I’ve been wary about growing roses. Their reputation is for finickiness and the prevalence of diseases that call for chemical sprays. The plant itself is not lovely, at least not usually.
But when a friend brought me a blossom of “Zephirine Drouhin,” I fell head over heels in love. That color! That scent! Plus, it is almost thornless and can tolerate shade. I must have one.
But the first one died. And the second one, found at Roxbury Mills and planted in 2009, did well for a while. Though I only got a few blossoms, I was in love. But sadly, I had an infestation of voles (I’ve since learned that the vole population waxes and wanes. It’s on the wane now, for which I’m grateful.) The voles ate the roots and it was adieu to Zepherine.
Undaunted, I bought it again from White Flower Farm in the spring of 2015, and this year it just went to town.
Here is the current, third attempt.
As you can see, the plant itself is not handsome, but those blossoms! You should have smell-a-vision to get the full glory.
On a more serious note, here is a list of its potential problems:
Aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, scale, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, cane borers, Japanese beetles, rose stem girders, rose midges, rose slugs, rose chafers, leaf-cutting bees, black spot, rust, powdery mildew, crown gall, canker, dieback, downy mildew, viruses.
You see why I was reluctant?
But then I learned from a rose-growing acquaintance about Earthkind roses, developed by the Texas Agri-Life Extension Service. The Earthkind designation is only for “those roses demonstrating superior pest tolerance, combined with outstanding landscape performance.”
I knew I wanted a rose with fragrance, not too big, either yellow or pink. The Earthkind site led me to a small shrub rose, Souvenir de Ste. Anne.
“This sport of Souvenir de la Malmaison was bred in England by Thomas Hilling. It was found in St. Anne’s Park, Dublin. The pale pink petals glow with translucent beauty and are very fragrant. It is an excellent choice for mass plantings and borders. Few hips are produced. This cultivar is so outstanding that it was named “Earth-Kind® Rose of the Year” for 2009 by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.”
Since I had not only culled the columbines but dug out the problematic Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen,’ I finally had some space for a plant that likes sun and good air circulation, so I placed my order with the Antique Rose Emporium.
Well, after all that build-up, here’s what I got, but remember! This had been in the ground less than a month when it bloomed, so I give it props. (It would also help if I could figure out how to capture pale pinks, yellows and creams without washing out all the color.) I’m feeling quite hopeful.