Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Roses of Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado

Michael Mowry in Tampa

Me with a Fairmount Rose

Toni Tichy with her Riverside find 'Josephine Bruce'

Marlea Graham with "Fairmount Ragged Robin"

Marlea Graham with "Fairmount Flouncy Pink"

Marlea Graham with "Caswell Pink"

"Fairmount American Pillar" by Michael Mowry

"Fairmount American Pillar" by Michael Mowry

"Jo An's Pink Perpetual" in Tampa

"Fairmount Proserpine" by Michael Mowry

"Mae Fair Pink" (since ID'd as the rootstock Manetii)

"Mae Fair Pink"

"Fairmount Red" by Michael Mowry

"Alice Flores Purple Hybrid China"
by Michael Mowry

When I rode my bicycle on a lovely June day in 1989 through the park-like beauty of Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, I had no idea it would soon be changing my life and that as a result I’d be haunting those 260 acres for the next 12 years. In the last year I’d had an epiphany as an organic landscaper and begun using own root Old Roses in my Tampa and Denver clients’ yards and thus got in the habit of noticing them in my travels. So some distance from me as I pedaled there was a forlorn-looking shrub laden with sultry magenta-red blooms interspersed in between dead canes and lusty thriving ones. "Fairmount Red" I called it and I was smitten.

A couple weeks later I went back with kelp and fish and cottonseed meals in my back pack and fed it after pruning away all the dead wood and shaping it. Noting that lawn mowers had nuked the many suckers that had been coming up in nearby sod, plus weed whackers had buzzed the base back to near the headstone, I "stole" a sucker that had survived the mayhem and till I moved away in 2002 that clone not only made me swoon every June in my south hedge of roses, it was a crucial breeder for me. "Fairmount Red" LOVED that feeding and leapt into growth....2 years later after a second such feeding its arching length matched that of my 1985 Nissan pick up truck! But the feeding had a negative consequence...the blooms lost most of their oxblood tones and became so magenta that when I led tours of Fairmount for the Denver Botanic Gardens people asked why I had named it "Fairmount RED"!

At first I "snuck" into Fairmount Cemetery to look for other Mystery Roses, take notes and photograph them, suspecting my passion would not be understood by the folks running the place...and I was right. One day as I snapped photos with my long lense 35 mm camera, a very stern landscape foreman, alerted by a worker with a walkie talkie, drove up quickly and inquired suspiciously what I was up to. He seemed both baffled and relieved by my answer, explaining that the cemetery grounds also attracted some folks with steamier passions than roses and had been found engaging in a number of unmentionable acts alone or with "playmates" behind headstones. So by contrast my rose obsession seemed odd but benign! He drove off and the balance of that summer got used to seeing me there very often, clutching camera and notepad.
By the end of that same summer I had met Jo An Cullen, a high-energy, high-fashion colorful woman who was head of public affairs at Fairmount and had already begun having her new favorites dug up each fall by the crews and planted in a central area where she hoped some day to see a formally declared preservation garden of Fairmount’s roses. Tall, stately, matriarchal, crafty and irreverently funny, she was determined that president Frank Hegner and the board come to share her love of the roses. So we became fast allies as I continued my discovery and cataloguing efforts. Frank and his wife, who been using the roses as subjects in a drawing class at the Denver Botanic Gardens, attended a presentation I gave there about these roses and soon I was leading annual tours each June. I will always treasure the memories of half a dozen years of dragging people from bush to bush across the sprawling property, noting folks’ favorites and their astonishment at the potencies and qualities of fragrances each rose shared with hungry noses. They LOVED it that Jo An welcomed all to take cuttings to root for their home gardens.
A very nice by-product of my leading these tours was students making discoveries as I would lead folks on short cuts from one bush to the next....I had gotten so close to the subject that I literally was not seeing the forest for the rose trees, some "Banshee types" reaching 15 feet in height. Several times I would marvel at how MANY times I had walked RIGHT past a rose and not noticed it whereas a first time tour taker would call out "what about this one?". Of course, being obsessive by nature, I’d get into a froth and have the fun of shared group discovery and first time examination of a new rose find, with us often devising a study name right there on the spot.

