Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Roses might seem like spoilt children when it comes to shade and damp, but they come in to their own in hot and dry conditions.  My part of Australia is (hopefully) just starting to come through 13 years of drought. The plants I list as ‘thriving’ are truly drought hardy because they almost never get supplementary water.  Note that the ones that are suffering are generally doing so because of too much shade. I am biding my time until winter to move many of them.

Mister Lincoln - 4th April 2010

I’m looking forward to getting past the ‘listing’ stage of my rose diary.  I want to rush on and share with you a bit more about some of my favourites and my plans for some of the beds. Sadly that would defeat my record keeping purposes, so on with the next set of introductions!

Oh, and I’ve mucked up the tables so I can’t edit at the end again – but after this lot, you’ve met almost everybody – just a few ‘lost roses’ to go which you might be able to help me identify next time!

This next bed is what I call the ‘Elder Bed’ which is rapidly getting shaded to the East by ‘Mother Maple’. I have big plans for this bed, but more on that later!

Rose/Breeder: The Dark Lady (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Many loose petals. Deep crimson red/pink.
Position West facing, now just under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’.
Condition: Getting leggy and sparse, which is sad to see in one of my favourite roses, can’t wait to move her into the sun!
Perfume: Yes, rich and just lovely!
In flower? A couple of sparse blooms.
Rose/Breeder: Blue Moon (Tantau)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. ‘Blue’ mauve.
Position West facing, living almost completely in the dark under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’.
Condition: So sad, almost leafless. I don’t kill many roses, so hopefully I can move Blue Moon before it’s too late.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No , not a chance!
Rose/Breeder: Mary Rose (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Loose petalled.  Bright mid pink.
Position West facing, living almost completely under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’, with just a bit of afternoon sun.
Condition: Getting very leggy and sad looking. Also needs a new home ASAP.
Perfume: Yes, soft.
In flower? No.
Rose/Breeder: Mister Lincoln (Swim & Weeks)
Type/colour: Hybrid Tea. Dark velvety red.
Position West facing, just under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’, some afternoon sun.
Condition: Strong grower, even in the shade. This one reaches for the sky without looking leggy or weak. Flowers have diminished in the shade though.
Perfume: Yes, spicy and strong.
In flower? Yes, just a couple at the moment, but gearing up again.

Angel Face - 4th April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Angel Face (Swim)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Unusual pinkish mauve.  (‘Stirling Silver’ is one of it’s parents)
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Weak grower, few blooms, but over a long period.
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? A couple of flowers.
Rose/Breeder: Julia’s rose (Wisbech)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Milky coffee colour.
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Weak grower, few blooms.
Perfume: No.
In flower? No, just finished.

Chicago Peace - this photo was taken in January and the bloom is a little sunburnt from a very hot day.

Rose/Breeder: Chicago Peace (Johnson)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Similar colouring to the original ‘peace’ rose, but the colour much stronger and more yellow / darker pink edging.
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Doing well, putting out new growth, getting ready for an autumn flush.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No flowers, but some buds appearing.

Ambridge Rose - April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Ambridge rose (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose, with cupped shell like petals very soft peach/apricot.
Position West facing, sun from late morning on.
Condition: Thriving, strong plant – one of the star performers who repeat flowers and will grow to a couple of metres in a season.
Perfume: Yes, lovely sweet fragrance.
In flower? A few flowers, just starting it’s autumn flush.
Rose/Breeder: Evelyn (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose, with open shallow blooms. Mid apricot/pink.
Position West facing, sun from late morning on.
Condition: Doing well, medium sized bush that flowers well over long period.
Perfume: Yes, quite strong ‘old rose’.
In flower? No, but several buds.
Rose/Breeder: Winchester Cathedral (Austin)
Type/colour: White with an occasional touch of pink.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Not thriving. Susceptible to black spot. Disappointing blooms shatter easily.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Yes, but only a smattering of blooms.
Rose/Breeder: The Swan (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. White.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Not thriving. Susceptible to black spot. Erratic flowering with blooms that don’t last well.
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? No, but some buds.

This is Mary Webb - I think!

Rose/Breeder: Mary Webb (I’m pretty sure it is, but not 100% certain) (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Pale buttery yellow.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Little growth but healthy. Has been shaded out by a shrub that was recently removed, so should bounce back.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Just finished.
Rose/Breeder: Leander (Austin)
Type/colour: Climbing multiflora English rose. Strong apricot.
Position South/west facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Strong grower shoots out new growth that is thick and strong and over a metre high. Needs to be move somewhere where it can be trained properly to increase flower production.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No flowers, but some buds.

