Starting in 1974, after reading The Fragrant Garden by Louise Beebe Wilder, Mitzi started her journey into gardening for fragrance. The most captivating chapter was the one on Old Garden Roses, and she began looking for them in her home town (at that time) of Seattle, Washington. None were to be found in public places. She continued reading on the subject of both gardening for fragrance and Old Roses, and began growing some of the fragrant plants. In 1979 she moved to Austin, Texas and continued her search there. Still there were no old roses in public gardens and it wasn't until 1981 and a trip to England that she found her way to Royal National Rose Society Headquarters in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. That was the real blossoming of her romance with Old Roses.

A year later, on a trip to Shreveport, LA and American Rose Society National Headquarters, she met up with a number of other people who were also interested in Old Roses, and they began a renovation of the Old Garden Rose section of the gardens. Through that connection, she became a member of Heritage Roses Group and The Texas Rose Rustlers. With the Rose Rustlers she explored Texas and Louisiana looking for old varieties in cemeteries and abandoned farmyards. She started a small, part-time business called Antique Roses of Austin and planted roses and companion plants. In 1983 she became South Central Coordinator for Heritage Roses Group(HRG). During her 13 years in Austin, she collected and grew hundreds of old roses, giving cuttings of many of her varieties to (and for a period of time working as a Sales Representative for) The Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas.

Mitzi has owned and developed a series of gardens in TX, CA, OR, and once again in TX. All have featured extensive collections of old roses and companion plants. She has served as Regional Coordinator for Heritage Roses Group for the South Central Region from 1983-1991, and for the Southwest Region 1993-1999.

Mitzi has written a number of articles on Old Roses over the years that have been published in The Rose Letter, the quarterly Journal of HRG. Among them were several articles on using roses in the landscape. Following is a brief summary of many of those design/display ideas which are adapted to small to medium-sized residential properties. Some may be accomplished with ease and others may require elaborate construction. First are the landscape ideas associated with the house and formal garden, then less formal treatments, and finally, arrangements for the "wild" garden.

WALLS/HOUSES

  • Chose climbers of moderate vigor and those not excessively woody
  • Construct tellis work so that foliage is held at least 6 inches away from the surface (to increase air circulation and discourage fungal disease)
  • On surfaces such as brick or stone roses may be attached by "eyes" and wires
  • It is best to plant beneath windows and train the canes laterally. This will encourage side shoots, provide more complete coverage, and increase bloom
  • Roses can cover an entire wall, accentuate positive architectural details, or downplay or hide poorly planned areas
  • In climates with cool to moderate summers, the trelliage can continue onto the roof
  • Grow fragrant varieties on the side of the house facing the prevailing wind to insure the scent will enter the house
  • Away from the house, roses may be grown to climb up and spill over walls that enclose the garden or patio, or along driveways
  • If given initial support, some of the most vigorous varieties can climb and grow to cover out-buildings (and hide unsightly structures)

Suggested classes (roses grouped according to categories) for wall of houses: Climbing Teas/Noisettes,Climbing Hybrid Teas, Large Flowered Climbers

For garden walls: the above roses as well as Ramblers, Hybrid Musks, and some of the loose and long-caned Bourbons & Hybrid Perpetuals

For Out-buildings: Ramblers, the white and yellow Banksias, 'Mermaid' and some species (wild) climbers such as Rosa multiflora, R.brunonii

PILLARS

  • Pillars may be made from single rustic wooden poles with pegs or nails placed at regular intervals around the pole. Canes are tied up vertically, or better trained in spiral fashion, which will encourage bloom from laterals
  • Posts may stand free or be connected by chain or ropes that hang in easy festoons
  • Another method of forming a pillar would be to plant four wood poles (each about 2" diameter) 18" apart, forming a square column,and then brace with horizontal pieces placed a 1 foot intervals up the side
  • A simple pillar can be made of 3 iron or wood poles lashed together at the top to form a tripod
  • Many pre-fabricated wooden and iron pillars are available for purchase in catalogs and nurseries
  • An umbrella trained pillar can be made by growing arose up a central column, then out at the top to fall over an umbrella-shaped support
  • Pillar roses can be placed in flower beds, with other roses in their own garden, or in a lawn

Suggested classes: Cl. Teas/Noisettes,Ramblers, Cl. Hybrid Teas, and vigorous Hybrid Perpetuals and Bourbons

ARCHES

  • Arches might be planted at intervals along a double flower border separated by a path
  • An arch could be placed over a path which connects one area of the garden with another, or at the entrance or exit from the garden. The support should complement the existing form of enclosure
  • Suitable materials for arches include wood, iron, brick, or stone as part of an existing wall. Again, many pre-fabricated structures are available for purchase locally or through mail-order houses
  • The arch should be sufficiently high to allow for the fullnes and drape of the foliage and still permit free passage

Suggested classes: Ayrshires, Ramblers, Cl. Teas/Noisette, Hybrid Musks. Cl. Hybrid Teas are not suitable as they have rather stiff canes that are difficult to train.

