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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Roses As Teachers

I'm inspired most by rosarians who are curious and open-minded and willing to experiment instead of being fossilized by dogmas that can prove to be baseless.....Miriam Wilkins and David Austin and Ralph Moore come to mind as free-thinking heroes of mine. Rose growing here in Florida has long been constrained by "truisms" like "you have to spray for bugs and disease" or "you have to bud roses onto Fortuniana".....the latter overlooks the fact that in the 1800s and early 1900s Floridians grew vast numbers of own root roses successfully long before the advent of Fortuniana budding. For 19 years I created all-organic rose gardens for my landscape clients using a wide range of own-root OGRs, occasionally planting a modern rose on Fortuniana to meet a specific wish of a client, say 'Peace', as many modern roses DO seem to suffer here own root. Those gardens thrived long term until this now-perennial drought and draconian watering restrictions became the norm... many roses DO love water.

Since the early 90s, rosarians of note in central Florida have decreed to me that "Bourbons won't grow here" except for 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' and 'Souvenir de St. Anne's' due to the infusion of Tea blood via 'Gloire de Dijon', and even they needed to be budded onto Fortuniana. (both thrived own root in clients' gardens, with 'Cl. Souvenir de la Malmaison' displaying extreme vigor). I loved the Bourbons in Denver due to their form and fragrance and so I try one now and then here, own-root and all organic and in the Water Wise Container Gardens I make from 15 gallon plastic barrels that mimic the basic principles of the Earth Box. As a result I am blessed with the lovely blooms of 'Coquette des Blanches', 'Louise Odier' and "Jo An's Pink Perpetual" from Denver's Fairmount Cemetery that when I still lived in Denver, Fred Boutin and I discussed as possibly being 'Champion of the World'. I am so glad that these roses don't know they can't grow here, and that the hundreds of own root OGRs I planted in those many clients' gardens were also blissfully unaware of that "fact". A friend has a thriving 'Mme. Isaac Pereire' I gave him three years ago, no spray and own root in a large pot in his greenhouse.

These same Florida rosarians told me that the Wichuraiana class and Multiflora class also can't grow here, but don't tell that to the 'Francois Juranville' and 'Aviateur Bleriot' and 'Gardenia' and 'Jersey Beauty' and 'Leontine Gervais' and others, plus the 'Seagull' and 'Pink Clouds' that are stupendous performers own root and all-organic here IF given ample water.

In the early 90s an influential Colorado rosarian stated as fact that "David Austin's English Roses are not cold hardy in Colorado". But when I realized he had trialed only those on Manettii from Wayside, on multiflora from Pickering, and Dr. Huey, I bought some own root ones from HOGR and found them to be stellar performers in my and clients' gardens. So I promoted own root English Roses in my column in The Rocky Mountain News, local nurseries started offering them, and I got nothing but glowing feedback from them and their customers who had previously lost grafted plants to the brutal winters there, and when I left in 2002, many hundreds were being sold annually in Denver as people built UP collections of own root English Roses vs. replacing dead ones.

I am very lucky to have known Miriam and others who served as models for me to try new approaches vs. obeying the dictates of self-appointed "experts" who'd long since substituted dogma for humble, curious experimentation. For years I've been inspired by the fact that not long before the Wright Brothers made their first historic flight, the world's top scientists released a report declaring that heavier-than-air flight was "impossible' as it would require "infinite acceleration'.....they totally overlooked the principle of lift that keeps heavier-than-air birds aloft!

Before the drought set in and when we were getting so many hurricanes my front yard here had 170 roses; just a few were on Fortuniana. But I was an environmentalist long before I was a rosarian and so as the drought deepened I would not use the copious amounts of water they demanded and I lost them to attrition (plus consumption by a MONSTER 'Mermaid' that gloried despite the drought). But by making then burying 5, 7 and 15 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens, I am slowly rebuilding my collection while keeping my water use very low despite growing much of my own food and raising ducks and chickens on my urban water bill last month was $3.84. I turn 58 in August and so can remember a lush, green WET Florida where even the IDEA of watering restrictions was unthinkable. Yet we live with the current fine structure of $100 first offense, $500 second offense, $500 and court third offense...if you blow off the court appearance a lien is put against your home. Two rosarians I know here who grow budded, sprayed roses using underground emittters to avoid the fines, in all seriousness say, "I give just 7 gallons per day per rose". While Fortuniana DOES resist nematodes admirably, it is a very thirsty rootstock due to its roots hugging the surface vs. going down deep as do my own root roses. Nonetheless I cherish my 'Oklahoma' on Fortuniana growing in a restricted drainage container and will try it own root next.
I said goodbye to Bourbons when I left Denver in November 2002, so it is such a joy to be seeing and SMELLING and breeding with them again!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

'Dr. Huey' root stock in Tampa

Each July, Denver is peppered with thousands of bushes of 'Dr. Huey' in full bloom, with the cultivar once budded to it long since killed by the brutal winters. Here in Tampa, modern roses sold on 'Dr. Huey' are often informally viewed as "annuals" due to poor performance and limited lifespans unless grown in pots. While I have over the years here seen several 'Dr. Huey' plants growing long term in yards, I'd never seen them bloom.....until this year. A long time landscape client sent me pics of hers in bloom as she was baffled as she knew she had not bought a rose that looked like that a few years back, and today, on my first long bike ride up Bayshore Blvd. after cracking a few ribs about a month ago, I got an up close look at one grown as a climber whose peak bloom was about 10 days ago. I'd assumed it was a giant 'Knockout' but sure enough it is good old 'Dr. Huey'. Funny how what is seen as a nuisance in Colorado can get a Florida rosarian excited!  This winter and last we had nights with sustained temps of 27 degrees Farenheit.....I can't help but wonder if that was the catalyst for this very rare event.  John

Friday, April 22, 2011

Third Annual Rose Lover's Gathering

I can't believe that due to my spring frenzy and space cadet nature I did not think until today to share this upcoming roses event in Florida just over a week away! Sorry Pam! This looks to be a premiere roses events for Florida rose lovers, with an eclectic mix of speakers and presentations (I am giving a talk on Probiotic Rose Gardening) plus many roses and related products for sale. I look forward to meeting Pam and other rose maniacs, including Gene Waering who will be signing copies of the wonderful book he edited called 'The Sustainable Rose Garden' which I will soon be reviewing here upon finishing reading it....he maintains personal rose gardens in both New York and Florida. I am proud that he chose my article 'Probiotic Rose Growing'. Pam has an astonishing collection of roses, approximately 1,700 on 6 acres as I recall, so guess who is bringing his cameras and wish list?

I hope my failure to promote this event does not result in some folks learning of it too late to attend. See the link below about her nursery and what I am sure will be a grand event for Florida rose lovers.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

'La France'

I adored this rose in my Denver garden due to its two-toned petals and breathtaking perfume. But Denver winters knocked it back hard annually, due I suspect to its Tea Rose heritage. A few years ago, Mike Shoup honored me by having me speak at his Fall Roses Festival where he gave me many bareroot roses to cram into my was 'La France'. That own root organically grown plant thrives in a 15 gallon Water Wise Container Garden, fed mainly home brewed fish emulsion and horse manure tea, with kitchen graywater its main source of moisture. While I no longer consider it "The First Hybrid Tea" I nonetheless love this rose as much as I did in Denver. John

Sunday, April 17, 2011

'Conrad Ferdinand Meyer' in Tampa

This own root plant has thrived in Tampa for 3.5 years in a 15 gallon Water Wise Container Garden, grown all-organically and given mostly kitchen graywater. The rich perfume is sweet, spicy and sultry all at once. In Denver my plant was huge and husky in a bed out near the it is a manageable pillar rose that blooms throughout the year beside my back door where lucky visitors can indulge in the silvery pink color and luscious scent. John

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Question from one of my readers of 'Florida Gardening' magazine. John

"Although my enthusiasm outweighs my ability, I am a Florida gardener who was born here and am familiar with growing in Florida. I love the Florida Gardening magazine and always read it cover to cover, then I save it. I have stayed away from growing roses because they are supposed to be so "delicate", but would love to try one or two. Your "Poop Soup" recipe in the April/May issue is intriguing, since it is all natural, but I don't have ready access to fresh horse poop. I do however, have four cows that leave me plenty of raw materials. Can I substitute cow poop for the horse poop? I will be using it on my vegetable garden as well as my new rose. Thank you for your time and assistance."

I would think that fresh cow poop would work just fine. Give it a try and let me know how it does for your roses. Happy Gardening! John

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Hybrid Perpetuals can't grow in central Florida".....

                                              General Jacqueminot

Baronne Prevost

I remember being informed of this "fact" in the 90s by folks that conceded one could grow a couple ONLY if budded to R. fortuniana and sprayed heavily and routinely.....good thing my own-root, organically grown 'General Jacqueminot' and 'Baronne Prevost' thriving in Water Wise Container Gardens don't know they can't grow here! I adore the scent of both, plus they make me flash back to my wonderful rose gardens in Denver each June where they REALLY thrived and got very husky. John

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Roses Will LOVE This!!!

The first rain system a few days ago drenched my gardens with 3.3 inches......Wednesday I got just under 1.5 inches...then yesterday all hell broke loose (INTENSE gusts and lightning, no electricity most of the day and night so out came the candles) and I got ANOTHER 2.5 inches! My huge R. bracteata was already covered with buds...the display should be stunning. (guess who is delaying pruning it a few weeks now?). Woo Hoo! John