Tag Archives: Rose Flower Carpet

A love-hate affair with rose bushes continues

Is there anything lovelier than beautiful, soft, fragrant rose blooms? Not for me the stiff, hybrid tea types. I will leave those for others. But the David Austins are so deliciously voluptuous that I just want to bury my nose in all those scented petals. In a vase. And therein lies the rub.

The rose garden here is on borrowed time. It dates back to Mark’s mother who had a love affair with old fashioned roses and it has undergone several makeovers in the decades since. But it just doesn’t work aesthetically. We are not a good rose climate here – humid and high  rainfall without enough winter chill to kill off the greeblies, fungi and diseases that afflict roses. Our rose garden is too sheltered which restricts air movement. One of the beds is now too dry and the competition from the roots of our massive rimu trees nearby are an issue. Mark has always refused point blank to spray roses, being of the opinion that they must thrive on their own merits.

I have tried. Oh I have tried. I was recommended varieties by experienced rose producers and growers and I have crowd sourced others. Alas I have pulled out and burned more roses for poor performance than any other plant I have had to buy. After 20 years, I am going to cut my losses this winter and pull out the central beds that surround our sunken garden.

Not all will be burned. Fortunately we have large vegetable gardens, but not a picking garden as such. A couple of years ago when I was getting discouraged at  the underperforming, defoliated, ugly rose bushes, I dug some out and Mark planted them in a row in one of his veg gardens. He has several. Veg gardens, that is. The rose bushes with the most gorgeous blooms can be added to that row. It does not matter there if they have black spot and are defoliated and ugly. I can go and pick the blooms when I wish. But only those with gorgeous blooms will be relocated to this position.

It is very, very pink is Rose Flower Carpet Pink but just look at that foliage. Superb.

Rose Flower Carpet Appleblossom – a prettier pink, still with good foliage though it does not flower as long through for us. The white version flowers all year round, however.

Not all the roses are a dead loss. What the Rose Flower Carpet series lacks in individual flower form and scent is more than made up for in fantastic performance throughout the season and brilliantly healthy foliage. They are what we call *good garden plants*. Not blooms for cutting, but all-round garden performers.

Mme Plantier, I believe?

Madame Plantier is only once flowering but I can forgive that for her month or so of glory, her gorgeous scent and healthy foliage. There is one super healthy rose that I think is a David Austen but I have lost its name – again lush, strong growth and very good blooms in apricot pink. That one is to be relocated and trained as a climber up a pergola pole. Though as the pergola is not yet built, it may have to go to temporary quarters. The white rugosa, Rosa Blanc Double de Coubert, stays a healthy bush for us though there are more prolific bloomers in the rose world.

The central borders in the grass are to go. This may take a year or so.

The sunken garden, seen here at its tidiest, is to be the feature without the distraction of the borders

The so-called rose garden here is the area of the garden where I have put in the greatest effort  over the last 20 years. And while it has times when it looks pretty enough, I have come to realise that it is also the one area of the garden that I really do not enjoy maintaining at all. In fact, I avoid it as much as I can which is an indicator that all is not well. A landscaper friend looked at it recently and immediately suggested that we pull out all of the central borders that edge the deep, marble and granite sunken garden. “Feature the sunken garden,” he said. “The borders just detract.” I had to think about it for a while. But he is right. It was just a bit of a shock after all my efforts down the years. More on that in the future. We can’t do much going into summer but mentally I am relocating the plants that are worth saving and discarding the rest.

And I am mentally remaking the one border that we will save but renovate which runs along to the left. It is the garden we look out to from a favoured late afternoon seating position. Not a lot has changed in the nine years since the photo above was taken. We are still often to be found in the same seats in the same location. But it is a good reminder of why we want that one border looking good with a high level of plant interest, because we see it often.

“Doing the flowers” in the laundry. I only show this for overseas readers because I love my laundry room, a space much favoured in NZ and Australian houses that does not seem to be adopted as widely in other parts of the world. I can’t imagine living without a separate laundry room.

The November Garden – rose time

November is peak rose season for us

This is the first spring in twenty seven years that our garden has not been open to the public. It has been something of a revelation. We have so many friends and colleagues who open their private gardens for at least some of the year that it had become normal – an integral part of our lives and how we gardened. We wanted a break but the main driver for the decision to close has been the high impact of the petrochemical industry. From being a sleepy little rural enclave, in a few short years Tikorangi has become Petrochemical Central and this has sent scarily large amounts of heavy and often hazardous transport past our gate. It is not a good fit with an open garden. We take the long view here. Our garden is built around trees originally planted by Mark’s great grandfather from 1870 onwards. The house gardens have been intensively worked since they were first put in by Mark’s parents in 1950. It seems likely that the garden will still be here when the gas has been pumped out from the ground below us and the petrochemical companies have moved on from fossil fuels – to renewables, we hope. In the interim, I don my iPod because I would rather listen to music in the garden than heavy industry. Now we garden for our own pleasure and without having to titivate to open garden standards – or garden grooming we call it.

Cymbeline, on of the David Austen roses

Cymbeline, on of the David Austen roses

November is peak rose season for us. I have a love-hate affair with roses. I am forever debating with myself whether the beauty of the blooms outweighs the foliage and form which are often disappointing – even more so as the poor defoliated things battle through summer and autumn. But is a large, comprehensive garden ever complete without roses? The problem is that we don’t spray our roses. Ever. I never spray anything and Mark point blank refuses to do roses. If they don’t perform without spraying, rip them out and replace them is his view. We do a bit of that and we are trialling some almost thornless pillar roses for a new pergola we have planned.

Mme Plantier, I understand

Mme Plantier, I understand

Mme Plantier, I understand [/caption]Personally, I am not a fan of hybrid teas. They don’t even rank amongst desirable cut flowers for me. I much prefer the informal floribunda types. We have a wonderful white shrub rose which was finally identified for us as Mme Plantier. It keeps excellent foliage without intervention, flowers in abundance and is sweetly scented. But it is only once-flowering and so many gardeners now refuse to grow any rose that doesn’t repeat-flower through the season. We don’t expect other shrubs to flower continually but poor roses are now judged by a different standard. Is six weeks not enough?

Rose Flower Carpet Appleblossom

Rose Flower Carpet Appleblossom

While the Rose Flower Carpet series never attract descriptors such as delicious or exquisite, as high health backbone plants, we have yet to find anything to rival them. Year in and year out, they flourish despite our high humidity and high summer rainfall.  The somewhat vibrant pink form that was the first to be released and the white have particularly long flowering seasons. In fact the white is rarely without blooms. The bright pink looks great when surrounded by large amounts of background green. It took me a few attempts to find the right locations. I prefer the paler apple blossom pink but it doesn’t repeat as well and blooms can ball in heavy rain. While we don’t spray, I am old fashioned and prune by the manual, even though there is research which says that a pass over with hedge clippers is just as effective. We keep roses in open, sunny positions with good air movement. As a point of principle, we do not routinely add fertilisers to our ornamental gardens but we mulch often with homemade compost. That is their feed. If any roses can’t perform well enough with the same regime of care that the rest of the garden gets, then I am afraid they are not for us. But those that do well here are a November delight.

First published in the November issue of NZ Gardener and reprinted here with their permission.