THE PERGOLA

  • To form a pergola, upright piers of brick, stone, iron,or wood are erected in pairs across the path and a connecting beam is put in place
  • The importance of placing the pergola properly cannot be overly stressed. It must be located such that it can be seen from the sides. It should lead from some clear beginning to some definite end. It might connect two separate areas of the garden, or the beginning might be a convergence of two pathways and then lead to a covered seat
  • The pergola should always be on level ground. It could turn at 90-degree angles and actually enclose a formal garden
  • The walk under a pergola may be grass, gravel, decomposed granite, brick, or flagstones.
  • In a small garden, the pergola might be shortened to 2-3 posts to form a deepened archway
  • The entire pergola might be of one variety, or one might wish to alternate once-flowering varieties with repeat-flowering varieties for a longer period of bloom. Clematis are often planted along with once-flowering roses to extend the bloom

Suggested Classes: Ramblers, Cl. Teas/Noisettes, Large-Flowered Climbers

STANDARDS/WEEPING STANDARDS

  • The reason for making standards is to produce a variation in form and height, and to use that variation in a way that is pleasing to the eye
  • These rose forms are best suited for formal areas of the garden. Long rows of standards give an interesting effect in perspective; double rows seem to converge at a point in the distance
  • Standards, placed at conspicuous angles in the border or in the center of beds of bush roses, avoid monotony and can show off rose color to great advantage
  • Standards may be budded with bush roses to form the sort readily available in commerce today, or with old climbing or trailing varieties to create weeping standards. These weeping forms give a much more dramatic effect in the garden
  • A circular bed, with a pillar at center, surrounded by concentric rings of first weeping standards, then "standard" standards, bushes, and finally dwarf Polyanthas could form a pyramid well suited as the central point in a formal rose garden
  • Standards must be well staked at planting time, and protected in cold climates

Suggested classes: Teas, Chinas, Polyanthas for regular standards; Cl. Tea/Noisettes, Ramblers, and Ayrshire roses for the weeping standard

SCREENS/TRELLISES/ESPALIERS

  • All three of these display forms can be used to screen out unsightly views, to provide privacy from neighbors or streets, to absorb noise, and to provide enclosure for the garden and back of the border
  • Posts should be treated or charred to prevent rot, and set in cement for stability
  • Pillars or posts could alternate with trellis for a nice effect, with garlands hung between posts for a more dramatic look
  • Rose canes should be tied laterally at first, then secondary shoots and new basal shoots can be tied in to create a fan-like effect. The roses will produce more bloom if trained in this fashion

Suggested classes: Cl. Teas/Noisettes, Ramblers, Cl. Hybrid Teas, Sweet Briars, and the vigorous Hybrid Perpetuals and Bourbons

HEDGES

  • Hedges can serve the same purposes as outlined in
  • SCREENS/TRELLISES/ESPALIERS
  • Roses of the "free-growing" sorts adapt readily to hedges. To promote bushy growth on bushes with long, lax canes, peg the canes into an arched position thereby encouraging laterals (and also more bloom)
  • Hedges should have free space on both sides. Plantingthem in a staggered fashion will create a more natural effect. The plants should be widely spaced--4 feet or more, depending on habit
  • In mixed hedges, it is best to group three of a variety together, then plan variation so the overall pattern produces a sense of whole

Suggested classes: Rugosas, Hybrid Perpetuals, Bourbons, and for mild climates the Teas, Chinas, and bush-forming Noisettes

SPECIMEN PLANTS/WEEPING SHRUBS

  • One should provide plenty of space for specimen plants so they may develop their natural form
  • They can be planted in a area of lawn for interest,or spaced at intervals in a flower border
  • They might also be used to "bridge" the change from the more formal, manicured areas of the garden to the wild. At the edge of the garden, they could be be planted to scramble over existing shrubs and into trees
  • Large shrubs can be used to cover unsightly objects which resist removal such as decaying stumps, dead trees, or rock piles

Suggested Classes: Ayrshires,vigorous Hybrid Perpetuals and Bourbons, Rugoses, Sweet Briars, HybridMusks, Noisettes, and any one of the species roses On larger and more rural properties, there are a number of other unusual ways of planting or grouping roses. Ramblers might be planted on a large MOUND and allowed to trail down. To achieve a GLADE, ramblers could be planted on each side of a path, given a little support, and eventually woven in with each other to create a closed covering. Roses of mixed classes might be grouped in GROVES, some given support to cover a pathway, and the smaller varieties planted along side in an irregular pattern to tie the structure to the landscape. BANKS could be planted with Ramblers or trailing roses at the top, and allowed to spill down the sides.

With a little imagination, there are a multitude of ways that roses can be used in the landscape. On small properties,the planting of a few of the older roses within a border may be a simple way to bring their fragrance and varied form into the garden. For gardeners who wish to have roses, but avoid the severe pruning and spraying associated with the modern hybrids, well-chosen old varieties offer ease of care. Not all old roses are disease and insect free(as some would have you believe) but the right old rose, in the right position,can add needed charm to our modern gardens.

There are many sites on the web devoted to the Old Roses. A few of my favorites are:

Vintage Roses
The Rosarian
Amity Heritage Roses

Here are a list of excellent books on old roses:

The Old Shrub Roses, revised edition 1979
Shrub Roses of Today, revised edition 1980
Climing Roses Old and New, revised edition 1978 All of the above by Graham Stuart Thomas

The Charm of Old Roses, 1986, Nancy Steen
Roses, 1902, Gertrude Jekyll and Edward Mawley
In Search of Lost Roses, 1989, Thomas Christopher
The Quest for the Rose, 1993, Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix
Classic Roses, 1985, Peter Beales
Wild and Old Garden Roses, 1975, Gordon Edwards

 

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