Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Everything Is Coming Up Roses

In previous posts I've included photographs of my entire property. For this installment, however, I thought I'd focus on the front garden, which has been awash in roses for the past few weeks. I have more than twenty different varieties of roses planted on my property and this time of year their impact is undeniable. Many people shy away from planting roses because they have a reputation for being difficult. I admit that my foray into growing tea roses has produced less than stellar results. Still, perhaps more than any other shrub, I rely on my roses for color and fragrance throughout the growing season. I consider varieties like "The Fairy", "Betty Prior" and " the David Austin Series of shrub roses" to be indispensable landscape plants.

In addition I highly recommend the "Knock Out" and "Flower Carpet" series of roses, which are tough nearly indestructible landscape plants. I've also had great luck with the new "Drift" roses which are suitable for smaller gardens. Granted these varieties may lack the charm and fragrance of their fussier counterparts. It's also possible that their recent appearance in strip mall parking lots may eventually consign them to the same category as stella d'oro daylilies. Nevertheless, if one is searching for a low maintenance plant that will provide months of color, they simply can't be bettered. I rely heavily on these varieties in my design work and clients are invariably happy with the results.


This spring as an experiment, I decided not to fertilize any of my roses and the lack of additional nutrients hasn't impacted their flowering. Perhaps my soil is already rich enough.


I would be remiss if I didn't mention that even the easiest roses benefit from a good pruning in the spring and dead-heading throughout the summer. Dead-heading encourages repeat bloom and keeps the shrubs looking fresh and healthy. With a few exceptions I make a habit of removing all of the spent flowers in my garden and find it a relaxing pastime. Last week a local cable television show shot an episode on my garden and this week I will shoot another on the correct way to dead-head roses and peonies. I'll keep you posted on show times in case you'd like to tune in.


Unfortunately, not everything in my garden is coming up roses. While driving about last year, I noticed that one of my favorite spring blooming shrubs, Kerria Japonica, was looking surprisingly ratty. Smugly I attributed the condition to poor horticultural practices on the part of the home owner. This year, however, the two plants in my garden have succumbed to the same condition. After a bit of research I discovered the cause,which turns out to be a mold, Blumeriella Kerriae. The mold produces brown spots on the leaves, which soon wither and fall. If untreated, eventually, the entire plant may die. I'm still waiting for my arborist to spray my bushes with a fungicide, but the rain has made his work difficult. And of course, the snail onslaught continues unabated, despite the hours I spend collecting and crushing them underfoot.


Still, I try to take pleasure in the garden's successes, like the vase of sweet peas and Eden roses pictured above.