‘Carefree Beauty’ rose

Rosa Carefree Beauty and maiden hair grass both blooming.
Icy lamb's ear
Icy lamb’s ear

Tired of hearing about cold and snow?  Me too.

Instead, let us speak of times past, particularly of summer, when the garden posed for one giant beauty shot, and my ‘Carefree Beauty’ rose was at her peak.


Through the arbor gate
Through the arbor gate

You step outside, the screen door slapping at your heels, and a wall of heat hits you like a thunderclap.  Stop for a moment, gather your thoughts, and gaze upon the garden in all its summer glory.  Watch as dragonflies dance in the sky to a song only they can hear.

Suddenly, standing tall behind the split-rail fence, a pink rose catches your eye and in the early morning haze, it, like the summer heat, takes your breath away.  Stately canes are covered in blossoms, the blooms a clear, pure pink un-muddied by blue undertones.

'Carefree Beauty' rose.
Rosa ‘Carefree Beauty’  Pay no attention to the red hoe on the left.

‘Carefree Beauty’, a/k/a Katy Road Pink, is one of Dr. Griffith Buck’s most famous roses.  Although Dr. Buck’s name was nearly lost to us because he was way ahead of his time, his work led the way for today’s ever-blooming, disease resistant roses.

'Carefree Beauty' rose blooming in October.
‘Carefree Beauty’ blooming in October.

When outside deadheading, I often think of Dr. Buck looking down from heaven bemused.  When he ran his rose program at Iowa State University, he had a very small budget, so his roses braved the elements alone, unlike the coddled Hybrd Teas so popular from 1950s through the 1970s.  During his thirty-seven year career at the university, he registered ninety roses, many of which can still be grown by modern gardeners.  Thank goodness this was done through the love of his friends and family, who kept the roses he gave them alive; and through rose nurseries like Chamblee’s Rose Nursery and the Antique Rose Emporium, who helped get them into commerce.  In fact, ‘Carefree Beauty’ was originally known through ARE as ‘Katy Road Pink’ because it was found along the Katy Road in Houston, Texas, as I’m sure my friend Cindy From My Corner of Katy can attest.

An open bloom of 'Carefree Beauty' rose.
An open bloom of ‘Carefree Beauty’ rose.

I grow several of Dr. Buck’s roses, including ‘Serendipity’ (died last summer), ‘Country Dancer’ (going strong), ‘April Moon’ (new last summer), ‘Apple Jack’ (going strong) and ‘Frontier Twirl’ (beautiful, but has blackspot).  However, it is my ‘Carefree Beauty’ rose who stole my heart long ago.

Here’s why.

  • Whether summer is hot or cold, she always looks good.
  • Other than tossing a handful of alfalfa pellets on her a couple of times a season, she asks for nothing more.
  • She rarely has a speck of blackspot, and her light green foliage with its red edges is beautiful besides.
  • Nearly constant bloom.  If I forget to deadhead her, she just outgrows the unsightly bloomed-out flower and moves on to another perfect, pink bloom.
  • Aphids don’t seem to like her.
  • The simple blooms don’t ball up during humid years.
  • She laughs at drought.  A friend of mine had a hedge of these beauties at the side of her property.  She rarely watered them, and they were in her poorest soil.
  • Her blooms are lightly fragrant.
  • She forms large rosehips in the fall.
'Carefree Beauty' rose dappled with rain.
‘Carefree Beauty’ rose dappled with rain.

Now, for the negatives:

  • Large grower.  Don’t plant her where she doesn’t have room.  (Mine is crowded and does fine.  I cut her back a lot some years.)
  • Her semi-double blooms don’t last long in a vase.  (Who cares?)
  • Thorns.  She has them as do most roses.
What more can I say?
What more can I say?

That’s it.  She is a perfect lady, a homesteader in the world of roses.  While wondering if she was a parent to some of this generation’s disease resistant roses, I found where a ‘Carefree Beauty’ seedling was the seed parent of ‘Radrazz’ or the original Knockout rose.  She is also the seed parent of at least one other Buck rose ‘Buckaroo.’  The Southampton Rose Society reports that she is the parent of several new Bailey Nursery roses, one of which is ‘Grandma’s Blessing.’  I’m not at all surprised, and I’m glad she passed down some of her good genetic traits to this generation.  If you have a place for her in your yard, please give her a try.  She’s hardy throughout USDA Zones 5-9.

