In early spring David Austin roses sent me three different roses to try for my hot Oklahoma climate. David Austin are considered English roses, hybridized to have old world fragrance, repeat bloom and even more unique colors and forms than old roses. They are to be used in mixed borders in the English style, or the smaller shrubs can be grown in containers. A few can even be grown in some climates as hedges. Because I’ve had limited success with some of my Austin roses (like ‘Teasing Georgia’) in the past, I asked them to choose varieties resistant to blackspot and other diseases.
Nine small shrubs in three cultivars arrived bareroot. To gauge an accurate test, I planted them on the East side of the garage where they get some protection from the elements. The soil is red sand with some sandstone. In the planting holes, I added shredded leaves and Mills Magic Rose Mix fertilizer. I mulched them with shredded pine bark and more shredded leaves. They were fed twice during the season with the same fertilizer and bunny poo from our pet bunny, Socks. The only spray they received was a small hand spray of Pyrethrin twice during the summer when the nasty spider mites got out of control. I did not spray any of them for disease control. They were and will be on their own.
This was a difficult summer for all of my roses. In the spring, we had a lot of rain. Then, . . . nothing. In late July, the heavens closed, and hardly any rain has fallen since. So, in spring, with all the moisture, we had powdery mildew, aphids and thrips. Then, when the heat hit, spider mites did also, sucking the life out of the leaves. For the spider mites, I finally resorted to Pyrethrin, a natural insecticide. I first checked for ladybugs and made sure I only sprayed on the underside of leaves not getting any on the blooms. Two applications of this remedy, and the spider mites were beaten back into submission. Blackspot appeared more at the end of the season, and Rose Rosette has destroyed several of my favorite cultivars. More about that virus in a later post.
So, how did these beauties do in my Oklahoma garden?
My favorite of the three was R. Darcey Bussell, named after the famous ballerina. Even though it is her first season, Darcey worked hard producing bluish red blossoms freely in spring, then sporadically during summer with many more in fall. With no help from me, she fought off blackspot until recently. Now, she has some, but for this bed, I did have to hand water. I’m planning to move my rain barrel to a corner and use a soaker hose. I think that will help with the blackspot because no roses like water on their leaves.
Our second place rose in this competition is R. Molineaux™, which is a yellow peach combination. Her color isn’t quite as bright as what is shown in the catalog, and she didn’t bloom as freely, but she was a fighter. I figure the color difference is mostly due to my hot climate which can fade the best of the lighter roses. She does have a nice light tea fragrance. Further, she fought off thrips, blackspot and spider mites, so I applaud her.
The Alnwick® Rose impressed me the least in her first year. Now, it isn’t fair to judge a rose’s performance by one season, so I’m hanging in with her and will give you further reports. She is a very upright shrub which I like very much, and her blackspot resistance is very good. She just didn’t bloom much. In fact, I don’t even have a decent photo of her. I’m going to guess she was settling in for the duration and will produce more blooms next year. Her color reminds me of R. ‘Heritage,’ one of the first roses released by David Austin in the U.S. I still grow ‘Heritage’ and love her. Another David Austin rose I love very much is ‘Sophy’s Rose’ which is a dark pink with a dahlia form to her blooms and very easy to grow. I wish I had three more ‘Sophy’s Rose’ to grow in my mixed border, but alas, I already have too many roses as it is.
These are my judgments so far. I’ll let you know in the future how they continue to grow and bloom.