Thursday, June 23, 2011

Roses in June

June is supposed to be rose season where I live, though we were wondering what happened when they didn't show up for our Rose Festival this year.  I decided it was time to see how this season is coming along and here's what I found...its just too bad you won't be able to enjoy the fragrance as you join me in the tour.

Oh the anticipation created by Rosa 'Vielchenblau' in bud.
Only a few days ago this climbing rose on our pergola was just loaded with buds all tightly closed as if to say "No, its too cold". The sight of them made me anxious and hopeful that, unlike last year, this might be a good rose year.  We were due after last year's heavy rain melted even the most rain hardy roses.  It was pitiful.  But oh was I encouraged when I saw how beautiful she looked 2 days ago.
I have not been disappointed
People don't even recognize this as a rose most of the time because it has smaller blooms in clusters and most people seem to have the idea that all rose blooms large.  It is fragrance is surprising, such a clean sweet apple scent I can drink it in huge gulps and it literally fills the yard and beyond when the air is still.
Rosa glauca glowing on a high overcast morning
Not wanting roses that need to be sprayed I have been careful to select disease resistant varieties. Rosa glauca, a species rose, is disease free which is a gardener's dream here in Portland, AKA the fungal jungle.  It has a lovely vase shaped habit, gorgeous blue green leaves with ruby colored stems and burgundy canes.  It can be pruned to grow like a small tree, though I prefer its natural multi-stemmed habit for its graceful appearance myself.
Rosa glauca canes in winter are quite beautiful.
Between the amazing foliage color, those clear pink blooms followed by bright orange hips that offer good late summer/fall color, it is probably one of the best roses that I know of.  Its only failing is no fragrance, but I can forgive it that easily in light of all the other benefits she has to offer.  I have seedlings growing in my garden from the fruit of this rose that I missed a couple years ago.  The plants make lovely gifts and plant swap items so I'm not worried about their being least not for now.
Rosa villosa or Apple Rose is named that for good reason
Rosa villosa, another species rose, has good resistance, is the first rose to bloom in my garden and is quite stunning when the very large hips are ripe.  It has one major draw back maggots love the precious rose hips too.  The maggots make the hips turn to mush quickly a they begin to ripen which renders them useless for color and spoils them for use in the kitchen.  This totally bummed me out the first year it happened but at least I get a little bit of Wow in the garden while they are first ripening.
Rosa villosa, always the first to bloom signals rose season has begun in my garden.
I have a great interest and love for plants with a history and have stories behind them, such as Rosa gallica 'Versicolor', the Apothecary's Rose which was first used by monks as a medicinal plant centuries ago.  I was given a start of this rose by a good friend of mine Erica Caulkins who wrote "Hatchet, Hand and Hoe" a book that recounts the stories of pioneers and the plants that came across the Oregon Trail.
Delightful Rosa gallica 'Versicolor'
This rose has been a delight in bloom and is a colonizer, meaning it sends out underground shoots that lay claim to an ever broader space in the garden unless one is diligent to manage its migration.  The history and sweet flowers were enough to cause me to ignore what was obviously going to happen in my garden. Sure enough, it eventually over took up residence in nearly one quarter of my little garden before I finally stopped living in denial.  Then last fall, as I was trying to get rid of it, I was filled with regret because I really didn't want it all gone...I just wanted to be able to keep it under control.   That probably says a lot as to why I failed to get rid of it and why I was so happy when I spied a bit of it bearing flowers again this spring.  They are not where I would like them, but the colony has been downsized and again manageable which is all I really wanted.
Cabbage Rose from the Zimmerman Farm
Heirloom cabbage roses are another favorite of mine. The one above is found at the Zimmerman Heritage Farm Park in Gresham Oregon.  A testament to the hardiness of this rose is that it had been hidden beneath a mountain of invasive Himalayan blackberries for a few years until volunteers set her free.  She is now the queen of the garden.  The fragrance of this rose is so beautiful but unfortunately the flowers often suffer in our spring rains which makes them even more precious to us.  However, this year we are being blessed with to have them bloom happily with the help of a nearly dry June. I will definitely be back to visit this one before she's all bloomed out.
Rust on the cabbage rose was the worst I had ever seen this year.
One thing I did notice during my visit to the site was a really bad case of rust on the leaves.  This was most likely brought on by our earlier cold wet spring.  It gives me pause to want to grow her in my own garden so I'll just go visit her for now.
Similar to the Peace Rose but older so what is it?
Another rose from Zimmerman Farm that I garnered a start of while working as a volunteer in the garden is this hybrid tea rose.  It has good disease resistance for a hybrid tea and great fragrance. She predates the Peace Rose and still need to be properly identified.  Last year she had a bit of black spot but I can forgive her for that as she is no pushover and I never have to spray her.  She is also on her own root, a big plus in my book.   I say she can stay as long as she likes.

This tour could go on for days but I must end it for now.  I am still looking for good roses for my garden which reminds me, my friend Rae has another rose I have my eye on...but that will have to wait for another post.

Happy gardening!


  1. If I post something here...does everyone see it or just you!?

  2. To Anonymous. I moderate all comments and so determine which are seen or not seen.