Thinking of Summer Roses
Roses are one of my favorite, easy to grow garden plants. Eeerrrr… I ment to say they are easy once I learned the rules of roses in MY garden……
When I first decided to grow roses many many years ago. I went to the store and picked out something pretty. I was either luck and it grew well or died. And this is the way it worked, until one day I visited a friend who had the biggest, tallest rose bush I had ever seen around here. She told me it was a rugosa, a Hansa to be exact. This got me to asking her questions about my roses and I have learned a lot from her.
Around here winter is hard on roses, it’s a fact and there is no getting around it unless you want to put alot of work into protecting them over the winter, along with this is also pampering them all summer too, black spot, mold and who knows what else. Some are just plain wimpy and not for growing in our climate. Me I don’t have the time or desire to baby them.
My care is basic:
In the spring I pull back the winter protection, gently dig in the manure and add new mulch, keep them watered. When they leaf out I cut back the dead canes.
In the fall I simply mound the mulch up around the canes as high as I can and cover them with fresh horse manure and top off with leaves, when the snow hits I shovel snow on top of them to cover them even more. When the first frost hits I will stop cutting the Flowers so I won’t encourage them to produce more.
In the Summer I keep them watered deeply about once a week, try to keep the Japanese Beetles off them by picking them off the plants early morning and evening. I apply compost and mulch a couple of time during the growing season and once or twice a good drink of alfalfa tea. (This year I will have worm tea for them) I never have any problems with weeds. I might also dig in a banana peel or two, or maybe some fish heads if I think of it. I will also give them a sprinkle of Epsom salt once or twice. Not all at one time but when ever I think of it, this is low maintenance gardening, I’m not to fussy. and keep them dead headed.
There are different meanings to the words winter hardy around here:
First is cane hardy-this means there will be little to no cane die back. Rugosas fit into this type.
Then there is winter hardy but these die back to the ground and regrow all new each year. They will never reach their full heights or fullness around here. Flouribundas fit into this type.
There is also something in between with some die back, my Buck roses fit in here. Last are the rest that are wimps and don’t grow well here. These are the teas and hybrids.
My thinking and selecting of roses years ago I have found this to be backwards thinking. Now I choose a rose only when it meets the requirement in the following order.
- What is my purpose for it- do I want something tall or do I want a climber, or something small? Knowing this will help me choose either a winter hardy or cane hardy variety.
- It must bounce back from winter without my pampering it much.
- It must fit into the physical space I have in mind for it both height and width without me monitoring it. Is it going to be a bush, shrub, climber or ground cover?
- next I choose the color- what will be growing with it, do I want contrast or complementing color.
- choose if it is a repeat bloomer or not-again I consider the location. Tucked into the border I like repeat bloomers, out on display maybe a once bloomer to give large impact while the border is in transition? Or maybe for a flash of color away from the house, but I don’t want to always be cutting the dead flowers off.
- choose if it is to be a single, double or triple-again where is it going.
I am smitten over rugosa roses. I have a Nearly Wild, a Rosa gallica officinallis (Apothecary Rose) and an unknown simply bought as “Rugosa” from our farm extension (around here they call it a sea rose), and an unknown once blooming a friend gave me.
The Nearly Wild and Apothecary does bloom on and off all summer for me and have the prettiest hips. The other two are once blooming and put on a lovely show for about a week or until the first rain and they ball up and that’s the end of them. These I just simply clean up the fallen leaves, mound the mulch up a bit, give them a wink and say see you in the spring.
A new one I am trying is Theresa Bugnet (boo-NEY). This one grows into large bushes and is a repeat bloomer. I have over wintered it in the house along with her sister Marie Bugnet. Sadly Marie didn’t make the winter, that intrepid Avery the cat ate the leaves off it one to many times…I’ll order another this year.
Rugosa roses are very winter hardy with little or no cane die back each year, this makes for some of the tallest roses in the garden, when a tall variety is choosen. They will bloom earlier because of the very little if any cutting of the canes. These typically are thorny little buggers with your choice of single, double and a few triple blooms available mostly in white and many shades of pinks from deep to very light and almost purple.
I also LOVE the old garden roses known as the Flourabundas. A few I have are David Austin roses, Heritage, Golden Celebration, & Teasing Georgia. These fall into the category that they are winter hardy but have extensive cane die back and must grow from the ground up every year so they will never be a large full rose here.
I have a cute little Iceburg that dies back each winter to the ground and will reach about 2′. This one is grown along side taller bleeding hearts and hosta so the small size is OK.
And of course my favorites the Buck’s Distant Drums. The color is unbelievable from first bud when it’s a dark burgundy to when it first opens with a rusty, pink color to the last day when if fades to a nearly white light pink. These will die back quite hard without lots of winter protection.
I’m not sure what this year’s rose orders will bring but here is a nice site to look over. Of course some of these roses are available in the US but I have always had luck with this company.
Although a few months away I am thinking about them already and looking forward to making jelly from some of them.
Roses don’t have to be complicated but can get that way if you let them. I don’t have shelves full of fertilizers, powders and potions to grow these roses, they make due without complaint what I give them and reward my work with beauty all summer long. As my rose gardening friend once told me, “Roses are nice to look at when you pass by on your way to doing something else, don’t spend much time on them, they are bash-full and will take notice and pout.”