roses and the Utah gardener

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Magareta, David Austin

As I was perusing the amazing improvements made to a suburban yard at VW Garden, I realized that I too should document the fate of the roses around here.

June 2nd 2015

Madame Plantier, old rose

For about 4 years I have loved roses a little too much. They, as a plant got me gardening again and the rabid collection of new plants necessitated new garden beds to be cut. After a few year of trial and error this post will summarize some hard learned lessons. On second thought this better be a multi part endeavor.

I started the rose adventure when we moved in the house eight years ago by having my father help me remove all the roses on our property. They had reverted to their rootstock and were vigorously growing into massive shrubs covered in once blooming miniature blooms. This I felt was not ideal. Four years later I received six¬†Moondance white roses from Lowes for mother’s day. The first winter they suffered quite terribly, most dying back to the ground, some just dying. This was not very promising to say the least.

June 2nd 2015moondance rose

Moondance rose

Those roses were joined by many David Austin specimens the next year. Not knowing what to look for at the time, I purchased plants that had terribly undeveloped root systems and most of them failed. I had focused on specific varieties, overlooking healthy floribundas close by. Here are five discoveries I have made since:

June 10th garden

Princess Alexandra of Kent, David Austin

Great advice #1

In Utah it is a fantastic idea to shop of roses in the fall. Because they are on sale? No actually, although that’s nice. Purchasing in the fall is fantastic because the roses have had the entire season to grow nice root balls on someone else’s water. When you get home and plant you needn’t fear lifting the plant from the pot and having everything fall apart. The next spring your rose is ready to go right away.

June 10th garden

Darcy Bussell, David Austin

Great advice #2

When shopping (as late in the season as possible), don’t focus on specific rose names, obtain the healthiest plant you can find. Much like the friendly dog/cat at the pound gets adopted first, so should the rose. Darcy Bussell and Princess Alexandra of Kent are such examples in my garden. They just came home very vigorous.

Great advice #3

Roses need a lot of water in Utah. Without enough water, and it is more than any of us can imagine, a rose bought early in the season (even bare root) does not seem to ever take off, year after year after year… In fact, the day you decide enough is enough and shovel prune the thing you realize that it has failed to produce a root ball all along. A rose that started strong in the pot on the other end is fine and can even be moved without tears. After years I am told that roses become drought tolerant here, it might very well be true but they will never be completely water wise.

June 2nd 2015

Gertrude Jekyll, David Austin

Great advice #4

Roses need less than 6 hours of sun in Utah. In fact some do quite well on much less. Like my Gertrude Jekyll above, planted at the north-west corner of our house. In the case of dark red roses, it is paramount that they have some shade during the hottest hours of the day. The gorgeous blooms on my Darcy Bussell could be singed in an afternoon on the south facing site I had initially chosen. Instant potpourri! In the fall I relocated it in the back yard, where it faces east and should benefit from some shade in the afternoon.

Crocus Rose

Crocus Rose, David Austin

Great advice #5

RESIST THE URGE TO SPRAY! yes the first year you will have aphids but if and only if you resist the urge so many beneficial insects and birds will move in that by year two the aphids populations will seem almost cute in their feeble efforts to decimate your buds. It really works, scouts honor. PART DEUX: RESIST THE URGE TO BUY WHITE OR CREAM ROSES. Yes they are gorgeous but they are terribly susceptible to thrips, against which all of us are powerless. The Crocus rose above, once my favorite, is regularly devastated by the minuscule black menace. It’s just not worth the heartache. If you must have a white rose, try Iceberg, a landscaping rose that will never break your heart.

Next time, where/what to buy + where/what not to buy..

Queen of Sweden

Queen of Sweden, David Austin

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