There are some
people for whom a rose is a rose. I am not one of them.
There are some people who get tired of taking care of
roses. I am not one of them either. I think it is safe
to say that if I could gaze at 'Buff Beauty' in full
bloom each morning, I would be quite content to squish
aphids every day for the rest of my life. With such
a mindset, it is no wonder that I get a thrill each
January when I sit down with the new rose catalogs.
Rose vendors are drawn
to themes and one of this year's predominate themes
is red roses. White Flower Farm and Jackson & Perkins
both feature red blossoms on their covers. 'Lovers Lane'™,
J&P's cover subject, is that company's "Rose of
the Year" for 2002. Like most other "Roses of the Year",
it is a hybrid tea, with large pointed buds, high-centered
flowers and long stems. The new wrinkle that makes 'Lovers
Lane' different is that the reverse sides of the petals
are silvery in appearance, making them seem almost reflective.
'Lover's Lane' joins two other new J&P reds, 'Cesar
E. Chavez' and 'Habitat for Humanity'. The former honors
the late labor leader and the latter celebrates the
humanitarian homebuilding organization. In both cases,
a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the plants
goes to a charity associated with the honoree.
Wayside Gardens honors
comedienne Rosie O'Donnell with her own new red rose.
This rose, like 'Lovers Lane', has a little something
extra on the backs of the petals. In this case, the
reverse is white or cream. 'Rosie O'Donnell' is also
a hybrid tea.
Every rose lover knows
the name David Austin. The English rose breeder, now
somewhere in his seventies, has revolutionized the rose
business with his "English Roses". These plants, which
combine the many-petaled forms, rich scents, and lush
growth habits of old varieties with modern traits such
as repeat blooming and diseases resistance, have taken
the rose world by storm. Last year the Austin company
expanded into the U.S., and now offers its own catalog.
There is nothing like competition to shake things up,
and in the last few years many major rose breeders,
both in the United States and abroad, have developed
their own "English-style" roses. Harkness of England
has introduced the "English Legend" series of roses.
The great French rose house, Meilland, has introduced
its own line, christened "Romantica" roses. Another
French breeder, Guillot, is selling its "Generosa" roses,
which are very much in the "English" style. With the
exception of David Austin himself, each of these rose
breeders sells roses in America through one or more
of the big catalog vendors. Not to be outdone, J&P
has begun breeding its own English-style roses. This
year the company has introduced 'Camisole', a fragrant
pale pink/apricot rose, and 'Guinevere', which is white
with a pronounced old rose fragrance.
One of the most exciting
things to happen in the rose world in the past several
years is the rediscovery of the late Dr. Griffith Buck,
who spent his career as Professor of Horticulture at
Iowa State University. For years Dr. Buck bred roses
in relative obscurity, and he created some beauties,
such as 'Silver Shadows', a pale, bluish lavender rose,
and 'Distant Drums', which has lavender-pink petals
and a glowing golden center. Last year I bought 'Country
Dancer', and it has become the centerpiece of my garden.
The pink blossoms are huge and the petal color grows
more intense the closer the petals are to the center
of the flower. Even people who normally don't notice
flowers at all exclaim over this bush. This year there
are more Buck roses on the market than ever before.
It might be wise to buy some before the whole world
Rose vendors are going
out of their way to show the versatility of roses, featuring
an increased number of shrub roses, climbers and old
fashioned varieties with relaxed growth habits. Mindful
of the fact that many people have limited spaces or
gardens made up entirely of containerized specimens,
vendors are showing an array of tree roses, "bedding
roses" that grow no more than 2-feet tall, and "groundcover
roses" that are designed to grow out rather than up.
The rosebush has been liberated from the dedicated rose
bed and set free to roam around the garden.
As always, the
hardest part about perusing the rose catalogs is trying
to choose from among the many gorgeous specimens . The
next hardest thing is figuring out how to annex the
neighbors' yards so I can install all the roses I want.
If you haven't already received copies, you may want
catalogs from any or all of the following companies:
Heirloom Roses, 24062 NE Riverside Drive, St. Paul,
Oregon 97137, (503)538-1576, www.heirloomroses.com;
Wayside Gardens-The Complete Rose Catalog 2002, 1 Garden
Lane, Hodges, S. Carolina, 29695, (800) 845-1124, www.waysidegardens.com;
Jackson & Perkins, 1 Rose Lane, Medford, Oregon
97501, (800) 292-4769, www.jacksonandperkins.com;
David Austin Roses Limited, 15393 Highway 64 West, Tyler,
Texas 75704, (800) 328-8893, www.davidaustinroses.com.