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?



Lush Life


I know that Lush Life is a fabulous shop in Atlanta, Georgia-but it also describes my garden post the second rainiest spring on record since 1880.  Over 14 inches-that is an embarrassment of riches in rain. I can see the effect of that rain every place I look. The Princeton Gold maples have leaves the size of dessert plates; their chartreuse green spring color is all the more intense for all of the rain. 

The European ginger leaves are huge.  It has to be the most beautiful groundcover for shade ever. The glossy rounded leaves grow parallel to the ground plane.  Circle after circle of dark green shiny leaves growing densely just a few inches above the ground.  It is completely happy underneath my steel bench, even though the light must be very low.  I planted a pair of clematis at the rear right side of the bench early this spring.  The very pale lavender and white cultivar-I have forgotten the name.  But I will not soon forget the flower.  The dark purple “The President” will bloom later.  Should someone ask me what romance in the garden means, I would show them this picture.

The new growth on the boxwood is bent over with its lavish spring flush-it will be impossible to trim for at least 2 weeks.  My pollarded Palabin lilacs have roared back with lots of foliage, and a decent bloom.  They should be spectacular next year.  The snakeroots are already over 3 feet tall.  

My rhododendron are in their glory.  They came with the house 15 years ago-they have never looked this good.  The giant flowering trusses are spectacular.  I pruned them considerably last spring after they flowered.  I am pleased to report I have at least 2 breaks every place I pruned.  Night temperatures in the low 50’s, and daytime temps in the low seventies will extend the bloom time considerably. My magnolias and dogwoods flowers blew away with two days of 90 degree days and high winds.  I am hoping for a good many days with my rhodies. My yews are flushing so fast and so much they are chartreuse green to my eye.  This is a different look than the one to which I am accustomed.  That new growth phase on evergreens is so beautiful.  This spring greening is lush beyond all belief.

May I talk a little about my roses?  I do not have a big collection, just a concentrated collection.  Carefree Beauty, Carefree Wonder, Sally Holmes, Jeannie LeJoie, and Eden-these are my girls.  Two Carefree Griffith Buck shrub roses, one old English bred shrub rose/climber Sally Holmes, and two climbers.  The dwarf Jeannie LeJoie is a great foil for that heavy headed very girly climbing rose-Eden.  They are so loaded with buds right now I think I should be planning a party.

The foliage is lustrous and unmarked by fungus or bugs.  There is not an aphid in sight.  Every day after work Buck and I go up there to check on the progress.  The dwarf Jeannie LeJoie is always the first to show color.  I so highly recommend this rose, if you are partial to roses, but not necessarily a rosarian.  These climbers grow vigorously, and reward with thousands of little pink double flowers.

My Jeannies can be devastated by aphids and fungus, but never enough to challenge the life of the plants.  Truth be told, I never spray anything, except rabbit repellant.  The rabbits exasperate me-I am happy to shoo them off. Otherwise, I live with the holes in the leaves.  Fungus however can be debilitating to a collection of roses-I will intervene, should I think I need to.

But this moment all that is on my mind is the giant leg up all of the rain have bequeathed to my roses.  Every one of them is 5 feet tall or better.  Pam gave them a thorough and thoughtful pruning this spring.  Thousands of buds-this is what the rain provided. 

 This is the first flower from my climbing rose Eden.  They have so many petals their heads hang from the branches.  This bloom got set on the dinner table flating in a glass of water. I read the garden blog written by Paul Gervais regularly; his post on his roses, including the so fabulous Eden, is delightful.

Other plants have not so loved all of the rain.  The herniaria around the fountain looks pale green.  I have dead patches.  Too much rain.  At the shop, we moved all of the succulents into the greenhouse; I was fearful of rot. The alyssum has suffered much.  Many flats we simply threw away.   Too much rain ruined many of them; the high winds further burned them.  The high winds damaged a lot of plants.  The calla lilies have wind whipped leaves.  Some topiary plants were blown over multiple times; we were treating a good many broken arms a few days ago.   Cases of heliotrope were dessicated by the winds-those irreparably burned plants we threw in the trash.  The nicotiana are listing in a windward way in their pots.  I am not posting any pictures of that mess.

Every season has its lingering triumphs, and its shockingly stinging disappointments. Does this not sound similar your gardening life?  My professional gardening life is incredibly busy right now. I have barely posted this week; most all of my waking hours are about designing, getting plants delivered, and being out there, planting.  The saving grace of the rain?  When I go home, I see a garden growing vigorously-even though I am not there so much to help out.