Saving old rose today

jacqueline9CAMarch 9, 2014

I have a fun project to do today. Down the street from us is an old house whose occupants (a couple) have lived in it for over 60 years. It is one of those tall skinny Victorian houses. It had no garage when it was built, and is on a very narrow lot. So, perhaps in the 1920s someone built a one car cement garage right in front of the house - very ugly.

The good news is that there has always been a Cl Cecile Brunner growing on that garage. Unfortunately, it never got much care except for some chopping to keep it from blocking the path that runs from the sidewalk, then by the garage to the front steps. The top of the rose sort of exploded over the top of the garage in a large mass, but you could only see most of it from across the street.

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with the lady who lives there. (Oh, btw, her garden is where I got a cutting of what we are now calling the "Rose of Many Names" because it has been found and given study names over a dozen times in CA). She was upset because her husband wanted to get the rose dug up and get rid of it. I told her that if they hired someone to chop it down to about 7-8 feet from the ground, I would come over and deal with the base of it, which is horribly clogged up to about 2 feet up from the ground with ancient canes, dirt, leaves, and some sort of vining weed which has infested it.

They actually managed, over a month, to chop the rose down to that height themselves. Today my DH and I are going to trundle a wheel barrow full of mulch, tools, rose food,ties, etc down the street to their house (I asked her if they had any of that stuff, and they did not - that rose has not been cared for at all for 60 years - yet every year it bloomed very nicely - old roses are WAY less fussy than some folks think!). I asked my DH to come along because he has some very skinny saw attachments on one of his electric tools, which I figure we may need to cut off one or two of the most ancient canes.

I forgot to take some "before" pics of the entire bush, but I will take some of the base before we start on it - from the looks of it it is hard to believe how long that rose has survived.

The rose is just beginning to leaf out, so I am hoping if I can get the base cleaned up, and some of the canes going more horizontally on the garage wall, and feed it, etc., it will do very well. Stay tuned....


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Wishing you the best of luck with this project. I'm sure your neighbors will be happy with it, too.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:05PM
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I love stories like this. I wish we had old roses to save here in Florida, but other than Louis Phillipe, I've never found another old rose growing w/o care.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:24PM
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That's an inspiration!--You are helping out an overwhelmed couple & preserving a worthy old rose--cheers & best wishes :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:30PM
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seil zone 6b MI

What a wonderful thing to do for your neighbor, Jackie! Make sure you get a few cuttings to root, just in case, too. I look forward to seeing those pictures!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:44PM
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OK - Here is a picture of the rose after they cut the top 2/3rds of it off, but before I did anything to it:

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:51PM
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Here is a "before" picture of the base of the rose. I was afraid those bumps might be canker, but they are hard wood. It turned out that there were 2 huge old vines growing all over and around the base - my DH cut through the base of one with a power saw, and it was four inches in diameter!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:54PM
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Last picture - we could have removed more canes, but as we took out about half of them, I thought that was enough. The vine weed had pushed a hole in the wall of the garage - the owner is going to get that mended.

This was so fun - I have been looking at this rose for years, and worrying about it. Now it will be fun to see it grow and bloom in a couple of months. The couple who lives there said it was there when they moved in. The house was built in 1910, so who knows how old it could be?


    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:58PM
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Oh my gosh, you can almost hear that rose sighing, "Thank you!"

What a nice clean-out.

(hope your tetanus shots are current--surely you got clawed a few times hacking through that mess)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Thanks, bluegirl. I forgot to water in the timed release rose food and the mulch, but then we got a gentle rain overnight, so that got done too.

Another project - last night I had dinner at our niece and nephew's - they have just bought a new house. In the front garden are about 10 rose bushes - mostly hybrid teas, but there might be some others - they are leafing out but haven't bloomed yet. My niece & nephew are completely ignorant and intimidated about roses, so I offered to go over one day and work on the roses with them, and tell them about roses.

I need to get over there quickly - my nephew is a police officer on the SWAT team (and ex Army Special Forces in Iraq), and he is a DOER. A neighbor told him one of the roses had rust (which some of them do, but only on old last year's leaves - on my list), which was a VERY BAD disease, so he shovel pruned the bush!

He has promised not to touch any of the other roses until I get there, and said he would concentrate on weeding (I hope too many emerging bulbs & flowers do not get pulled up).


    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:44AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Wow! Jackie, that looks wonderful! Please post a picture when it blooms!

Your nephew's neighbor probably didn't like that rose or it was neglected and giving his roses rust so he saw an opportunity to get it out of there and took advantage of your nephew's ignorance. Have fun saving the rest though!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:51AM
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porkpal zone 9 Tx

Woo-hoo! Another rose hero in our midst. Well done!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:05PM
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Beautiful work! That rose looks like a work of art now. I agree with the others. Please post pics when it blooms. Your nephew is very lucky to have you for an Aunt. Its such a pleasure to nurture old plants back to health.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:58PM
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I am reviving this thread because lots of people wanted to see what this rose did in the Spring. Here is a picture I just took today from the same angle as the last one above - big difference!


    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 2:52PM
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plan9fromposhmadison(8A Madison Mississippi)

What a happy thread! Exactly the sort of care a rose like that should get.

And I have to express admiration for whoever did that MAGNIFICENT STUCCO WORK. The stucco has aged beautifully. I'm going to guess this was done right before World War One. I like the way that the rooftop parapet was handled as a garden wall might be.

And the rose looks divine in that spot. Kudos to you, for saving it!

Is the stucco over brick, or over Structural Tile? Metal lath?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:05PM
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fogrose(zone 10/sunset 17)

Hooray for Jackie. Rescuing roses is right up there with rescuing cats and dogs IMHO.

Thanks for your good deed.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:40PM
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She's sooo pretty!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:18PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

What a fantastic job you and your hubby did, Jackie. I'm sure it wasn't easy but after seeing the before shot the after photo was so satisfying! Nice to see it with its new leaves and flowers. That has to be one happy rose! And how nice of you to help your niece. Let's hope you can keep the warrior away from the remaining roses until you can educate him!


    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Thanks, everybody. Now I just have to get the owners of this rose to do what I suggested to control it - the top has exploded in growth, and it is a Cl CB, so it needs some guidance, to say the least.

Plan9fromposhmadison - my DH says the stucco is over wooden lath and wire. The house (c. 1900?) did not have a garage when it was built, and there is not a driveway alongside of the house as there is in most old houses around here. The stucco wall is on a small one car garage which was built in front of the house - I don't know when.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 1:01AM
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tuderte(USDA 9a equiv.)

Brava Jackie,

Mlle. Cécile is saying thank you for all your love and care!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 2:03AM
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