Monday, February 28, 2011

Rose of the Month: 'Our Lady of Guadalupe'

In my opinion 'Our Lady of Guadalupe'  is one of the nicest relatively recently bred pink Floribundas out there. I am growing three of them in the front yard since a couple of years. What fascinates me the most about this rose is the silvery shine of the cool pink colored flowers. Somehow the flowers have a very elegant overall appearance that I don't find in such a distinguished way in any other pink Floribunda that I know of.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)


General Information:

'Our Lady of Guadalupe' was bred by Keith Zary, United States, in 2000. It is classified as a pink blend Floribunda. The pointed, ovoid buds start out a darker pink at first and then open into light pink colored flowers that have a size of 3". The back of the petals is a darker pink whereas the inner side is a light pink. The flowers come in clusters of 3 - 10 blooms. The fragrance is described as mild and sweet. This rose blooms in flushes throughout the growing season.

The rose is vigorous, but does not get too large, in average 3 feet high. Usually the plant grows into a nicely formed round bush. The leaves have a dark green glossy color, which contrasts nicely with the light pink flowers. The rose is described as disease resistant, but occasionally it can have problems with black spot.

Personal experience:
My 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' roses grew very well from the moment I planted them in the ground. In general this rose has been proven itself to be healthy in my organic/no-spray San Diego garden, but it had some problems with powdery mildew at times, when there was a lot of pressure from this disease. I have not had any problems with black spot, but this fungal disease is not very prominent in Southern California anyway. It is not one of the first roses to bloom in spring, but when it gets started it is hard to stop.

The repeat is very good and quick. It appears to me that it is a heavy feeder and appreciates to be fertilized on a regular base, but this is no surprise considering how fast it produces a new cycle of blooms. I think of 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' as a very charming and elegant little rose, that fits well in the front of a border or general in a smaller garden. The latter is a huge advantage in my opinion, because most of the roses become so overly large in the Southern California growing conditions, that they are hard to tame. It very often creates an impression of abundance, which is important to me especially in the front yard, since it is particular small and any rose that I plant there really needs to have an impact.


The flowers of 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' are good for cutting and last an average time in the vase and on the bush. One year I had it combined with pink dianthus, which looked nice, but after a while I got first of all bored by all the pink and secondly I felt it looked a little bit too pink, too barbie-like (all Barbie-fans, please forgive me). Most of the dianthus succumbed to a fungal disease and needed to be removed, which I was not too sad about because it forced me to change the bed. So this year I planted some salvias 'Black & Blue' and hope the contrast between the black and blue flowers of the salvia will tone down the sweetness and cuteness of the pink roses a little bit and balance it hopefully out nicely. One color combination that worked out well was to accompany 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' with 'Burgundy Iceberg' (see photo below).

One drawback that I recognized in my yard is, that the rose is not producing many basal canes, which of course is something that a Rosarian is always looking for. My 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' roses are grafted and I assume, that they are budded on Dr. Huey rootstock. All of my roses are planted with the bud union below the ground. That should encourage them to grow on their own roots and therefore to produce even more basal canes. But it is simply not happening with 'Our Lady of Guadalup'. Since quite a while now I have the suspicion that roses grafted on Dr. Huey do not produce basal canes well in my yard. I have no explanation for this and for sure I have to observe it a little longer, but this is my impression so far.

Two of my 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' roses are growing very close to a Pigmy Date Palm. So they have to fight a very strong root competition with the palm roots and therefore competition for nutrients and water as well. They are also shaded quite a bid from the Pigmy Date Palm fronds, although the photo above indicates otherwise. It was taken in the morning sun and after the palm was severely pruned.  As you can see on the photo the bed is also very narrow with a big footage underground from the wall on the left side, which are really not ideal conditions for a rose to grow, but 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' manages just fine. There is really not more that I can ask from a rose!

Close-up of a single bloom with buds. I would rate the fragrance a little bit more intense than just mild. To my nose it is moderate and it suits a light pink rose very well.  

Typical spray of blooms of 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' in various stages of opening. Isn't she a hard to resist beauty?

