Falling in Love Again

'Marie Pavie'
'Marie Pavie'

This month, at Gardening Gone Wild, the subject is roses.

Roses, those beauties of the herbaceous garden, those thorny queens with special needs.  Some roses are like pampered celebrities.  In the catalogs, they splash their pretty faces across the glossy pages promising so much and yet, once carefully planted, they deliver so little.  You know what I’m talking about; they’re like overindulged actors, who want sparkling water, found only in the Swiss Alps.  Then, when we plunk our money down for their new movie, they give us schlock.

So, why do I own over 90 rose bushes?

Just look at these sweet faces.  It’s easy to look this good in May, but some roses like ‘Carefree Beauty’, or dare I write, the Knockout family, look this good all summer long.  Then, in the fall, ‘Carefree Beauty’ presents me with giant, bird lovin’ rosehips.

In all fairness, we ask a lot of our roses.  We wish they didn’t have thorns, or diseases, or attract bugs like Japanese Beetles, or become deer fodder.  It’s a lot to ask of a shrub, isn’t it?

It’s the same with Angelina Jolie or Gwen Stefani.  We want them to entertain us and let us gaze upon their beauty without all the fallout.

Perhaps, it is because they are so beautiful.  Humans love beauty, and just to touch it, to hold a piece of starlight in one’s hand, is to touch a bit of heaven.

I hate to break the magic, but roses are shrubs, and stars are people no matter how beautiful.  I can’t help with people, but I do know roses.  For every attribute that they have, you must sacrifice something else.

'Carefree Beauty'

For example, perfume and disease resistance.  In theory, it should be easy to hybridize a disease resistant rose which is also extremely fragrant.  It isn’t.  At the GWA Symposium, I spoke to two of the cutting edge companies about this very matter.  They are working on it, and one of them wants me to test a rose this spring and summer to see if I think it fits the bill.  When that little rose comes, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  I hope it’s a triumph for them.

How about thorns?  My friend, Mr. McGregor’s Daughter, mentioned to me on Plurk that she wished roses weren’t so thorny.  In the spring, when I weed and feed (by hand) everyone, my arms do too.  I am constantly covered in scratches.  It’s so bad that people accuse me of cat fighting.  I promise, rose tending is much worse.  I wish I could help MMD, but she lives in Chicago which is USDA Hardiness Zone 5.  Many of my China and Noisette roses are nearly thornless, but they only thrive in Zone 7 and warmer climes.  Some don’t even like Zone 7.  My first suggestion for her is Zephirine Droughin who likes the colder weather and is thornless.  According to EveryRose.com, ‘Basye’s Blueberry’ is hardy to Zone 6 and with protection, Zone 5.   BB is thornless and grows well in my garden.

'Zephirine Droughin'
'Zephirine Droughin'

We want constant flowering and cold hardiness.  Again, Chinas and Noisettes bloom all the time.  In fact, it was by crossing Chinas with other roses that we got the repeat flowering we love today.  However, Chinas and Noisettes like their soil warm, and they aren’t the classic Hybrid Tea form.  Hybrid Teas, although beautiful, are an anomoly.  In my opinion, roses weren’t meant to bloom that way, so Hybrid Teas usually need a structured spray regimen. I only own two or three.

Most of my roses fall into supporting roles.   I get the most amazing show in May, sporadic blooming throughout the summer and a renewed bloom in fall.  In the midst of summer, they are putting their energy into survival.  This is fine.  I live in Oklahoma, not England, and I understand their needs.  During this time, they are the backdrops for my beds.  I grow a lot of old roses and new, modern, disease resistant shrubs.

In his book, Roses in the Southern Garden, Mike Shoup writes:

“Old roses have a diversity of forms [that] lends them very well to the garden where underplanting with perennials, annuals and existing shrubs is desired.  Thus the rose is not required to be the sole provider of color, fragrance and form when used in that manner.  It becomes just one of a variety of plants in the overall palate [sic] that the gardener uses to create his garden masterpiece.”

'Baronne Prevost' a Hybrid Perpetual

All I can add is this:  I think people fall out of love with roses because they are planting the wrong type, or because they have unrealistic expectations.  My advice is to do your research.  This is a long term commitment.  Read about roses as much as you can.  I can suggest great rose books for the southern plains and the rest of the south in another post if you’d like.  Then, visit public gardens in your area during the height of rose season.  Talk to their caretakers. They love their jobs and will tell you which roses perform best (and which ones they have to constantly spray).  Another method is to talk to the rosarian at your local nursery.  We have a very good one at TLC Nursery in Oklahoma City.  His name is Pat, and he will tell which ones perform best.

With your new found knowledge, you’ll be able to plant your new rose, and then, you can expect to fall in love again. I know I did.


