Too Great Expectations?

seil zone 6b MIJuly 21, 2014

A bit of a rant coming here so tune out if you don't want to hear it.

Interesting postings this week. This one finally got a good bloom. That one only wants perfect leaves and neatly shaped bushes. Another thinks their roses aren't big enough or blooming enough. They look too pale. The blooms are a little small. Egads! Someone has BS and/or PM! What do I do? And heaven forbid a rose that isn't fragrant enough!

Seems we're all looking for perfect roses...all the time. Is that really a reasonable expectation? Do we expect that from other things in our gardens? If my lilac bush gets PM or doesn't have as much bloom this season as last, do I dig it out and toss it? If my hydrangeas fail to turn blue, even though I gave them acid, should I get rid of them? Something is tunneling in my hollyhock leaves and the irises had only a handful of blooms this season. Off with their heads! Seems I don't expect anything else in my garden to be perfect all the time. So why the roses?

So much talk this season about our roses not growing as well or blooming as much as we THINK they should. Come on people! They're roses, living plants, they have good years and bad ones just like everything else. And just like we do for that matter.

It was a bad winter weather season for most of the country. The cold zones got hammered. The warm zones were totally arid. The roses are doing the best they can under some pretty severe conditions. I think we need to cut them some slack folks.

I'm tickled pink that my existing roses that survived last winter are growing pretty well and blooming! Yes, they're shorter than I normally have and some of the blooms haven't been "Queen" form but so what. They're alive and relatively healthy for all they've been through.

Yep, I have BS and PM out there right now. The weather conditions are perfect for it, hot and humid in the daytime and cool at night. I could have a fit and pick off every leaf and spray myself to death but why? They're all still growing and blooming and so what if the leaves aren't perfect? Yes, you want healthy roses but I don't grow roses for the leafy bushes. I grow them for the beautiful smelly blooms! If I wanted perfect green hedges I'd plant boxwoods. But then again they probably aren't perfect either.

The weather conditions will change shortly anyway, they always do, and the diseases will abate. Most of the insects will have their season and then are gone too. In the meantime I'll be spending my time smelling my roses and enjoying their pretty faces! Even if they're not perfect!

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You took the words right out of my mind! I have been thinking that sort of thing for a while. My favorite posts are the newbies who want perfect roses on perfect bushes, with constant repeat, and of course they all must be very fragrant, and not need any care!

However, newbies are that, so they don't know any better. Some of us who do know better seem to be saying similar things this summer.

We had less than one inch of rain here in calendar year 2013. "Normal" is about 40 inches. Our normal rainy season is Oct - March or April, at least 6 months with some rain. We only got rain in Feb and March. It was scary. I lost NO roses, for which I am very grateful.

Cutting back on the irrigation, of course. Today I gloried in my Madame Caroline Testout and Anna Olivier, both of whom are putting out about a 25% re-bloom compared to the Spring flush. Just enjoying the gorgeous dozen blooms on each, not complaining because the rest of those bushes are resting. Glad they are alive.

The weather has been cloudy and cooler the last few days - perfect gardening weather. Went out into the garden today and planted a new Le Vesuve I rooted from my old old one. Had a great time getting really dirty and smelly (that rotten egg smell from the deer spray really is awful). Life is good in the garden.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Hrose(6 A)

are you referring to me Jackie? I'm not a newbie

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:25PM
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Well said Seil, You said exactly how I feel about gardening but didn't know how to say it exactly. I am newbie to the forum and to OGR's and Austin roses but not to gardening and have a grown a few HT's over the years and pretty much once something is planted in my yard it is there to stay regardless of how I feel about later, if it lives it stays. I have a hard time shovel pruning something living just because, I just work around it. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of a perfect garden with perfect plants that bloom and smell good but the reality is that Mother Nature is in control and likes to remind us of that every once in while, like rough winters and droughts. The part I enjoy most about gardening is the work you have to put in, it's relaxing to me to pull weeds or deadhead my roses after a stressf week. I started adding roses this past spring to our lake house and I only get to work in the lake garden on the weekends and guess what??? My roses have survived without me during the week, ha! Imagine that! I have enjoyed this forum and I especially enjoy seeing your and the others pictures of your beautiful roses. You saidi to me that tying my pinkies up sounded like a labor of love, it is a labor of love for being outdoors and watching what I planted grow and bloom. It's a unconditional love for nature, you take what it gives you. Ok I am done rambling lol. Thanks for putting things into perspective and keeping it real.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:25PM
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Hrose(6 A)

boncrow66 life is too short shovel prune what you don't like and plant what you want instead unless you have a very big property then no need to shovel prune

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:28PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I am newbie. Up until about 6 years ago I would have never agreed to planting a rose. But mom wanted a rose garden. 7 cheap body bags got planted. Only one vanished. I am amazed at how tough roses can be.

