Thursday, May 24, 2007

Roses and Peonies

One of my fondest dreams is to be a real rose gardener someday. That will require a major overhaul in my character, because roses need consistent, careful, measured, routine, precise and steady attention. These are not words I or anyone else would use to describe me. So, in the meantime, I have an interim rose garden with hardy, strong varieties that give me immense enjoyment in spite of my antithetical rose personality. Here is a tour of my sweet-smelling friends, along with a peek at perhaps the ultimate rose companion.

My garden gate is overrun with a riotous sweetheart rose. Some of the canes are over 25 feet long. It gets this way every year. I can't bear to prune until after this glorious display, which is a study in how small things become mighty. Each of these blooms is no more than 1-2 inches across, but there are literally thousands of them. Whenever I walk past, even that small disturbance sends hundreds of almost white petals cascading around me in a kind of summer snow.

Close by, the Peonies are about to come into their full-blown splendor. The darker ones always bloom a little earlier than the pale pink ones. These are from my mother's garden, originally planted by my grandmother, so these are the heirlooms of my little garden. These make the most beautiful, voluptuous bouquets.

Moving around to the front, the only remaining rose from the previous owners of the house is this glorious specimen. I haven't been able to identify it. It is a hybrid tea, I know that. It puts all its energy into producing a few spectacular blossoms each year, each one almost 5-6 inches in diameter and tinted the palest, most impossibly delicate pink. It has a luscious, classic rose scent. I treasure each one like a friend, then the bush succombs to the heat and humidity here and I prune it back to prevent black spot from killing it.
One of my favorite roses is the Zepherine de Drouhin. It is a very hardy climber-a floribunda-meaning lots of blossoms in May and early June. Right now the whole plant is covered in about a hundred blossoms of a rich, warm, bright pink. It is not a terribly full-petaled rose, and is only about 3 inches in diameter, but the color and volume of the display more than make up for the delicacy of the individual flowers.
Later on,my hybrid ground cover roses will bloom well into the heat of summer-a nice segue from the sweet and delicate mid-spring plants to the boldness of the lilies, black-eyed susans and coneflowers.

These are all the aristocrats of my garden, and they are very patient with me. I am always attracted to people who as friends, have something to teach me or help me to complete in myself. My roses do the same thing for me. When I learn the lessons they so beautifully unfold to me, I become a better gardener. Hopefully, as before, the lessons will stick. Even the mystery hybrid tea seems to have found a place as the one who sets the example. I think I've learned more from my roses than any other plant. They are the queen of flowers. You can see the kind of fanciful language and description they inspire. The number of books about roses is enormous, and I understand why. They're quite magical. Anyway I guess I'm diligent enough, because every year these lovelies return and I get to enjoy all this-an embarassment of riches in the garden.


  1. Thanks for the lovely tour. Too bad they still haven't invented "scratch and sniff" internet yet. hee hee. :)

    I've always admired rose gardens, but am intimidated to try one on my own. (much like you say, not part of my character!) We do have two single bloom pink roses from the previous owners that keep going strong.

    I LOVE your garden gate! That is totally part of my vision. How heavenly to have those sweet smelling petals rain down!

  2. I posted about my roses also, but I have to get all my enjoyment from one bush! It looks like you have lots of beauty to enjoy.

  3. What a romantic garden gate! And how neat to have a real heirloom in your garden.

    I confess I don't know much about roses. The kind I love are the ones I've encountered growing wild, more a vine than a bush, with an amazing fragrance that just draws you to them.

  4. BREATHTAKING!! Looooove the garden gate!

  5. I remmeber the first time you brought flowers from your own garden to drop of for VT. I had forgotten that was even an option. I was incredibly impressed :)

  6. How can someone who has all those beautiful roses claim not to be a rose gardener? I bet is smells just amazing walking through your back yard.


Thank you for sharing your insights!