Monthly Archives: August 2014

Busy in the Garden

The weather has been wonderful (it actually rained), and roses are still blooming (pictures coming),  but first, a brief update on a few projects.

William Shakespeare 2000 in its better days

Some of you know I have had a problem this spring with one of my two William Shakespeare 2000 shrubs. It has been in the ground for at least 6 years and growing very well.

This time last year

This year, something seems to have gone wrong. There were several possibilities (a few very scary ones), but I couldn’t put my finger on anything definite.

This spring: very little growth, small leaves going senescent, few and small blooms

My mind kept running in endless unproductive circles, and I decided to post some pictures on the rose forum to see if anyone had any suggestions. I realized it would be even more difficult for people to try to pinpoint the problem just looking at pictures and I appreciated greatly the effort some posters made to come up with ideas. At the end of the day, someone pointed out that my rose had a lot of blind shoots (growth not resulting in flowers), and I should prune harder. I pruned harder. Gulp.

I took out a few old canes, and brought the bush down quite a bit (after cutting out blind growth most remaining canes did not have viable bud eyes until this far down). Gardeners of sound mind do this in winter….

 Having survived the agony of subjecting an innocent rose to such drastic surgery so late in the year, I decided to tackle my next big project, Maréchal Niel. It is a lovely tea-noisette that, unfortunately, does not perform well on its own-roots for most people. Mine was absolutely beautiful for the first two years, with gorgeous blooms and clean, almost evergreen foliage.

In its better days

It actually reached the top of a 7-foot arbor and then started on a slow but relentless decline. The blooms balled all the time, there was almost no foliage and no new growth either. I thought I would dig it out and pot it up. Maybe it will grow for me as a big potted shrub, maybe not. My husband took it out today and, in preparation for potting it up, I washed the soil off the roots. Impressive root ball, isn’t it?

How did it manage to climb 7 feet? I still potted it up 🙂

Another thing that kept me busy today was trying to put together my last order for roses with Vintage Gardens. This nursery has been an amazing source of rare roses and kept my collector’s spirit alive for years. There are so many treasures that I enjoy in my garden solely due to the efforts folks at Vintage made in sharing these roses. Thank you, Vintage.

Mme Bérard, my favorite Vintage rose

Taischa

 

 

Ulrich Brunner, fils

 

Prinzessin Marie von Arenberg

 

Surville
 

 

Mme Plantier

 

Julia Child and Wild Blue Yonder

 

Schön Ingeborg

 

 
Wild Blue Yonder

 

Souvenir de Mme. Boullet

 

Lyda Rose, ‘Benny Lopez’, Penelope, Crépuscule, Rosette Delizy

 

Regensberg

 

Sharifa Asma

 

Penelope and Crépuscule

Pretty Jessica

 

Sharifa Asma

 

Rosette Delizy

 

Climbing Cécille Brunner with a spray of Lyda

 

Pat Austin, Buff Beauty on the fence behind, and ‘Secret Garden Musk Climber’ trying to eat the house

 

Jude the Obscure

 

Memorial Day with Buff Beauty

Why roses are the most famous flower?

President Barack Obama took the unusual step of holding a formal event in the White House Rose Garden this week to announce three nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Roses are by far the most culturally significant flower in the West. Shakespeare wrote about the sweet smell of roses; we dream of sleeping in beds of roses; and we stop to smell the roses. Why are roses so much more famous than other flowers?

Because of their symbolic versatility. Roses have been so celebrated for so long — the Minoans grew and painted roses in the Bronze Age — that it’s difficult to pinpoint the source of their popularity. One possible explanation is that roses represent all things to all people. They represent virginity, and particularly the Virgin Mary. Medieval brides and grooms wore crowns of roses to represent their purity. In England, roses were laid on the graves of virgins. But roses also represent passion and romance: Lovers exchange roses as a prelude to intimacy. Roses symbolize suffering: Christian iconography uses the red rose as a symbol of Jesus Christ’s bodily suffering, as well as the blood of other saints such as Alban. Yet roses also symbolize the peace that awaits people in the next world. Old Christian texts describe paradise as strewn with roses.

Our ability to attribute so many meanings to a simple flower may come down to simple aesthetics. Writers from Sappho to Michael Pollan have waxed lyrical over the delicate blossoms. English writer Sarah Coles, commenting on the rose in a Renaissance painting, noted, “The symmetry of the rose’s circular pattern, enclosed yet expanding from the central boss through the ray of stamens to overlapping petals which reach outwards in waves which could embrace infinity, is a microcosm of the universe.”

Roses do not feature in the Bible, even though wild roses did grow in the ancient Near East. The few mentions of roses in the King James Bible, such as “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose,” are probably mistranslations. (Some newer translations replace “rose” with the less poetic but more accurate “crocus.”) Early Christians did not favor the use of flowers, incense and statues in rituals. It wasn’t until half a century after Christ’s death that flowers came back into Western religious practice. At that time, there were competitors to the rose. In early medieval writings, lilies are mentioned almost as often as roses. It’s not clear why the popularity of the lily took a backseat to the surging rose.

Some cultures have myths explaining exactly how the rose earned its place at the top. According to a Persian poem, the lotus was the original queen of flowers, but it made the mistake of sleeping during the night. When the other flowers complained to Allah, he named the white rose queen. A Hindu legend has it that Vishnu had to convince Brahma of the rose’s superiority to the lotus. As a reward for changing his mind, Brahma created a bride for Vishnu out of hundreds of rose petals.

The rose’s rise to prominence at the White House isn’t quite so symbolically rich. During the 19th century, the building had a glass conservatory in which gardeners grew many different kinds of flowers, as well as fruit. (On the morning of his assassination, Abraham Lincoln picked lemons from the conservatory to give to visitors, but he confessed to having little interest in flowers.) When the conservatory was removed in 1902, Edith Roosevelt had a garden constructed. Amateur landscape architect Ellen Axson Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson, had the colonial garden converted to a dedicated rose garden in 1913.