Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Flowering Rose Lovers Unite!

Boy, I hate the term "once blooming" roses.  It sounds as if you are not home that day you miss the whole show.

"Hi Honey, I'm home.  Anything exciting happen today?"

"Sally got an A on her test, the plumber came and oh yes, Mme Plantier bloomed.  Sorry you missed it but there's always next year"

"Spring Flowering" is what what they really are.  Often for weeks.  Glorious, in your face, fragrant weeks.

No repeat flowering rose I know can rival a Cardinal de Richelieu in full war cry.  Or any other Spring Flowering Rose for that matter.

To all those who say they don't grow "once blooming" roses because they want color all year, I say then assassinate your azaleas, rip up your rhododendrons and fell the forsythia!  After all, they only bloom "once".  Why take up all the space the other months of the season with something only green.

Or here's an idea.  Plant other plants that bloom during other parts of the season in with the spring flowering roses.  It's why Graham Stuart Thomas titled his book The Art of Gardening With Roses.

There is an old saying that goes "absence makes the heart grow fonder".  That's why the spring flowering roses have a special place in mine.

How about you?

Top white rose is Mme. Plantier
Mauve rose is Cardinal de Richelieu

Available From Among Others
Rogue Valley Roses
Roses Unlimited
Vintage Gardens
Northland Rosarium

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meanwhile in Europe...

 (Photo names at bottom)

Many European rose breeding firms continued to keep their Garden Rose and Exhibition/Cut Flower lines very separate. They bred roses for the cut flower industry and a totally separate line of Garden Roses. The German firm of Kordes and Söhne is a prime example as is the French firm of Delbard.  And some like Peter Beales Roses in the UK simply bred only Garden Roses. But these Garden Roses were mostly confined to Europe where the line between them and Cut Flower/Exhibition Varieties was kept fairly distinct. In addition Europe and most of the rest of the world has always had an aversion to chemicals for the home market.

In the latter part of the 20th century as the U.S. became more environmentally aware, many chemicals were thankfully being taken off the market. While some fine Hybrid Teas were able to thrive without them, many that up to now could only be grown with cheap, but now disappearing chemicals, began to flounder. Since those roses had been marketed and sold at the expense of the true Garden Roses it meant many a home gardener was suddenly faced with a plant that was difficult to grow, wouldn’t flourish and in many instances died off within a few years.  Sound familiar!

Roses began to get the reputation as being fussy, weak and needing a great deal of care. Suddenly June Cleaver in her pearls was our grandmothers slaving over her roses and we didn’t want to have to work that hard!

That gardeners were beginning to look for easier to grow roses is evidenced in the resurgent interest in the Old Garden Roses during this time. Old Garden Roses had a reputation for being disease resistant and easy to grow. Something they had earned because over time because the poor ones had disappeared and the stronger ones survived. I would suspect in 100 years the Hybrid Tea class will have gone through the same process and someone reading this will wonder what the fuss is all about!

In the 1990s the David Austin Roses took flight in this country. They not only had an old-fashioned look and could be planted amongst other plants but they also had fragrance. They were marketed as Garden Roses and once again the line between Garden Roses and Cut Flower/Exhibition Roses began to strongly emerge once again in the U.S.

Photos From the Top
Alfred Sisly - Delbard Rose
Cardinal de Richelieu - Old Garden Rose - Gallica
Sir John Mills - Beales Rose
Graham Thomas - David Austin Rose

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Godspeed Professor Fineschi

Last Sunday a lover of roses was called by God to come to Heaven’s Rose Garden. The Garden he left behind is a piece of Heaven on Earth perched on a hillside in Tuscany.

“Come into my garden. I would like my roses to see you” is one of the plaques that hang along an old stone wall in the midst of the garden. We were the lucky ones, for to visit and spend time in that garden is an experience like nothing else. It is overwhelming to the mind to stand in the middle of that sun drenched spot and see what the Professor accomplished. It is even more overwhelming to think the Professor saw it in his Mind’s Eye some 50 plus years ago – long before the first rose was planted.

It is a collection like no other, organized and planted like no other. The old roses are grouped by class but the modern roses are grouped by hybridizer. It is like being in a museum of roses with each wing dedicated to a individual rose breeder.

In this garden you see the genius of their work as it developed and changed through their hybridizing career. It is nothing short of a living history of the people who bred roses.

And the work of a true genius and lover of roses.

The Professor is at home now being welcomed by many of those “Maker’s Of Heavenly Roses”. They and all of us who love roses owe the Professor so much.

I have been lucky enough to visit the garden twice for a period of three days each time. And on one of those days to be invited to sit in the garden and have lunch and a bottle of wine made by his daughter with the Professor and Friends.

Truly Heaven on Earth.

The Roseto

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Real "Winshoten" Of A Rose

Who doesn't love red roses?  More than that who doesn't love fragrant red roses?  Even more than that who doesn't love red, fragrant, easy to grow red roses?!

I can't count the number of times I've stuck my nose into a luscious red rose only to be rewarded by...


That's right no scent.  Nada, zippo - an olfactory black hole.

Yet, thanks to Cliff Orent of EuroDesert Roses, American Rose Growers can now purchase just such a rose.

Named for the town of Winschoten in The Netherlands (the Country my Parents come from!) this Shrub Rose was bred by the French Nursery firm of Meilland in 1999.  It won five awards in European Trials including 3 fragrance awards and the silver medal in the trials at Baden-Baden Germany.  I've been to some of those trials and the Europeans take their fragrance real seriously.

If you've been yearning for the big ol stinky red rose that you can also cut and bring in the house look no further.  In the United States you can purchase Winschoten only from EuroDesert Roses.  Cliff also carries lots of other great roses and in many cases he is the only place in the United States you can buy them from.

Happy sniffing!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Rose Gets Fussy

Rose growing while still popular in the early part of the 20th century, was no longer set against the backdrop of the leisure time of the Victorian Era. Two wars, a great depression and the movement to the cities meant attention was elsewhere.

However, after World War II the United States in particular entered an era of unprecedented prosperity. The Marshall plan in Europe meant they too would join in although it would take longer. In addition chemicals were suddenly cheap, popular and naively considered safe to use. The vision of Leave it To Beaver’s Mother June Cleaver tending roses in her skirt, pearls and quaffed hair had arrived.

Hybrid Teas were the rage and as mentioned the flower form of the Peace rose set the standard to be built upon. Cheap chemicals meant disease resistance was not an issue. Many families had only one working parent, the Soccer Mom had yet to arrive on the scene and homes in the suburbs meant space for gardening.

The demand was for high centered Hybrid Teas on long stems and the rose industry complied. Fragrance began to lose importance as did disease resistance and vigor. Why worry about it when you could hop down to your local hardware store and buy DDT! Form was everything. What did happen is that many roses really meant for the cut flower/exhibition market were now being sold as Garden Roses which for the most part they were not.

But meanwhile in Europe.....
(stay tuned!)