January 27, 2014

Reviews of English Roses

I have grown quite a few English Roses over the past decade, so I thought I'd post about my experiences with them.   The name 'English Rose' is applied to roses created by David Austin, a breeder in the UK.  They have become popular all over the world for their old-fashioned, elegant, fragrant flowers and shrubby growth.  See the website here or buy them from local nurseries.
All of the roses in this post have survived through multiple zone 5 winters here in Spokane and are fairly healthy.  My experiences may be different from someone in a hot or humid climate, as Spokane is fairly dry in summer and cold in winter, and that keeps diseases in check.  Above are mauve 'Sister Elizabeth' and crimson 'Munstead Wood.'  The rest of the post is organized alphabetically.

'Abraham Darby' was my first English Rose in Santa Clara, California.  Its citrus fragrance is tied with 'Lady Emma Hamilton' for my favorite.  The flowers are large and gorgeous.  This shrub is more vigorous than the average David Austin rose, growing to around 5' x 5'.  Unfortunately it was a rust disaster down in more humid, mild California, so I was hesitant to try it again when we moved to Spokane.  However it has not had a speck of rust here in Spokane.  The flowers only last a couple of days when cut, but a small bouquet can perfume a whole room.  So don't attempt this one if you live in an area where rust is a problem, but otherwise I'd highly recommend it. 

'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' is the smallish mauve rose in the center of this arrangement.  CRM does not enjoy ideal growing conditions in my garden.  It gets too much shade and not enough water, so it has not grown very full or produced many flowers.  I hope this will change next year though, since I ran a drip line to it in the middle of last summer and it started blooming like mad.  The flowers are lovely and hold up very well in a vase.  Expected size is 4.5' x 3', and the myrrh fragrance is light.  

'Claire Austin'  is another rose that hasn't yet flourished for me, though Davis Austin says it is his finest white rose to date.  Its sad state is entirely my fault - too much shade, too much transplanting.  I've finally got it in its final position (probably, ha ha) and am looking forward to watching it fill out and produce more flowers.   I haven't noticed much of a fragrance to the blooms, but that's probably another consequence of poor growing conditions.  Eventually it should reach 4.5' x 4' and the flowers are supposed to have a strong fragrance.

'The Countryman' is one of the older English roses, but in his book David Austin lists it as his favorite.  The flowers have a strong strawberry fragrance and are produced generously.  This is a delightful rose that makes a lovely shrub (3' x 3') but it's very prickly.  The flowers don't last long in a vase, but it's wonderful to sink your nose into its soft petals and take a whiff. 

'Crocus Rose'  doesn't get enough sun in my garden yet it produces flowers generously.  It makes a full shrub of around 4' x 3'.  The flowers don't have much fragrance but last well in a vase.  Actually, a lack of fragrance makes roses last longer when cut because it takes a lot of energy to produce fragrance.  Fragrant roses die faster, which is why many of the roses in florist shops are sadly lacking in scent.

I planted two 'Crown Princess Margareta' roses at the base of trellises several years ago, and they have been slow to grow very large.  Last summer I used a sprinkler modifier (not sure what the real name is) to send drip lines out of the bottom of my sprinkler heads in this area.  I'm hopeful that the emitters I placed at the base of these roses will enable them to finally thrive.  Even though roses can be drought tolerant once established, it requires a lot of water to put on new growth and produce a lot of flowers.  Eventually CPM can reach 9-11' as a climber, or 5' x 4.5' as a shrub.  DA says the fragrance is strong but I haven't noticed much fragrance yet.  The flowers last moderately well when cut.

'Eglantyne' is a large shrub in my front yard (actually 3 plants placed 18" apart, as DA recommends) that performs beautifully for me.  The flowers are a pure, soft pink that have a gentle fragrance and an adorable button eye in the center where the petals fold inward.  One shrub can grow 4.5' x 3', so planting three together gives it enough width the balance the height. 

'Francine Austin' is no longer offered on David Austin's website, though 'Snow Goose' is similar.  Both have tiny white flowers that mix well with larger roses in a vase.  You can see a flush of pink in the photo above, but the flowers are usually pale enough to look pure white.  The blooms have a sweet fragrance that I can catch from several feet away. 

'Harlow Carr' hasn't been left in one spot long enough to settle in and really start performing for me, and unfortunately I'm planning another move in a month or two.  But fellow blogger Liz at Gwirrel's Garden adores this one, so I'm holding out hope that I'll love it in a couple of years.  The flowers are smaller than some English roses but not tiny.  It is supposed to be an excellent repeat bloomer.  The color is deeper than 'Eglantyne' and leans toward the cool side of pink.  The shrub grows to 4' x 3' and is reputed to have a strong Old Rose fragrance.  Again, I'll have to wait and see.

'Lady Emma Hamilton' is one of my favorites.  The photo above doesn't do justice to the vivid sunset hues it produces, and of course you can't sniff its delightful citrus-pear scent by computer.  New growth is lovely reddish bronze, and it repeat blooms very well for me despite getting just a few hours of afternoon sun.  It grows to 4' x 3', though I prune it hard in spring to keep it more rounded than upright.  Blooms only last a few days when cut, but the scent from a few flowers can fill a room. 

'Meidiland White' is actually a French rose, not English, but it has some similarities to David Austin's roses.  The flowers open beautifully, unlike many of the hybrid teas.  The dark green foliage is susceptible to blackspot in prolonged wet weather, but it's glossy and gorgeous otherwise.  This rose grows low and wide - 2' x 5', so it can act as a groundcover.  Though the stems are not very long, the roses last well when cut.  I have not noticed a fragrance.  The flowers are purest white - not a bit of yellow - and I really enjoy them in the garden and in the vase.

'Munstead Wood'  is another rose in less than perfect conditions in my garden, and perhaps this is why the flowers are not as dark as they are shown in the catalog.  I'd only recommend this rose for full sun positions.  It stays smaller than some other English roses at 3' x 2.5'.  The fragrance is only moderate for me, and I prefer the shape of 'William Shakespeare 2000' to MS. 

'Queen of Sweden' produces medium-sized roses with little fragrance that have few thorns and last well in a vase.  The growth is more upright than my other English roses at 4' x 2.5', so this would be a good choice to plant in groups of three.  The color is soft peachy-pink - usually deeper than in the photo above. 

'Princess Alexandra of Kent' makes lovely full flowers with a delicious fragrance.  The color is hard to place - the buds are salmon pink but mature flowers are cool pink.  I'm a fan of big fluffy roses, so this one is a favorite.  This shrub reaches 3.5' x 3'. 

'Sister Elizabeth' is a sweet little mauve rose that produces quite a few flowers despite growing in partial shade next to 'Munstead Wood'.  It has a strong myrrh fragrance that reminds me of my grandma's makeup.  The flowers at the end of the season have narrower petals and resemble double Japanese anemones.  They do not last well when cut.  This compact rose grows to 2.5' x 2.5'.

'Teasing Georgia' finally took off last year and grew taller than the 6' fence by the end of the season.  The individual flowers aren't as lovely up close as some others, but the whole effect is very nice.  I haven't noticed a fragrance, though it won an award for fragrance in the UK.  They last moderately well in a vase.  The color is soft yellow in spring and pale peachy-yellow in fall.  It can be grown as a shrub (4' x 3.5') or can reach 8' as a climber.  I like this rose but if you want a strong yellow it's not for you.

'William Shakespeare 2000' is lush and romantic and one of my favorites.  It has a definite Old Rose fragrance yet lasts fairly well when cut.  It looks especially nice with 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' in a vase.  Like all of the shrubs in this post, it repeat blooms through the summer with an especially heavy flush in late spring and early fall.  DA says it grows 4' x 3', but for me it seems to spread a little wider than it is tall.  Lovely rose, highly recommended.
David Austin's website has more information about these and many other roses.  If you live in an area with many disease problems for roses, look for the ones described as 'very healthy.'  There are also lists of roses for shady positions, very hot or very cold climates, and other specific areas.   

January 24, 2014

'Dazzleberry' Sedum

Last week I noticed new shoots on my 'Dazzleberry' sedum.  I've never been a fan of sedum but this one stole my heart last summer.  If you're considering this plant for your garden, just buy it.  You'll be glad.

Here is a photo of the pretty leaves and buds just before flowering.  The reddish-bluish-purplish leaves are pretty throughout the spring and early summer before blooming starts.

The buds began to open near the end of August.  The flowers really are a warmish raspberry-rose, and they smother the plant.  The color is the exact shade of my 'Hush Little Baby' daylilies.  This sedum blooms when many other plants are taking a break from blooming.

Here is a view of Dazzleberry with the flowers fully open. The clusters aren't as large as they will be someday when it reaches full size after I stop dividing the plant to spread around.

After flowering, the buds were still pretty as they gradually turned brown.  I didn't deadhead until hard frosts killed the plant down to the ground, so I could just cut the whole thing back at once.  Sturdy, low-water, showy foliage and flowers, and low maintenance.  What  great new plant!

January 15, 2014

Buttermilk Moss Milkshake

A few months ago I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with the awful realization that the creeping mint (Mentha requienii) I had planted around my flagstone path was going to take over the entire garden.  My husband got a good laugh when I told him the next morning.  No monsters under the bed in my nightmares, just runaway mint.  Scaaaaary.  Anyway, the original section of mint I planted a couple of years ago reseeded up to several feet away and kept coming back even though I had dug it out.  I paid my kids to dig up all the little clumps of mint from the backyard path so we could try something else.  It was a good thing I thought of this just a couple of months after planting the mint, so it hadn't established itself very well yet and was easy to remove.  I had heard of blending moss with buttermilk in the blender to spread it (see an example here), so I decided to try it.  Above is the moss buttermilkshake in process.

Several friends were generous enough to let me dig moss from their yards to use in my project.  Because I had such a large area to spread with moss, I mixed one part water with one part buttermilk and threw several clumps of moss into each batch.  The buttermilk is acidic and creates a good environment for the moss to start growing.  After blending for a few seconds, the mixture looked like this.  Yummy.  My blender didn't seem to have any damage afterward, even though I didn't get all of the bark, dirt and rocks out of the moss clumps before blending them. 

I read that blending up the moss stimulates it to start growing, as long as it gets regular moisture after being spread.  I made many batches and dribbled them all around the flagstones in the backyard path.  After a few weeks, the moss began to grow as you see above.  It was good that I tried this in the fall, when temperatures were cooler so it was easier to keep the area moist.  I kept the sprinklers watering regularly even after the first light frosts.

The moss has continued to grow whenever it warms up above freezing.  Many areas of my flagstone path get too much sun to keep moss happy in the summer.  I'm thinking of digging out the moss from the cracks in the sidewalk in front of our house to spread in the sunniest areas, since that type of moss grows in full sun.  Maybe it will work, maybe not.  Eventually my trees will get large enough to shade the path for at least part of the day, but even then some areas might be too sunny.  I'll keep evaluating and see if I need to think of something else. 

Here is an area that has filled in well.  A friend warned me that the moss in her yard grows all over her flagstones and has to be cut back periodically.  I was hoping to avoid that, but it seems that all groundcovers tend to take over flagstones eventually.  I feel better about the moss than the mint, though.  I still have peppermint and spearmint in my garden, but they are safely enclosed in pots.  No more runaway mint nightmares for me!

January 6, 2014

Rooftop Garden - SLC Conference Center

I am finally posting photos of the LDS Conference Center rooftop garden that I took while visiting Salt Lake City in September.  This is one of the fountains on top of the roof. 

It's hard to believe that this meadow scene is located several stories high on top of a huge building.  Instead of using regular soil, which would be too heavy, these gardens are planted in Utelite.  Utelite is composed of expanded shale aggregates that are lightweight enough for rooftop use. 

Here is the view facing south.  Despite being irrigated each morning, the intense summer heat up on the rooftop keeps the garden pretty dry.  We were told that there were many more flowers to see in the spring. 

I wanted to jump into this pool and cool off, but of course we didn't do anything like that.  According to weather.com, Salt Lake City summers average 6 or 7 degrees warmer than Spokane.  Their winters are warmer as well, which would be nice this time of year.

The conifer trees were doing well, but the groundskeepers who guided us said the quaking aspens and other trees have struggled up here.  The relatively thin layer of Utelite soaks up the heat and some plants can't handle warm roots.

A waterfall flows down the side of the building from beneath this tower.

We were told the summer of 2013 was the hottest summer on record in SLC.  The plants down around Temple Square didn't seem very stressed by the heat, but there are many large shade trees to moderate the temperature down there.  Up on the rooftop was a different story.

And here is a shot of Marilyn and me.  We had a great time together on our trip, and I treasure the friendship we've developed while working together on the Spokane Temple grounds for several years.  She is really good at organizing people to get the work done, and I get to help organize the plants.  It works out well. 

January 2, 2014

Someday We'll Have Sunlight and Color Again

The sky is grey and the landscape is mostly brown, plus a few faded greens and muted blue-grey.  By mid-afternoon it will be dark.  So I dug out photos of the garden from last summer to remind myself of color and light.  Above is 'Pretty Lady Emily' Japanese anemone.

Here are blossoms from a dwarf mockorange shrub, 'Miniature Snowflake' Philadelphus.  Yes, they really do smell like orange blossoms.  Though the two shrubs I planted were small, I caught whiffs of the fragrance each time I walked past.  Completely yummy.

These double lavender flowers are from a 'Farmington' Michaelmas daisy.  The bees were entranced.

Here is a maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) unfurling in the spring.  I grow several ferns and this is my favorite. 

'Caradonna' sage (Salvia) glows with a warm plum center.  I also grow 'May Night' and love them both in the garden and in vases.

'Rolling Cloud' Siberian Iris has been a strong performer for me for several years, despite growing in partial shade instead of full sun.  The bloom time isn't long, but the spiky leaves add nice texture to the garden after the flowers are gone.

And finally, here are some leaves from Rodgersia.  This one is marginally hardy, so I'm crossing my fingers that it survives the winter to grow again next year.  The large leaves are very attractive, especially when backlit.  Surely the sun will show up again eventually.