Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Preview

First of all, I would like to thank you for the lovely comments you left on my previous post. I appreciate them so much! They went unanswered because we have been away on a trip to Central California. We saw so many things my mind refuses to process it all.

We drove down highway 1, the beautiful scenic road that meanders down California coast.

We saw thousands of elephant seals molt from up close.

We visited the magnificent Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

And we looked at the orderly rows of grape vines on the hills of Paso Robles.

Once I go through all the pictures I took I will make more detailed posts on the trip, but for now this will have to do - I am too tired... I am looking forward to reading all the new posts on all my favorite blogs and catching up with you all.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Moss Roses

"At some point in the evolution of the Centifolias, Nature decreed that some would have whiskers." Peter Beales, Classic Roses.

Henri Martin (Laffay, 1862)
The first moss rose originated most likely as a genetic mutation of a centifolia rose.

Common Moss (unknown, 17th century)
"Moss" refers to prickly growth on the canes and on the buds, sometimes soft, sometimes hard, and often  containing volatile oils that are released when the buds are touched, leaving a pleasant peppery fragrance on the fingertips.

Henri Martin (Laffay, 1862)
Most of the time, the mossy growth looks like lots of tiny prickles, but in some rare cases it can be very unusual, like the picture below, of Crested Moss, which is also known as Châpeau de Napoléon, or Napoleon's Hat because the growth on the sepals makes the bud look like a cockle hat.

Bud of Crested Moss (Kirche, 1827)
Hybridization of mosses began in the 19th century, and for a while cultivars were mainly selected for the unusual looking buds, with a disregard for the quality of blooms.

Duchesse d'Abrantes (Robert, 1851)
This resulted in a lot of pink moss roses looking one much like another :)

Marie de Blois (Robert, 1852)
This is not to say that pink mosses are not worth growing. In fact, pictures in this post are of the ones I like very much. Soupert et Notting (below) is one of my favorites, with its clear pink perfectly formed blooms on a well-behaved tidy bush.

Soupert et Notting (Pernet, 1874)
The rose below, appropriately named Glory of the Mosses, has probably the biggest blooms of any, with a wonderful mix of blush and pink, wonderfully fragrant.

Gloire des Mousseux (Laffay, 1852)
Mme Louis Lévêque (below) is a beautiful moss that also offers some repeat bloom. Because it repeats it is probably a cross with a hybrid perpetual, but whatever it is, its delicate blooms are exquisite and plentiful.

Mme Louise Lévêque (Lévêque 1898)
Waldtraut Nielsen is a little-known cultivar, but I find its huge blooms to be well formed and very fragrant. It is definitely worth a look, at least for a collector.

Waldtraut Nielsen (Nielsen, 1932)
Having shown all these pink mosses I have to say that my favorite are the purple ones hybridized by Jean Laffay.  The two below are some of the darkest colored of all roses, and wonderfully fragrant.

Capitaine John Ingram (Laffay, 1854)
Nuits de Young (Laffay, 1845)
Mosses have retained their popularity until the present time. There have been quite a few bred throughout the 20th century, such as Golden Moss or Robert Leopold. I would only like to mention Ralph Moore, the creator of miniature roses, who also bred a number of mosses, most of them reblooming...

Cee Dee Moss (Moore, 1990)
...and the family of Kordes of Germany, who created not only Parkjuwel, mentioned in my post on centifolias, but also Black Boy, an unusually colored and very beautiful rose, if somewhat awkwardly named.

Black Boy (Kordes, 1958)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Color in the Garden - Part I

Flowers in the garden make me happy, and I love perennials almost as much as roses. Perennials provide a variety of shapes and textures, bursts of color when the roses are resting, and food for birds and insects. They make a garden much more interesting than it would be if it were just a rose garden.

Geranium x cantabrigiense "Karmina"
It took me a while to figure out what works in my garden. I needed plants that thrive in the same conditions as roses, provide some contrast to the rose blooms but also blend well color-wise.

Argyranthemum frutescens "Sunlight"
Both daisies and pelargoniums are winners in my climate. They are very low maintenance perennials, and sometimes grow quite big. I like the smaller kinds because their flowers do not compete with big blobby rose blooms.

Most pelargoniums are evergreen here and provide a nice year-round groundcover. The mounding types are useful to conceal the lower naked canes of rose bushes.

A dwarf regal pelargonium and a geranium x cantabrigiense "Karmina" making a pretty "skirt" around a rose's naked legs
Erodiums are relatives of geraniums and do equally well for me.

Erodium "Sweetheart" with a Snowball viburnum looking down
Mine have been blooming since February and are now setting seed. I love the funny-looking seed pods.

Their soft colors work well with saturated colors of the roses.

Ebb Tide
And finally, not really rose companions but pretty nevertheless, some blooms on my climbing hydrangea next to a rhododendron. Rhododendrons are a struggle to grow here because it is too hot and dry, but hydrangeas of all kinds do quite well.

H. petiolaris
These two plants grow well next to each other and provide a beautiful display of color in a very shady spot.  The more color, the better!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Roses of a Hundred Petals

Centifolia roses are roses of a hundred petals, or "cabbage" roses. Can you see why?

Justine Ramet (Vibert, 1845)
Centifolia blooms are very double, frequently showing a green pip in the center when fully open.

Gaspard Monge (Robert, 1854)
 They are usually very well scented...,

Fantin Latour (unknown origin, 1900)
...and range in color from white and blush to rose pink and purple.

