Posts

English shrub roses

*Disclosure: I am so excited about these two roses, which were sent to me free of charge, to test in my garden.

Roses have enchanted gardeners over the centuries with their colorful petals arranged in intricate rosette shapes, which release intoxicating fragrance into the air.  

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know about my love affair with roses and that it was this lovely flower that created my passion for gardening.

AZ Plant Lady taking time to smell the roses at the Santa Barbara Mission in California.

If there is a rose garden nearby, I’ll find it, excited to explore both old and newer varieties of my favorite flower.

When I first began growing roses in my Arizona garden, I used hybrid tea roses as I was obsessed with the regal beauty and upright form of their blossoms.  As the years passed and I found myself in a new home, the question was, what type of roses would I plant?  Should I go with old favorites or branch out and try new ones?

In the end, I did both.

‘Mister Lincoln’ hybrid tea rose

My outdoor space is broken up into separate areas and my roses grow in a raised bed in the side garden where I can view the flowering plants from my kitchen window.  Within the garden, is a single ‘Mister Lincoln’ hybrid tea rose.  Of the over forty different hybrid tea roses that I’ve grown through the years, this lovely, red rose is unsurpassed in both beauty and fragrance.

The rest of the garden is home to new roses as well as several perennials that growers throughout the country send me to test out to see how the perform in the desert climate.  

‘Graham Thomas’ English shrub rose

So what are the other roses in my garden?  I’ll let you in on a secret – hybrid tea roses are no longer my rose of choice.  Why, you may ask?  Well, I’ve discovered a new category of roses that highly fragrant, have beautiful old-fashioned blooms, and are very low-maintenance. 

Rose breeders have taken the best traits from old-fashioned roses and modern roses and combined them to create the perfect type of rose, in my opinion – shrub roses.  An English breeder, David Austin, has pioneered this new type of rose and is famous for the majority of truly stunning shrub roses on the market and in gardens throughout the world.  I have several shrub roses in my garden and two new roses have recently found a home in a desert garden – mine!

I’ve grown David Austin roses in the past and currently have several in my garden.  

Receiving a package in the mail is always a welcome event, particularly when it contains plants.  The arrival of this box was initiated months ago by a conversation that I had with the folks at David Austin Roses last fall.  I was describing the success that I had with one of their newest varieties that was sent to me the previous year.  They asked me if I had had success with growing any of their red varieties and offered to send me two different red roses to see how they would perform in a desert garden.  

Fast forward four months later and a box showed up on my doorstep filled with two bare root roses.

Let’s be honest, bare root roses aren’t going to win any beauty contests.  In fact, they are quite ugly, but they won’t stay that way for long.

Bare root roses must remain moist and need a good soaking before being planted.  This allows the roots to help replenish any water lost as well as prepare it for planting.

Allow the roses to soak for 8 – 24 hours before planting.  During this stage, some people like to add vitamin B-1 transplant solution, however, this is optional.  I remember my horticulture professor state over and over again, that there is no published studies that showed that using vitamin B-1 had any effect on successful transplanting.  If you want to add it, go ahead – I’ve never used it.

The next day, it was time to plant.  Before putting the rose in the hole, you need to amend the soil – click here to see how.  When planting bare root roses, you need to create a ‘cone’ of raised soil in the middle of the hole so that the base of the rose rests on the top with its roots fanned outward.  If the roots are too long, you can cut them a little shorter.  

Fill the hole in with soil and tamp it down to get rid of any air pockets.  Create a shallow basin around the rose and water deeply.  Don’t fertilize the new rose until it has produced its first set of blooms – it needs to concentrate on growing roots first.

It’s hard to believe that this cluster of naked stems will soon give life to glorious, fragrant red roses in a few months.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated as to how they do.  I can’t wait to see if these red roses do well in my desert garden.