See you in the garden!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Roses

February is the month where I have the least rose flowers in the garden, because most of the roses that are growing in the ground are freshly pruned and therefore do not have any flowers in the moment. But some of the roses growing in containers are still flowering, especially the Tea roses, or are starting to flower again, already. I keep the majority of my roses cultivated in pots temporarily in black plastic containers (only a few are staying in terracotta pots long-term)  until I am ready to plant them into the ground. I think, that the sun warms up the soil in those black plastic pots quite a bit and therefore the roses growing in them are more inclined to flower earlier than their siblings planted in the ground and in terracotta containers.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

Captain Christy. An older Hybrid Tea rose, which I think is to die for. I am in love with the subtle pink coloration, the many petals, and the beautiful more round flower form in comparison to the modern Hybrid Teas. 


Bewitched. This rose is one of my favorite pink Hybrid Teas. Even though it struggles with diseases like powdery mildew and rust at times more than most of my roses I keep it for its gorgeous, large, clear pink, flowers. The blooms are also great as cut flowers and last a  long time in the vase. Bewitched has a sweet strong Damask fragrance, which is simply heavenly!  


Mme. Melanie Willermoz. I have read that Mme. Melanie Willermoz is considered one of the finest Tea roses ever bred. I do not grow her that long, but what I have seen so far, I can imagine that this is true. I love this shot of her globular cream-white flowers against the saturated dark blue sky.  

Sweet Chariot. A new to me miniature rose, bred by the famous Ralph Moore, that immediately won me over. I had not seen it in person before I ordered it and was doubtful if I really would like it, but in reality it is much better than I had it expected to be.

Devoniensis Climbing. I have not seen anything else but absolutely perfect blooms from this rose. The color and shape is always very elegant. The only problem is, that I do not know, if I can keep it because of space issues. Devoniensis Cl. seems to want to be a real giant. It is still a young rose, which I have it in a two gallon pot but it has made a climbing basal cane of five feet length already. I have never had that happen with any other of my roses. It is almost a little scary!

Another shot of Bewitched. This rose is perfect even in a bud state. See how elegantly the sepals scroll back?

Grandmother's Hat. She had some problems to open in the cool weather with very little winter light, but I think, she is still very pretty.

My first plonk of this year shot on a warm and sunny day! On one side Grandmother's Hat and Scabiosa blooms...

... and if you turn the little vase around you see another beautiful flower of Bewitched on the other side.

Pretty Jessica. In this photo I find the many different shades of pink color of the petals very fascinating. The flowers are so heavy, that the rose is not able to hold them upright, so they nod.

Rhodologue Jules Gravereaux, another Tea rose that produces perfectly round buds. In the pictures you can see how neatly the petals scroll back.

At the end a bush shot of Baronne Prevost. This rose will be the first one to bloom for me this spring from the roses that are planted in the ground. I am kind of surprised why Baronne Prevost is so early this year. Maybe it has to do with the fact, that when she was planted in December 2010 I put fertilizer in the bottom of the planting hole, so that the roots could get right to it. Most of my other roses are fertilized not earlier than in February/March each year.

Hope you like looking at my rose pictures today!

See you in the garden!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cymbidium Orchids

February is the time when my cymbidium orchids are starting to bloom and each year I am looking very much forward to this event. They are native to Southeast Asia, but San Diego seems to provide an ideal climate for them to grow and bloom as long as they are watered. Cymbidiums can take temperatures down to 28 degrees  F/-2 degrees C for a brief periode of time and that is exactly as cold as it ever has gotten here, since we bought our property four years ago. So far I only have two varieties (unfortunately I do not know the names of neither one), but I would love to grow more of them in the future.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

Cymbidiums are available with white, green, pink, yellow, or bronze/brown blooms. Standard cymbidiums can produce 12 or more flowers per flower spike and the individual blooms are 3 to 5 inch tall. They have a light, sweet, exotic fragrance, but nothing to get too excited about.

Flowers of my red variety are emerging on the stems.

Here you can see the developing flower buds on my light green variety. This one seems to want to bloom much later than the red one so no more photos of it for now. It also produces year after year reliably more flower stems per plant in comparison to the red variety.

