the downsides of large roses in small gardens

Campanula UK Z8July 15, 2014

I have been ignoring many of my roses now they are out of their glory season but alas, ignoring is no longer possible since walking from one end of the allotment to the other requires Kevlar, nerve and a willingness to tread all over the vegetable crops. To say it is a jungle is an understatement, made worse by my failure to even attempt deadheading, pruning and generally tidying up. A demoralising and wretched sight.....but I am donning a thick work shirt and my leather trousers (despite a 'boiling hot' english summer day of 80F or so) and taking my loppers to the plot.....we will have paths again....and the roses WILL look like decent shrubs rather than some apocalyptic nightmare of canes, rust and blackspot (our non-winter has meant a terrible summer of snails, slugs, disease....... Might even enrage my allotment neighbours with a bonfire.......

And, sigh, the berry picking and jelly time has backbreaking scrabbling in the currants and stirring and sweating over supersized preserving pans awaits.....making a bit of clearing and hacking seem quite therapeutic.

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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens, Greece)

Lol Camps, where I live almost all roses are large roses and they're past their prime from June to October :)

This post was edited by nikthegreek on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 9:29

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:13AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Good luck and be careful! Currant jelly sounds yummy!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:26PM
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Our weather is almost the same now in the low 80s with some humidity. The roses are all tall and need a trim. Blackberries just finished here and the grapes are ready to pick. On the bright side the humidity brings out the rose fragrance and evenings are warm and wonderful under a bright moon. I'm happy your plants have had a nice spring. Hopefully the little ones at the wood are growing fast as well.

A neighbor showed me his empty backyard and said his wife is cross that he removed everything but 2 large trees. He moved in and hated the weedy bermuda and badly trimmed overgrown junipers and other hacked shrubs and wanted a fresh start. I was looking at all the empty space and thought it was a great space waiting for something grand. He's a gardening newbie and is terrified of the emptiness. I was thinking of all of us and how we would have our minds busy with great ideas and grand rose schemes for that sunny spot. At least he starts out weed free!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:14PM
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"At least he starts out weed free!"

NOT for long! With any moisture, weeds and Bermuda will explode to fill that lovely, sunny "emptiness". I commented on the lush weed growth at Sequoia Nursery on a very early visit many years ago. Mr. Moore responded, "Well, if YOU don't plant something, GOD will!" 'Nuff said. Kim

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:36PM
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Lol Camps. I too remember those one time English summer temps in the 80"s. But think of the gorgeous preserves you will have for toast and scones in the winter.

I have resisted the urge to plant climbers and the monster roses. I garden on less than an acre and was aiming for 100 roses. Mrs B R Cant is as big as I will dare. I wish there was an allotment system in the USA. I would try a couple ramblers there.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:03PM
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Berry picking and making jelly sounds fun, we just finished picking and shelling purple hulls peas, bushels and bushels. There is always something that needs to be done!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:06PM
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ms. violet grey

I'm sure you've explained many times...But, what is the idea behind an allotment in England?

Is it land you rent monthly to grow vegetables and flowers?
Do mostly renters or apartment dwellers have an allotment?
Is it a co-op to sell at the farmer's markets?

Just curious :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:06PM
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anitasacramento(z9/14 CA)

We have community gardens in Sacramento, very similar to the British allotment. They exist all over the US and in many other countries. Rosefolly and I got to visit a German one next to Sangerhausen when we went there last year. The way it works in Sacramento, you sign up for a space and agree to whatever conditions are imposed, and it's all yours. There are indeed neighbors and political and interpersonal squabbles but it's still a very nice thing.

Wikipedia doesn't mention Sacramento, which has a dozen community gardens mostly on city park and community center land or on church or medical center property. It does show a community garden in Austin, TX, so there is at least one in the Lone Star State.

