Just about the only ornamental I'm devoted to. I don't know what it is about roses in particular, but they seem to draw more people than any other flower. Maybe it's the ease of growing a glorified bramble... maybe it's the emotional attachment. Whichever, I have a few and wish I had space for more.

I'm no snob; I grow hybrid teas, and I enjoy them. With a few exceptions, I don't see the fragility often ascribed to them, perhaps because we have such mild winters. My only issue is the trouble of the graft, which makes for some vigor and suckering issues, but on the whole they take care of themselves.


My dad originally picked out the first set many years ago, and there are several from that era. More recently I filled in a hole or two and added on to the end of the bed. What we have now are:

Peace, two of them; my dad loves them.
Double Delight, two, for the same reason; they look very different, though.
First Prize
New Zealand
Apricot Nectar
Sun Goddess
I lost my Whiskey Mac, but I have a promise of a bare root plant this year.
I also have a Climbing Altissmo in a pot in back.

Of the lot, my favorite is Whiskey Mac; I find it strange that I love an apricot-colored rose, but I guess it's the heady fragrance combined with the sheer perversity of the thorn-laden canes that appeals to me. It tries to scratch me just because it can, and it has double the thorns of any of the others. I still like it.

My second favorite is Climbing Altissimo, though choosing between them is like picking a favorite child. It was sold to me as a "Chinese lacquer red" and has never let me down, giving me perfectly formed singles of exactly that color. I'm not mad about singles usually, but I love this one, and I have to plant it soon where it can stretch out to its full fifteen feet.

I'm also fond of Sun Goddess, because of the wonderful lemon yellow. It fades, like most yellows, but that's all right, because it always has new blooms on the way. In the same fashion, Apricot Nectar blows me away with its ability to put out four dozen clip-ready flowers at once, several times a season. It's a floribunda, but with large blooms, and goes absolutely nuts with fragrant, peachy-pink blossoms.

New Zealand arrived a few years ago looking robust enough to weather a nuclear strike. It's still going strong.

The older Peace is a grizzled veteran with very pronounced mosaic symptoms, overrun by privet roots, but I can still depend on it to reach six feet every year. Its younger brother is more vigorous, not having to compete so much.

I have to recommend Olympiad. It's such a beautiful deep red, has well-shaped flowers, and never has a touch of mildew; so many other red roses succumb early to powdery mildew, and stay miserable all summer. Not this rose. I'd love to get a few more.


This section may be pretty short, as I don't do much for them. I do prune them back in January, and give them one or two feedings, but by midsummer I've forgotten about them and notice them mostly when I drive past them on the way to the street. I clip them to give to people, and the neighbors love them, but they really do thrive on neglect. The Altissimo is in the back, which means we get to admire the red splashes when we look out that way from the windows, and I need to see whether more roses could be put out that direction.

For pruning, I usually cut them to 12" to 18" tall, depending on how they're doing. I pick the last leaves off to let them go dormant for a short time, feed them, renew the cardboard mulch that's all that keeps the bermuda grass at bay, and make sure the watering system works. Then they're on their own.

I do need to hack back the privet tree shading Iceberg and Peace senior, and see about ripping up some of the mat of feeder roots around them... I think maybe that privet will be marked to go when I get to taking out weed trees, as it's gotten too big for its britches.

What do I feed them? I mix my own organic food once every few years, and store it in two five-gallon buckets. It's good for all sorts of things, but roses love it. I got the original recipe from rosenut on GardenWeb, and adapted it a little.

Equal parts by weight:
Chicken manure
Alfalfa pellets (bulk rabbit food does the trick)
Cottonseed meal
Fish meal
Epsom salts (to help with bud breaks)

I give out a cup per mature plant, and should do it three to four times a year (but don't). I do notice the results when I give it to them, however.

About the only major things that bother the roses are crickets and baby grasshoppers, which nibble the buds. I get a few aphids, a touch of black spot, a little rust, a little mildew... nothing earthshaking. Leafcutter bees always make me smile, making their perfect circular holes.

The Barefoot Gardener