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A guidebook for growing roses

October 10, 2015

Filed under: Gardening — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 8:09 am


Juliet:  “…What’s in a name? that which we call a rose, By another name would smell as sweet; Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, Retain that dear perfection which he owes…”


As a gardener with over 100 roses to tend, Juliet’s often misquoted lines reverberate every time I walk into  my back yard. She was right, every rose would still bloom, and spread its fragrance if they had a different name, but somehow the individual names are tied to their identity.

Psychologists claim that human names actually partially determine our profession. I wonder if the same is true for a rose.

Would it make a difference if John F. Kennedy were bright red, rather than snowy white? Was the hybridizer trying to equate virtue with the name of a fallen president.

On the opposite end of the spectrum Mr. Lincoln, a tall statuesque red rose is often cited as the standard for the color, but Ingrid Bergman, or even Frankly Scarlet might be preferable to some.

I am often asked which rose is my favorite. I can honestly say they all are. After years of cultivating, weeding, trimming and feeding, I know that each rose has its day. There is a moment, sometimes when the rose just just emerging from its bud form, before it has fully opened up, when it typifies the most perfect example of it’s form.

At that instant, which may only last a day, or a morning, it is my favorite.

I’ll admit that, in the Spring a few months after everything was trimmed back and they are all blooming simultaneously there are often a few favorites every day.

I really can’t decide. Some are favorites because they are just dependable and easy to maintain. Fame, another red entry as well as Top Notch and About Face, both along the bright orange spectrum all fall in that category, but it doesn’t make them any less attractive. Like puppies at a dog show, they are still the perfect embodiment of their form.

Mooonstone, which suffers from rust almost every year, still produces beautiful pink-edged blooms. And the bees certainly don’t care about the damaged foliage as they crawl around the petals looking of pollen.

Julia Child, which is among the most prolific, explodes into braces of yellow which quickly fade. But in that moment when one stem can contain a sun colored beauty, along with another bud waiting its turn and a third still hidden from view, it too is my favorite.

I could go on but as the fall gives way to winter, I thought it might be a good time to post my attempt at a rose growing guidebook.

Roses always seem to intimidate new gardeners, but maybe my experience can help. Remember, to paraphrase a saying from the world of orchids, a gardening expert, is just someone who has killed a lot of plants.You are welcome to download the PDFs.

If you already grow roses, or are just thinking about planting one or two, download both sections, and let me know what you think.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

Rose Book3_P-1-4

Rose Book3- P5-9


As always comments are welcome. Happy gardening.


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The 2015 Rose Show

March 30, 2015

Filed under: Gardening — Tags: — admin @ 6:37 pm

I never get bored with roses.

I hope this little show explains why.

These are the first of the 2015 season in my back yard.

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This Year’s Rose Winner

March 13, 2015

Filed under: Gardening,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:19 pm

If you follow me on Twitter (@eariess) or Instagram (eariess) you know that I’ve welcomed the first rose of the season to my garden.

This year’s winner is “Day Breaker,’ a colorful tea rose which, I

Day Breaker, 2015's first rose

Day Breaker, 2015’s first rose

suppose, was named after the red sky which warned sailors of impending storms (Red at night sailor’s delight, red in the morning sailors take warning).

Or it might be named after the bloodshot eyes left over from last night’s party. In any case case, Day Breaker is a colorful, medium sized plant, which is disease resistant and sports bright green leaves to set off the red-orange tints of the flower.

For most of you, this is already too much information, but for any garden followers, I thought you should know what you’re getting, if you run down to your local nursery to buy one.

This is the first time Day Breaker has been my earliest rose. You would think that given genetics, that the same rose would be first each year. But, I find the coveted crown seems to rotate around my garden, based on factors that I’m just beginning to understand.

Like most rosarians, I trim back my roses each January. How severely I trim them plays a role, as does the amount of water, fertilizer, and sun. Since I try to treat every rose equally, I’m pretty convinced the trimming techniques must be the deciding factor, although I think I ply my shears with equanimity.

Last year the first rose to bloom was Gertrude Jekyll, a pink/lavender specimen named for a rather famous, horticulturalist and designer from England. In other years, Living Easy has been first, but the truth is, I don’t know what factors lead a specific rose to out-bloom any of the 100 plantsI have.

I just know that my wife and I delight in the first rose, and can’t wait for the show that will surely follow.

As they show off I’ll show you a few.

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Today’s Rose – plus

October 16, 2010

Filed under: Gardening,Photos — Tags: — admin @ 12:54 pm

Weather has been warm in Northern CA and my roses have been enjoying a late flourish. As the weather cools and New Englanders can look at fall foliage we get to enjoy color in our own way.

Today’s rose:  and  two bonus orchids

Sexy Rexy

An orchid pas de deux

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