Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Last Roses of Autumn

We're closing in on mid-October and the last rose blossoms are fading. The heavy morning dew is gilding their elegant buds in a wash of silver, a last breath to preserve their loveliness. I can see the clarion call of winter as the last petals cling like forgotten handkerchiefs.

I leave the last blossoms be to encourage rose hips. I love the winter interest of clusters of fat orange or red hips. They perk up my fall arrangements and look luscious with a glazing of ice. I haven't gotten around to trying to make tea from them, but maybe this year.

Working at a garden center, I inevitably get trapped in the rose department answering questions. Don't get me wrong, I love roses. I just refuse to fuss over them, so no tea roses grace my gardens. I will confess to trying to lure people away from the ubiquitous Knock-Outs across the aisle to the more diverse side of shrub roses. My favorite this year has been 'Calatrava', a fragrant double white rose with a faint pink bud from Bill Radler (creator of Knock-Outs). The key attribute here is fragrant. Many of the other shrub roses are more fragrant and have prettier colors than Knock-Outs with the same disease resistance. Plus, they don't require winter protection unless you feel like fencing the bunnies out. My 'Nearly Wild' pink rose gets eaten every winter back to a much more reasonable shape. If not nibbled, it really would be nearly wild.

So I encourage you to meander through the world of shrub roses. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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