eelangleyDecember 30, 2013

Hi all,
I have been thinking of trying to work some roses into the landscape, but I want them to look like a happy accident (not an unfortunate one, heh). I really like the older roses, and I was wondering if anyone would be willing to make some suggestions. I grew up around HTs and don't care for them in general. Recently, I have been exploring antique and species roses on the internet and find them very appealing! I have some ideas and have read a little bit, but I have no hands-on experience with these older roses.
Location...pretty primitive. Plant size is not a consideration, there is plenty of space and options. There is also plenty of deer and heat! The deer can be like a plague of locusts. I guess thorniness would be an advantage there. Heat is 105F+. The soil is rather rocky, drains well.
I feel like own-root just makes sense. Does it?
Fragrance would be great. Long or repeat bloom would also be great. Hips would be nice, too.
What do you think? Am I dreaming?
Thanks in advance,
eel. :)

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Hi, I'm nw of SA, on the Edward's, too. Study the "Earthkind" roses listed by the Antique Rose Emporium & Chamblees. They undergo trials for drought resistance & being easy keepers.

If you're willing to invest the work of chipping out a big hole in the caliche or planting in raised beds then using a good soil mix & mulch, many of the old garden roses will thrive. If you can give them lots of water & care the first couple of years to get established many become virtually self sustaining when they're mulched well.

I've been here ~ 4 yrs & some of the ogrs that are really happy with little care (I don't spray, but put them in a good hole with good soil) are:
Caldwell Pink
Mme. Laurette Messime
Louis Phillipe
Champney's Pink Cluster
Rosa Eglantine
Souvenir de la Malmaison
Duchessa de Brabant
Cecile Brunner
Mme. Antoine Mari
Mrs. Dudley Cross
Old Blush

virtually any China, Tea, or noisette has done well. Also have a few hybrid musks, Bourbons & hybrid perpetuals & they have done well, too.

I'm replanting some roses now that I had originally just stuck in the ground in small holes. It's such a huge pain to dig out through the caliche, but it makes a huge difference if you take the time to make a tree-sized hole & fill it with a good soil mix. A sharp shooter & one of those heavy iron rods for chipping out post holes are very useful. So is a gorilla or two to help out.
Plants I started out right are getting very big now (Champney's is over 5') while the others have sulked.

Lowe's sells a "HapiGro landscape mix" that runs ~$4/ large bag that looks like almost pure pine fines. Roses really like it mixed half with good soil for the planting media.

We have very alkaline water & "soil" that ties up many nutrients like iron, phosphorous & calcium (yeah, caliche, calcium carbonate, isn't available to plants). Drought is an on-going problem. I do water young plants well weekly but mature shrubs with heavy mulch of native cedar plus leaves & horse manure I pick up through the year get by fine with a once or twice a month hand watering & I think they would be okay with a lot less, but I'm pushing for more flowers & most are pretty young plants.

If you especially want a wild rose look, Rosa Eglantine has done very well here. Its leaves smell wonderful, it tolerates alkalinity fine & has pretty pink flowers in spring & sets good hips. Champney's & Nastarana set a fair number also & have old fashioned looks.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 12:23AM
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Oh, yeah--the deer, the deer....

Well, when you invest the labor to dig those holes, fence off the plants with a ring of horse wire 3-4' wide by 5-6' tall. Many folks say mature roses can tolerate some deer pruning, but I'd keep them fenced at least 3 years or so.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 12:31AM
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Hi bluegirl,

What a great, thoughtful reply! I have a little experience fighting the soil here with a few fruit trees and a kitchen garden, and I think you are right on about improving the hole. I am going to try the Hapi-gro mix. It sounds like just the ticket. Question: do you think acidifying the soil surrounding the rose (with amendments like pine and peat) increases the availability of all those great minerals we have, or do you think it takes straight chemicals to unlock them?

The fences are what I am doing with my baby fruit trees. Guess I won't plan to be rid of them any time soon. Sure are ugly, though.

This is a great list of suggestions! It's like gold to know someone nearby is making these work! Ok. I am off to research these girls. Thanks very much for the encouragement and inspiration. Here's hoping we are blessed with a wet, prosperous 2014!

eel. :)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 9:21AM
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The two roses I would recommend for a loose "natural" look that need minimal care are Champney's pink cluster and Mutabilis. I suspect they would survive marauding deer once established on their own roots. I know both roses will survive serious drought, poor alkaline soil, and even sitting in flood water for a day or so. Mutabilis looks especially great in Ingrid's dry SoCal garden as it seems to echo the coloration of the rocks in her area.

Champney's is one of the best smelling roses on God's green earth, IMHO. It's really great to have one in a prime spot where the winds can pick up the scent and carry it through a window.

