Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rose of the Month: 'Iceberg'

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

'Iceberg', was the first rose that I ever bought in my life and my passion for growing roses started with this variety. So I would like to begin my series of monthly rose portraits with this rose. 

The moment I rented my first small apartment with a balcony, I bought two 'Iceberg' standard roses or also commonly called "tree roses" and planted them in large terracotta containers. I still remember that some people doubted that roses would grow in pots on a balcony, but my two specimen did and flowered prolifically. Ever since then I have been growing Iceberg roses on balconies, a roof top terrace, in my first garden in the Bay Area in the Sillicon Valley in California and last but not least in my current garden in San Diego, CA.

General Information 

'Iceberg', classified as a Floribunda, was bred by the famous German rose breeder Reimer Kordes in 1958, Germany. It is a cross between a Hybrid Musk (Robin Hood, Pemperton, 1927) and a Hybrid Tea (Virgo, Charles Mallerin, 1947) rose. Synonyms are 'Schneewitchen', 'Fee de Neige'. It is a very popular rose world wide, most likely because it grows well almost everywhere.

One of its best virtues is its floriferousness. In warm climates 'Iceberg' is almost constantly in bloom. The rose is supposed to be very hardy, too. It is said to have a good disease resistance, especially in warm climates, although black spot can be a problem in wet weather. 'Iceberg' is growing vigorously and builds up a nice full bush up to a height of approximately 6 feet in hot climates, but of course stays considerably smaller in cold climate zones. The blooms have a semi-double form and come in clusters of 3 to 15 flowers. Usually they are pure white or near white (except when the weather gets cold, then they first have a pinkish tint) and when they are fully open, they show beautiful yellow stamens. Bloom size is around 3 inch. The flowers have a moderate fragrance and last a long time on the bush and in the vase.

There is also a 'Climbing Iceberg' in existence, which is basically a climbing version of the 'Iceberg' shrub rose. There are two more sports out there of this rose: 'Brilliant Pink Iceberg' (bold pink color) and 'Burgundy Iceberg' (obviously burgundy colored flowers).

Personal experience

I love this rose! First of all probably because I feel a special affinity for the color white and good white roses are rare. In my opinion Iceberg is one of the best white roses ever bred. If I want an impressive splash of white color in my garden I just have to plant an Iceberg rose and I don't have to worry anymore. The rose repeats very fast and generous here in Southern California. Right now I am growing 4 'Iceberg' shrubs and 3 'Climbing Icebergs' and altogether I am very happy with them. I also like the fragrance of Iceberg, which I would best describe as an apple scent, with a hint of honey. 

I have to admit sometimes my Iceberg roses get diseased in my organic, no-spray garden even though they are usually supposed to be very disease resistant, especially in a warm climate. Two years ago in autumn they got powdery mildew pretty badly for a limited period of time. This year in January I had plenty of rust on them, but through de-leaving and pruning this is all gone now. Despite the occasional problems with fungal diseases, this rose grows very well for me. It makes me always happy to see an Iceberg rose in full bloom.

One thing I was not aware of when I planted my Icebergs is the size, that this rose is able to reach in Southern California. Some of my shrubs have gained a size of  6 x 6 feet (height and width) and I assume, if I would not prune them hard in winter and also do some summer pruning they could get even taller. Since I was expecting them to stay smaller I planted some of them to close to other plants and sooner or later they need to be moved. If you have ever transplanted a rose of this size you know that this is not a piece of cake! So I am trying to learn from this experience. I am now aiming to give my Icebergs and in fact all of my other roses enough space, so that they can grow to their mature size, without encroaching other plants territory.

With Icebergs as well as with all other roses here in Southern California, they need to get plenty of water and food. Therefore if I want top performance from them, I need to water and fertilize them very regularly. If I would not do that, of course, they would still bloom but not that profusely. Iceberg roses also provide good and plenty of cut flowers for me. If I like to, I can always have white roses in the house and they go well together in bouquets with roses of almost any other color. As said above currently I am growing seven Icebergs roses (shrubs and climbers). If I would have more room, I would grow for sure even more Icebergs, but in my small garden they claim already a lot of real estate, so I keep it down to seven of them altogether. I am very sure as long as I have the possibility to grow roses, I will not be without an Iceberg rose! You might want to give this variety a try, too! I believe, you will not regret it!

See you in the garden!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Got Blue?

True blue is a color that is hard to find in the garden, at least in mine. But I love it and it goes very well with the pink and white roses and other flowering plants in that color range that I am already growing. When I was recently rummaging through the garage I stumbled across a couple of  blue ceramic pots and it suddenly hit me. Why not using these blue pots to provide a little bit of a blue accent color to the garden by placing them directly into the flower beds?

