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‘Glamis Castle’ English shrub rose

Walk through any garden where roses are present, and you’ll undoubtedly be attracted by the luscious blooms with their fragrant petals.  I’ve seen this happen time and again, watching how the beauty of roses attracts passersby, even those who don’t have a particular love for gardening or flowers.  There is just something magical about roses and how alluring they are.

For those of you who have grown roses before, you will probably agree that they aren’t the easiest plant to grow.  This is true of the hybrid tea, which are considered to be the classic modern rose with tall, upright stems and large flowers.  The downside of this type of rose is that they tend to be susceptible to a variety of diseases that affect the foliage and also are less fragrant than the old-fashioned roses of the past.

 

English shrub rose

Today, there is a new class of roses that are rapidly gaining presence in gardens everywhere.  Shrub roses are the newest and coolest type of rose in the gardening community.  The existence of these roses is due in large part to one man – an Englishman to be exact, David Austin.

A rose breeder by trade, he undertook the task of combining the best traits of old-fashioned roses with those of modern roses.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with old-fashioned roses, they are prized for their intoxicating fragrance, disease resistance, and petals that are arranged in a delightful mixture of swirling rosettes.  The main drawback of many of these old-fashioned roses is that they only bloom once a year.  

Modern roses such as hybrid tea are valued for their ability to bloom repeatedly throughout the year.  So, David Austin took on the formidable job of breeding old-fashioned and modern roses together to form a new type of rose that had the best traits from each parent, resulting in over 190 varieties of what are called ‘English Roses’ or ‘David Austin Roses.’

Red English shrub rose

After growing hybrid tea roses for years, my rose garden has gradually seen an increasing number of English shrub roses take their place.

There are many things that I enjoy about these roses, and despite their name, most do beautifully in my desert garden and are easier to maintain than the few hybrid tea roses that remain.  The perfume that arises from each bloom never ceases to immerse me with its intoxicating fragrance, which makes the cares of the world temporarily melt away.  

On a more practical note, I am so busy assisting other people with their gardens, that I don’t have a lot of time to fuss over mine, so any plants, including roses, must thrive with little attention like my English roses.  However busy I am, I do take a minute or two to go out in the garden and cut a bloom, or two, and bring inside where I can view its beauty and enjoy its fragrance close up.

If you want to grow roses without a lot of fuss, this English class is for you.  So when Firefly Books sent me the book, “The English Roses” to review and one to giveaway, I was very excited. 

 

At first glance, all you want to do it thumb through the pages and drool over the colorful photographs of truly stunning roses.

The first part of the book talks about the history of how these old-fashioned/modern hybrid roses were developed.  I found it quite interesting as I’ve always had a secret desire to be a rose breeder.

If however, you aren’t a fan of history, feel free to skip to the gallery section of the book, which profiles over 100 varieties with large photographs, which showcase the beauty of English shrub roses.  I wasn’t kidding when I said that you’d be drooling over the photos.

This is a large book and is suitable to be displayed on your coffee table where visitors can enjoy the beautiful photographs.

While reviewing this book, my grandson, Eric, climbed on my lap and was immediately entranced by the flowers displayed on the pages.  He had to smell each page, hoping to get a whiff of fragrant roses.

No matter how many pages, he sniffed, none of them smelled like roses.  But, I love how his excitement over this book shows the influence that roses have on us, and it begins at a young age.  Eric has been in my garden, and I’ve taken the time to show him how lovely the scent of roses are, and he recognized them in this book.

In my last post, I wrote about planting two new David Austin roses in the garden and promised to let you know what types they were.  I quickly found them in my book:

‘Darcey Bussell’

L.D. Braithwaite

As you can see, I was sent two red roses to test how well they will perform in a desert climate.  I can hardly wait to see their first blooms!

One rose that I have already growing in my garden is ‘Olivia Rose Austin,’ which is a newer introduction.  I was impressed at the number of flowers produced the first year after planting.  It also bloomed throughout much of the summer, which is often when roses cease flowering.

I’ve grown David Austin roses for over 20 years, including the varieties ‘Abraham Darby’, ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Juliet’.  I encourage you to try out one, or more, of these English beauties in your garden.  They aren’t typically available at your local nursery but can be purchased online.

To get you started on growing your own, I’m hosting a giveaway where you can win a copy of David Austin’s book, “The English Roses”.  To enter, leave a comment and tell me what you love about roses.  I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, February 8th.

 
Yesterday, we worked on getting the holes ready for our new English roses.  Now the kids and I are so excited that we are almost ready to plant them.


Here are the soil amendments that I purchased – Bone Meal, Compost, Blood Meal and Organic Rose Fertilizer (the blood meal and fertilizer are to be used later).


