|My Abraham Darby shrub rose and my little dog, Tobey.|
Do you love roses?
For those of you who have been following me for any length of time, you know that my love affair with roses is something that I like to share with others. For that reason, on a lovely day in May, I made a visit to the Old West town, Tombstone, Arizona.
After I finish with my photos, I stroll back into the museum where I notice row of small rose bushes.
Spring in the desert is the most beautiful time of year with the majority of plants in the landscape bursting out with flowers. It’s also a very busy time for me with landscape consultations, speaking engagements, work in the garden, and family life. I love to document the happenings in my life by taking photographs with my phone, and I’d like to share a sampling with you. It’s a fun combination that includes colorful plants, spiky pots, snakes, roses and the prom!
No matter how busy I may be, the sight of a beautiful plant stops me in my tracks. It doesn’t matter how rushed I may be; I will always stop and take a photo. That’s what happened when I spotted this row of ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvines on our way into church. Even though we were running a few minutes late (as usual) I had to pause to admire the beauty of the lovely blooms and take a photo.
‘Tangerine Beauty’ does very well in the low desert garden. It has lush green foliage and orange/pink flowers that hummingbirds love. It needs a trellis or other support to climb up on and does well in full sun to filtered sun, but avoid planting along a west-facing wall as it may struggle in reflected sun.
As I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of speaking on a variety of gardening topics at the Desert Botanical Garden, public libraries, and also to garden groups. Upon my arrival to give a presentation at the Paradise Valley Country Club, I was greeted by this beautiful bed filled geraniums, foxglove, and yellow daisies. The spiky shape of agave adds welcome texture contrast in this area.
Across the way, I spotted this dramatic example of spiky succulents growing in pots. Agave are excellent container plants, and their spiky shapes look fabulous along this wall. The plantings underneath the wall are well chosen as they do well in areas with full sun and reflected heat.
Here is a very different entry to another presentation I was to give at the Cave Creek Branch of the Phoenix Public Library. Two identical caution signs flank the raised metal bridge, which makes you look carefully before approaching. I know that libraries work hard to get kids to read, but these signs just might scare them off 😉
Back home, the rose garden is in full bloom with my favorite ‘Olivia Rose’ completely covered in fragrant, delicate pink color. She flowers more than every other rose in the garden and for the longest, ensuring her favored status.
The best performing red rose in the garden is ‘Darcey Bussell,’ and she never disappoints as I view her vibrant blooms from my kitchen window.
This rose is a relative newcomer to my rose garden. ‘Lady of Shalott’ was planted in the winter of 2018 and didn’t produce many blooms in her first year, which is typical of most new roses. However, this year, she is covered with roses in delicate shades of pink and peach.
On the home front, spring means that it’s time for the prom. I can hardly believe that my son is old enough – it seemed like it was just yesterday when I came home with a darling little two-year-old boy from China.
Kai’s favorite color is red, can you tell? It takes confidence to wear a bright color like this, and he does it so well. He is the youngest of four sisters, so this was my first time helping a boy get ready for a school dance. Honestly, it is a lot simpler – all he needed was help with his tie and his boutonniere.
I love spring and all the busyness that comes with it. How about you?
The past couple of months has been a period of busyness, a new look, and opportunities for me.
Normally in December, work in the garden slows down, which means that I have fewer landscape consultations. I welcome this time of year as it allows me to focus on Christmas and a welcome break from work. However, this time it was a very busy time for me as I have been working on two big projects.
One is the free webinar that I gave earlier this week. It was the first live webinar that I’ve presented and although I was a little nervous, I loved it!
The second project is one that is near and dear to my heart, and you can read about it HERE.
You may have noticed that things look a little different. I decided that it was time to freshen up the appearance of my website and I’m pleased with the results. I did this with the goal of making it easier for you to navigate and find the information that you need.
During the periods of busy work, I did take time to slow down and enjoy some new opportunities. One was adding a playhouse to my garden.
Although I think it would be a great mini-garden shed, I think it works best as a playhouse for the grandkids, don’t you think?
For Christmas, we added a badminton net to the backyard. The kids got into it right away and had so much fun. Now, my husband and I go out to play three times a week or more, for about a 1/2 hour. It’s a fun workout, and the weather is beautiful!
Back indoors, I have been using my extra free time having fun in the kitchen with my new Instant Pot. My family is huge fans of what I’ve made so far which include Bolognese sauce, porcupine meatballs, and roast chicken. Do you have Instant Pot recipes that you recommend?
