Over the past several months I have become fascinated with roses; garden roses. While cut roses are my favorite flower in the whole world I have not had a lot to do with any in my garden. And, since I was the 91st person in line, I got to the gardening book section first, before anyone else got into the shelf of books about roses. There were about 24 of them. So, I spent much of Sunday learning about my new “favorite plant.”
Let me backtrack for a few moments. I do know a lot about roses – after they have been harvested in Ecuador. I know the varieties that last longest and those that open largest and fullest because they have the largest petal count. I know the best growers, in Colombia and Ecuador and how to get them here and run through the processes we use to make them last the longest for the consumer. But I now realize, after the weekend of study, that I know very little about how to grow roses in Auburn, New York. As a matter of fact, I know very little about growing garden roses.
The varieties are different. I knew that. Greenhouse grown roses are totally different from garden roses because they have been bred to have longer stems, different bloom forms and the ability to thrive in a greenhouse environment.
First, I want to discuss the types of roses and I will begin with climbing roses. A bare fence along my driveway got me started on this quest. It is a plank fence, barren, brown and unattractive and a lot of things just will not grow there – it is too sunny. But then, roses love the sun. Let me get one thing straight right at the beginning. Climbing roses, also called ramblers, do not really climb. They are planted against fences or on trellises or even stone walls. They must be attached to something with twine or wire, elsewise as they grow to their full height potential, many climbing as high as 12 feet and even more, they will simply fall over for lack of support.
As I looked into them, they are really a fascinating group. I found varieties in a full color range and with blossoms 4 or 5 inches across and others with a profusion of ¾ inch blossoms that cover a whole trellis. I then browsed catalogs that had arrived over the winter and found some interesting things and a lastly, like most folks today, I went online. There are literally hundreds of rose plant nurseries, but being somewhat of a traditionalist, I decided to place my order with Jackson and Perkins. Remember them? Based in nearby Newark, they led the way in introducing interest and new varieties into the Northeast garden. They provided the original roses for our own Hoopes Park and the replacements for years. Yes, they are still alive and well, in Oregon, though part a larger conglomerate.
Browsing through their catalog I first chose Blaze, because I was familiar with it. I have seen it in yards around Auburn and I know it will do well. It is a large, 3 to 4 inch bloom with a lot of petals and the catalog says that it grows to 15 feet and is an “explosion of splendor. We’ll see.