So So Ho Hum Roses

I don’t really know why I would post about my roses at home right now.  Except that I seem to be wanting to whine about them.  Humor me, please.  There is nothing to talk about, really.  That April frost that wiped out 12 trees worth of magnolia buds went on to wreak havoc on the rose buds that were already coming on in March.  The bloom is sporadic, undersized, unremarkable, and unthinkably unsatisfying.

Many buds were frosted off.  Right now, the smaller than usual Earthsong roses are blooming.  OK, they are trying to bloom.  The flowers are puny, and damaged-streaked with rot.  They came on fast, then got frozen, then came on again when we had that spell over 80 degrees.  They must be exhausted from that roller coaster ride, and they so look it.

dwarf climbing roses

The Jeannie le Joie climbing roses are always early, but this year-extra early.  They were in full bloom that May day it was 96 degrees.  They instantly started to fade.  How is it a gardener can wait for an entire year for the coming of the roses, and watch them roast the moment they open?  Few things in life are fair.  Fewer things in the garden are fair.     

The Sally Holmes are just beginning to bloom.  Just so so, like all of the rest of the roses.  They look belabored.  Out of breath. Stressed.  Dry.  Small-you get the picture.  Every night Buck and I go up there to see the roses.  There is not so much of a party going on there.   I have to avert my eyes.  Yes, my disappointment is acute.  

The asparagus made a strong show early on.  The roses are so thick now, I cannot get in there to cut them anymore.  The fronds are already 6 feet tall. Thank heavens something is doing well here.    

Almost every rose has blackspot-lovely. I am not so often sarcastic in print, so I want to be clear.  Blackspot on roses in May-anything but lovely. This state of affairs is truly unfair.  I really hate coming home to rose leaves dropping from blackspot. What else is there to do, but pick them up, dispose of them, and hope for a better future?   I will say that the boxwood in this side garden is gorgeous-no problem there with early heat and late frost.  Those plants that don’t get ruffled much by trouble-I like them.  I very much like those plants that persevere, stay the course, and endure.     

Will I get a second flush of blooms, as the first flush was so puny?  One can only hope.  Having never experienced a winter and early spring like I have just had, I am at a loss to predict what will happen next.  I do not think any person lives long enough to experience an entire weather cycle.  My roses in their present state-a new experience.  One experience you can count on-whatever trouble is in the air, the roses will catch it.   

 I am imagining that all of my trees and plants that were laid low from the radically atypical late winter and early spring weather will roar back over the course of the summer.  True or not, the idea comforts me.  How are your roses?




  1. I am afraid that mine are very much like yours. I completely lost the first flush. Mine were full of buds in April when we dipped to 30 degrees. At first I thought they had made it through the cold pretty well, but every bud that opened was darkened to the center. It was so disappointing because it is this first flush that I get to really enjoy my roses. Early summer brings the Japanese beetles to contend with and I seldom see a bloom that has not been damaged by them. So I am hoping for some beautiful blooms come late August and early September.

    Sue Ellen

  2. erin strain says

    hi – i found your blog via google search.
    how did you train your climbing rose to grow horizontally over your window? mine is in its 3rd season and has gotten all the way to the top of the trellis. i would like for it to now go horizontally, over my gable. my house is brick. any advice would be appreciated.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Erin, I order plastic rose support discs from AM Leonard in Piqua Ohio. You epoxy them to the brick. The disc has a closed hook on it-so you can feed tie through it. I do not use the paper covered metal ties that come in the package. I use a dark brown stretch tie-also from AM Leonard-or any stretchy tie would work. It works great for me, thanks, Deborah

  3. What do you think about the Knockout series?
    I have 6 of the original Knockouts (‘Radrazz’) and continue to be impressed by how well they perform. I have several that are in a somewhat shady location, and even they do well. The foliage stays green and attractive all season. I live in NE Indiana, and I usually see the first flush of blooms just before Memorial Day (although was earlier this year). The first flush is always so intense that there’s a period of 3-4 weeks afterward that the blooming is greatly diminished, but once they come back, they bloom continuously through frost. Even with the weird spring weather this year, they performed flawlessly.
    Even though it isn’t necessary, I like to deadhead mine because I think they look better. Deadheading doesn’t seem to affect blooming one way or another.
    My only ‘complaint’ about the Knockouts is that they’ve gotten so popular one now sees them everywhere, so they don’t have the uniqueness of 5-7 years ago.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Alan, the knockout series of roses is noted for its great performance. That said, I like the charm and the challenge of growing old and shrub roses. They are much more about romance than performance. But what rose I chose to use has everything to do with the site, the gardener, and the intended effect. I have several gardens with mass plantings of knockouts. They can be stunning.

  4. I guess ignorance is bliss because your roses look beautiful to me. Anyway, better luck next time.

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