Sunday, February 18, 2018

At Home with Westerland

truskot, westerland, shrub_rose
Westerland 1969 shrub



When Kordes introduced Westerland in 1969, this distinguished German rose hybridizer had achieved a new level of excellenze

Westerland truly has everything people are looking for in roses: exemplary beauty, ample vigor, superb disease resistance, delicious fragrance, and an intriguing apricot color blended with cream, yellow and orange depending on the climate and time of year. It also has a long vase life.

To these general characteristics, let’s also add the California Central Coast criteria—the flowers always open, the petals drop-off when spent, and the plant is rarely without flowers. 

I’ve only grown it now for a dozen seasons now so I’m a longtime friend. Others who have had it much longer are equally rapturous with the caveat that it does get “big.” I'd originally planted it in the front yard but there was too much shade so I moved it two years ago into a prime location on a backyard fence.

The breeding of Westerland is one of the most interesting in hybridizing history. In its ancestry, Westerland has R. foetida persica and R. eglanteria—the yellow Persian species which brought that color to modern roses and the wild European sweet briar rose which brought its excellent disease resistance to the table.

The hybrid perpetual General Jacqueminot (1853)—one of the first repeat-flowering crimson-colored roses; the hybrid teas Madama Butterfly (1918), Crimson Glory (1935), Golden Masterpiece (1954), Charlotte Armstrong (1940), and Peace (1945); several of the Pernetia roses including Souvenir de Claudius Pernet (the great French rose hybridizer Pernet (1920)—credited with bringing the color yellow into the hybrid tea class—named this influential hybrid for one of the two sons he lost in World War I.); and the hybrid musk roses Robin Hood (1927) and Eva (1933) through its floribunda parent, Circus (1956).

With such a mixed ancestry, Westerland is given the nondescript classification of “shrub.” Earlier in its history, it was considered a Climbing Floribunda.

Westerland has produced a yellow sport known as Autumn Sunset and an offspringthe relatively unknown but acclaimed, Jane Eyre. 

My cuttings came from former MBRS president Ruth DeBord’s garden. I gave two to the raffle table, one to a friend, put one in the ground, and have one to spare. Even in the worst part of wet springs, I lost no leaves to black spot. Even in the heaviest July fog, it had no powdery mildew.
I presume that Westerland is named for the northern most city in Germany, a seaside resort town. The City of Westerland is located in the Frisian Islands in the North Sea, reachable by causeway, and approximately due west from the German border with Denmark. Given this connection with marine climates, is it any wonder this rose does so well on California’s moist coast?

Westerland, which bears a good rating of 8.3 in the ARS handbook of roses is carried by specialty nurseries and is also available from Weeks and Edmunds. Local nurseries do have access to ordering it so let your contact at your favorite nursery know.

With such ample credits to its name, this rose deserves to be known and grown more. After all, Westerland is where the sun sets in Germany and California is where the sun sets in America. A full spray of Westerland has all the colors of a magnificent sun going down.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Madame Alfred Carriere

Pruning Climbing Roses


Many benefits can be derived from roses which send out long canes looking for as much sunshine and support as they can find. These include providing a verticle element in the garden, filling spaces that shrub roses can't fit into, adding extra security along fences to keep out unwanted visitors, and being among the first roses to bloom in the springtime.

Unlike other plants which are called "climbing," roses do not produce tendrils, like grapes, which wrap themselves around what they cling to or, like ivy and trumpet vine, produce invasive growths which work their way right into tiny spaces on or between boards and the bark of trees. Both of the latter will overtime bust up fences.

Climbing species roses often have evolved hooked thorns which help them cling better to their support or to themselves in the wild. Garden climbers, however, all need their gardeners to tie them down or provide material they can weave themselves into and out of.

Pruning climbers can be a daunting chore but it's one I always look forward to as I can do it while standing up and when the garden bed is wet. The top of my fence which surrounds the back garden also gives me a guideline as to the ideal height and the cross boards easily support the horizontal canes. Pruning will help them rest and build up strength for a magnificent first of the season bloom.

Like pruning other roses, several principals remain the same. Remove all dead wood or damaged canes, snip off spindly growth especially lower down on the verticle canes, pull off and discard all of last year's leaves, and check to make certain your support is still tightly secured to the fence, arbor, trellis or archway.

When pruning a climbing rose, leave stubs from last year's growth along horizontal canes. Flowering stalks will emerge from these growths and provide a profuse bloom.

While pruning, check the ground around your climbing roses. If they are grafted, you want to make sure that the bud union rests at the soil line and some light and warmth reaches it as that's where your new growth will come from.

