Roses In Bloom

Here are a few shots of some lovely blooms that I was able to salvage between rain showers (most have rain drops still on them). It started raining about two weeks ago and pretty much has not stopped. Luckily the roses seem to be loving all the extra water and most have stood up well to the torrential downpours.



My First Rose Show

Last month a rose-loving friend of mine came by to visit my garden and pick up a few extra roses that I wanted to get rid of but send to a good home. After a fun tour of the garden and lots of rose talk, she encouraged me to go to the Greater Palm Beach Rose Society’s spring rose show that was being held in a few weeks. I was hesitant, but decided I would wait and see what the garden provided the weekend of the show and if I felt I had something nice, I would go ahead and participate.


A bucket of blooms sit in preparation for the rose show.

A few weeks later, the garden was booming. Its been the best year for roses in my garden. After so many years, so many struggles and lots of learning, I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of this rose growing business. By Thursday afternoon, I started walking around looking at what might make good candidates for the rose show. I quickly started getting excited and even a little nervous, but the garden provided, so I went forward.

That Friday morning I got up early and grabbed a big bucket filled it with water and Chrysal (flower preservative) and got cutting. I’ve never done a rose show before, but I knew I should cut stems as long as possible, focus on the most perfect flowers and leave anything that was deformed, small or was passed its prime. The show flyer my friend had sent me in the mail had indicated there would be ten categories in the competition as follows:

  • Class 1 – Hybrid Tea, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
  • Class 2 – Fully Open Hybrid Tea, one bloom per stem, with stamens showing
  • Class 3 – Old Garden Rose one stem, one bloom is at exhibition stage for that variety
  • Class 4 – Shrub Rose, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
  • Class 5 – Climbing Rose, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
  • Class 6- Old Garden Rose floating in bowl no foliage permitted
  • Class 7 – Floribunda, one single bloom, or a spray of at least two blooms, at exhibition stage, on one stem
  • Class 8 – Shrub Rose Spray, one stem of at least two blooms, at exhibition stage
  • Class 9 – Spray Rose – One stem with a minimum of 2 blooms at exhibition stage. Any class or variety of rose, except shrub or floribunda, may be entered
  • Class 10 – Most Fragrant Rose, one bloom per stem, any class or variety

Knowing this I kept an eye on which roses would work well for each category and cut accordingly. The roses immediately went inside my air conditioned home and were kept safe out of reach of children and small animals (our 2 dogs). I would have kept them in the refrigerator, but there were no room for my blooms in there, so no luck. The next morning I woke up bright and early for one last walk through the garden to see if there were any more contestants for the show. I grabbed a few more entries and headed for the show.

The rose show was being held at Mounts Botanical Gardens; a beautiful and well-maintained garden, which alone is well worth the visit. Some of the roses didn’t hold up very well and were left on the cutting room floor, while others looked even more beautiful when I arrived in Palm Beach about an hour later.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

Toro sits proud among other perfect blooms at the Greater Palm Beach rose show.

For category 1, Hybrid Tea, I ended up bringing a couple of Chrysler Imperials; only one of which could be entered, as only one entry of each variety is allowed. I brought 2 large Toro blooms that were quite impressive, and one Peace bloom, which really was not up to standard, but alas. It ended up looking rather pathetic next to the others in the end, but this was all in good fun either way. You live, you learn.

For Category 2, Hybrid Tea Fully Open, I brought a fully opened bloom of Pink Peace it was very pretty, but the stem was not very long and in the end it was just dwarfed by some of the bigger, longer blooms. I could really see now why long stems and big healthy leaves make such an impact.

For Class 3, Old Garden Rose, I brought a few stems of Duchess De Brabant but did not enter any. My bush was in full bloom and had provided many nice options for me to choose from, so I took a few to decide on the best one once I was there. I ended up entering my largest bloom into the floating bowl category (class 6).

For Category 4 Shrub Rose, I had many entries, as shrubs are my specialty and my favorite kind of rose to grow. I brought a very large and very beautiful blossom of Princess Alexandra of Kent, which was a huge surprise because my bush has never provided much in terms of extraordinary blooms. I also entered one very nice, large bloom of The Ancient Mariner, and one bloom of The Endeavor, that was really passed its prime, but was still very pretty.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

Collette rose competes for best climber.