Alice Flores did exactly that when I took her there for a couple of hours before she had to fly out after speaking at the Heritage Rose Foundation conference in Denver in 1997 that Bill Campbell and I had co-hosted. She found a stunning purple Hybrid China, an Alba-Damasky thing and several others by high tailing it right towards the south end after I had spent years largely combing the north end. It is funny to recall now, but I HAD to be back at the conference, and we got separated and time was running out....I felt like Jackie Gleason bellowing out "ALICE! ALICE! ALICE!" vainly trying to find her. Well I did, and she was levitating at her discoveries, saying she’d love to come back one summer, pitch a tent and have it. It was a thrill to have her plus Stephen Scanniello, Mike Shoup and others in attendance take my tour and offer their thoughts as to ID’s on some of my finds, such as "Fairmount Malton" plus "Fairmount Flouncy Pink" and "Mae Fair Pink" both of which badly stumped everyone.

Over the years I was blessed by visits from Marlea Graham, Bill Grant, Fred Boutin and Clair Martin, a Weeks Roses representative, plus a ‘Fine Gardening’ editor that not only helped me better understand these lovely enigmas, but also to spread the word of this massive mother lode of OGRs and Mystery Roses that periodically suffered heart breaking loses due to rogue landscaping activitities.

The powers-that-be at Fairmount have a mixed record of preserving these living treasures....creating a wonderful gazebo garden collection of them as I found and catalogued them, the autumn 1997 "massacre" of hundreds of them all over the 260 acres against my advice, which led to new growth being killed by winter and a subsequent 2 year set back for most of them, printing a lovely book about the roses of Fairmount Cemetery, reversing Jo An’s invitation to continue the tradition of visitors taking cuttings to root by banning this in 2002 against my counsel, hers, and dozens of renowned rosarians who wrote and faxxed in protest, promoting the roses in their historical tours, killing roses with herbicides and transplanting them against advice, repeat mowings till dead, and hiring me to do a lengthy consultation for the landscape crew and that foreman who "caught" me being a Peeping Tom years before!
With neighbors and tour takers no longer being able to take cuttings, the effort to clone these roses to increase their numbers and thus reduce the likelihood of extinction was hurt badly. I was told a powerful new board member had made a massive donation and insisted the practice cease...well, as they say, money talks. (But I’ve been told that some dedicated rosarians have undertaken "guerilla actions" and made clones of key cultivars after I moved back home to Tampa in 2002.)

Heather Campbell at High Country Roses has been a wonderful ally in my efforts to see these roses, plus those discovered by Toni Tichy at Riverside Cemetery (owned by Fairmount Corporation) cloned and made available to the public. In 2001 I mailed Heather cuttings of all the best and/or remontant roses from both cemeteries. A few years alter I had the nostalgic thrill of giving a seminar at a large Colorado nursery and seeing tray after tray of "Fairmount Red", "Fairmount Proserpine", "Beulah Blakely" and others all for sale in High Country’s pots!! What a ripple effect that June 1989 bicycle ride had triggered!
By the time I left Denver that one last time, 77 Old Roses and Mystery Roses had been found and catalogued, and all recorded by Denver photographer and friend Michael Mowry...he and I spent many a bleary-eyed June mornings trying to catalogue them all in peak bloom, recording images of shrub, leaves and blooms. Many discoveries happened as we tromped about, our finding "Fairmount Chevy Chase", ‘Careless Love’, "Fairmount Condesa de Sastago" and others by accident as we passed between rows of ornate head stones. Classes found there include Hybrid Perpetuals, Gallicas, Damasks, Bourbons, China Hybrids and Hybrid Chinas, Hybrid Multifloras, Hybrid Wichurianas, Mosses, Hybrid Eglanterias, Albas, various "Banshee things", plus some oddballs that stumped all.
Folks from afar like Mel Hulse and Kim Rupert solved the VERY longstanding enigma of "Mae Fair Pink", its species-ey look baffling many a visiting rosarian...when I visited Bill Grant in 2001, Mel gave me a plant of Rosa manettii after Kim had suggested that ID....Kim was RIGHT! But with it being considered a mild climate rootstock, it has never occured to anyone it could be the "Mae Fair Pink" at Fairmount and scattered around metro Denver in yards where winters can dip to 20 degrees below zero farenheit! My last find, up near Alameda Avenue, is likely either a Portland or, as Fred Boutin suggests, an early archetypal Bourbon from the Ragged Robin/Proserpine clan. And that is the one rose there I had NOT cloned before I moved away...I MUST remedy that!
So visit Denver some June, and along with the mountain panorama, intoxicate your soul with sumptuous peonies, stately bearded iris, and the sea of Old Roses rippling waves of color and perfume across a 260 tree-filled preserve dating to 1890. Take notes and photos, share your thoughts with me, and if a few cuttings somehow end up in your purse or camera bag, I won’t tell!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sultry, fragrant, red roses I love and grow in Tampa

