Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Roses

You may recall that last year I bit the bullet and stroked a check to David Austin for a lovely container-sized rose - 'Sister Elizabeth'.  It/she had a good first year - grew well, bloomed well, and taught me some new tricks about growing roses. 

Back story:  Many years ago I inherited my FIL's rose beds - nearly 200 FEET of hybrid roses all lined up straight and perfectly spaced and ... neglected for several years, so they were overgrown, thorny and in distress.  No stress there at all ... just perfect strangers stopping to ask when I was going to "fix the roses".  After a couple of years of struggle, I pared the "collection" down to about 20 bushes that I moved into a much smaller space, but I found that all that feeding and dusting and fighting with beetles was not to my liking and I finally just dug up the entire garden and walked away from roses - completely. 

Since we have lived in this "new" house, I have had one white miniature rose that came from my beloved aunt's garden, and recently a yellow Knock Out bush and a grocery-store pink mini-rose ... until 'Sister Elizabeth' joined us last spring.  

Back story #2:  About ten years ago the women in my office gifted me with this lovely planter for my garden.  
I thought it would look good with a container rose in it, so purchased one at the grocery store.  Seriously.  I plopped it in the pot, watered it occasionally, and there she has remained ever since. 
This is June 2013 and pretty much what she has looked like every year  - lots of leaves but few flowers.

The three "old" roses had managed to exist on benign neglect, but having spent good money on her, I felt morally obligated to take better care of "Liz".  Since my guru of container success is Marie at 66 Square Feet, I followed her rose regimen - organic potting medium, a shot of fish fertilizer weekly and a monthly feeding with organic rose food.   And, we had a good year.  "Liz" thrived.
June 2013 after only 60 days with me.
About half way thru the summer, tho, I started feeling guilty.  The un-named pink mini was getting by, while "Liz" was feasting and being treated like royalty.  So, I decided that fair is fair.  I re-potted 'Cinderella' - appropriate, no? - in organic potting mix and started feeding her on the same schedule.  And, she blossomed - literally and figuratively!  Today, she looks like this:

'Sister Elizabeth' is a different story, tho.  While she started off beautifully and by mid-April was lovely ... then she was attached by inch worms.  OMG!!  They stripped her "nekid".  I sought help at the good nursery - not one of the big boxes - and have now sprayed her thoroughly with Sevin [sorry, guys, it had to be done] and now am hoping she will re-grow all those wonderful leaves.  She is trying to bloom, and I have sought help from the guru. 

Maybe I need to cut her back heavily to take some of the stress off of her.  I want to save her, so will do whatever I need to to "fix' her.   It seems a shame that as Cinderella has come into her glory, poor 'Sister Elizabeth' has been attacked.  Time will tell.