  1. I’d love to see a post about roses for the southern plains!

    Susan Tomlinson´s last blog post..On being thankful

  2. Mary Ann says:

    Darlin’ Dee, I used to have tons of roses but the valley has been hit hard by pseudomona syringa virus and its rampant. Am trying to replace w/only heirlooms to see if it helps. Lovely post.

    Mary Ann´s last blog post..The totally rockin’ Soup CSA, week 3

    MA, that is a very bad disease. I’m so sorry. I hope it never comes our way. Japanese beetles have, and that’s bad enough.~~Dee

  3. skeeter says:

    I have seen some beautiful roses today and now am rethinking trying my hand at them again. I have never had luck in the past with them. sigh…

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    Hi Skeeter, go for the easy ones if you do. Happy Thanksgiving.~~Dee

  4. Phillip says:

    Great post Dee! I always cringe when I see so many hybrid tea roses at the local outlets and hardly any old roses. Most people don’t even aware of the old roses but to me, they are so rewarding.

    Me too, Phillip, and here, the Hybrid Teas aren’t even grafted to good rootstock.~~Dee

  5. Jean says:

    I had to laugh when I read you have 90 roses! I know they can creep up on you. (“Just one more won’t hurt!”) At one of my old homes I had about 20 before I knew it.

    I second your admiration of Zephirine Droughin. I used that on a trellis and it was very trouble free. Lack of thorns made it easy to tie to the trellis. My Marie Pavie is fighting blackspot right now but still blooming. Chinas and Noisettes are great for hot parts of the U.S.

    The GGW post already had me planning a new bed and yours just intensifies it – thanks!

    Jean´s last blog post..Southern Style Reds and Greens

    Hi Jean, yes, I love the Chinas, Noisettes and Polyanthas for hot places. Oh, and after a count, I guess I only have 83.~~Dee

  6. People want to have their cake and eat it too, I suppose–with roses as with everything. Odd, though, that fragrance declines as disease-resistance improves. It’ll be a breakthrough if the one you test this spring has both!

    themanicgardener´s last blog post..Compost to control plant diseases

    Hi Kate, I know I did. It smelled good at the convention, but I haven’t tested it for disease resistance in a real world garden yet.~~Dee

  7. Pam/Digging says:

    With 90 roses, are they all different, or do you repeat your favorites throughout your garden?

    I have only two roses in my new garden, and considering how much shade I have (and deer), that may be it. Good thing one’s a Knock Out that blooms like crazy.

    Pam/Digging´s last blog post..Sunny days and butterflies

    After your question, Pam, I thought about it and took an inventory. The next post tells all. Knock Out are truly amazing.~~Dee

  8. Sherri says:

    That’s wonderful Dee that you have 90 roses!! I guess the work is overwhelming sometimes for all those rosebushes, but they are gorgeous! I had a lot of roses when I lived in NWestern NJ, but I only have about 10 here in Charlotte, NC. Our house is on the market and after we move I am going to plant more roses. They winter over so well down here. I was always fighting the cold, frost and freezes up North. You just keep plugging along with these roses-you are my Idol!!!!

    Thanks, Sherri. You need some Chinas, Noisettes & Polyanthas. Check out Chamblee’s Nursery. Great place to find them. I guess I only have 83.~~Dee

  9. Colleen says:

    I want to see more of your roses, too! This really makes me wish I could have more of them. I agree with Annie–your garden must be pretty close to heaven at times!

    Hi Colleen, check out the next post. The garden does smell like heaven in late April through all of May. I can’t describe the scent at all.~~Dee

  10. Pre-order me a couple of Lori’s wished-for rose if it appears, Dee! And Phillip/Dirt Therapy has put ‘Buff Beauty’ on my wish list, too. In the meantime I’m pretty happy with two mutabilis roses for shrubby color (not for cutting, however) and the occasional ‘Julia Child’. ‘Belinda’s Dream’ isn’t doing well for me yet – but this has been a worse than usual year.

    Ninety roses? You might be crazy but on some days it must be like heaven in your garden!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Yes, ‘Buff Beauty’ is a beauty. She blooms like crazy here, but I would think you would want the Chinas being so far south. Talk to the people at The Antique Rose Emporium before you choose a rose or two. They will point you in the right direction for your Texas climate. I’ve heard of several people having trouble with Belinda, but I never have. Mutabilis is fabulous and is a China.~~Dee

  11. Gail says:

    Dee~ What MMD said! I want that rose, too! A delightful post…I loved reading it…I have three roses (!) The Fairy, Fairy Queen and new Dawn…all very easy! Thanks Dee. warmest, Gail

    Gail´s last blog post..Practically Perfect Pink Phlox Move Over….