Here is a link that might be useful: Community Gardens

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:03AM
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We have a rather large, nice Community Garden here in the San Fernando Valley. It's on the western edge of the Sepulveda Flood Control Basin, where the 405 and 101 Freeways intersect, one of the busiest interchanges in the country. The facilities are often used for rose shows by the local societies as well as plant sales and shows by various other plant societies. The Los Angeles Cactus Society held their annual plant sale there last month. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Sepulveda Garden Center

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:45AM
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ms. violet grey

It's not common here. Houston is very very big (4th largest U.S.) and spread out. You absolutely need a car to maneuver the city. It's not a walkable city (like Austin). Houstonians drive 1-3 freeways daily.

There is alot of land in Texas. Typical suburbs have front yards & large backyards to garden here. So, no, I'd say we (Texans) never hear of having to drive over to garden somewhere else with other people. Thus my inquiry.

Sometimes, I'll read about a vacant lot or abandoned property (i.e. in Detroit) where people come together to grow food for the community or a co-op that sells the food to members. We have strict HOAs & city ordinances here.

Farmer's markets aren't popular here either. I wish we had real ones like California or Seattle's famous markets. There are a few itty bitty tiny ones that might set up at a park once a month. Other than that, flea markets sell fruits. We just go to grocery stores. It's not a very outdoor city.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:14AM
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Allotments are big in Sweden, too, but they are not very communal in spirit although the holders are members of an allotment society. The older allotments were formed after WWI as a means for poor people to grow food but are now more like summer homes for city dwellers. It is no longer obligatory to grow produce although most people have a veggie patch but some have only lawns and flowers. There are restrictions on how big the houses can be and there is no inside water or plumbing, only outside taps. Showers and toilets are communal in a centrally placed building where meetings and parties are held.

My friend Allan's small and hilly lot is filled with 60+ roses and his little cottage is one of the few original ones, from 1919. He doesn't stay overnight as he lives minutes away by bicycle, but many allotment holders spend the entire summer at their lot. There are also newer allotments where houses are not allowed.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:56AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Yep, Anita is pretty much on the button. My allotment (which I rent for a trifling yearly sum from the local city council) is 55yards long by 5.5 yards wide (I have 2 of them totalling 1/4 acre). They are measured in rods (or poles or perches - an antique measure similar to ells, fathoms, chains and so forth). Anyone can apply to lease one but they were originally allocated to the working poor, especially after WW1. There used to be over a million allotments but now there are only 300,000. We are supposed to grow food crops (and some allotments have strict rules with societies, treasurers and such) but ours is a bit more anarchic (or at least my plot is).
I mainly grow fruit (apple cordons, plums, 2 cherry trees, many currants (around 25 bushes) strawberries, raspberries (although I struggle with cane blight).......and roses - around 100 or so ........I also use it as a plant nursery to raise seedlings for my much bigger space in a poplar wood, some 70 miles away. I have had my plot for 12 years (when the council could barely give them away) but would now have to go on a long waiting list - the desire to grow and garden has increased exponentially in the UK, running alongside the financial woes resulting from the 2008 credit crash. Also, we are an intensely crowded island and new builds rarely have gardens - just an open communal space with municipal plantings. We (in England) would not tolerate HOAs in our own properties for a nano-second though.
Mauvegirl, I have been swapping seeds with a couple of Texan gals - much looking forward to growing ipomopsis, malvaviscus, callirhoes, talinum, cowpen daisies surprisingly, many Texan plants do rather well in the arid eastern parts of the UK. I also make massive use of the Lady Bird Johnson website - a terrific resource.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:20AM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

I am currently doing battle with some large roses. Every year the abundance of Spring turns into chaos of Summer. Here it's like dealing with 20 separate allotments. I'll get there eventually before winter pruning.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:25AM
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ms. violet grey

Alliums, strawberries and roses, yummy.
Pretty picture.