Margaret Merill - April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Margaret Merril (Harkness)
Type/colour: Cluster flowered floribunda. White.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Grows very well and produces many flowers over long period. Flowers do tend to get marked easily.
Perfume: Highly scented, quite spicy.
In flower? Yes, lots of flowers.
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Comments on: "Rose Diary – Meet More Survivors and Stragglers" (25)

  1. Dear GG, This is such an impressive catalogue of your roses and will, most certainly, prove to be a wonderful archive. Imagine coming across this in 100 years time. So exciting.

    I cannot believe the effects of thirteen years drought. I do so hope that you will have substantial rainfall and a return to normality.

    • Hello Edith, thank you for your kind comments.
      I’m hoping that eventually the diary will reflect a rose garden rather than a random collection of roses – which is truly all I can say of it at the moment!

  2. So many beauties .. I do rather like the pristine white of Margaret Merril! I’ve never ever grown roses in any of my gardens … my father was the rose grower and I think I probably felt as though I’d never match his expertise. If only he could see these beauties … he would appreciate all your efforts.

    Hopefully the drought period is well and truly over for you down there. We, like you, seem to be coming out of drought finally after two years of a real ‘wet’ season … our dam is at the highest level its been in over 15 years now!

    Belated Easter wishes too … hope it’s been a great long weekend for you and you’ve been able to get out into the garden. Rained off and on nearly all weekend here … and so overcast … I’m longing to see the sun for more than an hour or two at a time!

    • Hello Bernie – I’d like to take the credit for the success of the roses, but it is truly the luck of the climate and soil they like. I think they would take great skill to grow successfully in the humidity of Queensland, but not so here!

      Very glad to hear that you seem to be coming out of the drought too. I think much of Queensland was hit much harder than my part of Victoria. But it sure made me re-think my garden choices when well established trees started to die in our area.

      We did have a lovely weekend thank you – went for a walk in the bush and had a couple of great ‘close encounters’ with wildlife. I do really hope you get a break from that endless rain and grey skies soon. Rain is wonderful, but being cooped up in the house for days on end is not!

  3. For such a beautiful, delicate looking flower, roses are surprisingly hardy. I dug some up which were growing behind our carport, I didn’t really care if these lived or died when I planted them in their new location. I guess they showed me, as they took off and are doing extremely well with very little care.

    • Hi Keewee, I agree – roses are little tricksters with their delicate looking flowers! The are as tough as old boots in the right climate. I’ve also thrown roses into holes with little thought. I had to move two climbers at short notice and was in such a hurry I cut their tap roots – they still went on to thrive!
      I think the trouble only starts when they are growing in a position that is too damp or dark for them.

  4. Heidi, You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I love this table format for documenting your roses. Since I am in the process of adding a plant inventory to my garden spreadsheet, seeing what kinds of information others include in plant listings is very helpful. How often do you think you’ll update the “condition” and “in flower?” categories?

    • Hello Jean. No I’m not surprised that you like it 😀 I do feel like my ‘inner list maker’ is emerging lately too!

      I’ll definitely be updating the ‘in flower’ category each month, but rather than go through the whole list each time I will only name the roses that are actually flowering and include a photo if possible. I should probably pick a particular date each month. I’m very keen to see for how many months of the year I have roses in bloom and which are the best performers. Oh dear, I just had the idea that having a spreadsheet on the side would work well for this!

      Initially I’d only planned to mention the condition of the roses at the starting list, but I now think I will update this twice a year (maybe April and October). The process of recording them has made me much more conscious of how they are doing and as I plan to move many and even discard a few stragglers, so this information will be useful.

  5. Heidi, your posts sparked something of a nostalgic moment, reminding me of the care and attention my grandfather lavished upon his collection. I fondly remember as a small child helping spread cow manure (although being a small child it was probably less helpful than I’d now like to imagine). Your blooms are beautiful.

    • Hello Flo! I’m glad you enjoyed a nostalgic moment – roses are that type of flower I think!
      I bet you were a great little helper 😀 At least it sounds like you were keen – I know what sort of a look I’d get from my daughter if I asked her to spread cow manure!

  6. Hi Heidi. Your Margaret Merill is just beautiful. I love the pure white and the shape of the petals.I am sorry you are in such a long drought while other parts of Australia is getting drown.It is good to see which roses are really surviving it all though. Beautiful roses.