In class 5 Climbing Rose, I brought a beautiful bloom of Colette (albeit somewhat small) and a very large and somewhat messy bloom of Papi Delbard. The winner ended up being a large and beautiful bloom of Don Juan, which is no surprise as Don Juan is very impressive.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

Duchess De Brabant floating in a bowl turned out to be the big winner!

For category 6 Old Garden Rose In a Bowl, I was planning on using Duchess De Brabant as I was unsure if Austin roses would be counted as OGR’s or as Shrubs. As it turns out they are counted as Shrubs. I almost didn’t enter this category as I was torn between category 3 or floating the bloom in a bowl. At the very last minute I floated it in a bowl because there were only 2 other roses in the category. It did look very pretty. This must have been the correct choice as it ended up winning best in show!

For Category 7, I brought a spray of Sunflare and then ended up accidentally entering it in the wrong category. (More on that later)

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

The Fairy (large spray in top center) took the prize for best spray rose.

In Class 8, I had 4 entries. I entered a small spray of Sweet Drift, a large spray of The May Flower, and an even larger spray of The Fairy (the winner!) I also accidentally entered my spray of Sunflare into this category when it should have gone in the class above since it is a floribunda (oops).

For category 9, I had no entries

For class 10 I had a few entries. I entered Grande Dame, Princess Charlene De Monaco (which did not win, but did get a lot of attention) and Beverly. All of these were very fragrant and held their fragrance well. I really enjoyed this category, as going around smelling all the entries was my favorite part of the show. In the end Double Delight took the prize and it was well deserved.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

The 2017 Greater Palm Beach Rose Show

This was an informal rose show. They did not have official ARS judges. Roses were judged by the visitors who came to observe them and casted votes for their favorites by putting beads into a cup for each category. This had its benefits in that it was a lot less stressful for me as a first time participant. It made it much more relaxing and fun. However, I was a bit disappointed in that I didn’t get to learn how the real judging works, nor did I get to meet any real ARS rose judges. That being said, I don’t think rose growing will ever be that formal down here in South Florida, so it may not be a bad thing. There just is not enough interest in this amazing hobby and I plan to change that, even if it’s single-handedly. But there were still so many amazing things to come out of this rose show that I will be sure to return every year.

Not only did I have a wonderful time at the rose show, I got to explore the gardens, take in a pruning demonstration and even joined the Greater Palm Beach Rose Society. Winning my first rose award was exciting, but the most exciting experience of it all was meeting people who were just as passionate about growing roses as I am.

Ladybugs, Monocultures and Biodiversity!

I first got into rose gardening when my mother brought me a small, unlabeled polyantha rose in a pot as a gift when I bought my first house (and had my first garden). I later found out this trusty rose was The Fairy. It grew easily, flowered often and was no fuss. No wonder I fell in love with roses. I thought I would have the same success with all roses. Little did I know the battle I was headed for.

That one little rose bush brought the first ladybugs into my new, emerging garden. I knew very little about gardening back then, and even less about roses, but the gardening bug had bitten me and I was soon buying all sorts of potted plants and was obsessed with anything that bloomed. Soon, I not only had beautiful blooms; I had many of the pests that came along for the ride. The first insects I remember fighting with were aphids. These little green men where attacking the buds on my hibiscus blooms. I remember asking a fella at the Home Depot why my flowers were deformed and he recommended I use a Bayer All In One granule product to get rid of the aphids that were causing the issue. Of course looking back I have to laugh! That’s like using an atomic bomb to try to get rid of a mouse living in the wall. But unfortunately, that’s what I did, and before I knew it. I had more pests and more problems. I added more pesticide, and the cycle kept repeating itself. I had fewer bees, fewer butterflies and no birds visiting my garden. Yet the pests seemed out of control.

I wasn’t until years later, that I realized what I was doing. By using these pesticides, not only was I getting rid of the aphids, I was getting rid of their natural predators in the garden. This was also getting rid of the birds that ate these predators and any other insects. I was ruining the entire ecosystem! I remember going to a new home improvement store that opened up in my neighborhood and being really excited about checking out their new garden section, only to find the entire “gardening” section consisted mostly of pesticides, insecticides and chemical fertilizers. “When did gardening become about killing insects?” I thought to myself. I was horribly disappointed that this is what most people focused on when growing ornamentals. It was what I had done too, and it was sad. I decided to try something new.

