Summer’s Last Bouquet

dsc01484.JPGI have a painting by Sandi Gore Evans titled “Last Rose of Summer.” A Mason jar holds two yellow roses just turning to brown. Parchment petals litter the countertop. A lace curtain billows over the entire scene. I’d love to show it to you, but it is a watercolor and is covered by glass. This is the best I can do.The red rose on the left is ‘Mr. Lincoln,’ a hybrid tea. This is his second year in the garden, and he is still struggling to get a footing without being grafted. I live out in the country where the wind really does whip down the plains. Most of the roses I grow are on their own roots. That way, if they get frozen to the ground (which does sometimes happen) I still end up with the same rose, not some ugly grafted rootstock rose. (You know the ones . . . you see them all over town. Dark red with giant yellow stamens. They bloom once, and remain green foliage the rest of the year. ) In the spring, I’ll write more about grafted versus own root roses.
I think I get three exquisite blooms a month from ‘Mr. Lincoln,’ but he is still worth having for the fragrance which is a classic rose scent.

The yellow and orange stunner on the right is another hybrid tea, ‘Rio Samba.’ ‘Rio Samba’ is hands down my favorite hybrid tea rose. It is vigorous, the blooms are beautiful, but its fragrance is slight. I don’t grow many hybrid teas, but I have two ‘Rio Sambas.’

I cut these roses yesterday, and with today’s projected high reaching only 48 degrees, this may be my last bouquet. Buds, ripe with promise, still perch at the end of rose canes, not knowing that summer is over for them too.

Time for the rose bushes to pull back and conserve their energy for next year. Sounds like a good idea for gardeners too.

Mexican Bush Sage: Star of the Late Show

By now, most of the summer “make mine hot” perennials are beating a steady retreat as days grow shorter. Not so with Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha.) It is just hitting its stride, starting to open velvety purple calyces from which extend white blossoms beloved by both hummingbirds and butterflies, along with nearly every other pollinator known to man.

I like how its stems bend in graceful arches, echoing the form of native grasses now heavy with seed.

Plant information states that it is an evergreen perennial in Zones 8 to 10. I garden in Zone 7(a), but because winters have been consistently warmer in the last few years, I have a large stand of Mexican Bush Sage gracing my middle garden. It came back so heartily this spring that I actually divided it for the first time.

Even in those years when it doesn’t return, I still plant it as an annual for fall color, so next spring, when you’re trying to create a garden with four season interest, stick a pot of this perennial in your basket. You’ll be glad you did.