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…


Heirloom Rose

Heirloom Rose: A truly beautiful hybrid tea rose with sumptuous purple tones tinged with mauve. The cooler temps have really brought out its best color and I just had to share this perfect bloom. Heirloom requires a bit extra care during the humid months, as it is susceptible to black spot. But the deep purple blooms are worth the extra effort especially with its unique color. Enjoy!

Heirloom Rose

A Bouquet Of Roses

Every week I try to make myself a little bouquet for my desk at work. If I cant be in the garden, I like to bring a bit of the garden with me. It cheers me up and reminds me of why I love to garden so much. Here is my arrangement of the week:


The varieties in the left side vase are Jubilee Celebration (deep pink), Souvenir De Baden Baden (ivory) and Heritage. On the right hand side you see Sheila’s Perfume (pink blend), Gemini (light pink) and Livin’ Easy (orange). These were topped off with delphiniums from the garden as well as a few sprigs of Ageratum which was grown from seed.

David Austin’s Recommendations For Florida

IMG_0195I recently called up David Austin Roses in Tyler, Texas to ask about a climbing rose named Crown Princess Margareta. I placed an order with them (arriving in early February) and was thinking of adding it to my order. However, I wanted their opinion first, because space is so limited in my garden and not all the Austins perform well in South Florida. They kindly said to me that the rose was not on the list of recommended roses for Florida. To which I replied, “You have a list of recommended roses for Florida?” (Quite enthusiastically) Needless to say, I had to have this list. She assured me that she would send it to me via snail mail that very day (although why she couldn’t just read it to me or send me an email is beyond me). A few days later it arrived and here it is, in all its glory:

Austin Florida List

Many of these I have never grown, so I cannot comment on how they would perform here, and of the ones that I have grown, not all have done well. Some of the ones on my order this year are on this list, and some are not. And I’ve had great success other Austins in my garden, which are in fact not on this list. Florida is also a large state with many different climates. Some of the roses that grow well in Northern Florida, may not do as well down here, so it’s all a little subjective.

Here is a break down of the Austins I have grown:

Abraham Darby: This is in fact a good rose for South Florida. Even though it is susceptible to black spot, its vigor makes up for it. It’s also surprisingly shade tolerant. It will supposedly get large, but ours has remained about 4 feet in the 1.5 years we’ve had it growing on

Ambridge Rose: This rose is new to our garden this year, so it’s somewhat too soon to tell how it will perform. However so far it has done well and I expect it will continue to do so. Ours is grafted on Fortuniana.

Carding Mill: I recently acquired a small band of Carding Mill on its own roots and it has bloomed three times for me already. Only time will tell how it truly performs, but so far it seems to be a profuse bloomer, albeit somewhat susceptible to black spot.

Christopher Marlow: Just like Carding Mill, I got this one as a small band recently and it looks very promising as its already grown 4x the size of Carding Mill. However, it has yet to bloom, so time will tell how good of a bloomer it is. It’s been very disease resistant so far.

Darcey Bussell: This is an excellent rose for South Florida performing admirably and blooming profusely. Ours was grown on Dr. Huey and pretty much bloomed continually for over three years before finally declining (a known problem with Dr. Huey is its short life span here). We recently replaced it with an own root version, which will hopefully live longer. This rose has good disease resistance and can even be grown in a no-spray garden.

Heritage: A good all-around rose for South Florida. It can usually be found grafted on Fortuniana under the name Josephine Land (Nelson’s Roses). This is a good rose for beginners. We have one growing on its own roots and two on fortuniana and all have done well so far. Perhaps not blooming as much as we’d like, but being somewhat trouble free.

Huntington Rose: An excellent variety that should be more widely grown. This rose was the one that really go us hooked on the Austins having performed very well even on Dr. Huey. We recently acquired one grafted on Fortuniana (from K&M Roses) and are anxiously waiting for it to get going.

Jubilee Celebration: This is one of the most beautiful of the Austin roses and has a great bushy growth habit. We had one that did well on Dr. Huey, albeit it was short lived, and now we managed to get one from K&M on Fortuniana. It’s about to have its first flush in the garden!

Jude The Obscure: Although this is on the list for Florida, it has never performed well for us down here. I’ve moved it from its somewhat poor location to a newer location. Although it seems happier in its new spot, it’s still a wimpy thing with only a few twigs. This is the second time we attempt to grow this rose and at the moment, would not recommend it for South Florida.

