Everything’s Coming Up Roses
Where there’s romance, roses can’t be far behind. Florists may rush to make deliveries come Valentines, but if you’re one of the lucky few with an entire garden of sweet-smelling roses, then you know just why people bother. No other flower quite captures the tender sentiment associated with the holiday.
From being accent plants to forming hedges and arches, roses are a truly versatile flower. They add grandeur to formal terraced gardens and parks or they can be allowed to ramble and trail in more informal and natural ones. How does one account for the rose’s popularity over the years? It’s hard to say, but history’s been on its side. It has been on England’s royal emblem since 1485 and was declared the official flower of the United States in 1986. According to the American Rose Society, a rose is considered ‘old’ if it belonged to a group that existed before 1867. Some examples are species roses, China roses, and Bourbon roses. But because of its extreme popularity, it’s no wonder that roses are extensively hybridized, making classification steadily complex.
But despite this, roses remain one of the most recognizable—and versatile—flowers around. As an accent plant, roses can be planted as the lone flower or combined with other less eye-catching plants. Because of its size and color, roses can command attention in a garden or draw the viewer’s eye away from problem spots.
Roses can also be great foundation plants. Foundation plants refer to a plant community, usually of small to medium evergreen shrubs, ground covers, and seasonal color plants. They often have similar requirements, such as water, soil pH, and exposure. Large shrub roses can even form a natural barrier or hedge for children and animals; some shrub roses can grow up to 8 feet.
Some rose varieties are ramblers. They are long and pliable and can be trained to cover your trellis or pergola. By allowing roses to ramble, you can add height to your garden outline. Roses can climb across trellises or form an arch to provide the shade or accent that your garden needs.
Planning for these seasonal blooms is a good thing to do in the winter. First, test your garden soil. You can test as soon as the ground thaws, but if you’re the type who plans early, then you might be have done this step the previous season. Soil conditions can affect your blooms’ growing conditions. Don’t forget to consult the hardiness guide to determine which roses would flourish best in your area.
Next, pick the right spot for your roses. They bloom best with direct sunlight, or if that is not possible, then pick a location where it can receive the morning sunlight. That means planting the blooms either on the east or south side of your garden.
Roses demand great commitment. They can be threatened by disease. Blackspot, for instance, appears on lower leaves. A yellow stain spreads out from the spot until the leaf turns yellow and drops prematurely. It is often caused by late-afternoon watering and can be transmitted by insects and through contaminated tools and clothes. If you have an infected plant, watch the other shrubs downwind from it carefully.
Powdery mildew is another disease that can affect your roses. This time, it’s brought about by temperature changes combined with problems with air circulation—think warm days followed by cool nights. Powdery mildew appears as a white, ashy film covering leaves or buds and will stunt and distort the plant’s growth.
Yet another disease is rust, or the reddish-brown spores in the undersides of leaves closest to ground. It is caused by a parasitic fungus that will turn the tops of the rose leaves yellow. While it is not as prevalent as blackspot and powdery mildew, it can still affect certain rose varieties.
Constant care and vigilance can help prevent diseases from spreading, especially if you’re dealing with a garden where roses bloom wherever you turn. Keep to a regular schedule of watering, fertilizing, monitoring, and cleaning up instead of relying on chemical solutions to kill the disease. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands, tools, and clothes after handling diseased plants. When you care for your roses, you can be sure that they will reward you with generous, eye-catching blooms that will be the pride of any garden.