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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jude, Peggy, and the Imposter

This is a story about lust, desire, and roses. It goes like this: There once was a gardener named Tammy who loved roses but had rotten luck growing them. Strange diseases, leaf and blossom devouring bugs, hard, clay soil soil, too much shade - you name it, she dealt with it and after a while began to give up on growing only but a few of the hardiest, most heat and humidity loving roses she could find. The problem was, she just couldn't find that many.

 David Austin's Sceptre d'Isle grows very well with a bit of afternoon shade. It's extremely disease resistant with peony shaped blossoms. It blooms throughout the summer.

To complicate matters, because she apparently didn't feel they were complicated enough, she wanted roses with a fragrance so strong it would waft through the windows on warm, sultry nights and perfume her house with the scent of roses and earth. Let's ignore the fact that on warm, sultry nights she runs the air conditioner and hides from the heat.

Westerland climbing rose blooms heavily in the early summer and sporadically till fall.

Night Owl climbing rose blooms all summer.

Moving on... Several roses did thrive in her garden, and while some were fragrant, she had to stick her nose into a passel of petals to enjoy their scent. Night Owl is virtually scentless, Westerland and Sceptre d'Isle are gently fragrant, and while William Shakeapeare 2000 has a wonderful, heady scent, he spent all summer sulking after  being transplanted near the agastache in the spring and didn't bloom. What a whiner!

David Austin's William Shakespeare 2000
This spot had become too shady and Will was moved to a sunnier spot this spring.

Eager to find a fragrant, humidity loving rose, she ordered a Ginger Syllabub rose from an online nursery and began to dream of  a patio filled with its rich, spicy scent. Tucked into a pot with ornamental oregano, it survived fertilzer burn and began to grow, vigorous, dark green leaves sprouting from slender canes, a fat bud ornamenting the tip as proudly as a crown. Apricot orange petals would slowly open to reveal its golden heart, its fragrance greeting her in the morning over a massive mug of coffee and pantry pilfered chocolate chips.

Except the flower wasn't apricot orange at all and smelled like absolutely nothing. In the fading light, it almost looked beige. "It's a fluke", she thought. "I'll bet the next one is orangish and smells like heaven." So she waited and hoped. Honestly, it was ridiculous. The rose grew but didn't bloom and she became feverish in her desire for a spicily scented rose. She trolled blogs and websites, spending hours of her summer vacation looking for the perfect plant. She gazed longingly at curved petals and imagined the full blossoms teasing and tempting the other plants in the border.

The Imposter grew vigorously all summer in a pot with 'Pilgrim' oregano.
 She's going to the garden of a much loved friend.

The next beige, scentless bloom cemented the presence of an imposter and she began to grumble and grouse. Desperate, she began to mentally redesign her garden to accommodate a rose that always delivers. But she continued to grumble. The newcomer required occasional spraying and could be fussy. They had a past and while the relationship had been brief, it left indelible scars. She wasn't quite sure she could do it again. Staring at the computer screen, she looked Jude the Obscure straight in the petals and growled, "Look you gorgeous bastard, if you die within 24 hours of being planted in the garden again, I'm kicking your butt, even if it's already dead." Jude stared impassively back and Tammy hit the Submit Order button. Jude was scheduled to arrive in mid-October, which gave Tammy time to prepare.

Fast forward to early September. Arriving home after working late, Mr. Casa announced that a package had arrived. Expecting to find Jude tucked politely within the folds of an out of state newspaper in a long skinny box, Tammy was shocked to find a large, heavy box dominating the foyer. Still in her heels, she lugged the box to the kitchen table and sliced it open to find not one, but two mystery roses, waiting inside. "It looks like Jude's not coming. He must have sent Peggy Martin in his place." she announced to whomever was listening. Excited, a bit confused, and worried Peggy Martin might be a prissy, disease prone prima donna, she searched for a packing label or a note to explain the surprise.

A quick Google search revealed Peggy Martin to be a gorgeous pink climbing rose with disease resistant foliage, thornless canes, and a powerfully pervasive scent. Known as the "Rose That Survived Hurricane Katrina", it has a reputation as one of the toughest roses around.  "Oh my gosh," she gushed. "This is incredible! It's perfect. I have a garden angel! It's serendipitous! SOMEONE LOVES ME!!" Her family stared, shook their heads, and walked quietly away, mumbling to each other that, yes, Mom is insane.

 Chance and one of the Peggys

Of course the only spot she had available to plant such a splendid, sun-loving plant, was along the fence located next to her husbands Best Grass and the dogs favorite Barking At People Who Walk By place. So excited she was unable to sleep, she dreamt of a new sunny border with her new best friend Peggy Martin lounging across the fence. "It's thornless!! She won't even have to impale the neighbors as she grows and blooms." Tammy sighed contentedly and finally slept.

A small section of sod was pulled away, compost added and both Peggy Martin roses were slipped lovingly into the Earth. Tammy floated back into the house, a silly, irritating grin plastered across her face. That is of course, until the neighborhood bunnies, having heard of the recent delivery devoured almost every leaf before hopping silently away. "Curses!" she yelled. "Stay out of my garden, you rancid hare! I shun your cuteness and will baricade my roses to thwart your evil attacks!" Mini-fortresses of recently pulled sod were hastily constructed and she stomped back into the house. "Wabbits ate my woses!" she growled to her husband. "Weally?" he responded.

I'm going to line the tall metal garden fence with trellis netting to create the Ultimate Bunny Barricade. The trellis netting is small enough that hopefully the bunnies can't squeeze through.

After several days of sulking, the foliage began to rapidly renew and sprout new leaves. Okay, the roses probably weren't sulking but Tammy was. It was pathetic and was only cured when a second large box, accompanied by a long, slender box, arrived in her foyer. She quickly sliced open the smallest box to find Jude the Obscure, well-wrapped and well-behaved, inside. Excited about the prospect of more incredible mystery roses, she tore into the large box and pulled out two more Peggy Martin roses. Stunned and confused, she called the nursery again and began to wonder if two roses were going to arrive every week. A computer error due to a new system had serendipitously sent her four of the most perfect roses for the Southeast. She wouldn't be charged and was told to her enjoy her roses. Two Peggys and the Imposter were headed to the garden of a close friend, while a large sunny area of sod was marked for removal to accommodate the two remaining Peggys. Once again, Tammy was all smiles. Free fragrant roses!! A new sunny perennial bed! Life is good!

Most of the new perennial bed is in a sunny moist spot. There is a bit of dryish, filtered shade near the river birch. All the sod was removed with a shovel, which took forever!
Chance and Baby are checking out the compost and looking for bugs to eat.


  1. Hope they do well in your new project area. The blooms are gorgeous on your roses. Soon we'll have roses blooming here again. Can't wait.

  2. Love your rant and out of body experience. lol.

  3. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    Free roses- that was lucky! Peggy Martin looks to be a very pretty pink rose. Hopefully Jude is a gentleman, who can handle more than one Peggy at a time.

  4. Oh, quick, let me tell you about Ms. Peggy Martin. (I know from experience...) She will take a large amount of a real fence. No thorns and not much scent. She is a little slow starting (must be putting in those roots that kept her strong during Katrina) but within 3 years you will have a big fence COVERED in canes and blooms. Hope she has elbow room where you planted her.

  5. I have seen Peggy in action. She is beautiful (and I don't even like roses, so that is saying a lot!) She was one of very few roses that survived a disease that infected a garden in this area that killed dozens of roses. So she's flood and disease resistant and pretty in pink :-) I hope you are rewarded with the rose of your dreams. Oh, BTW, I received the Fred Meyer lilies the other day - searching for the "perfect" place to plant them. It needs to be a DRY spot. Shouldn't be too hard to find a spot like that this year :-) Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Wow. Free perfect roses. The gardening gods must be smiling down upon you. :)

    You asked about the Bidens -- that's the genus name. One of its common names is Tickseed Coreopsis, others are Beggars Ticks and Bur-Marigold. I think Bidens sounds nicer so I just use that name. lol

    You asked about the size of my puddle -- it's about 2' x 3' and 2-3" deep. And full of frogs!

  7. What a saga! (chocolate chips with your coffee for breakfast? tsk, tsk.)

    The best things in the garden are accidents, even accidents of mail order fulfillment. I await a post on how your freebie roses do. I know nothing about these varieties, so I'm anxious to learn how yours perform.

  8. Four free roses, that's like winning the lottery! good for you. Even better that they're something you like. Can't wait to see how they look next spring.
    p.s. glad to hear I'm not the only one who sneaks chocolate chips out of the pantry

  9. Oby Ci pięknie rosły wszystkie zakupione róże i nie chorowały. Pozdrawiam

  10. LOL! Glad everything worked out for Tammy. Those colors are beautiful. And Chance is SO cute!

  11. I loved how you told your story here. I'm looking forward to hearing how the perfect roses do along your fence-no thorns is SUCH bonus plus the fragrance of course.

  12. Ooo, what fun (clapping hands)! Your Roses are beautiful. Enjoy!

  13. Mmmmm. I want a Peggy or four! I love the last pic of your new garden. It looks terribly picturesque, with the River Birch standing securely over and that lovely fence in the background. I can just imagine all the Tammy Tales that will unfold there. :)

  14. LoVe LoVe LoVe this post. You tell a captivating story and I always enjoy tales that end with happiness and include the words "free" and "rose" in the same sentence. Enjoy your new perennial bed... looking forward to reading more about it!


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