Friday, May 02, 2008

For Rose People Only

Anyone else would be bored silly.

It wasn't a good winter for roses. I knew this (ice, thaw, ice, thaw, ice, more ice), but still I was unprepared for the number of dead canes I had to prune away. Some of the roses have very little left to them, and trying to create some shape isn't even a possibility. (Well, it isn't helped by the fact that I'm a rather unskilled pruner.)

For those concerned with hardiness, here's the rundown. Bear in mind that winter protection is a four-letter word at my house.

Scarlet Meidiland
They look good, actually, except for the one I planted last year, which has disappeared entirely.

I thought Robusta would live up to its name again this year, but I had to cut away about half the bush. What remains looks a tad spidery at the moment, but I expect that will change as it leafs out more.

Knock Out
Or is it Knockout? In either case, it always looks weird to me, as though it isn't sure whether to thrive or migrate south. No change from last year. Or the years before.

Roseraie de l'Hay
Sadly, this huge, indestructible rugosa was no match for the snowplow a few years ago, and will probably never fully recover. This spring I had to cut away about a third of what was left, which doesn't leave much.

The Rock Garden Roses
The fact that I've forgotten their names should tell you something about their performance. Let me think . . . oh, yeah, White Meidiland (the oldest and most reliable of the bunch), Baby Blanket (a shade of pink the exact color of a baby's blanket, when they appear, which isn't often), and Carefree Marvel, which is neither. In fairness, I don't think their lack of vigor is their fault. I blame the chipmunks, which dig tunnels under the rock garden, and I blame the weeds, which rock gardens specialize in, and I blame me. In the garden, it always comes down to the gardener.

The Rose Below the Rock Garden
This one has always been nameless. I acquired it 30 years ago from an old woman who grew up with it. She didn't know the name either. It's not a bush; it's a mass of skinny canes about 2-3 feet tall, blooming once a year with vivid red buds and loose semi-double dark pink blooms. I'm fond of it. The canes appear to propagate underground, with runners. I don't think the winter bothered it at all.

The Walmart Mistake
I have no idea what this is. It was supposed to be Sir Thomas Lipton, to replace the one I lost after many years. But it most definitely is not. It looks like a rose cane. Its leaves look like rose leaves. But so far, after three years, it still has not produced a rose. Maybe its out-of-the-way spot is to blame. On the other hand, its out-of-the-way spot is probably the reason why I haven't tossed it. People have this experience with Walmart (and other big stores) all the time. They aren't exactly my main rose supplier, but sometimes you can find great deals there (see Wildberry Breeze and Lady Elsie May, below) and sometimes I'm tempted by the adventure of the unknown.

Crimson Sky
This was new to me last year. In fact, it was new to everybody last year, having been introduced in 2007. I got it on sale at the end of the season, paying $3.99 or some other ridiculous amount. Good thing, too, because I'm not at all sure it's going to survive in my climate. The canes died back all the way. Two thick red shoots are showing from the base, and I just hope they're from Crimson Sky and not the rootstock. One good thing is that it's a climber. It may never get to climbing height in my zone, but if it grows well enough to produce some of its lush red blooms every year I'll be happy.

Gertrude Jekyll
I was shocked to see how much damage this rose suffered this year. My Gertie is well over 20 years old, and has survived the rollercoaster of my gardening life, waiting patiently for me in the weeds during the years when I could do nothing for her or any other plant. But she was hit hard this winter. Lot of plant left, though, so I'm not too worried.

Gertrude Jekyll No. 2
I think of this one as a male, though I have no idea why. I liked Gertie No. 1 so much that I acquired a second one a few years ago. No. 2 is a great deal shorter, at least so far, but equally good at producing pink roses in a form that's perfection and a scent that's beyond perfection. It suffered some winter kill, but not too much.

A stronger rosearian would have "shovel pruned" this Canadian Explorer rose years ago. "Puny" is a good word for its performance in my garden. But then in fall, when everything is long finished, it produces a second flush of startlingly red roses, and I know I'll never dig up the plant. Right now it's so small that it's hard to tell if it has any winter damage.

Dart's Dash
Not my favorite name for a rose, but what a wonderful shrub! A small rugosa with heavenly-scented blooms, it came through the winter with no damage whatsoever.

Blanc Double de Coubert
Planted last year, and apparently unfazed by northern winters.

Prairie Princess
A Griffith Buck rose that went crazy last year, producing one gangly way-too-long cane. Most of the cane seems to have survived winter, but it didn't survive my pruning shears, which cut it by more than half.

