The weather has been unseasonably warm – often in the mid 50’s since Christmas. When Mike and I walked on the East Bay Bike Path this week, it felt like spring! We’re wondering what our roses and other plants will make of this weather, but meanwhile, we’ll enjoy the respite and the low heating bills knowing full well that old man winter is lurking just out of sight.
We usually spend this time of year evaluating our roses. As I was reviewing how some of our roses had performed last season, I mentioned to Mike that we have quite a number of yellow roses. Mike often comments during our programs that we’ve been in a “white” rose phase, but are moving into a more colorful, outrageous phase with roses like the yellow/orange/red blooms of Brothers Grimm. Yet, when asked what our favorite roses are, I’d start with David Austin’s Graham Thomas. It’s one of the oldest bushes we have and one that Mike fusses over with extra TLC. We feature it as a specimen plant in a special bed of its own where it can be seen as soon as you enter our back garden as well as from the kitchen window. When it’s at the peak of its June bloom, it’s easily 7 feet high and 6 feet wide. If the weather and timing is right, Graham Thomas also provides us with plenty of sprays and blooms to enter in our Rose Society’s Rose Show. We especially enjoy exhibiting Graham Thomas in an English Box. We like it so much that when we started our business, RoseSolutions, (www.rosesolutions.net) we selected Graham Thomas to be featured on the masthead of our web site and on our business cards as well.
Another favorite – Julia Child – is also yellow and we chose it as the cover photo for our book Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening. To my eye, you can’t have a more striking photograph than that of a yellow rose against green foliage. To further emphasize the yellow of Julia Child, our book designer chose a dark green color for the cover and no matter how many times I look at Roses for New England, I never tire of seeing Julia Child.
Yellow Brick Road is one more yellow rose that we really like. It’s planted right at the corner of our front rose garden next to the driveway, so every time I come in and out, it’s the first rose bush that catches my eye. I can see why yellow roses represent friendship and are given to friends who may need cheering up. They always brighten my day.
I made a list of yellow roses we have in our garden and they include Sunny Knock Out, Molineaux, Yellow Submarine and the Brownell Everbloomimg Pillar # 84 also known as Golden Arctic. We also grow the Easy Elegance Centennial, classified as an apricot blend grandiflora, but in our garden it’s a soft yellow. A few years ago we were given the new introductions Good as Gold (Carruth, 2014) and Happy Go Lucky (Bedard, 2014) –two more yellow roses – and asked to evaluate them. While many new introductions don’t make it past the two-season probation period in our garden, these roses got high marks.
Good as Gold is a spectacular addition to our garden, giving us nicely formed golden yellow blooms with a hint of red along its petal edges. I never tired of taking photographs of it. Good as Gold is a hybrid tea and is hardy to Zone 5.
Happy Go Lucky is a pure yellow grandiflora with about 40 petals. It reminds me of the color of Julia Child so I wasn’t surprised to discover one of its parents is Julia Child. The foliage of Happy Go Lucky is darker than that of Julia’s, and so far Julia Child seems to be more floriferous. Happy Go Lucky is hardy to Zone 5.
Constant change is a hallmark of fine gardening and our fluid color preferences are good examples of keeping a garden fresh and interesting. With so many good new roses with great color available on the market every year, the challenge is deciding which ones to plant (and which ones to remove). While our changing tastes make those decisions a little easier, we know that our yellow favorites like Graham Thomas, Julia Child, Yellow Brick Road and Good as Gold are irreplaceable…for now.