Books, poems, and royal gardens have been dedicated to them.
Artists depict them, perfumers adore them, lovers embrace them. Roses! The memory of their fragrance
can begin with the new mothers bouquet, the sweet sixteens corsage, the brides bouquet, through the
"please-don't-be-mad" offering, the I love you gift, the get-well vase, and, finally, on to the funeral bier.
They are a bouquet for all the senses: smelling sweet as roses, feeling soft as rose petals, we can eat them,
we hear them abuzz with honey bees, the list can go on. It is probably the most beloved flower. And they can
adorn our gardens with the same sumptuous colors and rich fragrances, even used in the most utilitarian of ways.
In my own gardens, I have specific demands and uses for roses. The first general rule (which I break in
one very special case) is that a rose must have fragrance. I am generally not interested in scentless roses when
so many delightfully aromatic cultivars are available. I like healthy foliage and growth, and prefer a bushy shape.
This is because I grow a garden; the purposes of cut flowers are different, and long leggy rosebushes are fabulous
for cutting gardens! If I like the rose enough the plant shape is taken in stride.
Hardiness is a quality I learned to appreciate the difficult way: losing all ones plantings in a brutal, snowless winter gives new meaning to the word "hardy".
General Rose information:
Roses are divided into categories depending on type of flower and plant,
origin, and colors. It can prove confusing, so I prefer to work with categories in the context of use in the
garden. The climbing roses can be modern hybrids or species or old fashioned cultivars, but we know that
they are what we want on a fence or an arbor; a shrub that holds its own in the border is preferable to a
long, tall plant constantly swamped by its neighbors. So,as in other plants, think first of the situation, then
look for the rose to fill it. Find out your planting zone, and check the hardiness, then look for the height/width
of the plant, each rose variety is going to have its own attributes, so any comments on the one you have an eye on is helpful.
Roses generally need full sun, a few tolerate less.
They usually like a fertile, rich soil- with debates on whether clay is better, etc.,
but soil that is enriched with humus will reward with blooms. When watering, do
not splash the foliage, especially midday, as that encourages disease. It is helpful
to "deadhead" the flowers and lightly prune throughout the season, always cutting
back weak, dead growth, and pruning between flushes of bloom. That is similar to
the care you give other plants. A mulch is another amenity, keeping down weeds
and conserving moisture.
For the past few years, which have been mild, I have experimented with a Canadian technique
which is described below. It essentially is growing roses on their own roots at a deeper
measure to insure against frost damage. So far,so good; but it really hasn't been fully
planting is as follows:
*bare root plants are planted in a hole deep enough to cover
the bud union with six inches of soil to meet the surface of the
*potted plants , after dormancy has broken, require a sort of
pit which is filled in at the end of the growing season
(otherwise, uhoh, smothered plants).