Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sentimental Attachments

It is no surprise that one of the reasons we love particular roses, is because of the sentimental attachments they hold.  It may be for such attachments that I keep growing Gertrude Jekyll.  I had to go back and scan these pictures from 1996 of our kids, Anna and Thomas, beside Gertrude.  Gertrude was the first rose I tried pegging, in order to get more blooms along the laterally bent canes.  As you can see it worked, and even if I say so myself, it worked pretty well.
I always find it interesting (when viewing family photos) to see roses in the background.  They are a part of the mood and memory of our lives.  Remembering Anna in kindergarten and Thomas in preschool are the foreground to which I grew my first English Roses.  Angie took these pictures, and it must have been Mother's Day, because I notice the pinned red roses each of them are wearing.  That is a tradition I don't see many people following these days, wearing a rose to honor your mother on Mother's Day.  You wear a red one if they are living and a white one if they are deceased.
In recent years I have been letting Gertrude grow more naturally.  Philosophically, I like to let roses grow as they do by nature.  Left to her own devices, Gertrude Jekyll grows tall, 8 & 1/2 feet tall in the picture below.  This plant is three years old and had been pruned very little.  If Gertrude blooms at the end of her canes, at 8 & 1/2 feet, I won't be able to smell them and I am 6' 2".  So this year I am thinking about pulling those long canes down and pegging them so that I can enjoy her blooms all along the laterally trained canes.  This will take a little courage for two reasons.  First, these canes are strong and while a bit stiff they are just flexible enough to be bent down (think bend not break).
The second reason is that Gertrude Jekyll knows how to defend herself with some of the most vicious thorns of any rose I have grown.  Looking down into the plant, it looks like I could thin down the canes some too, but I really do like to let roses determine how they grow and what they can support so don't expect me to thin it down much. 
So 15 years later, on Mother's Day weekend of 2011, here are those wonderful kids all grown up with their mother and me.  This family we have grown together is what I am most proud of in my life.  With Anna studying in Switzerland this semester, Thomas in his first year of college, and Angie teaching at Rose State; it feels like one important phase of our lives as parents is closing even as other roles and ways of being together are emerging.  Although you wouldn't tell it from the gray in my beard, it feels like spring in my life.

This Mother's Day I am going to try to get a picture of them with Gertrude just for old time's sake.   Wish me luck.  It may take a bit of work to get them together but I'm hopeful even if a bit sentimental.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Paul Barden Roses I Grow

In recent years I have begun growing a number of roses created by the rose hybridizer, Paul Barden.  Paul studied horticulture in college and further studies in photography.  I think one gives him the science and understanding, the other the artistic eye for his work as a breeder.  Paul has drawn upon a wide range of influences and roses to produce the roses he has released to the public and even more so for the breeding stock he has been working with.  Undoubtedly, his relationship with Ralph Moore stands as one of his most significant influences and that is nothing but good in my book.  Paul has also made a significant contribution to rose growers and hybridizers through his website, http://paulbardenroses.com and his blog link above.  If you haven't before, do yourself a favor and visit his sight and click on some of the rose classes listed on the left.  You will be amazed by the photos and descriptions and don't be surprised if you look up to find that a couple of hours have passed by. 

Here are some of my observations about the roses Paul has produced and this is particularly true for the roses of his I grow.  First, their blooms tend toward the old fashion forms, being cupped or opening flat and quartered, much like the English Roses which stand a generation or two behind many of them.  Second, vivid color and fragrance are important and are almost always present.  Take for example a rose like Treasure Trail which, unusual for his roses, has little floral fragrance.  It certainly has the vivid color and while the typical fragrance is missing, it is made up for with the added balsam fragrance that the mossing on the outside of the sepals produces.  This fragrance is strongly released when the mossing is stroked.  Third, the bushes form and growth habit are that of a garden bush or shrub and not the stiff upright growth of a hybrid tea.  Fourth, the plants are healthy in my climate.  I have learned to be more conditional about this because different regions of the country have very different disease pressures on roses.  (An example would be that in the summer, I spray my roses down several times a week.  I believe this practice keeps my roses happy and healthy but in many areas people would be scandalized at the thought of intentionally wetting the leaves on their bushes.  That is because humidity can be a prime driver of black spot.)  These are my observations regarding some of the common themes that hold Paul's roses together.

