Portland is known as the Rose City, and right around now is the annual rose festival, so it’s appropriate that my roses are at their peak. This is one of the first years I’ve had a good showing in the rose garden, and I blame the rabbits. We planted a privet hedge around the rose garden – which is laid out as a circle and has two iron gates leading in. I wanted it to feel like the garden in “A Secret Garden” – private and hidden away – and, as an added benefit, the privet hedge would keep out the deer, which are big rose munchers around here.
The hedge works beautifully, but it doesn’t keep out the rabbits. They sneak in through all the nooks and crannies, and for some reason, they love the tender new growth of the rose bushes. By mid-summer, they don’t bother the plants at all, but by then it’s too late – they’ve eaten off all of the new growth and the roses have difficulty getting going at that point. You’d think that rose bushes are too tall for bunnies, but they must stand on their hind legs, because they manage to chomp everything at least a foot off the ground!
To protect the bushes, I surround them each with a chicken wire cage – I could remove the cages by this time of year, but by now, the roses’ stalks have grown in and among the cages, and it would be too difficult to separate them. In fact, I’m thinking that most of the roses are big enough to go without cages altogether now, but they’ve just kind of become a part of the garden.
I have an irrigation drip system in the garden, fertilize with granular fertilizer every six weeks or so, and keep the roses deadheaded – otherwise, they’re remarkably care-free. I am blessed with almost no black spot, and very few problems with aphids (probably because we release a few packages of ladybugs in the garden every spring). I love having fresh roses to cut and bring into the house throughout the summer, and many of them smell amazing!
I’m very happy with the layout of the rose garden – the roses are planted around the inner edge of the circular privet hedge, and there’s a circular gravel path, then in the center is a water fountain surrounded by lavender. There’s room in the garden for outdoor art, and for several trellises with climbing roses. The garden has taken a lot of work over the years – it’s at a low point in the yard, so the soil is wet and mucky, and not much other than clay, so we’ve gradually built up the rose beds and amended the soil every time we put in a new plant. The circle around the fountain had such poor soil that I couldn’t ever get anything to grow there, so several of the lavender are in pots, but the rest are actually making a go of it – lavender is pretty hardy once it gets established. It’s a beautiful, private place to sit and while away an afternoon . . .Pin It