Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'Duchesse de Brabant'

This old Tea is easily in my Top Favorite Roses list. I love the very complex, dry mingling of Tea and hardwood smoke and citrus peel into the evocative fragrance. The transparent colors 
remind me of the interior of a conch shell.

Monday, December 26, 2011

"York Street Yellow"

Years ago Denver rosarian Toni Tichy discovered this charming, vigorous and VERY cold hardy shrub rose in a yard on York Street some blocks south of Colfax Avenue, on the east side. Heavy hip setter of BIG hips; I got one so-so hybrid of it. I still suspect that it is a Brownell hybrid. It failed here in Tampa a few times but is now fairly happy in a Restricted Drainage tree pot, and once again it grows and buds and blooms best when cool. To my nose, the petals are Tea scented, but the stamens are fairly spicy, with a touch of the cinnamon-clove of Rosa moschata. I plan on crossing it with 'Duchesse de Brabant' just to see what results a few years down the road. Thank you Toni! In the late 1990s I mailed starter cuttings of it, and most of Toni's remarkable finds at Denver's Riverside Cemetery, to Heather Campbell at High Country Roses in Utah so her steadfast work  can appear in many gardens....I think she still carries it plus some of the Mystery Roses I discovered in Denver's Fairmount Cemetery plus my own hybrid 'Four Inch Heels'. John

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Barfield White Climber"

I love this VERY healthy vigorous thorn-less climbing rose for central Florida, in particular the rich, anise-fennel perfume of NEWLY opened blooms. Special thanks to Patty Barfield of 'Special Touch Roses' for years ago selling me my original plants of this very enigmatic Mystery Rose.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Roses in winter in Tampa.....

One more reason I hated those LONG Denver winters....blooms of these and more grace my south Tampa yard today..."Barfield White Climber", 'Marechal Neil', 'Mme. Antoine Marie', 'Oklahoma', 'Louise Odier', "Pink Cracker Rose", 'Cramoisi Superieur', 'Teasing Georgia', 'Duchesse de Brabant', 'Rosa bracteata', two Mystery Red Chinas, a Mystery Polyantha from a local nursery, my own 'Sarasota Spice', "Maggie", 'Abraham Darby', "Jo An's Pink Perpetual" (from Denver's Fairmount Cemetery), 'Nastarana', 'Safrano', 'Reve d'Or', 'Graham Thomas'. Oh how I love Tampa!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'Louise Odier'

As I prepared to leave my Denver home for good, for one last LONG road trip to Tampa in late November 2002, I verbally said goodbye to 1684 Willow Street and said goodbye, literally, to a few beloved roses in my front yard. One farewell went to this sensuously fragrant gem (see link below) that in my Denver yard was a very tall, winter hardy, pillar rose that needed to be lashed to two tall heavy pipes pounded deep into that clay soil.....here, in a restricted drainage 15 gallon tree pot, it is a mannerly shrub rose. Visitors lucky enough to be here when new or nearly-new blooms are open seem astonished at the depth and sweetness and pungency of that classic Damask Rose perfume, though my picky nose picks up hints of Tea rose along the lines of 'Mrs. B. R. Cant'.

Mike Shoup gave me this plant four years ago I believe when I gave a talk on 'Probiotic Rose Growing' at his Fall Roses Festival in Brenham, Texas. (see my article on this topic in the groundbreaking book 'The Sustainable Rose Garden' by Newbury Books). As I chose it from his growing field I felt it to be a VERY long shot since it was almost unmanageably vigorous in my Denver yard but the gamble has paid off indeed. What a joy to see (and smell ) it blooming over and over all year long in my "Old Man" yard in Tampa.

In Denver, roses, especially Old Roses, with soul-stirring perfumes, are common.....here in Florida, roses PERIOD are very uncommon, and most encountered have little scent...so fragrance is perhaps THE top consideration of mine when trialing roses in my low water use, all organic gardens. 'Louise Odier' is stellar in that regard.

My treasured 'Louise Odier' grows in home made compost with no sprays ( a given for me since 1976) and is fed kitchen graywater, and, when I think of it, poop from the chickens and ducks, home made fish emulsion.....sometimes I pee on it when drinking beer and enjoying 420. It is much less leafy and bushy than my Denver specimen so I will try a hard pruning and a handful of Epsom salts in several weeks.

In Denver it was a very heavy hip setter...here very few set. I must make a point to boink it with 'Duchesse de Brabant' for fun.....just imagine the seedlings that could arise from such a cross!

Here are two pics from yesterday morning.

If you want to try it in your garden call The Antique Rose Emporium at 1-800-441-0002 as their plants are own root, not grafted.