Pat Austin: This is one of the best performing roses for Florida. Ours arrived as a tiny graft only about 1.5 feet tall with merely a few twigs and within a year has grown to a 4-foot tall bush that blooms admirably. This is definitely one to try in South Florida. We got ours grafted onto Fortuniana from Cool Roses in Palm Beach.

Molineux: This rose has always been recommended highly, but my one attempt at growing it ended miserably within its first year. David Austin Roses in Texas is sending me a replacement in February and we are going to give it another try. This time on its own roots as opposed to Dr. Huey

Princess Alexandra Of Kent: For some reason our Princess Alexandra has never quite taken off. Although it’s still alive, it seems to be struggling and not exactly performing well. I’m surprised to see it on the list, but I’d be happy to give it another try if I could get it grafted on Fortuniana.

Scepter’d Isle: We recently obtained this rose, and so far, it’s too soon to judge how it will perform. Ours is grafted onto Fortuniana and has bloomed a few times, but the flowers have been frail and lacking in petal count due to the heat. This is however not a well established bush yet, so we’ll need to give it time before we can recommend it.

Tamora: This is in fact a good performer for South Florida, although ours is not quite in a good location receiving much too little sun. Ours is less than one year old so we’re hoping it will spring back soon. Even though its susceptible to black spot, and die back, we do recommend this rose for the novice gardener who would be willing to give it a little extra care. It’s a beautiful variety and has a small bushy habit that’s unusual for the Austins.

The Alnwick Rose: This rose performed well for us, albeit it was very short lived when we originally had it (we’ve learned a lot about rose growing since then). We have one on order for this year on its own roots and hope to have better luck with it this time around.

Wollerton Old Hall: This is definitely a good rose for South Florida, being one of the few that has lived for many years despite being grafted on Dr. Huey. It’s not our favorite bloom as it’s low on petals and shatters quickly, but there is no doubt it is a good performer for South Florida. Although it does suffer from black spot on occasion, it bounces back rather quickly and is recommended for South Florida.

We currently have Windermere on order for February shipping, so we hope this one does well for us as it’s on the list for recommended varieties for Florida.

Some Others To Consider:

To my surprise I did not see a few on this list that have actually done very well for me, so I thought I’d add a bit of info on the ones that were not on the list that I have had experience with.

The Shepherdess: This rose has done amazingly and is one of the best performing roses in my entire garden. Even grafted onto Fortuniana, it keeps a nice, compact form and blooms profusely. We consider it a very highly recommended variety for South Florida.

Evelyn: This is one of the most beautiful roses we’ve ever come across and it too does well in our South Florida garden. It has a tall lanky habit that’s somewhat un-appealing and perhaps that’s why its not on the list, but its still definitely worth growing and is a great bloomer. Ours is grown on Fortuniana.

Claire Austin: Claire does wonderfully for me down here. Although her blooms are butter yellow as opposed to white, it’s still no reason to not grow this amazing rose that has great disease resistance and wonderful blooming power. Ours is growing in a large container on its own roots.

Boscobel: This is one that looks promising as well. Although it may be a while before its available on Fortuniana (if ever) ours has grown well in a pot on Dr.Huey and has bloomed profusely. It’s good disease resistance and bloom-power, makes it a good rose for South Florida. You can read more about it here.

Boscobel Springs To Life


A Boscobel rose bloom stands out in an arrangement of flowers


Boscobel, a recent 2012 introduction by David Austin Roses has finally had a nice flush. After a difficult start, many of the Austin roses I ordered last season didnt fare too well. They were all purchased as bare roots and after they arrived, I potted them up quickly in large black nursery pots that I’ve kept from previous rose purchases. That year’s roses seemed dramatically smaller than ones I had received in previous years, but I potted them up anyway and they all took off rather splendidly. It was at this point however that I made the grave mistake of planting them in a new rose bed I had created in the side yard.

The bed was made over an area that was once paved with large stepping stones. I expected there to be soil underneath, even if it was poor quality soil. Yet to my dismay when I lifted the pavers and dug, I was sorry to find nothing but sand as deep as the shovel would go. I dug almost three feet deep in some areas and never reached soil. So, I needed to not only amend the entire bed, but actually remove the sand and fill it in with store bought soil.

To make a long story short, the Austins roses, which were all on grafted onto Dr. Huey, we’re not happy in the somewhat still sandy soil of the new rose bed. After a few months of decline I realized I would have to pull most of them out, or risk loosing them all. Many of my 9 roses did not survive the move. Lady Emma Hamilton died before I could even try moving her. Molineux was soon lost after the move. Belle Story survived the initial move, but later declined and died. Jubilee Celebration and Princess Alexandra Of Kent are still struggling after the move, and I’m not entirely sure they will make it. Gentle Hermione and Geoff Hamilton seemed to be doing ok in the ground so they were left in the bed and both are still doing ok, Hermione actually doing pretty well. Boscobel on the other has bounced back from the initial move nicely and is thriving in a pot on the patio.