These shrub roses can be hard to find in your local nursery, but can easily be found online

Now, something fun for you! I hope that I’ve inspired you to try growing David Austin shrub roses.  You may have noticed that I didn’t tell you what type of David Austin rose varieties that I received.  I invite you to come back for a visit when I’ll be hosting a book giveaway where you can win your own copy of “The English Roses”, which is a lovely book filled with spectacular photos and detailed information on different varieties of shrub roses.  I’ve enjoyed my copy very much and it looks great sitting on my coffee table.  

Abraham Darby Rose

**What are your favorite type of roses to grow?

 

 

I love roses, don’t you?

Believe it or not, I used to have 40 different varieties of hybrid tea roses in my garden when I lived in Phoenix.

Now, I am perfectly happy with my 3 David Austin shrub roses.


Technically, they aren’t my roses.

They belong to my kids.

The beautiful pink rose, above, is Abraham Darby, which belongs to my daughter, Ruthie.

We planted these roses 3 years ago.

You can read about our planting adventure here, “Three Little Roses – Ready for a New Home” and “Three Little Roses -Time to Plant” complete with rose planting guidelines and pictures of my kids when they were much younger – where does the time go?

****************************

Hope your week is off to a good start!

I must admit that I am really missing my daughter, Rachele, who is entering her second week of basic training in the Navy.

Alas, Mr. Shakespeare’s life has ended tragically.  Sadly, it was a rather short life out in the garden.  He was lovingly planted by my son, Kai, back in January.  Next to him were planted his ‘brothers’ Graham Thomas and Abraham Darby.


Back in January, my three youngest children were so excited to plant rose bushes in our back garden.  We selected three David Austin English Roses, based on our local rose society’s recommendations.




All the kids pitched in in helping to dig the holes, amend the soil and plant the roses.


Under the watchful eye of Tobey, who will play a part in Mr. Shakespeare’s story later, we planted all three roses.





They were tiny, but we eagerly awaited the appearance of our first roses.

Mr. Thomas was first….

 
Although, Mr. Thomas was in a hurry to bloom before his brothers, he bloomed before his stems were large enough to hold up his roses.


Now Mr. Darby was not in a hurry and made sure he could hold up his flowers before they bloomed.



While both Mr. Thomas and Darby were producing numerous blooms, Mr. Shakespeare did not grow as much as his brothers and made no efforts at producing any rosebuds.

Then one day, my son came running in the house to tell me that he saw a single rosebud on his rose.  He was so excited because it had been a little tough on him with both of his sisters having rose bushes with lots of blooms.
 
We waited and waited for the rosebud to open and one morning when I went outside, there it was….


I rushed to take a picture of it and couldn’t wait for my son to come home so I could show him his rose.

When he arrived home, we went out to the garden, but the rose was missing.  Where could it be?  There was just a stem sticking up where the rose used to be.  Then, I noticed what looked like red confetti scattered on the back lawn.  Well, it turned out to be rose petals. 

Guess what happened to the single rose?

 
Here is the culprit – Tobey.  Evidently, the rose looked like it was something fun to play with, because Tobey just bit it off and tore it up.

My son, Kai, was disappointed but then decided he wanted to play football with his dad and promptly forgot about his destroyed rose.

As for me, I lavished extra attention on Mr. Shakespeare, determined to make him produce more blooms.  But my efforts were futile.  Summer came and he went into summer dormancy, which is what most roses do during the summer heat – they just exist and stop producing blooms until fall.

Last week I went out to water the roses and was happy to see Mr. Darby and Thomas doing very well.  Then I turned my attention to Mr. Shakespeare and to be honest, I had to look closely to find him.

Can you see him?



If you can see a few brown sticks amidst the bark mulch and fallen leaves from last week’s storm – that is what remains of Mr. Shakespeare.

I am not sure what happened to him…..he received the same treatment as his brothers but it did not seem to do any good.  Sometimes there are no easy answers as to why some plants die and some survive.  I am always telling this to my clients and now I am saying it to my son.

