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Rose Gardens With a Theme Can be Fun and Whimsical
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
In a recent Southern Gardening television segment, I urged gardeners to lighten up and be a little whimsical with yard art. We can do the same thing with our selections of plants. For instance, why not plant a rose garden with a theme since it is getting close to rose planting time?
If you are a Hollywood buff you can create your own movie production by choosing those varieties named after movie stars. In recent years there have been roses like Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby and Cary Grant, and there are many more. There is also a Dolly Parton, but the buds aren't as large as you might think.
How about planting a White House rose garden? Believe it or not, there have been roses named President Coolidge, President Eisenhower, President Franklin Roosevelt, President Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy and President Lincoln. The red and very fragrant Mr. Lincoln is my choice for best rose named after a president.
In light of events from the past couple of years, you might wish to modernize your White House theme garden and plant such roses as Playboy, Playgirl or Sexy Rexy. Before I get myself neck deep in hot water, I should add that these are all very good floribundas. You may want to search out Love Affair, a hybrid tea.
The ardent rose enthusiast is always looking for the new All-America Selections Roses and others that may be hot in the New Year. There are three new All-America Rose Selections winners for 2000; Gemini, a hybrid tea blending deep coral pink with rich cream; Crimson Bouquet, a deep crimson grandiflora; and Knock Out, a cherry-red shrub rose whose best trait is said to be disease resistance.
Two roses that have caught my attention in trade publications geared toward landscapers are Delaney Sisters and Jim Bowie. Delaney Sisters is a shrub or hedge-type rose that produces bi-colored flowers that are ivory-white in the center and orange-red on the outer margins. Jim Bowie is also a shrub or hedge rose that produces fragrant sprays of pink blend blossoms.
The shrub rose Carefree Beauty, Carefree Delight and Nearly Wild along with the polyantha called The Fairy are still at the top of my lists for easy to grow roses for beginners.
Roses are graded with 1 being the best, so look for those that are 1 to 1 1/2 to ensure getting a rose that will make you happy.
Set out plants when the soil is not wet. Improve the existing soil by adding large amounts of organic matter like compost or humus. By all means, plant on raised beds for good drainage.
Before planting bare-root roses, soak the roots overnight. Trim off any broken roots and prune the tips of any branches that may have been damaged.
Roses need five to six hours of direct sun each day. Morning sun is essential, but afternoon shade is tolerated. Good air movement helps the dew and rain dry quickly, thus discouraging disease.
Avoid planting under eaves or gutters where bushes can be damaged by falling water. Plant your roses where they are easy to watch and enjoy. This will also keep you aware of any insect or disease problems.
Dig the planting hole large enough and deep enough to accommodate all of the roots without crowding them. Mound soil in the bottom of the hole to form the shape of a cone. Carefully spread the roots over the firmed cone of soil.
Fill in with a mixture of equal parts organic matter and soil, packing the medium gently but firmly around the roots. Make sure the bud union (where the top of the plant was grafted to the rootstock) is at least 1 inch above the soil level to allow for settling.
Water the plant thoroughly to eliminate air pockets. Watering with a soaker hose or a drip system during the growing season will keep foliage dryer and help in disease control.
Plant wisely and you may have some gorgeous blooms for Mother's Day.