    Hi Gail, I wouldn’t get ‘Fairy Queen.’ She is the queen of blackspot. ‘New Dawn’ although beautiful is a garden thug here. She has consumed most of my back fence, and she is THORNY!~~Dee

  12. Hey Dee, lovely post… and like a few other people above, I’d love to see more of your 90 roses! I keep wanting to try ‘Buff Beauty’ here in zone 6 (which I hear is marginal here) because of the scent and the pretty color of the changing petals… we’ll see if I get that adventurous. Right now I just have one, ‘Dortmund.’ 🙂

    Blackswampgirl Kim´s last blog post..Suspended Color

    Thank you. I think if you put BB in a protected area, you would like her. Never grew ‘Dortmund’ but I hear it is very nice.~~Dee

  13. MrBrownThumb says:

    For me I can’t break the connection I have in my mind that roses are too “hard” to grow. I know they’re probably not as hard as I’ve made myself think they are-but I can’t shake it.

    In my next life I want to be a rose grower.

    MBT, some ARE hard, some are not. I put together a list of ones which are not.~~Dee

  14. Lori says:

    Wow, 90 roses! And here I thought I was a crazy person with 32. I second what you said about Chinas and Noisettes in the south. They’re definitely my most carefree roses, but I have a soft spot for a few of the Teas as well.

    As for the perfect rose, mine would be thornless, bushy, cool-colored flowers, and have an insanely strong citrus scent much like Austin’s “Abraham Darby.” Well, a girl can dream. 😉

    Lori´s last blog post..November Bloom Day

    Lori, I’m just crazier. 🙂 I love the Teas, but they don’t like my climate much. I have to grow the hardier one. The Teas are so pretty. A wonderful dream, especially the thornless part. ZD is halfway there, but her color is definitely not cool.~~Dee

  15. tina says:

    I always fall in love with these-in other gardens though. With mostly shade it is difficult in my garden though I do have a few. Your advice is right on-plant the right type and fall in love again…

    Thanks, Tina.~~Dee

  16. Wonderful post! Thanks for the link love. It’s true, I want it all, a long-blooming, thornless, heavily-scented, disease-resistant, iron hardy Rose. (Alright, I’m willing to compromise, I don’t need it to be a double.) You have to really love Roses to have 90. I can’t imagine how heavenly the scent of your garden must be during that one floriferous month.

    Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog post..The Rose

    After counting again, I now only have 83. LOL. It smells great. You should come visit.~~Dee

  17. joey says:

    Great post, Dee. Throughout the years, I apologized saying, “Well, I only grow ‘Carefree Beauty’!”. But as a gardener for over 30 years, I now proudly state, “I love them and they love me!” A true powerful and beautiful ‘Clydesdale work horse’ in my garden.

    Joey, they are fabulous roses. Everyone should have one, or two, or three.~~Dee

  18. Brenda Kula says:

    They don’t love me as much as I love them. But then my grandma use to say that about onions. I’m working on my “rose growing skills” little by little. Had a wonderful red rose budding yesterday. Totally delighted me.

    Brenda Kula´s last blog post..Good Easy Recipe; Nice Weather

    Hi Brenda, you just need the right roses. Try a China like Mutabilis. Its blooms change color from apricot to dark pink.~~Dee

  19. nola says:

    Oh Dee! I hope you will devote another post to a few “must have” basic books on “growing roses for dummies”. I have NEVER had success with roses (Texas, hot dry summers), but my hubby loves them, so I’d like to pick ONE PERFECT rose and plant a few of them for him.

    nola´s last blog post..# 98 Calling All Gardeners

    Hi Nola, okie dokey, I will. Thanks for the idea.~~Dee

  20. I would love to have more roses. I have two. I think I am ready for more in my zone 5 garden. I’ll do my homework this winter and see what I come up with!

    Great post!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog post..On Waiting and Garden Blogging

    Oh, yes, please follow me into my addiction. 🙂 ~~Dee

  21. Amy says:

    I love roses. Thankfully there seem to be more and more available for my climate. I’ve been very happy with the “explorer series” roses I have planted.

    Amy´s last blog post..Frosting

    Amy, the hybridizers are rising to the challenge to create different roses for varied climates. Of course, the consumer is no longer asking for only Hybrid Teas.~~Dee

  22. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    90 roses!!! Wow, I am impressed. I have two. I love roses but I don’t have the right soil or something. I don’t have much luck with them. I love to go to my Sister’s house and see hers though, or my friend Gary has lots of beautiful roses.

    Lisa, it’s just insanity. That’s all.~~Dee

  23. eliz says:

    I love roses. Had I space, I would have a whole bed of the David Austin varieties. I would love to see more of your 90!

    The David Austins do well at your house.~~Dee

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