Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose ... NOT!

The Jackson & Perkins catalog came the other day. Time to drool over the luscious roses they have to offer. I'm reminded of the ones that I saw in there last year that I wanted and didn't buy, and I see new ones that I'll add to my want list this year. I don't have that many roses, but the better I get at this gardening thing, the more I want.

Roses can be intimidating, but with the new disease-resistant hybrids being introduced all the time, everyone should have two or three of them in their gardens. My rose 'collection' started with three small roses that I bought from an online nursery about four years ago. They were mere sticks when they arrived here and I had doubts they would live, let alone grow and produce flowers, but they did. They still aren't large bushes, but they improve a little each year.

'Pompeii' has small-sized blooms for me, but they're elegant and fragrant. 'Sutter's Gold' is a yellow with peachy edges and no two blooms are colored exactly alike. Some are more yellow and some are more peachy. One thing I know is the Japanese Beetles love this one best of all, and for a couple of weeks last summer, I walked away from it every day with two or three of those things in my hand. I read that you don't want to crush them in your garden, because they emit an odor that attracts more, so I always took them inside and put them down the garbage disposal. I wasn't bothered by this pest as much as other gardeners, from what I was hearing, but one is one too many. They just chewed their way through young buds right to the center, effectively ruining the blooms. And they definitely preferred 'Sutter's Gold'.

'Senior Prom' has always performed fairly well for me, and I was amazed when I saw my first bloom from it. When Jenna was a senior in high school, she wore a hot pink dress to prom that year, and this rose is exactly the same color as her dress.

Many years ago, we planted a climber, 'Blaze', which spread over our chain link fence that we had around our in-ground swimming pool. Then we removed the fence, and the rose had to go with it. It had been there long enough that it was quite a chore to get it all out and we had to take an ax and chop the woody roots away. I wasn't too sad to see it go, because it wasn't presenting us with that many blooms anymore and I didn't care enough about it to figure out why.

Then the next spring, I noticed little shoots of roses coming up in between the stones where 'Blaze' used to be. I thought we took that thing out! Apparently, it wasn't giving up that easily. We continued to hack at the upstarts for a couple of years, and then in the fall of 2005, when we dug up a large portion of the back of our property for more gardens, we decided to stop trying to put the 'fire' out. We dug deep down and transplanted six healthy starts to the south side of the new garden, by the split rail fence. We were shocked at how large the roots were on some of them. One had a chunk of root that measured over two inches in diameter.

We planted those starts in October, and we hoped and prayed they would settle in and return for us in the spring. And they did. Then the rabbits promptly chewed them off all the way to the ground. At least we thought it was the rabbits. We noticed deer tracks one morning and then our daughter Kara saw three deer in the front yard a short time after that. Time to do battle!

I had gotten some PlantSkydd at Meijer for 75% off, so I mixed it up and sprayed it on the split rail fencing that was on two sides of the garden. It's supposed to last up to six months without reapplying, which is a good thing, because it's messy and it stinks. We didn't have any problems with rabbits or deer after that, so I guess it worked. Anyway, the roses came back and had healthy growth all summer, but no blooms. Maybe this summer.

My other roses are 'Memorial Day', 'About Face', 'Chihuly', 'Hot Cocoa' and 'Diana, Princess of Wales'. I love them all, but my favorite is probably 'Hot Cocoa'. It is the most unusual shade of red and I got lots of gorgeous blooms from it last summer. It's lightly fragrant, too.

'Diana, Princess of Wales' takes the prize as the most fragrant of all my roses. One bloom in a vase can perfume a large room. It doesn't seem to be a real strong grower though, and I had problems with the stems being weak, and sometimes I had to stake them. Still, it's probably my second favorite, due to the beauty of its blooms and its strong fragrance. Jackson & Perkins donates 10% of their sales of this rose to Princess Diana's Memorial Fund which helps disadvantaged people in poor and war-torn countries around the world.

'Memorial Day' is a good bloomer that resides in my Japanese garden, east of the pool. It was a bonus rose I received when I bought 'About Face'. Even though it was planted late in the season, it adapted quickly and I enjoyed lots of nearly perfect blooms last summer. It's a fairly fragrant rose and as you can see, it even caught Boo's attention. Its color is a soft pink that has just a suggestion of lilac.

'About Face' got an auspicious start. It looked pretty ragged when it arrived in the mail, but I soaked it well and planted it in. I was sure it was a goner. About a month later, it started putting out a small amount of new growth. I got a couple of tiny blooms from it before fall, but I'll be surprised if it makes it through the winter. I planted it like I did all my roses, with the crown 3-4 inches below soil level so they are well insulated for our Zone 5 winter and I piled mulch high around them all as well. I notified Park's about the shaky start 'About Face' had, and they promptly gave me a refund since they sold out of it and couldn't send a replacement. I'll be anxious to see what it does in the spring.

The most gaudy of my roses is 'Chihuly'. It's named for Dale Chihuly, the famous glass artist. If you've never seen any of his works in person, you need to. Mom and I went to Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, in 2004 to see his exhibit, Chihuly at the Conservatory. The 'Chihuly' rose, with its stained glass brilliance and variation in color from bloom to bloom, is aptly named for this innovative artist. Like his unusual glass works, each one surprises and delights you.

I've got several miniature roses, which have done very well for me and are basically no-care. They're always loaded with blooms. I have no idea which ones they are; I just know they're pretty. The red and yellow ones I bought from the Van Wert Master Gardeners, and I have twelve of them. The oldest one in the garden, I got in 2002. It's pink and was a table decoration at our 25th class reunion of my dental hygiene class at IPFW in Fort Wayne, IN.

I've made my list of those that are now screaming, "Buy me!" but I'll choose just two or three to actually purchase.


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