Monday, February 28, 2011

'Gainesville Garnet' and sister seedling

Here is a photo of a sister seedling of 'Gainesville Garnet' that came from the same hip that I love in spite of the mild scent due to the heavily quartered Victorian form reminiscent of a pinwheel.  John

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Lovely China Rose 'Archduke Charles'

I grow an own root one in a 15 gallon Water Wise Container Garden made from a modified plastic laundry detergent barrel and give it primarily water from my  one gallon outdoor solar shower and kitchen graywater. Both visitors and I swoon over the perfume. In some ways it reminds me of an improved dwarf form of the Mystery Rose "Pink Cracker Rose". My plant came from Chamblee's in Texas....great folks. See data below at the great site HelpMeFind.   John

Saturday, February 12, 2011

China Roses for Shade Tolerance in Mild Climates

Years ago I planted this grouping of own root China Roses in the semi-shady front yard of a long time north Tampa landscape client who loved her eclectic collection of own-root Tea Roses plus 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' in her sunny back yard. As I recall, these China Roses were four years old when I took the photo. But this was way back when there were no watering restrictions in Tampa. I think I will pay her and her roses a visit to see if both are still thriving. She was quite elderly even then, an immigrant from Holland with a thick accent...her first name was "Jopie", pronounced "Yo-pee", and she had a colorfully cranky yet warm personality indeed. If she has passed, I will be curious to see if the new owners kept her roses as she especially loved her hyper-vigorous 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' and 'Duchesse de Brabant' and 'Lady Hillingdon' and 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' and the 'Souvenir de Mme Leonie Viennot' that back then High Country Roses sold as 'Gloire de Dijon' and that had consumed the east side of her home.  Her landscape once again demonstrated that own-root China Roses can perform luxuriantly in less than the full sun they prefer. None of her roses were diseased as I relied on NOT spraying and  instead adding beneficial microbes and macro-organisms to control bugs, fungi and pathogenic bacteria. It would be so cool if I can locate her yard and find her AND her roses stalwart as ever! John

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wichuranas in Florida

This article ran in my St. Pete Times column in 2007. But drought has been a new norm since then, so I'd add to grow new plantings in Water Wise Container Gardens, and to obsessively save rain water and kitchen graywater (don't use 'Dawn' as it fries plants) to indulge established plants in for the best growth. John


Sure I love central Florida, but like many northern transplants I had long wished for the grace and fragrant charm of old fashioned rambling roses. 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

But you’d be right 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 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.

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, 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 upcoming cooler autumn and winter 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 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. 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) 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) 5 petals creamy yellow

                                           Francois Juranville

                                            Leontive Gervais

                                          Leontine Gervais training on rebar

                                          Aviateur Bleriot on rebar in north Tampa

                                           Aviateur Bleriot bloom

Francois Juranville


Roses Unlimited (864) 682-7673 e-mail:

Antique Rose Emporium 1-800-441-0002

Chamblee’s Roses 1-800-256-7673

Mill’s Magic Rose Mix 1-800-845-2325

"Denver Roses" here in Tampa

My Water Wise Container Gardens are allowing me to grow an increasingly eclectic mix of own root roses organically, including cold hardy ones that thrived in my Denver rose gardens and those of my clients there. John

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Florida's Indestructible "Pink Cracker Rose"

Way back in the mid 70s when I was an art major at the Ybor campus of HCC and I was not into roses at all (though nuts about other plants) I noticed stunning specimens of this beauty here and there in Seminole Heights where I lived and elsewhere. I used a bike vs. car for seven years and so really got to know yards well .While I am overwhelmingly an own root man when it comes to OGR in most climates, here in Florida it seems that most moderns DO languish then fail own root. But Fortuniana is a VERY thirsty rootstock and this has become a very dry state since the 1970s. So I will root some Pink Cracker Roses and try budding moderns to them as this enigmatic China I have been looking into since 1982 utterly thrives for many decades even in conditions of total neglect. It can become a pillar rose or made into a dense hedge. It VERY rarely sets hips, has been a VERY poor parent for me (dammit!), is very remontant and disease-free, seems to FEED on nematodes (lol!) and I learned years ago was introduced to the area by Holmes Nursery for Mother's Day of 1933. Investigating it is what, literally, turned me into a rosarian. I have bought MANY pink Chinas over the years to compare, and after MUCH research I feel it is very likely either 'Burbank' or its sister seedling 'Santa Rosa'. Here is a link to my page about it at HMF. John

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Over the years my bi-climate studies of own root roses, both Old and Modern, have been aided greatly by Mike Shoup of The Antique Rose Emporium, Heather Campbell at High Country Roses, Mark Chamblee at Chamblee's Roses, Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses, and Michael Marriot of David Austin Roses, all  generously donating plants to aid specific points of inquiry I was pursuing. This has helped me to confirm then share with retailers and my readers that in many if not most climates, own root roses can offer truly perennial performance. THANK YOU!