We are pizza lovers, and my newest recipe is based on the Pioneer Woman’s Stuffed Crust Pizza. I made some changes by leaving out the string cheese, adding sausage and shredded Mozzarella on the top. It is so good and easy to make!
The day after Christmas is my birthday and my dear husband, who is no great baker, does know how to order my favorite Freddy’s Ice Cream Cake with Heath Bar added – YUM!
Finally, I can’t wait to get back out into the garden this week. It’s time to prune back my roses. I find this task gratifying as I get to decide which canes to keep and which ones to cut back. Although it is hard to cut them back when they are in bloom, I keep thinking of how beautiful they will be in spring, in large part, due to my pruning.
What are your plans for this new year?
Yesterday, the world lost a man who made a huge contribution to rose lovers all over the world. Called the ‘Godfather of English roses’ David Austin’s mission was to create a better rose that was more robust, had fewer disease and pest problems, but most of all, beautiful and incredibly fragrant.
For a man that I’ve never met, David Austin has a big impact on my love for gardening. Roses were the first plant that I fell in love with and inspired me to become a horticulturist. At one point, I had forty hybrid tea roses growing in my Phoenix garden. While they were beautiful, they took a lot of work to keep them that way. Pests and fungal disease were things that I had to deal with and though my roses were very pretty, not all were fragrant.
I planted my first David Austin roses in 1993 and soon became convinced that this was truly a better breed of roses. I never had to worry about aphids, blackspot or powdery mildew, all of which, are common problems with growing roses. The unique beauty of the roses comes from David Austin using old-fashioned roses for their sturdiness and disease resistance with more fragrant roses that bloom often. The result are roses that are low-maintenance while also exceptionally beautiful and fragrant.
Today, my rose garden is made up almost exclusively of David Austin roses. While I never met him in person, I have met several of the individuals who work for his family-run company. I heard a fun story about David from a member of his company who told the story of David Austin and Queen Elizabeth. At the Chelsea Flower Show, David Austin’s roses were on full display and he was present as well. The Queen came to visit and he flirted openly with her and she seemed to enjoy the attention of this charming old gentleman. I must say, it takes courage to flirt with the Queen of England.
In my Arizona garden, I test several of their newest roses for the David Austin Rose company in my rose garden. Each year, they send me new ones to try out and then I give them my feedback. The company wants to know how they will perform in the low-desert heat and I must say that almost all of the ones that I’ve grown do very well.
Here is a list of those that I have grown and recommend for the desert garden:
*I also have ‘Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Lady of Sharlot’ growing. I’m still waiting to see how they do as they have only been in the garden for a year and I find that it takes a little longer than that to see how well they will do.
If I had to pick two favorites, they would be ‘Darcey Bussell’ and ‘Olivia Rose’. Both bloom well into summer, which is rare for roses grown in the desert.
For people who want to add one of David Austin’s wonderful rose varieties to their garden, not all nurseries carry David Austin roses, although I know that Berridge Nursery in the Phoenix area does. However, they are easy to order online and they will be mailed to you at the proper planting time for your area, which for the low-desert garden is mid-December through February for bare root roses.
The family-run company will continue with his mission of creating beautiful, fragrant roses for the garden and I look forward to seeing what is coming next.
Have you ever grown a David Austin rose? Which one?
I am a self-professed lover of roses and rejoice whenever I come across rose bushes that are thriving in our hot, arid climate and I also enjoy unexpected discoveries in the garden. On a recent visit to new client’s home, I came upon a hidden rose garden in the desert.
As I walked up to the front door, I was preparing for my consultation with her and noted that her front landscape had a nice framework in place with mature plants.
Upon walking into the backyard, I was greeted by expansive views of the desert, dotted with palo verde trees and saguaro cacti. Like the front, the landscape had good bones but, needed some attention to the subtler points, such as adding color.
After discussing my recommendations for the backyard, we started toward the large side garden, when I caught a glimpse of the owner’s pride and joy – her rose garden.
I experienced pure joy when I saw this lovely garden, filled with colorful roses that were happily growing in a desert landscape. Groups of roses were planted in beds, with amended soil and edged with rocks that created a natural look.
The owner inherited these roses, and she has put her green thumb to good use, but there are other factors that affect her success with roses.
First, the roses are located in designated beds, with amended soil, such as compost and steer manure. Second, and perhaps most importantly for a desert garden, they are located in an area that has filtered sunlight. While roses can grow in full sun, they can struggle in the summer, and appreciate some relief. Third, she feeds her roses in spring and fall with a rose fertilizer.
Although I lean toward using plants that look great with little fuss, I make an exception for roses. I have grown roses for over 25 years, and now I’m testing new roses for rose growers to see how they do in a low desert garden.