Chrysler Imperial 1952

Cramoisi Superieur 1832

"Fairmount Red" unknown

Don Juan 1958

Great Western 1840

Louis XIV 1859

Rose de Rescht 1950 (unusually pink in this photo)

Oklahoma 1964

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Climbing and Rambling Roses for Cold and Mild Climates



Cl. Old Blush

Louise Odier
Aviateur Bleriot

Aviateur Bleriot



Great Western

Reve d'Or

Francois Juranville

Marechal Neil

Leontine Gervais

Reverend James Sprunt


"Barfield White Climber"


If you’ve ever been to England or mainland Europe, or even northern California in July, you likely noticed quaint landscapes punctuated by ten or twelve foot tall "rose pillars" of vigorous climbing roses that had consumed wooden poles or larch tree trunks sunk into the soil. Here in America most of our landscapes are sorely lacking in vertical design elements, and "rose pillars" are an elegant solution since several rose varieties, if grown on their own roots, will Jack-And-The-Beanstalk their way up a pole in a few seasons. So why not embellish your landscape with their heart stirring visual drama and drifting fragrance?

"But this isn’t cool damp England" you might say and I agree....about three hundred million of us are jostling for water that once supported scant wildlife and scattered tribes of Native Americans. But as a permaculturist-hippie type left over from the 70’s I enjoyed a lush rose-filled landscape (170 varieties) my 15 years in Denver with just 3 deep waterings per month using a low tech hose and old-fashioned oscillating sprinkler. No lawn, DEEPLY mulched beds, and appropriate plant choices are key. My rose pillars, and those of my clients, thrived year after year, each a stunning, fragrant exclamation point celebrating summer. Several nurseries and reliable mail order houses sell own root plants of very undemanding roses that have blessed my customers with decadently beautiful rose pillars you can easily bring into your toxic sprays and anal-retentive pruning schedules, just a spring feeding and fall training of new growth and re-mulch every 2 years.

Use a posthole digger to sink a rough hewn 10 foot long landscape timber 2 feet down into the soil, then dig a 20 inch wide and deep hole right next to it. Fill the hole half way with compost, set in your own root rose, and replace the soil you dug out till the poor thing looks half buried alive in a dome of soil, mulch it with 6 to 8 inches of chipped mulch from a tree trimming service and give it a DEEP hand watering to saturate the entire area. The poor little dear will barely protrude from this! Water it weekly with gray water from your kitchen (use a mild detergent like ‘Earth and Sky’) and feed it every late April with either ‘menhaden fish meal’ from a feed store or ‘Mile High Rose Feed’ and it will soon send up long limber shoots you can easily train up the pole. Oddly, autumn is a great time to plant own root roses in cold climate areas and you may well find them on sale.
Training is easy. Pound about twenty three inch long flat head nails all up and down the pole, then use strips of panty hose to tie each cane to the nails. One pair of panty hose will yield about 20 flexible plant ties if you cut off the rump and toes, and cut each leg into 10 equal lengths..... gather those nylon "hoops" onto one hand and use the other hand to stretch them taut about a dozen times and watch them roll themselves up. Make one cut through the handful of rolled up loops and presto, you’ve got 20 plant ties that are long lasting, strong, and won’t strangle the canes. Do the same to the rump section for thicker stronger ties as the canes thicken. By year three your new canes will be so strong and thick you may consider cutting cheap plastic clothes line into 3 foot lengths to tie one end to the pole and wrap the rest around the stout pillar rose tightly then tie the other end to the pole.

Now for the fun part...choosing some decidedly NON-wimpy climbing and rambling roses available for creating these headily perfumed living exclamation points into your garden. Some bloom once in summer; those followed by an "R" repeat bloom in late summer and fall. But to me it is the June bloomers that so take my breath away, their defiant beauty a victorious contrast to Colorado’s Mars-like native barrenness!