Does everyone respects each others plots (as in plant thieves)?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:08AM
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Campanula UK Z8

No, I have never had anything stolen....but for sure, there are the usual gripes and moans when any group of people get my case, it is usually cursing the slackers with their rampant couch grass which inevitably crosses the 18inch plot boundaries over into mine.
I wonder at the size of US community gardens - 10feet x 20feet seems about average...although even that is too much for some people. There has also been a trend to make our allotments much smaller but generally, when this happens, the plots tend to be less used than the larger full or half-sized plots.- mainly because there is no room for sheds, compost heaps, proper rotations etc. so I think a lot of councils have stepped back from trying to reduce the waiting lists by any means possible (Our site has 2 plots divided into 12....and both lots of plots have been a disaster, with a couple of keen growers marooned in a patch of weedy wilderness)....and the council promises of increasing these ''starter' plots came to nothing because the admin. was too complicated. 10 poles was a sort of agreed space which could, with clever cropping, feed a small family at least some of the year, supplementing poor diets with the chance of growing fresh fruit and veggies. If I did only have a US sized plot, I certainly would not grow vegetables since the saving on food costs would be minimal whereas growing flowers is a much more potent food for the spirit and heart (to my mind)....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:51PM
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My experience is that community garden plots here in the United States are quite a bit smaller than allotments in the UK or Germany. The ones I've seen here range between 100 and 200 square feet, not big enough to put in more than a token garden. Perhaps there are communities that have larger spaces available, but I do not know about them.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:14PM
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This German allotment garden in Berlin's Treptower Park looks very similar to older allotments in Sweden, those with cabins. But it was unusual in that it didn't seem to have a vegetable garden.

The size here varies between 2000 and 4000 sq feet.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:11AM
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campanula ,
I've enjoyed your post & the comments, too.
Good luck with your jelly making. Black currant & elderberry in equal parts make one of the best jellies in the world.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:50AM
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ArbutusOmnedo 10/24

There is at least a three year waiting list for spots in the Community Garden nearest me in West Los Angeles. The plots are more in line with the 200-300 square foot range and the overwhelming majority focus on edible gardening or succulents from what I've seen. There is one plot with a ton of David Austins, but most don't have any roses. There are a few Community Gardens that have individual plots around me and also some Communal Gardens where dozens of people tend to the same smaller neighborhood plot the city has set aside.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:56PM
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anitasacramento(z9/14 CA)

The standard in Sacramento seems to be 200 sq ft. I'm always interested in seeing and hearing about community gardens in other places. My friend Bill Maynard who is the city's community garden coordinator has been on the national board for community gardens, and was one of the finalist for the Volvo for Life hero award in 2005 due to his volunteer efforts. As Britain's number of allotments have declined, ours have gradually increased thanks to the tireless efforts of people like him. Since lot sizes are so small in Sacramento's new homes, and older homes have mature trees and shade, having a dedicated community plot to garden is really a good idea.

Many people adopt one or many cemetery plots in the Historic City Cemetery (where we have the rose garden), and plant ornamentals there. It's mostly edibles in the community gardens.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sacramento Community Gardens

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:11PM
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Campanula, I won't hear of it! Stop ruining my fantasy - where I plant every giant rose that takes my fancy in my garden here, and we all get along splendidly and live happily ever after.

Seriously though, I've ordered some big 'uns and I only have half an acre. I can't help it. I just love some of those big old monsters. Time will tell, I suppose.

We don't have allotments in Australia, as far as I'm aware. Sometimes though, the residents in the street will get together (unofficially) and take over a vacant lot or a curbside patch of dirt in their street and make a sort of community garden. It's more akin to guerrilla gardening that allotment gardening though, ha. Some councils are more tolerant of this than others...

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 9:13PM
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You should have plenty of room for some monsters on half an acre. Unless you have multiple buildings or hundreds of square feet of hardscape. Kim

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 9:42PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I love reading about your exploits Camps.

Last week I tackled moms wonderful comfrey patches, those things make me itch like mad. I will never be done with them as they have roots that make bind weed look easy to dig up. Thank goodness mom deals with her stinging nettle patch. If I had an allotment.....I can give you a couple of plants that would make me be a very bad

I hate to admit, I have yet to visit the new community garden just a few blocks away. I really have had good intentions to stop, just always seems like their open houses are when I am busy or have a truck loaded with something odd.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:48PM
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I also have a half acre and don't think my garden is small, especially as it is the largest on the block. I grow the giants on the outskirts. This is R. californica Plena with Frühlingsduft two years ago, both are larger now.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:13AM
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Oh your garden looks delightful Mariannese!