So here are the Barden Roses I grow in the order I acquired them:

Unconditional Love 
Unconditional Love is a mini moss with cupped old fashion blooms scarlet to crimson in color.  The flowers have good fragrance from the petals along with scent of the mossing.  Unconditional Love is one of those roses that never disappoints because it is always in bloom and always healthy.   Mine is 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Golden Buddha  
Golden Buddha is a Hybrid Bracteata which has intensely pumpkin colored blooms in the spring and fall and a lighter yellow in the summer. It is always in bloom, almost to a fault. In my garden the plant is only about a foot and a half tall and two feet wide. I wish it would get bigger and then produce the blooms it does. It may be because this past summer was the hottest on record in Oklahoma and that Golden Buddha had a hard time with the heat. Spring and Fall it shined in this its second year in my garden.

Jeri Jennings 
Jeri Jennings is a beautiful Hybrid Musk with buttery yellow blooms, wonderful tea fragrance and a nice spreading habit. Mine is grown in partial shade and has been very healthy.  This ability to perform well with partial shade is a trait that Jeri Jennings shares with other Hybrid Musk roses.  Some report dealing with black spot on this rose but this has been very minor for me. After two years it is four feet tall by six feet wide.

Treasure Trail 
Treasure Trail is also a moss rose that grows much like a floribunda. Its blooms are quite unique opening to shades of pink, yellow, and salmon with old fashion form and a button eye.  The flowers last a very long time either on the bush or in a vase.  Besides being the most heavily mossed rose I grow, Treasure Trail has the most leathery dark green shiny leaves and grows as healthy and clean as anything in my garden. In two seasons it has grown to about two feet tall and three feet wide.

Siren's Keep 
Siren's Keep is finishing its first year in our garden.  It has sent a couple of strong canes up to two and a half or three feet tall.  As I mentioned earlier, last summer was very hot and while the flowers held up well in the sun, I think the color was a bit washed out by it.  The color is described as fuchsia to magenta which is a couple of shades deeper than the attractive pink ruffled petals that I have seen this first year.  I have often noticed that bloom color will deepen after the first year or two.  I fully expect to see the deeper colors this coming year.  Its good sized flowers (four-five inches across) bloom in small clusters and have a strong old roses fragrance.  I expect to have many more photos and updates this coming year. 

Dragon's Blood   
I added Dragon's Blood last Fall and do not have any pictures other than when it came as a young band with Carlin's Rhythm.  Its flowers can be a smoldering fire orange/red but I have yet to see it bloom and will look forward to its growth this coming year along with the next two.

Pam's Choice
This may be the rose I am most looking forward to this year. I have always loved the flowers of Angel Face but it performs so poorly that I haven't grown it for years. In fact it is my wife, Angie's favorite and I am hoping the blossom of Pam's Choice might be used to get me out of the dog house some day. Here's hoping she will be a suitable replacement to Angel Face.

Mel Hulse 
I added Mel Hulse on an impulse to my order of Pam's Choice.  It is not that I hadn't thought about ordering Mel Hulse before, I just hadn't pulled the trigger.  Mel Hulse is a Moss rose which like Unconditional Love and Treasure Trail is the progeny of Ralph Moore's Scarlet Moss.  On the other side of its family tree is the English Rose The Prince. 

Here is to dreaming of spring's blossoms.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Lesson From The Garden

Let the fig tree teach you a lesson.  As soon as its branches become green and tender and it starts putting out leaves, you know that summer is near. - Matthew 24:32
The mild winter has led us to some unusual experiences.  This week it was freezing fog on some very early growth.  I feel fortunate to have grabbed these pictures of how the fog settled on the plants and then froze.  At 28 degrees the fog was still a mist but when it landed on the surface of the roses it froze.
Fig trees will not grow in my climate so I am assuming that they conform to the growth of other trees and plants I am accustomed to.  Jesus often used agrarian images and examples to teach his followers.  These images became parables and metaphors for understanding life and to help people find deeper meaning.  Jesus so often used the common and ordinary as a way to talk about God's love and presence in our lives.  I think the whole of these examples creates a message that is bigger than the individual examples.  When Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, the point is that we should not overlook the small and common or we might miss what God is doing or if you prefer a deeper spiritual presence in your life.
When Jesus points out that before summer comes the fig tree branches begin to swell and send out small growth he is talking about expectancy and watchfulness.  Rarely in life do things happen suddenly.  Almost always there are events that point to what is about to happen.  It's true in relationships, education, growing up, and gardening.  The change from winter to summer does not happen all at once.  It comes with lots of small steps that tell us to get ready for the growth that is about to happen.