Alchymist (1956) warm golden tangerine-yellow
New Dawn (1930) R. Light pink, apple scented
Ghislaine de Feligonde R. (1916) Pastel apricot yellow, sharp-sweet perfume
Fruhlingsgold (1937) Lemon sherbet yellow, oddly spicy fragrance
Great Western (1840) Deep magenta burgundy, groan-inducing Old Rose scent
Seagull (1917) Clusters of small snow white roses, sharp sweet scent
Bobbie James (1960) Much like Seagull but larger blooms
De La Grifferie (1845) Blend of pinks and purples, heady Old Rose perfume
Rosa dupontii (pre-1817) Species rose, 5 petals, palest pink, stunning scent.
Dortmund (1955) R. Rich red, 5 petals, odd "linseed oil" odor.
"Mr. Nash"- Possibly ‘Doubloons’; rich apricot yellow 4 inch diameter blooms.
Hiawatha (1904) In-your-face pink, incredible vigor, the only rose I have forgiven for being scentless!
Louise Odier (1851) R. Rich rose pink, amazing Old Rose fragrance
Shropshire Lass (1968) Semi-double, lightest pink to cream, smell to die for.
Climbing Clotilde Soupert (1902) R. Very double pale pink blooms, spicy baby powder scent.
Zephirine Drouhin (1868) Brilliant cerise pink, thornless, very spicy Old Rose aroma
Queen of Bourbons (1834) Semi-double rose pink blossoms that smell like florist’s roses should!

I’ve been back home in Tampa since November 2002, and sure I love central Florida, but like many northern transplants I had long wished for the grace and fragrant charm of old fashioned rambling and climbing roses in this balmy climate. Generations ago they covered cottages and garden arbors with sweet swirls of pinks and white and reds, and here we Floridians are cursed with countless ugly chain link fences just waiting to be used as trellises! But every time we buy a "climbing rose" it struggles to reach the top of our mailbox then often dies. So we conclude that climbing and rambling roses "won’t grow in Florida". WRONG! A century ago Florida was awash in lovely climbers and ramblers!

But you’d be right about climbers being a pain here IF you were referring to the Climbing Hybrid Teas like ‘Climbing Peace’ or ‘Climbing Oklahoma’ many of us have seen in full glory in Oregon or Tennessee, and that what is generally sold to the public here as "climbing roses". Those areas offer roses high rainfall, clayey soil, and winters that offer essential periods of dormancy. But here, climbing Hybrid Teas are denied that winter rest while they cope with a long spring drought, funky acidic sandy soil teeming with microscopic nematode worms that sting their roots, plus a long hot steamy summer far more suited to subtropical plants. But we don’t have to endure blizzards and icy sidewalks to have rambling and climbing roses thrive here.
Years ago I experimented in my yard and my clients’ yards, and found that if we just switch gears mentally and instead purchase "own root" plants of a certain class of Old Roses called "Wichurana Roses", also long called "Wichuriana Ramblers", we WILL enjoy raging success! Their blooms boast a pleasing palette of colors, most are quite fragrant (often of rose and ripe apples!), and their growth is RAMPANT in Florida! Bred mostly in the late 1800's and early 1900's, these genetic climbers display rapid growth, great vigor and are largely aloof to the bugs, heat, humidity and fungal diseases that plague most wimpy modern climbing roses in our climate. All were bred from a wild Japanese species called Rosa wichurana noted for its toughness, beautiful glossy leaves, and rampant flexible canes. Along with them, we can grow the graceful climbing Teas, Chinas and Noisettes for even bigger, more colorful blooms. And don’t forget the monster climber ‘Mermaid’!

Like all roses they prefer full sun, slightly acid soil well-amended with compost, a thick mulch (my favorite is the chipped limbs and leaves from a tree trimming company) to keep the soil damp and cool, and a feeding of a good organic like menhaden fish meal, Calf Manna (from a feed store) or Mills Magic Rose Mix or every March, July, September and December. Most of inland central Florida has quite acid soil, so most rose folks give their roses a light sprinkling of dolomitic limestone every March to neutralize that acid and to supply needed calcium and magnesium.

