Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tis the season when roses (and catalogues) cometh

While we were enduring the snow and ice last week I was wondering how many gardening catalogues might arrive while I was stuck at the top of our mountain road.

Sure enough, when we finally made it to the mailbox after three days, a cheery selection was waiting for me including catalogues on wildflowers, veggie seeds, garden supplies and of course, roses.
I'll buy more wildflowers to add to the sunny parts of the trail
It seems I receive new and different catalogues this time of year along with some of my old favorites.  That’s because I’m undoubtedly on a list somewhere labeled “Garden Sucker.” (Also as a member of the Garden Writers Association of America I’m fair game for every gardening business.)

I do at least thumb through every arrival before tossing them in the recycling bin. Having written for the White Flower Farm catalogue and website for a number of years I know how much work goes into each endeavor.

Over the years I’ve learned from trial and error which companies live up to their promises and which simply offer pretty pictures and tall tales.

I’ve had good luck ordering from Bluestone Perennials, Gardens of the Blue Ridge, American Meadows and Oakes Daylilies.  If I ever receive a wilted plant or one that doesn’t grow as promised from any of these companies, a fresh replacement is sent immediately, no questions asked.

Daylilies are growing on me

As I wrote last year, for seeds, it’s hard to beat Renee’s Garden. I used to love her very attractive catalogue and the tantalizing recipes sprinkled throughout the pages. Like many companies, Renee Shepherd has moved to an online catalogue. Sign up for her free E-Newsletter and you’ll receive great garden ideas and yes, recipes!

When it comes to ordering roses by mail my advice is to definitely not believe everything you read. Several years ago I was hoodwinked more than once into ordering from a company that undoubtedly employs the world’s most persuasive copywriter.

My first Climbing Cecile died
The ‘Climbing Cecile Brunner’ I sent for promised “delicate soft pink sweetheart buds and blooms on a vigorous climber... continual blooming...may be grown 20 feet plus into a tree for a gorgeous sight.” This description bore no resemblance to the 3 inch twig that arrived. It didn’t grow, much less bloom.

Now I have several mail order favorites I can depend on without reservation, plus a wonderful new source for miniature roses and minifloras.

Richard Anthony is rose exhibitor and hybridizer who really knows his stuff. As an exhibitor he has 102 Queens of Show to his credit, including three national Queens. Last year he started For Love of Roses, a mail order company that offers 135 varieties of miniflora and miniature roses from 19 different hybridizers. He will be adding 24 more varieties next month.
Fitzhugh's Diamond

One thing I love about Richard is he adds the personal touch to what can be an impersonal business. Last year I wrote to ask his advice on two roses I was considering. I explained I have a small garden and no room for a rose that is stingy with bloom. Although he was enthusiastic about the two I’d mentioned, he recommended a completely different variety. Fitzhugh’s Diamond has turned out to be a real gem for me. So I will definitely be ordering from For Love of Roses again!

Lion's Fairy Tale
Pat Henry of Roses Unlimited in Laurens, South Carolina is another wonderful source of information and inspiration. She believes there are roses for every garden, but that one size does not fit all. She has given me excellent guidance over the years, and I have taken her advice and will be adding two Lion’s Fairy Tale roses to my little patch this spring.

I also plan to visit her garden and will likely come home with more than the two Kordes plants. Take a look at the Roses Unlimited website to see the amazing selection of plants she has available.

My dear friend Cydney Wade is the owner of Rose Petals Nursery in Newberry, Florida – a wonderful source for antique, heirloom and  Earthkind roses. They also have a five-acre display garden where you will marvel at her collection of gorgeous old fashioned roses.

Pink Pet
I will be doing a complete posting on Old Garden Roses soon. With Cydney's expertise, we'll be able to identify the best OGRs on each class and the right zones for her historic beauties. In the meantime, she recommends Old Blush, Louis Philippe, Pink Pet and Perle d'Or as some of the hardiest varieties.

Of course need I mention David Austin English Roses as another of my go to faves? I have been ordering from them since the mid-90’s and have never been disappointed.

So now that the catalogues have come and the websites have been scoured, I am making my list and checking it twice. As far as roses, I am expecting Fighting Temeraire, Boscobel, The Lark Ascending and Heathcliff (among others!) in early April.

New perennials on the way include Centranthus ruber, Speedwell and a yellow nandina.

I’d love to hear about your favorite gardening catalogues, as well as your ordering success and horror stories.

 I’ll report the results in an upcoming posting. Although I can’t imagine there’s a great garden source I haven’t heard about, I’m happy to entertain the thought that one might exist.

In fact, perhaps some new goodies are waiting for me right now. I just heard the doorbell ring.


Sunil Patel said...

Hi Lynn, it's David Austin all the way! I've just dug out the four David Austin roses I have in the garden, they're coming with us to the new house. You mention a couple of roses, such as the Lark Ascending, Boscobel and Heathcliff, that are on my "want" list too. You know you can quite easily grow Centranthus Ruber from seed - I've done it - it would have been cheaper to do it that way, unless you're impatient.

Lynn Hunt said...

Sunil, I am so glad you are taking your "babies" with you! I will let you know how I like the new roses when they bloom. As it turns out I wasn't as taken with Wollerton as I'd hoped, but then again it was only year one.

Good idea about the Centranthus seeds. I will buy a few plants too just to get a head start. I also found a source for white Centranthus last year. Hope they make it through the winter!

Sharrieboberry said...

I'm in North Texas and I love my roses. Some friends and I volunteered today and helped with the planting of a HUGE David Austin trial garden. The trial is in the Rose Gardens of Farmers Branch, TX. I can't wait to see how they do. It was 34 degrees when we started. Brrrr.

Lynn Hunt said...

Hi Sharrieboberry! I know it was a lot of work to plant those roses but know you will love seeing them bloom and flourish. Please let me know your impressions as they grow. There is always room for one more English rose here in the mountains!

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