'Rose growing, indeed gardening, is a bit about dreaming and a bit about realism. Go ahead and dream, but temper it with a good dose of reality. If after two (arguably three) years a rose has not performed for you, grit your teeth and "prune it with a spade."'-Orin Martin, 'Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection and Care'
As I said, I love rose pruning season. I think it's to do with the order, and setting myself to a task that has definable goals. I've heard it said that pruning is a conversation you have with a plant-you cut it here and the plant responds by growing over here. So I guess I look forward to hearing the rose's side of the conversation.
The Roses
When I first planted my garden, over 10 years ago, I had a raised cement block bed full of vinca and jade, a singularly unlovely plant combination. I ripped everything out and decided to try my hand with some roses. I'd never grown roses before. I'd never had anywhere to grow much of anything before, so it was all new to me. I only knew that if I had to walk past the vinca crawling slowly amidst the flabby-trunked jade plant, I'd have to move. So, the roses. I found them on sale, bare-root, outside the supermarket, trussed up and sorry-looking like prisoners in line, blindfolded & waiting for dawn. I bought 3 or 4, different colors, all hybrid teas. I didn't know what that meant. These were the roses I first planted, the ones that I first learned to prune and train, and the ones that I tried for years to turn into something other than what they were, which was spindly, gawky-looking, chicken-legged sticks that bloomed briefly during the spring and summer and then sat there looking like the thorny bones of someone's discarded umbrella. I thought that's all there was to growing roses. Fertilize them, and you get a more robust dead umbrella, that bloomed more often.
And then I picked up Orin Martin's Rose Primer:An Organic Approach to Rose Selection and Care. Orin Martin is one of my personal gardening heroes, the manager of UCSC's Chadwick Garden, and one of my instructors when I apprenticed at UCSC's Farm & Garden in 2002.
Orin has so much knowledge and love for all things growing, especially things in the rosaceae family, which includes everything from roses to apples to raspberries. I learned so much from him, and when I am preparing to do my rose pruning every winter, it's usually the grubby notes I took on his classes that I pull out.

So I decided to take his advice, and I pruned all my hybrid teas 'with a spade.' Meaning, I hoiked them up and threw them out. I am starting over. The only roses not to 'get it' were the climbers (both white: 'Madame Alfred Carriere' & 'Cecille Brunner') and two others that are not hybrid teas, they look like old roses, maybe gallicas? I don't know.
But I've had it with the hybrid teas! I think I'm also staying away from the floribundas & grandifloras at least for now too.... Any other suggestions?

So far my list includes:

'Charles de Mill' , (rosa gallica). This is an old garden rose, which means the plants blend in more in the garden, the flowers are usually fragrant, though often blooming only once a year. The plants themselves are usually more vigorous, and need less fertility. In my super sandy (therefore poor) soil, this is a plus. And apparently the scent is amazing.

'Ambridge Rose' (English shrub rose). This class of rose is considered 'new old-fashioned'. Bred by David Austin, these roses are a highly successful attempt to combine the best qualities of old garden roses with the highlights of modern roses. I am in awe of David Austin and his roses a bit, he's accomplished so much. Not the least of which is making beautiful things come out of Wolverhampton.

I've found these at Roses of Yesterday and Today, a fantastic rose nursery at the southern end of our county. And joy of joys, they have a bare-root Apothecary Rose, for which I've been on the prowl for about 6 months or so. It's the original Lancaster Rose from the War of the Roses, and I want it for the Abbey Garden, which is monastic-themed. Even better, it looks like it is shade-tolerant, which means it can go in the difficult-to-grow-planter box which gets no afternoon sun. And it's under $20.00. Oh frabjous day.


Anonymous said...

Can you make some of the roses from where Mr. Eleven and I used to live grow in your yard? I miss them. There were some successful cuttings (?) a few years back but I think we neglected them sadly and they died.

Anonymous said...

Oh, also- I liked reading about your first foray into roses. Good call about the vinca-jade combo... yeugh... (that should be pronounced like a combination of "yuck" and "ew" but with a German or Scottish ending)

rosa said...

Those ARE beautiful roses. If you think you can get 'em, let's take some more cuttings and try to make them grow-I've got a coldframe now, so it might work better. Oh-and I always thought it was ME that killed the first round of your rose cuttings-but I'm always getting us mixed up......

intelligence said...
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Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.