So I planted some 'Key Lime Pie' heucheras into one pot. The contrast between the chartreuse leaves of the heucheras and the clear blue of the pot is quite stunning.

 I liked it so much that I decided to plant a second pot with another 'Key Lime Pie' heuchera.

But then I ran into a problem. The pot need to sit on feet, to make sure that the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot is free and excess water can actually leave the pot. Unfortunately the brown terracotta feet that I had visually did not work at all.

So I ran from nursery to nursery until I found these babies. They came with a steep price tag attached, but aren't they beautiful? I love the organic shape and color-wise they look as if they belong to my blue pots even though both came from totally different sources.

 Aaaah, so much better. Don't you think?

Here for a better comparison one blue pot resting on terracotta feet and the other one in the back on the new blue ceramic feet.

Happy end! To me it looks so much better now.

See you in the garden!


Friday, January 21, 2011

January Roses

Coming from Germany I still can not believe that you can have rose flowers in January, but my roses show me otherwise. Most of them are pruned now so of course they are not flowering, but the ones that I didn't get to yet and many roses that are young first year roses, which I don't cut back, are blooming for me here in Southern California in the middle of the winter.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

Pope John Paul II. This rose is one of the best white Hybrid Tea roses that I know. For some people it is a finicky rose, but in my garden it is fabulous and spoils me with sumptuous white flowers like this. On top of that it has a very strong fragrance. I really wouldn't be without it. 

Georgetown Tea. As the name indicates this rose belongs to the class of the Tea roses. This winter GT has given me the most beautiful and biggest flowers ever. Probably a nightmare for rose exhibitors, but I like the nodding, large, cupped blooms very much and find they are truly elegant. It has a light Tea rose fragrance to my nose. This rose is very special to me, because I got it as a gift from a befriended Rosarian. Thank you Masha!

Nimbus. An older Floribunda bred by LeGrice, 1989. The darker color on the edges of the petals visually emphasizes the spiral form of the opening bud. Have never seen the coloration that intense at this stage.

Marie Pavie, Polyantha. Somehow I still don't know what to think about this rose. She is trying very hard to make me liking her. The rose literally bloomed through the whole year and seems to almost peak in winter. For now she stays in the garden.

Madame Melanie Willermoz. Another Tea rose that I got as a present from a friend recently. Many thanks to you, Ingrid! After putting her in a five gallon pot and fertilizing her she is giving me the first blooms, right now. Can't wait how they look when they are fully open. I am so excited about that, especially since this is a rose that you don't see that often. 

Le Vesuve. The experts still are debating if this rose is a China or a Tea rose, but whatever it might be it is for sure very pretty. So far it is an unfussy grower, with shiny dark green leaves and lovely pale pink flowers.

The Prince. This is by far the darkest rose in my garden at least in the bud state. Since it is the first flower that this rose is producing for me I can't say too much about it yet, but it looks very promising.

Another shot of Georgetown Tea. I just love the delicate look of the bloom.

At the end one more picture of the perfect blooms of Pope John Paul II.

Hope these photos of my rose flowers bring a little bit of joy to you!

See you in the Garden!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pruning Roses: Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, and Floribundas

Rose bed in the front yard in the beginning of the New Year in need for pruning.
January is the month where you prune the roses in Southern California and that is what I have been doing the last fourteen days. There are many different opinions out there about how to prune roses if you read rose books, rose internet sides,  rose blogs and the like. You will find some very fancy techniques how you can prune and train a rose. I think the Brits are masters in this and they really brought it up almost to the level of an art form.

I for myself though try to keep my rose pruning as simply as possible  because I have limited time to take care of my roses due to my job. I prune all my roses, but I don't train any of them to a wall or another climbing structure like you could do very well with climbers or for example some Hybrid Perpetuals. So far I grow all my roses as free standing shrubs, even the climbers.

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Floribunda) after pruning.

I hope that it might be interesting for you when I share some of my pruning rules in my today's post. First of all I agree with the "experts" out there that roses need to be pruned. All rose classes benefit greatly from pruning in comparison to if you "just let them go". You get more and bigger blooms, the rose bushes have a better form, they are encouraged to produce new growth from the base, and you prevent disease through pruning just to name a few reasons why pruning is a helpful horticultural practice. 

So my first rule is I prune all my roses. The exception from this rule is when the rose is very young. I do not prune roses that I got as bands in the first year at all. Maybe very lightly in their second year, but with some I wait until they are three years old and have reached some maturity before I tough them with the pruners.

The second rule that I really find is helpful to follow is taking in consideration the rose class (Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Tea roses, Old Garden Roses etc.) that the rose in front of you belongs to. This is so important because different rose classes need different types of pruning.