Growing roses is humbling because they so often defy what we "know" about them by blessing us with heady blooms in spite of us!.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An article from my weekly column years ago in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News


by John Starnes

Roses are a real pain to grow.everybody knows THAT! Be they purchased as cheap bare-root roses, or as expensive gorgeous potted specimens in full bloom, they promise colorful fragrance but usually deliver disappointment and guilt. We’re told they demand systemic insecticides and fungal sprays and powders (more guilt as we poison the environment) so we comply only to once again end up with sickly twigs whose only color is the perky plastic label hanging on long after all the leaves fall off. Each and every summer roses prove you are a plant murderer with a “brown thumb”. Roses are “expensive annuals”....everybody knows THAT!

And I agree with all this about GRAFTED roses, which until recently was all the public could buy. For the ease and profit margin of big growers in frost free regions of southern Texas and southern California, “grafted roses” are mass-produced by surgically attaching (grafting) pieces of a desirable rose variety ( say ‘Peace’ or ‘Baronne Prevost’ or ‘Graham Thomas’) onto the root system of an easily grown primitive rose, usually ‘Dr. Huey’, which is the lanky red rose that comes up where you KNOW you planted a rose of a different color! Shipped as dormant bare root plants to Colorado in early spring then quickly grown to enticing perfection in cozy greenhouses in time for the “Spring Fever Shopping Frenzy” we all plunge into like salmon in a stream, grafted roses are like all those shiny new 1972 Vegas that broke down a few miles from the dealership.....pretty enough to buy but hardly designed to be a lasting value.

But “Own Root Roses”, like our grandmothers grew from cuttings they rooted under jars, while small and unimpressive initially, are the Toyotas of the rose world. We’ve all seen them thriving every summer in quaint neighborhoods, old cemeteries and private gardens. Due to their reliability and longevity, “Own Root Roses” are being planted in great numbers at the Denver Zoo by Director of Horticulture Merle Moore, who also has been director of the Denver Botanic Gardens. He knows his stuff! Choose a full sun location, and plant your own root rose deeply in a big hole improved with a lot of compost and a couple handfuls of superphosphate or bone meal. Cover it all with a couple inches of the heavy clay soil you removed when digging the hole, apply a few inches of mulch, water deeply, then get on with your busy life. So planted, an own-root rose will barely protrude above the soil line and hence look a little silly, but it will spend that first season developing an admirable root system. Like all woody perennials, own root roses are slow at first but mature in their third year in the garden, hence the charming turn-of-the-century truism about them....”First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap!”

All they need is a lot of sunshine, a pruning late each April to remove winter damage, a late April feeding of organics (I like 1 cup each of kelp meal, Ringer Lawn Restore, epsom salts, alfalfa pellets, fresh horse poop plus one cup of ‘Calf Manna’ from a feedstore) and 3-4 deep waterings per month. My favorite mulch for them is the chipped branches from a tree trimming service A simple soap spray made from a bar of ‘Kirk’s Castile’ or “Octagon Soap’ is the only pesticide I use to control aphids and blackspot and mildew in my clients’ rose gardens, or my own collection of approximately 130 varieties of own root roses, so the petals and hips are safe to use in the kitchen. Not weakened by being grafted onto a foreign root system, they will settle in for decades of life in your landscape, blessing you with the fragrant charm and grace only roses can offer the eye, nose and heart.

Until recently, “own root roses” were very hard to acquire unless one, like me, was an obsessed rosarian who’d scoured the U.S. for obscure little catalogs. But widespread disdain for grafted roses, and the growing, glowing reputation of easy-to-grow “Own Root Roses”, has happily resulted in several Colorado nurseries offering over 200 varieties of Old-Fashioned and Modern Roses on their own roots this spring! So ignore the big flashy “Elvis” roses grafted onto their platform shoes for extra height, and treat yourself to the reliable, smaller-at-first “Own Root Roses” that will be a joy to grow, organically, year after year. As you improve with age, so will they!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So what do I find on my front porch today once home from errands?

A plant of  the lovely Climbing Tea 'E. Veyrat Hermanos' that Pam Greenewald of Angel Gardens sent me! I loved mine for years as it thrived on rebar by my front door, but it finally succumbed to drought and being CONSUMED first by 'Francois Juranville' then 'Mermaid'. Here are some pics from her heyday here. Thanks Pam!!    John


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving My Hybrids This Holiday Season

I've been breeding roses since the early 1990s and a few of the fragrant tough roses I've bred for Florida are available own root and organically grown from the good folks at The Antique Rose Emporium in Texas. They pay me a $1 royalty per rose sold. I've bought many roses from them since 1989 for my two landscape businesses and pleasure and as breeders, and many thousands of the readers in my newspaper columns in The Rocky Mountain News and The St. Pete Times are happy customers of theirs. If you order a rose as a holiday gift they mail the lucky recipient first a nice greeting card letting them know of your purchase. They currently offer my hybrids 'Sarasota Spice', a SUPER fragrant white climber, 'Gold Blush', an apricot, cinnamon-clove scented bushy climber, and 'Gainesville Garnet', a tall flexible caned  red climber with a light tea rose and apple perfume. Their number is: 1 800 441 0002

