Monday, February 11, 2008

Roses Present

Year 1

We moved into our house in July but did not get the rear yard landscaped until December so my first year to contribute to the garden was 2005. I mentioned earlier that I had asked the landscape designer for some roses. He allotted three spaces on the side of the yard behind the retaining wall that steps up from my level yard to that of my neighbor's. There were three holes hacked in the rocks with gallon pots as filler.

I had decided to be more adventurous with my new roses and ordered three Mutabilis to fill the holes. I was still trying to take the measure of the plantings and understanding what they might look like when mature so I was cautious about further ground planting. I wanted another rose, however, and decided to grow one in a pot. After considerable pondering, I selected an Austin rose, Symphony which was described as a yellow .

Mutabilis was an inspired choice. (I later found that it is one of the 10 best plants for the area selected by the UC Davis Botanical Gardens.) Two of the plants took off right away while the one in the center languished and eventually died. (Water from apparently natural sources bubbles up randomly in my new yard causing some drainage problems which I will document later but the central rose was planted right on top of one of them.) The survivors are always in bloom (except when I force dormancy) and are now about 6’ x 6’.

Symphony was disappointing; not very vigorous and bleached out to white in our scorching summer weather. It lasted two years then petered out.

Year 2

By this time it was clear to me that the beds around the level area of my back yard could stand some more plants and so why not some more roses. I added two roses, Mme. Cecile Brunner (the regular one – not the climber) and Midnight Blue. They are both small and I hoped would be complementary. I am still waiting for them to grow up.

I wanted climbing roses in my front courtyard where there is what we like to call the bell tower over the gate from the front yard. I planted Mermaid to grow up the north wall and out of the top of the bell tower into the front of the house and Ginger Syllabub to grow up the one freestanding pillar of the tower. Mermaid is incredibly vigorous but so far has not given a big show of blooms. GS is slower growing, not a vigorous bloomer and the promised yellow-apricot flowers wash out to white. She needs to step up this year or I will be looking for a replacement.

Finally, I ordered two Hot Cocoa’s late in the season and planted them in front of the Mutabilis. (I had really wanted Hot Cocoa and so I rationalized that the colors would go together. They don’t go well but I like them anyway). They have yet to really look good, partly because my maple trees have begun to actually provide some shade. When I planted them, the trees were only nine feet tall and the idea that there would ever be shade in the yard never crossed my mind. I am hoping that this year will see them vigorous and blooming up a storm in spite of the maple.

Year 3

I planted Graham Thomas. It is supposed to be tall and gorgeous. By this year it is tall and spindly. The few flowers I saw last year actually stayed yellow but beyond that, it hasn’t won my heart..

Year 4

Stay tuned.

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