July 27, 2010

English Rose Sniff Test

Lately I've been smelling my english roses to see which ones have the best fragrance. Above is 'Claire Austin', which is supposed to have a lemon scent. Try as I might, I can't catch much of a fragrance at all from this one. Maybe it will put out more of a scent in future years when the shrub is older and stronger.

'Francine Austin' (above) is another white english rose with miniature flowers, and it smells sweet like crabapple blossoms. Creamy 'Crocus Rose' (not pictured) also smells softly sweet, and sometimes like cloves.

I can't remember exactly how 'Crown Princess Margareta' (pictured above) smells, and it doesn't have any flowers for me to check right now. Seems like it smelled good, and the catalog says it smells strongly fruity. I like fruity scents. I'm also having a hard time remembering yellow 'Teasing Georgia' (not pictured), which is supposed to have a tea rose fragrance. I'll have to check during its second flush of blooms.

The DA catalog says 'Queen of Sweden' (not pictured), 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' (above), and 'Sister Elizabeth' (below) smell like myrrh. To me, they smell like my Grandmother's makeup.

QoS is out of flower, but I keep sniffing CRM and SE to try to like the scent. I'm not quite there, though - I think I'm not a big fan of myrrh. But I love the mauve-pink color of CRM and SE.

When a gardener friend smelled 'William Shakespeare 2000' (above), she exclaimed that it smelled just like a rose should smell. I agree - I guess that's the 'Old Rose' fragrance. 'Munstead Wood' (immediately below) and 'Eglantyne' (below the picture of MW) smell similar to me, though their scents are fainter.

This year I have already written about the strawberry fragrance and lovely form of 'The Countryman' here, so I didn't post any pictures today (below is 'Eglantyne'). I don't know that I can actually detect strawberries, but I really like the scent of TC.

'Princess Alexandra of Kent' (below) is a new rose this year, and it has a nice but soft citrusy fragrance. The surprise about this rose is that the buds are salmon colored before they open into warm pink flowers. The catalog picture looks like a cooler shade. The flowers are pretty, but they don't fit well into my cool-pink backyard scheme.

The new 'Abraham Darby' roses (pictured below) that I planted this spring have a tangy and strong citrus scent, just like I remembered from this rose in California. I'm happy to report that the leaves show no sign of rust disease in the dry Spokane climate.

Blooming for the first time in my garden this year is 'Lady Emma Hamilton' (below). There's some citrus in the scent, and also a yummy pear aspect. I'm still not a fan of straight orange for my garden, but this rosey-orange color is definitely winning me over. The color of this rose reminds me of sunsets - it truly glows in the garden. So 'Lady Emma Hamilton' has captured the top spot on my favorite english rose fragrance list.

July 20, 2010

My First Japanese Iris Blooms

I first planted Japanese Iris (I. ensata) in my garden three years ago, and this week I finally saw some flowers! These are definitely the largest and most flamboyant blooms I've ever seen on an iris.

The top three pictures show 'August Emporer'. I don't like a lot of bi-colored flowers, but I'm making an exception for this one. The blooms are wide (7 or 8 inches across) and flat.

Unfortunately this flower didn't last long - it only looked fresh for about a day. I guess that's why it's a Japanese iris. Japanese gardens are known for their elegant restraint, so a flower this showy must have to make up for it by being very short-lived.

Behind the 'Fire and Ice' hosta you can see the leaves of the first unnamed Japanese iris clump I planted (thanks Kathy). It hasn't shown any purple flowers yet, so I guess I need to move it out into more sun. But the leaves are very pretty.

Here is 'Momogasumi', which was advertised as being pink. Hmmm. That's not what I'd call pink, but I guess what they meant to say is that it's pinkish lavender.

I also have a start of white 'Eden's Charm', but it didn't bloom this year. Neither AE nor M nor EC are very large clumps yet. They have just a few leaves each and look rather pitiful (hence the close up camera shots).

I can't wait to see the show when the clumps mature and put out a bunch of blooms at once. I'll have to look quickly to catch them before they're gone, but they will make some nice floral fireworks for the middle of summer.

July 12, 2010

Why You Should Stake Delphiniums

I never got around to staking my 'Pagan Purple' delphiniums this year. I was kind of hoping that since they're overcrowded in a bed with a large lilac shrub that they'd all kind of hold each other up. Apparently I was wrong.

Here is a picture of one of my backyard flower beds taken a couple of days ago. You can see Campanula 'Pearl Blue' down low, a crimson 'William Shakespeare 2000' english rose shrub, violet 'Caradonna' salvia, and the giant 'Pagan Purple' delphs. The tallest ones are over six feet (two meters) tall.

Here is the same view from this afternoon. We've had a very windy day today. Even the rose has flopped over. Its stems should get stronger with a few more years of growth, so I'll not worry about staking it. But I definitely need to remove a few of the delphs and stake the ones that are left for next year.

This is a pretty shot, despite the fact that the delph stalks are pointing the wrong direction. In the background are bleeding heart foliage and 'Lime Rickey' heucheras. I love lime green and deep violet-blue together.

If I didn't love their flowers so much, I'd never put up with all the work needed to grow good delphiniums. They need rich, moist soil. They need extra stalks removed in early spring so the clump doesn't become too congested (I didn't do that either this year, oops). And staking, of course.

The good news is that you don't have to feel guilty about chopping off a ton of flowers to fill up a vase when the stalks are already laying on the ground. Do you notice how the vase looks like it's leaning? The wind knocked it over a couple of seconds after I took this shot. Nothing broke, though, and I put the flowers in a bigger vase.

I also cut some of the crimson roses and put them in a vase with delphs to give to a friend. These are some seriously pretty flowers! Although the delphiniums don't smell, the 'William Shakespeare 2000' roses have a very strong, romantic scent.

At least I caught a shot of the bed before the wind trashed it. Live and learn.

July 7, 2010

Portraits of 'The Countryman' English Rose

'The Countryman' was the first David Austin English rose that I purchased. I'm sure I've mentioned before that the vibrant blooms remind me of fluffy pink-frosted strawberry cupcakes.

In his book, David Austin says that this is one of his favorite roses. It isn't the best for cutting, as the flowers last just a couple of days in a vase before shattering, and the stems are quite prickly. The blooms are velvety soft and deliciously fragrant, though.

I have been encouraged to share some wider view shots on my blog. That is difficult for me, as my garden isn't established enough to look good from afar. But I'm trying it now . . .

Here you can see that 'The Countryman' makes a nice, full bush. At 3 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide, it's a nice landscape rose. It's surrounded by white and violet delphiniums, iris, thrift, columbine and oriental lilies (not yet in bloom)in a morning sun location.

And here is an even wider shot. You can't actually see the rose, as it is hiding behind the white delphiniums at this angle. But I shared a wide view shot, and it didn't kill me. Almost, but not quite. Phew.

Let's finish with another close up shot. I love the way the stems softly curve upward. It's quite a different look from the ramrod stiff stems of the hybrid tea roses. Lovely, eh?