But every year brings something new to learn, be it weather, tastes or variety.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:46PM
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Hrose life is to short to knit pick and worry over crap, my garden is exactly how in want it thank you very much. I don't shovel prune, but I do move plants around or give them away but mainly I keep things where it's planted because that's just how I roll.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:52PM
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Seil - Just like the others stated, you've expressed it so well.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:17PM
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Desertgarden- Las Vegas, Z8b @ 2800 ft.

I am in agreement with Seil and Jackie.

While I am likely somewhere between a novice and experienced, I am new to growing certain classes of roses and bands; in earnest. I have doubts about my new roses when there are months of optimal growing conditions for them, and they are not performing ( not even putting out new leaves). I begin to question if the class of rose is a good match for my growing conditions or if the rose requires something beyond what I have provided. Without a very strong specific point of reference for my growing conditions, much individual observation becomes absolutely necessary, or so I thought. Rose growing is interesting and can be quite unpredictable. I have found that some of these questionable roses, the Hybrid Perpetuals, in my garden, were just waiting for it to become hot, or they reached that creep point and began growing; actually they have taken off. Being a person accustomed to more obvious and consistent growth from grafted roses ( not a reference to gorgeous blooms etc., but signs that the plant is not in distress or cannot tolerate my conditions), I have learned to be just a little more patient, and worse case scenario, with diligence, I can dig up a distressed plant, pot it, and nurture it back to health on my patio prior to gifting it.

When conditions are not optimal (NOW), I am just happy that my roses are alive. There are so many plants and flowers I like that I cannot grow, I am happy to be able to grow my first love.


This post was edited by desertgarden561 on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 13:27

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 12:26AM
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jasminerose4u, California(9b)

As you may know, I'm a first year Newbie in Southern California. Right off the bat, I had a $30.00 rose die, because I read that a rose needs 6 hours of full sun and I planted it in a clay pot. I posted on this forum and received several kind responses advising me that with the sun intensity in my area, young roses need partial shade, lots of water and plastic pots rather than clay. Later, when I observed white stuff on the stems of my roses, I worried it was fatal and inquired again, "what is wrong"? I learned that it was powdery mildew, because of water stress, humid warm days and cool nights and that it would soon pass. I don't post, because I want my roses to be perfect. I want them to live, so that I can enjoy those beautiful blooms like I see on this forum and in the rose gallery. Those photographs are my "virtual garden", because I don't have blooms like that yet. There is a great blend of experienced and new posters on this forum and they have helped me make some great choices for my garden. I didn't even know about the different varieties of roses until my eyes were opened. Seil, you have been one of the kindest, most consistent responders on this forum. You had a heavy winter loss this year, but have an amazing, grateful attitude. You are like a newbie with knowledge, because your garden is starting over, but you still have your experience and wisdom. Maybe posters don't always say the best thing, but like roses, none of us are perfect. It takes a bit of bravery to hit that "submit" button, not knowing how a post will be received. But I love that people make that step to share. Gardening is great therapy and so is reading this forum, because it takes our minds off our troubles. I for one won't be intimidated by all the rose issues and great expectations discussed here, because beautiful gardens and lives are shared too. Seil, I hope you receive this post knowing that I consider you my garden web friend. Thank you for all your advice and beautiful photographs that you take time to share here and on HMF. It is appreciated :)

Here is a photo of a "newbie" in my garden. I accidently sprayed the baby sparrow when I was hand-watering. But he is fine now and taking shelter in my plants until he can learn how to fly. I didnâÂÂt know that fledglings canâÂÂt fly very well and hopefully he can forgive me for the shower I gave him. WeâÂÂre all learning.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:44AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I just needed to vent my frustration with some who, I feel, spend way to much time on the minutia and not nearly enough time on the sheer joy of growing roses. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies because we give the impression to outsiders that roses ARE fussy divas instead of letting them know that they're really pretty amazingly wonderful, tough to kill, survivors in most all circumstances. We need to be more encouraging than we are, particularly with the newbies.

Now go out and smell your roses!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:08AM
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Seil, I really needed and appreciated reading this post. Last night I was feeling a bit of frustration and defeat, and a lot of woe is me. The Japanese beetles are bad this yearâ¦IâÂÂve been battling them for eight weeks now and they donâÂÂt seem to be letting up any yet. Blackspot seems worse this year than usual; canker was terrible this spring. I was actually cursing my roses for blooming so much last night while I was picking off beetles. Most people would kill for roses that bloom as much as mine do. From a distance, they look lovely. You wouldn't know they were blackspotted and beetle ridden. The blooms I cut and bring inside before the beetles get to them are perfuming my house and just as beautiful as ever. My foliage may not always be great looking and the JBs may eat my blooms for months every year, but IâÂÂm lucky to have months of blooms that give me more pleasure than anything else I grow. Sometimes I will stress over them, but more often I will be thrilled by themâ¦faults and all! I promise I will praise my roses for blooming their hearts out through all of this instead of cursing them while I'm debugging them tonight :)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 12:33PM
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jasminerose4u, California(9b)

Hi Seil:
Thank you for looking out for us "newbies". I think you have a legitimate concern that newcomers might think roses are too fussy. I didn't start growing roses until late in life, because I lived in a neighborhood built in the 1950s. Many of the roses looked ugly to me, because of their unhealthy looking foliage. I didn't know there were new roses resistant to disease. I LIKE leafy bushes in addition to blooms and didn't know that was possible to have without the fuss. When I moved, my new neighbor suggested that I plant a climbing rose. The research I did led to this forum and now I have some wonderful floribundas, hybrid teas, climbing roses and miniatures. For the most part, roses are resilient. Live and learn! I am enjoying every step of the way and IâÂÂm glad I have this forum to turn to. I worry about my rose babies, but have the joy too. When I was young, I used to wish that someone would give me a bouquet of roses. Now IâÂÂll be able to make bouquets for myself and others. How fantastic is that!

In this photo, the yellow rose is my first ever bloom from my hybrid tea, Saint Patrick. The red roses are Traviata, from my friend's garden. Not much scent, but this bouquet is a week old. I can't believe how wonderful these roses are. I have the 'rose bug" for sure.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:15PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Nice looking roses jasminerose4u! :-)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:55PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Seil ...

I loved and hated your vent ... lol. This is a rose forum. You would find the same kind of over-concern on an iris forum, a bulb forum, a daylily forum, etc.

When you are new to growing roses, you really don't know what is true and what is myth. You don't know what applies to your climate, soil, etc. People who write books, articles, etc. have to generalize simply because there is not enough space to list all of the variables that could impact a simple statement about growing roses. Those who are new to roses can't possibly know all of those variables and that will give rise to lots and lots of questions.

The primary question is, "Am I doing something wrong or is it the rose ?"

It takes time to learn how tough our roses really can be. It takes time to see how forgiving roses can be and that they will recover from our mistakes. It takes time to see that some roses can shrug off disease while others must be pampered. It takes time to learn that often growing good roses is all about patience. It takes time to learn that even an imperfect bloom can be a joy to have in your garden or your vase. It takes time to learn that there are good rose years and lousy rose years. It takes time to learn that this rose will never thrive in your climate or your soil so it's time to let that one go and find one that will be a happy rose in your garden.

The learning curve is shortened by asking questions of those who have been growing roses long enough to learn these lessons.

Ralph Moore often said, "Knowledge unshared is knowledge wasted." You are a perfect example of someone who is more than willing to share what you have learned in your rose life and I know you've helped many newbies along the way.

Even your vent is a way of helping newbies find perspective about growing roses.

Sharing what we have learned in our rose lives is another way to enjoy our roses. To me, it's kind of the silver lining.