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roses in buried 5-7 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens

Yesterday I nearly completed the revamp of  a bed out front swallowed long ago first by the giant rose 'Mermaid' then perennial morning glory and bidens Spanish Needle. Now it contains the roses "Maggie", Rosa moschata, 'Abraham Darby', 'Cloth of Gold' and a Mystery White Climber rooted by my friend Mary Jo ( each in a buried Water Wise Container Garden to DRASTICALLY cut my water use), plus several perennials. Fresh mulch, a sowing along the border of Dwarf Jewel Mix nasturtiums, a... sprinking of a few hundred seeds of Sweet Alyssum Carpet of Snow, then a deep watering. I may next tuck in a few tomatoes, then in about a week some flower seedlings now in starter trays including Purple Lemon Mint, Malva sylvestris, snapdragons, Dame's Rocket plus some perennial onions. Those folks who've seen my front yard at its jungly worst already would not recognize it...and I'm only about 40% done! woo hoo! Today I finish repainting the tops of the concrete edgings with bright white latex paint that Mary Jo scavenged for me. Pics, maybe a video, in a few weeks.
I use a 3/4 inch paddle bit to make the drainage holes on the SIDES, three inches from the bottom of each bucket, giving each rose that damp soil zone in each Water Wise Container Garden below the holes as over the years, drought, the absence of hurricanes and draconian watering restrictions, plus my commitment to low water use, has decimated what by 2004 was a stunning collection of 170 roses out front. When the rose gets rootbound the roots can exit those holes down deep where the mulched sandy soil will be much damper. I plan on doing this with about 100 roses over the next six months or so. A LOT of digging and a LOT of hauling away to the back yard of the soil I excavate but I want my roses back BUT this time with a far greater degree of water sensibility.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An article from my weekly column years ago in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News


David Austin’s ‘English Roses’ are a stroke of creative and botanical genius, combining the petal-packed form and soul-penetrating fragrances of once-blooming Old Roses, with the rich colors of repeat-blooming Modern Roses. One could easily dive headfirst into the sweet sumptuous blossom of the apricot-toned ‘Abraham Darby’, or linger nosefirst over the soft yellow, honey-scented ‘Mary Webb’. The deep garnet red and magenta blooms of ‘Othello’ are like porcelain bowls filled with a decadent Old Rose potpourri, while the snowy blossoms of ‘Fair Bianca’ mimic all summer long the classic white Damask rose ‘Mme. Hardy’ but offer a startling perfume of anise and gardenia! And the rich yellow ‘Graham Thomas’ draws us near with great golden clusters of tea-scented blooms atop tall sturdy canes. The English Roses offer a tempting and sensuous feast for the eye, nose and heart of gardeners who often think of roses as fussy, frail and short-lived.

And with good reason! Who among us has not purchased a rose that looked so stunning in its pot that its beauty made us grab our wallet or purse, almost against our will? And how many of us then watched it sadly decline, once out of a greenhouse and in our “real world” garden? Hey, we watched the perky gardening dude on PBS and tried his almost edible sounding elixirs, or donned a gas mask and radiation suit and (after shooing the kids out of the yard) sprayed every toxic pesticide the experts told us we HAD to use to grow roses in Colorado. Riddled with gardener’s guilt we avoided top watering, applied expensive systemic fertilizers, begged Rocky Flats for nuclear waste to control bugs and fungi with, and we STILL ended up with a funky looking bundle of twigs gracing a garden now toxic enough to be an EPA Superfund site! What gives?

Once again, “grafted” roses are to blame. As with most of the roses we’ve all struggled and failed with, the vast majority of David Austin’s ‘English Roses’ are sold to the public as grafted plants, that is, the pretty part bedecked with blooms sits atop a foreign rootstock, usually “Dr. Huey’ or sometimes ‘Manetti’, both grown in MILD climates in south Texas or southern California then shipped dormant in February to greenhouses with ideal conditions, in which they are grown to enticing perfection JUST in time to hook us gardeners salivating with spring fever. Once in the garden this surgically united chimera is expected to then thrive, which is pretty much like transplanting (grafting) a gorilla’s arm into John Elway’s shoulder socket in hopes he’ll throw better! For the last 50 years or so the public has had little choice but to buy grafted roses, their short lives compelling people to buy them over and over before at last giving up because “roses are hard to grow”. And many a Colorado gardener has been similarly burned by grafted ‘English Roses’, dreaming of beautiful blooms but seeing canes too thin to hold them up, the bush dying after a winter or two. Sadly, David Austin’s gorgeous creations soon had a nightmare reputation for being a new race of wimpy roses.

