Saying Goodbye to My Rose Garden
I'd been saying goodbye to my rose garden for four years, and finally this past September, I dug up seventeen roses, a few perennials, a couple of shrubs and moved. Now in my new home, it seems I owe my well-loved garden a proper goodbye here on the blog.
I've gone through every emotion leaving a garden of so many roses, but I'm also excited to show you how the roses became a signature and main focus for thirty-six years.
The garden is in Lafayette, CA, in the San Francisco Bay Area, on a flat, one-third acre with pretty good soil and lots of sun. Here it is on May 5, 2020 just past peak rose bloom. Eight-foot wide beds are bordered by a lattice deer fence of climbing roses. In front of the fence, roses are grouped by color and underplanted with matching perennials. The house is surrounded by an equally wide bed of pink roses. Originally a giant Cedar, which eventually had to be removed, grew where the white roses are now, and along the perimeter of the property tired junipers overwhelmed a two-foot split rail fence.
A similar angle taken in 2013 before the fencing filled in with roses.
Another front garden view, this time facing the peach and yellow roses–that's Crepuscule in bloom, climbing the fence. Pink Gruss an Aachen, one of my favorites, is in the lower right corner. Love it when the grass is a little too long!
Color grouping roses with matching underplantings, has been a thrill for this plant addict, because there are so many possibilities. Geum planted near Just Joey roses is a prolific bloomer and a great cut flower.
I took the pictures of me in this post with a remote clicker during the pandemic shut-down, and this shot reminds me of how crystal clear the skies were then.
I'm including this shot because I love the memories and details. We are still in the front garden and I'm not even embarrassed to show the weeds (the pandemic's fault), and that all too frequent rootstock intruder–the red rose, Dr. Huey (it looks so pretty). I'm sitting on damp grass shooting with my iPhone. I'm nostalgic for three of the heritage roses here: Lamarque in the background on the fence; Madame Hardy budded to Dr. Huey, and Paquerette, the first polyantha in the lower right corner.
Here is Lamarque from the other side of the fence, with Iceberg on the arbor, both are showstoppers four times a year. Along the entrance path, bordered by erigeron, is white bearded iris and California native iris. Abutilon, watsonia, phlox, dinner plate hibiscus, calamintha, molinia cerulea, guara, geranium biokovo, are some of the many white underplantings in and around this area. Now let's go see what's on the fence, along the sidewalk.
For years, I battled deer with one thing after another. When home remedies no longer worked, a lattice fence finally did the job better than I ever imagined. Yes, no more deer munched the Hybrid Teas, but a wonderful sense of privacy and fantastic opportunities opened up for climbing roses, and many new companion plantings. I especially love the boldness and textural contrast of New Zealand flax, and the African native melianthus major. Mexican feather grass pops over from the school across the street, and sews itself liberally all along this border.
Here are two shrubs of Perle d'Or, another favorite rose, with a guava and a persimmon tree in the background. Of course, I couldn't resist planting more roses outside the fence, and I do sometimes cover these with deer netting, but for the most part the roses up against the fence are not munched, and small flowered roses are often just left alone.
I must say, it's a proud moment when the bloom looks like this. I love it when large shrub roses and climbers come into their own. From the left, Albertine, Jeanne Lajoie, Peggy Martin, Kathleen and her-yet-to-be-named sport.
I've shown you most everything but the back garden. A gigantic silver maple spreads its shady canopy over most of this area, and it's hard to believe how much bigger it is now than when I first gardened here. There are almost no roses in the back, but I'm fond of this shot of Phyllis Bide sheltering a bench taken many years ago. I'm hoping to use more blue flowered plants in my new garden.
For all the years that I have lived here, I gardened for myself in honor of creation, and in the mix, neighbors just loved it, and children, from preschool to the fifth grade, at the school across the street, have had what I hope are unforgettable childhood memories of beauty. I documented much of the garden's progress here on the blog, which I hope you enjoy exploring.
In retrospect, I always felt like I had unlimited space for roses; so I fearlessly grew the largest shrubs and climbers, never thinking one more rose was too many. However, my attitude resulted in very high maintenance, which is indeed a luxury in today's world. On the other hand, I learned how rewarding large scale, mostly Heritage roses are to even the smallest garden, and when planted with intention, they are valuable garden shrubs that for the most part bloom much more extensively than the most popular spring-blooming shrubs.
So now in my new garden space, which is probably one-fifth the size of my old garden, I have to forgo roses like Lamarque, Albertine, and Cecile Brunner, but I do have plans for a long arbor lavished with seven climbers! I am making room for Kathleen and a few other large shrubs, and sure, there will be some Hybrid Teas and the honored David Austins. I can't wait to get started and look forward to showing you the steps along the way.
Please leave a comment–I'd love to hear from you!