Our unusually cold spring is over, and an unusually cold (so far) summer has begun. My roses are just hitting their stride, with the first flush of blooms opening. June is the customary month for first blooms, with the exception of my precocious Frau Dagmar Hastrup who often pops a bud or two in late May.
I love roses, they are one of my favourite plants, but I have to be choosy about the roses I grow, because our climate is conducive to fungal diseases like black spot, rust and powdery mildew. I’m much too busy (lazy) to spray, even with low toxicity sprays like Safer’s Defender, baking soda, neem oil, or seaweed fertilizers, and not so good at removing diseased leaves promptly either.
My strategy is to try to plant disease resistant varieties, keep them well fertilized, and take my glasses off when it gets ugly!
My Frau Dagmar Hastrup is a rugosa type rose, and seems immune to disease, so I forgive her abundant thorns. After a summer of large, fragrant, soft pink, single blooms she carries abundant large red hips through autumn, and her leaves turn bright gold before dropping.
Another favourite is Livin’ Easy, a glowing orange which is very resistant to blackspot, and whose flowers are so bright against the dark green shiny leaves that they cheer me up.
New Zealand is an exquisite soft pink with huge flowers of exceptional form and a fragrance to die for! Her foliage is lush and glossy.
Another super fragrant rose I have is the venerable Portland rose –De Rescht. This compact beauty produces masses of very full, bright fuchsia pink blooms which nestle closely to the matte, grey-green foliage.
Last year I brought Julia Child into my garden (the rose, of course) and fell in love with her masses of golden-yellow blooms on a sturdy, clean, shiny-leaved plant. I’m afraid that this year she is carrying rather a lot of black spot; I hope that this isn’t a trend – she is supposed to be quite disease resistant…
I have a climbing Westerland rose on my pergola – so far it hasn’t climbed very far, despite regular lashings of epsom salts, which provides the magnesium supposedly needed to produce long canes. The glowing orange blend flowers have a wonderful citrusy scent.
There is one rose standard in my garden, a top-grafted Yellow Flower Carpet that I scooped at the end of the season from a local box store for a measly $10. It’s covered in black spot but I just take off my glasses and it’s beautiful!
I have a few mini roses, the best ones are:
- Debut – a stunning red and white bicolour that is always in bloom.
- An unnamed dark red mini that my husband gave me for Valentines Day a couple of years ago, which has surprised me with it’s toughness. Usually the roses bought from florists or supermarkets lack the hardiness to survive the winter outside in our climate, but this one has, maybe because it was given with love!
- Fairy Moss – a baby pink moss rose with a lovely fragrance, and lovely, fuzzy, mossy flower buds.
This year I have a new rose that was given to me by my boss at the garden centre. It’s one of a group of new roses provided by our rose supplier (Weeks) for us to trial in our gardens (one of the perks of my job). We received four roses this year, and all were tagged but one – it must have gotten lost in shipping. So when Shauna asked me to choose which one I would like, I took a chance on the untagged plant!
It looked healthy, and none of the other colours really appealed to me, so I took the no-name home and planted it in my garden. It grew into a lovely, healthy looking plant and began to set flower buds a few weeks ago.
Around this time Shauna mentioned to me that she thought she had figured out who my rose was – based on the new roses that Weeks will release next year, she thought my rose was a variety called Ketchup and Mustard.
Well, that made us both laugh, because everyone I work with knows that I dislike planting red and yellow together! I find the combination of bright red and bright yellow jarring and garish, ugh!
That evening I went home and researched the variety, and tried to convince myself that it wasn’t nasty. Surely that was a soft yellow that wouldn’t scream against the red. I decided that I would keep an open mind – maybe I wouldn’t hate it!
A couple of days ago the first blossom opened – and it’s PURPLE!!! A lovely deep purple with a white reverse, white in the centre, and fragrant to boot! I was so excited I emailed Shauna right away, and then set out to figure out who my lovely rose is.
A few minutes later I had my answer – it must be a new variety called Stormy Weather. The only surprise was that it’s a climber, so I’ll need to relocate the plant, but I think I know where to put it. As a bonus – it’s described as very disease resistant, I hope that’s true. So far it’s as clean as a whistle, but then, I haven’t been abusing it very long, we’ll see what happens next year…