Friday, April 29, 2011

The Measure of a Rose

While I have rarely contributed to them, I follow a couple of rose discussion groups.  It's not that I have anything against contributing, it just often seems that my experiences with some roses is contrary to that of other contributors.  Such is the case with a recent discussion regarding Ebb Tide.  The discussion talked about what a poor grower and how disease prone Ebb Tide is.  My experience has been different.  Granted this discussion was among hybridizers who have goals beyond the individual plant.  

In April of 2010, I planted a small own-root band of Ebb Tide.  It is now just one year old and has grown to be just about three feet tall and has been very healthy.  It still needs to fill out and I wish it had a more spreading habit, but so far I can't find much to complain about.   Flowers on Ebb Tide often open on the pink side of purple, darken as they mature, and finishes with gray tones (much like my beard).  It may be that Ebb Tide has significant problems but in its location on the South side of our house, shaded from the Western sun, in my nearly no-spray garden (once last year and none this year) it has been one of the most beautiful roses of the Spring. A cluster of blooming Ebb Tide flowers creates a very dramatic display.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: This Morning's Photos

Ebb Tide

Treasure Trail

Unconditional Love

Vineyard Song


Reine des Violettes

Precious Dream

Pat Austin

Gertrude Jekyll

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rev Recommends: Roses I Grow!

Someone asked me if I had a list of the roses I grow.  The answer is, "Yes, would you like it?"  Well like it or not, here it is by class, beginning with the minis because I have a photo I just have to share with you.  This is not necessarily an endorsement - just what I am growing now. 

I am giving 22 of them the "Rev Recommends" designation.  These are roses that I have grown and have proven themselves over time as offering beauty, disease resistance, and are not real fussy.  If your growing conditions are more extreme please do your research to make sure they are fitting for you.  I have linked each name to the page to make this easier.  Others on my list may be too new to me to really recommend or they may have some flaws that I am willing to deal with that keep them from reaching to top of my list.  So here it is.

Tattooed Lady, click on the image and take a closer look at what's hiding in there.

Miniature Roses
  • Ebb Tide                            Rev Recommends
  • Scentimental                     *Too young for evaluation
Hybrid Tea
  • Oklahoma                        
Hybrid Bracteata
Hybrid Perpetual
Hybrid Rugosa
Hybrid Musk
  • Ballerina                          
  • Buff Beauty                       Rev Recommends
  • Jeri Jennings                   *Too young for evaluation
  • Lavender Lassie               Rev Recommends
English Roses
  • Braveheart                                 *Too young for evaluation
  • DayDream                           Rev Recommends
  • Rhapsody in Blue              Rev Recommends
  • Siren's Keep                              *Too young for evaluation
  • Vineyard Song                    Rev Recommends

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Feeling Blue, or maybe Purple

There are no blue roses but here are a few of the purple-lavender roses I grow.

Rhapsody in Blue, Shrub Rose by Frank Cowlishaw, 1999

Vineyard Song,Shrub Rose by Ralph Moore, 1999

Ebb Tide, Floribunda by Tom Carruth, 2001

Vi's Violet, Miniature Rose by Ralph Moore, 1991

Lavender Crystal, Miniature by Unknown

Rhapsody in Blue, again I couldn't resist

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Precious Dream

Precious Dream is a Hybrid Bracteata bred by Ralph Moore in 2001 that I can not say enough positive things about.  It produces beautiful old fashion formed flowers in a very pleasing modern color.  It is a prolific bloomer and very disease resistant.  Precious Dream is a third generation breeding in Ralph Moore's work with the speices rosa bracteata.

Ralph Moore is a man I have deeply admired for his work, life and faith.  Ralph Moore, at the age of 102, passed away in September of 2009 after celebrating his 72nd year as a Rose Hybridizer.  Ralph Moore was known as the Grandfather of the Miniature Rose because in 1937 he began creating and introducing miniature roses and nearly every miniature rose you have ever seen traces itself back through at least one of his roses. 