Prolifera de Redouté (unknown origin, before 1759)
Centifolia roses are an old group of roses with mixed genes (including r. gallica, r. damascena and r. moschata), which gained prominence in the 15th century when the Dutch nurserymen began hybridizing tulips and roses.

Rosa Centifolia Major (unknown origin, 1597)
Flemish painters brought fame to centifolias by choosing them (along with tulips) as their favorite flower.

Jan Brueghel II. Flora. Image taken from Wikimedia
Centifolias are the only European roses I can think of that come in a dwarf form. The flowers of dwarf centifolias are tiny and the bushes grow only to a short stature, in proportion with the blooms.

Centifolia Minima (unknown origin, circa 1770)
Like gallicas and albas, centifolias bloom only once a year.

Centifolia Bullata (lettuce-leaved centifolia, sport of Gros Pompon)
They form fairly short and somewhat lax shrubs with canes often arching under the weight of the blooms.

Gaspard Monge
There are interesting hybrids between centifolias and gallicas. The Bishop is a wonderful and unusual rose which strongly reminds me of gallicas by its mix of magenta, purple and pink colors...

The Bishop (unknown origin)
The popularity of centifolias started to decline in the 18th century...,

Duc de Fitzjames (unknown origin)
 and these roses remain largely unknown today.

Le Rire Nias (unknown origin)
 I have seen only one modern centifolia (below), but what a spectacular one!

Parkjuwel (Kordes, 1950)
 Its blooms are always perfectly formed, rain or shine, and there are lots of them on a very well-behaved bush.

My next post will be on a particular mutation of a centifolia rose that gave rise to a whole new rose class. Any guesses?

P.S. All these pictures were taken at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hello! Our Extended Family is Bigger Than We Thought

Gaspard Monge (Centifolia, Robert, 1854)
It is taking me awhile to sort through all the pictures for my next post on centifolia roses, so meanwhile I thought I would tell you about a fun encounter in our backyard the other day.

I thought I knew all visitors to my small garden pretty well, so when I wrote my post on our extended family with fur and wings I was confident that the story was complete. It only goes to show how misguided such confidence can be :)

Our dinner the other night was interrupted by my son who was standing by the French doors to the back yard and screaming "rat! Rat" RAT!". Oh, well, rats are not that uncommon in suburban developments after all. However, my son's excitement continued, so presumably the rat didn't just dart across the yard. A sick rat?? I came to investigate, and discovered a baby opossum, not terribly scared, and not particularly trying to get away.  It found a nice cozy spot among my rose pots.

Who knew that my pot ghetto would become a wildlife refuge?

Despite my son's loud enthusiasm, it stayed for a while, but was gone the next morning. Cute, isn't it?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Gallery of Gallicas

Gallicas are a fascinating group of antique roses because of their beautiful and unique colors.

Petite Orléanaise (unknown origin)

Gallica blooms come in some of the darkest deepest purple of all roses...,

Cardinal de Richelieu (Parmentier, 1847)
... often spotted...,

Alain Blanchard (Vibert, 1839)

... or striped...,

Cora (Savoureux, 1885)
...or marbled, earning these roses the name of "mad gallicas".

Belle Biblis (Descemet, before 1815)

Gallicas may be the oldest roses in cultivation, grown not only for their beauty but for medicinal properties ascribed to their petals and fruits.

Grande Renoncule (unknown origin)
If Alba Semi-Plena is believed to be the White Rose of York, then Rosa gallica officionalis is considered to be the Red Rose of Lancaster. Gallica roses originate in central and south-western Europe, and the species is still grown there.

Rosa Mundi (sport of r. gallica officionalis, unknown origin)
Like other old garden roses from Europe, gallicas bloom only once a year.

Duchesse de Montebello (Laffay, 1824)
But the show they put on is certainly worth seeing!

Beau Narcisse (Miellez, before 1824) with James Mason (Beales, 1982)
Gallicas are worthy of garden space not only for their historic value or "mad" colors. They form stocky and fairly short plants, which are pretty easy to fit into a garden.

Perle von Weissenstein (hybrid gallica, Schwarzkopf, 1773)
On their own roots gallicas tend to sucker and form thickets, making them good candidates for hedges.

Sterkmanns (unknown Belgian breeder, 1842) colonizing the surrounding space (the main bush is on the right, and the suckers are on the left, some already blooming)
Even though gallicas were most extensively hybridized in the early 19th century, they have not been entirely forgotten since. German hybridizer Wilhem Kordes created Scharlachglut (Scarlet Fire), a modern gallica hybrid, in 1952.

Scharlachglut (Kordes, 1952)
Peter Beales, a British hybridizer, used Scharlachglut to produce James Mason, another dramatic red gallica.

James Mason (Beales, 1982)
Paul Barden, an American rose breeder, has been creating gallica roses for many years.

Marianne (Barden, 2001). Image courtesy of Paul Barden
His gallicas come in some unusual colors, such as pale pink (Allegra). My favorite, Marianne, is a cross between Duchesse de Montebello and Abraham Darby, which resulted in the only apricot gallica I know of.

A mad gallica in full bloom is a sight not easily forgotten. These roses are very disease resistant and cold hardy. They are worth a try!

Alexandre Laquement (Laqument, before 1906)
All images, except Paul Barden's, were taken at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden.