Hoping for experienced advice

Rachel.EFebruary 28, 2013

I am a brand new, two-black thumbs gardener. My kids are just now getting old enough that I have 5 minutes to myself to think every day, so I've decided to tackle trying to grow something pretty in my yard. I am hoping for some advice, help and encouragement from some of you experienced gardeners!

We live in rural Falls County, and have finally fenced around our house so the cows don't tear up our yard. I made my husband build me a good-sized bed in the full-sun corner of the yard, and I've ordered 5 antique rose bushes to plant there. I read a thread about companion plants for antique roses, but it was like those folks were speaking an entirely new language to me! Lol! Any suggestions? I am planting Mrs. B R Cant, Graham Thomas, Belinda's Dream and Ducher, and I am hoping to climb Zepherine Drouhin up the fence at the back of the bed.

I also need suggestions for what to plant around my wraparound porch. The front faces northeast and gets good morning sun and afternoon shade.

The back of the house has a severe dripline, and my husband is building a reinforced retaining wall bed (the house is on a slope from right to left). I need something hardy that gets morning shade and lots of late afternoon sun that won't get pelted to death when the rain runs off in sheets.

Right now we have ZERO plants, so the sky is the limit (well, and the budget...which isn't huge!) If you were starting from scratch, what would you do? What would you recommend for a novice who has mostly killed things in the past?

We have been working on amending our soil with composted cow manure and leaf mold (since both are plentiful here on the ranch).

Thanks in advance for helping out a newbie that needs all the help she can get. :-)


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Where is Falls County? Your zone and area would be helpful, Texas is a very diverse state.

Where did you order the roses from? Mrs B R Cant and Belinda's Dream will get pretty large, so give them plenty of room. By large, I mean, about 7-8' tall and wide. Especially if they are grown on their own roots, do you know if they are, or are they grafted?

It sounds like you have good soil, I'm envious! I mulch with leaves and am slowly making my own leaf mold.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Thank you for your reply! Falls County is in eastern Central Texas (we are about 45 miles east of Waco). I am in zone 8b.

I ordered my roses from Antique Rose Emporium...I emailed back and forth a couple of times with them and went with their suggestions. They are own root roses. Our soil is sandy, and really not that great, but the woods near our house are plentiful in leaf mold... a couple of hours of scooping and screening, and we had two large feed buckets full! So we are amending as we can. The cows provide all the composted manure we can scoop. :-)

I am in the process of having our soil tested for pH level, so I don't know what it is yet, but my mother in law lives next door, and she said the soil is slightly acidic.

I have room in the bed I am planting them in for Mrs B R Cant and Belinda's Dream to have lots of room, and I was going to put Ducher in the front, since it said it didn't get as large. I can either plant the climbing Zepherine Drouhin at the back of the bed so it can climb the fence, or I could put it in front of the house so it can climb the porch columns. The front porch only gets morning sun for about 5-6 hours, and I wasn't sure if that was enough.

Thank you again for your reply. I am so nervous about doing something wrong!


    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:12PM
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You're in a wonderful place for roses! Many of my roses came from ARE, and if you can, I suggest you go there. It's like dying and going to Rose Heaven. The landscaping is fantastic. They have events most weekends this spring, and some are for the kids, like an Easter egg hunt. They have a lot of plants besides roses, too.

And if you can hear the owner, Michael Schoup, do one of his talks, it's really worth it. You could call them and see if he's going to be in your area any time soon. They're free, he's promoting his new book, and brings plants to sell with him. He goes to nurseries and they handle the details for him, and they're free.

All of their roses are own-root, and I'm totally sold on own-root rather than grafted. Don't worry about doing something wrong, OGR, own-root roses are usually quite forgiving. Just give them plenty of space, put the larger ones about 6' apart, maybe a bit more, because they will get that large in a couple of years. You could keep BD pruned a bit because it tends to bloom at the ends of the canes, and mine is about 7' tall. It's wonderfully fragrant, and the first blooms in the spring are huge compared to the normal size.

Put Ducher about 6' in front of them so they don't swallow it up. I have that problem with a rose (Mlle Franziska Krueger) that has morphed into a shrinking violet because it's too close to a huge growing one (Blush Noisette). The big one has been pruned to about 2', and the shrinking violet is going to get the same pruning and will be moved to another spot where it can shine. Space has been my worst problem with growing OGR's.

I'd put the climber on the fence. The more light, the better. If you train the canes along the fence laterally, it will put out blooms all along the length of the cane. If it's a chain link fence, don't wind it through the chain because you'll have to remove those canes when you prune it. I made that mistake with my New Dawn and regret it - that one has so many thorns that you need full body armor to prune it. You could use twist ties or could get garden ties to attach it, just leave them loose.

I'm sure you'll get other info and suggestions, too, so keep reading. I'll bet you'll fall in love with these roses and will want more. It's hard not too when you see how easy they are.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 6:30AM
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Zephy gets BIG! I had one, lovely but lost her. I remember reading that she can bloom in more shade but that was not true. You have picked wonderful fragrant roses and from a great grower.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 9:31AM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

As for the space by the house, I'd try rosemary. It should be able to handle the rain abuse and will do fine with that light situation. I have three planted in a similar location to try to shade the a/c unit from the afternoon sun in the summer, and they're fine. They'll probably just sit there the first year but they'll take off after their roots get established. Just don't over-water them.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 11:04AM
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jardineratx(zone 8, Texas)

Welcome to gardening! I have several hobbies, including crochet, knitting, but it is in my gardens that I find the greatest satisfaction in what I do. You have acquired excellent roses and I have no doubt that they will grow very well for you. Except for Mrs. B.R. Cant, I also grow the roses you now have and I want to echo the advice regarding allowing plenty of room for these roses-- even Ducher, which will easily get to a 7x7 size.

