A time for roses

Friends are emailing photos of their roses, all in spectacular bloom right now. Mine, too, and this NATURALLY has fueled a desire to buy even more. My current favorites run the gamut from groundcover roses like 'Good and Plenty' - the color of those scrumptious pink and white candies - and 'Happy Chappy' - a pink-gold-apricot - that are blooming up a nice, compact storm in the garden ... to several fragrant climbers that are doing their thing on the fence out front.

After reading a lot about roses, and talking to gardeners who grow them, I looked for climbers that are repeat bloomers, very disease resistant and fragrant. There is so much hype out there about plants - and roses are no exception. To read the blurbs, you'd think every single rose possesses all of the qualities I seek. So I jumped into the garden forums and flipped through some rose books and made my choices.

They are: 'Compassion,' 'Ginger Syllabub,' 'Golden Showers' and 'Portlandia' - all yellow, peach, apricot, pink - to climb on the front fence in whatever patches of sunshine I could find. The bright yellow 'Golden Showers' just went in over the weekend, with lots of water and mulch, but the others have a year or two under their belts and are doing great. It's fun to watch passersby suddenly stop, lean down to smell these incredible flowers and smile as they go on their way. I do it myself. (It's a bonus for taking out the trash.)

pink1.jpgI planted four more climbers on the pergola, intertwined with Clematis 'Montana Rubens' and 'Henryi,' which truly deserves to be the best-selling white clematis - red 'Don Juan,' pink 'Zephirine Drouhin,' yellow/orange 'Joseph's Coat' and, I think, cream-colored 'Highfield.' These are too young to be blooming but they look healthy. Perhaps next year.

Two creamy pink 'New Dawns' and a new red and white 'Fourth of July' are climbing up trellises in the herb garden, along with a new hybrid tea called 'Lady Bird Johnson,' that is outstanding. And speaking of bonuses, 10 percent of the net sales of this rose, chosen personally by Mrs. Johnson, go to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. 'Lady Bird' produces five- or six-inch coral-orange blooms that last and last and also have a fruity fragrance.

I've stayed away from hybrid teas for their fussy reputation and my desire not to spray, but this rose is enough to make short work of my objections. We'll see how successful I am ... Meanwhile, I'd appreciate thoughts and suggestions from any veteran rosarians out there. What do you like? And how do you care for your roses?

It's no secret why gardeners love roses. Is there anything lovelier in June?