Roses are one of those plants that if I'm not careful...I could very easily develop a new obsession over. Many yards ago, I had a small rose garden with probably a dozen or so hybrid roses. I loved the look of the large hybrids for cut flowers, but their downsides all too soon became apparent...blackspot, tall, gangling appearance and no scent.
In the past few years, I have rediscovered my love for roses thanks to the "knock-out" series. These shrub roses are perfect for the hot and humid summers in Florida. Blackspot is never an issue, and the plant grows into a nice large bushy shrub. And, the color...WOW...the original Rosa 'Radrazz'...my favorite...is a bright cherry red that lives up to its name. It truly is a "knock-out" eye-grabbing, gorgeous color in the garden.
2000 All America Rose Selection
This spring I decided to add several more roses to my garden...for a total of 15. Uh, oh...15...the number is growing. How many do you have to have before it's considered an obsession?
I'm careful to choose roses that are as carefree as possible. I don't mind trimming them a little in February and again in August, adding fertilizer a couple times of year, but spraying them for blackspot...NO WAY! Since roses are expensive (I never buy them from the big box stores...only from Peterson's -my local nursery), I always mix up a nice cocktail of soil amendments that will make my rose bush very happy. I figure, if my rose bush is happy... it will be healthy and produce lots of blooms...and that will make me happy. :-)
My organic rose bush cocktail includes: 1/2 bucket of homemade compost, 1 cup each bloodmeal and bonemeal, several handfuls of coffee grinds, plus a handful of epsom salts. Mix well, insert rose and cover with more homemade compost and surrounding dirt.
Once the rose is in place I sprinkle a handful of rose fertilizer around the base of the plant, add a healthy covering of pinebark mulch and water well. This year I added this pink double knock-out 'Radtkopink" to a large flowerbed in my front yard. It already has lots of blooming flowers and looks great next to the yellow African bush daisies and variegated flax lily. It looks like it will be a nice addition to this colorful flowerbed.
Pink Double Knock Out 'Radtkopink'
A second rose bush I added is Belinda's Dream. I've read a lot of good reviews on this rose...it's resistant to blackspot, loves heat and humidity and grows into a nice shrub...it sounds like the "perfect" rose for Florida. I like to incorporate my roses into existing flowerbeds, instead of having them off by themselves in a "rose bed" that contains only roses. And, that is why I only plant shrub or antique (a/k/a old fashioned) varieties. They don't get lanky and they don't need spraying. I planted Belinda's Dream between dwarf viburnum, wild petunias and lady palms.
The third rose bush I added this year is an antique or old fashioned (whichever term you prefer - the new term is "old world") French bourbon rose called Sovenir de la Malmaison (pronounced: Su von yeah day la Mal may sone)...Ooh La La...sounds pretty fancy - doesn't it? Thank goodness the nursery lady knew how to pronouce it. Now, all I have to do is remember how she said it.
I love the look of this antique beauty when her bud is fully opened...it's 5" wide and has an intense, spicy fragrance that you don't want to stop smelling. I know I'm just going to love having her in the garden surrounded by deep burgundy lorapetlum, Shirley Temple hibiscus and variegated flax lily.
A couple of other French antique varieties in my garden are...Louis Philippe and Sombreuil.
Louis Philippe a/k/a the Cracker rose was first registed in 1834. It is well documented in books that this rose was a garden staple in "old Florida." It is one of the few that produces blooms in a partly sunny/partly shady area which is why I have it planted in my backyard. It blooms 12 months out of the year and I enjoy seeing the gorgeous, sweet smelling blooms from inside my home. The bush has grown quite large but I do trim it back slightly each February.
Oh, and then there's Sombreuil (1850)...can you tell I'm in love with this rose. I've had her for at least 12 to 15 years...she even moved with us from our last home. Actually, she's moved twice! Now, that's pretty hardy...isn't it? Her scent...you wouldn't believe how wonderfully fragrant her perfume is. I never miss the chance to place my nose up close to a blossom and inhale deeply. The scent is heavenly. It's been said that a rose is a rose...but a scented rose is far superior to any other in my book.