Come rain or shine the last week of April and first few weeks of May are when the roses in my garden start their spring show. Even though we are a few weeks behind because of cooler than usual weather, the roses are right on schedule. This is good because Mike Shoup of the Antique Rose Emporium is coming for a visit in just a few days.
Mike is an expert on heritage roses so I thought it would be appropriate to invite him to speak on the subject when the roses are at their peak. To make the event even rosier Mike's talk is at the Arkansas Governor's Mansion where heritage roses abound in the gardens.
I know not everyone can make it to the lecture and not everyone has roses blooming yet so I'm giving away a copy of Mike's book Empress of the Garden. It's a big, coffee table-sized book that defines rose varieties by their personalities, which makes it easy to decide if a rose is right for you. Mike introduces us "Balloon-skirted Ladies" and "Petite Party-goers" as well as "Mysterious Ladies." And let me tell you it's always good to know you've fallen for a "Petulant Diva" before you bring her into the garden.
If you'd like to win a copy of Empress of the Garden tell me what you love most about roses – fragrance, color, rose hips? Just post a comment below. I'll select a winner at random on May 8th, 2013.
Congrats to Nancy Olig! She's the winner of this month's giveaway. Check your inbox Nancy for an email explaining how to get your copy of Mike's book. Thank you to everyone who participated!
Did you receive roses for Valentine's Day? Lucky you! Prolong the love with these three ideas.
When Your Roses Arrive
If your roses came prearranged, simply place the vase in a spot out of direct sun and away from heat sources.
For unarranged roses fill a vase with lukewarm water and add a floral preservative along with one teaspoon of bleach to keep the water clean. Remove any leaves from the stems below water line. Under running water, re-cut the ends of the stems at a slight angle. Place the flowers immediately into the vase.
Every few days replace with water and recut the ends of the stems.
Giving Your Roses a Second Life
Pull the freshest flowers from the bouquet and reuse them in a new arrangement. Buy flowers from a local florist or market to complement the colors of your roses. For red roses try purple, orange, and golden yellow flowers. If you receive salmon roses, add chartreuse, blue, and cream. Pink roses look great with burgundy, lavender, and cream blooms.
Cut the rose and flower stems to about 8 inches long. Grab the entire bouquet as close to the base of the blooms as possible. Wrap a rubber band around the stems to hold the arrangement together tightly. Place the bouquet in a low vase filled with fresh water, floral preservative and a few drops of bleach.
Preserve your Memory
As your roses fade, remove the petals and place them in an open weave basket to dry. Purchase other ingredients from hobby or craft stores to create your own personalized potpourri. I start with a base of pre-packaged dried flowers or potpourri to create a colorful mixture. With an eyedropper add some rose oil to the potpourri and toss gently to refresh the fragrance of the flowers. Place the mixture a bowl or basket where the aroma can be enjoyed.
My love affair with roses began at Arley Hall, so I guess you could say that Lady Elizabeth Ashbrook was my matchmaker. She curated such a wonderful collection of roses, most of them old-fashioned varieties. She was truly an inspiration to me.
One of the many things I find fascinating about roses is their heritage—it's so interesting to me to look at the evolution of this most-famous flower, particularly how American roses have evolved. The first American class of roses was the Noisettes, bred in Charleston during the early 19th century. And it just so happens that my passion for roses also introduced me to one of my dearest friends, rosarian Ruth Knopf. Also of Charleston, she and I share a particular affinity for the Noisettes.
Now, fast forward to 2000 when another breakthrough rose was about to be introduced to America—The Knock Out® Rose. It was created by William Radler to be disease resistant, cold hardy, heat tolerant and incredibly floriferous. And indeed it is—along with the six other varieties that have since been introduced— as it produces a bevy of blooms every five weeks or so from spring until the first frost.
So what do Noisette roses and The Knock Out® Family of Roses have in common? Well for one thing, they're all going to be showcased in the new rose garden we've installed at the Garden Home Retreat. The Knock Out® Family of Roses will be planted in multiples, with like colors and varieties being grouped together for what I think will be an absolute visual treat.
I'm looking forward to when we officially open the rose garden on Saturday May 14 at the Tale of Two Farms Herb & Roses Festival. Peggy Cornett, curator of plants at Monticello, will be on hand for the festivities. She'll also be giving a free lecture at the Clinton School of Public Service at noon on May 13, and the topic is one I'm especially looking forward to—“Historic Roses at Monticello.” I hope to see you there!