Planning and planting my new rose garden has been more therapeutic than I could ever imagine.
While sitting with my father in the hospital during the last few weeks of his illness, I spent hours quietly reading plant and seed catalogs while he slept.
To put it mildly, those catalogs were my emotional life preserver, preventing me from drowning in a sea of despair.
It was during this time that I felt the powerful desire to create my new garden with the sole purpose of giving me as much joy as possible.
I decided to order any plant that I’ve ever wanted to try. I didn’t care if they were borderline hardy in my new zone, or if I didn’t have much experience with them. I didn’t care what the shipping charges were.
They were my antidepressants, and I desperately needed them.
After all, just the act of planting a sparse bare-root rose is an act of faith in the future, and all the hope it holds.
I needed all the hope those scraggly little plants represented.
Fast forward four years and my garden has flourished.
Sure, there’s been some failures, but at least it was fun (and more importantly, distracting) to try new things.
Every time I marvel at one of these new successes (like the ‘Sheffield Pink’ mums I recently wrote about, or those fabulous Foxtail Lillies!), I’m reminded that no matter how hard life seems, the only way to survive is to take things one step at a time.
And before you know it, you’ll find yourself inhaling the heady scent of a rose once again.
Speaking of roses – for whatever reason, I grew a little tired of them in my last garden. But in my new garden they have been, by far, some of my favorite additions.
During those long hours in the hospital, there was something mesmerizing about the David Austin catalog I held in my hands.
I studied every rose on every page, imaging what it might look like in my new garden.
I couldn’t wait for them to arrive in the mail!
When ordering roses from a catalog, I’ll warn you – they’ll arrive looking less than inspirational!
It’s imperative you follow the planting directions included.
The first step is to soak the root ball in water for several hours to rehydrate those poor little dried-out roots.
Since I wasn’t ready to plant the roses right away, I prepped an oversized container for their new home for a month or so (see below.)
When planting in the ground or container, use high-quality soil and mound it in the center.
The reason for this is to not only support the root ball, but more importantly to eliminate any air pockets (which leads to dried out roots – not good!)
Rest the root ball on the mound of soil, gently spread its roots out, and cover with soil.
Water thoroughly, and within a few weeks you’ll notice teeny tiny buds start to swell. From there, just sit back and watch the magic happen!
Since some of my favorite colors fall into the orange family (some of my favorites are here), I chose roses with peachy, apricot, and yellow tones.
The largest rose, planted along my wrought iron fence is climbing ‘Lady of Shallot’ (left and below.)
The magenta vine (below) is a centradenia floribunda (Spanish Shawl) which is amazing, from Annie’s Annuals.
It’s evergreen in my garden, and flowers for months at a time, without wilting or suffering from crispy foliage from our intense summer heat. A winner, for sure.
‘Tamora’ rose (also from David Austin) is another of my favorites, starting out in very soft peach tones then opening up to a light yellow.
I’ll warn you – this particular variety has a hefty amount of thorns on the stems. But to make up for it, the stems are quite sturdy which helps it stand up better in arrangements.
Planted in two nearby containers are ‘Roald Dahl’ (below) which grows to a tidy 3×3. And just like the catalog says, they are mighty, pumping out soft peachy-yellow blooms month after month.
Deviating from the apricot-peach tones, is another tidy 3×3 rose – ‘Jubilee Celebration’.
Even though it’s pink, I just had to try this one for the scent alone, and WOW – it doesn’t disappoint.
But besides the heavenly old-rose fragrance, the pink color ties into the next rose that lives a few feet beyond – my trusty old friend ‘Spring Song’.
‘Spring Song’, has journeyed with me from my first home in San Luis Obispo, to Los Altos, and now to Granite Bay.
To celebrate my very first mother’s day (25 years ago!) I bought this little rose in a quart-sized container at my favorite place in Cambria – Sharon Lovejoy’s Heart’s Ease. Do any of you remember that shop?
Oh, how I loved spending time in that magical place.
Over the decades, this little rose grew into a stunning 4×4 shrub, and before we moved up to Granite Bay, we were able to transplant half of it. Why half?
Well, my husband tried to dig the entire thing up to take with us, but accidentally cut its root ball in half.
I thought all was lost as I watched it wilt and pathetically limp along in its container.
Boy, was I wrong! It loves living in its new garden and rewards me with blooms year-round.
In fact, it was just yesterday (January!) that I took this photo.
And while it’s wonderful to have a few blooms in January, it’s crucial that a rose has some downtime to rejuvenate itself before spring arrives.
And finally, I wanted to include a few favorite and reliable roses from my previous garden.
The ‘Fourth of July’ climbing rose is one of my favorites, with its wildly striped red, yellow, and cream flowers.
It’s a heavy bloomer, starting in May and lasting through the first frost.
And, as a bonus, it has beautiful light orange rose hips in the winter!
Scrambling along my fence was the MOST beautiful climbing ‘Sally Holmes’ rose.
The soft apricot buds open to a creamy white, single-petal rose.
This rose produces hundreds of roses throughout the long growing season, and is very disease resistant, too. The price for its abundant blooms, however, is the lack of fragrance.
Oh well, you can’t have everything!
‘Climbing Eden’ grew along another fence in my garden (also from David Austin.)
Each rose is quite heavy and full, causing it to hang down a bit from its sheer weight.
This is the perfect rose to plant along an arbor, where you can easily peer up into the rose as you pass under.
And the scent? Absolutely divine, with heady old-world rose fragrance that perfumes the air.
This rose, ‘Playboy’, was actually growing in my mother’s garden.
I wanted to include it here, though, because if you’re into hot colors, this rose is for you!
In shades of bright orange, dark pink, and golden yellow, it looks like a glowing sunset across the garden.
Plus, it handles our intensely hot summers really, really well.
And finally, I want to end with one of my favorite roses ever – this mystery variety passed along from a family friend who took a cutting from an abandoned cemetery.
It’s the first to bloom in my garden with the most fragrant blooms ever.
If anyone has an idea of what it might be, please let me know!
I thought I would include this video I made several years ago on pruning roses in milder climates.
For whatever reason, it’s the most-watched video I’ve made, so I thought I’d include it here.
(Forgive the bad hair day – it was sprinkling while we were taping this!)