The History of the Rose

This year, I am focusing on my most favourite flower of all, the rose, and in particular Old or Heritage Roses, whose scent, form and softer colours are far superior in my eyes to the modern rose. Each month, I will feature a particular rose group one week and a favourite rose garden on another week. The rose in the photograph below is a species rose: Sempervirens rose Adélaide d’Orléans.bloghxroses20reszdimg_9330 There are so many reasons that I love old roses : I love their variety of form from single to double, cupped and globular, quartered, quilled, ruffled, pinked, mossed and even button-eyed; their softer muted colours; their superb fragrance, which varies from damask and myrrh to the scents of clove, apple, lemon, nasturtium, orris and violet; their toughness, Old Roses resisting many of the modern rose ailments like black spot and mildew; their adaptability and versatility, allowing a multitude of uses in any part of the garden; their low maintenance, requiring little or no pruning; and their fascinating history, of which I will now proceed to give you a taster!bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-27-12-54-53bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-11-10-02-56Roses belong to the Family Rosaceae, so are closely related to apples and crab apples, pears and quinces, plums and cherries, nectarines and peaches, hawthorns and rowans and even blackberries and strawberries. The photos of rambling rose Rosa rubus (photo 1) and Rosa canina (photo 2) above are excellent examples, showing the similarity of the simple five-petalled rose flowers and leaves to their botanic cousins. The genus Rosa has 150 species, which have been divided into 4 subgenera: Hulthemia (Simplicifoliae, including R. persica); Hesperhodos (R. stellata); Platyrhodon (R. roxburhii) and Rosa, which has 11 sections :

1. Pimpinellifoliae (including R. foetida, R. spinosissima, R. hugonis, and R.ecae)

  1. Gallicanae (including R. gallica, R. damascena, R. centifolia, R. centifolia muscosa, R. richardii, and the Portlands)
  2. Caninae (including R. alba, R. canina, R. eglanteria, R. glauca and R. villosa)
  3. Carolinae (including R. carolina, R. nitida, R.palustris and R. virginiana)
  4. Cassiorhodon ( Cinnamomeae : including R. moyesii, R. rugosa, R. blanda, R. fedtschenkoana, R. kordesii, and the Boursaults)
  5. Synstylae (including R. arvensis, R. brunonii, R. dupontii, R. filipes, R. moschata, R. multiflora, R. phoenicia, R. sempervirens, R. setigera, R. wichuriana and the Hybrid Musks, Polyanthas, Floribundas, Multiflora Ramblers, Modern Climbing roses and Modern Shrub roses)
  6. Chinensis (including R. chinensis, R. odorata, R. gigantea and the Bourbons, Noisettes, Teas, Hybrid Perpetuals and Hybrid Teas)
  7. Banksianae (including R. banksiae and R. fortuniana)
  8. Laevigatae (R. laevigata)
  9. Bracteata (R. bracteata)

11. Gymnocarpae (including R. gymnocarpa and R. wilmottiae)

Here are some more photos of Species Roses:

Box 1 : Canary Bird (Rosa xanthina); Rosa foetida bicolor; R. webbiana and Geranium (R. moyesii)  

And in Box 2 below: one of my favourite species roses, the Rugosa Roses: Madame Georges Bruant; Scabrosa; Frau Dagmar Hastrup; and the divinely-scented Roseraie de l’Haie.

Roses are endemic to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including North America (Alaska to Mexico), Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with the greatest diversity of species in Western China. I will be discussing the wild Species or Botanical Roses next month, but basically these were the original roses before humans started cultivating roses. See this link for a complete list of species: The photo below shows a late rose, covered in early Winter frost in our old garden in Armidale!bloghxroses50reszdimage-260 There are three major historical periods in the development of the rose as we know it today. The first is early rose cultivation up until the 1800s. Rose breeding exploded during the 19th century, with the introduction of oriental roses to the West and finally, the age of the Hybrid Teas and Floribundas of today, with further breeding to combine the best features of the old and the new, as well as to enhance production.