Bone Meal – an organic source of phosphorus, which helps aid in root development and later flowering.


Compost – enriches the soil as it is filled with micro-organisms which help break down materials and release them into the soil in a form that plants can absorb through their roots.


Blood Meal – is the highest organic source of nitrogen.


Organic Rose Fertilizer – contains organic nutrients as well as beneficial micro-organisms including miccorhizae.
*Miccorhizae are beneficial fungi that forms a beneficial relationship with plant roots and helps them to absorb and transform nutrients into forms that the roots can absorb.  Plants with micchorizae growing in symbiosis with their roots:

– Absorb nutrients more easily. 
– Use less water.
– Grow more feeder roots.

OK, enough of the amendment lecture, let’s get the holes ready for our roses.



Remember the old nurseryman’s saying, “Dig a $40 hole for a $20 tree.”  Well, the same goes for shrubs.  It is hard to under-estimate how important a properly dug hole is for the future health and growth of your shrub.

For our roses, we dug our holes approximately 32″ across and 24″ deep, according to the directions from the rose grower.


*For most shrubs, I recommend digging a hole 3X the width of the root-ball of the shrub and roughly the same depth as the root-ball.  By doing this, you will have loosened the surrounding soil, making it easier for the roots to spread.



The holes were filled 1/2 way with the compost and then I added the bone meal according to package instructions.



Then we returned some of the dirt that we had previously dug up until level with the top of the hole and mixed it together with all of the amendments.


The English roses we purchased are not bare-root roses, so the planting process from this point on is a little different.  But, everything else including preparation of the hole and adding the amendments is the same.



Warning…if you have dogs, they will find a way to play in the dirt you dig up.  If you are lucky, they may help you dig your holes.  


Once the native soil and amendments were combined, we leveled them out and then with a smaller shovel (I used the kid’s shovel – it was the perfect size), I made a planting hole for each new rose.
 



My son is so excited and ready to plant his rose. 



The hole is the same depth as the root-ball of the shrub rose.



Fill in the hole carefully, but be careful to not add additional soil on top of the rose.  Then tamp down lightly around the hole.



Water!


Now, it is time to start cleaning up…
 



The kids are wondering how long they will have to wait for their roses to bloom….hopefully, this spring.


**After the roses have bloomed, I will add the blood meal and organic rose fertilizer.  You don’t want to add fertilizer at the beginning since it will cause the branches to grow before the roots can support them.

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.
Mr. Lincoln
My favorite hybrid tea
I have a confession to make….
My favorite flowers in the whole world are roses.  Okay, that isn’t my confession, but I will get to that later.  
In my previous home, I had over 40 rose bushes that I had planted and lovingly cared for, which I wrote about in an earlier post, which you can read here if you like.

Okay, so here is my confession….I do not have any roses currently growing in my garden.  Sad, isn’t it?  As much as I write about roses, I think that it is tragic that my favorite flower in the whole world does not currently have a place in my garden. 
I have made two attempts at growing roses in my current garden with mixed results.  I believe that the reasons that I did not succeed were that the exposure was just not right.  They were located next to a brick wall, which tends to absorb the heat of the day and does not cool down in the evening and so does not allow the roses to take a break from the heat.  The other reason is that back then, I spent my work days designing and maintaining landscapes and at the end of the day I was too tired to work on my own garden and give my roses the attention they deserved.

John F. Kennedy (Hybrid Tea Rose)
This was one of my attempts at growing roses in my current garden a few years ago.
Well, I have decided that life is too short not to grow the flowers that I love most.  That and the fact that since I now work solely as a Landscape Consultant, I instruct people on how to achieve the garden they want; I don’t do the work myself, so I have lots more energy to work on my own garden.

I have also found a new area in the garden that I think will work.  It faces east and will receive afternoon shade, which is important in the summer months, because roses do not like the intense desert afternoon sun.

I have decided to try growing 3 different varieties of English Roses.  In my previous home, I grew mostly hybrid teas and a few English Roses.  I love the appearance and fragrance of the English Roses and from my experience, were easier to maintain.

Here is another one of my early roses, but I cannot remember which variety it was.
So now, I am happily trying to decide what 3 varieties of English Roses I will try.  Bare-root season for our area is in January.  So I have to make my decision now, so I can place my order.

For those of you who have grown English Roses, what are your favorite varieties?  I could use some suggestions.  I have grown Abraham Darby and Sweet Juliet in the past with good results, but I would love your input.

**From my photos of hybrid tea roses, it should be obvious that I don’t have any photos of English Roses, so I hope my English Roses take off quickly so I can take lots of pictures of them to share with you.