I usually try to prune my largest climbers a little before winter's wind and rain. Here's the work I did on my noisette rose "Madame Alfred Carriere."
Madame Alfred Carriere Before Pruning


Madame Alfred Carriere After Pruning

It may seem drastic but Madame Alfred Carriere is a vigorous noisette rose and will soon respond to the rest period and the lengthening days. My purpose in pruning is to keep the rose a manageable size and to maximize the flowers. Noisette roses bloom repeatedly throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Purchasing and planting bare root roses


It's been several years since I purchased a bare root rose. Most of the roses in my garden were given to me as a gift, won on the raffle table and were already potted up or were cuttings that I rooted and placed in my garden.

This year, however, with the creation of this blog, I thought it would be helpful to review some best practices with bundled up bare root roses.

1. Purchase your bare root roses as soon as they are on display.

2. Look for Grade #1 which usually means three strong canes and comes at a higher price. If you purchase the lesser Grade #1.5, make sure you have at least two strong canes on opposite sides of the graft. Watch out for broken canes. That can happen when shoppers are rifling through the bin.

3. Expect to pay more for the patented roses which will be the latest introductions. National chain stores usually carry some patented roses and many older varieties as they can offer the ones that have been around for awhile at a cheaper price.

They can also count on gardeners to have heard some popular variety names and be inclined to choose something they've heard of rather than experiment with something they don't know. This year in the bins I've spotted Mister Lincoln (no), Camelot (no), Oklahoma (maybe), Olympiad (yes), Sterling Silver (hell no), Peace (maybe), Pascali (yes), Double Delight (yes), Miss All-American Beauty (definitely), Oregold (no), Playboy (yes) and Queen Elizabeth (no). I also spotted some climbing roses in the bins: Joseph's Coat (yes), Don Juan (no), Piñata (no), and Golden Showers (yes). Climbing Cécile Brunner, too, is very large, healthy and floriferous in the spring with an occasional flower during the season.

4. These chain stores purchase roses at their corporate headquarters in enormous lots without any reference as to how well they will do on the Central Coast of California. Some will do well, others won't perform as you might wish and are susceptible to many of our fungal diseases or have too many petals and a shape that needs night-time heat to open properly.

5. Discount stores may also offer roses for sale. Like most of the merchandise offered at these businesses, they are overstock items, often from lesser quality sources. No matter, I decided to go through one of their bins and pick out one more rose.

The rose I purchased - Blue Girl - came from the fields around Tyler, Texas which is a different climate than ours so I expect some early vigor and will watch to see if during the summer it can adapt and grow.

(I bought Blue Girl as it grows well in the Monterey Bay Rose Society's display garden, located on Lake Avenue, east of Watsonville on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. It's lavender and I don't have an example currently of that color in my yard. At $5.99, it would be worth the risk of buying a rose with a mosaic virus. I'll know as soon as the leaves start growing and displaying the virus. It doesn't spread from bush to bush and would have been probably introduced from the tainted rootstock.)

6. Unwrap the bundled rose in a far corner of the garden. Discard the paper wrapping and allow the sawdust to fall in the garden or your recycle bin.

7. Inspect the rose carefully for broken or damaged roots. It's likely the rose will have produced a few new roots while in storage. They will be pale white. If you find a broken root, prune it off about a quarter inch above the break.


Blue Girl being re-hydrated. The weak middle cane will be removed.

8. Plunge the rose into three or four gallons of water to which you've added a tablespoon of bleach. The rose was probably harvested in October, processed and wrapped and sent to a cooler set at exactly 33 degrees. You don't know how long it sat on the delivery truck or how long it was in the back room at the store and in some cases how long it's been out in the sun at the store's front door. It will definitely be in need of a drink. The bleach is a safeguard against any bacteria, fungus or insect eggs which might be on the plant from Texas.

9. Allow one or two days for re-hydration. When you're ready, you can either pot the rose up in pristine soil or plant it directly in your garden. I now opt for a 15-gallon black pot. Mostly due to the fact that I'm not sure where in the garden I want to put a new rose or how healthy the plant might be.

10. Dust the roots with some rooting hormone before you bury them. I've found that this helps the rose to establish more roots faster.

11. If the bud eyes have already sprouted and are starting to produce leaves, push off multiple sprouts from one location always leaving the strongest one. Choose those sprouts coming from the top part of the cane and facing away from the center of the plant.

12. Spread the roots out as much as you can and place soil about an inch above the bud union (the point where the rose you bought was grafted onto the rootstock). Fresh soil usually settles a bit and the soil line will come to rest right at the bud union in a matter of weeks.

13. Do all this now while the days are still short and the nights are cold so there won't be too much stress on the plant.

14. Give the newly planted rose about a gallon of water. Don't drown it. It doesn't have a strong root system yet and you don't want to have what roots it does have to sit in water.
Blue Girl ready to receive winter rain.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rose Pruning is fun ... and necessary


Just look at the great group effort to prune the 125 hybrid teas, floribundas, and climbers at the Monterey Bay Rose Society's display garden at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds outside of Watsonville on Sunday.

The garden will be finished on Wednesday and ready for new top dressing. It's much easier to add soil amendments and mulch once the bushes have been reduced in size.