FullSizeRender 18

Roses are surrounded by other plants such as mums, dahlias, and Four O’clocks in order to bring diversity to the garden.

The English have always insisted that we as Americans grew roses in an odd way. Recently on the April 2nd issue of the Rose Chat Podcast and interview with British rosarian Michael Marriott brought up the issue of how we in America tend to grow roses by themselves in beds spread far apart (for good air circulation, I’m sure) and usually with no other companion plants. This creates a monoculture of just one species of plant, which is problematic. Disease and pests spread quickly through a monoculture in this manner and its only asking for trouble. You need diversity in the beds to bring a variety of beneficial insects into your garden. I could not agree more with Mr. Marriott. When he mentioned the term, monoculture, my brain screamed, “YES”, this is exactly what we DON’T want to do.

Ever since I started combining my roses with other annual and perennial plants, I have noticed a much healthier, well-rounded and more diverse garden. At first I thought it was just my imagination because the ‘legginess’ of the rose bushes were naturally covered up and it just gave the garden more appeal. But it’s more than just aesthetics. The diversity brings variety to the garden. It brings a variety of insects, pollinators and predators as well as helping fend off disease. Stronger plants defend themselves from disease better and the over all affect is a healthier garden.


Beneficial insects such as this dragonfly are now common visitors to the garden.

If you leave them, they will come…

I would not have believed it myself had I not seen it with my own two eyes. I always thought, “well that might very well work up north, but here in Florida we have too many insetcts, too much disease pressure, etc”. Yet when I finally stopped the madness of the pesticides, and brought in some variety into the garden beds, it happened.

First I had an infestation of aphids. Oh no! But guess what? The aphids were strictly on the Black Eye Susans and NOT on my roses. Not one aphid was on a single rose bush. I had hundreds of aphids on the tough and sturdy Black Eyed Susans, but none on my roses. I let them be. I didn’t even bother to spray them with the hose. Let them suck on the Susans I thought. At least it keeps them away from my roses. Even then, they were only on the stems and not on the flowers.

Black Eyed Susans bring lady bugs

Black Eyed Susan brings lady bugs to the garden.

Within a couple of weeks I saw an amazing site! Those same aphid-covered Susans were now covered in ladybugs. LADYBUGS! I had not seen a ladybug in my garden in years and now I had 2, 3, no 4, 5, 6 ladybugs of all shapes and sizes crawling all over the Black Eyed Susans. They were on the roses too! And I saw other predatory insects! Dragonflies were everywhere. I even saw a couple of predatory stinkbugs.

I’ve seen more butterflies, bees and beneficial insects in my garden than I have ever seen in all my years of gardening. I also have birds. I have never had birds before, yet now I have birds all over my garden.

I am done with the pesticides and hope that when the chili thrip season comes, I have armed my garden with enough friendly insects to keep them to a minimum. Gardening is not about perfection, nor is it about spraying every insect that comes near your flowerbeds. It is about beauty and diversity, and keeping a good ecosystem going in your garden is key to a healthy, beautiful and wondrous place full of life. And in the end, isn’t that what we want to surround ourselves with when we garden?

See what nature brings to your garden!



Caldwell Pink rose

10 Roses That Should Have A Home In Every South Florida Garden

I’ve been growing Roses in my South Florida garden for over 5 years, and I’m still learning. I learn new things every year but its still very much a challenge in my hot, humid, sandy-soiled, South Florida garden. But having some success, even with many failures, keeps me going. Therefor I decided to pay a little tribute to the roses that have inspired me to continue this difficult albeit highly rewarding hobby. When roses fail to thrive and I feel like giving up, I just think of these beauties that continue to give me joy and know that one day, I can and will have the rose garden of my dreams. Here are the roses that every South Florida gardener should have in their garden:


Easy Does It:

Move over Knock Outs! Easy Does It is the rose for South Florida. It has been my absolute best performer. It’s very much at home in our climate. Grafted on Fortuniana this is one of the few roses that actually performs like a rose should. It has large flushes with multiple blooms, big vibrant blossoms, and disease resistance like no other shrub I have grown. It can actually thrive without a spray program and continues to perform admirably with very little care. If you could only grow one rose in South Florida, this should be it. Even the ever-popular Knock Out series does not compare to the easy care and vigor of Easy Does It. Why this rose is not grown more often around here is just a mystery. Even the chili thrips don’t seem to bother it.