Fossil evidence dates the rose back to the Oligocene Period, 35 Million years ago. Fossilized leaves were found in North America (Oregon, Colorado and Alaska), France, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Japan. Garden cultivation of the rose began 5000 years ago, probably in China. The rose was grown in the gardens of the early Chinese dynasties of 3000 BC and roses of considerable hybridity are depicted in Chinese paintings from the 10th century on. Roses were frequently mentioned in records from the Middle East 2000 to 3000 years ago. The Mediterranean place names ‘Syria’ and ‘Rhodes’ both translate to the word ‘rose’. The Minoan frescoes (1800 BC) at Knossos, Crete, depict the blooms of Rosa richardii, thought to be one of the oldest cultivated garden roses. Gold rose pins were also found in the Mochlos tombs on Crete. Wreaths of the Damask-like rose, the Holy Rose, Rosa sancta, were found in Egyptian tombs. To the Ancient Greeks and Romans, the rose was a symbol of love, beauty and youth and it was frequently mentioned in their literature and mythology. They used the rose petals for confetti at festivals and celebrations, as we still do at our modern weddings, as well as in the production of rosewater and attar of roses for the perfume industry, potpourri and herbal medicine. In Ancient Greece, Herodotus described double roses, thought to have been Rosa damascena, growing in the gardens of Midas in 445 BC and Theophrastus (372-287 BC), the father of botany, gives detailed descriptions of their propagation from cuttings rather than seed and the benefits of pruning to encourage more flowering. Roman nobility extensively cultivated the rose in large public rose gardens, south of Rome, as well as in heated greenhouses to force blooms. It is thought they mainly grew Rosa damascena (Summer Damask) and Rosa damascena bifera (Autumn Damask), as well as a form of Gallica. The poet Martial (40-102 AD) laments the high price of roses in Winter, when the Romans imported the Autumn Damask, also known as Quatre Saisons (photo below), a cross between R.gallica and R. moschata, which flowers twice. They imported huge amounts of these roses from Egypt and the Middle East to maintain their Winter supply.bloghxroses20reszdimg_9496 The Arabs also loved the rose, spreading it from Syria to Spain and India and depicting it in Persian art, including tiles, porcelain, tapestries and carpets. Damask roses are still extensively grown today in Kazanlik, Bulgaria and Turkey for the perfumery industry and for the production of rose oil and potpourri. The rose below is Ispahan from Turkey.bloghxroses20reszdimg_9259 After the fall of Rome, roses continued to be grown in monastery gardens for Christian holy festivals and medicinal purposes. The rose became an emblem of Christianity, its five petals associated with Christ’s five wounds and the red rose symbolizing the blood of Christian martyrs. Rosary beads were developed in the 13th century for use in prayer and were originally made of dried rose petals, ground into a paste and slowly hardened. Roses were also depicted in the borders of illuminated books and stained glass church windows of the time, as well as in Renaissance art, like Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’.