I should have clarified - I'm on half an acre which is not really a small garden, but it's in the forest. Which means not a whole lot of sunny spots!

But Kim, if I had a sunny half acre covered with a bunch of outbuildings, I would smother them all with roses anyway. Actually that sounds pretty great!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:44AM
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Campanula UK Z8

I should have attempted to move quite a few of these big 'uns last autumn -but as usual, the woods seem to induce fantasies which are especially over the top and hopeful....the thousands of bulbs probably exhausted me because not a single rose was moved from the allotment and now they are all a year older and bigger. However, hedging season is also upon us (ordering at least) and, thrillingly, I can buy R.lucida, virginia, canina, rubiginosa, glauca, rugosa...........for pennies! (along with viburnums, prunus,quick, sloe, firethorn, hollies............)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:01PM
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Campanula, can you please explain what 'hedging season' is? And how does this influence the cost of species roses? It sounds very exciting.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:49PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Hedging season - when we order small bare-root 'whips' or 1 year old maiden trees and shrubs for hedges - like spring flowering bulbs, we start to think about this in mid-summer ready for ordering in autumn. These little plants sell for as little as 28 pence each - not sure what that is in AU dollars but it truly is ridiculously cheap. We plant these when they have been lifted from the fields as soon as they are dormant (evergreens are usually sold in small containers, having been cell-grown and are usually more expensive....but still laughably cheap) Not all species roses are grown as hedge specimens but check out nurseries which sell hedge plants - the selections are astonishing and the planting is easy, often just requiring a single slender trench made by a spade being wiggled to and fro and inserting the small bare-root 'whip' into the cut. At the very least, expect to find canina, eglanteria, rugosas and pimpinellifolia species roses.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:57PM
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Camps, that is so cool! I love the way the traditional English landscape, if you will, is reflected by the vendors commercial seasons. I sorely wish we had hedging season in Australia! I wanted to plant myself a hazel hedge, but each bare-root plant is $30 here, and there are very few sellers. Same goes for beech. Needless to say, I'm not made of money, so I still don't have a hedge :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:05PM
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You can't root your own from the hazels? As long as they are fairly easily propagated and not patented, rooting your own for your hedge should be great fun. I want a mass of hesperaloe parvifolia but don't want to pay the price asked for them, so I "borrowed" a few seed pods from a plant and raised a bunch of them from seed. They're now two years old and outgrowing their gallon cans. At this size, they're about $10 each locally. Kim

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:34PM
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That is a very good idea Kim, and I will probably go down that path once I'm a bit more confident with propagation. At it stands, I've been gardening for less than a year and I'm still very good at killing things :)

I'm pretty sure hazel is not too difficult to propagate from cuttings and suckers, but I don't know about beech.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:49PM
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I understand your trepidiation, but the best way to learn is just to do it. If it doesn't work one way, do it another. Don't let it intimidate you. The confidence and self satisfaction, not to mention the self enabling that comes from successes are worth every "killed" plant! Kim

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:55PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens, Greece)

Now Camps, please do tell us where one can get these hedging roselets from and if you know of a nursery that will ship those to the continent.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:32AM
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Hehe, thanks Kim. I have sort of dived in head first this year and have ~40 roses, 16 blueberries, 12 hydrangeas, 10 camellias, 8 deciduous fruit trees, 6 citrus trees, 5 peonies and 3 lilacs to plant, care for and get water to, along with a miscellany of other plants and bulbs that are already in and too numerous to mention! I challenge anyone to a pot-ghetto competition, haha.

So I think I will have my hands full this year, but next year, once I get the drip-type irrigation in over the summer, it's on for young and old! Needless to say, I have a LOT of empty pots lying around waiting to have some cutting die in them :)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:25AM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

Glad to know muscovy that you found your lilacs.

Kim, I got my escholtzia and some interesting patterned morning glories with the borrowed method too :-)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:25PM
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Thanks True Blue - I'm very excited to see them leaf out and flower :)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:01AM
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