In recent years Ralph Moore had focused some of his work on a little known species from the Philippines called rosa bracteata.  This old rose had been ignored by most breeders, but Ralph Moore, long after most have retired, saw something about it that he thought would benefit our modern gardens.  For 25 years he had been crossing this rose and it progeny to create a number of roses which he thought worthy of marketing.  When two different roses are crossed often hundreds of seed are produced and when each of these seeds is grown, it produces a different variety of rose.  Some may be similar but not the same.  Hundreds of different roses are then grown and evaluated and 4-5 will be selected to keep.  Of these one or two might be introduced to the market, and others selected for what they might offer as a parent for the next generation.  Through this process Ralph Moore developed a new line of roses in the Hybrid Bracteatas class.
Now I find several things remarkable about this.  The first is that Ralph Moore, passed the age of 100 was still creating new things and envisioning new roses.  He still had something yet to contribute.  Second is that in his eighties he decided to begin a new project by going back to a neglected and very old spieces rose.  He was going back to something very old to create something very new. 
Yet the most remarkable thing to me is that the longer Ralph Moore worked with roses the more he saw himself as a handmaid to God’s act of creation.  He could decide on particular crosses of roses, do the work, but ultimately he saw that it was God who gave life to the seeds.  And then maybe even more amazing is that God creates life in such a way that life seeks to create something new at every possible opportunity.  God chooses the option of variety and newness every time.  It is almost as if God says, “I’ve never made one exactly like this before, let’s try one.”  It seems that God not only blesses variety and distinctness, God desires it.  I find this to be an incredibly hopeful sign that God leads us into a new and delightful future. 

Sleep tight and have a Precious Dream.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Rose to Bloom this Year!

The Miniature Rose, Lavender Crystal is my first rose to bloom this year.  I ordered Lavender Crystal late last Summer and then she was thrown for a loop.  Some how she got lost in the delivery system for a week and a half.  I wasn't sure she would make it and she spent the rest of last year recuperating.  While still a very small plant, she has decided to shine early this year.  Lavender Crystal is unique for most Miniatures because she has very full (40+ petals), ruffled, old-fashion, fragrant flowers.  From her start this year, I am expecting big progress from her through the Summer.  Much of her background is unknown but we do know that she comes from Japan.  I will be keeping my eye on her.

Friday, April 8, 2011

2011's New Roses

       This Spring I am adding 5 new roses to our garden.  This brings our total number of varieties to 45 with us having multiple plants of several varieties.  For those of you who have not yet gone crazy with roses, this probably sounds like a lot.  For those of you who are rosarians you are probably wondering, "When is he going to really get started?"  The truth is that I am really trying to hit a happy medium.  I know my propensity to take a good thing too far, so this is me operating with restraint.  Oh, I am on a wait list for one other rose, Moore's Striped Rugosa, but my focus in the garden this year is to master the art of rooting rose cuttings and to bring the garden to maturity ( this will only be our third Summer in Prague).
L-R: DayDream, Siren's Keep, Jude the Obscure, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Winsome
         Let me tell you a little about these roses.  First, I order my roses from small owner operated Nurseries such as Burlington Roses, Heirloom Garden Roses, Rogue Valley Roses, Roses Unlimited, & Hartwood Roses.  The last of these, Hartwood, I have yet to use but feel certain that I will soon.  Theses nurseries specialize in producing roses that grow on their own root systems (which is different than most roses you will run across at Home Depot or even most local nurseries).  You will notice that they come much smaller but I am convinced will outpace and out live roses that are grafted onto a different rootstock.  So with a little help from my favorite rose website ( let me introduce you to my 5 new roses.

DayDream  I first saw DayDream at the Oklahoma City Rose Gardens.  It is a beautiful disease free bush that I would describe as a lavender version of Ballerina.  Blooms are lavender to magenta.  Mild, sweet fragrance.  Small to medium, single blooms with 10 to 12 petals, in large cluster bloom form.  Continuous (perpetual) bloom throughout the season.   Habit:  Bushy, compact, rounded, spreading.  Semi-glossy, medium green foliage.  It is listed with a height of 2' and 3' wide but it was at least 5' x 5' in the OKC garden.  I personally think this rose most natuarally fits in the Hybrid Musk class even if it is a bit stiffer than most in the class.

Siren's Keep is a rose bred by Paul Barden and I have been on the wait list for this one for almost a year.  This will be the fifth of his roses for me to grow.  It is a shrub rose with both English and miniature roses in its background.  Here is how it is described on hmf.  Deep pink, fuchsia / magenta center.  Strong, old rose, tea fragrance.  30 to 45 petals.  Average diameter 4".  Medium-large, full (30-45 petals), cluster-flowered, in small clusters, cupped, old-fashioned bloom form.  Prolific, blooms in flushes throughout the season.  Medium, pointed buds.

