|French Lace rose: my queen of roses|
To me, roses are so beautiful that they might as well be the embodiment of souls on stems. I've always hoped that souls glowed though, so when scientists get around to creating glowing roses, I'll be the first in line to try one. If they can engineer glowing cats, then roses shouldn't be that hard. If you think I'm joking, google it. Glowing effing cats.
Roses get a bad rap. They are the cliche gardening specimen of an entire generation of avant garde, pseudo nouveau types that say "roses are so early 80s." In a few respects, I agree with them. Rose beds are unremarkable without other plants to frame and support the ho-hum foliage and singular blooms. Growing roses solo is mos def 80s. A man in my neighborhood grows only roses (plus one lavender, let's make that clear), and since traditional roses tend to be tall and gangly like a junior high student after a summer growth spurt, you get an eyeful of dirt. It's like that horrible dream when you walk down the street without pants. Dirt blows. Do people walk by and say "Wow! Nice dirt, dude?" No. No one wants to look at that crud for the aesthetic value. I'm the kind of gardener that prefers ninja dirt: it's there, but you don't see it. Like underpants. You just don't go around showing that stuff to people.
|Seriously. Photo credit: my nine-year-old from a moving vehicle. Drive by.|
|Mixed border: yellow rose and white lavender, but closer together. No underpants showing.|
|Heirloom climbing rose and Echinacea 'Green Jewel.' A little underpants flashed.|
|See the cherry on top? |
Red climbing rose, Digiplexis, Carolina spice bush, red barberry, achemilla
|Tamed heirloom climbing rose on trellis with iris hiding the base. |
Untended hose for effect.
|Black spot and Felis Catus, also with black spots.|
|Ladybug larva. Run.|
|Rose 'Dr. Huey.' Hey, sexy. Photo credit: Nicole Juday|
Many of the newer rose cultivars have been bred to resist the above problems. They still haven't been bred to glow, disappointingly. Knock-Out roses in particular are supposed to be impervious to the black plague and probably SARS, but I find them awfully plain without the whorls of petals. They look like evil souls. Maybe the jerk in the Lotus? So I don't grow them. But I wanted to at least mention them since they are the new hammer-wielding Thor of roses (I fancy Loki, FYI), and lots of get-out-of-jail-free types of gardeners are in love with them. No judging.
|Blushing Knock-Out rose. Yeah, not so much. But you can by it from WillowayNurseries.com|
Photo credit: Willoway Nurseries
Roses are always hungry. Plant food specifically for these souls is best since they have a preferred drink order. Martini: dry, shaken, two olives and a twist of lime. They also like different nutrients depending on the season and bloom time. But don't worry too much about that unless you're studying to become a member of the Seattle Rose Society (raise that pinky finger when you drink your tea). Just remember to look for the fertilizer that says "rose food" next time you're at the nursery. You could forgo the food and add compost like the backdoor of a hen house, but you can't make your own chellated nutrients- iron, phosphate, nitrogen- no matter how hard you try. I have added Epson salt to the mix on a whim, but I haven't noticed a big difference in foliage glossiness or greenness. I'll try again.
About that bad rap.... hopefully nothing above has told you not to grow roses. I've had roses that have been healthy, and as far as I know, my mother has never had to spray her roses, Aphids, sure, but never have I heard of fungal problems on her roses. And she's not nearly as neurotic about gardening as I am, so there's hope for the happy go lucky gardener out there. Maybe that's the key. Either way you decide to play it, post some photos of your souls. I promise my kids won't eat them.
|Heirloom rose: grandma's pearls.|
March onward towards dawn, my friends.