Cherries 'n' Cream
Another rose that should have been shovel pruned. The flowers are pretty, but their much-touted scent is nonexistent in my garden. And the plant is so spidery and unattractive. But it's the most expensive rose I ever bought (how dumb is that?). I don't know how well it survived the winter because I haven't looked yet.

Henry Nevard
Completely gone. Again, I blame the gardener, who dug it up by mistake last year.

Lady Elsie May
I was tempted to buy this floribunda a few years ago because my Aunt Elsie was the best gardener I've ever known, even if her middle name wasn't May. It was a good purchase. Love the color! Her original site proved to be too shady, so I moved it last year. It seems to be okay. Not too many dead canes.

Carefree Beauty
Another Buck rose. This one stunned me last year with its vigor and gorgeous blooms, and all indications are that it will do the same this year.

Distant Drums
Yet another Buck. Died to the ground this winter. A shoot or two is emerging, so we'll see. Its blooms are so extraordinary; I hope it survives, but I'm not overly optimistic.

The Nameless Buck Roses
Well, they do have names; I just don't remember what they are. They seem to be doing so-so in my garden.

Belinda's Dream
Died over the winter after being moved last year. :-(

Angel Face
Also gone. This was probably my fourth or fifth attempt to grow this gorgeous lavender rose that smells like raspberries. I'm not tempted to try again.

Betty Prior
Gone as well. My second attempt on this one, mostly because I can hear my late mother-in-law's voice saying, "Nothing outblooms a Betty Prior!"

Sharifa Asma
Barely surviving. I probably should give up on David Austin roses, but the pictures on his website and in his catalogs are soooo seductive! Plus Gertie is an Austin, and look how well she's done.

Wildberry Breeze
Can you think of a worse name for a rose? Maybe "Bat Droppings." Wildberry Breeze sounds like a wine cooler or a room deodorizer. But what a lovely little rugosa it is! No winter damage at all, and a mass of wonderfully scented, single blooms to look forward to. Maybe I should stick to rugosas.

William Baffin
I'm in love. I planted this guy last year, too late to see any blooms, but I have the feeling I'll be in for a treat this year. No winter damage at all.

John Cabot
I was pleasantly surprised to find this Canadian Explorer climber at the Farmer's Market last year. I didn't think I had a place for it, but of course I bought it anyway. Then I thought of the tall garden gate that Joe made many years ago. It's still in place, though no longer serving as a gate to anything. It will be beautiful covered in roses. And, from the looks of the plant after its first winter here, that may well happen.

Abraham Darby
Another Austin. Growing nicely for me (although not as large as I'd like) until this year, when it took quite a winter hit. I'm prepared to give Abe some TLC as he's one beautiful rose.

Abbaye de Cluny (pictured above)
This was a pure impulse buy, and not cheap. I think divine intervention was involved. I don't know if it was all that divine a decision for Abbaye, as she lost all her canes over the winter. I actually dug the plant up last week, but replanted when I saw shoots emerging. It seems to be doing okay. Again, TLC more than worth it. Can you imagine that this rose smells as good as it looks?

If you'd like to see or read about any of these roses, Rose HelpMeFind is a great resource.


Helen said...

I thought you were overcoming your rose addiction???

Susan said...

I am! I didn't say I bought any, did I? I'm just being . . . um . . . a responsible gardener by paying attention to the ones I already have.

crystal said...

Wow - I had no idea you had so many roses! I feel embarrassed - I don't even know the names of mine and just havefour kinds, I think. If I send you a picture of one of them, might you be able to tell what kind it is?

Susan said...

Yes, if it's bright blue, khaki, or brown. Otherwise, they all look alike. :-)

Seriously, I can take a stab at it, or, better yet, I can post it at a Rose ID forum. Send pictures, please!

Helen said...

You sound like a gardener Susan. Do you know how to get rid of goutweed? Other than by moving?

Susan said...

Is goutweed a euphemism for a dirty old man who won't leave you alone?

Oops, I see I was wrong. According to the Plant Conservation Alliance, Roundup is most effective. I use Roundup a lot for poison ivy and various other weeds. Just make sure it doesn't drift to desirable plants as you apply it.

The Redneck Rosarian said...

Great blog. I scour the web each week looking for other "rose people", which I have found to be quite an interesting group. Thanks for sharing your love for roses. I enjoyed my visit.