Labor Day weekend usually is when Mike and I start evaluating our roses and begin thinking about any changes we want to make. We look at each rose and see if we liked the way it has performed during the season. We evaluate each variety, especially the new varieties we planted this year, according to fixed criteria. Did it produce enough flowers? Did we like the blooms? Was the growth habit as expected? Was it disease resistant? Overall, how well did the rose grow? The answers to these questions decide whether a rose will stay or go. We usually allow a variety two seasons to develop, but occasionally a rose will be such a complete loser that it gets the boot after the first year.
Our sustainable rose garden is the smaller of the two gardens so we look at this one first. Generally, we’ve been pleased with the sustainability of the varieties we have. After trying several different climbers in the past, we planted Brite Eyes which is in its second year. Last year we were satisfied with its disease resistance which is why it survived its first season. This season it had a sizeable growth spurt, which is to be expected since it usually takes at least two years for a climber to establish itself. It has reached a height of 6 ft. which is about as tall as it will get which is one of the reasons we chose it. We didn’t want a large climber that would grow taller than the house. Brite Eyes, hybridized by Bill Radler who is known for his Knock Out roses, has a single flower (5-12 petals) that is a soft pink with creamy yellow inner petals that throws off nice sprays all summer. I was also really pleased with its second bloom cycle in late July.
Planted side by side, we have the eye-catching Easy Elegance shrub roses All the Rage and Sweet Fragrance, both favorites for the last several years. The golden yellow stamens along with the yellow of its inner petals against All the Rage’s apricot blooms and Sweet Fragrance’s cupped double apricot blooms produce sprays all season. They both pick up a little black spot at the end of each season, but not enough to jeopardize their space in the garden.
Other roses in our sustainable garden include My Girl, a floriferous, deep pink rose with double, ruffled blooms, which is very disease resistant and meets all our requirements for a sustainable rose. So does Super Hero with its small, velvet red, perfectly formed
blooms. This variety, as well as many of the others, like White Out, Lady Elsie May and Yellow Brick Road, has a nice compact habit. Larger bushes like Knock Out, which is an anchor plant at the corner of our sustainable garden, and Blushing Knock Out and Pink Knock Out, which surround our flag pole, are perfect for their spots.
Unfortunately, Home Run, a red single rose with golden yellow stamens planted in front of the climber, is going to have to go because it has grown too big and is crowding out Brite Eyes. We’ll replace it with a smaller rose – maybe Yellow Submarine. The Yellow Submarine we have now was damaged last winter by heavy snow falling from our awnings, splitting the bush in two. We were hoping it would recover, but it hasn’t.
Mike and I reviewed our older garden today and plan on replacing some older rose bushes with younger plants of the same variety and removing a couple of very old varieties which no longer fit into our grand scheme. Rose gardens should always be dynamic works-in-progress with every season its own horticultural experience.