As I expand my Water Wise Container Rose Gardening experiments here in dry south Tampa, I'd be delighted to receive donated plants (I pay shipping of course!) of the following:

Old Blush
Champney's Pink
Secret Garden Musk
Mme. Berkeley
Mlle. Franziska Kruger
"Mr. Nash"
Belle of Portugal
Rosa moschata
"Portland from Glendora"
"Not Park's Yellow"
E. Veyrat Hermanos
Blush Noisette
Mme. Gregoire Stachelin
Mme. Isaac Perierre
Maman Cochet
Paul Neyron
Rose de Rescht
Chrysler Imperial

I hope to demonstrate that roses can be grown organically in this manner in central Florida without wasting increasingly scarce water. In the 1990s I planted a vast number of own root roses in my Bay Area clients' garden that thrived and gave them, and me, joy year after year. BUT....back then there were NO watering restrictions vs. the very severe ones that have become the norm since 2001. The super-busy hurricane seasons of 2004-2005 made Tampa wet indeed, and did much to delay the demise of roses all over Tampa, both own root and Fortuniana. My profound hope is that by easily modifying discarded 5-7 gallon buckets with a 3/4 inch paddle bit we can again grow roses both own root and on Fortuniana while using no pesticides and very little of the water that Florida is now perennially short of.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Florida Rose Growing Myths

An e-mail I got today reminded me of several widespread myths that even a few rosarians embrace and repeat that do a great disservice to growing Old Roses in my beloved state, the biggest being "It is a proven fact that roses need to be budded onto Fortuniana to grow in Florida". From 1989 through the late 1990s I created many gardens for clients  here using own root OGRs and they thrived right up until the drought settled in 6 years ago when the hurricanes ceased to arrive here and when harsh watering restrictions were imposed (current penalty structure is $100 first time, $500 second time, $500 and court appearance third time, with liens against one's home if you blow off the court appearance). Tampa's high-sodium/high chlorine reclaimed water quickly killed surviving collections. But folks I know with rural wells they can run in secret have THRIVING collections of own root OGRs. I note that those who insist that Fortuniana is a must are not concerned by its famous thirst and use amounts of water that blow my mind as an environmentalist that has watched Florida dry up dramatically since the 1970s.

 A Florida rosarian  I once knew who subscribes to and proclaims as fact that baseless Fortuniana myth also "informed" me in the 90s that Bourbons, Albas,Wichuraianas and Multiflora Ramblers won't grow here.....good thing that my very long lived (in the ground) 'Jersey Beauty' and 'Leontine Gervais' and 'Francois Juranville' and 'Seagull' don't know that! A friend grows own root without sprays the 'Mme. Isaac Pereire' and 'Mme. Alfred Carriere' I gave him three years ago,  and my own root specimens of 'Coquette des Blanches' and 'Louise Odier' thrive in their Water Wise Container Gardens long term, again without sprays. 'Zepherine Drouhin' and 'Albertine' and 'Mme. Plantier' and 'Climbing American Beauty' thrived in the soil here for years until the drought settled in....they finally died 3-4 years ago. A 'Pink Clouds' Multiflora Rambler I gave a highschool era acquaintance thrived for many years beside their hot driveway for many years before they dug it out. I WOULD agree from many trials that the majority of Modern Roses DO best on, or even require, the Fortuniana rootstock.

  Another myth that harms the  Florida environment BIG time is "You HAVE to spray for pests and diseases in Florida". Again....good thing the all-organic rose gardens I created for clients that I maintained using pro-biotic methods did not know that! The sickliest rose gardens I've seen here ARE the ones that are routinely sprayed and thus are absent entire communities of macro and micro organisms that combat bugs and disease FOR organically grown rose gardens.

 La Reine


 Louise Odier

 Coquettes des Blanches


 Leontine Gervais
 Great Western

 "Fairmount Red"

 Francois Juranville
 Aviateur Bleriot in a client's yard

Jersey Beauty

  Enjoy the pictures from my yard of roses that some Florida rose "experts" years ago told me can't grow here.  John

Keeping My Eyes on the Prize as I Re-invent My Rose Garden

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Progress of the "re-rosifying" of my front yard

Buried 5-7 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens are the fulcrum upon this effort to grow roses in Tampa's sandy soil after 6 years of drought and severe watering restrictions balances. I feel it will work....I hope so as I miss my roses. A video soon. John

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Graig and Shanti and their roses in Denver

                                                     Graig and Shanti with 'De La Grifferie'

Their back patio in June

Them with 'Cornelia' on a pillar

It looks like I forgot to attach the pics of them to that older post about OGRs in Denver. Hard to believe that when I created this garden behind their home, and the ones out front and on the south side of their lot, most of the roses were in 1 gallon pots! Here you go. Enjoy!  John