Oddly, you’ll get much faster coverage of a trellis or fence if you train the long new shoots of a climber as HORIZONTALLY as possible, not UP as is our instinct. Why? Trained horizontally that long rose cane will send up many vertical new shoots that will then eagerly climb UP. Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut up old pantyhose and nylons into flexible and inconspicuous plant ties to lash those vigorous new shoots to your fence or arbor….they will stretch as the canes thicken and so not strangle them as can a metal twisty. And remember, these climbers are VIGOROUS, so don’t bring home a wimpy little trellis but instead make a sturdy one out of pressure treated 2" x 2" lumber, construction rebar (my favorite), or plumber’s pipe, or train them on that long-hated chain link fence. They rival Jack’s magic beanstalk with their growth so plan accordingly with a strong structure for them to consume. These are Climbing Roses on steroids!

The cooler spring and autumn months are ideal for mail ordering and planting these lovely toughies, so scan your landscape for a sunny spot in need of a touch of class and year round splendor, then choose from the Wichurana Ramblers and climbing Teas, Chinas and Noisettes listed here, keeping in mind that they can tolerate light shade. Notice their dates of commercial introduction to give you an idea of their longevity into the 21st century! These tough but exquisite beauties may well outlive you, so your yard deserves a few on a funky fence or on an English style rose arbor framing your front doorway.

Between these two lists of roses, regardless of where you live, climbing and rambling roses CAN bring pillars of fragrant beauty to your landscape. Life is short and has prickles of its own; why not invite in the soft, sweet but reliable beauties our great-grandmothers knew and cherished?

Albertine (1921) pastel salmon pink
Leontine Gervais (1903) warm apricot, gold and tangerine
Cl. American Beauty (1909) deep rose pink and magenta
C. Red Fountain (1975) R rich red
Aviateur Bleriot (1910) pastel apricot and yellow
Alberic Barbier (1900) pale lemon and cream
Dr. Van Fleet (1910) baby blanket pink
Francois Juranville (1906) clear pink and salmon
Gardenia (1899) pastel yellow and white
Jersey Beauty (1899)R 5 petals creamy yellow
Mermaid (1918) 5 petals, lemon chiffon pie yellow
Reverend James Sprunt (1856) R cherry red
Reve d’Or (1869) R apricot yellow
"Barfield White Climber" (unknown) R palest pink to white
Mme. Alfred Carriere (1879) R ivory white
Lamarque (1830) R pure white
Marechal Neil (1864) R lemon yellow
Crepuscule (1904) R apricot yellow
Champney’s Pink Cluster (1802) R seashell pink
Climbing Old Blush (date unknown) R rose pink


Antique Rose Emporium 1-800-441-0002
Chamblee’s Roses 1-800-256-7673
Mill’s Magic Rose Mix 1-800-845-2325
 Enjoy! John

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Barter for Used TV big beautiful TV I bought just a little over two years ago died last night when I turned it on...a loud snap followed by a bizzare, disturbing high-pitched whine from the innards. I watch little TV but I like having the option, plus enjoy playing my DVDs, especially when "altered". If any local folks who follow my blogs are getting ready to upgrade their TV, I'd love to barter plants/eggs/landscape services for your old one. Thanks, John

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

wild Michigan rose ID help needed

Yesterday while I was dumpster diving I had an old childhood memory suddenly pop up out of no where. We lived in the UP of Michigan outside of Rudyard, in a very rural trailer park at the bottom of a steep hill, a huge sugar maple on a hill across the road that turned fiery red every fall. I used to fly kites on that hill. I attended a 1 room school house grades 1-6 in a church with a bell in the steeple Mrs. Pearl Johnson would let us ring for recess, a horse named Sandy lived in a pasture with a classic barn next door to the school....we'd pick wild red clover and apples and feed her. There was an abandoned Granny Smith apple orchard across the street from the school we ate freely from, HUGE patch of dewberries down the road, on the left side as you went down the hill, oodles of wild raspberries and wintergreen and blueberries in the woods I feasted on.