Rosa gallica officinalis is known as the Apothecary’s Rose and it was the major rose used for medicine and as a source of rose oil in England before the introduction of the Damasks by the Crusaders in 1254, who brought this rose back from Damascus, hence its name. The red Gallica Rose was also the symbol of the House of Lancaster, while the White Rose, Rosa alba, was that of the House of York, in the War of Roses in England in the 15th century. After the war, the fusing of these symbols of the Houses of York and Lancaster resulted in the Tudor Rose, the emblem of England today. I will be discussing the Gallica roses in more depth later, but here are photos of two very famous historic Gallicas: Rosa Mundi, a striped sport (or mutation) of R. gallica officinalis and the velvety red Tuscany Superb.bloghxroses50reszdimage-240bloghxroses50reszdimage-205 By the end of the Middle Ages, the rise of the merchant class and the development of horticultural commerce in the Netherlands had a major impact on the development of the rose. Up until this time, roses were propagated by cuttings, suckers, runners and a small amount of grafting and there were only some tens of rose cultivars. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Dutch started growing roses from seed, sexual reproduction allowing for much greater variation. In 1596, Gerard’s catalogue listed 16 roses, as compared to 225 carnations and 437 tulips. Between 1580 and 1710, there were over 200 new rose cultivars and a whole new group of roses, the Centifolias (photo below is R. centifolia), whose lush fragrant blooms were frequently depicted in the paintings of the Dutch Masters, alongside equally lush voluptuous women! In the 17th century, roses were in such high demand that their blooms, and rosewater itself, were considered legal tender and used as barter or payment.bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-19-13-11-08 Mosses, a mutation of Centifolias, which resulted in the stems and sepals being covered with a fine moss, also developed. A famous example is the Crested Moss, also known as Chapeau de Napoléon, because of the similarity of its heavily-mossed sepals to Emperor Napoléon’s tricorn hat. See the section below on Empress Josephine. Mossing is also seen in other class roses like Quatre Saisons Blanc Mousseux, a sport of Damask rose Quatre Saisons, seen below.bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-19-13-09-08By the 18th century, there were approximately 100 different types of roses in basically five broad classes of Old European Roses: Gallicas, Albas (1st photo below is Alba Maxima), Damasks, Centifolias and Mosses, all of them sharing the following characteristics: hardy and cold resistant; once flowering in Spring (the exception being the Autumn Damask, which flowered twice); fragrant, double or single flowers, with a muted and limited colour range of white, pink and red; generally deciduous; and resistant to black spot and rust, though some get mildew in warmer climates. There were also the Species Roses, also known as Wild or Botanical Roses, but more about them later. The 2nd photo below is another favourite Species Rose belonging to the Wichuriana Ramblers: Albertine.bloghxroses50reszdimage-211bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-16-09-47-07By 1800, the French had become interested in rose breeding, fuelled by Empress Josephine at her chateau at Malmaison. She aimed to collect all the available roses of the time (she grew 250 different roses) and encouraged breeding and hybridization by French breeders, especially Dupont and Descemet, who developed several hundred new cultivars. Josephine commissioned Pierre Joseph Redouté to paint her roses in watercolour and he published ‘Les Roses’ in 1824. The 19th century was the golden age of rose breeding in France. By the 1820s, there was a huge range of roses: every species had its own unique array of cultivars. Another prominent French rosarian was Jeanne Pierre Vibert, who inherited Descemet’s nursery stock, 10 000 seedlings and hybridizing records and went on to produce hundreds of new roses between 1816 and 1851. By the 1850s, there were 1800 different types of roses.The photo below is Chapeau de Napoléon.bloghxroses20reszd2014-11-22-14-26-37And then the whole situation exploded with the introduction to the west of the China (R. chinensis, previously known as R. indica) and Tea Roses (a cross between R. chinensis and R. gigantea) from the East. The four Stud Chinas, as they came to be known, were :

Old Blush, later known as Parson’s Pink, a pink form of R.chinensis, planted in Holland in 1781 and England in 1793;

Slater’s Crimson China (photo below), also called the Bengal Rose, a red form of R. chinensis, transported to England in 1792 from Calcutta by the ships of the East India Company, which also carried tea, a possible reason for the name ‘Tea Rose’;

Hume’s Blush Tea Scented China, R. indica odorata, named after Sir Abraham Hume, who sent the rose to England from the Fa Tee Nurseries in Canton in 1810;   and

Parks Yellow Tea Scented China, collected by John Parkes on an expedition to China for the Royal Horticultural Society in 1824.bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-19-13-14-31Hermosa below is a small continuous-blooming China Rose, bred in 1840.bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-19-13-45-51The introduction of the oriental roses set the rose breeding scene into a frenzy. Not only were these new roses repeat or continuous flowering, but they also had glossy green foliage and blooms with bright distinct colours and a supposedly slight tea fragrance, another reason for the future rose class ‘Tea Rose‘, which developed from them. The Chinas quickly became fashionable in the warmer parts of Europe, but unfortunately, they were not very robust in the colder Northern European zones, where they often had to be grown in glass houses. Mutabilis below is a classic example: Peter Beales describes its size reaching 90cm by 60cm wide in the United Kingdom, but I have seen bushes over 2 m high and wide in Australia’s warmer climate. bloghxroses50reszdnov-2010-253bloghxroses20reszdimg_1983 The first crosses between the once blooming Old European roses and repeat blooming roses also only bloom once, but once crossed with each other, then back to Chinas and Teas, they produce repeat blooming hybrids. Suddenly, there were lots of new classes of roses, which flowered two to three times in a season, but were hardier and more compact than the Chinas. The new rose types included:

Bourbon Roses, from the island of Réunion, once Isle de Bourbon, in the Indian Ocean, resulted from natural crosses between Parson’s Pink (China) and Quatre Saisons (Autumn Damask), both division hedges on the island. Seedlings and cuttings were sent to Paris in 1819 and 1821 and gained immediate popularity (their heyday was 1830-1850), with their strong arching growth and lush, fragrant, reblooming flowers. Up until the mid 19th century, there were few good climbers, so the Bourbons filled this niche, as well as being the most continuously flowering shrub rose of the time. I love their cupped globular blooms, opening out flat and quartered, and their fragrance is superb! Two very famous examples below are Madame Isaac Pereire (one of the strongest rose scents) and Souvenir de la Malmaison, both growing in my old and new gardens and both of which I could not do without!bloghxroses50reszdimage-236bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-07-10-50-42: The continuous flowering Portland Roses developed at the end of the 18th century from a cross between R. gallica officinalis and the Autumn Damask, R. damascena bifera, and were named after the 2nd Duchess of Portland (1715-1785).blogvsrg20reszd2014-10-19-13-12-50: The Boursaults, an evolutionary dead end, of which only a few types survive, was thought to have developed during the Napoleonic Era (1799-1815 ) from a cross between an early China and R. pendulina, the Alpine Rose, but studies of its chromosomal count, have disputed this. The rose above is Morletti, bred by Morlet in France in 1883. It is one of the few Boursaults to survive.bloghxroses50reszdimage-201: The Noisettes are one of my favourite rose groups, hence my header tab photo of one of my favourite Noisette roses Desprez à Fleurs Jaunes (photo above). They developed at the same time as the Portlands and Bourbons. John Champney of Charleston, Carolina, crossed Parson’s Pink (China) with R. moschata, to produce a large sturdy shrub with clusters of lightly fragrant pink blooms, which he called Champney’s Pink Cluster. His neighbour, Philippe Noisette, grew some of the seeds, producing a smaller plant with larger clusters of double flowers, which he called Blush Noisette, then sent seeds and seedlings to his Parisian brother, who used them extensively in hybridization in 1815. Within 10 years, French catalogues listed hundreds of Noisettes with repeat and continuous flowering blooms of a colour range from white to crimson and purple. The Victorians used Noisette roses extensively to cover walls and pergolas until the turn of the century, when newer hardier climbers from different backgrounds superseded them. Another favourite Noisette is Madame Alfred Carrière, which we grew over our front entrance arch in our old garden (photo 1), as well as the main pergola in our new garden (photo 2).bloghxroses50reszdimage-246bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-17-09-56-40 A cross between Noisettes and Parks Yellow Tea Scented China produced the Tea-Noisettes with a tendency to climb and smaller clusters of larger yellow and near-yellow blooms. Lamarque 1830 was one of the first of this type. bloghxroses20reszdimg_0413 I love the golden yellow Noisettes. We have yet to build an arch for Alister Stella Gray and Rêve d’Or, seen in the photos below.bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-16-09-46-38bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-08-15-21-14 : Tea Roses, closely related to Chinas (possibly an early cross between R. chinensis and R. gigantea) and also hailing from the Orient, became very popular with the Victorians as well, but were not totally hardy in the cooler climate, being far more vigorous in the warmer Australian climate. They have slender weak stalks, so their heads often nod, and high pointed centres in bud. Adam and Devoniensis are both Teas, growing on our main pergola.bloghxroses20reszdimg_1848bloghxroses20reszdimg_0731Between 1920 and 1940, Australian breeder Alister Clark (1864–1949) used R. gigantea in his breeding program to produce many Teas, which were ideally suited to Australia’s sunny dry climate. See photos below of Cicely Lascelles 1937 , Baxter Beauty 1924 and Nancy Hayward 1937. bloghxroses20reszdimg_9468bloghxroses20reszdimg_4796bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-19-13-17-23: Hybrid Perpetuals were developed from crosses between hybrids of Chinas, Bourbons and Noisettes with Autumn Damasks. The huge recurrent fragrant blooms had a full colour range, except for pure white or yellow, but had a tendency to fungal disease. Thousands were released over the next 60 years, until they were replaced by hardier Hybrid Teas in the 1890s and only the best Hybrid Perpetuals survive.bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-18-19-35-08Hybrid Teas are a cross between Hybrid Perpetuals and Tea Roses. The photo above is Heaven Scent and has a typical high-pointed bud, frilled petals and a divine scent! M. Guillot bred the first hybrid tea rose, ‘La France’, in 1865, while Henry Bennett, was working along similar lines in the UK with ‘Lady Mary Fitzwilliam’, the second Hybrid Tea. These new roses were bushier plants with more beautiful foliage and more abundant blooming of better shaped flowers. They had a high pointed bud and the warmer, though muted, colour range of the Teas, but they were tender, with their flower heads nodding on the stems like Teas. In 1900, Pernet-Ducher crossed the deep yellow R. foetida persiana with Antoine Ducher, a purple red Hybrid Perpetual, then recrossed the resultant seedling with R. foetida bicolour, producing Soleil d’Or, a gold Tea, the first of the Pernetianas, now classified as Hybrid Teas. The Pernetianas were combined with Hybrid Teas to produce the hybrid Hybrid Teas of today. The use of R. foetida gave these roses their sturdy growth and improved health and glossy leaves, though unfortunately also their susceptibility to black spot. Lolita below is a typical Hybrid Tea with a high pointed bud and beautiful warm orange-gold tones.bloghxroses20reszd2016-10-29-17-12-24bloghxroses20reszdmidmar-2014-136 Further crosses between Hybrid Teas and R. wichuriana have rectified this situation to a certain extent, though it is still a problem for many Hybrid Teas. Since then, Hybrid Teas have been selected for reliable recurrent blooming, a high centred bud, multi-petalled flower forms, a long cutting stem with a strong neck and disease resistance. Just Joey below is one of the world’s favourite roses, inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame in 1994.bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-23-15-13-08Today, there are at least 29 groups / classes of cultivated roses and over 30 000 cultivars, with Hybrid Teas and Floribundas being the most common rose type of the 20th century and 3000 new cultivars being registered each year. Floribundas started as Dwarf Polyanthas. In 1862, the cluster-flowering R. multiflora ‘Polyantha’ was introduced from Japan and in 1869, in Lyons, France , Guillot fils crossed an unknown hybrid China with seed from a low-growing, semi-double form of this Multiflora to produce the first Polyantha, Paquerette 1875 with its many clusters of small perfect buds. These small compact bushes (1 to 3 feet) were perfect for bedding plants and were very popular in their day. Dwarf Polyanthas were crossed with Hybrid Teas by Poulsen of Denmark, in the 1920s, to produce the Hybrid Polyanthas, renamed Floribundas in the 1950s. Their flowers are half the size of those of Hybrid Teas, but the clusters are larger, with 10 or more flowers on each stem, providing massed colour throughout the Summer. Hybrid Teas and Floribundas have been interbred so much, that it is now difficult to separate them genetically. They are now called Cluster-Flowered Roses (Floribundas) and Large-Flowered Roses (Hybrid Teas). Lavinia Evans (photo 1) is a Polyantha, while Queen Mother (photo 2) is a Floribunda and a Patio Rose.bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-25-09-42-49bloghxroses50reszdapril-016 Two more groups, developed in the 20th century, are the Hybrid Musks and David Austin’s English Roses. Between 1910 and 1930, Joseph Pemberton crossed two roses of R. multiflora/ R. moschata parentage, Aglaia and Trier, with Teas, Hybrid Teas and Hybrid Perpetuals to produce Hybrid Musks, long-flowering shrub roses with clusters of flowers, equal in amount to the Polyanthas. Cornelia and Penelope are two of my