A Garthering of Roses

Tips and references for the perfect garden.

SHEILA’S PERFUME, FLORIBUNDA, VERY FRAGRANT.It’s June and the subject is roses- although in the Lowcountry that can be backed up to May, when the first flush of bloom appears.

Roses are ubiquitous because they are irresistible and rose lore and literature are legion. One can explore cyberspace indefinitely and read massive manuals on rose care, propagation and history, but far and away the best way to experiences roses is an up close and personal encounter at Bob and Sandy Lundberg s magnificent display garden in Rose Hill. The garden contains 440 show quality rose bushes, meticulously tended to by the couple- both dedicated rosarians.

They graciously welcome visitors and groups by appointment, and even if you never intend to commit to a single rose bush, go and revel in the splendid achievement of those who do. How fortunate we are to have such a world class rose garden right on our doorstep!

Roses grown at the Lundbergs are largely hybrid teas, minifloras, miniatures and shrub roses and all are grown for show purposes. These gracious hosts will patiently answer questions from novices and would-be experts alike. They can be reached at (843) 757-3716.

It must be said here that deer love roses as much as you do. They even relish the thorns. If deer are visitors to your neighborhood, you must protect the roses. The best way is a very high fence or enclosure, which property owners’ associations will not permit. Regular weekly spraying with deer repellent is the next best thing and while you should alternate brands of it, even this is not guaranteed to do the job completely. Alas, it only takes one night to be wiped out. Gadgets have been devised to turn on lights, spray water unexpectedly, or even give a small electric shock, but it remains surprising what deer can become accustomed to.

Black spot and mildew have always been a problem with roses, especially in the high humidity and warm nights of our area. Conscientious spraying is the answer, along with discriminating selection of varieties said to be disease resistant. These do exist in increasing numbers now as growers realize the demand, particularly in southern and/or coastal areas.

ROSA MUNDI, R., GALLICA VERSICOLOR, FRAGRANT.In spite of the foregoing constraints, rose lovers in the Lowcountry will not be denied and you will see many excellent displays of well-cared-for roses in the plantation community gardens in Sea Pines and Hilton Head Plantation, as well as in individual private gardens. All rose growers are happy to share their experiences and tips for success in this area.

Information is also available from the American Rose Society, ars.org, particularly the 2007 handbook, and from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens handbook, “Easy Care Roses. “ Go to bbg.org and click on “Buy a BBG Book.” S.C and GA extension agencies have information, and multiple specialty books exist especially William C. Welch’s book, “Perennial Garden Color,” which includes an extensive section entitled “Old Roses and Companion Plants.” Mr. Welch, a Southerner, is well qualified on all levels as author of this informative book. Essentially, one must acquire information on growing roses in this area and not, say, the Pacific Northwest. This is best done by visiting and listening to local growers.

One particular example of a rose especially adapted to the Lowcountry is the Lady Banks (Lady Banksiae), which is very visible in the springtime along William Hilton Parkway, in the general vicinity of Windmill Harbour. This semi-evergreen climber flaunts masses of small fragrant yellow or white blossoms and is a dependable and cheerful harbinger of spring, even if it only blooms the one time.

Regarding climbers, two other very good ones for this area are “Golden Showers” and “New Dawn,” the former a clear yellow and the latter an exquisite pale pink. Another is the richly hued “Joseph’s Coat,” living up to its name in its varied hues from yellow to orange to scarlet. It has been seen thriving both in Moss Creek and Savannah.

So, the dream of a rose garden is not an impossible dream, but one requiring regular commitment and the strong desire to dig in, to look and learn and see which of the many varieties of this magnificent species will satisfy your heart’s desire.

And roses will bloom again.