The queens of the garden, the roses for those of you who don’t know, are most unhappy about the ill treatment they received in December, January and February. No offense to Shakespeare, but you might even call it the winter of their discontent. Even with the royal robes of leaf mold and pine bark, they shivered at the unseasonable -17F.
Yes, you read that correctly. After the magnificent snowfall of February 9, 2011, Oklahoma faced temperatures which were not only unseasonable, but uncharitable too.
The roses are not amused.
Many of them died all the way back to where the snowfall collected on the ground. A few, like ‘The Fairy’ or ‘Carefree Delight,’ laughed at the cold, but none of the Knockouts® were happy. Most are now only eighteen inches tall. ‘Cl. Pinkie’ is in intensive care, but I did see a bit of new growth about a foot above the ground. She was twenty feet high only last summer. My favorite, ‘Carefree Beauty,’ is fine by the way. I am so glad.
The English roses next to the house are fine, as are some of the Noisettes and Chinas placed on the East side of the house because they are more tender. All were cut back to nearly nothing. One note: the StoryBook Garden roses look splendid. They were placed in a good spot too though.
Oh, and the crapemyrtles, those knights in shining armor, also suffered mightily. Many died all the way back to the ground as in olden days of yore (my childhood). I am still waiting to see if the large ones will remain trees or become shrubs again.
Now, before we all weep in frustration, just remember, if you plant many different types of plants in a garden, give them
good excellent soil, and water them wisely, your garden will be beautiful no matter what the weather.
So, don’t cry for them good people. It’s simply off with their heads (the dead canes) and onward through spring we go. One of the things which makes gardening endlessly interesting is that the results are different every single year.
One more thing, this would have been a disaster if I grew grafted roses because they would have died back below the bud union. Something to keep in mind when you choose your queens this spring.
Wow that is some cold weather! I’m glad that your roses will be OK even if there were setbacks. The last time I was in weather that cold was when we lived in PA: -22 with -45 wind chill. It even got into the low negatives in NC with that weather front. Way too dang cold.
Reminds me of the winter of ’76-’77 here when a lot of Camellias died to the ground and the 33 acre lake we lived on was frozen solid for a month. Snow every week during the month of March. If that happened now I’d just hibernate.
I saw you mentioned rose rosette in your comments. I lost some roses last spring to it, for the first time. I knew it was going to show sooner or later.
Sweetbay, the roses are recovering. I bought them good food, and they seem to be responding to it. Rose rosette is a terrible virus, and sadly, it may kill much of the rose industry if the growers don’t start destroying and removing some of the bad roses along with R. multiflora.
Jean @Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog
Wow, that was one tough winter! It’s good you have such an upbeat attitude about it all (I’m not sure I would). All those roses! I guess I need to start looking at ‘Carefree Beauty’. 🙂 btw, my new ‘Belinda’s Dream’ has had two lovely blooms so far and I was surprised at how fat they were!
Jean, it was a terrible winter and hard on many plants. Others responded well to the cold. I’ve never seen the peonies look happier in fact. Yes, you need my favorite rose. I love the fair Belinda too.
This was my first experience with Rose Rosette. AR!!!!!!!!
I had 4 climbers and 2 d.knockouts with rose rosette by the end of last summer so I ripped them out of the ground in the fall. Not many people could answer my questions regarding this disease but I figured out what it was via the internet. There is also a great man that works at TLC and he knew all @ it. I live in west Edmond and I have 6 more roses 4 of them d. knockouts that also have it. My husband wanted me to let them bloom one last time b/f I take them out. I am ill @ it all. I know my novice neighbor also has it but I don’t feel too comfortable telling them. I fear planting again until I feel like my neighborhood is clean of the darn mites. Especially with the wind in Oklahoma. I am so sorry to hear @ those others who have also lost roses. I hear it is fairly common to attack the d. knockout. Ironically, I planted those b/c I wanted less maintenance than the many other varieties. I really was searching for other reports in Oklahoma to see how severe this is in our state.
The Double Knockouts are one of the varieties which seem much affected by this virus. I’m not sure why and so far, it seems the rose industry is silent on the matter. Pat at TLC is very helpful with all rose problems. He’s a great guy. I noticed that west Edmond is one of the worst hit areas. My theory is that there are few windbreaks on that side of town, and so the mites blew easily from bush to bush upon the wind. Also, there are loads of Double Knockouts and original Knockouts in that part of town. I consulted with a couple of homeowners only last month. I am so sorry.
When you decide to plant more roses, try some of the older varieties out of Texas. They don’t grow R. multiflora as much in Texas so I don’t think they are as hard hit. However, it is important to remove any roots of any rose with rose rosette as they tissue in the roots can spread the virus. Where I replaced roses, I grew something else. HTH.
Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening
I see you learned some cold climate gardening lessons this winter. Minus 17 in your climate is too unfair. Fortunately many well-established shrubs will come back from the roots, especially with snow cover, as you’ve so cleverly observed. Even in my cold climate, you can grow grafted roses, but the graft union must be several inches below the ground, which in your climate, you normally wouldn’t bother with. I recently learned of an easier way to plant grafted roses, though it’s not as easy as planting roses in your climate.
Yeah, Kathy you can just keep your cold weather north thank you. 🙂 The roses do seem to be coming out of their funk however. Yea!
Good grief! This has been a tough year for you. It’s interesting to know the ones that made it though -17, though. I guess all our weather losses have a “research factor” attached to them. At least, that’s what I tell myself. . .
Yes, it was tough. Lots of snow and cold. I think keeping a watchful eye and just going with the flow is the best way to garden don’t you?
