Saturday, June 30, 2012

More Rose Portraits

Here are some more of my new roses that have started to bloom. 


This is a Harkness floribunda, also sold as Victorian Spice. So far a really great rose, with big clusters of medium size well shaped blooms with a good consistent color and fragrance. Completely clean foliage and good vigor own root.

Sir Henry Segrave

An old hybrid tea from Vintage Gardens. Not unexpectedly, a fairly weak plant, but the blooms are pretty and fragrant. They fade well too. My plant had some mildew in the spring, but is now healthy.

I was really impressed with it at the San Jose Heritage Gardens, where a grafted plant produces really lovely blooms (below).

Miss Rowena Thom

This is another classic hybrid tea I admire at the Heritage. Mine has fairly good vigor own root and blooms in small clusters. Not much fragrance so far. I think it will want to be a fairly large rose when it grows up.


This hybrid tea is a child of Grey Pearl, one of the weakest roses ever bred. I thought it would be interesting to see how it does own root. I have been pleasantly surprised. Intermezzo is a short plant so far, but fairly well branched and very willing to bloom. Best of all, I have yet to see a sick leaf on it. The color is good, the bloom shape is old fashioned, and it fades to grey (below). I need to move it to a different pot that would set off the blooms' color a little better :).


This shrub was bred at Heirloom roses in Oregon. I bought it out of curiosity, because I couldn't find any information about it and don't know anybody who grows it. This rose has much to recommend it. It has a very pleasing growth habit with lots of branching. Foliage is clean and plentiful. Blooms are very double and had a lot of trouble opening in cooler weather but are finally beginning to look good. Not much fragrance to my nose, and the color is a bit boring, but on the other hand, despite many petals, the bloom has been virtually perpetual with new buds appearing all the time.

Tower Bridge

Another Harkness hybrid tea from Heirloom. The plant has just been potted up from a one-gallon, so there is not much to say. Harkness has a "medium-hard" growing rating on this one, I am guessing because of a lack of vigor, but I am not sure. The foliage has been clean so far.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Fun Trip

I was going to write an update on my new roses, but I was distracted. My youngest son got a camera for his birthday and we took him to the San Francisco zoo to try it out.

A photographer and his muse
A zoo is a place where you have to bring a camera with a lot of zoom. When you look at the animals up close you notice all sorts of details that weren't obvious to the naked eye. For example, I saw how a giraffe's hide helps him blend into the background:

or how an antelope's horns look like small tree branches:

Does he remind you of anyone you know?

Salad is good for you.

A sea of flamingo pink... I wish I could find a rose that color.

The colorful peacock feathers: a camouflage or a display of strength, who knows.

Where has Stanley Kubrick gone?

The zoo also contains a large collection of exotic plants. They are all beautiful, although the proteas, grown to perfection, are my favorite.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Busy Bumblebee

I had fun watching the antics of a bumble bee the other day.

There is a long raised bed extending almost the whole length of my back yard. It is planted mostly with roses, but there are many summer blooming companion plants as well.

The bumble bee started at one end of the bed and checked all the plants methodically until it reached the other end of the bed.

Then it turned around and went right back to the same flowers in reverse order. Then it turned around and started again. And again. And again.

I have read that bumble bees like returning to the same flowers, a phenomenon called "flower constancy". However, it did make me wonder how much nectar it was getting on its third or fourth try.

Soon, I grew tired of swiveling my head back and forth and started taking pictures of some flowers instead. Much less noisy :)

Lemon Leigh lavender and Million Bells

More Million Bells

Cynthia Brooke. Not too many petals in the heat, but the color is wonderful

Monday, June 4, 2012

Notes on New Roses

I find that a lot of the excitement of gardening with roses comes from observing newly acquired varieties. As I buy most of mine from specialty nurseries, they are not widely grown and often there is little or no information available. In other words, I never know what I am getting. Because I have no high expectations I am rarely disappointed when a rose does not work out, but unearthing a gem every now and then is a huge delight.

Shöen Ingeborg, a hybrid perpetual from Eurodesert Roses, is one such delight
Below are some observations on a few roses I got last fall as bands (young newly rooted cuttings). The plants are still far from mature, and the quality of blooms will hopefully improve, but here is what I have seen so far.

Général Barthelot

Général Barthelot is a 1926 hybrid tea from Vintage Gardens. Its blooms have an informal shape which is typical of many early hybrid teas.

The ruffled pointy petals have a brilliant and complext color with many shades of orange, red and pink. A small rose and not very vigorous with a relaxed growth habit. I think it will be good in a container.

'Lykke Dazla'

This one is a mystery hybrid tea imported from Denmark by Vintage Gardens (names of mystery roses are put in quotation marks to show they are study, not true, names) . The blooms are semi-double with lovely curled petals. Rebloom is fast and foliage clean.

My plant has a nice shrubby growth habit and is quite vigorous own-root. As you can see from two pictures above, the bloom color is quite variable, changing from creamy yellow to a complex orange apricot which I love. There is good tea fragrance.

Surville (maybe)

I got the rose above as Surville, a 1924 hybrid tea, from Vintage Gardens. Its attribution is uncertain, and this mystery was why I purchased it. I wish I could show you what a tiny plant formed this huge cabbagey bloom. I took the rest of the buds off to let it grow, and a month and three inches later it set even more buds. It still hasn't made it to a 5 gallon pot and has only three canes with rather sparse foliage. Growth is stiffly upright.

'Lundy's Lane Yellow'.

Mystery roses hold an irresistible attraction for me, but this old Pernetiana has been a disappointment so far. The blooms come in big clusters but they are not well formed and there is none of the golden salmon color promised by the catalog. There is, however, lots of mildew :( I hope it improves with age...

Magnificent Perfume

A shrub with a rather grand name from Heirloom Roses' own breeding program. Like some other roses from that breeder, Magnificent Perfume bears an affinity to Austin roses, which must have been widely used in breeding some Heirloom varieties.

This rose is going to be big, but thankfully the canes are sturdy enough to support the heavy blooms. The blooms themselves have been wonderful, perfectly formed and with a nice fruity scent. My plant has some mildew.