favourites!bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-03-10-04-21bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-06-13-09-14David Austin has combined the best of the old and the new with beautiful cupped and quartered full old-fashioned blooms, which repeat-flower constantly. They form the basis of my Moon Bed and include Jude the Obscure, William Morris and Golden Celebration (last 2 photos) : bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-22-17-03-14bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-17-09-52-09bloghxroses20reszdimg_4487bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-01-13-27-29I also grow Alnwick and Fair Bianca in the Soho Bed.bloghxroses20reszd2016-10-29-17-08-08bloghxroses20reszdimg_0467Other modern rose groups include the Kordes (Germany) and Guillot Roses (France). Maigold and Frühlingsgold are Kordes Roses and can be bought from Treloars in Victoria.bloghxroses20reszdimg_9505bloghxroses50reszdimage-259We saw many Guillot Roses at Walter Duncan’s home, The Heritage Garden, but now Knights Roses (South Australia) are the Australian agents. I loved Walter’s rose arch (photo 1) and would dearly love to find a spot for Sonia Rykiel (photo 2).bloghxroses20reszdimg_9419bloghxroses20reszdimg_9491Today, commercial production of roses centres on providing ornamental plants for domestic and industrial landscaping, flowers for the cut flower market and the perfume industry (rose water/ attar of roses/ rose essential oil), and rose hips for food (rosehip jam and syrup) and medicine (high vitamin C content), though I think some of the Species Roses still have the best hips!bloghxroses50reszdapril-036bloghxroses50reszdimage-192bloghxroses50reszdapril-028 As florist roses are increasingly grown, then shipped from developing countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda in Africa and Colombia and Ecuador in South America, post-harvest longevity is becoming increasingly important, and new varieties are being bred for longer vase life, as well as thornless stems to promote ease of handling and sorting. The ethics behind rose production in developing countries is a whole separate subject in itself, as I discovered in my floristry course and one which I may explore in a later post. For a taster, see: back to current breeding! Most of the work is directed towards increasing production. For example, soil-less cultivation, efficient nutrient usage and the ability of cultivars to grow on their own root stocks, a much cheaper alternative to grafting. Genetics is also playing a much more prominent role, not only to confirm ancestry, but also in genetic modification. Experiments have investigated increasing resistance to powdery mildew and other diseases, increasing resistance to temperature, increasing the shelf life of roses and resistance to shock over long transportation, increasing the adventitious rooting of cuttings and increasing fragrance, lost during conventional breeding. Experiments are also being done to control colour at a genetic level, in order to create unique colours and eliminate the need for costly dyes. And then, there is still the questionable long-held desire to produce a blue rose, the Holy Grail of rose breeders! Because there is no blue in the rose gene pool, genetic engineering has been used to introduce the blue pigment Delphinidin, found naturally in violas and delphiniums to a white rose, resulting in a lavender-mauve rose called Applause, which was released for sale to the public in Japan in 2009 and America in 2011 after more than 20 years of research by a collaboration between two companies:  Florigene, a Melbourne-based biotechnology company and the Japanese Suntory Group. See:  I have to say that I’m happy enough with my mauve Hybrid Tea, Lady X (above) and for total originality, my obscure green China Rose, Viridiflora!bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-19-13-44-18For the rest of the year, I will be describing each of the different rose groups in depth with examples from our garden, starting with the Species or Botanical Roses, then progressing through the Old European Roses to the multitude of hybrids, which developed from them, culminating in the modern Hybrid Tea rose of today.

