February is almost here-the month of the rose. Breeders have worked hard to bring us the beautiful, long-stemmed roses that make such perfect Valentine bouquets. Do you notice, though, the lack of fragrance when you pass by one of the massive displays that will be ubiquitous in stores soon? Have you ever planted a rose that promised that beauty, only to find yourself fighting disease and dealing with short life spans?
Enter the “old,” “heritage,” or “antique” roses. These roses are long-lived, disease-resistant, wonderfully fragrant, and come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. For more information, and pictures so wonderful you can almost smell the roses, I highly recommend G. Michael Shoup’s book, Empress of the Garden. Mr. Shoup is the owner of the famed Antique Rose Emporium here in Texas. He was one of the early group that had the foresight to help preserve these beauties and make them available to modern gardeners. Following is just a small sample of extraordinary roses that just happen to be well-adapted to Big Country growing conditions.
Climbing roses. ‘Climbing Pinkie’ has long been a favorite of mine. Delightfully fragrant pink flowers produce a show-stopping display in the spring, but keep blooms from spring to late fall. I have grown her over an arch and also fountained out from a central tripod.
‘White Lady Banks’ rose is one that needs lots of room to roam. With a strong aroma reminiscent of violets and being completely thornless, this is one I intend to have. While she only blooms during the spring, the display is magnificent.
‘ Zephirine Drouhin’ sports bright red blooms on thornless canes and is wonderfully fragrant. She is perfectly behaved to boot, not shooting out every direction like some climbers do.
Shrub roses, from small to large. The hardest rose for me to leave at my old house and the first I planted at our new-to-us home was ‘Perle D’Or. She has small, beautiful, apricot-colored flowers with a heavenly scent.
‘Iceberg’ is a gloriously profuse white rose. It will grow happily in a container as long as you provide some winter protection. Be aware that she is a thorny little dickens.
‘Carefree Beauty’ Lives up to her name. Besides breezy hot pink flowers and a tough constitution, she sports large, orange hips after flowering.
‘Mutablis,’ or the butterfly rose, needs lots of room to display the stunning single flowers that start out dark pink and fade to soft yellow and ivory. When blooms in all stages of life are present, it really does resemble clouds of butterflies. Beautiful!
Remember, this is just a sampling. Feel free to call the Big Country Master Gardener Association for recommendations at 672-6048 or email us at Bcmg@bcmgtx.org.
Time is running out to apply to be considered for this year’s training class to begin the process of becoming a master gardener. Don’t worry about your knowledge level. That’s why we have classes. Here is a link to the application: http://counties.agrilife.org/taylor/files/2017/12/MG-Training-Application-2018.pdf. If you prefer, pick up a copy at the Taylor County Extension Office, 1982 Lytle Way.
Until next time, happy gardening!