Thursday, May 21, 2015

April Roses

April is usually a wonderful month for rose lovers in San Diego. The main rose spring flush happens around the second week of April and rose growing has been very fairly easy here so far.

Except this year, at least in my organic, no-spray garden. I had major problems with rust, powdery mildew and thrips last month and on some roses the whole spring flush was ruined. Others were soldering on no matter what. I suspect, that four years of drought and heat, plus the recently imposed mandatory water restrictions have finally taken a toll on my roses, but I refuse to be bogged down by that. I will focus on the rose varieties that will still survive and maybe even thrive under the current conditions and find out by try and error which roses that will be.

Maybe the ones of you, who are also garden in hot, arid and dry conditions can benefit from my experiences and I would be happy if you would share yours by making comments about which rose varieties do well for you in your garden.

I am starting out with a photo of a cluster of  'Heritage', a David Austin rose, that I planted into the ground about two years ago. The blooms of this rose can be incredible beautiful as this picture shows,..

..., but they shatter very quickly, when it is hot, sometimes within a day or two.

The bush itself wants to be lanky and big and the rose suffers from powdery mildew and rust.

Thrips have been a problem this spring as well, but not to the degree other roses got molested. 

My conclusion so far is that despite the wonderful blooms I wouldn't recommend this rose for a similar climate based on the problems mentioned above. I most likely will give mine one more year, but if it doesn't improve it may have to make room for another contender. 

The rose above is 'Pretty Jessica', another of David Austin's creations. Surprisingly this rose has been its best ever this year. Partly that might be due to the fact that I was fertilizing the rose more generously, which seems to be necessary because of the palm root competition that it has to put up with. The rose is planted in more shade than roses usually like, but despite of this, it is totally healthy.

As far as I can see by now, this is a great rose for my climate. Another thing that 'Pretty Jessica' has going for it is that the size stays manageable (2 - 3 feet/ 60 - 90 cm), which can't not be said of many David Austin roses in my climate.

'Mister Lincoln' is an old standby in my area. This rose likes a warm climate (but maybe not as hot as it has been here in the recent years) and flowers reliably.

The fragrance is absolutely wonderful on this variety.

As you can see in the photo above when it gets too hot the rose petals fry, but on days where very high temperatures are forecasted I simply cut the flowers for indoors and therefore don't mind too much.

 The flower shape can be very classical Hybrid Tea and if you like that, this rose may appeal to you. 

I can't say too much about the bush form since my rose is still growing in a five gallon container, which of course doesn't allow the rose to fully develop. Disease resistance seems to be OK so far. 


'Nimbus' is coming up with the most interesting and pleasing brownish-pinkish hues on warm days. This rose is also suffering from powdery mildew, but its ability to bloom doesn't seem to be too much affected by that. 

I caught a couple of blooms of 'The Prince' with the camera last month. This rose is not doing well this year. It suffers from powdery mildew and the blooms fry very easily in high heat. 

The rose is approximately in its second year in the ground and has started to become a tall but narrow bush. The plant itself is not necessarily a pretty sight!

But when the blooms of this rose are good, then they are outstandingly beautiful and for that reason it will stay at least one more year with me.


'Iceberg' is another old standby in Southern California. This variety is often planted at gas stations or integrated into the landscaping of shopping malls, which indicates how little care it needs to do well.

Mine is planted in a big terracotta container, which I positioned between two huge Washingtonia Palms, because anything planted into the ground there would be just suffocated by the beastly palm roots. 

My 'Iceberg' rose isn't even fertilized this year (bad gardener, I know!), but still managed to churn out a nice flush. 

'Chandos Beauty' is a relatively new rose to me so I haven't made up my judgement, yet.

The blooms can be absolutely gorgeous and they are of a humongous size. Fragrance is very strong on this variety.

The plant got very lanky last year, but this year it seems to stay more bushy and mannerly.

This dainty little pink rose, which here is forming a posy just naturally by itself together with salvia 'Mystric Spires Blue', is called 'Pink Pet'. I like it very much and the plant is completely healthy in my climate, but the fragile blooms fry easily in the heat.

I have two plants of 'Charles Darwin' growing in containers to the right and left side of my kitchen door, which leads to the backyard. 

This rose has produced consistently beautiful blooms of considerable size that last relatively long on the bush and in the vase. I like its particular yellow...,

...which fades out to a light pale yellow as the blooms age. This rose is definitively one that I would recommend for my climate.


'Reine des Violettes' has done its name justice and has given me some of the most beautiful violet blooms last month. Most of the times the flowers have a more ordinary cerise color,...

...but when the conditions are right it can grace you with these amazing violet rose flowers.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the roses that bloomed in April for me in my garden. This May the weather has been cooler than in the previous years and we even had some rain. You can imagine that the roses responded very well to this, but that will be the topic of the next May Roses post.