But as with so many other kinds of roses, ‘English Roses’ become healthy vibrant SHRUBS in Colorado gardens if grown on their “own roots” in healthy soil. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers grew “own root” roses they rooted from cuttings, often under a jar in the garden. If you’ve ever rooted a cutting of a coleus, you made your own “own root” coleus, and chances are it grew just fine. Similarly, “own root” roses, no longer shackled by a foreign root system stuck beneath the main stem, are free to express their innate vigor and hence become low care bushes in the landscape that just HAPPEN to bear gorgeous, deeply fragrant roses. As it should be!

Luckily, several Colorado nurseries now offer ‘English Roses’ on their “own roots” as word of mouth creates more and more demand for them. Just choose a spot with full sun (though ‘Graham Thomas’ can take a bit more shade than many roses due to the ‘Iceberg’ in its parentage), dig a deep hole about 20” across and 20” deep, fill it halfway with compost, then toss in 1 cup each of Epsom salts, Ironite and superphosphate , plus 2 cups of dry dog food nuggets (rich in bone meal, their decay releases nitrogen and other nutrients while feeding the earthworms).

Stir this mixture well, then lower the root ball of your “own root” English Rose so that it will be planted 4” to 6” deeper than it was in the pot. Fill the space around the root ball about halfway with woody waste, like bush trimmings or chipped branches from a tree trimming service. Then just fill the hole back up with most of the soil you took out when digging the hole till you have a low dome of soil that has “buried alive” the lower half of the rose. Then mulch the mound of soil, with that poor little rose barely protruding, with 4” of either alfalfa hay or the chipped tree branches to help keep the soil moist and cool between waterings. Water the whole shebang a good long while to settle the ‘English Rose’ into its new home, where it will likely grow for many years. And be patientown root roses use their first year to make a fine root system, then burst into life the next two summers as they mature. Just remember that turn-of-the-century saying about own root roses”First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap!”

Why plant so deeply? Hey, we all plant tomato seedlings extra deep to encourage extra roots to form.own root roses do the same thing. Plus planting a rose way down protects the original root system from winter’s cruel cold and summer’s dry heat. What’s also cool about deep planting is that the bush can send up vigorous new growth in spring if the canes (branches) are nuked by an especially bad winter or by a crazed teenager expressing his or her youthful angst with a lawn mower.

Late each April give your ‘English Roses’ a good organic feeding some folks swear by horse manure “tea” (steep 1 part FRESH horse manure in 5 parts water for 2 weeks ) , about 1 gallon per rose, or 6 tablespoons of fish emulsion per gallon of water. Or you can just lightly sprinkle some poultry manure or sheep dooky all around each rose as a potent source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, plus beneficial bacteria. An excellent but hard-to-find organic fertilizer teeming with disease-controlling beneficial bacteria is ‘Ringer Lawn Restore’one cup per small bush, or two cups per big established plants would be great. Give the entire garden a good long soak once a week, and keep it mulched with say 4” of those chipped tree branches. One cup of superphosphate sprinkled around each rose in July will help harden off the canes for the upcoming winter.

It’s easy to care for well-fed, own root ‘English Roses’, as their vigor will minimize bug and disease problems. A sharp blast of water from the garden hose nozzle will easily rid new growth of aphids each spring, and an old-fashioned, homemade lye soap spray will nuke powdery mildew and blackspot. Buy a bar of “Kirk’s Castile” soap, or better, (if you know someone in a southern state who will send you a few bars) is “Octagon” bar soap, that nasty brown soap grandma used on shirt collars or if she caught you cussing. For a small batch of soap spray, just rub the bar against a cheese grater, then dissolve 1 heaping tablespoon in 1 gallon of HOT tap water. Shake it a couple times per day, and in a day or two, pour it into a pump sprayer and just spray away till the rose plant is dripping. Repeat in 7-10 days. (Lye soap spray also works wonders for powdery mildew on monarda, phlox and lilacs.) Growing your roses organically like this lets you use the petals mixed with fresh or dried mint to brew some utterly delicious herb teas. (NEVER use rose petals or hips in the kitchen if you poison your roses with systemics or sprays! ).

Indulge yourself this spring with a few of the English Roses listed here known to grow well in metro Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. And let’s give thanks to David Austin for his vision and 40 years of dedicated and insightful rose breeding, for he has given us all a perfect blend of the very best of the old and new to grace our gardens, and to fill our homes with color and delicious fragrances.


Graham Thomas 1983

Tamora 1983

Mary Webb 1984

Abraham Darby 1985

Charles Austin 1973

Constance Spry 1961

St. Cecelia 1987

Proud Titania 1982

Ellen 1984

Leander 1982

Fisherman’s Friend 1988

The Pilgrim 1991

Gertrude Jekyll 1986

Belle Story 1984

Charles Rennie MacKintosh 1988

Evelyn 1991

Fair Bianca 1982

Heritage 1984

Jacquenetta 1983

Mary Rose 1983

Othello 1986

Queen Nefertiti 1988

Red Coat 1973

Sweet Juliet 1989

The Squire 1977

Wife of Bath 1969

William Shakespeare 1987

Windrush 1984

Moonbeam 1983

Symphony 1986

Yellow Charles Austin 1981




Harlequin Market

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The October Cool Down Is Here!