One year on and January’s feature plant: Agapanthus

It’s official! We have now lived here for exactly a whole year! It has been such an exciting time establishing the garden and learning all about our new climate, birds and local environment. We celebrated by purchasing a beautiful gardenia – a plant whose scent we have always loved and which we didn’t think we would be able to grow in this climate, but we have planted it in a pot beside the house in a slight shady position, which the nursery lady assures us should give it a measure of frost protection. Hopefully, she’s right!!! It’s certainly worth a try, as it is one of our favourite plants! We also had a superb first anniversary feast tonight- delicious salads, garnered from our vegetable garden, and featured in my next post on Thursday.

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First Anniversary Feast!
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A Summer feast!
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A Gardenia to celebrate our first year in Candelo!

This post is a bit of a mix- a review of what has worked well or not quite so well; ideas and plans for the future; and finishing with an in-depth look at the first of our monthly feature plants, the agapanthus, which was the dominant plant on our arrival one year ago and an all-time Summer favourite!

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A blank canvas: the start of our garden adventure

We have been really happy with the general garden design. Even though it faces east, with trees on the northern side, creating Winter shade, the site is beautifully protected from strong winds and the soil is superb – a mix of basalt and fertile river loam (with lots of iron from the old blacksmithing days!). It is a real boon to start with established mature trees, which provide a framework to the garden and give pointers for future plantings. Sadly, we did have to remove the beautiful she-oaks last Winter as they produced too much shade and even though it was difficult at the time, we are really pleased we did! The new boundary fence has also been a great addition, as not only does it delineate boundaries, it has protected the bamboo from the horse next door, provided a solid backdrop to the buddleias, especially when they are pruned in Winter, and given us much needed privacy on that narrow side of the house. It should weather to a grey colour and will soon be covered by honeysuckle and woodbine.

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The garden one year on

Apart from our severe Winter frosts, shade and sun are the biggest factors, which we have to consider in the garden. We did make a major blue at the start by digging up the two beds on the northern side of the path- they are shaded by the boundary trees in Winter, thus delaying our growing season. However, it did mean we had to establish the other 2 beds on the southern side of the path much sooner than we might have. And the no-dig method worked well for the 2nd cutting garden, eliminating much of the digging, though we will have to do a final dig now to ensure all the grass roots have gone.

This photo shows the shading of both northern beds by the trees on the left

We were particularly pleased with the Soho and Moon Beds, which work really well and have looked great all year. All the smaller plants (Bearded Iris, Verbena, Flowering Sage, Lavenders and Catmints) have established well and complement our beautiful Soho roses, which have taken on a new lease of life. We do have to continue the brick edging round the rest of the Moon Bed, as well as doing the same on the Soho Bed and Cutting Garden, as it makes the edging much easier to maintain. The brick paths are also very useful in both the Soho Bed and Cutting Garden, apart from the fact they we have to pull out the odd weed and they provide homes for the snails! But also the Blue-banded Bee I might add!! We do need to discover a cheaper source of bulk mulch for all the garden beds.

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The Soho Bed
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Edging the Moon Bed with bricks
David Austin roses in the Moon Bed

The white hedge behind the Soho Bed is growing well with the Philadelphus having tripled in size. We urgently need to construct 3 wooden arches (one at each end of the path and one at the shed corner), as well as the Main Pergola to support the climbing roses.

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The position of the Main Pergola entering the garden

We did have a few problems with the strike rate of the seeds we sowed in the cutting garden. We still have to get used to managing the annuals and bulbs together. We may yet sow all our seed in pots before transplanting to the garden, except for the ones that prefer to be planted in situ and do have a good strike rate eg Poppies. The dahlias have been fabulous- abundant flowering and excellent growth. I’d like to plant another 2 dahlias on the opposite corners of the path. The bulbs also provided a terrific display, even though the anemones disliked the shadier end of the garden. I was particularly impressed with the tulips! It will be interesting to see how they perform this year, having been underground for the whole Summer. The cornflowers were disappointing, as they required staking, and the strike rate of the bupleureum, foxgloves, cosmos and nigella was poor, but the latter two shouldn’t be a problem after this first season! However, the poppies and peony poppies, the calendulas, the zinnias and even the stock (despite its late entry) have been very impressive! It has been fabulous being able to step out into the garden to pick bouquets for the house!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.24.45BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.25.01BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-14 13.59.47Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1246BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-19 16.15.52The vegetable garden has also been a great success, despite the 28 spotted potato ladybird larvae, which decimated most of the foliage; the cabbage moth, which attacked all our brassicas; and the fact that we are still learning what to plant when! The raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and black currant have grown well, sending out lots of fresh shoots and canes. Unfortunately, one of the blueberry bushes died, but the remaining one is doing well. And the asparagus has been slow, but is flowering at the moment, so hopefully it will establish itself over time. We are still working on the tomatoes- they have been affected by grubs too, but nothing eats the pumpkin, nor the rainbow chard! The latter is definitely worth growing, along with the purple cabbage, for its colour alone, and the sweet peas, although late, have really progressed and look so pretty in the vegie garden, as well as smelling divine! The sunflowers have also been show-stopping and flower very generously! Here are some photos of our Summer harvest :

