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Adding Old Garden Roses to My Garden

Although 2020 has seen many of our plans change and forced us to work in entirely new ways, our gardens remain a positive respite that despite whatever is going on in the world remain a constant source of stress relief and happiness.
Photos of Madame Isaac Periere taken June 2020 at Elizabeth Park

I began 2020 with a couple of garden initiatives- firstly to visit more public rose gardens, and secondly to expand my collection of roses into old garden varieties - Both of which I have done. Now in regards to visiting more rose gardens, this hasn't been the easiest year to travel and many public spaces have been closed or open with limited access. Early in the year I took several trips to Elizabeth park in Hartford, CT and joked that I had seen the park full of dormant roses so many times that I probably wouldn't get back to see them in bloom. That was foreshadowing at its finest, but I was intent on getting back down. I was able to visit a couple of weekends ago and will be sure to write my thoughts in another blog.

Freshly created rose beds this spring before bare rooms had arrived

Old garden roses are where my mind is this year. It seems a natural progression. I started my love of roses with Hybrid teas and soon discovered David Austin roses. After filling my garden with David Austin roses I finally began exploring historical roses and for the first time looking past their negative traits and seeing them for their charming qualities. It started with a goal of trying to collect what are considered to be the most fragrant of roses. This search led me to the Rose - Madame Isaac Pereire which many consider to be the most fragrant rose in the world.

Of course adding Madame Isaac Periere (MIP) to my spring order opened Pandora's box and the more that I researched old varieties of roses the more that I had to have. At the end of the day I had to be practical to work within my space. Unlike many David Austin roses, Old roses can get to gargantuan sizes.

I knew that I wanted to expand my roses beds, however adding MIP to my garden would mean giving her substantial space to spread out. It also meant dealing with blackspot like i've probably not dealt with before. The solution would help with a couple of things. I had been struggling to figure out a way to finish my back garden near my driveway. The lawn pretty much ran into the driveway, and i use the term "lawn" loosely. As successful as I've been at growing flowers, I've had awful luck with keeping my lawn green and free of weeds. Being a big fan of motifs and consistent themes, i decided to add a single panel of picket fencing along the driveway. It's not an impenetrable fence, however presentation wise it creates a nice border. It also paved the way (fenced the way?) for a new garden bed that would allow a good amount of space for MIP to grow into along with an assortment of companions.

before the fence was painted and the bed was planted

Along with MIP I added Louise Odier, another ravishing diva of a bourbon rose with as much personality as MIP, Madame Hardy, a white damask rose with a green button eye whom English botanist Graham Thomas described as still being unsurpassed by any rose, Ispahan, another damask rose considered to having the longest bloom cycle of any of the once blooming roses, Félicité Parmentier- an alba rose of light pink, and then a couple of hybrid perpetual roses enfant de france and Marchesa Boccella (aka Jacques Cartier).

At the time of writing this only Marchesa Boccella has bloomed and I am thrilled with her, Small fluffy pom pom blooms that open awkwardly at first with a nice strong old rose fragrance. Surprisingly I have buds on Félicité and Madame Hardy despite them being once blooming roses. I expected them to only produce canes this year and blooms next year. I also have buds on MIP that appear to be getting bigger by the day. I'm seriously too excited for this. Of course I will be writing more updates as everything begins to open.

Marchesa Boccola aka Jacques Cartier almost full open

And fully open


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