I have found that daylilies and bearded iris are good companions with roses and they are trouble-free and long-lived garden plants. I highly recommend Henry Duelberg salvia (which is a salvia farinacea), tall garden phlox, lantana, as well as some herbs such as oregano, rosemary and santolina. These plants will tolerate the hot Texas summers and will be attractive garden companions with your roses. In addition to these good old fasioned perennials you may want to broadcast seeds of larkspur, poppies, and bluebonnets in the fall to provide extra color in the spring. These bluebonnets looked pretty good with my Monsieur Tillier rose.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Thank you all for the encouragement! My roses arrived yesterday, and we are getting them in the ground today! I was so giddy last night, I could barely sleep!

Thank you, tx_ag_95, for the suggestion of rosemary for the bed by the dripline. It would smell lovely there by our back door, too, which is a bonus!

eahamel--I looked at ARE's calendar, and I am going to try to go to one of their events at the end of this month...I'm excited to hear Mike Shoup speak--he was so kind and emailed me several times and answered my silly newbie questions!

jardineartx--what a beautiful garden you have! Thank you for sharing the pictures, it is just the encouragement I needed today. I love your suggestions for companions, I am going to look them all up! My husband's favorite flowers are iris, and I prefer the bearded iris, so it's great to know those will work! I am going to take you up on your suggestion about the bluebonnets, because that pic is just stunning.

Here's a dumb question--my sweet little rose plants are actually much bigger than I expected! Is it even possible that I will get any blooms this year? I told my husband that I thought it wouldn't happen, but I am secretly holding my breath. :-)

Thanks again for all your help and input!!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:22AM
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Hi Rachel, welcome to the forum, you will find some very knowledgeable and helpful gardeners for Texas gardens.

You have excellent roses coming from one of the best vendors around. Be warned, however, once you grow antique roses, it is addicting, as I can attest to!

When I first started gardening with roses, did absolutely everything wrong, just plunked them into our rock hard ground and wondered why they didn't do well. Then I started reading everything I could about roses, starting with Antique Roses for the South by William C Welch, The Organic Rose Garden by Liz Druitt, and of course Mike Shoup's books.

You may also want to check out the Antique Roses forum and the Rose forum, there are some real experts on there.

Good luck to you, it sounds like your on the right track!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 3:53PM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

Welcome! One of the prettiest companion settings is the first picture in the link. The blue/lavender plant at the base is Nepeta. also know as cat mint. This was a new plant to me. Now that I have some I realize what a great ground cove it makes.
I think it would look pretty around your Belinda's dream.


Here is a link that might be useful: nepeta and roses

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:24AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I agree, Kathy. I have Henry Duelberg salvia around mine, but catmint scattered throughout my garden. The ones that bloom the best and the longest are the ones in partial shade.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:16AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Rachel, you can let your breath out :-) Your roses will definitely bloom this year! And it will probably be sooner than later.

Another companion plant I like with roses is dark purple angelonia ...

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:42PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I love angelonia as well, Roselee, would probably be an annual for her, but she can do what I do and grow them in containers. They would have survived inground for me this winter, but when we get a cold one, they bite the dust.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:53PM
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Plant them, give them good soil and they will bloom....this year! You spent your rose dollars wisely.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:25PM
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Well y'all just made my day, I can say! My little babies are all tucked in the ground now, and they look quite happy so far. I think I might just cry when I get my first bloom. I am busy googling all the different suggestions for companions everyone has made! I feel like such a dummy, so thanks for your patience and wonderful suggestions.

ogrose, I especially appreciate the book suggestions. I'm a bit of a bookworm, and I've been reading everything I can get my hands on concerning my roses.

Thank you for the link, plantmaven. The cat mint looks lovely! If it does better in partial shade, though, I may have to wait on it until the roses get a bit bigger, because they are in a very FULL sun corner of the yard, and there is NO shade there! I do have a different bed that they might do well in, though...

Here's another newbie question--and this might be one for the rose forum (although I am seeing some familiar names in both places!) When we planted the roses, we mixed some leaf mold and composted manure in with the soil in the hole, and we had already worked manure and leaf mold into that bed a couple of weeks prior. Will they need any additional fertilizer and at what point? I would like to continue to use organics if at all possible, and if what I have available at the ranch is acceptable, that's the best scenario of all! I've read about fish emulsion and other fertilizers--what is your advice and opinion?

Also, I am thinking about attempting to plant a hydrangea on the northeast side of my house that gets only morning sun for about 4-5 hours. A friend of mine has told me it's pointless to plant it because it probably won't bloom...maybe it's a little more advanced than I'm ready for.

Any more suggestions for lower maintenance perennials? What gives you the longest blooms? I have three beds to fill up, y'all! I have a feeling there are more roses in my future, though!!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 12:18AM
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Rachel, my Nepeta Walkers Low grows pretty much in full sun and seems to do fine...

Yes, I'm an addicted book collector, am always using them for reference - buy most of them from Alibris for next to nothing.

og rose

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 7:05PM
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I just attended a Michael Shoup talk last Sunday at Maas Nursery in Seabrook - it was lovely - my mother and I always make a trip up to ARE in the spring just to see their gardens, they are beautiful!! Enjoy your roses!!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 1:33PM
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