Happy Summer to all and especially to the garden bloggers who join me in posting under the Saturday leadership of The Propagator! In celebration of the Solstice, I’d like to introduce you to my new Rose Garden, a work in progress and a labor of love.
ONE – The layout.
In October and November of 2018, we removed turf on the full-sun slope beneath the pond. We then added about four inches of compost and topped that with a few inches of arborist chips for mulch. The Rose Garden is a rough oval about 45′ x 20′. I’d drawn up plans for placing 15-20 roses, mainly in trios, mostly brightly-colored English shrub roses, all known for their fragrance and disease resistance. A path down the center of the mulch would reiterate our usual walking path leading from the edge of the pond to the garden shed and veggie garden below. One side of the new garden would feature vivid purples and oranges; the other side would be mainly hot pinks and golds.
TWO – The Planting.
Before winter arrived, we’d planted nine small bushes, three each of Golden Celebration, Munstead Wood, and Gertrude Jekyll. As we are on a mountainside at high elevation (1200 ft.) and zone 7, we planted the crowns about one inch below the soil surface. In December, the new bed really didn’t look too exciting.
In late March, following an exceptionally snowy winter, six David Austin bareroot roses went in: trios of Lady Emma Hamilton and Princess Anne. Patches of snow are still visible in a photo below of Hubby hard at work, but we were ready! In late April we added obelisks and a climbing Iceberg rose. And finally, in early May my roses from a California grower arrived, and in went one each of Pumpkin Patch, Connie’s Sandstorm, Evelyn, and Jude the Obscure. These individual roses are mostly softer tones, intended as accents among the bright colors. All 20 began to leaf out and grow!
THREE – The Supporting Cast.
I knew I wanted the roses to be surrounded by pollinator-friendly perennials that would provide masses of color and contrast. This is a large rose garden with plenty of space! A formal rose garden was never my intention. With that in mind, I seeded varieties of salvia, agastache, and rose campion during the winter, then planted them out in early spring. Additionally, I transplanted penstemon and phlox from other perennial beds. I purchased and added erysimum (wallflower), knautia (field scabiosa), solidago (goldenrod), baptisia (false indigo), and hardy geraniums. These young, companion perennials will take a few years to form the masses I’m hoping for, but all have been thriving and blooming and are visible in some of the photos.
FOUR – The Earliest Roses.
Munstead Wood, which I raved about last Saturday, began revealing her deep magenta glory in late May. She was followed by perfect pink Gertrude Jekyll, who has wowed my socks off. Good thing it’s now sandals weather.
FIVE – The Current Situation.
As of today, all five trios of English roses are blooming and the garden is filled with their powerful perfume. Princess Anne is a deep, saturated pink with gorgeous form. Golden Celebration and Lady Emma Hamilton are just starting to open. The five individual roses we planted later are also in bud. Iceberg may bloom this week and the roses from California will be a couple of weeks yet.
SIX – The Maintenance.
Only a month into bloom time, deadheading has begun in earnest. Each rose was planted with a healthy dose of compost and bone meal, and all have been fed with Espoma’s organic RoseTone. I’ll feed again when their first flush is over, probably with fish emulsion. In the winter I did protect the young bushes that were already planted with a heap of mulch, almost covering them, then dug them out as the snow melted and temps rose. I pruned very lightly in late March. Staying on top of weeding hasn’t been difficult yet, but I’m amazed dandelions survived all the turf removal and soil disruption to poke through layers of compost and mulch! Their fortitude is to be admired. So far there are no signs of blackspot or aphids, but I inspect daily.
Well, I have most definitely caught the rose bug! I appreciate the roses that were planted at Coppertop when we moved here five years ago, from a simple white rugosa to many deep pink climbers, but now have added my own bed of dreamy, fragrant blooms. Stopping short of digging up more lawn, I will absolutely tuck some other beauties into vacant sunny spots in the years to come.