Roses

It’s 17:30 and I’ve just come inside from planting roses. Very old varieties of scented roses which I hope will become a hedge.

It gets dark around 17:30 at this time of year. The days have been warm and sunny with the damp air of autumn. Perfect for planting, not too hot, not too cold.

The early morning views of the valley with cloud shaped mist hovering over just a touch of frost is breathtaking.

When I lived in Wisconsin I always wanted to grow roses, but never did. The winters there are so cold and the summers so damp and I was always told that roses require a lot of attention, and I just didn’t have the time to even think about them.

Here in Le Marche however, roses seem to flourish. Goodness, you’d think that nothing could grow in this clay soil, but loads of wonderful plants do, and roses are one of them.

Three and a half years ago my German friend Gaby, who is an avid gardener living in England, gave me a cutting from a gorgeous climbing rose of hers.

I planted it next to a fence along our driveway, gave it some water now and then, and the following year it was huge, covered in yellow and pink flowers.

Encouraged, I made some cuttings of roses that I liked and lo and behold, they rooted and grew.

Inspired by this success, I purchased a rose, a Pierre-De-Ronsard rose, a climbing rose that I planted next to the fence. Here’s a photo of its first bloom.

Pierre De Ronsard Rose

People think roses are fussy, I guess in some respects they are, but they are so beautiful they are worth all the fuss to me. I always thought that it would be difficult to grow roses organically, but actually, it’s really not. The inspector for our organic certification told me that he believes roses do better if grown organically, less susceptible to diseases.

In late spring we have a black and white spotted beetle that likes our roses as much as I do. Man those little guys can munch through a flower in record time! I am completely over being squeamish (amazing what living in the country will do to you) and pick them off and crush them. During the same season nasty aphids love the roses as well. They like to crowd around the rose buds, and if left to do their damage, the bud will not flower. A good dousing with soapy water seems to take care of them…of course they come back, so I spray about once a week. And then, there is leaf rust if it’s been raining but spraying with copper takes care of that. The fruit trees and the grape vines also get rust, so we just spray everything the same day.

During the rest of the year it’s just pruning, spreading manure and if I want them to bloom in the hot summer months, giving them water.

In three years I’ve made countless cuttings of roses…I even keep a pair of pruning shears in my car just in case I see a particularly beautiful rose. So far every time I ask a stranger if I can take a cutting from their rose they are all smiles. I think rose lovers are happy when others take notice, and sharing is a wonderful thing.

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