  7. Mister Lincoln is my most favorite rose that I have ever grown. I had one large one that just thrived in our desert climate. My second favorite is Chicago Peace – love the blend of colors. I do love focusing on those roses that are not too fussy 🙂

    • Hi Noelle, Mister Lincoln is sure a start performer isn’t it? Such incredibly strong growth and irresistible scent! I can’t believe it continues to grow so strongly, even in a fairly shady spot. Chicago Peace is one of my favourites for colour too!
      Part of keeping this diary is to help me to identify those that do well on all three counts of toughness, perfume and blooms. The fussy ones are going to find their way out the door (unless I really, really like their blooms 😉 )

  8. Hi Heidi – you have A LOT of roses! No wonder you need a Roses page to catalogue all of them. You have a bunch of my favourites in there too and some that I’m going to have to go and look up. I’m with Noelle though – Mr Lincoln wins hands down for me. What’s a rose without that smell??! Hope you’re having a happy Easter!

    • Hello Karly, yes – too many! Part of the challenge of redesigning the beds that they are in is to make sure they aren’t just beds of dead looking sticks in the winter…which might mean a few less roses 😦
      Mr Lincoln is an absolute stunner, who deserves a better spot where it can really thrive – I’m working on it! As for perfume – that’s a big criteria for me too. The ones that don’t smell nice are going to have to really impress me with their beautiful blooms to stay!

  9. Wow! Beautiful photos! You seem an expert with Roses! I suck when it comes to growing ’em. Luckily I had a fragrant Rose (similar to your first pic) blooming for a year and half and it died last summer 😦
    Another orange rose died without any clue as to what happened with just two blooms in its lifetime.
    I have a cutting of a red rose that bloom in bunches of three or five that has bloomed only twice (I have no idea as to what variety it is)!
    Any suggestions as to what I am missing? It gets full sun – more than six hours a day and I water it and make sure it has proper draining so that the soil isn’t soggy. I fertilize it just as I do others. Dunno what else I’m missing 😦

  10. Hello Chandramouli and thanks for dropping by!
    Thank you also for your lovely comments, but I am no expert – just lucky that I live in a part of the world that roses seem to love with lots of sun and clay soil (thank goodness that roses like it!).

    I just had a quick peek at your blog and it looks like your roses are all in pots – is that right? They do look lovely in your photos and it sounds like they have plenty of sun. My roses are all in the ground – so this makes like a lot easier for them as they can get their roots right down deep and go looking for nutrients even if I forget to feed them (which I often do!).

    I just had a quick look at some information from Gardening Australia and they said that potted roses are incredibly hungry plants that like lots and lots of feeding – liquid fertiliser every two weeks when growing! Did you give them as much as all that? I would forget I think – so lucky mine aren’t in pots! They also mentioned to pot them on to a bigger pot every couple of years as the roses will exhaust their potting mix after two flowering seasons. I hope that might help a little bit at least!

    Now I’m heading off for a better look at your lovely blog 🙂

  11. Hi, Heidi ~ Wow…you have a beautiful rose collection. It is hard to pick my favorite… I love the color of the Mary Webb. I am impressed with all your record keeping and I bet it will be very useful for you to have in the future!

    • Hi Amy and thank you for your lovely comments!
      Mary Webb is lovely – I do like her soft yellow blooms and think I’d like some more! I’m hoping the plant thrives now it gets a bit more sun.

  12. I love the yellow throat of Mary Webb. That’s not an Austin rose I’m familiar with. I had a lot of disappointment with Winchester Cathedral too. Of all the David Austin roses I grew, that one rose was the most disease prone, mostly rust, and the last two years I had it, the poor plant was mostly bald for the whole season as all the leaves would drop. The flowers weren’t very long lasting either.

    • Hello CV – your feedback about your experience with Winchester Catherderal is very helpful! That rose and ‘The Swan’ are the only Austins I have that are in really good positions, yet still failing to thrive. I kept thinking that I must have been doing something really wrong as I’ve found Austin roses to be amongst the strongest and most desease resistant roses I’ve got. It is a shame, but I think those two are for scrap heap come time to reorganise the gaden!

  13. This is a fantastic log of your roses, and I think it will be helpful to other rose growers. My favorite of those listed is the Ambridge rose; it looks voluptuous!

  14. Deborah, you’ve made my day by picking out Ambridge Rose! That was my first Austin rose and I was enchanted by it from the start. I just wish you could smell it’s lovely scent too!

  15. Heidi, working with flowers all day seems to blunt my “nose” for fragrance, but Margaret Merill is amazing. What a lovely (and strong) fragrance, I love it.

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