Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Personal Rose History

My earliest recollection of roses are seeing them at the homes of my great aunt Catherine and my grandmother Ceil. Aunt Catherine and her husband owned a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY. I can remember being in her small backyard only a few times. There was a rose that had the most wonderful smelling crimson-red flowers growing there. She would cut them and place them in a vase in her tiny kitchen. The same type of rose grew in front of the steps of my grandmother's little house in Queens, NY. It was there when I was a child and was still there when she moved out of her home a few years ago. I can't be certain, but I think both of these roses may have been the hardy rootstock that less hardy hybrid roses had been grafted onto. I remember reading an article once about a certain rose found, growing neglected, in many cemeteries. It was determined that a variety of hybrid roses were planted in these cemeteries, and subsequently died, but the rootstock sprouted, grew and thrived. Great symbolism, isn't it?

My real introduction to roses came in the early 1980s when I worked in a garden center. In early spring, dormant Jackson & Perkins roses would arrive in colorful cardboard boxes and be set out for sale. The stems were short and stubby and were coated with wax to prevent dessication. Some of these sold at this stage, but it wasn't until mid and late spring when the plants had leafed out and put forth their blossoms, that they were scooped up by delighted customers.

As soon as I was able, I planted roses around our home. A favorite food plant to deer, they have been transplanted to our fenced garden. These are the roses that I grow:

Sunsprite - a vigorous, fragrant, prolific bloomer with dark glossy leaves.  It is disease resistant and pretty drought tolerant. It is a floribunda rose.

Ballerina - a hybrid musk rose that is a climber. It has a light scent and produces clusters of small single flowers followed by rose hips in the fall. Depending on the weather (cooler temperatures and adequate moisture is needed), it will bloom for a long period.

I so love the David Austin English roses. These are hybrids bred for fragrance, petal count and hardiness. I grow three and love them dearly:

Gertrude Jekyll - fragrant pink flowers. The first of the three to bloom. It grows tall.

Evelyn - a more compact plant, better suited to my garden than the others. The flowers are very fragrant. The color is a very pale peachy-pink. Just lovely!

Othello - the most robust of the three I grow, this bush produces many extremely fragrant magenta-red flowers. I save the petals for pot-potpourri as the color  and scent lasts a long time.

What memories do you have about roses? What roses do you grow?

(all photos by Susan Ernst)

1 comment:

Thank your for your comment. It will be reviewed before it is published so that I can avoid spam on my blog.