Not only are my winter veggies thriving, roses that sulked in the record-breaking heat this summer are sighing with relief and budding and blooming. What a joy to see and smell blossoms on 'Baronne Prevost', Fairmount Cemetery treasures "Jo An's Pink Perpetual" and "Fairmount Proserpine", my own hybrids 'Sarasota Spice' and 'Gold Blush' (both sold by The Antique Rose Emporium in Texas), 'Teasing Georgia', 'Mme. Antoine Marie', "Maggie", 'Cramoisi Superieur', 'Archduke Charles', R. bracteata, 'Marechal Neil', 'Belinda's Dream', 'Duchesse de Brabant', and 'Graham Thomas'. John

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hey "Grouchy"

I tried to contact you via Google, did not work. The autumn cool down is here.....ready for those cuttings of "Barfield White Climber"?  Those cuttings you sent me died.....care to try again?  John

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Answer to a blog reader about my pink Rambler derived from Blush Noisette

Thanks Alice!  I like my for-Florida hybrids to have a direct Florida reference in the name, like my 'Sarasota Spice' sold by The Antique Rose Emporium and 'Gainesville Garnet', both of which you can see at my Breeder page at http://www.helpmefind.com/   For months now Google will not let me respond directly to comments but I will try again, though I will likely have to cut and paste it as a new posting. John

Spider Mites

Hi John,

I read your article about organic roses in Florida Gardening. I live in South Tampa and I have about 9 Knockout roses. I have continually had a problem with spider mites -- one year, they killed most of my bushes. How can I treat this organically?

Thank you,
Hi Carroll,
I don't grow that rose but I've never had a problem with spider mites on my roses or those of my landscape clients since 1989, I believe due to the all-organic soil feeding regimen I use, and the presence of many beneficial predatory organisms. A short term solution is to simply blast them off the plants with a sharp stream of water from your garden hose, being sure to hit the undersides of the leaves. Plus you can spray the plants until they are dripping with the Kirk's castile soap solution (recipe in older postings here), again being sure to spray the undersides of the leaves where the mites reside.

I am curious...what do you feed the soil around your roses?


Friday, September 30, 2011

'Teasing Georgia'

This is one of maybe three roses I have on the for-Florida Fortuniana rootstock, and it is very vigorous indeed, always needing to have LONG new canes tied to the rebar post. Now that there is a touch of fall in the air in Tampa (60s this weekend nights!) many of my favorite roses, including 'Teasing Georgia', are blooming. Here are some pics from past seasons. Enjoy, John

 Teasing Georgia
 Teasing Georgia
 Duchesse de Brabant
 Marechal Neil
 one of my remontant Wichuraiana Climbers, half open
Reve d'Or

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Remontant Rambling OP Seedling of Blush Noisette Easily 7-8 Years Old

Good hip setter, very rambling, with a sweet scent reminscent of both R. multiflora and Blush Noisette. I may name and register it. John

Sunday, September 11, 2011

That First Touch Of Autumn In Tampa......

After a record breakingly hot summer this bit of cool has blessed me with buds and blooms on Mme. Antoine Marie, Duchesse de Brabant, Marechal Neil, Gold Blush, Cramoisi Superieur, Gainesville Garnet, C. F. Meyer, Rosa bracteata, Oklahoma, Baronne Prevost, Reve d'Or, Teasing Georgia, Coquette des Blanches, "York Street Yellow" and more!  John

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"If you follow your bliss, you'll have your bliss whether you have money or not. If you follow money, you may lose the money, and then you don't have even that. The secure way is really the insecure way and the way in which the richness of the quest accumulates is the right way." - Joseph Campbell

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Water Wise Container Gardens For Roses

With their 7/8 inch drainage holes three inches from the bottom these bucket gardens allow the roses tlo survive the ongoing drought and watering restrictions and once root bound, they can send new roots out of the holes way down deep where the mulched soil will be damp. Lots of work and digging, but I am determined to again have a vast roses collection but THIS time one that is far more water responsible. John

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Roses in Tampa's Humid Heat

It's been a cooker lately, but nonetheless I've been enjoying blooms from own-root, organically-grown plants of 'Ducher', 'Don Juan', 'Cramoisi Superieur', "JoAn's Pink Perpetual", 'Baronne Prevost', "Fairmount Proserpine", Rosa bracteata, 'Duchesse de Brabant', 'Coquette des Blanches', "Pink Cracker Rose", "Dade City Red China", a few of my own hybrids, 'Mme. Antoine Marie', 'Archduke Charles', plus my plants of 'Marechal Neil' and 'Teasing Georgia' budded on Fortuniana.  John

