Mutabilis', with lovely single blooms that change color as they age, providing a multicolored show of cream, pink, and red. Also included in our favorites list is 'Souvenir de la Malmaison', an old-fashioned bourbon rose with flat-topped, quartered blooms that emit an intoxicating fragrance.

I also enjoy the smaller 'Marie Pavie', which features dainty white blooms with a slight pink hue. 'Marie Pavie' grows great in a half whiskey barrel planter or a large terra cotta pot. I love it also for its light fragrance. The fact that it is almost thornless has earned it a spot right next to the walkway near the front door.

Best of the New

A number of new roses are introduced every year that offer disease resistance, beauty, and a nice shrubby growth habit. Over the years I've collected the best ones for my garden. 'Nearly Wild' has been around for over 50 years, but it's just now gaining the attention it deserves. It's very disease resistant and produces a multitude of single pink blooms from spring to fall. 'Carefree Wonder' is our newest rose. Last year it lived up to its name, growing through the entire season without a single spray application. I love its large blooms with their coral-orange color mix.

Keeping Roses Happy

Our southern summers bring blistering heat and humidity. It can be a challenge to grow roses here. But even in our hot climate, roses need full sun to bloom well. Also, to keep my plant healthy, I add lots of organic matter to the soil. This helps the soil hold water and nutrients, a key to warding off the heat. Raised beds are another essential component. They allow for good drainage during our periodic deluges from summer thunderstorms.

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