Wishing you lovely spring weather, wherever you are.

See you in the garden!



  1. They are so beautiful. Especially the violet one. Extraordinary color. I really love your collection.

  2. WOW, WOW, WOW! In spite of all the problems you still have beautiful roses. I love the coloring of 'Nimbus'.

    This post makes me want to get outside to enjoy my own roses.

    Have a lovely, holiday weekend ~ FlowerLady

  3. Están todas preciosas, las mías también tienen algo de oidio y roya. Besos.

  4. Sorry to hear that it's been a difficult month to growing roses with all those annoying pests and diseases but you still have a great selection to showcase. Loving the subtle tone of Charles Darwin :)

  5. I think anyone gardening in a climate such as your Christina would truly appreciate the effort you put into reviewing the roses growing in your garden. You explain, in detail, very well what does and what does not.
    Your climate is an incredibly difficult one in which to garden, add in hungry plants like roses - you certainly need dedication. You seem to have that in bucket loads.
    A wonderful array of colours and some beautiful roses. I'm sure I admired Charles Darwin before and must check if I kept a note of the name as an optional replacement for any of mine should they not like my garden. Have a wonderful weekend x

  6. I love, Love, LOVE that 'Reine des Violettes'!

  7. You would imagine that all of your roses would react similarly being planted in the same conditions. I couldn't offer any advice and there is no fear of drought or great heat here. 'Nimbus' is a beautiful and unusual colour.

  8. You saved the best for last! 'Reine des Violettes' is amazing! I have heard that this rose is an excellent choice. Your roses all look lovely. How sad that some are ruined by disease, which is also the nemesis of many roses in my hot, humid climate.

  9. Oh gosh, I hope you can continue to grow 'Heritage'! It's my favorite. Well, I guess 'Chandos Beauty' is just as lovely. Yes, those two are fabulous (and of course all the others are, as well)!

  10. That Charles Darwin is amazing! But I am always inspired by your roses Christina! I planted a David Austin this spring and I will be coming to you if you don't mind for advice as I push forward on my rose adventure. I'm glad you are focusing on the positive because all of your blooms are just outstanding! And I was thrilled to hear that you all got rain and that it has been cooler! Keep up the amazing work! And happy gardening to you friend! Nicole xoxo

  11. Sorry to hear about your problems with he roses. They look wonderful in your photos.

  12. I got rid of 'Heritage'--the flowers would open and fall apart within hours. Where it looked spectacular was Chicago! RdV was not good here either. I would like to try 'The Prince' on fortuniana--the extra boost from that rootstock might make for a decent plant. On own root it is pretty weak.

    Your Charles Darwin looks really beautiful! As does 'Iceberg', 'Chandos Beauty', and the others. The roses here got a bit of disease from the late rains, but better late rains than no rains!

    Have you thought about losing the palms? They are a serious fire hazard...

  13. My roses in sunny Spain are also chemical-free. I have had quite good luck with the Austins - only Winchester Cathedral has aphids. My Charles Darwin also stays small, as do Lady Hamilton, Pat Austin and Jayne Austin. The rest get enormous!

    I am in love with your Reine!

  14. It is nice to see your roses that are tolerating your harsh conditions of all have died back to the base so we may not see much in blooms except my native rose and one climber that is prolific in our harsh conditions.

  15. Charles Darwin seems a good choise, Your post give me courage to try new roses in my garden, Christina. Thank you for sharing all those details ! I love the ideea of growing roses in pots. I have a spot with many roots under a Lonicera and I will try this. Wishes for a nice week and maybe some rain ! :)

  16. So many roses blooming already. I love the not so usual colour of Nimbus, Charles Darwin I should like to have, just for the name, but it's a beauty too and I'm looking forward to my first flowers of Heritage. I also don't spray chemicals. Sometimes, some roses get 'black spot', but it's not a great problem.

  17. Dear Christina,
    I have grown Heritage also, but had to dispel the rose. It did not thrive in my climate as wel. The rose "The Prince", did not either. I have had him for years, but always powdery mildew. This Prince had to go too! I can recommend you Rose "Marie Pavic". A strong one in soft pink. Maybe you have this rose already, after all there are so many growing in your garden! Groetjes,

  18. Beautiful roses, Christina, and hope you find some varieties that will thrive for you in your ongoing drought. You have managed to have a lovely and abundant garden despite the difficulties! I have been plaqued by deer in past years, but thankfully, not recently and my roses are able to grow. Gardening takes perseverence and patience and you definitely have both! Hugs xo Karen

  19. Your roses are gorgeous! I am especially smitten with The Prince and Reine des Violettes. I appreciate your frank descriptions on how they are faring in a drought.