I was ready to dig Mr. Shakespeare up when I noticed a touch of green at the base.  I do realize that it is probably hopeless, but I will keep him in the ground to see if he can resurrect himself and maybe turn this story into a happy one 🙂
**I hope you all have a great week.  
My kids are back in school and my life is getting back to normal.  Today I am taking my first knitting class and my mom (Pastor Farmer of Double S Farms) is joining me.  I can hardly wait!

Do you remember when you were a child and couldn’t wait to grow up?  First it was learning how to walk before you could run.  Then learning how to ride a bike without training wheels.  Later you become impatient, waiting until you are old enough to get your driver’s license, although that is often scary for the parents.


Well, this is not a story about a child impatient to grow up.  Rather, it is a story of a rose bush that is in too much of a hurry to flower.


Back in January, we reintroduced roses into our garden.  We purchased 3 David Austin roses – Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas and William Shakespeare.  My children were so excited the day we received the roses in the mail.


We prepared the holes using bone meal, bagged compost, blood meal and aged steer manure according to the directions from the rose grower.  


Once we planted them, they were so small, it was hard to even see them.

Only two months later, we saw the beginning of a single rose bud growing on our Abraham Darby rose, which belongs to my third oldest daughter, Ruthie.  We were all so excited and it seemed like it took forever for it to bloom.


It was well worth the wait.  I love the light pink of the petals and the fragrance was just intoxicating.

Well, not wanting to be outdone by it’s neighbor, Abraham Darby….Graham Thomas decided that he would outdo Abraham.
Almost all at once, he started to grow not just one rose bud, but 10!


Now normally, I would be absolutely thrilled.


I mean, who wouldn’t love all of these beautiful roses perfuming the air.  But, there was just one problem.  You can see part of the problem in the photo above.


Graham had not grown big enough stems to support all the new roses, not to mention even one rose.

And so, we had beautiful roses laying on the ground….


Hopefully, Graham will think twice about growing roses before he has big enough stems.  

Interestingly, our William Shakespeare rose is quite patient.  He is rather puny and only formed his first rose bud a week ago.  But, the stem should be able to support the rose (hopefully).

And so the moral of the story is, do not flower until you have grown big enough to support them.   I hope Mr. Graham Thomas has learned his lesson….
Okay, I realize that most of you have not been waiting with baited breath to see what three English Roses I have chosen.  But for those of you who have, here is what I have decided on….

Abraham Darby (Pink/Peach)
Graham Thomas (Yellow)
&
William Shakespeare (Red)

Graham Thomas

I owe a debt of gratitude to those of you who gave me excellent advice on the English roses that you have had success with.  I also did some research by checking with my local rose society to see the rose varieties that do well in our area.  Which leads me to an excellent tip – the ARS (American Rose Society) ratings are based on how each variety of rose grows all over the country.  So, a rose that rated poorly in the northern areas may excel in the south.  I highly recommend checking your local rose society’s information page online which should lead you to excellent rose choices for your area.  

You can find links to your local rose society by clicking here.  Here is a link to the list of the best roses for the desert areas of Arizona.


The location for my new roses are kindly indicated by my three youngest helpers.  My new roses will receive bright morning sun, but will be protected from the intense afternoon sun in the summertime.  

*Notice my son’s right torn knee in his jeans.  Why is it that all of his pants are that way?  Only the right knee is torn on all of them… I have four daughters and my son is my youngest child, so boys are somewhat of a mystery to me.

Mexican Bird of Paradise Flower
(Caesalpinia mexicana)

The small tree in the photo with my children, is of one of my favorite plants.  It is blooming right now and even though I was taking pictures of where I was putting my new roses, I couldn’t resist taking this picture.  I love that there are still plants flowering this time of year. 

In the meantime, I cannot wait to receive my new roses.  I was not able to find English roses in any of our local nurseries, but I was able to find many suppliers online.  I ordered mine through Heirloom Roses.  They should arrive between January 6 – 10th.  For those of you who would like to see how to plant roses, it is rather simple, but you need to follow certain rules.  I will show you how once my roses arrive in a few weeks.