Thursday, July 07, 2011

Roses-the trade-off

For me, it's worth it, but for many other gardeners, it is not. And I understand why. Those of us who like the full, old-fashioned blooms of English or neoEnglish roses generally have to put up with lanky shrubs and intermittent bloom cycles (or even once only). On the other hand, if you'll accept a kind of boring, semi-double bloom and standard colors, you can have nice, compact ever-blooming shrub roses. They're great for roadside medians and other public landscaping situations, but I wouldn't give up garden space to them. I think many belong to the Knock Out family.

The roses I am drawn to are old roses or the David Austin line of contemporary takes on the old rose form and scent. For me, lack of scent or faint scent is a dealbreaker with roses, and too many of the modern hybrids have traded scent for disease resistance, floriferousness, and shrub form. These are all important qualities, but I don't grow roses for their disease resistance or their shrub form. I grow them for the flowers. And the scent. (Have you noticed how florist roses never have a scent—just a faint musty smell?)

This is why I tolerate the tendency of old-fashioned roses to be climbers, whether they're listed as climbers or not. My David Austin Abraham Darby gets black spot. And my Louise Odier is very stingy with her post-Junes blooms. So be it. When they make Knock Out roses that look like this (above) with a scent to match, I'll buy them.


NotSoAngryRedHead said...

Agreed! Roses need to have a scent to make it in my garden although I do have a Lady Banks, but I might trade it for something else. Have you heard about the Earth Kind Rose designation here in Texas?

allthingsjennifer said...

Ooooh so pretty! I'm just getting into the spirit of roses since He Who Makes Me Smile has wonderful bushes in his garden. :)

The Merry said...

I planted some climbing roses last fall. They're producing huge blooms with wonderful scent -- but the roses are too large for the shrub. The stems bend and break off because they can't support the weight of the blooms.
I'm a newby gardener, does this sort of thing happen off? Seems to me that it's like breeding giraffes with necks too weak to support the head.

EAL said...

I'm no rose expert, but I'd keep building up the soil with compost, and deadheading. The branches grow stronger over time. At least I have found this to be the case. But don't prune too late in the season.

chris m. said...

Yes, only grow roses for the scent and beauty of the blooms!
The best smelling rose to me is 'Celsiana' a Damask rose with a deep satisfying fragrance. The shrub is large-5ft x 5ft but it covers itself with medium sized flowers beautifully distributed on the bush. Another beauty is 'Celestial', an Alba rose, soft pink blossoms, beautiful in bud; even the foliage is beautiful, clean, nothing bothers it, gray-green.
Graham Thomas, the english garden wrote a great book on Shrub Roses, worth search for it to learn about what we call Antique Roses.
Love the photo of your Abraham Darby.

cheryl said...

Yes, we love roses with reckless abandon, for their scent as well as their beauty, completely disregarding the extra care they require. Try sprinkling cornmeal around the beds two or three times a year and water in well - no more fungus!

revel gardener said...

Curious: I've been trying to strengthen my roses. I am researching the use of coffee grinds. While I hear that the grinds, generally, are good for the plant, it seems no one wants to commit to the ways in which the rosebush might benefit from them. Have you used spent coffee grounds with any of your flowers? Results? Thanks, ahead, for the advice.

EAL said...

I don't think coffee grinds would help you. If you were to make compost using those grounds, adding the compost would be good.