I think I have to own up to being a bit of a plant snob. There, I've said it now ! I'm not proud of it but I think I have to confess it. So, for some reason I have always lumped Patio roses with lobelia, bi-colour bedding plants and pink Hydrangeas. I have walked past them in the garden centre, ignoring them totally, heading straight to the giants - the English roses, with their tasteful pastels and evocative names. The Patio roses I did catch out of the corner of my eye, seemed designed for the gift buyer, with names like 'Many Happy Returns' and 'Celebration'. How could they compare with the elegance of 'Jude the Obscure' and 'This Sceptr'd isle' ?
|Jude the Obscure|
I think it was the word 'Patio' that put me off, as it conjures up, for me, the most depressing bits of suburbia, that weekly washing of the car, the twitching of the net curtains. It somehow wasn't the stuff that dreams are made of, not full of the romance of the Bourbon or the Damask.
So, now I have to eat my words, letter by letter, as I have just spent the last two hours out in the freezing cold, planting seven new Patio roses. The February wind was literally whistling through the trees, and the soil was icy cold.
What changed my mind was my love of a bargain, about as prosaic as a reason can be. No light bulb moment, no reading learned tomes ! I was mooching about on one of the many garden forums I belong to and a new message caught my attention. Someone posted to say that they had just bought Patio roses reduced from £9.99 each to £2.25. And that was all it took! I went straight to the site and ordered seven bareroot roses without drawing breath !
While I was waiting for them to be delivered I started to read up on the origins of Patio roses, and was surprised by what I found out. Patio roses were given their name from around 1996 and are basically just small roses between 30cm and 90cm in height, although the definition does seem open to interpretation. It includes various types of roses including the Polyanthas, which were mainly developed in the 1900's. The majority have a long flowering season, with some blooming from May through to October. Flowers tend to be small and held in clusters, like Floribundas. Many were bred to cope well in a container. Miniature and dwarf roses are often referred to in recent years as Patio roses too. They come in a huge range of colours, and although they have a scent, it is nothing like as strong as Hybrid Teas or English roses. They are usually tough, compact and disease resistant. Although very suitable for container growing, they are good garden plants, ideal for edging or underplanting larger roses.
When my little band of Patio roses finally arrived, it was raining so I couldn't get them planted, so I unpacked them and put them all in a bucket of water to rehydrate. The next day it rained again, and I was worried about leaving the bare roots in water for too long, so I emptied out the water and covered the roots with damp compost instead. A lazy woman's 'heeling in' if you will !
I woke today to see the sun streaming in through the window, and knew that this was my little window of opportunity to get planting, before those grey clouds built up again.
After all the rain, the soil was very wet, and I had the dilemma of whether to work it or not. If I had a choice I would have left it alone, but the health of the plants depended on being planted, I felt.
So, now they are all planted - big holes, Rose food, specific compost for roses and then a top layer of soil and a quick water. They are planted at exactly the same level that they were planted at before. I also remembered to write them all a label, which wrapped around a stem, rather than markers stuck in the ground, which are easily lost.
Typically, there was a fatal flaw in my planning. There I was, out in the cold wearing wellies, gloves, coat and scarf, all ready to dig the first hole, when I realised that I hadn't a clue what colour the roses were. Reluctant to go back up to the house, I played a bizarre game, where I tried to guess the colour based on the name. Some were a breeze, 'Cream Dream' - got it in one ! But what colour is 'Teenage Spirit' ? (Usually clear, like Vodka, if my memory of my own teenagers serves me well!) Turns out it is pink - I checked them all out when I got back into the warm. What colour would you guess for 'Well done', (one of the plants I have bypassed so dismissively in the past) ? I guessed red, you know, red rosettes and all that, but, no, turns out it is cream. 'Flower Power', I would have guessed was something bright and vaguely psychedelic, but that is pink. Now, I was reasonably confident that 'Sweet Dreams' would be a cream or a white, as it made me think of crisp sheets, and cloud-like pillows, but, no! Pink again! 'High Sheriff' ... something regal I imagined , like scarlet or deep crimson, but turns out it is a near white. 'Sheer Silk' ? Well, it says very pale pink to me, but it is actually white. My percentage of accuracy was extremely low !
Sadly, I fear that any colour co-ordination there may have been in the borders (and I can assure you that is very little) has now gone out of the window and there may be some very mis-matched neighbours blooming in the summer.