You’d think someone had spiked the ground with Miracle-Gro(TM) around here. After the snap freeze in November that did in all the crepe myrtles and a bunch of other plants, most of us garden owners assumed we’d be replanting everything. Nah, the rain has helped, the mild spring helped more, and only about 75% of all the yard plants died, at least in the areas I see frequently. Grafted roses were toast, though. Ebb Tide lives in the flowerbed by a corner of the gutter that always overflows. The bush lost a large branch over winter, and I assumed the worst. Oh, no, it proved me wrong again, and now has the most blooms I’ve seen since it was stuck in the ground four years or so ago. If I can keep the self-seeded aquilegia (columbine) from eating it, that is. Ebb Tide is one of the few true dark purple roses I’ve seen that doesn’t fade in our sun and heat, and it seems quite disease resistant.
The sweetbriar, aka Eglantine, is also blooming harder than I recall. The bloom is also extending for more weeks than I remember. The cool weather must agree with what everyone on the block calls “the attack rose.”
Sweetbriar is used as a hedge in some places. It is an old rose, and an “old rose,” meaning that it is one of the foundation roses, very close to the original Rosa rosa. The specimen in my parent’s yard is almost thirty years old and still going strong, especially if it hasn’t been pruned in a while and the wind is up. The red hips (seed pods) are very high in Vitamin C and make good jam. Although it only blooms once, it smells sweet all through the growing season because the scent is in the leaves and stems, not the flowers.
Other roses around Redquarters include Gertrude Jeckyll, Dortmund, York-and-Lancaster (its red and white), Goldbusch (a yellow sweetbriar), Joseph’s Coat, Climbing Pinkey, Leide Rose, Darlow’s Enigma, Copper Penny, and Brother Cadfael (which alas succumbed to the freeze). A few are better known as “the giant pink rambler” or “that white thing in the corner” or “No idea. It came from seed” (a pink cabbage rose). And the ever popular “Ah, it’s, um, oh come on, I just checked the tag last week.” Unlike the botanical gardens, we don’t make nice metal rose-tags-on-a-stick for ours.
With the exception of roses and a few bulbs, every other plant is a native plant. This part of Texas is death on “requires moist acid soil” and “likes wet feet.” And then we get the periodic killer freezes, like November ’14 or April ’12. April was especially bad on the earlier bloomers, because it went from 75 F to 20 F overnight, with no moisture. The plants looked like green jerky, they’d freeze dried so badly. No one but no one had any pansies left the next morning. The November episode caught the crepe myrtles and magnolias, along with the grafted roses and other plants. But everything else is thriving, except the tomatoes. They don’t like the cool weather. But everything else certainly does! We normally get two weeks of roses in the spring before the heat and dry take hold. We’re moving into five weeks of flowers as I type this, with no end in sight.
Of course, now people are starting to moan about aphids and fret about black-spot and worry about mildew. And of course complain about the lack of tomato blooms. To paraphrase a friend of mine, the wife of a farmer, “If [gardeners] didn’t complain, they’d explode!” 🙂