English Rose bed

A New English Rose Bed

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I’ve wanted to build a rose bed in the front yard for a while now, but never had quite decided how to go about it as we have a large grassy patch in the front yard and digging it up wasn’t an option (according to my husband). He did however give me the idea of making a large round bed around a Royal Palm we have growing in the front yard.

At first I was hesitant. The palm’s root system would interfere with the roses’ and would probably take all the nutrients etc. But then it occurred to me that I could build a deep raised bed with a retaining wall and keep the roses roots far above the ground level. This would have two advantages. Besides avoiding the palm roots, they could be planted in an excellent soil mix that was full of nutrients and much better than our sandy soil native to South Florida (even when mixed with conditioners and enhancers the sandy soil looses nutrients quickly). Secondly it would provide excellent drainage and great air circulation, as they would be a few feet off the ground. I immediately jumped at the idea.

Memorial day weekend was coming and I knew I would spend it out working on my new rose bed. I already knew that the roses I wanted in that bed would be English Roses. I have developed a passion for the plump old rose form slowly over the years and found that no rose brings me as much joy and happiness as the David Austin roses, and having had much luck with my Pat Austin, Claire Austin, Evelyn and Shepherdess bushes made me an even bigger fan.

Austins are not usually found around here so I knew I would have to get them by mail order (and it would cost a fortune), so I figured I would have to create my rose bed over time. It’s not the best planting season for roses here either, as its already warm and too late in the season to start bare roots. I also wanted most of my roses to be on Fortuniana if possible, or on their own roots at the very least since Dr. Huey doesn’t fair to well down here and some of my roses have done quite well on their own roots. David Austins on fortuniana are very hard to come by and my only sources (K&M and Cool Roses) had pretty much sold out of every variety I was interested in, so it seemed like my rose bed would be very slow to get going if I wanted it all to be English Roses and I’m not that patient.

I decided to stop by my local Lowes to check out what they had in stock. Lowes, has a funny way of getting rare roses in stock once in a while and they carry some of the Kordes roses that have the old fashioned form I’m fond of (Summer Romance, First Crush and the Fairy Tale collection come to mind). I figured I could make a mix of some of the DA’s I already had growing in pots and other roses I had easier access to, to make a mixed bed. To my shock and surprise, they had a huge collection of English Roses that had just arrived. I had never seen DA roses for sale in South Florida. Not even bare root. Ever!

Many of these were mislabeled and it seemed to me like there may have been some sort of mix up, but I took the lot. They were extremely affordable and I didn’t have to pay shipping or wait until next season to get my rose bed. I was thrilled! To top it all off, the manager was kind enough to give me a discount since I purchased so many roses. Like my husband said to me when I got home: “Everything is coming up roses”.

To my delight, most of them were on their own roots and many were correctly labeled. Others I was able to identify by bloom and even though some are still unidentified, I am certain they are all English Roses and I’m confident I will be able to ID them once they bloom.

Here is my rose bed in all her glory! Of the roses I am certain of, the varieties here are:

Alnwick Rose (multiple), Scepter D’Isle (multiple), Jubilee Celebration (at least one), Eglantyne (3 or 4), Huntington Rose (2), Charlotte (multiple), Winchester Cathedral (at least one) and Queen of Sweden (2). All are in the pastel color range, which is what I wanted and of the few that were unidentified one may be Carding Mill and one may be Crocus Rose.

All of the Charlottes went in the back as that is the variety I had most of, then I interchanged between Scepter, Alnwick and Eglangyne leaving Huntington on the borders as it has a somewhat drooping habit and Queen Of Sweden clumped together (it has a tendency to be tall and thin) to form one larger looking bush.

I still had space for a few more, so I planted my new Olivia Rose front and center along with my Boscobal and my Belle Story. I adore all three of these varieties and put them front and center facing my house to create a little excitement in the rose bed.

I usually don’t have huge flushes like they do in the spring in cooler climates, but I hope to keep these roses clean and well fed in order to make the most of them. I’m extremely thankful to my hubby who helped me organize this rose bed and cannot wait to see all the lovely blooms.

Below are some pics of the roses and the bed as its come to life. The bees and butterflies have already discovered the roses and seem to be as thrilled as I am.

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