Andrew from Dolton
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Two recently found roses are a climber and a Scotch rose. My neighbours told me of this rose that had flowered for the first time this summer. Originally the lower part of their garden had been a kitchen garden with vegetables and fruit trees and a few flowering shrubs, some of which survive. Over the years it slowly reverted back to woodland until the current owners bought the house three years ago. The rose is prickleless with stems a greenish yellow colour almost like Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea'. It suckers madly, every root that sees the light near the soil surface sends up a shoot. The neighbours described the flowers as being somewhat like a camomile or feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) plant. The house is quite old potentially the rose could have been there for twenty or anything up to three hundred and fifty years. I have helped myself to a nice big clump.
The autumn colour is beginning in earnest now this year. Last week we had frosts and since then the weather has been calm with no gales. Like finding your first gray hairs as you turn thirty the leaves start slowly changing then suddenly their colour becomes apparent everywhere. Driving into town along the A386 this morning I suddenly noticed leaves that were an unusual reddish russet brown. My foot stabbed on the brake pedal and I quickly swung the car onto the verge, the passenger, my partner, is well used to this behaviour and barely flinched. It appears to be a Scotch rose that was just growing in the hedge. The soil is still a little dry and the weather a little warm for moving plants but needless to say I will be rustling a sucker from this rose in a few weeks time.
On the western side of my garden the hedge has become over grown. I'm gradually cutting it back and tying down the living hazel poles so they sprout along their entire length. Each one I cut yields one or two stakes for pegging down roses. Like the hazel, many roses benefit from having their longest shoots pegged down and having flowers all along the length of the rose stem rather than far fewer right at the top.
"What's in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet;..."
That which we call a rose by any other word would look as pretty? No, not every rose is beautiful some are just hideous.
Rosa chinensis 'Viridiflora' is a curio without any petals at all. Its sepals have multiplied, increasing to form rosettes but without nectaries or sexual parts it will forever be scentless and barren. I first saw this plant grown in the long thin beds adjacent to the glasshouses many years ago when I was a student along with half-hardies like Amicia, Erythrina and Musa 'Dwarf Cavendish'. Grown with these awkward exotics it blended in, not looking out of place among this unusual otherworldliness and just a pane of glass away from all kinds of outrageous tropical beauties. But it in itself certainly isn't beautiful. Green flowers always grab my attention, at the time I was fascinated by the phyllodic forms of Anemone nemorosa and Primula vulgaris 'Viridiflora'. As I qualified and moved on from the R.H.S. I kept the memory of the green China rose mulling around inside my head but I never worked anywhere where I had an excuse to plant it. The gardens of my employers always had beauty over curiosity policies and I was unable to indulge any fantasies. Now with my own garden and interest in China roses, 'Viridiflora' was one of the first I grew. Here in North Devon with a far colder climate, especially in summer, it lacks its exotic posses to hide amongst, in my garden it just looks plain odd and occupies a space and my time that could be filled by something far more aesthetically pleasing. It needs pointing out to visitors too whose quest for colour and scent ignore it and even then needs explaining to bemused expressions as to why I spend any resources to accommodate this plant.
Never reaching swan status, another very ugly duckling is 'Mousseux du Japon'. I adore the resinous scent from moss roses and their bristly buds and stems. But with this Japanese rose it is covered with the thickest moss overwhelming any attractiveness it might poses and the moss isn't even very scented. If you want a dark moss rose then grow 'William Lobb' or 'Nuits de Young' which I suspect might share some breeding. Too much of a good thing.
Another horror is Rosa multiflora var. watsoniana. Lured by a description in a book and an interest in dwarf sports I acquired this rose before I had heard of HMF and ordered it without seeing a picture first. Probably caused by a virus most of its leaves are reduced to thread-like ribbons, it looks like a careless gardener has wafted glyphosate over it, the flowers too are deformed and almost colourless. Again I resent my time and money spent on giving this rose a place in my garden. Rather a weakling it needs growing in a pot and cosseting with some protection in winter as it is also a martyr to die-back. Rosa multiflora has a myriad of forms and varieties, some very pretty dwarf perpetual sports all far superior to watsoniana.
Even being a selected form of Rosa sericea f. pteracantha, 'Redwings' does not improve the qualities of this rose. Some or most of the prickles are an exaggerated elongated and flattened shape. There are descriptions waxing lyrical about the translucent mid-summer light refracting through the raspberry coloured prickles. But all too soon these dry out becoming pale brownish-grey and giving the bush an appearance of an aggressive stegosaurus. Far too unpretty and weird to be grown in the vicinity of other roses and in my garden very prone to die back too. Rosa sericea has another oddity making it different and alternative, it only has four petals in some of its forms. Unfortunately 'Redwings' isn't one of them allowing it even less endearment and interest. Two years ago I was given a Rosa sericea seedling grown from seed collected in the Himalayas which has elegant ferny leaves, dainty twigs and tiny little pointy prickles. It makes a pleasing aesthetically acceptable shrub and hopefully when it flowers for the first time this spring will only have four petals.
In a tribe of plants that have such beauty why do I choose such deformed freakish misfits? What could be next, Rosa wichuraiana 'Variegata'?...
© AndrewtheGardener 28/8/18.
After the Deluge...
The day that the rains came down
Mother earth smiled again
Now the lilacs could bloom
Now the fields could grow greener....
What a difference a few weeks makes. Greeness is back in fashion. The freshly nourished countryside basks in the moisture. There have been recent heavy showers of steady warm rain. The top few centimetres of soil is now wonderfully damp and warm but scratch below the surface and it is dry as dust. It was a mixed year for roses. Usually after first flush of bloom I give the roses a scat of fish blood and bone to help remontant ones re-flower and the once flowers put on good growth for next season. This has to be administered in mid July otherwise if done later it encourages too much sappy growth that can be damaged during winter. I normally feed FB&B in summer then bone meal, lime and a tiny pinch of borax in autumn then in spring more FB&B and my homemade compost mixed with manure as a mulch. My own compost is made in dustbins with holes in their sides to let air in. It is mostly kitchen waste and comfrey, fire ash and sweepings from my paths and steps. Once the bin is a quarter full I start adding almost all the urine I produce each day (I like to encourage my partner and any house guests to do likewise). After a few weeks a black liquid starts oozing out of a hole specially put in so I can tap off this precious elixir. It does not have an unpleasant smell, it smells like a farm yard, but not offensive. I use about 400ML in a 10 litre watering can and there is enough collected so I can feed all my China roses growing in pots, any newly planted roses and anything that needs a little boost. Because of all the nitrogen in the urine the food waste rots down really quickly. I make about five dustbins full each year and they are ready to use on the garden in about three months.
The rain brings a resurgence of dreaded blackspot. The older leaves of 'Variegata di Bologna' turned completely black by the end of June despite hot dry weather but its putting up plenty of new growth with the help of this liquid feed. I grow it like a climber, trained on wires this way I hope the growths are further away from the soil and get better air movement and maybe a touch less blackspot. It is such a leper spreading its disease to nearby 'William Lobb', 'Bleu Magenta', 'Débutante' and 'Gertrude Jekyll' which otherwise would be clean and healthy but only the parts of these roses that are nearest to 'Variegata di Bologna' have the disease. 'Duchess of Portland' is quite bad too and since we had some rain 'Rose de Resht' is suddenly speckled with black spots although it's re-flowering quite well. Otherwise due to the warm dry weather everything else is fine and healthy. I'm off out now to pick black berries.