You might also look into roses with some rugosa parentage if you are in a particularly dry and windy spot. They do need a bit of cold in the winter, but they have beautiful fall leaf color and set tons of hips. They grow in pure sand on the beach up in New England and are unbeatable for toughness.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 9:28AM
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Double post, sorry!

eel. :)

This post was edited by eelangley on Tue, Dec 31, 13 at 9:44

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Thanks, Evenie,

That's another vote for Champney's, and it sounds pretty great! I can never really get enthused about Mutabilis, but I also have never seen it in person. That may have a good deal to do with it. What you say here makes me reconsider. I should really invest in a good rose garden visit.

I do like the rugosas. Thank you, I am going to look closely at all of these. Champney's close to the house, indeed...

eel :)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Double post!

This post was edited by eelangley on Tue, Dec 31, 13 at 10:37

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 10:13AM
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The deer are going to be your real problem. I would go for big roses, huge shrubs or climbers. Fence them with 5 feet welded wire until they grow above the height that the deer can browse. Watch the plants as they grow. You might need to add on as they begin to top the fence level. I would leave the fence in place. The holes are big enough that the canes can simply grow through eventually hiding it, although the deer will keep the lower parts trimmed close to the fence. If you want to make the fence less noticeable, spray paint it flat black (not green, a common mistake). Since you are going for a natural appearance I would not prune your roses other than to remove dead or damaged growth, or perhaps a wayward cane that is causing a problem.

This seems to me to be a doable project, though I personally plant deer resistant native trees and shrubs outside my fence, not roses. Water is the factor that limits me rather than deer, hungry as they are. Thank heavens something keeps me in check!


    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 10:46AM
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Thanks Rosefolly, these are great suggestions. I may go ahead and paint black my existing deer fences. I agree about water being a limitation. We are still hauling water at this point ( for people, creatures and plants) but I hope with the expansion of our water system this year there will be a great improvement. This is a good reminder for me, however not to plant out any farther than I want to haul. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 11:56AM
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Hey, ell--you are most welcome.

Re. soil improvement via chemical fertilization, my experience is strictly anecdotal. I have thrown an occasional fistful of iron sulfate, 13-13-13 or triple phosphorous at the roses but I'm really virtually organic. Results from the chemicals are fleeting, it's easy to burn up plants, the salts build up in the already over-salty soil, etc....Organic amendments have proven the most valuable long-term. I have been using gypsum, calcium sulfate, in the hole, supposing that it provides calcium & sulfur (no proof, just a recommendation from others). Top dress with alfalfa pellets in spring occasionally.

I started using a lot of pine fines this past year after reading many posts in the organic roses forum recommending them & they seem to really work well here. They're obviously acidic, making nutrients more available, they fluff up the soil texture, degrade to a nice humus & the plants I've put in with at least 1/2 pine fines mixed with the good (not caliche) native soil look very happy. I plan to continue amending with organics yearly.

I must second Mutabilis. Yeah, the flowers are little nothings with no scent, but as a mature shrub covered with "butterfly" flowers of pale yellow to deep pink it is astonishing. And you can't kill it with a hammer.

For instant gratification, putting in well-established 1-2 gallon plants helps a lot to speed things up. But if you're willing to baby cuttings along 2-3 years, I can sure get you started with some roses/or natives & that do well here--check out the Tx garden exchange for swapping.

Also, start checking H.E.B. stores in Jan.--last year they had Mutabilis, Caldwell Pink, Mrs. Dudley Cross, Climbing Pinkie, Duchesse de Brabant, Spice & several other ogrs in peat pots for $9. The roots are chopped but with some babying they make fine plants.

Check out the gardening in TX & the soil & organic gardening forums for more ideas re. gardening in caliche.
We have some wonderful carefree natives here--every time I chisel out a new hole, I line the edges with the 4-nerve & fleabane daisies that I move to start digging. I just pile up the caliche garbage around the hole & stick the little natives in it. I'm experimenting in the un-deerproof front yard with surrounding roses with undesirable plants like rosemary, lavenders & lantana which grow fantastic here.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 1:31PM
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It sounds like the difference between your first plantings, vs the later ones where you amended the fill really shows that those nutrients can be unlocked with organic materials. I don't use chemicals anywhere here and won't start for roses.. but it is encouraging to hear of your success.
Well...maybe I will try Mutabilis.
I'll watch HEB and the forums you mentioned.
I don't see much of those daisies over here, mostly coreopsis and gaillardia. Lantana here and there. I like the idea of using lavender and rosemary! No caliche here either... The rock here is mostly some sort of slate, quartz and a little granite. I've piled it up for tree rings and a low wall around the garden.
Thanks for the offer... I'll gladly take a look at what you have!

eel :)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 10:33PM
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