So if I am looking to this week's lesson from the garden it must be a cautionary message.  The garden is starting to show signs that growth is beginning but the frost warns us to be patient and not to jump in too deeply just yet.  It is still time for preparatory work.  Growth is coming - be ready and patient.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Roses for Spring

Tradescant, English Rose
This time of year, my inner gardener gets a bit antsy.  I want to get out and work in the garden but it's often cold and it gets dark so early.  So I've been working over my list of roses I will be adding this spring. 

Before I get to the list let me say that I do not buy any of my roses from local nurseries.  I would prefer to buy locally, but it is simply the case that no nursery in Oklahoma sells the roses I want to grow.  But if you're on a budget, here are some Lowe's promotional codes to save you some money on your roses.  I might be able to find the two English Roses and Fourth of July at a local nursery but they would probably not be grown as own-root plants.  I think own root plants are better and longer living roses.  Many of the roses I like are only available from a few sources. Such as Pam's Choice which I am really looking forward to growing this year but is only offered by Rogue Valley Roses or the Dr. Griffith Buck roses which I am getting from Heirloom Roses.  For the past 17 years I have ordered my roses by phone or internet from the growers in My Favorite Rose Resources list on the right and down the page.  They come with my highest recommendations.

 I have never grown any of Griffith Buck's roses before this year.  I have often wanted to, but I think the attention they have received as being very winter hardy has caused me to hesitate before ordering.  So, under the strong influence of the good ProfessorRoush I am adding four this year. 

       Griffith Buck Roses
Distant Drums While I have not seen ProfessorRoush rave about this rose, I have always wanted to grow it.  I have always loved lavender and unusually colored roses so I will give it a try this year.

Folksinger As a lover of folk music this one was added to the list with prof's approval.

Prairie Harvest  This light yellow shrub rose produces large hybrid tea style flowers.  It's also supposed to be very fragrant.  Prof says its his favorite Buck roses so it was a must add.

Queen Bee is another of Dr. Griffith Buck's shrub roses with dark red, very doubled, cupped blooms.  I have a feeling this will be my favorite of the Buck roses.  Did I hear someone say "Boomer!" 

       English Roses
Evelyn  I have often seen Evelyn's large fragrant blossoms of soft apricot in other gardens and have always been envious.  I guess this is the year she will be added to my garden.

Golden Celebration  I am a fan of David Austin's English Roses and while I like Graham Thomas, I am looking forward to adding Golden Celebration.  I have heard that it has the same beautiful color but in a larger fuller flower on a healthier bush. 

       Unusually Colored Roses
Pam's Choice This may be the rose I am most looking forward to this year.  I have always loved the flowers of Angel Face but it performs so poorly that I haven't grown it for years.  In fact it is Angie's favorite. I'm hoping Pam's Choice can be a suitable replacement.  This will be my seventh rose from Paul Barden.  I've been very pleased with all of them so far.

Fourth of July This will be my fourth variety of striped rose in this garden.  I just can't resist the splash they provide.  It's a red and white striped climber with semi-double blooms.

       From Cuttings Given To Me
F.J. Grootendorst The first two roses here are Hybrid Rugosas.  I have grown more interested in the rugosas for their health, winter heartiness and crinkled leaves.  So this will give me the opportunity to learn more about the rugosas.

Sir Thomas Lipton  is a white bloomed vigorous growing plant with bright green foliage.  This rose is probably the farthest reach from my current comfort zone of roses. 

Maggie I was surprised to find Maggie listed as a Bourbon Roses as I was under the impression that she is a Hybrid Perpetual.  In either case, her color and form are very appealing to me.

Red Cascade This will be my only Ralph Moore rose to add this year.  Red Cascade is a red
climbing/ground cover miniature rose depending on how it is trained.

Tradescant I love Tradescant and it is the best red English Rose I have grown.  However, my plant was taken out by Rose Rosette Disease.  Before it dug it up I took a couple of cuttings from the unaffected part of the plant.  Hopefully a cutting will take and I won't have to reorder it.

If you want to see the full list of the Roses I Grow just follow the link or the tab at the top of the page.

Next week I am going to try something a little different.  I am going to begin writing a monthly entry that reflect from a gardener-pastor's perspective on a relevant scripture.  I have been wanting to do this for a little while and feel like the timing is right.  I hope each of you will enjoy it.