Moving several years ago from a shady garden to a sunny, rose-filled site was a joy to me. Although the former owner provided a list of the roses’ names in my new yard, I had no idea what kind of roses they were.
I knew nothing of such terms as floribunda, David Austin, grandifloras, or hybrid teas. From searching the Internet for basic instructions, I pruned and fertilized them well enough to keep the plants alive and blooming. In retrospect, I should have studied a book like Right Rose, Right Place (Storey Publishing) much sooner. For after reading this book, I not only identified all my roses’ types, but also learned more about the conditions necessary for their good care than I had ever imagined.
Peter Schneider, the author, is an enthusiastic lover of roses, growing 1,200 different kinds on his Ohio farm. He has raised roses and written books and magazine articles about them for 30 years. In this three-part book, he begins by giving a brief history of roses and defining about 20 modern classes of roses.
In the second part, Schneider introduces 329 specific roses. The plants’ descriptions are arranged not by class, but by use. Roses grown in containers, those that stand alone, climbing roses, miniatures, etc., are introduced in groups. The origin, class, bloom color and size, degree of repeat bloom, size of plant and its winter hardiness are listed with each rose. Beautiful photographs accompany many of the descriptions.
In the book’s third section, rooting, planting, transplanting, pruning, fertilizing and cutting are explained step-by-step. From this part, I learned many things I had ignorantly not done when planting several subsequently unhappy roses in my yard. For instance, I didn’t trim the roots before planting or transplanting roses. Schneider also discusses many tips to protect against insects, diseases and animals, including the great rose eater, deer.
In addition to identifying places for planting roses, Schneider reminds us that the sizes and recommendations for these flowers are formulated from his experiences in Ohio. Since his farm is in zone 5b, the weather there is much colder than the 7b of the Triangle and in Texas and California where most roses are grown. He suggests visiting local garden centers, not big box or discount stores, to search for plants that will do well in the reader’s specific climate.
Reading Schneider’s writing is like talking to a well-informed, gardener neighbor. He explains everything you need in a clear, casual language.
In fact, with the many rose gardening instructions Schneider offers, I might convert my entire back yard into a rose garden by following his advice. “If you can grow a marigold, you can grow a rose….it’s not specialized or expert care they require, its simply regular attention.”
Christine Thomson is a Raleigh gardener obsessed with plants. She is a volunteer at the Raulston Arboretum and fills her spare time reading books, especially volumes about vegetation.