Jude the Obscure is an English Rose whose unique color and form have brought it much attention.  I once hear the color described as "parchment" and to me this seems accurate.  Additional information includes apricot, cream shading, lighter reverse.  Strong fragrance.  Full (55 to 70 petals) borne mostly solitary but sometimes in small clusters, globular bloom form.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh  is another English Rose with pink lilac blend color.  Mild fragrance.  Average diameter 3".  Very double ( 60-100 petals), cupped, old-fashioned bloom form.  Occasional repeat later in the season.  Charles has the reverse breeding of one of my favorite roses, St. Swithun and a similar bloom form but with more of a lilac color.  I have often wanted to grow this rose but have not until this year.

 Winsome is described as a miniature mauve or purple blend.  Little to no fragrance.  30 to 36 petals.  Average diameter 1.75".  Large, full (26-40 petals), classic hybrid tea, exhibition, reflexed bloom form.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season.  Medium, long sepals buds.  I grew this rose years ago and in my experience it was 2 1/2 feet tall with very beautiful blooms.

They are all going in the ground this evening.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Layering - An Easy Way to Start a New Plant

Before the advent of modern roses (rose with stiff plant structure typical of the hybrid tea) tall canes would sometimes be bent over and held to the ground with a peg.  Pegging as it is called, is a way of causing a rose bush to bloom all along the length of the cane rather than just at its end.  A rose usually blooms at the end of its growth but when it is pegged so that the cane runs laterally it sends out shoots of growth just above each leaflet which will produce flowers.  Pegging is a technique I have used on some of David Austin's English Roses as well as some Hybrid Pertetuals.  I use a chain link tie (which looks like a tent stake) to peg my roses, but any stiff hooked wire will do. 
           Gertrude Jekyll is an especially good candidate for pegging as it will send out very tall canes which are stiff but not so stiff that they can not be pulled over.
While Gertrude Jekyll has fallen out of favor with many growers because of her growth habit (she is sometimes referred to as a Jolly Green Giant because she often grows straight up rather than out) and the fact that she falls prey to blackspot very easily.  I enjoy her vigorous growth and see her as something of a small climber and I forgive her trouble with blackspot because her flowers are very beautiful and some of the most fragrant you will ever come across.  Additionally, her Spring/early Summer flush of flowers is one of the most dazzling displays you will ever see.  I will share pictures of her Spring blooms once the time comes.
           Another way of pegging a rose is to bury the end of the cane in a technique that is called layering. 
Layering produces the same affect as pegging with the added benefit of producing a new plant.  Notice in the picture above how the cane on the right arches as it is bent rather than creased to bend it (think bend not break).  To layer a rose you dig a shallow hole about 2 inches deep and 6 inches long.  You pull the cane down and lay it across the length of the hole with a couple of inches extending out the other side.  You use the peg to hold the cane down and then bury the part that is in the hole.  The example pictured above was buried about a week ago and will remain exactly as is until the Fall.  One way you can usually tell that it has begun to grow roots is when it sends up new growth from the part that is buried.  In the Fall, when it has likely started to produce roots, I will sever the new plant from the mother.  I then leave the young plant in place all winter to let its new roots develop. 
Yesterday I dug up two new plants of Gertrude Jekyll and transplanted them in the park rose garden.  Those who do not like Gertrude will think that I am trying to punish someone, but my hope is in coming years they will be in full bloom at the Kolache Festival (the first weekend in May) and add to the beauty of the day.  The small plant to the left is one that is now making its home in the Prague Rose Garden.  This way of starting new roses is a great way to share the joy of roses with others.  Such a new plant when potted up also makes a great gift.  Remember though that for 20 years after introduction in commerce most roses are protected from asexual reproduction (which layering or rooted cuttings are examples of).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gertrude Jekyll with Morning Dew

Gertrude Jekyll 001 by Red Dirt Roses
Gertrude Jekyll 001, a photo by Red Dirt Roses on Flickr.
Morning dew collected on Gertrude Jekyll's new leaves.  We are still at the stage in the garden where new leaves and growth are springing up but no flowers for at least a few weeks.  Even without the flowers there are ways to find and see beauty.  By the way, upon reaching maturing Gertrude's thorns are some of the most vicious I know of.