Knockout rose; can you see the similarity to its parent's blooms
Knockout rose; can you see the similarity to its parent’s blooms?

To learn more about Dr. Griffith Buck, please visit the website created in his honor at Iowa State University.  You can also visit the most complete collection of his roses at the Reiman Gardens on the university grounds.

Plant Delights Nursery Lives Up to Its Name

A pink muhly grass cloud floats behind a spiky yucca. I thought the juxtaposition begged to be photographed.

This morning, buses arrived at 7:00 a.m. to whisk 600 plus writers, photographers, television media personalities, designers and other garden communicators to Plant Delights Nursery with side trips  to the local garden of John Dilley and Willie Pilkington and the Raleigh Farmer’s Market.

What can I say?  Plant Delights was a feast for the horticultural senses and a tapestry of perennials, shrubs and trees.  Surrounding the greenhouses were planting beds filled to the brim with all sorts of good things. I took a lot, and I mean, a lot of pictures. Perhaps, I’ll do a slideshow once I return home and can get my bearings.

A ginger I turned and snapped.  I did not get the name of this variety, but it smelled divine.
A ginger I turned and snapped. I did not get the name of this variety, but it smelled divine.

I wish you were with me to smell the gingers in the greenhouse. In the meantime, feast your visual sense upon this.

On the left was a row of agaves.  I brought home two varieties which are hardy to Zone 7.
On the left was a row of agaves. I brought home two varieties which are hardy to Zone 7.

For my friend, Pam, and other gardeners who don’t mind being poked and prodded by their plants, here’s a shot of the agave greenhouse, which also had mangaves and other warm weather loving plants. Two young guys from Tennessee (I’m sorry we were too busy swooning over the plants to exchange names) guided me to two varieties they knew were good and cold-hardy. I’ll let you know when I plant the new purchases in containers.  Note: they also said they use chicken grit as half of the soil as the greatest danger for agaves is root rot.

I really wanted this one, but it wasn’t hardy, and I didn’t want to mess with bringing it inside.

A. lophantha 'Quadricolor' at Plant Delights Nursery.
A. lophantha ‘Quadricolor’ at Plant Delights Nursery.

But, enough about agaves. Not everyone is as obsessed with them as I. Behind the nursery, there were more gardens, and paths wound round and round, up and down. It was, dare I say, delightful?

Echinacea and other perennials planted at Plant Delights Nursery give customers an idea of how plants perform.
Echinacea and other perennials planted at Plant Delights Nursery give customers an idea of how plants perform.

I noticed a lot of structure, and although there were plenty of late summer, early fall blooming perennials, there were also numerous ferns, hostas, grasses, shrubs and trees. Oh, and there were a few annuals too. Tony Avent has a lot of breeding stock of Colocasia esculenta, elephant ears.

Gorgeous elephant ears on a patio at Plant Delights Nursery.
Gorgeous elephant ears on a patio at Plant Delights Nursery.

Here’s a stunning combination. If anyone knows the varieties, please let me know.

A stunning combination of plants.
A stunning combination of plants.

After handing our purchases into PD employees’ capable hands, we departed for the Dilley Willie garden (f/k/a the hobbit garden, but they had to change the name to avoid trademark infringement with the Tolkien estate).  It was a plant collector’s dream filled with beautiful specimens. Featured on Erica Glasener’s t.v. show, A Gardener’s Diary, it was fun to see it in person. Interestingly, the owners closed the garden after our visit to raise the tree canopy and change many of the plants, so it will never look as it did today. I took many photos of it too, but I’ll just post a couple here. I don’t want to overwhelm your browsers.

The garden's original namesake
The garden’s original namesake
The bog
The bog

Tonight, we ate traditional dry rub ribs and pulled pork at the  J.C. Raulston Arboretum.  We were encouraged to walk throughout, but exhaustion and a misty rain kept us from the entire garden. I did make it through much of it and have many photos to share another time. Tomorrow, a visit to Montrose Gardens and three other beauty spots are on the schedule. I’m off to bed.