Duchess De Brabant:

Known as an Earthkind rose, Duchess De Brabant is an old garden tea rose that is extremely resilient (not to be mistaken with Hybrid Tea roses), even on its own roots. Earthkind roses were given this classification after vigorous testing proved they could be grown without pesticides. Many of the Earthkind roses do well in South Florida but this one is the best of the lot for our hot, humid climate. Duchess will grow into wide, bushy shrub with lots of globular pink blooms and is essentially care free once established. It blooms in flushes throughout the season and is rarely without flower. Duchess is also known as the Teddy Roosevelt rose as it was said to be his favorite.

Belinda's Dream Rose

Belinda’s Dream Rose is a top 10 rose in South Florida.

Belinda’s Dream:

Another wonderful Earthkind rose, Belinda’s Dream is really a dream for those who wish to grow rose without fungicides. Unlike Duchess De Brabant, Belinda’s Dream produces roses that are very much hybrid tea in form. Its blooms bare a sweet raspberry scent and it makes an excellent cut flower for the vase. This rose does well both on her own roots and on Fortuniana, but will grow much bigger and faster on Fortuniana. She may occasionally get leggy in the early fall, but a light pruning will get her back in shape in no time.


Pat Austin:

Out of all the David Austin roses I grow in my garden. Pat Austin is by far the most carefree one. Grafted on Fortuniana it grows rapidly and steadily, providing tons of bright orange, cupped blooms with a sweet, fruity scent. It will form a large bush with arching canes or can be grown as a small climber where her colorful blooms will nod gently downward. Pat Austin may get some disease, but shakes it off with her rapid growth quickly replacing her leaves and blooming continually. Chili thrips may attack it, but do not seem to slow it down.



Another David Austin rose that does wonderfully here in South Florida is Evelyn. Not only is she vigorous, strong and resistant to disease, she provides some of the largest, most fragrant blooms of all the roses in my garden. Its only downside may be its leggy habit, but grown as a small climber on a fence or trellis will keep it looking attractive and nothing can take away from its sumptuous blooms. This is my absolute favorite rose and growing her on Fortuniana will ensure that it provides years of amazingly fragrant bouquets.


The Drift Series:

The Drift Roses are a collection of small, ground cover roses introduced by Star Roses and Plants. They remain small at about 1.2 feet squared and are wonderful for growing in planters or tucking into the small parts of the garden where a full sized rose would not fit. The best thing about these little guys is they are practically care free once established and they are almost always in bloom. I particularly like Sweet Drift. Its small blooms look like perfect tiny hybrid-teas in deep pink fading to light pink. I find all the drift roses are extremely resilient despite our sandy soil and do well even partial shade. Drift roses should be in every South Florida garden.



Iceberg is probably the most commonly known rose next to the Peace rose. It practically grows wild in the west coast. But, Icebergs do well here in South Florida as well. Few roses are as carefree and bloom as abundantly as the Iceberg rose. Because of its qualities, Iceberg has been an important parent in the rose world; particularly in the breeding of English roses such as Graham Thomas, Heritage and Belle Story. Iceberg also does wonderfully well in a container. Those planted in the ground however, should be grafted onto Fortuniana.



Speaking of English roses. Heritage is one of the best English roses for the South Florida garden, producing lots of blushing pink, fragrant blooms. Heritage prefers morning sun and afternoon shade, and is more shade tolerant than most other roses. Its resistance to disease and vigor make it an ideal rose for our hot, humid gardens. Heritage has even been known to do well on its own roots when grown in well-amended soil.


Don Juan:

Don Juan is another South Florida loving rose that does well in the heat and humidity. It may not be the most consistent bloomer, but it can be left relatively to its own devices and still produce large, deep red blooms with little or no care. However, when given a bit of TLC, Don Juan will reward you with a gorgeous show. This climbing rose does adequately on Dr. Huey rootstock, but will be a better performer if grafted on Fortuniana.



