My first introduction to the glorious world of roses was through a gardening friend many years ago. Already an avid perennial and vegetable gardener, I was curious about my friendís newfound passion - growing roses. I decided that I should try them for myself, and so I ordered three from a catalogue. One of them was Iceberg, and the other two have since slipped my memory. However, since that wonderful, fateful day, I have fallen completely in love with this most beautiful flower!
Over the years, my love has increased to an obsession. If my husband would let me, I would probably dig up the entire back yard for my rose growing hobby! Where would the kids play? he asks sensibly. Since I began growing roses I have had my share of successes and of course failures too. I will talk more on that later on. In the beginning I didnít know anything about pruning, feeding or what kind of rootstock would be best for the climate zone that I live in (zone 8, West Coast).
But, I loved my new hobby and I persevered, and slowly started to learn by reading every book on roses that I could find in the library. My rose gardening friend also helped me along by giving me a book on roses every year for my birthday and sometimes for Christmas too. My best gift, of course. As I experimented with different Hybrid Teas I found that they didnít necessarily all live up to their beautiful picture in my particular garden situation. Some were not very floriferous, or vigorous, or disease resistant. I have given away many a rose for those very reasons.
As an example, this year I just had to have Apricot Nectar. Iíve wanted it for a long time. The photos in the book were so beautiful and I have a certain affinity for peachy colored roses. Well, I can tell you that in my particular situation it was a bit disappointing. The blooms were beautiful all right, there just werenít very many of them and they didnít last very long. Then, there are other roses that completely surprise me. Valentine Heart is such a rose. It just keeps on blooming and blooming with masses of soft pink flowers.
Of course, everyone looks for different things in their roses. Some value fragrance above all. Some need disease resistance and some must have vigor and floriferousness. Itís especially great if you can have all three!. However, I definitely fall in the latter category. I love fragrance and healthy foliage but if it doesnít bloom heartily its out the door. Or over to the neighbor, in my case. I have been particularly successful with the Austin English roses. They seem to have all of the coveted attributes, for me anyway.
At the moment I am growing and enjoying Othello, a wonderful old worldly looking and smelling rose of rich magenta red; L.D Braithwaite, a lovely bright red in color and slender in habit; Eglantyne, looks a bit like Fantin Latour with very rich pink, full petals and a bushy habit; Sweet Juliet, a very fragrant, tall, upright and shrubby rose perfect for a perennial border; Teasing Georgia, Constance Spry, Abraham Darby (very fragrant), Heritage (wonderful fragrance), Graham Thomas, Pat Austin and Ambridge Rose (amazing fragrance).