Monday, June 11, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

National Rose Month
June is National Rose Month, so in honor of this distinction I will be blogging about roses. I love roses. As I often say, I am a martyr to my roses. I put up with the thorns (which I don’t do for any other plant), I fertilize, I deadhead, I replace if one croaks over the winter, and I come home from work every night in July and August and spray those darn Japanese beetles. I have tea roses (mostly) and some shrub roses surrounding a bird bath. After my pond, my rose garden is my favorite spot. So, please indulge me while we spend some time this month on roses.
Gardening Trivia Quiz
Last week’s question had to do with the banana plant. The answer is below. For this month we will have questions, obviously, relating to roses. One issue that comes up often in the rose garden is the problem of thorns. What is the correct name for the pokey things that are on the rose stems? (Just as a hint, I got most of my information for these blogs from the ARS web site.) If you know the answer, or even if you don’t, e-mail me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Selecting Roses
Rose Classifications
Roses can be grouped in to three main classes: Species (wild roses), Old Garden Roses, those in existence before 1867, and Modern Roses, or those not in existence before 1867. Within the Old and Modern classification there are shrub, tea and climbing tea, as well as hybrids. Here at C’side, we classify our roses as either hybrid tea (including grandiflora and floribunda), shrub, David Austin (Old English roses) and climbers.

Tea Roses

Hybrid Teas- Tea roses came from China and were hybridized in England to become the quintessential rose we know today. Tall and stately, with long pointed buds on long stems, the flowers come in all except black and blue. There are now over 6,000 varieties of hybrid teas available. These varieties are the result of lots of inbreeding which has led to reduced disease resistence and winter hardiness as well as fragrance, but with 6,000 varieties available, you should be able to find a hybrid tea to suit you.

Floribunda- The floribunda rose is a cross between the hybrid tea and a polyanthus rose. Introduced during the 1939 World’s Fair by Jackson Perkins, this cross resulted in a plant that is more compact with superior hardiness and disease resistence.
Grandiflora- This rose is a cross between the hybrid tea and the grandiflora. It is characterized by having clusters of flowers on long stems. It is a taller rose than the floribunda and works well as a screen or in the back of the garden. Generally, it is not as fragrant as either the hybrid tea or the floribunda.

Shrub Roses– These roses are really the work horse of the garden. They are exceptionally winter hardy and disease resistant. They tend to be wider than they are tall. They work well in the "mixed herbaceous border," as the English would say. They range from the "Blanket" series that are 12" tall and 24" wide to the , which are 5' tall and as wide. This group also contains the wildly popular "Knockout" series, that now includes the red, pink, blushing pink and the rainbow varieties. Other popular lines are the David Austin, Sub-Zero, Canadian Explorer and the Meidiland series. Notice the shrub rose has multiple flowers on the stem, rather than a single flower as with a hybrid tea.

David Austin Roses: These shrub roses are hybridized and marketed by David Austin of Wolverhampton England. They are based on the Old English roses and are characterized by being more shrub like in appearance with a very densely petalled flower. They also tend to be more winter hardy and disease resistant than the hybrid tea roses.

Climbers: Roses with the name "Climbing Rose" or "CL" as a prefix are sports or genetic mutations of shrub roses of the same name. These roses will have an initial spring flush of blooms, then bloom sporadically the rest of the season. Other climbing roses without the "Climbing" or "CL" prefix are a cross of two bush varieties. These roses generally have a spring flush of blooms, then a repeat bloom and a final fall flush. With their shrub rose parentage, climbers also tend to be very hardy and disease resistant.

Notice I have hedged when describing these roses as being "more resistant" or more "winter hardy." More than any other plant (I think) roses are trickiest to grow. Not that I do everything "right" when planting or generally maintaining my garden, but every couple of years even I lose a rose and I have no idea why. The one next to it did okay so what happened? Who knows. All I know is I like them and I’m willing to put up with their idiosyncracies. As I tell my customers at C’side, just because it’s a perennial doesn’t mean you can’t kill it.

Own Root Roses One more thing to consider when selecting roses, is whether or not the rose is on its own root or grafted on to a root stock. More and more roses are being grown on their own root stock so that if the plant dies back to the ground the new canes will be true to the original variety. If the rose is grafted on to a hardy root stock and dies back to the graft, the resulting growth will be that of the root stock and will have no relation to the variety that was originally purchased. Does that mean a rose on its own root stock is hardier? I don’t know–is it, Kim?

The Answer to Last Week’s Trivia Question: True, the banana is classified as a herbaceous plant and not a tree. Here are some other fun facts to know and tell about bananas: They are 75% water but only .2% fat. They are a great source of potassium, which is an important electrolyte, and in conjunction with calcium aids in the functioning of the nervous system. My friend Shelly that works at another local garden center that I can’t name on our blog, always recommends adding banana peels to the soil in the rose garden. In the winter when the ground is frozen she bakes the peels in a slow oven until they are powdery and adds them to the soil in the spring.

Greenhouse Staff Gets a Break

Well the busy season for us has ended and we are all looking forward to 5-day weeks instead of the 6-day weeks we had been working. Last Saturday we had a green house staff potluck to celebrate. We still hope to see you and now you probably won't have to take a number get assistance with your purchases. Some of us will be taking much needed vacations. Jana is on her vacation now and I leave for Spain on Friday. I hope to be able to blog while we are there and also to post pictures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it