Too cold winters; too hot summers. What is a gardener to do except plant what works, whack off the dead parts and replant the casualties? I’m watching dead sticks for signs of life among the most tropical of my plants, with little seedlings coming on just in case.
Nell Jean, I love your attitude. I hope your garden fully recovers too.
My best wishes to all for a full and speedy recovery. Your sense of humor will help them along. Your mentioning the noisette reminded me of the plant I had to leave behind when I last moved (in January). Great woodland rose.
Here’s wishing May smiles down on you and your heroic efforts on her behalf.
Thank you so much Jackie. I think we’ll enjoy May, the queens and I.
Sorry it’s such a struggle after this rough winter. I lost some things – including the second Bottlebrush tree two winters in a row. And the 2nd one I bought bigger to be stronger-Ha! My Carefree Beauty is growing, but not happy. I am fighting a battle with stink bugs. Killed 7 a few days ago. Only found and squished one today. But her blooms and buds are sucked dry of their beauty and perfection. Still, from a little distance, she seems perky. Hope your roses and crapes recover nicely for you.
I’m sorry you lost some things too Diana. Such is the life of a gardener, isn’t it? Wow, stink bugs? I’ve never had them on a rose before. They seem to like my veggies so much more. I would try some good, organic fertilizer for her so she can fend off the dang bugs and then bloom better for you later. My fingers are crossed.
Mr. McGregor's Daughter
‘Carefree Beauty’ is such a great rose. I don’t protect mine in any way. I’m so glad I learned about it from you.
Thanks so much MMD. I love her too.
No snow on our end to mash anything down. The roses are at their peak in Charleston this week. We are so lucky compared to your fate.
Yeah, Jim rub it in. 🙂 I wish I could see the Charleston roses in all their glory.
I have mostly Knockouts since they can stand the cold and snow and bounce back in the spring…need to cut the roses back this weekend…my queens are starting to sprout a bit
Donna, my Knockouts almost froze to nothing. They are all as tall as the snow cover. Negative 17 had them frazzled. They do seem to be bouncing back, and now, I’m watching for rose rosette to make another appearance. Let’s pray not.
My roses also took a beating last winter, though I don’t know that we got all the way down to -17. Below zero for sure, though. It’s so sad to cut away all that dead growth. Better luck next year for yours and mine!
VW, I’m so sorry. I just think of the dead growth as a kind of cancer which needs to go. Helps me!
It sounds like you had our winter, which usually has a couple of days that dip well below zero. And many roses do not like it one bit here, either. But I like what you said about this is all what makes gardening interesting… you never know from year to year how it is going to start or turn out.
Hi Carol, I don’t like your winter. Please keep it up north. I can see why the roses don’t like it there. Of course, usually, your summers are more green and mild than ours. It’s all a trade-off isn’t it?
the Manic Gardener
I loved this, Dee–and forgive me if I do spare a tear for your poor roses, even as I admire your humor, your glances at Shakespeare, and your equanimity in the face of setbacks. I don’t think I could be so sanguine. The tip about grafted plants was a new one on me. Thanks.
Thanks Kate. I appreciate your stopping by. Oh well, as for humor, I’d rather smile than cry. I used to cry once long ago. 🙂
I hope your roses are just pouting at their treatment, Dee, and that a little attention will perk them back up. As much as I complained about our long winter, I do think it was a good one for my plants–lots of snow to keep them snuggled up through the cold.
Rose, your namesakes will all come out of it, and in the meantime, other plants will get more sun. It’s okay. Snow cover is a good thing for plants. Last winter was definitely evidence of that.
Dear Dee, What a winter~It would be no surprise if you were discontented; instead you are an inspiration to us. I love the Fairy Rose! She’s a trooper. I noticed a few of the miniature crapemyrtle I planted last year are growing from the base. Isn’t it wonderful they are alive! xogail
Gail, I’m blushing. We gardeners just have to roll with the punches. I love ‘The Fairy’ too, and with her small pink blooms, she is so aptly named. The others will come out of their funk as will the crapemyrtles.
I too have shrub crape myrtles growing from the base. Does that mean I need to cut back all the wood above where they are growing?
I am a novice crape grower. Thanks for any advice you could lend.
Kelly, I would wait and watch them. Break off a small branch to see if you see any green and keep an eye on them. Crapemyrtles are notoriously slow to break into leaf so I would wait until all the others in your neighborhood are growing. Then, if yours still aren’t doing anything, cut them back and choose the best of the shoot coming up from the base.
Oh, winter can be tough can’t it? I like your optimism concerning the roses. They will be lovely, I am sure.
Layanee, they will be what they will be. The important thing is to plant many different types of plants and not become too dependent on one genus.
Dirty Girl Gardening
I bet your roses are going to be gorgeous… xo
Thank you Jennifer. They will be fine. They are definitely sulking though. I would be too if I had to stand outside in the cold.
Dear Dee, I like your cool and calm attitude. There is great wisdom in your words, especially about the grafted versus own root rose hardiness. Off with their heads, and may they grow to reign supreme once more.
Thanks Frances. I think my calm comes from experience. There would have been a time when I would have sad down in the path with my Felcos and cried. No more. Life is just too short.
With your tender and knowledgeable care, I have no doubt they will soon be as glorious as ever. Mine have been exceptionally lovely this spring … it got just cold enough to make them happy.
Thank you Cindy. I think they will be okay. Poor Mutabilis. As a tender China he took quite a hit. I’m so glad your roses are splendid this year. You deserve a great spring.
Lisa at Greenbow
I can imagine your angst when looking at the destruction of winter. I am glad you can deal with it. They probably needed a good pruning. 😉
Lisa, really, I’m good. Most of them didn’t die. I’m much more concerned about rose rosette actually.