I may know more about growing roses, but I love learning how to grow other plants well, too.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:12AM
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Ninkasi(6ish Germany)

Thanks Seil, you make a great point.
While out walking the other day, I found this growing out of the dirt on an abandoned path. I doubt anyone had cared for it in a very long time. It had no leaves to speak of, but had produced the most exquisite flower. In some gardens its lanky habit and absence of foliage would probably have led it to be tossed long ago, but here it was clinging on. I had to smile as it was trying so hard. As a "newbie" that spirit is really is what I find most most beautiful after all. Thanks for reminding us to enjoy the roses.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:57AM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

Seil, while I understand your frustration, I have to say I'm 100% with roseblush's eloquent post.

I remember my first time 8 years ago, I was at the market, I saw Oklahoma, I fell in love with the floor, form and fragrance, I got it, knowing nothing about roses. Not knowing that I don't have neither the right exposure (my garden is part shade), climate etc to grow such a rose. Yet it gave me pleasure year after year, one single rose a year.

However, thanks to this forum and over years, I dared to ask questions, however stupid, and thanks to kind & generous people like you, the books I read, I'm still growing roses.

So maybe if you remember yourself as a newbie, you would be kinder with us novices & newbies :-)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:00AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Well, that's the thing. I'm not opposed to the newbies questions at all. I'm frustrated with the answers those of us who have been at it for a while are giving those newbie questioners. Doom and gloom, doom and gloom. You can't do that. You HAVE to do this. You can't grow that. You SHOULD ONLY grow these. This kind are all disease riddled and worthless. This type is sent from heaven and perfect for you. You MUST grow them!

Everyone's tastes are different. Everyone's level of commitment is different. Everyone's yard is different. We need to stop telling people what they can and can't grow and start encouraging them to try growing whatever it is they like. With the clear understanding that anything we put into our gardens for the first time is an experiment, from daisies to roses, and they may do great or they could be a failure. But even those failures gained you knowledge and experience for the future.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

As a new gardener this has been a very interesting read for me and I think I've battled with a lot of what you've mentioned above in my first two years of gardening. I am so thankful for discovering GW because all of you have given me such wonderful advice & really taught me more than I ever would have learned otherwise.

This site has encouraged me to plant roses I normally wouldn't have and go outside of my comfort zone. You've cheered me on when I've had issues or concerns and congratulated me when my High Voltage rose bloomed this summer.

As a newbie, it can be frustrating for me to see photos of gorgeous, established roses covered in blooms and then go outside to see teeny tiny roses with zero blooms. I think that's where some of the frustration from new gardeners comes in, hence the requests for fast growing, constant blooming, fully fragrant etc questions come into play. Gardening is such a waiting game, and learning patience is definitely a skill I had to learn.

I can say I am much more patient now than I was last year, and over time I expect I will continue to become more and more patient.

Thank you to all of you experts for taking the time to answer newbie questions over and over again and for encouraging us all to continue to grow roses. It has made a world of difference for me.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:31PM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

Seil, I understand what you say, I've been told many times I shouldn't grow this and that. Sometimes what was said was valid and sometimes not.

It's all part of the learning curve.

For example I "wasted" 4 years in order to cover my arbor. If I had done my research properly it would've been covered by now. However do I regret the "lost" years? Not at all. I learned so much the hard way :-)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:46PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

I agree, seil :) I'll definitely pass on what I've learned about a rose, but everyone's mileage may vary because that's just the nature of roses, imho. I try to add whether my cultivation may have been the problem, like when I have a rose in a bad spot and I know it, lol.

I still have at least one rose that gets rave reviews that really hasn't been one of my better roses, even with great treatment over a few years. Oops. It happens. Some great roses don't like my yard, apparently :D I figure we're probably both right, those who think the rose is perfect and me. There really are different strains of BS, etc, so that's probably all it is.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 3:02PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Seil .....

You said " We need to stop telling people what they can and can't grow and start encouraging them to try growing whatever it is they like. With the clear understanding that anything we put into our gardens for the first time is an experiment, from daisies to roses, and they may do great or they could be a failure. But even those failures gained you knowledge and experience for the future."

I agree 100% ... especially the part about understanding that everything we plant in our gardens for the first time is an experiment. I have always felt that way, but I do remember when I didn't trust myself to keep anything alive.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:34PM
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