Friday, July 22, 2011

That Roses Link Does Not Work....Hmmmmm

Well if you'd like to see that pic of my Denver home and roses do as I did...go to Google and type in:
1684 Willow Street Denver CO 80220

That was my first home (not counting my mobile home I owned in Tampa in the 1980s) and nice that I paid $53,000 for that little 829 square foot house in 1987, its equity (I made countless extra principal payments over the years) bought THIS home for $60,000 cash November of 1998, and I sold it for $153,500 JUST before the bottom fell out. Oh those were some hard yet heady years out there, trapped in that horrid climate by a VERY upside down mortgage for many years until things turned around. But how that home made my current ease, and love of Old Roses possible, is sweet poetic justice. John

Own Root Roses Still Thriving At My Old Denver Home!

Thanks to a heads up from my long time customer and friend Donna Bevis, I learned of this photo taken some June (which year I'd love to know) of my home in Denver where I fell in love with own root Old Roses in 1989. I moved out November of 2002, it was a poorly maintained rental for two years, but just look at all those roses! This picture evokes a whole ocean of memories. John


Saturday, July 16, 2011

'Conrad Ferdinand Meyer' in Tampa

Despite humid heat hitting the upper 90s, my three year old plant in a 15 gallon Water Wise Container Garden has sent out a wave of new growth and this first bloom. That smell!!! In Denver my plant was utterly cold hardy and HUGE, You can buy it from the good folks at The Antique Rose Emporium   1-800-441-0002.  John

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Roses for Former 'Mermaid' Bed

Today I plan on choosing from my inventory out back likely candidates to be planted in 5 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens then buried in that bed that currently is home to "Pink Cracker Rose", "Walnut Street Yellow" (a Wichuraina Rambler found in Boulder by Mikl and Eve Brawner of Harlequins Gardens nursery there) and a recently purchased own root Mystery Rose that I suspect is 'Belinda'. I am leaning towards 'General Jacqueminot', 'Mrs. B. R. Cant', 'Nastarana' and a few other shrubs, plus will choose two climbers for the two naked rebars in that bed. I am planting annuals and perennials in between the roses, with daylilies and Louisiana Iris in buried 4 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens due to their thirsty natures. I recently had a big pile of beautiful mulch delivered by Independent Tree Service here in Tampa and am swathing the front beds with it, then redoing the pathways with nice fresh red pine needles I rake from my neighbor Theresa's yard.

One new problem is troubling...the heat and the rain we HAVE gotten has made a weed I LOATHE re-emerge in the bed nearest my front doorn and the adjoinng path...nut sedge! Once again I can pull and pull and it persists, coming up right THROUGH the carpet in the pathways....arrgghhh! I will likely resort to my home made answer to Round Up that is based on pure glyphosate but with NO scary adjuvants.....I have for years called it "Weedz-B-Fucked" and I feel okay using it after spending 18 months in Denver investigating Glyphosate vs. Round Up. I'd LOVE to eliminate that damn sedge once and for all.

I am likely cutting down then digging up 'Newport Fairy' as not only did it not bloom at all this spring despite a cold winter, it is HUGE and has die-back. I can just imagine 'Crepuscule' in a buried 5 gallon Water Wise Container Garden in its place.

Now off to tackle weeds and progagate Moringa Tree and my own hybrid roses plus pot up edible passion fruit vines and more.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mystery Rose from a Tampa nursery

TNS Nursery on West Hillsborough Avenue, right next to the airport runway in Tampa, is selling this virtually scentless rose, own root, in 3 gallon pots, for $7 as I recall. My initial reaction upon seeing them,. then checking http://www.helpmefind.com/. is that they are the Hybrid Musk 'Belinda'. It is now planted in my former 'Mermaid' bed in a 5 gallon Water Wise Container Garden where I hope it prospers.....I'd love to use it in my breeding worker as I am a slut for big clusters of blooms.....I can just imagine boinking 'Duchesse de Brabant' or "York Street Yellow" with it and getting stellar seedlings.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Roses in the drought

 "Jo An's Pink Perpetual"
 "Fairmount Red"
 The original plant of "Fairmount Proserpine" in Denver

"Fairmount Proserpine" bloom in Tampa

As I luxuriate in the good energy of having healed in less than 24 hours from my first stomach flu in 20-25 years, I was further bolstered this morning to enjoy, despite this crushing drought, new blooms on 'Safrano' and "Fairmount Proserpine" and "Jo An's Pink Perpetual" and Rosa bracteata, plus my first ripe OP hip this year on 'Louise Odier' as those on "Fairmount Red" ripen. Folks can order "Fairmount Proserpine" and "Jo An's Pink Perpetual" from Heather Campbell at High Country Roses in Utah. John

Monday, June 6, 2011

'Reve d'Or'

I love this rose and lost a couple here in the long term drought when they were very young, but this one is thriving in a 4 gallon Water Wise Container Garden made from a hard boiled eggs bucket and is buried next to my mail box. The ancestry of this stunning climber is alluring, so I look forward to seeing in 2013 or so the seedlings resulting from the open pollinated seeds in this very nice crop of OP hips  now ripening on it. Plus I have  fat hips resulting from my pollinating this lovely Tea-Noisette with 'Rose Eduoard' and "York Street Yellow" from Denver.

