It’s Wednesday…that means time to show off some fantastic photos from the BHG Share My Gallery.
This time of year Midwesterners can only dream about gardening. This year my dreams are turning to roses. A few short years ago that wouldn’t have been the case. I thought that roses were too “fussy” and pest-prone. I didn’t want to bother with them.
Perhaps those prejudices stem from my days in grad school working with and researching greenhouse rose rejuvenation. Those roses constantly needed care to remain attractive and productive, not to mention daily data collection! Or perhaps the impression comes from watching my Aunt Opal toil over her gorgeous hybrid tea roses when I was a kid. Because we lived in Minnesota, those tea roses required exceptional winter protection just to survive the rigors of the climate. (Aunt Opal was known for her gardening skills, and when I started to write a regional gardening column, people often mistakenly thought that she was my mother.)
I’ve done an about-face when it comes to landscape roses. With hardy, disease-free introductions such as the Easy Elegance Series, Knock Out Series, and OSO Easy Proven Winners roses, these colorful, fragrant flowers are taking increased prominence in my yard.
Last fall I fell in love with Belinda’s Dream, pictured at left, while on a press tour to Antique Rose Emporium. It’s fragrant, very double, and reblooms throughout the growing season with attractive pink blossoms. It’s won an Earth-Kind designation from Texas A&M University, meaning that it has outstanding pest tolerance as well as superior landscape performance. After seeing it in the display gardens at Antique Rose Emporium, I noticed that Belinda’s Dream was also featured at Lillian Farms, the B&B where I was staying. That sealed it for me. I knew I must give it a try in my own Zone 5 garden. I’ve already ordered three of them for spring delivery. I’m sure that Aunt Opal would be delighted to see them in my garden if she were still with us.
Even the poinsettias are larger than life in Texas. I discovered that on a recent press trip to Brenham, Texas, hosted by the Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Along with 15 other journalists, I spent several days in the “Birthplace of Texas”, exploring such sites as Ellison’s Greenhouse, where the photo at left was taken. Sharon Asakawa, host of GardenLife radio show, is a petite woman, but these 6-foot-tall plants towered over nearly everyone. (I’ll be a guest on Sharon’s call-in show on Sunday morning, December 12. Check the station list for times in your area.)
In addition to mammoth poinsettias, Ellison’s Greenhouse grows standard-size plants in colors ranging from traditional red to pink, white, burgundy, orange, and bicolor. One of my favorites was Iced Punch (pictured below), a two-toned cherry red and white variety with distinctive markings reminiscent of stained glass.
Washington County also offers many other horticultural wonders. Antique Rose Emporium, gardens at the Round Top Festival Institute, Chappell Hill Lavender Farm, Lavande olive and lavender farm, Windy Winery, and Pleasant Hill Winery were some of the additional stops on the tour.
For those more interested in history or food, the trip included the Washington-on-the-Brazos Historic Site, where Texas declared its independence from Mexico, a tour of the Blue Bell ice cream factory where we were treated to Homemade Vanilla fresh off the line, plus stops at several fun and funky restaurants, such as Royer’s Round Top Cafe with its Carnivore Platter and “Pie for Life” program; R Place, which serves up BBQ and family-style fixin’s, along with homemade cobbler and Blue Bell ice cream; Must Be Heaven Sandwich Shoppe with its unique Sawdust Pie; and the Funky Art Cafe, which is part gourmet restaurant, part art gallery, and part gift shop. The fabulous food didn’t stop at the restaurants, however. My hosts at Texas Ranch Life guest ranch and Lillian Farms Bed & Breakfast also treated us to delectable meals. (Did I mention that I gained 5 pounds on this trip?)
One regret that I had on the trip is that it didn’t happen during spring when the Central Texas hillsides are covered in bluebonnets, the native wildflower lupine. Of course, that’s just an excuse to return to Washington County for another helping of Texas hospitality!
A few weeks ago I posted a picture of one of my favorite roses, Rosa glauca, which features fantastic purple foliage. The flowers are cute enough — they’re pink and have five petals, like a wild rose, but they take a backseat to the foliage.
Then in late summer, the hips put on a show by turning glowing shades of orange and red. They attract birds, too. Plus, it’s very hardy — all the way to USDA Zone 2 (40 degrees below zero)!
So with a rose like this, who really needs flowers?
Just a quick shot of Rosa glauca, one of my favorite roses because of its lovely purple foliage. It has single pink flowers in late spring and bright red hips in fall, but to me it’s the leaves that make this rose so awesome.
Why am I eager to try this particular rose? First off, the color. Dark, velvety flowers like this blend well with the blues, purples, and whites I fill my garden with. I can just imagine how this plant would look tucked in among lavender, ‘Rozanne’ perennial geranium, and white veronica.
But the plant hosts more than just pretty flowers. It offers excellent disease resistance (which is important to me because I don’t spray my garden with traditional or organic products), a nice rounded habit (usually about 3 feet tall and 2½ feet wide), and a warm, rich scent.
If you’re a rose lover, don’t miss our slideshow of other new varieties for 2010!