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Home » » A Conversation About: what a year for roses!

A Conversation About: what a year for roses!

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

By Jean Thomas

I am by no means a successful rosarian. I am host to a reluctant gang of individualists. Once in a while I can nurse a special named variety along for a couple of years before it commits herbicide. I still mourn the yellow-flowering, licorice-scented “Julia Child” rose that hung in gamely for three years before failing to survive one winter. What remains is a rocky area I donated to the wild roses some people call “Dog Roses.” I love these little guys. They’re pink, with five petals, not those white clustery bandits you see colonizing pastures. They’re gentle, too. The thorns are politely sharp, and the rose hips are pretty in the fall. They want to spread, but are easily managed. They don’t make orderly shrubs, but sort of sprawl and drape themselves over things. Mine live between some big lichen covered rocks. And this year they are glorious.

I also have a white multiflora (domesticated) rose. It’s about eight feet tall and persists no matter what happens. It’s crowded with clusters of small white blooms that show a blush of pink as buds and again when they start to drop their petals. These have sharper thorns, but they’re so outstanding on their trellis that I brave the pain to tie them up and trim them when they get untidy. This rose has a name, and I hope to find the tag one day. I don’t think I’d dare try to duplicate the success, but I’d like to be on more of a first name basis.

I have another rose, this one pink, that survived the year when I tried several so-called “antique” roses. These have histories going back to the renaissance, and elaborate names of (usually) French nobility. Most of them crapped out in my lowbrow garden, but this pink one hung in grimly. I decided to give it some tough love and moved it from the formal bed to what I call the “tulies.” This is plant purgatory. Still tended, but with a more relaxed attitude.  Well, this rose has found its niche. It now thrives among runaway asparagus and guerilla spirea. It sends up pretty vertical stems that look furry, and the leaves have the same texture. It spreads itself into any spare space it thinks viable, and even has to be pushed back occasionally. Individual blooms look like scoops of cherry ice cream, and I call her “Madame,” until I find her name tag. She looks like she’s ready to decorate a prom all by herself.

The last, and once least, is my teenager rose. About fifteen years old, this started life as a supermarket miniature rose bought on impulse and planted in the “tulies” on the edge of a drainage ditch. It cheerfully came back for a dozen years, peeking out from the perimeter of the garden. A few years ago I decided to reward such a persistent attitude and moved it across the ditch to the former asparagus bed. The new inhabitants of the bed were miscellaneous bulbs and perennials. Are you familiar with the play “Little Shop of Horrors?” Well, I now call this plant Audrey and weed very carefully around her.  This miniature rose has chosen to relinquish its status as a miniature and is now over six feet tall, the foliage barely visible under the masses of bloom. What a year! If you want to learn more about roses from someone who actually knows, follow this link to a Master Gardener interview:                                

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