A strong and vigorous rose that is very compact and well behaved, Europeana has some wonderful attributes that make it a good choice for the South Florida garden. An ample bloomer with good vigor, it keeps on going even if black spot does infect its leaves. Europeana makes a great tree rose and is well suited for containers. If grafted on Fortuniana, Europeana is bound to give you years of cheerful color in a compact, well-rounded shrub.

We hope that you enjoyed our list of great roses for South Florida. These 10 roses are sure to do well with basic care and even perform admirably with a little TLC. They are easy to grow and thrive in our heat and humidity. Some take a while to really start showing their best but all are well worth the wait. Give them a try!


Snapdragons In South Florida


Snapdragons are tall beautiful flowers that are wonderful for cutting and come in a variety of colors. Yet they are usually grown in cooler climates, most of which are not well suited for South Florida. There are however certain hybrids of snapdragons that do quite well here and will produce blooms for a long season. You just need to know the right ones to grow.

The first thing you need to know about growing snapdragons in our area is that the tall ones never do well here. Tall varieties of snapdragons need cool temperatures for a long time to reach their heights of up to 4 feet. This is something we cannot provide for them, even in our coolest winters. However, dwarf and trailing types do well here and many are well worth growing.

Garden centers and nurseries usually offer a few snapdragons for the South Florida gardener in mid winter, but the choices are very limited so learning to grow them from seed is a great way to bring more variety to the garden. The key is knowing what varieties to sow.

As mentioned before, most tall Snaps wont do well here in South Florida. Warm days and nights causes them to be weak-stemmed and floppy; and even if they do bloom, the flowers are stunted and short. Look for the dwarf or knew-high snaps. These come to bloom faster and some are quite heat tolerant allowing for a longer bloom season. Swallowtail Garden Seeds offers a large variety of dwarf and knee high-snaps that are sure to be successful in your garden.


The Aromas Series: These above all have performed the best for me. They are easy to grow and have a uniform bloom (meaning they all bloom at the same time) to create a beautiful show. They are particularly heat tolerant blooming well into June and sometimes even surviving the summer and blooming again in the fall. These are by far the best snapdragons we have ever grown and they are well worth the extra price for premium seed. As an added bonus, they are exquisitely fragrant and, like all snapdragons, can last well over a week in the vase. Available at Swallowtail Garden Seeds.

Twinny Snapdragons

The Twinny Series: Here is another winner. These may not be a suitable for cutting but they make excellent bedding plants that bloom profusely and cover themselves in 2-inch, uniquely-double blooms. These are not the traditional tall flower but have more of a ground-cover habit that is attractive along borders or in planters. They are available in softer shades of pink, peach, apricot and white as well as ‘apple blossom’ and ‘bronze’. Available at Park Seed.

Arrow Snapdragons, Snapdragons

The Arrow Series: This is another great choice, especially if you are looking to add a wider color palate to your snapdragon bed. These are a little less heat tolerant than the Aroma series however so you may want to time them so that they get their start in the coolest weeks of the year. And be sure they have adequate water until well established. Arrow seeds can be found at Stokes Seed Co. and come in a variety of lovely colors.

Sowing Snapdragon Seeds:

Snapdragon seeds need light to germinate so place the seed on pre-moistened growing medium and do not cover them or spray them with water. They also need temperatures in the mid 70s to get going so you’ll need to wait until the weather cools a bit to sow them. To get an early start on the season, start them in an air-conditioned closet where they can be kept relatively cool. You’ll need a florescent light spaced just a few inches over the seedlings in order to get them growing happy and avoid legginess and dampening off. You will also need to cover your seeds with clear plastic to allow light in and keep humidity high. Learn more about seed starting here (coming soon!).

Happy Growing!



English Rose bed

A New English Rose Bed


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.



Portrait Of A Rose

I got a new camera and decided to take it for a spin. I’ve always wanted to take really romantic photos of my roses. Some of them are so amazingly beautiful. But like most things, its beauty doesn’t last so the best way to capture them is by documenting them in photographs and other art forms. Here are a few portraits of some of my favorite roses that have bloomed during the best rose-growing time of the year here in South Florida.

IMG_5273Ambridge Rose (Austin) and Pink Traviata (Meilland)

A few more of this duo that so nicely complimented each other:

IMG_5238v2Dames De Chenonceau (Delbard) is my favorite rose.


IMG_5194-v4Papi Delbard: a most photogenic rose. Below are a few more shots of Papi Delbard.



IMG_5345Here we have 3 Austins: Evelyn (left), Claire Austin (right) and Ambridge Rose (top). This trio was so charming that I took various portraits of them.

IMG_5379Quietness (Buck) makes a great cut rose and is also very photogenic.


A few more shots of various bouquets and roses including Cherry Parfait with Margot Koster (top right).


A Lovely Site!

I arrived home late from work yesterday to find the most wonderful site in my living room. My order from David Austin Roses has finally arrived! I have 12 roses in this lovely box and I cant wait to share them with you. I couldn’t get them up and running yet because of work and I didn’t want to leave them soaking for more than 24 hours so I simply took a peek inside and wrapped them back up again. They looked moist and very healthy. Tonight I will be soaking them over night in a solution of water, hydrogen peroxide and Super Thrive and they will be potted up on Saturday morning. I cant wait until they bloom. Click on the individual photo for a better view.


From the top left:

Belle Story: This is actually a replacement for the one I ordered last year. I ended up trying to plant it in the ground, but after dismal results, I moved it into a pot and it didn’t survive the move. I did however get a couple of small flushes from it and completely fell in love with this rose. Its not as disease resistant as I would like, but I think with better care it will do well in the garden with occasional spraying. I plan on putting it in a very large pot in a prime location because I adore this rose.

Huntington Rose (syn Alan Titchmarsh): This will actually be the 3rd Huntington Rose to grow in my garden. I had great luck with it a few years back while it grew in a large pot on my patio. I put it in the ground thinking it would be happier there, but it has been struggling ever since.  I have since added one on Fortuniana to the side garden, but it doesn’t get as much sun as I’d like and it has yet to perform as well as my potted one had a few years ago, so I decided to get a new healthy one and grow it again in a pot so that I could enjoy it like I once did on the patio.This is one of the Austin roses recommended for Florida, and I can see why as I did have great luck with it in the past. Moral of the story: If it aint’ broke…

Lady Emma Hamilton: I saw this rose in person at the Golden Gate Park rose garden in San Francisco a few years ago when I went up for my sister-in-law’s wedding and it was love at first sight. I can’t remember ever being so smitten by a rose. I have wanted it ever since, but have hesitated, since its listed as being recommended only to zone 9. I have however had luck with other roses for ‘zone 9’ and am willing to give it a little extra care if only it will bloom for me. Here’s to the tenacious gardener!

Second Row:

Lady Of ShalottOwn Root: I was told by a few other Florida rose growers that this particular rose does well in South Florida, even though it is not listed as one of the roses recommended for the state. I will however be growing it in a large pot as opposed to the ground and will be hoping for the best.

Molineux: This one is also a replacement rose as my poor Molineux never quite took off last year for some odd reason. It did leaf out, however never quite grew good feeder roots which is what I think may have lead to its demise. We had a particularly warm winter last year and I think that may have contributed to some of them not getting off to a good start.

Olivia Rose Austin: This one has gotten a lot of media attention for its bloom power, vigor and, most importantly, its disease resistance. David Austin actually claims that this may be the best rose he has ever put out. With a statement like that, I had to try it. If its anything like Boscobel, I’m sure I will be pleased.

Third Row:

Sharifa Asma: I added this rose to my order at the last minute after having been on the fence for a while about it. I am very fond of pink roses, but admittedly already own many. After I was told by some other Florida growers of her amazing scent however, I decided to give it a try. I look forward to those first blooms.

St. Swithun: This is another attempt at finding that perfect pale pink rose. I was St. Swithun might be the one that works for what I am looking for, so I decided to give it a try.This one, along with The Wedgewood Rose are both going to be planted on either side of a gazebo arbor that I recently set up and will be grown as climbers.

The Alnwick RoseOwn Root: I once had this rose many years ago and it died due to neglect during my first pregnancy. I had terrible morning sickenss throughout most of my pregnancy and had very little energy left to care for my roses. I lost many good ones due to neglect. And when I say neglect, I mean I didn’t even water them. Alnwick seems like it would have done well with better care so I’m giving it a second chance, this time on its own roots. Its mentioned on the list of Austins recommended for Florida. I’m very fond of the cup shape and the hue of this rose and hope it does well this time around.