I love the sensuous, tawny petals plus the vigor of the plant if given ample moisture. When I lived in Denver I knew someone growing one in Ft. Collins! I intend to do a lot of breeding with this gem of a climbing rose.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." -George Washington

"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac." -George Orwell

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time for Tea

We are VERY dry here in south Tampa and most of Florida so I've been treating my roses in various Water Wise Container Gardens, both buried and above ground, to good soaks from the hose, rain barrels and kitchen graywater, and, beginning today, giving them a tea made from my stable's "Super Poop" dumped into barrels filled by that last precious rain we had. I hope to see lush new growth and blooms soon. As usual, I am asking the Universe for a super-wet summer and fall as I learned yesterday that Tampa's rain deficit for 2006-2009 alone was THIRTY inches! John

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blog Less, Earn More John!

As much as I love working on all three of my blogs, it is time I pay more attention to boosting attendance to my classes and my plant sales that actually pay my bills. So instead of 1-2 blog posts daily, I will wean myself to 1-2 per week as I must increase my income to avoid depleting my retirement savings. Some blogs make their creators wildly wealthy, but mine have generated just a tiny trickle of income.....$20 plus some very nice gifts to date! So time for me to be a realist and get my financial house in order. But it HAS been fun. John

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Gainesville Garnet' Climbing Rose for Florida

This remontant Wichuraiana climber I bred some years ago boasts voluptous blooms, extremely healthy foliage (due I am sure to the Wichuraiana genes), but, sadly, that foliage is less than lush, plus the apple-skin and roses perfume is, to my demanding nose, faint. Despite those shortcomings it passed 3 years of trials at Ashdown Roses, with its commercial introduction to have occured this year. But sadly, they went under financially in these lean times. My original plant, own root of course, thrives all these years later in spite of long term drought and my minimal water use and just blessed me with new blooms. It has never set hips, be the blooms boinked by me or open-pollinated.  John


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Commercial Rose Growing in Saudi Arabia

I did not see the name(s) of the rose cultivars in the article, but that photo SURE reminds me of what I called "Fairmount Kazanlik" in Colorado. I thought all of Saudi Arabia is hot, but either these roses are heat tolerant or growing in cooler zones. Boy I'd love to get one of those vials of rose essential oil!  Enjoy, John


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rose People

As I've shared before, less than a year ago I had lost most of my roses mojo due to 6 years of drought, severe watering restrictions, and my own values as a Florida native environmentalist regarding water use as a permaculturist who grows much of his own food. But I am getting my roses passions back due in part to the Water Wise Container Gardens I make, grow roses in then bury to give their roots a chance to survive long enough to go deep, and due to meeting dedicated rosarians who've NOT lost their mojo. Recently I had the pleasure of a brief visit from Anita Clevenger on her way to give two talks to Malcolm Manners' roses group....sadly, due to my having failed to plan in advance regarding the scheduling of the classes I teach here on weekends I had to miss both....I bet the slide presentation was lovely! Anita was effervescent in her love of the Sacramento Historic Rose Garden, and since I've had the pleasure of being visited by Fred Boutin twice in Denver, it was a delight to meet the other half of the team. Despite the Third World appearance of my urban farm as I re-invent it based on my Water Wise Container Gardens, Anita seemed to appreciate my efforts to work exclusively with scrounged/dumpster-dived materials in my projects inside and out. I hope to visit their cemetery garden at full peak some year.

At the Third Annual Roses Lovers Gathering in Alachua, Florida last Saturday, I finally got to meet Gene Waering, co-editor of the wonderful 'The Sustainable Rose Garden'. As I expected he was a true gentleman, as can be seen in the short video I shot of a portion of his great talk I will soon be posting on YouTube (I will share the link here when I do). I think I expected him to be a academic type, but he was effusively friendly. The host of the event, Pam Greenewald was a trip.....endless energy, funny, irreverent, curious, well informed about biology and ecology and in the spirit of thoughtful experimentation is growing a VAST number of roses rarely seen in Florida and free of the dogmas of spraying chemicals and budding on Fortuniana as a "necessity".