My home garden is about half done and I hope to return to it later today. But during the pruning, I was reminded again of the importance of opening up the center of bush, getting rid of all canes which cross over the center, and pruning to a healthy outside bud eye.

During my last time pruning, I found the following cane and thought you'd benefit from some advice. Occasionally you will find a damaged cane on one of your bushes which somehow got scaped during the summer.

It's best to prune off any canes that have been injured like this as they are only supplying the upper part of the cane with half the nutrition needed. As the growth below the damaged area was spindly, I cut even further down the cane as the photo indicates.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Brenda Wood, consulting rosarian, in the display garden

Pruning Clinic coming to Rose Society's Display Garden


Join members of the Monterey Bay Rose Society for an upclose and personal lesson on how to prune rose bushes. The event takes place Saturday and Sunday, January 13 and 14 at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville. Enter through the Horse Show Gate across the street from Sierra Azul Nursery. Drive to the end and look to your left.

The program includes a step-by-step demonstration of how to prune, what to prune and how much to prune. It also covers a lesson on the appropriate equipment and how to keep your pruning shears sharp.

The advantage of this demonstration is that all participants are encouraged to put on their gloves and sharpen their blades and try it out under the supervision of an experienced consulting rosarian.

All are welcome.
Marjorie Callahan, consulting rosarian, pruning in the display garden




Wednesday, December 27, 2017

China Doll

A photograph in the crude colors of 1940-era garden books struck me right off. A happy little cottage surrounded by a white picket fence edged by multiple plantings of a new rose at that time called China Doll.

Its clusters of bright, medium pink flowers create one of the nicest landscape effects ever. It makes a wonderful low hedge. I bought 23 bare root ones in 1993 – every one I could find - and planted them as a border for my back garden rose bed.

After 25 years of marginal care and major abuse, only 8 have survived, most succumbing to being stepped on by me as I tried to get the hose over the hedge to tend the roses behind them or during various droughts when the shallow roots just didn’t get enough water.

It’s still the single most numerous rose, by far, in my yard. It’s never taller or wider than two feet. It needs just a little food and water to produce many, many blooms.

China Doll’s individual flowers are medium pink often with a white eye or white stripe near the center or along a petal edge. I have had clusters bearing up to forty different two-inch wide blooms at the end of a single stem. The flowers within a cluster open approximately at the same time so a cluster’s presentation never has too few open flowers and too numerous buds. The clusters are long-lived and attractive. It has a slight fragrance in full sun. It’s rarely out of bloom.

My China Dolls are grafted and therefore not invasive.

One spray has won the best polyantha ribbon in several Monterey Bay Rose Society shows. It contributes greatly to any garden which contains it and comes highly recommended by me.


China Doll was bred in 1946 in the United States by Dr. Walter Lammerts. A towering giant among American rose hybridizers, Dr. Lammerts of Livermore, California, developed the following long list of excellent roses: Bewitched, Charlotte Armstrong, Chrysler Imperial, Golden Showers, High Noon, Mirandy, Queen Elizabeth, and Sunny June. They were all created in the 40's and 50's and are still available widely which says so much about their quality.

Polyantha roses are descended from rosa multiflora and rosa roulettii. Early records are quite sketchy and dubious, but there was a market at the turn of the last century for roses which produced clusters of smaller flowers and repeated their bloom during the season.

Mrs. Dudley Fulton, a white or near white polyantha, is the seed parent of China Doll. She was bred from Perle d’Or — still one of the most popular polyantha roses, especially around California’s Central Coast where it is particularly well suited. Perle d’Or was bred in 1884 in France and is a peachy cream cousin of Mlle. Cécile Brunner. China Doll’s other grandparent on this side is a now rare orange pink polyantha bred in 1921 in England called Dorothy Howarth.

Tom Thumb, the famous 1936 miniature rose bred by De Vink in Holland where it is known as Peon was the pollen parent of China Doll. Tom Thumb’s parents are rosa roulettii and Gloria Mundi, a nearly forgotten, orange-red polyantha introduced in 1927 by De Ruiter again in Holland. It had been discovered as a sport of a dark red miniature of unknown parentage named Superb. It’s most famous offspring is a similarly colored rose named Pinkie which was developed by Swim in 1946. Pinkie’s elegant form is quite different.

China Doll is susceptible to powdery mildew especially evident on stem and peduncle during our foggiest summers, to black spot because of its compact growth, and to die back along a cut main stem.

I have wished that I could tend mine better. They are reachable enough but grow on a slight slope so watering and feeding them proved difficult - faulty garden design for California.

Also on the negative side, I’ve had beautiful cut specimens last only a matter of hours in a vase. China Doll does not rank at all as a suitable cut flower though it looks terrific combined with complimentary colored hybrid tea roses at least for a few hours.

I’m not sure how Dr. Lamnerts came upon the name China Doll, but its path of origin via France, Holland, England, and America ultimately puts one in China and as a rose, it is a doll!