Soft rain falls in the garden, gently covering the first beautiful pink blossoms of a 'Gertrude Jekyll' rose blossom. Named for the famous English gardener, the flower opens to reveal large, old-fashioned rosette blooms which release a lovely, intoxicating fragrance that hangs in the garden during humid summer evenings.
Several feet away 'Zepherine Drouhin,' blooms for the first time. This wonderful, thornless climber will flower in part shade and reach about 15 feet in just a few years. I lost one two years ago at the hands of the Polar Vortex and was thrilled to find the variety right down the road at Hahn Nursery. The pink blossoms are also aromatic beyond belief.
Decades ago I saw it in a Park Seed catalog and fell in love with the plant. Sometimes those early crushes capture us for a lifetime. I'm compelled to grow the rose in my garden. I planted a second one this spring, but baby rabbits have done a number on the plant. Hot Pepper Wax will prevent any further damage.
Gertrude Jekyll the gardener captured my heart after discovering her book Color Schemes for the Garden (1919). After that, I read everything I could about the author and learned more than you could imagine from her writings.
The rose which bears her name is a reminder of the great gardener and garden designer. It's also an inspiration to get my garden in shape, it's a disaster, but it's my disaster. I spend time looking at the pretty blooms instead of the weeds which are enjoying the rain too.
Roses are really pretty easy to grow if you make them happy. First thing is to find the right place for them. Most like full sun, but even 'Gertrude Jekyll' will limp along with less than nominal light. My garden doesn't have full sun, so I plant them where they get as much as possible and also choose varieties that don't mind a little shade like 'Zepherine.'
I'm trying a new one called 'The Lady Gardener,' from David Austin Roses. I love their roses, 'Gertrude' also comes from the company.
'The Lady Gardener' will bloom with less sun than most with strongly scented apricot flowers.
It will be planted in good soil amended with compost and fed monthly with Rosetone, an easy to find, inexpensive, organic granular fertilizer.
Chewing insects like Japanese beetles can be easily controlled with an organic product called Capt. Jack's Dead Bug Brew from Bonide. Most good garden centers will carry it. It can't harm us, our pets, good bugs or the environment.
The most problematic disease is called black spot and it's easily prevented using a homemade remedy called the Cornell Mixture. Take one gallon of water and mix in a tablespoon of baking soda, tablespoon of horticultural oil (available at garden centers) and a drop of unscented dish soap. Put the mixture in a sprayer and treat the plant every couple weeks if the weather is wet, cold and or humid.
Serenade is a commercially available organic fungicide which also works great.
Find the right rose for you to love, it will return the affection time and time again in the form of flowers and fragrance.
Stop and smell the roses might be a cliche, but it's more relevant today than ever.