Fourth Row:

The Endeavour: I am extremely excited about this rose. Its touted as being very compact in growth and is said to do well in warmer climates. Its not on the list of recommendations for Florida, but I’m willing to give it a try regardless as there are other Austins I have grown that do wonderfully for me and are not on the list.

The Wedgwood Rose – Own Root: I have been looking for a good, pale pink rose from David Austin ever since I discovered him back in 2010. I have tried many pinks, but somehow have not been able to find the full, quartered pale pink rose I’ve dreamed of. Of the ones that I have grown, many either faded to cream, or were deeper in color then what I have been looking for. I am hoping The Wedgwood Rose will be the one I have been searching for.

Windermere – Own Root: I am attempting to try out some of the Austins as own roots seeing as Dr. Huey is short lived and has not fared too well in my garden. I currently grow Claire Austin on her own roots and she’s done wonderfully, so I grabbed a few on their own roots this year (including Darcey Bussell, Golden Celebration, Strawberry Hill and Carding Mill which I got from Chamblee’s Nursery a few weeks ago). I ordered Windermere because I’m looking for a nice old fashioned white rose as my Claire Austin’s blooms are butter yellow in the South Florida heat. Windermere is one of the roses recommended for Florida by David Austin.

As you can see, I am extremely excited for my roses that have finally arrived and I will be keeping you updated with how they, and all my other roses, continue to perform in my South Florida garden.

-Happy Growing!



Bare Root Roses From Aldi

Bare Root Roses

The yearly sale of bare root roses has arrived at our local Aldi. Each year around early February Aldi brings in bagged bare root roses for around $5 (this year they were $5.49). These are difficult to come by in South Florida, especially the quality of roses that Aldi supplies. So each year, once January rolls around, I begin to check their weekly fliers (you can keep track of them on their web site) to see when they will arrive. They were to arrive on February 3rd. Once I know when the roses are arriving I head over first thing in the morning for the best selection. This year was no exception.

These bare root roses are grafted on Dr. Huey, like most bare root roses are. Which means they wont live long in South Florida. But for the price, you can enjoy 2-3 years of blooms and replenish your stock the following year. These are the same roses that you later see potted up and sold for three times the cost at your local garden center. You can save a ton by potting them up yourself.

I’ve had good luck with the Aldi roses in the past, most of which last at least two years on my patio. I always grow them in pots because Dr. Huey tends to perform better in planters here than in the sandy soil where it has difficulty taking up enough nutrients to keep them happy. Last year I purchased 8 roses and 6 of them are still blooming today.

This year, I obtained another 8 varieties from Aldi. Here are the varieties:
JFK, Peace, Pink Peace, Oregold, Intrigue, Chrysler Imperial, Tropicana and Gold Medal.


Out of all of these I have grown Peace, Oregold and Gold Medal before. Peace is a rose I have purchased many times and lost, yet the one I got from Aldi last year is still thriving and looking very healthy. I therefor decided to purchase another one this year as its one of my favorite roses (as is its sport Chicago Peace) and the bare root specimen at Aldi was very large and healthy.

The first thing I did was to label the roses using green plant ties and permanent marker. This was an easy and inexpensive way to keep the varieties from getting mixed up once they were all planted.IMG_4415

Next I soaked them in a bucket of solution containing half a cup of hydrogen peroxide (to kill any pathogens that may have formed during shipping), and a teaspoon of Super Thrive (vitamin starter).

Once they soaked for a few good hours, I potted them up in Miracle Gro Moisture Control potting mix and watered deeply with the same Super Thrive solution that I used for the soak.

Here they are in partial shade ready to leaf out:


In about a week I will give them a slightly diluted dose of Quick Start or other root stimulating solution and continue that once a week until the leaves are fully developed. After its first flush I will start them on a regular strength fertilizer program. I like to wait until the first flush because I noticed the plants use their stored energy to create that first flush and they have yet to really develop a good root system, so I am careful to not burn the young, delicate feeder roots.

Some gardeners actually disbud the bush on its first flush to give them an opportunity to form a stronger root system, but I relish those first blooms and cant bring myself to do that. Once the rose has had its first flush however, its ready for a regular feeding program, which will help it gain the nutrients necessary for its next bloom cycle.

Click through the gallery to learn more about the process…