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Hey Mr Lincoln

I think we all have certain expectations of roses when we begin a rose garden. More so than any other plant, everyone has an image of what a rose should be or what they would like it to be in their garden and there is probably some piece of nostalgia that dictates what that image is. For me it was a classic long stem red rose with a sumptuous fragrance. The nostalgia may have been linked to my love of Alice in wonderland as a kid. I was off to find the perfect red rose to begin my rose garden and I knew that meant reading reviews and learning a thing or two about roses. Along with learning about hybrid teas, I found the rose- “Mr. Lincoln,” that sounded like he would fit the bill nicely and upon checking into my local big box store, I found an entire display of Mr. Lincoln roses. It was kismit and I purchased 2 of these to add to my newly designed bed.

At this point I must admit I still didn’t know that I was planting a full rose garden and Mr. Lincoln ended up in a bed with a multitude of other plants that would slowly be replaced over the next couple of years with all roses. But for that first autumn it was fun watching the two Mr. Lincoln’s settle in and even produce a couple buds before winter set in. Seeing rosebuds form the first time in my garden was a bit magical. Like money had officially grown on trees and I couldn’t help but think of the lush bouquets I would be able to snip right from the garden in future years. 

When winter had officially arrived and the yard was buried in several feet of snow I started reading about winter protection and must admit I worried about my new roses for the remainder of the winter. I had left them to persevere the winter alone with no protection and I wasn’t sure how they would fare. I live in chilly New England, zone 5b, and I would discover many things about growing roses in colder zones over the next couple of years. By spring I had lost one of my Mr. Lincoln’s and promptly removed it along with several other plants to begin expanding the rose garden. A long winter gives a gardener much time to plan and I was ready to embrace this hobby full on. 

So what did I think of Mr. Lincoln? He proved to be the Rose I sought out looking for. He was a spectacle and not only was I obsessed but my neighbors too thought he was spectacular. The first growing season he produced a good dozen or so blooms and grew to about six feet tall. The blooms were large and the fragrance was perfect. A strong Classic rose fragrance. The only slight disappointment was after the blooms had fully opened they would turn from their brilliant red coloring to a deep fuscia/pink color that I didn’t care for much. 

Unfortunately one of the hard lessons I learned in caring for roses in our cold growing zone was that the crown needs to be buried or protected for winter and Mr. Lincoln ultimately died after a very harsh winter that brought multiple weeks of negative temperatures with no snow cover. After an entire growing season without him  I replaced him this past summer. I made sure to plant him deeper and he gave me a single bloom. I’m hoping he takes off again next year so I can once again enjoy the blooms that began my love of roses. 


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