Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What to Do? What to Do?!

The Garden Bloggers Book Club has us reading Second Nature by Michael Pollan this time. And while this is not my book review, one of his chapters started me thinking. The chapter is Into the Rose Garden. Essentially, part of what he is saying is that roses today have very little in common with Old Roses. And as gardeners should we be perpetuating the hybrid rose frenzy? His thought process is of course much more involved as are his reasoning's. I'll let you discover them yourself.
What he started me thinking about are these (next 4 pics) roses I had in my garden last year. (not the pink one!) They are what grew up from the root stock of hybrid roses that had died. In their own way they are Old Roses or at least have an old rose in their lineage. The characteristics of the old roses is such that hybridizers chose them for grafting. They are very resistant to disease and insects and they are prolific boomers. Of course they only bloom once a year, but give that one blooming all they have. And the scent is heady!Therein lies my predicament! Do I want to pull these out to be replaced by a showy but temperamental hybrid? Or do I let them stay and in so doing become more of a naturalist in the garden?

I let them stay last year because I just didn't have the energy or the desire to do much with my gardens. I was so disappointed to have lost so many roses all at once, it just didn't seem worth the effort to replace them. I did enjoy the bursts of color and for a short while, my gardens were alive with blooms.

With my new found energy and my growing enthusiasm for getting back to gardening this year, I have been planning on taking them out and replacing them with less troublesome perennials. Now, honestly, I don't know what to do. I agree, mostly, with what Pollan is trying to say. That gardening should not be a compromise with nature, but a cooperation.
I know, definitely, that I will let them do their bloom thing, but after that...

They are , indeed, wondrous in all their glory!

Now, a couple of favorites.
As a hybrid, Mr. Lincoln is not as bothersome as most and living in Illinois it is a requisite plant. I do love the deep red color and the large stately blooms.

Queen Elizabeth is indeed a favorite of mine. She blooms with vigor early in the season. Later, her blooms, while more meager, are larger in size. What's more, the Japanese Beatles don't seem to care for her! And Pollan admits that "most authorities agree that Queen Elizabeth is one of the best roses of the 20th century!"

What to do? What to do?!


Lisa at Greenbow said...

gosh Beckie, that is such a personal question. I would probaby leave them if they continue to bloom so well, and scent. What more could you ask for?? I don't fight Mother Nature too much. She always wins.

beckie said...

Thanks Lisa, They are pretty if only for a short time.

gintoino said...

I know what I would do..I would keep them for sure! I'm not much of a rose person (i've been thinking about roses for some years, but they seem too fussy...maybe I need to try one of those "non hybrid roses"). Like lisa I also try not to fight nature. That's why my garden is full of natives... And by the way, that rose looks wonderful when blooming, and if it even smells good too...yes, I would keep it.

beckie said...

Thanks Gintoino, I think I've been leaning that way and just needed some reassurance.

Get an "old rose". They are so less fussy!

Barbee' said...

I wish I had enough sunny areas to grow roses. I would choose the old ones. I think yours are beautiful. I would love to have some like them, even if they do bloom in one flush. I would be able to put my face into their blossoms, breathe their breath, and not worry about chemicals.