I grow my cymbidium orchids in terracotta containers outside in a shady location at the North side of the house. Only for the photo shooting my husband carried this pot into the sun. For the soil I use a mixture of orchid bark and simple organic potting soil, since cymbidiums are terrestrial orchids. Usually it is recommended to get special fertilizers formulated for orchids to feed these plants, but the ones that I found in local nurseries were only very high dose chemical fertilizers, which I do not buy because I garden organically. Instead I give my cymbidium orchids organic rose fertilizer in the beginning of the winter to encourage blooms and they seem to do just fine. The rest of the year they get a sip of organic fish and seaweed fertilizer every once in a while. By the way, I counted six flower stems on the one shown in the photo above.

Close-up of a single flower. I am by no means an orchid expert, but what I do think is unusual in terms of this variety is the very dark burgundy inner part of the bloom in comparison to the much lighter pink outer petals. I got this orchid many years ago from a friend, who is totally into orchids. I think, she choose a particular beautiful cultivator for me as a birthday present. It is so nice to get plants from friends, since they always remind me of them. Thanks Petia!

The blooms last a long time on the plant. They are very good as cut flowers, too, and have there a long vase life as well. Since we had four days of rain in the forecast I cut three flower stems for indoors to save the blooms.

The flowers opened nicely up all the way to the end of the flower stems after I cut them and brought them into the warmth of the house. They are now adorning a vintage desk close to our dining room table. It is an interesting visual effect that you get by placing cut flowers in front of a mirror. The reflection of the cymbidium flower stems makes them even look more sumptuous.

At the end another close-up. I just couldn't stop taking pictures of these beauties...

See you in the garden!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pruning Roses: Climbing Roses

Today I want to show you how I pruned two of my climbing roses or simply called climbers. This is how they looked in the second week of January 2011. 'Zephirine Drouhin' (Bourbon, Bizot, France, 1868) in the middle and 'Pierre de Ronsard' (Shrub rose, Meilland, France, 1987) on the right. 'Pierre de Ronsard' is also well know under the name 'Eden' or 'Eden Climber'. The rose growing in the big container with the white structure to the left is 'Iceberg', a Shrub rose, but in this post I will only talk about 'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard' because only these can be grown as climbers. Both roses are 3 - 4 years old. 'Zephirine Drouhin' has grown into a decent size for her age, whereas 'Pierre de Ronsard' is a little bit slow to get going. Just to give you an idea about their size: the fence behind them is 6 feet high. 

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

How do I prune my climbing roses? First of all my aim is to grow them as freestanding shrubs. I want them to take on a harmonious, balanced, fountain-like shape with as many canes coming from the base of the plant as possible. Another option how you can grow climbers is to train them along a wall, a fence, a pillar etc. In my case I only have to prune the roses, but if you want them to be growing nicely on for example a wall you also have to train the canes in a certain way.

I honestly have to say that I always have shied away from growing a climber on a wall or fence simply because I think it is too much work for me. Since you not only have to prune, but train the canes, which means you have to tie them horizontally to something like a board or a wire each year. Sometimes you even have to loosen canes that you have tied last year and re-do them in a different way for the sake of the overall form of the rose or to cut them off. Besides the work aspect I also feel that climbers grown in a fountain-shape way gives them a very natural look and does not make the impression that you force the rose too much into a shape that a human being wants her to take on. Even though I have to admit that I have seen gorgeously trained climbers to walls in England, which I liked a lot. But these garden had a staff of gardeners, who did the work.

Here is a close-up of 'Zephirine Drouhin' before pruning.

'Zephirine Drouhin' after pruning.

To get started first I unfortunately have to de-leave the rose, which is more work than the pruning itself, since the Southern California climate is so warm that the roses don't loose the leaves by themselves as it would happen when there would be frost. I always dread that, but there is no way around, because you simply can not see the canes and the structure of the climber, if the rose is still fully closed in leaves. Then I take out the old canes that have not been so productive any more, which means they didn't produce that many blooms last year. I remove also all diseased, damaged, and dead canes. After that I cut back the tip of each canes until it is at least pencil thick. That makes sure that the cane is able to produce blooms of a decent size up to the end of it. After that I cut back all the laterals (side branches emerging from a cane) up to two to three bud eyes. This encourages blooms along the hole length of a cane.

And here is a close-up of 'Pierre de Ronsard'.

And that is how 'Pierre de Ronsard' looks after it is pruned.

If you would prune a climber grown along a wall etc. you would prune it exactly the same way, but after the pruning you have to tie the canes horizontally to wires (that you hopefully have put in place before you planted the climbing rose). The rose should take on a shape like a fan to get as many blooms as possible.

'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard' after they got their hair cut. Looking pretty bare, huh?

Zephirine Drouhin's canes are relatively pliable in comparison to 'Pierre de Ronsard's, which canes are much more stiff and upright. By the way 'Zephirine Drouhin' has hardly any thorns, whereas 'Pierre de Ronsard' prickles are sharp like knives. The latter has drawn quite some blood from me while pruning, even though I wear gloves. For safety reasons when I prune big roses I always wear goggles to protect my eyes. I hate doing that, but to me it is not worth to take the risk to get poked into the eye by a rose thorn.

The way I explained and showed to you, you prune repeatedly blooming climbers, which my 'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard' are. If you have a once blooming climber you let the rose flower in spring and prune only after the rose has bloomed, since these roses bloom on old wood. Otherwise you would prune all the wood of that will produce the flowers.

Here you can see all three roses after pruning.

This photo was taken two days ago, roughly four weeks after pruning the climbers. You can clearly see that 'Zephirine Drouhin' has started to leave out, whereas 'Pierre de Ronsard' looks almost unchanged. I have no other explanation for the difference in the new growth occurring on the roses other than it must depending on the rose variety, because the roses have been pruned at the same time and get the same amount of water. None of the roses is fertilized, yet. 

This close-up of a cane of 'Zephirine Drouhin' beautifully shows how the laterals are starting to grow. On all these side branches 'Zephirine Drouhin' will produce its very fragrant clear pink flowers. I love the look of the new dark burgundy foliage!

I am almost completely done with rose pruning in my garden, now it is time to fertilize the roses. But this is a topic for another post...

Can't wait for the spring flush. 

See you in the garden!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Forcing Bulbs

This year I am not able to plant annuals to welcome spring in the garden, because I am so much behind with chores like pruning the roses, cleaning up the garden, mulching and fertilizing all the plants that are needing it. But of course I am longing for some fresh spring green, color, and blooms. So I thought to myself I will give forcing bulbs indoors a try. I have some mixed results.  

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

I tried to force three Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) bulbs in Hyacinth forcing glasses. Only two out of the three started to thrive and one very belated. But when the two of them were finally flowering they have been very pretty and the fragrance... Oh my gosh, it is almost too strong. We have an open floor plan in the first story, so the scent got diffused because the rooms are relatively big, but in a small closed bed room it would have been certainly too much.

I also tried to force blue and white Hyacinths. Like the label said that came with them, I chilled them in the fridge for about four or five weeks. Then I put the white ones in forcing glasses and they never got really started. Although I have to say that l even like the way the plain white Hyacinth bulbs look in the glasses!

The blue Hyacinth bulbs I planted with regular organic potting soil in a ceramic container and they came out nicely. Their fragrance is incredible strong and very pleasant to me. Since the blue Hyacinths are thriving in a pot, I think, I will take the white ones out of the forcing glasses and plant them in a container, too. I am curious if they will start to grow then.

Last but not least I got an Amaryllis bulb for my birthday from a dear friend. It came as a kit with a ceramic planter without a drainage hole and coco fiber growing medium. Even though I have my doubts if you can provide the bulb with the right amount of humidity in the pot without drowning it and letting it dry out too much I planted it as instructed and will see what happens.

So far the bulb has actively started to grow and it looks like it will produce two flower stalks. It is not very clear to see on the photo, but the leaves are coming out in the middle of the bulb and to the right and left the flower stalks emerge.


My conclusion so far is that it was/is fun to force bulbs indoors in winter and I would do it certainly again next year, but I think I have to read up a little bit more about how to do this to have a higher success rate. I just placed all the bulbs in the living and dining room areas, where you can see them on the photos. I believe that if you work more with temperature control and provide them with light conditions that are closer to their liking the bulbs might be easier to start. Also for me it looks that Paperwhites and Hyacinths are more likely to come up when they are planted in soil, in comparison to when you use a forcing glass. But of course these conclusions are only based on the observations of very few bulbs so they can not be generalized.  

I really enjoy the little splashes of fresh green from the emerging bulbs in the middle of a white, cream and neutral color scheme in our dining room area. 

See you in the garden!