They fibbed….

My grandfather loved roses. He grew beautiful prize-winning roses. My mother, a knowledgeable gardener, followed suit and grew roses for pleasure. But NEVER, EVER did I want a rose garden. I witnessed the time it took my mother to tend to her roses, examining leaves for fungus or insects, pruning, deadheading, picking off the Japanese beetles and plunking them into soapy water. (She never knew that when she walked away I dumped them out and rinsed them with the hose. Playing with Japanese beetles was great entertainment for a youngster with no TV, video games or smart phones in the late 50’s)

Years ago, a landscape designer friend opened the back of her car and unloaded 3 healthy red single Knock Out roses (Rosa x ‘Knock Out’) for me. “You must have these,” she said. “Disease resistant, insect resistant, no deadheading, no pruning, blooms all summer….  Carefree!”  I was grateful and appreciative but I was a little reluctant and wary. Carefree, indeed….

Carefree and continuous blooming were the two thoughts that stayed with me as I planted the three rose bushes center stage in my sunniest garden. The instructions read, “….compact plant, 3-4 feet tall and wide.”  I played it safe and planted a little further apart, two side by side and one slightly angled behind.

That was that. For two years, they were true to form. They did bloom heavily from June to Thanksgiving or until a killing frost. The shape of the shrub was naturally round. I never deadheaded. I never pruned. Japanese beetles visited occasionally but did not swarm. No black spot. No mildew. No aphids. I got compliments. I beamed. Eventually this became my new ‘Red Garden.’

Just as the directions read, they reached 3 feet tall after a year, then 4 feet tall the next summer, but they continued to grow…. 5 feet, 6 feet, 7, 8, 9, 10 feet tall. Eventually two grew together appearing as one massive bush. They have withstood hurricanes, salt water spray, Nor’easters, and an earthquake, and they’re still growing. I do not prune. I do not spray. I do not deadhead and I don’t fertilize.

They ‘fibbed’ about the 4 foot height but it’s all good: It is a favorite hangout for birds in the garden; I have lovely cut flowers from June to Thanksgiving; they provide great curb appeal as people point and ask about them before getting out of their cars; and this summer they provided a profusion of blooms as a backdrop for a wedding reception and photographs.

K.I.S.S. in the garden. What more could a gardener want?

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Everything’s Coming Up Roses!

The Garden Club of Virginia and the Harborfront Garden Club

cordially invite everyone to

“Gateway To The Garden”

the 72nd Annual Rose Show

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Rose Garden Hall

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2:00 pm to 6 pm

Thursday, October 7, 2010

9 am to 1 pm

Free with admission to the garden

Sanctioned by the American Rose Society

The GCV Rose Show is presented annually in different locations around the state. This year the chosen venue is the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, an incredible 155-acre garden with more than thirty themed gardens.  With admission to the botanical garden, you will be able to visit Rose Garden Hall and the GCV Rose Show at no additional cost.

In addition, the rose garden at Norfolk Botanical Gardens has been accredited as one of 130 All-American Rose Selections Display Gardens where you can admire over 3,000 rose plants representing more than 300 varieties grown here. From mid-May through October, more than 250,000 rose blooms may be seen. This is a not-to-miss event.

For more information on the show, including schedule, registration and directions to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, please click here.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester