rose plants


Many people have asked us if we planned to hybridize our own roses and we always said no and went on to explain that it takes about ten years to save seeds, wait at least a year till they rooted and bloomed, then select varieties, test them in various climates, and finally propagate enough of them to meet the demand from a well-advertised (expensive) marketing campaign.  That said, we’ve firmly remained against starting a hybridizing program, but back in 1997 Tracy did hand me a Rugosa rose hip and told me to try my hand at hybridizing if I wanted to.  I think I left that hip in the refrigerator for at least a year and then broke it open and tossed the seeds in a flat of rooting medium in the shade.  A few plants came of it, but not until this year have we seen flowers!  Here I can introduce the first two of our very own rose babies:

Rugosa Baby #1

5 Hearts

It is rather exciting to realize that these two roses would never exist if we hadn’t saved that particular rose hip (which was pollinated by a particular bee, with pollen from other specific rose plants) then planted it and had patience to see what would develop.  There are three more plants yet to bloom, so we’ll have to wait and see what they turn out to be.  Time will tell if any of these plants are worth keeping around, how big they’ll grow and how they’ll do outside, but Rugosas tend to be a very hardy breed and good as hedge shrubs.

This post is a migration from our earlier blog, February 4, 2009

First off, our first ever wholesale Bareroot rose shipment has come in and we’re turning them around as fast as we can. They are amazing #1 Grade plants from Weeks Roses. Tracy unpacked the huge boxes and exclaimed that these are the best he’s ever seen – beautiful canes and lots of roots. You won’t see anything like this coming out of a bag or box at your local drug store this year. Here’s a peak at what we’re proud to be able to ship to those of you who can take them this month and either plant them now, or pot them up and keep them protected until you’re safe to plant outside.Bareroot Grade 1 rose
The next little item of business is Pruning! I have always exclaimed that I love to prune – well, now that I’ve started to do it again this year I think what I mean is that I love to see pruned rose bushes. Annual pruning is really a very worthwhile and necessary chore as it gives us a chance for a real close look at our plants and how they’ve been growing the last year. There is no hiding that I did not feed some of my bushes well enough (or at all…) as I have lots of spindly growth to prune off. It’s also a great chance to look for cane damage and disease, and to get rid of it along with all

Dieback Wasp on rose

the fallen leaves that could be harboring disease spores ready to attack the plant when the conditions are right.

DiebackCane

And just to show a before and after bed of roses, this is a great shot as from left to right it has a Hybrid Tea, a Shrub and a Floribunda, so you can see how different they all look pruned. What a difference some weeding and a fresh coat of mulch makes, too.

Rose before being pruned
roses after pruning

Admittedly, I have had to prune a little lower than I usually do because of disease and twiggy growth. After doing a few pruning workshops with our local rose society, I’ve learned that it might be helpful to describe the finished Hybrid Tea as looking like antlers sticking out of the ground, or like an upward facing cupped hand. In general you want 3 to 6 good-sized, evenly-spaced canes around an open center. Here’s our hearty Pristine plant that is more typical of my thigh-high pruning.

Pristine Rose Pruned
Another option for pruning is to just lop 1/3 straight across the top. It’s better to clean out the center of modern varieties for healthy air-flow, but really, any pruning is better than no pruning at all. It rejuvenates your plant and tells it to get ready for a beautiful spring bloom. Be sure to clean off all leaves and throw them in the trash or burn them. Never compost rose debris! And a final tidbit from a pruning workshop attendee after we were all through. Prune off more than you think you should. It’s really very difficult to kill a rose bush by pruning it. Take this opportunity to remind it that you are the boss, and that you want a strong, healthy bush to support lots of flowers come spring.
Hmm, speaking of blooms, this post is sorely lacking, so here’s the last bouquet of 2008 on the eve of a good freezing night.

Final Roses of 2008
Now, finally Daphne, we’re off for that walk!

This post is a migration of our earlier blog, April 17, 2008

It’s that great time of year when the rose babies in the cold frames are starting to do what we all expect of roses – bloom! We’re still more than a month away from peak bloom in the garden, so it’s always great to have some early blooms – especially if it’s a variety that is new to us and we need a good photo, or I need to see if it really IS fragrant, etc.

These days I’m inside in the office most of the day (and sometimes into the night) getting your shipping paperwork in order, so there are usually a few deliveries of flower heads (no long stems allowed) to my desk by Tracy as the day progresses. Today included Pope John Paul II with the strongest citrus fragrance of any white yet. Tracy and I decided Pope John Paul II roseit was bordering on grapefruit. Earlier flowers seemed to have some green in them and this one has more cream color. Certainly a rose with a long happy history in front of it. Let’s also hope that J&P will continue their liner program of this rose or we won’t be able to sell it again until the patent runs out in 2027 and by then we definitely WON’T be in business! I’d better reserve my plant of it now, for my own garden…I’ve also got a flower of Dream Come True on the desk along with Velvet Fragrance.

Talisman rosebudA few days ago he brought a Talisman rose and I still remember the first time I realized it smelled exactly like the Gewurztraminer grape juice from Navarro Vineyards that we are fond of.

Last week in flowers I had a Marketing 101 refresher course. Tracy brought in a HUGE 6+” flower of First Prize. There was no wonder that this rose was named that as the form was perfect, the bloom was huge and could not be ignored. A friend walked into the house and made a bee-line directly over to the flower saying she rarely liked pink roses, but the color of this one was superb. I was left wondering why we had so few orders for this rose plant this season when I checked the photo of the one on-line . Ugh – wonder-no-more! In this case it probably would have been better to have no picture than the one we had of two not even open buds with some brown water-damaged edges. I’ve really learned that “better than nothing” still has to be “good enough to showcase the roses’ best features”. So, here’s the new photo we are using of that big bloom from one of the baby plants. Let’s see how it sells now!
First Prize rose
Until the next chance we get to write…

This post is a migration from our earlier blog: March 21, 2008

AHR Plants in Flats
As is typical, no matter when Easter lands each year it is a working day for us.  This year it will be the eve of our first shipping day of the season and it will be a long day.

Once we left the city life and found ourselves in the farming groove we’ve learned many lessons about following the seasons, respecting the weather and praying for whatever conditions we need at any particular time!  As you can read below, we had our first snow on our property in the seven years we’ve lived here.  The locals said that that was the most snow they’ve ever seen.  Fortunately it didn’t last, but the overall colder winter did put off the beginning of our shipping season this year.  Every year we vow to be earlier (we’re thinking of our customers in the deserts who want to plant in January!), but short of the added set up and expense of heating the coldframes we’re just plain dependent on what Mother Nature gives us each year.  It’s not so bad, and actually reminds me of my time I lived in China where we were advised to always be ready early, but be prepared to wait.  I guess that’s how farming goes too.Dream Come True rose

So far this season Tracy is most impressed with the new variety from Weeks calledDream Come True.  We certainly appreciate the professional photos provided from the hybridizers, but probably just like in your gardens, we’re eager to see the flowers WE have grown, and see what it looks like in OUR climate.  Tracy took this one at the end of last season.
Recently a customer and former neighbor in our city life asked to see more photos of our garden. Well…I am usually mortified by the amount and variety of weeds that we get here on the coastal prairie, and my attempts at complete eradication are tempered by the reality that no matter what I do, the weeds will blow in from the fields next door.  I was greatly surprised by the gushing comments of a friend who came to our open garden last summer.  She was grateful for the “new inspiration” for the historical Russ House and Garden that she and her husband maintain in Victorian Ferndale.  “New inspiration, here?” I thought to myself. I didn’t really get it until she sent some photos, and there in the photos the eye was drawn to the beauty as the weeds and unmanicured dead twigs were minimized.  Even I had to say “Wow” and really didn’t feel much pride in being responsible for it all.  We were fortunate to find this house which was previously owned by a serious gardener.  She put in great structure trees and shrubs while Tracy has done 90% of the rose plants.  I feel I have had modest trial and error impact as I can really only claim to putting the thing in the ground and doing minimal care.  Beyond that it’s all God’s mystery and glory.  Science can explain the hows and wherefores, but I don’t think they can explain the whys.  It’s for beauty and pleasure and sheer glory.  Plain and simple.
Backyard Summer 08Tying all my thoughts together for this Easter blog (are they supposed to run on forever, or am I making up for lack of recent posts and the knowledge that we probably won’t have a chance to blog again until the busiest of our shipping season is mostly over?) I would like to quote from John Eldredge’s book The Journey of Desire.  I’ve recently rediscovered this author and have read some more of his writings such as this, which is a perfect meditation for this Easter weekend.
LIFE IN ALL ITS FULLNESS
by John Eldredge

Eternal life – we tend to think of it
in terms of existence that never comes to an end.  And the existence it seems to imply – sort of religious experience in the sky – leaves us wondering if wewould want it to go on forever.  But Jesus is quite clear that when he speaks of eternal life, what he means is life that is absolutely wonderful and can never be diminished or stolen from you.  He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).  Not, “I have come to threaten you into line,” or “I have come to exhaust you with a long list of demands.”  Not even, “I have come primarily to forgive you.”  But simply, My purpose is to bring you life in all its fullness…In other words, eternal life is not primarilyduration but quality of life, “life to the limit.”  It cannot be stolen from us, and so it does go on.  But the focus is on the life itself.  “In Him was life,” the apostle John said of Jesus, “and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

May we all find the One True fullness of life that we deeply desire when we’re quiet and can really think about what’s most important to us.  Happy Easter from our garden to yours.  He is Risen; He is Risen indeed!  Every bud and bloom, and even sprig of weed, are shouting “Glory!”
Fragrant Spring Balcony

Clutter – it often gets the best of me, but what to do when there are so many interesting things to learn and read about?  Recently I made a foray onto the dining room table.  It looked really good for my 50th birthday party, but has digressed since then.  We even removed all the table leaves so that there would be a smaller surface to hold clutter, but I underestimated the piling effect…

On the good side, clutter often does provide me with some happy coincidences.  Just yesterday I saw a bowl of floating roses that Tracy had brought in from the greenhouses – the first fragrant blooms of the season. The colors went perfectly with the watercolored birthday napkin I got the day before at my friend’s 90th birthday lunch, and the stuffed purple rabbit still sitting where he landed as a gift at my own party a month ago.  A little repositioning and voilà- a nice colorful composed photo to bring back good memories.Felicia, Barbra Streisand, Intrigue, Strike It Rich roses with Purple Bunny

The roses are (clockwise from top left) Strike It Rich, Barbra Streisand, Intrigue, and Felicia – all really fragrant.  Tracy is shipping bareroot roses almost every day right now.  At last count there were a few plants of 11 varieties still left.  He’ll have some other potted varieties available through spring and fall as they mature enough to ship.  Watch the shopping cart for earliest availability, or send an email from the Contact Us link and ask about a certain variety you’re looking for.  I am always amazed how he sells things that he’s only inventoried in his head.  I guess he experiences happy clutter coincidence too!

It looks like it would take too much time to figure out how to move the first blog (which I abandoned because of trouble uploading photos) to here, so I’ll just post the url for now…

http://www.amityheritageroses.com/blog.html

Lavender PinocchioWell, it does seem that in late August and September all the little rodents of this place begin to take over. We invested in some more Black Box gopher traps last weekend, which I am highly in favor of, and now I’m checking five traps daily with seven gophers and a handful of voles notched into my belt. They’ve got their own tally going too. While we were both quite busy in June and July we lost more than a couple of plants to those critters and are learning there are fewer and fewer plant roots that they won’t eat. I even have a yarrow potted up struggling for survival with a few roots rescued from their gorging two nights ago.

Last spring I almost posted about my Lavender Pinocchio that a gopher killed. It was an own-root rose that Tracy didn’t want to carry anymore and I have always loved the different colors it performs in our climate throughout the blooming season.   I hadn’t been able to walk past it in more than a week, so when I found it, the roots were totally gone and the young plant was dry and definitely dead. I took a photo of the dead plant, the gaping hole, and the “thing” that did the damage which I caught a few days later. My photo has it laying so peacefully in the garbage can on a pile of rose petals. A nice send off, considering, but Tracy intervened with that post, calling it a might distasteful. I guess I’m an educator and wanted to share what we suffer with here. Besides, some people have told me that they’ve never seen a gopher. I suppose those Californians have cats that are good hunters.  Anyway, imagine my surprise when I saw a baby Lavender Pinocchio starting out of the ground a few months ago.  I couldn’t be sure until it bloomed, but yep, there is a remnant left.   I guess that gopher didn’t quite get it all (hurray for own-root plants!).   Now let’s hope this one survives, with regular surveying of the area for new gophers.

While I waited for our various  traps to snap I had a little time on my hands. To commemorate a friend’s birthday and as an ode to the Julia Child movie out right now, I made Child’s Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) chocolate cake.  I doubled the recipe to make a large cake for a  crowd of 8 adults and 4 children. Wow it was good, and even though you can only see the photos and not taste them, they’re much better than any look at a dead gopher, for sure. Here are the steps:

1.  Get the recipe.  With the movie out, there is not a single copy for sale of Julia’s French cookbook in the entire county, so to the internet I turned.  I found out later that there are at least two versions of this cake, as Julia tweaked things now and then.

2.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

3. Prepare the 8″ baking pans.  I like to dust with cocoa powder when making a dark cake.

4.  Cream the butter and sugar.

5. Separate the egg yolks from the whites.

6.  Add the yolks.

7.  Fold in the melted chocolate.

8.  Fold in the almond meal and the almond extract.

9.  Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

10.   Sift the flour, then alternately fold it in with the egg whites.

11.  Divide evenly in the pans and bake.  Cool upright for 10 minutes.

12.  Watch out for cake spies!

13.  Invert onto cooling racks to cool completely.

14.  Melt more chocolate in a glass bowl for the frosting.

15.  Once cool, add butter to melted chocolate one tablespoon at a time while the bowl is over another bowl full of ice water.

16.  Start frosting.  Even after doubling the frosting ingredients I found I wasn’t going to have enough to do the whole cake, so I opted to use the frosting as a filling and on the sides, and just dust with powdered sugar on the top.  Others have omitted the frosting altogether for such a naturally rich, dense and moist cake.

17.  Decorate as you please with almond pieces.

18.  Don’t forget to take a photo of the last piece before it gets eaten!

Until I learn this new blogging program I guess all the photos will have to be in one group like this: