Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Enter The Hybrid Tea Rose

The introduction of the first Hybrid Tea in the late 1800s was by most markers an improvement upon the Hybrid Perpetuals, a class becoming known for being difficult and finicky to grow – sound familiar?

The same Mr. Henry Bennett is considered by many to be the Father of the Hybrid Tea and achieved his success by deliberately crossing Hybrid Perpetuals with Tea Roses. From the Hybrid Perpetuals they took the long stems and the large blooms appearing solely on the stem. From the Teas they took their continual flowering and long petals which gradually became the high centered Hybrid Tea bloom of today.

Many rose historians consider there to be three distinct eras of Hybrid Teas and they are separated by the two World Wars of the 20th Century. Those bred before the war were still closely related to their Tea cousins in that the shrubs were rounded and their stems still did not quite achieve the length of today’s Hybrid Teas. Between the wars saw great progress in both form, stem length and disease resistance. At the time the latter was still a consideration as chemical controls were not yet widely used. At the end of World War II one of the most popular Hybrid Teas of all time was released the rose “Peace”.  (Picture is Chicago Peace a sport of the original Peace Rose.)

Peace was arguably one of the first roses to truly look like today’s Hybrid Tea roses. Long stems, high pointed center and single flowers per stem set the benchmark for Hybrid Teas to come.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Enigma That is Darlow

We've talked about what a garden rose is, we've begun talking about caring for them and now it's time for the roots to hit the hole and recommend some garden roses.

The first is easy.  Darlow's Enigma.  I first became aware of this rose when I lived and gardened in Los Angeles, CA.  Quite a few people I knew grew it, raved about how easy and how versatile it is.  When I moved to South Carolina I was finally able to plant one at the old nursery property and boy are they right.

Rarely getting disease for me and constantly in flower Darlow, is a great Garden Rose for those who aren't sure what they are.  I group it with what I call "Starter Roses".  Starter Roses are ones I recommend for the gardener who has given up on roses or simply stopped growing them, because I know these roses will make them successful.

Darlow mounds itself into a shrub about 5' x 5' and can get larger if you let it.  I know many who grow it as a climber along a fence.  I can easily see Darlow growing as a hedge stretching out in a drift of white blossoms perched atop its lovely green foliage.  This is a very versatile rose so let your imagination run with it.

Here are some details and where to buy it.

Darlow's Enigma. Hybrid Musk, white, Zone 5 - Introduced in 1991, Hybridizer Unknown - Growth Size & Characteristics are: large shrub (5'+), moderate climber (10'-15'), fragrant, repeat flowering, single petalled, shade tolerant.

Purchase From
Rogue Valley Roses - United States
Rozenkwekerij de Bierkreek - The Netherlands
Roses Unlimited - United States
Burlington Rose Nursery - United States

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Dreaded "P" Word!

And that word is;


A word that usually sends any rose gardener running for the smelling salts, oxygen and their favorite copy of "The Over Bloated, Incredibly Complicated Book of Rose Care".  In that substantial tome they will find strict rules of rose pruning etiquette that must be followed at all costs or else their roses will die a severe and painful death and life will cease to exist as we know it.  And you thought global warming was a threat!

Hogwash to all of that I say!  As we talked about in the introduction of this blog, a Garden Rose is nothing more than a shrub with flowers on it.  That's it, over and out, thank you very much.  So treat them as such and that applies to pruning.

Understand this.  The current method of severe pruning has one purpose in mind.  To produce long stem cut flowers for the florist industry, for exhibiting or bringing into your house.  And it works great - for that purpose.  Many dedicated and talented Rose Folks have raised this way of growing roses to an art form all its own.

But is it the best way to prune if you want a nice full bush, producing lots of flowers and blends in with all your other plants in the garden?  In my opinion, no.

So in between the rose history parts of this blog we are now going to start talking about how to take care of Garden Roses.  And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a video from our Roses Are Plants Too series over on You Tube that gives you a short introduction to pruning.  More details to follow in future posts so stay tuned for a little pruning lesson over the next month.

By the way.  The Bloated Book of Rose Care makes great compost.  After all it's full of......

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The two camps begin to emerge

As roses continued to be crossed, there emerged a class of roses known as Hybrid Perpetuals (like John Hopper to the right). They are a result of taking the first generation spring flowering offspring of the old European roses crossed with China roses, and then crossing them with the Portland Roses (also known as Damask Perpetuals).

The intent was to get the repeat blooming and hardy re-blooming qualities of the Damask Perpetuals to combine with the ranges of color and the constant flowering qualities found in the Chinas. What emerged were typically roses with huge cabbagey blossoms perched atop what were then long stems.

As with anything new these became the rage and within a short time there were thousands of Hybrid Perpetuals in commerce. They were also developed simultaneously with the rise of the popularity of rose shows. In 1876 the Rev Dean Hole began the Royal National Rose Society in England and promoted rose shows as a way of drawing in new members and educating the public about roses.

As the popularity of roses shows increased the breeding of Hybrid Perpetuals became refined to achieve roses whose value lay more in their ability to produce great cut flowers for Exhibition than to be a great garden plant. Long stem, length of time the cut flower was held on the stem and form were valued over ease of growth.  (Sound familiar!)

The Victorian era was a time of great wealth, large greenhouses on country estates and huge staffs of gardeners both in the U.S. and abroad. This meant time and money were of no object in the pursuit of “perfection”. Roses were now also becoming grown solely for the beauty of the flower.  (Mons. Boncenne is the red rose to the left)

This meant some rose growers grew roses for their garden value and some for their cut flower/exhibition value. Both hard-working dedicated groups but the result was two different types of roses began to emerge based on what they used for. Cut flower/exhibition Roses on the one hand and Garden Roses on the other.