Across the street from that school, next to the apple orchard, was a HUGE gravel and sand pit I used to look for fossils in....mostly brachiopods, though once found a trilobite! The memory that surfaced yesterday was of walking through the meadow back home from the sand pit and noticing 5 petalled pink roses that were EXTREMELY fragrant plus were prickly to my young fingers (I was 8 I think).My first guess is Rosa virginiana. Could it have been R. woodsii? Any suggestions? John

Monday, February 15, 2010

Florida's Mystery "Pink Cracker Rose"

Once common all over Tampa in older neighborhoods due to its remarkable toughness, remontancy and fragrance, this iconic China rose has baffled me since 1984 when I was not into roses yet, but worked at a retail plant nursery and people would bring in branches to ask me what I knew about it (nothing). So I gave several samples to the Tampa Rose Society as they soon got back to me with the the following:

That it is a China Rose ( that meant nothing to me until I went mental over in Denver in Denver after using Peter Beales's 'Classic Roses' to try to ID it once again for an elderly Tampa landscape client)...they said the original plants were sold for Mother's Day of 1932 by the legendary and now long-closed Holmes Nursery due north of Tampa.

For years now I have had two favored choices as possible IDs....'Santa Rose' and 'Burbank, both bred by Burbank himself. I have since learned that both men knew each other, and have been told that both had a "Barnum and Bailey" flair for promotion. It has long been known that Mr. Holmes travelled the world for exotic plants for his lovely old style glass greenhouses....may he visited Mr. Burbank or vice versa and those Mother's Day plants on sale were the result?

I will soon post this blog entry at the page I created for this rose at some time ago. Click on the link below to see quite a few photos I have posted there of this cast iron beauty that LOVES Florida, a state long considered hostile to most roses. It VERY rarely sets hips and only has a few times has its pollen been accepted by parent roses...which is VERY frustrating since it utterly thrives here even in neglected or abandoned properties. But I will keep trying. Enjoy, John

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Using These Blogs

If I understand correctly, if anyone who enjoys my blogs clicks on "Follow" you get an e-mail letting you know I've posted a new entry. Thanks to those who've purchased the seeds....I appreciate that support and gladly accept contributions from folks who feel I've earned them by using the PayPal donate button at the bottom.

I am having fun exploring this new (to me) medium and hope to make all three blogs interesting and useful to all who check them out. Thanks! John

Friday, February 12, 2010

my hybrid 'Sarasota Spice'

This repeat blooming short climber (here in Tampa) owes its VERY potent cinammon-clove perfume to its parents...the mother was "The Gift" and the Dad was 'Blush Noisette'. I suspect that like both parents, in colder climates it will grow as a low arching shrub. In the morning, that heady perfume carries quite a distance to my back door or the clothesline!

It is avaialable by the respected and reliable mail order firm 'The Antique Rose Emporium' as own root plants in 2 gallon pots. See more photos and information at the HelpMeFind link below:

If you order and grow one, please let me know how it does for you. John

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mystery Rose "Maggie"

One of life’s simplest yet greatest joys is to find ourselves swooning over something lovely in our landscape....the dance of butterfly wings over colorful blossoms, sunlight on a goldfish pond, our dog napping in the shade of a tree.......or taking a deep long inhalation from a lusciously fragrant rose. But how often does that last one happen in these days of scentless "landscape roses" like Knockout?

"Maggie" is a fragrant rose lover’s dream, and it thrives in Florida and other mild climate regions, though my instincts tell me it would endure quite harsh winters too! Discovered by Dr. William Welch of Texas A & M University on a Lousiana plantation that his wife’s grandmother named Maggie had bought early in the 20th century, it is both beautiful and baffling. As is the custom when rosarians attempt to determine the identity of a Mystery Rose, he gave it the "study name" of "Maggie"...the quote marks allow other rosarians to know that it is an assigned name while research continues. An early guess as to its true name was ‘Gruss an Teplitz’ bred by the famous rose hybridizer Rudolph Geschwind in 1897. But many rosarians feel that ‘Eugene E. Marlitt’, a China-Bourbon rose also bred by the Geschwind and released in 1900 is more likely. But as the debate rages on, we can invite her sensuous beauty into our landscapes.

Look into each ruffled Victorian style blossom and eat up the saturated magenta-red color, far more sophisticated than your usual scentless, red florist’s rose. Then dive in with a hungry nose and tingle your soul with that heady, spicy Old Rose perfume so rarely encountered here in Florida. The blooms average three and a half inches across and occur singly or in clusters that can contain a couple of dozen blooms, making one cut stem an instant bouquet.

