If you ask me about my favorite plant or flower in the garden, I unfailingly respond, “roses and hydrangeas.” I can’t help it.
While I do love and appreciate native plants–and try every year to add more and more of them to my garden for my pollinators–they are not yet my favorites. Maybe someday.
But my favorite roses–the lovely cottage garden-y David Austins–I pulled out of my gardens probably 4 years ago now. Every spring when I see them at the garden centers I still swoon–and then I walk on by to the more practical things I have come to buy.
What happened? Two things: the usual bane of an organic rose growers existence, black spot, and the rose sawfly larva.
Black spot is bad enough and there are ways to “manage” it organically but I am truly a hands off organic gardener. I try–unless it is absolutely necessary–to spray absolutely nothing ever. That’s one benefit to living in a climate where the only seasons are winter and July. “Winter” kills most of the obnoxious pests–or prohibits them from running too badly amok.
If I lived in a climate that was the other extreme, as one of my prolific commenters calls it “summer and January,” well then all bets would be off. I would definitely have to “manage” my landscape more intensely.
This is a photo of the rose sawfly larva. It may be a little hard to spot–it’s on the lower right hand quadrant of the leaf. It looks like a little green worm or caterpillar.
And here’s a photo of the damage. Now mind you, this is damage to a yellow Knockout rose. Considering how pest, disease and carefree the Knockout family of roses are supposed to be, you can imagine how badly the David Austins took this sort of thing! It’s not that they got defoliated–but you almost wished that they had!
Then just about when they had re-flushed out, the black spot hit. Nope, sadly, they had to go.
So this is what I replaced them with–all nice shrub roses.
I am in love with the Drift roses. I have them in 3 colors, Pink, (which is a single, shown above) Sweet (which is a double pink, immediately shown above) and Red (shown below). They are easier and more carefree than Knockout, in my opinion, although they grow lower.
They are not fragrant or good cutting roses however.
Another fabulous shrub rose–but alas again not fragrant or good for cutting–is the OSO Easy rose. I have OSO Happy Candy Oh! (Shown above). And I must say that unless you are careful, its thorns will positively impale you! So you will want it in an out of the place.
Bees regularly visit these–there’s a bumble bee on Candy Oh! in the photo. So again, while I prize my natives, don’t feel that you must grow only natives to please your bees!