Monday, May 31, 2010

The "Knockout" Blow to High Maintenance Roses

The first part of this century has seen a rapid decline in sales of Hybrid Tea Roses. Not necessarily because they are bad roses (a lot of newer Hybrid Teas make terrific Garden Roses) but because the decades before had built the perception they were fussy, disease prone, bore little fragrance and were of little use in the garden.

Sales of shrub roses began to rise culminating in the release of the rose Knockout.

Bred by William Radler the Knockout series of roses begin to bring us once again back to Garden Roses. They make terrific low care shrubs and their skyrocketing sales reemphasize that the desire for disease resistant, easy to grow Garden Roses is back.

Today’s breeders are meeting that demand and roses from Europe and beyond are also becoming more readily available in the U.S.

Roses are coming full circle by going back to what they were for the vast majority of their history. A great flowering shrub for the garden.  A Garden Rose.

Photo of Bill Radler courtesy of Conard Pyle

Friday, May 21, 2010

Shhhhh. Be, very, very Quietness. I'm hunting woses for west and welaxation.

I first started hearing about Quietness when I moved to South Carolina some seven years ago.  So, I did a little research and found it's a Griffith Buck rose, but wasn't introduced until 2003; twelve years after Mr. Buck's passing.

How did this happen?

The good folks at Roses Unlimited, Pat Henry and Bill Patterson, began collecting Mr. Buck's roses long ago.  Included in them were some unreleased varieties.  Pat and Bill planted them in their garden, watched them and slowly released a few.  Quietness is one of those.

By the way Pat, Bill and their rose nursery are one of the unsung rose treasures in the United States.

I first saw this rose in the garden of Carol Meyer, a dear friend who lives in Spartanburg, SC.  Carol told me it was one of the easiest keepers in her garden.  The bush was fully foliated, upright and just covered in clouds of large, soft pink blooms.  And to my delight they were fragrant!

I love a rose that rewards the olfactory in all of us!

I took some cuttings to propagate at my old nursery and never looked back.  For us this rose defined the phrase "we can't keep it in stock".  Every time we released new ones on the website they were gone in an eye blink.  As other nurseries also added this rose to their collection its fame began to spread.

A real word of mouth rose.

If you are looking for a stunning, soft pink, non stop blooming, smell-o-rama experience, than Quietness is the rose for you.

Here are the specifics
  • Buck, light pink, Zone 5 - Introduced in 2003 by Roses Unlimited - Growth Size & Characteristics are: midsize shrub (3'-5'), fragrant, repeat flowering, cutting
Here is where you can buy it

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A "Weekstime" of Rose Breeding Brilliance

Rose Breeders have to see a ten years into the future. Why? The answer is because from breeding to testing to propagating, that is how long it takes to bring a new rose to your garden.

They need to anticipate where the rose market is going long before it actually does go there. For example, who knew ten or fifteen years ago the demand in the United States was going to dramatically shift from long stem Hybrid Teas to disease resistant easy to grow shrub roses.

Tom Carruth knew.

Tom was talking about disease resistant shrub roses long before anyone realized they wanted one, and he was breeding them alongside the long stemmed Hybrid Teas that were the rage back then.

I am fortunate enough to have known Tom for close to fifteen years.  Even back then when I talked about growing roses organically or with little care, Tom never gave me one the strange looks I would get from other rose fanciers.

While I don’t even pretend to know much about rose breeding, I’ve always felt Tom thinks outside the box when it came to his work.  Roses like Scentimental, Hot Cocoa and Ebb Time show he also has a flair for stunning and unique blooms.

So next time you are in the Garden Center and you see a rose with the Week’s name on it, be aware it most likely began from the mind, hands and skill of Tom some ten years ago.  I'm sure even now Tom is peering into the future to see what kind of roses you will want ten years down the road.

A little about Tom

Tom Carruth has been breeding roses for a long time and since 1988 for Weeks Roses in California. Bringing us roses such as Cinco de Mayo, Strike it Rich, Julia Child, Wild Blue Yonder, About Face, Memorial Day, Betty Boop, Fourth of July, Home Run and to name just a few.

I asked Tom to name me his five favorite roses he bred. Here they are (with his notes) and he did say to mention this list may change tomorrow!  

(Photos from the Weeks' Website)

FOURTH OF JULY - very novel, one of few climbers with good performance over the broad spectrum of US climates.

JULIA CHILD - looks the sames everywhere it goes, my only seedling to be accepted and introduced into every country it's gone into

HOME RUN - takes the better qualities of its father, Knock Out, and steps up the game with a better red color, tidier habit and adds powdery mildew resistance to the list

EBB TIDE - a color breakthrough in the purples.

CINCO DE MAYO - takes floriferousness to the next level, almost looking azalea-like in the landscape