I firmly believe that if a specific type of plant brings you joy, then it’s worth a bit of extra work, like roses.
As I stood in my client’s rose garden, I looked out onto the saguaro forest that stood outside her backyard wall and was struck at how beautiful this colorful oasis stood in stark contrast with its surroundings.
Growing roses in the desert doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are factors that affect your success. I’ve compiled my rose-growing posts into a single list, which you can access here.
I adore roses. For those who have followed me for a while, this comes as no surprise. I’ve grown roses for almost thirty years, and they are the one plant responsible for inspiring me to get my degree in Horticulture.
So, why am I taking out a rose? Have I gone crazy?
Let me give you a little background. For the past few years, I have grown new rose varieties in my Arizona garden, given to me by David Austin Roses to see how they perform in the low desert regions of Arizona and each year, and I report which varieties do well. These types of roses are easy to grow, have a beautiful old-fashioned flower shape, and are highly fragrant. Once people grow a David Austin rose, they seldom go back to other kinds.
This year, I am working on a project, with the assistance of the folks at David Austin Roses, which spans two rose gardens, located in very different climates. The first garden is mine, located in Arizona, and the second belongs to my daughter, who lives in northern Michigan. The project consists of each of us growing two identical varieties of roses and a different one that is reported to do better in our respective climates.
Before planting new roses, I had to get my rose garden ready for new roses, which meant that one had to go. And so, I asked my husband to dig out one of the roses from the garden.
The rose bush I chose to remove didn’t do very well and only looks nice three months of the year, while those remaining do much better. So, the decision was easy.
Soon that garden was ready, and the roses arrived from David Austin. I always experience a feeling akin to Christmas morning whenever new roses come in the mail.
It never ceases to amaze me how something so beautiful has such a humble beginning.
I soaked the roses for 24 hours and then planted them. Two months later, they are covered in buds, and I can’t wait for them to open.
As for my daughter’s garden, she isn’t quite ready to be planting any roses as it is sitting under a layer of snow so she will be planting hers in a month or so.
I’ll keep you updated throughout the rose project and highlighting the differences and similarities of growing roses in a hot and cold climate.
Next, I will share with you the varieties growing in my garden along with pictures of their first blooms. Have you ever grown David Austin roses?
*This blog post contains an affiliate link. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*
January can be a difficult time for those of us who love to grow roses. Why may you ask? Because we have to prune them back, often when they are still blooming. Living in a mild winter climate means that roses continue to bloom and it is hard to go out and cut the bushes back to bare branches (canes). But, it must be done.
I am often asked why should we prune rose bushes back in winter, while they may still be blooming and there are several reasons why.
Winter pruning helps to keep roses healthy by removing old, unproductive canes (rose stems/branches), gets rid of disease and over-wintering insects that can cause damage. It also helps them to produce MORE flowers than if not pruned.
It’s this last fact that I repeat to myself over and over as I prune back my large, beautiful rose bushes in winter. Of course, I put any remaining blooms in a vase so I can enjoy them indoors.
Ugly isn’t it? But, the pruning has done a lot of good things – I’ve gotten rid of small, twiggy growth as well as a few dead canes. I still need to clean up the fallen leaves, which is where fungal diseases like to lurk only to spread again when the weather warms again. Pruning also stimulates new growth that will produce lots of lovely roses in the coming months. I used my Corona hand pruners to prune back my roses.
Before you know it, my ‘Olivia Rose’ bush, as well as my other roses, will be in full bloom again.
Pruning roses isn’t as hard as it looks and I encourage you not to be afraid of it and if you make a mistake, don’t worry, roses are awfully forgiving of bad pruning. I’ve written how to prune roses in an earlier post that you can read here.
If you are interested in adding some new roses to your garden, winter is the best time to do that in the desert garden. I recently shared my favorite types of roses on my other blog Southwest Gardening.
Have you pruned your roses back yet?
Have you ever noticed circular areas missing from your leaves? If so, you aren’t alone. The other day I noticed several of my plants with neat semi-circular sections missing. But, was I worried? Nope, and I’ll tell you why in my latest garden video.
Has this happened in your garden? What plants were affected?
Part 2 of my garden tour is my favorite area, which is located on the side of my house. Apple, citrus, and peach trees grow nearby my test garden where I grow a number of plants sent to me by growers throughout the U.S. to see how they do in the desert.
I invite you to come along with me and we explore deeper into this part of the garden.
*Keep an eye out for one of the neighborhood feral cats, who inadvertently photobombed this garden video.