e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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The Consuming Passion: Roses

This location is everything roses do not like:  very alkaline soil (either heavy clay over limestone or limey marl-y stuff over limestone),  hard water (see "limestone" above), extremely long, hot, dry summers,  water restrictions in summer that result in thirsty plants,  sudden (as in an hour or so) plunging temperatures in winter followed by rapid rewarming to hot, windy.    So few people out in the country attempt rose growing except for one or two pampered (and very tough) roses like Cecile Brunner and Lady Banks.

In addition, I've never been a serious rose gardener...my real passion (until recently) has always been native plants.   The change from mostly fragrant roses (when I was a child in another part of Texas and my mother grew roses)  to scentless varieties did nothing to lure me to roses...for a long time.

When we moved here, the place had three or four roses, all old: a Peace by the south side of the house (which died after about five years, probably because I didn't know how to prune it properly), a Lady Banks (still thriving) at the east end of the yard, and--across the drive--a white climber/rambler and a pink climber/rambler.   At that time, the plants across the drive were mostly non-native shrubs with a line of aging hackberry trees on the fenceline.  In my thirst for natives, we gradually added native shrubs (rusty blackhaw viburnum) and replaced the dying hackberries with native oaks.  We were told that the people who built the house, in the mid-50s, had taken plants (both native and the roses) from various locations in this area, including old homesteads.

The white climber/rambler rose, though, I would never have pulled out--though it blooms only once a year, for about a week, the fragrance is incredible.   The flowers form terminal trusses of small, single white, from pink buds, and I will stand in the driveway for a long time just to smell them.   It seemed to like what we did for it...until the oaks grew.  Dense oak shade it does not like.    Over the years, as the oaks got taller and produced more shade, it declined.   

At the other end of the driveway, meanwhile, the removal of non-native shrubs (like pyrecantha) continued and opened a space.  My mother had bought the house across the driveway, which meant we now own the back garden there--on the other side of the fence from the driveway.   We removed the fence, and built a walkway from the lower end of our driveway to the back end of that garden...and then thought a trellis over it would be nice, and we could have flowering vines...or...a rose or so.  Like the old white climber, still hanging on. 

                         Trellis nearing completion

But, never having transplanted a rose, and having had bad luck with cuttings before, we started looking at rose catalogs to see if we could find "our" rose in case something went wrong.  No such luck.  The closest I've found is a rose listed at the Antique Rose Emporium as "Kathleen"--but it's much pinker than ours.  We started asking for advice on transplanting (and looked up some online.)  We realized that even if we did get the old white rose transplanted, we'd still need (cough-cough) another rose or two to cover the trellis. 

I called the garden center we've used for other things, and asked about their climbing roses--and then we went down to see.  The only climbing rose they had with any real fragrance was "Don Juan"--a dark, velvety red, and not really what I wanted.  In my mind's eye, that trellis is covered with soft-colored flowers.   But near the "Don Juan" were some roses in pots emitting a strong fragrance of their own.   The roses were covered with both yellow and white flowers.   We didn't need a bush rose...exactly...but the fragrance crawled up my nose and attacked my sales resistance successfully.  We drove the 20-odd miles back in a haze of scent that easily filled the car.   It's a "knockout" rose that's supposed to be resistant to several of our local rose diseases and heat and drought tolerant.   The buds are golden; the flowers open yellow then quickly turn white.

Tags: gardening, roses
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