Iceberg (Floribunda) after pruning.

Today I would like to explain and show you how I prune some of my Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora and Floribunda roses.

First I take off one third of the height of the rose bush. Then before the pruning can continue I have to de-leave the bush, which is actually much more work than the pruning itself. Here in Southern California most of my roses don't shed all of their leaves in winter by themselves. Some of them stay actually quite green. Since these are old leaves from last year they don't look that great anymore and also there are often fungal diseases (mainly rust in my garden) affecting the rose leaves at this time of the year. So as arduous as it is at this point I take all the remaining leaves off by hand. De-leaving makes sense besides getting rid of diseased leaves because I also find it almost impossible to prune a rose with leaves still clinging on to the canes. You simply can't properly see the structure of the rose bush and it is very hard to decide where to cut what.

Now before I do any further pruning I take a good look at the roses bush. I take in the shape, search for diseased, damaged, non-productive canes (canes that didn't produce flowers anymore last year or just a very few small ones) and thin and spindly growth. Then I start taking all these canes out or at least shorten them.

After that I open the bush in the center, which means I cut out the part of the canes that are growing across the center of the rose bush. This helps the air circulate better through the plant and therefore reduces the chance that the roses suffer from fungal diseases like e.g. powdery mildew, which at certain times of the year can be quite a problem in my garden. After that sometimes I take down the height of  rose bush somewhat more, when I have to reduce the size of the rose to keep it in bounds. 

From the left to the right: Sweetness (Grandiflora), Burgundy Iceberg (Floribunda) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (Floribunda).
Same rose bed as above after pruning

One thing that I found out over time, which is very relieving to me, is that even though you make a pruning mistake roses are pretty forgiving. You observe the rose how it responds to your pruning, you learn from what you see and next year you get a second chance and this time you know how to do it right!

See you in the garden!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

A quick Garden Fix

When I looked at this bed in our garden, which is located at a North facing fence in December last year I "had enough". Something had to change! As you can see the bed is fairly narrow, which is a problem for planting any bigger plants there. The size is limited by a concrete border that previous owners of our property had put in, which is approximately one foot deep in the ground. Obviously it is not so easy to remove. Clearly I had to live with it until my husband and I have the means to take it out. Still I wanted to try to make the bed a little bit prettier and more interesting looking. Therefore I had only one garden wish for the recent holidays that I really wanted to be fulfilled: I wanted to fix that bed! Luckily my husband obliged and we got to work.

First we removed the green column that had fallen down to the ground and transplanted the Geranium maderense from the right side of the bed to the left.

Then we transplanted an 'Endless Summer' hydrangea into the hole that the Geranium maderense left. The hydrangea is quite miserable looking, because it came from a location where the root competition with the 'Queen Anne Palms' almost strangulated it, but I hope in its new place it will bounce back soon.

Next we placed a white terracotta sphere on the ground that I already had, but it was in an area were it did not make any visual impact.

The bird feeder got cleaned and filled.

Now comes the actual quick fix part: We simply positioned two 'Nuccio's Gem' camellias (white flowering) and a gardenia 'Veittchii' (also blooms in white) in the middle of the bed. Because all three plants are already growing in containers it is so easy to move them around in the garden in comparison to (trans-)planting a plant. Especially in our really bad dirt, which I refuse to call soil! 

Stepping a little further away...

... and voila, instant gardening gratification! When the camellias and the gardenia will bloom and the hydrangea has filled in it should look quite nice. But I like it already much better as it is! I am so happy that we did the mini-makeover of this bed! For an easier visual comparison I add the before-picture at the end again:

See you in the garden!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Humble Beginnings

Most things in life start small and in a humble way, which is definitively true for my blog but also for my new roses. Since two years ago I order most roses for my garden from specialty nurseries and they arrive own root as bands as you can see on the photos.

For this year I got from Heirloom Roses Crocus Rose, Charles Darwin, Jude the Obscure, White Meidiland

as well as Herbie, Jilly Jewel, Lavender Jewel, Overnight Scentsation, and Moonlight Scentsation. 

William Shakespeare 2000 and Charles Darwin came from Chamblee's Rose Nursery.

Sweet Chariot, Baronne Edmund de Rothschild, Mme. Caroline Testout and a mystery (mislabeled rose that they sent with your order for free) were received from Rogue Valley Roses.

As a very special gift I got Wedding Cake (on the left) from a dear Rosarian friend as a Christmas present. Wedding Cake is a rose that I was unable to obtain for years and I am so happy that I have it now in my rose collection. My second rose present was Lavender Crystal on the right.

I hope you watch these babies growing together with me.

Happy New Year to everyone!

See you in the garden!