In May 1913, Igor Stravinsky debuted his ballet The Rite of Spring (watch a YouTube video). Though it is one of Stravinsky’s most famous works, his creation was first met with harsh criticism, negative reviews, and yes – a riot. I put forth to you today that the emotion evoked during the process of pruning one’s precious rose garden can reach the very heart of the gardener. I experienced this very process last week-end during the annual rite of spring, pruning one’s roses.
When I was a child I read a book about the phoenix, a mythical bird that has been mentioned in ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology. The phoenix is a colorful bird with a tail of gold and scarlet. According to mythology, the phoenix can live up to 1000 years. At the end of it’s life, it builds a nest out of myrrh, which later ignites and burns both the phoenix and nest to ashes. From the ashes, rises a new, young phoenix ready to begin life again. Roses are like this to the rosarian. They peak in the late fall, reach a stage of dormancy for the winter and emerge from their sleep a new creature each spring.
Here’s the story, I have about 200 roses to prune, fertilize and get ready for the magnificent spring bloom. It’s a collection of hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, shrubs, and miniatures. Each year I feel hybridizers produce better roses to choose from. Pruning time is the time to “shovel prune” roses that have failed to meet whatever criteria you had in mind when you placed them in your garden. Also just because a rose does not perform well for me and in my zone does not mean that you may not have great luck with it. I have lots of stories about this.
Here are a few new additions to the garden I added during pruning that I thought you might enjoy seeing and hearing about. To the patio garden I replaced under performing floribunda orange red, Laura Bush with what looks to be two very showy red blend shrubs called Be-Bop rated a stellar 8.1 in the 2011 ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses.
I have not been Spellbound with the rose by the same name so I dug it up and replaced it with floribunda, Drop Dead Read. According to Edmunds Roses “this rose is just so jaw-droppingly delicious red – especially set against highly glossed deep green leaves that mirror all the eye-popping action. A stop ’em dead in their tracks red that’s certain to lure you to linger, and it’s that red to the very finish of the flower. The classically formed double blooms are often borne in clusters. A natural for the landscape with plentiful blooms that keep right on coming.”
Lady Bird Johnson died and rather than replace her I decided to live it up and replace her with Girls’ Night Out by Star Roses. Dark, dusky-pink rose petals accented with a lavender pink reverse highlights the classic form of Girls’ Night Out.™ This is a very vigorous, upright Hybrid Tea with above average disease resistance for the type and long lasting flowers which are perfect for cutting, and they are fragrant too!
To replace French Perfume which I lost I chose a spectacular floribunda called Julia Child. This rose is grown on it’s own root system rather than a graft. Just before our wonderful American icon left us, she selected this exceptional rose to bear her name. Julia loved the even butter gold color & the licorice candy fragrance. Yet it wasn’t just the old-fashioned blooms that inspired the recipe. The perfectly rounded habit, super glossy leaves & great disease resistance finish off the dish. An awesome AARS award winner – a right & proper honor for a dear friend.
I have had for several years a rose that was rated a 9.0 called Lavaglut so you can imagine my surprise to see it out and re-named Lava Flow. Lavagult, German for lava flow, is not an easy name… but it is a great rose. Large glowing clusters of deep velvety red seem to continually ‘erupt’ from a blanket of glossy green leaves, creating a display that will warm your heart. This import from Kordes family bears very long-lived ruffled flowers atop a well-behaved upright plant. It is a lovely little bush and I now have two. So that’s it for now folks and it you have questions or comments I would love to hear from you.