This says a lot about the new David Austin releases as they have recently been focusing on introducing stronger, more disease resistant roses and Boscobel is a good example of this. Not only did it bounce back quickly, but it produced an impressive little flush with rather large, full blooms for being such a small plant.

The large round buds opened to reveal beautifully cupped rosettes packed with petals in a most unique shade of copper pink with deep salmon. Each one measuring about 2.5 inches.

We sincerely hope this rose will be available on Fortuniana one day because this one seems like it will be a good performer in South Florida and David Austin Roses on Fortuniana are still hard to come by.

Boscobal can be purchased online through David Austin Roses or Regan Nursery both on Dr. Huey rootstock.


Petunia, Delphinium & Angelonia

Some of the petunias I started from seed began blooming today. Here you will see some standard purple petunias, a few double petunias (Double Cascade Mix from Park Seed Co.) and a Lavender Tie-dye series. Two new delphinium plants that I recently added to the garden and a new variety of Angelonia which has very large flowers called Angle Face by Proven Winners. Click through the gallery for more info on each plant.

A Rose Garden In South Florida


You can’t grow roses in Florida!

This is a statement I have heard on more than one occasion and I’d like to reply with 6 little words: My rose garden begs to differ.

Growing roses in Florida, especially South Florida isn’t easy, it’s not for the faint of heart or the lazy landscaper who wants to plant it and forget it. But it can in-fact be done and it has been done for many years even in Miami, even in homestead and I would bet even in the Florida Keys.

I began gardening when I bought my first home in 2010. Until then I always liked houseplants and flowers of all kinds, but I had no yard. Living in apartments most of my young adult life made it difficult to grow more than the occasional African Violet by the kitchen window. But even when I got my first, very own apartment in South Beach, I made a little bed of flowers in my entrance way and had a little row of annuals by my back door.

I suppose I get it from my grandmother who loved roses and grew all sorts of flowering plants in Puerto Rico where I spent every summer growing up. She had everything from key limes to guavas and orchids to tropical plants and even the infrequent rose.

Within a month of owning my home, my mother came over to help me create a flowerbed and liven up the back yard area around the pool. We had a great time chitchatting and digging up the dirt. That’s when I was truly bitten by the gardening bug. Soon I was hitting the gardening centers almost every Saturday morning, looking for new and exciting flowers to add to my garden. Most plants didn’t last long for me, but that didn’t seem to bother me. I just replaced the old with the new and kept the garden fresh and teaming with color as much as I could.

But, I still had a lot to learn. South Florida, unlike most of the country, has its own unique climate. We have no frost or snow. No winter dying and emergence of spring to rejuvenate the garden. Things must either grow year round here or perish after a few months depending on the species and the season. When flowers I was very fond of died only a couple of months after planting, I began reading and researching everything I could get my hands on in order to create the garden of my dreams.

To my dismay I found it hard to find information on my very specific and quite unique environment. Gardening seemed to be going out of style. A hobby for little old ladies that was dying out and not being passed on to the next generation. My neighbors mostly had boring landscaping with palms and other perennial plants that didn’t do much more than just sit there year after year. I wanted color, I wanted flowers, I wanted roses!

I quickly grew tired of the same old annuals and perennials at the garden centers. These were the same tried and true plants that I had seen all around me growing up in South Florida. I wanted a garden full of extraordinary beauty. Something you don’t see everyday driving passed your local shopping center and I vowed to do it. When I came across a website that sold roses online my true passion was ignited. I had no limitations now, nothing to stop me from growing the roses that I so badly wanted.

To this day, my garden is an ever-evolving plethora of blooms, color and variety. But with that comes the many challenges that face our region. Disease, insects, intense heat and humidity, nematodes and every creepy crawly plant-eating creature known to man, affect us. It hasn’t been easy. But nothing that’s easy is ever worth doing. I push forward because nothing is more rewarding than seeing the garden thrive and the roses bloom.

It is my pleasure to introduce to you South Florida Rose. This blog is about getting more people into the garden. It’s about helping people become more involved with their environment and hopefully passing on the skills to a younger generation. There is no hobby as rewarding and growing your own flowers or fruits and vegetables and it’s a skill we should all have. The bees and butterflies depend on us!

Welcome to South Florida Rose! A place to learn, try and err and most importantly…a place to grow!