Previous month:
February 2012
Next month:
April 2012

March 2012

Dr. Huey a Rose Sucker

Rose Suckering

"Is the doctor in the house?"


"No, he's out in the neighborhood– and pretty easy to find in April and May."



Yep, he's right outside my front door wrecking havoc on my prize R. rugosa alba standard.



And OMG he's across the street– hey I thought that was a yellow rose.



There he is up the hill– that poor white rose will soon be gone.



Down the lane this union is almost more than I can bear.



Now let's talk hostile takeover.

How many of you darling rose lovers
have been awestruck at the sight of this velvety red rose blooming on your white, yellow, pink, peach, orange rose bush? I know it's like magic isn't it? After we've waxed poetic about said wonder, our naivete is soon dispelled though by a nusery person or a more experienced gardener. They will tell you that your rose was once two or three short canes that were budded to a rooted cane of the rose Dr. Huey. The "doctor" gives roses a quicker start than their own roots usually do, hence a quicker turn over in the market. The only problem- Dr. Huey is also bred to bloom and doesn't like staying underground.

If only my mentioning "the Dr. Huey phenomona" would alleviate it. Wishful thinking– all these photos were shot in less than one-square-California-mile!

The rose gardener needs to keep a watchful eye on the problem.


Let's take a better look at my standard Rugosa.


I know many of you wonder how I could let the suckering go this far. Just look at that one cane trying to pass over the top. This is a classic example of why Dr. Huey stock was chosen for the trunk– it's a ramrod.

(The dear doc must be wondering what's with that bit of green and white fluff above the trunk.)

I tried in vain many times to dislodge the canes.



See the for yourself, it just wasn't going to happen. Cutting suckers just makes them come back stronger. They must be carefully torn away– not possible in this case.



These suckers on Mary Rose are much easier to remove since they're growing away from the plant. But no matter how far from the plant, it's important to dig down to the growth source to dislodge (tear away) the cane.



Annual spring trips to the garden and nursery delights of Sonoma County first inspired this post. As we'd cruise through beautiful scenery, the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I'd see the interloping Dr H. I mean really I'd rather see all pink roses (this one is Sweet Surrender). Many people must delight in the good doctor. He does have a pretty high ranking on helpmefind. To each his own, however it was fun getting this post out of my system.

PS If you remove a rose from the garden, roots left in the soil will sometimes develope into Dr. Hueys. They're pretty easy to pull out if you catch them while young.


Wouldn't you know suckering" has another conotation in the rose world. It refers to the underground runners on many species and near species. That would be a good subject to write about in the future.



Designing a Hillside Rose Garden Part 2

The Rose Garden's Understory

Flowering plants, creeping herbs, small shrubs all show off well at the feet of roses. A more-the-merrier attitude is just fine with the Queen of Flowers. 

The first three images are from the magenta section not shown in Part 1.


Wise Portia mingles with salvia Greggii, calibrachoa and sage.


More of the annual calibrachoa, a furry oregano, parahebe, thyme, and brachyscome.


Purple sage, origanum rotundifolia and a shiny new light in the garden's first year.



Dark leaves of huchera enrich the tales red roses will soon tell.


Rumex (love this plant, cut it back and in no time it regenerates) and strawberries under red roses.


Diascia comes in rose tones and is replanted each spring.


Double Delight


Even red hollyhocks join the story up by the climbers.



Josep's Coat and Golden Wings make the climb together and top off a mix of oranges, yellows and peaches.



Peach calibrachoa, orange diascia, perennial poppies-- does it get better than this?



Lime thyme, my favorite herbal ground cover, Pink Panda ornamental strawberry and Tournament of Roses.



The elegant cool whites ruled by Sally Holmes on the trellis.



The small rose arbor was installed after about three years.



When I visit the garden and see it looking like this I can barely contain myself.










Designing a Hillside Rose Garden Part 1

Designing a rose garden is a detailed and delightful process. This is the first of a two-part post documenting the many phases of one special project located on a hilltop in Lafayette, CA.


My client wanted all colors of roses in a new garden


that would be situated on a slight incline with a full, ideal-for-roses, eastern exposure.


Since my garden was in full bloom at the time, its roses inspired a graduated color scheme


that I presented with the above sketch. My clients loved the design and I was 


soon planning for and acquiring its many roses, as shown in this working sketch. The original plan called for a center arbor that was nixed in favor of continuous planting.


The final color scheme became a progression of white, pink, yellow, peach and red between the two stairways, and magenta in the bed to the far right. After three years, my client wanted more color in the white section. So we added a few pink roses in the first tier and both a red and pink rose in the top tier.


Here's the original rose list 


and said roses patiently awaiting planting day.



The original space.


Instead of replacing the fencing, we camouflaged it with custom trellis work, good for climbing roses. Aren't the moss rock retaining walls magnificent?


One year later the garden is thriving.



Here's the garden last spring as the roses are just coming into to bloom.



In Part 2 I'll show you the magenta section and some of the companion plants.