These folks and others have helped me to revive my roses passions largely smothered by perennial drought. Since the collapse of J & P, roses budded to Fortuniana are even more rarely retailed to the public here, who is now back to the Dr. Huey roses that gave roses the reputation of "annuals" in Florida years ago. I gather that Florida is down to just one grower of Fortuniana roses, and here in Tampa the one nursery I know of that sells them, Hardin's, is open just a few hours on Saturdays as despite its advantages, Fortuniana is a VERY thirsty rootstock due in part to its roots staying in the top few inches of the soil as a mat. So they too are often short lived in a non-rosarian's garden. But Tampa's "sugar sand" has minimal ability to hold moisture, and with the rainy season now a fraction of the length it was in the 60s and 70s, roses on Fortuniana are a rare sight in yards except in those of the very well off who can afford the drip systems and the monster water bills that result. So I am hopeful that pioneering rose folks like Pam can make roses in the yards of regular folks thinkable again. I intend to begin selling roses grown in these Water Wise Container Gardens so that people can bury them and sustain the roses in that finite soil mass with minimal watering, even if they do not save their kitchen graywater as I do.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Abundant Hips on 'Seagull' in Tampa

                                           open pollinated seedling of 'Seagull' in Tampa

Hips on 'Seagull' in Tampa
My ten year old own root plant has endured sheer hell in terms of drought and neglect, yet it blooms profusely each spring. I feel it sets even heavier crops of hips than it did in Denver...and they can be very tasty. The OP seeds germinate readily after a few months of cold stratification, and many of the seedlings are these charming little remontant Polyantha-ish things with a sharp/sweet Multiflora perfume. John

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Third Annual Roses Lovers Gathering in Alachua, Florida

                                                    Pam Greenewald

north central Florida verbascum along I-75

I had a great time, met many interesting people, and gloried in the presence of so many roses rarely seen in Florida. I  finally got to meet congenial Gene Waering, co-editor of the groundbreaking 'The Sustainable Rose Garden' book, and  who grows roses in both Manhattan and Jacksonville. But first, I met the host and organizer of this fine event, Pam Greenewald. She is a likeable human dynamo, very informed about biology and ecology, passionate about growing her vast array of roses on their own roots and all-organically, mindful of the interconnectedness of life. Her property of the last twenty seven years houses a wonderful spring fed lake populated by blue pickerel weed and yellow native lotus.....and alligators. (OH how I envy her access to water!). Wildlife, plus whimisical and spiritual garden art abounds over the six acres peppered by gardens and greenhouses. She was a stimulating and gracious host, kept us laughing a lot,  and she clearly has a mind that races, like a spiritual Margaret Mead on shrooms. She showed and sold us wonderful roses, and afforded all present a chance to bask in a rural paradise, surrounded by roses and rose lovers with perfect north Florida weather. Videos to come. John

Friday, April 29, 2011

"York Street Yellow"

Denver rosarian Toni Tichy, who passed away several years ago, passionately studied and promoted roses at Denver's Riverside Cemetery owned by the Fairmount Corporation, her beloved giant climber "Mr. Nash" (sold by High Country Roses in Utah) plus this lovely remonant shrub she'd noticed on York Street some blocks north of Colfax on the east side. I got to know the elderly black woman who lived there...I forget her name but in her youth she was a famous ballet dancer. The bush was dense, maybe 5' X 5', totally cold hardy, and remontant from June through the first hard freezes. It set vast numbers of walnut sized bright yellow hips with seeds that germinated freely after a few months of cold stratificatio. Before I left Denver I mailed cuttings to Heather Campbell at High Country Roses so that folks all over could enjoy this gem. When I bought one last year I felt I was likely throwing away my money, assuming it would need winters much colder and longer than south Tampa could offer. But it is VERY happy in a Restricted Drainage Container Garden, my fancy name for a large black plastic tree pot with a used plastic grocerty bag drawn half way through each and every drainage hole to restrict but not block drainage, a strategy I use for other roses and veggies in this 6 year long drought. The blooms can reach 5 inches across and often occur in mini-candelabras. The scent is a light, sweet, slightly spicy Tea perfume. Its pollen was readily accepted by "Fairmount Red" and 'Seagull' and others in my Denver breeding work. So far, as in Denver, no disease issues, which surprises me.
When I showed a branch to Stephen Scanniello and others when I co-hosted the 1997 Heritage Rose Foundation Conference in Denver in 1997, they agree with Toni's and my idea that it might be a Brownell. In Denver it rooted easily from cuttings so I will try here.
I love this rose and am so glad I risked the money on this unlikely candidate for hot muggy Tampa, and hope lots of folks order one to try in their respective areas and share the results. Heather also sells my cemetery find "Fairmount Red" and "Fairmount Proserpine" and my own hybrid 'Four Inch Heels' (Great Western X Othello).


"For some people, happiness is too mild a sensation". unknown

"The only normal people are the ones you don't know well". unknown