I had a landscape client in north Tampa in the early 90's who loved to woo women with blooms he’d snatch off of his "Maggie" bush thriving just outside his front door. He said it never failed to dazzle each lucky recipient totally unprepared for that sultry perfume and rich color.

All that China rose blood in its breeding makes it one happy camper in a Florida landscape as long as it is grown in full sun in damp, mulched, fertile soil. In those conditions, disease and big problems are minimal, an occasional cosmetic issue. So there is no need for the usual chemical weapons of mass destruction so often associated with rose growing in Florida. A good soil feeding each March, July, September and December with an organic like menhaden fish meal or Calf Manna (both sold at feed stores supplied by Manna Pro Corp.), or a quality chemical fertilizer like Sunniland Palm 8-6-6 will let it thrive and bloom year round. Spring and fall offer the heaviest bloom seasons, with intermittent blossoms throughout the summer. The more blooms you cut the more buds form!

Just imagine replacing a boring hedge of ligustrums or pittosporums with a row of "Maggie" roses spaced three feet apart! Or grow one in the center of a flower garden as a focal point. Live in a condo with a sunny balcony? Grow this sweet gem in a large (seven or more gallon) size pot and feed her with fish emulsion those same four months, three tablespoons per gallon of water. I like to give all my roses a light sprinkling of dolomite each March as, contrary to the myth, roses are not acid lovers like azaleas and ixoras. Many a frustrated rose grower has made matters worse by giving an ailing rose plant an acid fertilizer.

The cool spring, autumn and winter months are the ideal time to order "Maggie" from the widely respected mail order company ‘The Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas.(1-800-441-0002) Owner Mike Shoup knows Dr. Welch well and was pleased to help him get this treasure back out into the world, and the yards of folks aching for an easy to grow, deeply fragrant rose. Mike grows his roses on their own roots, never grafted, and your rose will arrive in a two gallon pot after being grown for twelve to eighteen months in that same pot, so there is none of the worry of a bare root mail order rose. Prior to being packed into the tall shipping carton, it will be cut back to reduce shock and to quickly regrow in your garden or container. Take it out of the carton and pot, plant it in a hole twice the size of the root ball half filled with compost, then water her in well. A deep weekly watering is fine for this undemanding rose in this age of permanent watering restrictions.

Most Floridians have given up on roses or never tried them, having heard the horror stories of endless hassle, elaborate pruning and toxic spraying regimens, or reversion to the rootstock, only to end up with a dead rose anyway. But "Maggie" offers us all the hope for both sweet success and even sweeter rose can we resist this old gal’s charms?

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Barfield White Climber"

Years ago, Patty Barfield of 'Personal Touch Roses' bought several Mystery Roses from a travelling plants sales man though they were not in bloom...he said they were a white climber that grew well in Florida. She called to tell me as she knows I love trying to ID Mystery Roses, so I drove to Dover and bought one. I initially called it (with her permission) "Barfield White Rambler" as the first two years it was a once bloomer. But when it became a repeater I renamed it.

UNBELIEVABLE vigor.....99.9% prickle free. Teased open buds ooze a POTENT fennel/anise scent, a trait of the old super cold hardy Ayshire Ramblers. Totally disease free and I swear the damn thing EATS the soil nematodes that damage so many roses in Florida.

I plant on propagating it heavily this year for sale from my cottage plants business. See below the pages I created for it at HelpMeFind, THE best roses website on the planet!



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Easy informal rose bouquets

Gold Blush

Denny Arter with a bouquet of my Denver hybrids,
including her name sake.

bouquet of some of my Denver hybrids

Tampa bouquet
bouquet from a Colorado client's rose garden I
helped her to create.

I prefer bouquets of any flower that are relaxed and inviting and friendly vs. formal and structured, based on working what is blooming in the gardens, even vegetables. Years ago I made a spontaneous bouquet for a landscape customer of mine way north 0f Denver, and she so liked it and how quickly it came about she insisted she take a photo of me with it. Here are photos of bouquets of my Denver rose hybrids I bred there, with my friend of 22 years Denny Arter in Colorado, some blue and yellow bouquets I made from my Denver yard at 1684 Willow Street, and a bouquet from my Tampa yard. Enjoy, John

Here in Tampa I like to make similarly casual bouquets of Teas, Chinas and Noisettes combined with what ever tropicals and annuals that happen to be in bloom. Enjoy, John