Too Many Roses

I think I might have too many roses in the garden.

 Westerland, Compassion, and white Iceberg in the background.
Roses By the House

I didn't think this in spring, when the leaves and buds were forming. The balance of flowers and foliage in my September garden was perfect - flaxes and tussock grasses were proudly in place, the strappy daylilies were tidily growing, and the spring bulbs were showing off. Everything was quietly growing, peacefully interacting. My garden was in balance.

 A beautiful big shrub.
Fruhlingsgold Roses

In October the first rose to flower was Fruhlingsgold, wrapped around an old fruit tree. Its tall neighbours (a cabbage tree and a gold Choiysa) were most appreciative, and down at ground level the variegated aquilegias agreed - this rose was allowed to take up some room. It had such a fresh clear fragrance, too, for anyone walking past.

 With the most beautiful fragrance.
Othello Rose

By the house, propped up against a drain pipe, Othello rose was the next bloomer I took notice of. It's one of the most beautiful smelling roses I know. I often pick a flower just to scatter the petals around, or put them in a bowl for the house.


Othello is a big buxom show-off, but its neighbours (green shiny swirling angelica and the fine bronze-green cascading grass Anemanthele) seemed to be coping well. Another reasonably early bloomer was Westerland, the soft orangey rose which was starting to climb up the end of the patio pergola. The Calamagrostis grass and the early blue salvia and irises at its feet made subtle companions.

The Infamous Rose Sale Begins...

I think things got out of hand in early November (that's our spring, here in the Southern Hemisphere) when the rose sale near my work started to panic. How can anyone buy too many seven dollar bare root roses, from a reputable rose grower, presented in containers in an old car park? The nursery was closing down, and all the stock had to be sold.

No money had been wasted on unnecessaries like planter bags and potting mix - this was commercial gardening with no frills. There were hundreds of named varieties, desperately in need of a good home.

 By the house.
Westerland Rose

The Rose Sale of the Millennium

I went shopping, and I spent my gardening pocket money two weekends in a row - this was obviously the rose sale of the millennium, and I had to be in quick! By then I had a new pergola, just waiting for the taller ones, and a new garden area over the water race which had no specific planting plan. It was easy to find space for the new arrivals, which were plonked in, dosed with water and mulched, and then forgotten about.

Further Reductions...

Then the weekly advertisement in the newspaper changed. The bare root roses were now six dollars, with 'new arrivals every day'. It was mid November, the time of year when all self-respecting roses are tucked in bed, growing strongly, even flowering. I didn't totally believe the advertisement, but I had to check, just in case. Oops!

Amongst the new arrivals I found Crepuscule, and I came away with two of these (for the pergola, of course), plus some Colourbreaks (two), Reine des Violettes (two), Golden Celebrations (two), and some pink and red roses (seven), just to keep the balance of colours.

 The large rose is Othello, the tinier pink is unknown.
Roses by the House

Of course I didn't really know exactly where these newest roses would go, eventually. But I didn't think it would be too much of a problem - after all the potager wouldn't really mind if the roses were heeled in amongst the little brick paths.

Potager Invaded by Roses

The new garden area over the water race wasn't yet dug, so my sale roses invaded the potager - just a short term solution, of course. I was careful to call this an area of transitional plantings.

But back to the rose sale in the old car park. I was finally comprehensively beaten. The sign said 'FREE roses', and along one fence were 12 containers full. I loaded up the car, and off I drove - with 20 slightly scruffy bare root roses, without labels, but they were free! Upon arrival, they were pruned and potted, watered and lined up behind the glass-house. Would they all get planted? (Don't worry, they were!)

Fruit Salad Roses

Later, in summer, the potager looked like a gourmet rose fruit salad - with berries and melons and cherries mixed up in the pineapple and peach chunks. In other words, Pat Austin, Golden Celebration, and assorted pink roses were all flowering merrily. And I never actually got round to shifting them at all. Oops.

I think I might have too many roses. Hmmmm...