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?



Roses Representing Better

stage6June 15th my roses are usually in full flush-anyone who loves and grows roses waits all year for this moment .  These haughty queens of the garden do deliver.  The smell is divine, the colors breathtaking-and their shapes are gorgeous.  Carefree Beauty, looking good.

stage2Sally Holmes, as graceful and lovely as any rose could be.  It looks English bred, does it not?

stage3Jeanne LeJoie, the miniature climber, is covered with a thousand pink extra double buttons-from top to bottom.  How it thrives is part of its charm.

stage4The big flowered Eden, with a classic double rose shape, is irresistable. 

stage5These roses all seem to live together companionably-in form and color.  I like the idea of companionable.  My garden is too small for this standoffish plant and that sulky one.  Today the only thing on my mind are the roses.

Roses Representing

roserep1My little collection of roses is starting to “represent”, as my Texas friend would say.  I only grow a few.  The dwarf climber Jeanne LaJoie is perfectly hardy and willing  for me; it does not mind at all being planted with the electric meter.  Mini-Jeanne  is paired with a voluptuous large flowered climber named Eden-the flower is so beautiful, and the plant is  so-so for me, although the foliage seems healthy.  This large flowered climber, also known as Pierre de Ronsard, and bred by Meilland in 1987, hasn’t flowered yet-but it is showy.


I grow the shrub rose “Carefree Beauty”  for good, and sentimental reasons.  Griffith Buck bred very hardy, very sturdy shrub roses-this is one of my favorites.  I alternate this with his rose “Earthsong”.  Some say its better than “Carefree Beauty-I can’t tell. But if your interest is in a low maintenance rose, these qualify.  The tall ,English bred shrub rose “Sally Holmes” has gorgeous peach buds, and large single white flowers; I have been growing it for years. One year it died back almost entirely to the ground, but came back.


I am not a rosarian by any means.  I am not really crazy about rose gardens either. But I do like roses in a mixed border. Roses are such prima donnas-they sulk if there’s anything growing at their feet.  So I try to keep my white Japanese anemones, and boltonia out of their hair.  I wouldn’t want to do without a few roses.