1st photo : Dutch Cream potatoes, variety of lettuce leaves, rocket, tomatoes, capsicum and sweet peas for tonight’s first anniversary feast

2nd photo : All washed with basil and parsley addedBlogSummerSalads20%ReszdIMG_5260BlogOneYearOnAg20%ReszdIMG_5264BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 17.22.53The rose hedge behind the vegetable garden also smells wonderful, although there is a little too much shade from the white mulberry tree, whose branches we may have to trim back further still.

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The pink rose hedge between the vegetable garden and mulberry tree in its infancy
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Penelope is in the white Hybrid Musk hedge behind the northern vegetable garden

The established fruit trees have also been a great success, with 3 types of plums, 2 apples and the White Mulberry, all of which we have used to make jams, jellies and pies. I’m looking forward to the new citrus trees developing- they all need weeding, manure, blood and bone and mulching. The passionfruit has also been eaten badly- I suspect the grasshoppers! We are still getting to know all our pests! Having said that, I love watching all the birds and butterflies that visit our garden!BlogSummersplendrs20%ReszdIMG_2486Now to the rest of the garden!

Back of the house :
The Cecile Brunner arch is a great addition to the front gate and already the climber has reached the top of the side frame, and when fully grown, will shield us from the view of the old house opposite, as well as affording more privacy to the guest bedroom. The multigraft camellia, the Winter honeysuckle, hellebores and violets provide a wonderful and long-lasting display all Winter, although the daphne’s flowering season is a bit short! The Mondo grass provides an excellent low maintenance edging, but the ivy requires constant vigilance and the cement path gap needs filling.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.12.56Blog LateWinter20%ReszdIMG_9079Side Path :
The Banksia pergola has also been a great success and the Banksia rose is well and truly recovering from its drastic prune last year and is already providing a measure of shade to the outdoor eating area. The May bush and buddleias have also responded very well to their Winter pruning. The rose cuttings from our old garden in Armidale have taken well and will be planted out next Winter.BlogOneYearOnAg20%Reszd2015-12-29 10.38.29The herb pots have been wonderful and we have enjoyed their use in cooking, as well as for pesto and mint jelly.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-10 19.02.53The acanthus provide a dramatic low maintenance cover against the house and I love the peaceful corner under the maple tree with the statue, violets and wind flowers. The Blue-tongue lizard enjoys the sunny sheltered corner provided by the geranium pots. The mosaic stepping stones look great, as if they have always been there and probably always will!!!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-27 18.06.39BlogOneYearOnAg20%ReszdIMG_5199Front Terrace :
The climbing roses against the front of the house have grown and flowered well, but urgently need their training wires. The native bed in the tank was not successful- I think that there was too much straight sand. The crowea died and the other plants have failed to thrive, so we will transplant them to the native area and maybe turn the old septic tank into a shallow pond with a protective grid cover. The fine bamboo looks beautiful, but the large bamboo suffered last Winter and will need chopping back and rejuvenating. The agapanthus bank recovered well after the severe Winter frosts and has provided another magnificent low-maintenance Summer display. We will definitely be looking after the cliveas this year, now that we know where they are! And the hydrangeas are as big as ever and obviously loved their heavy pruning last Winter. The bergenia edging on the path has worked well.BlogOneYearOnAg20%Reszd2015-12-27 17.39.52Fernery :
Not as successful as we would have liked. We suspect that area still gets too much sun, especially damaging on those 40 degree days! So we plan to move the fernery onto a shadier area close by, under the loquat trees. Eventually, we hope to have a large rainwater tank in this corner. We will also have to protect the new Wheel of Fire and NSW Christmas bush from the early Winter frosts.Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-23 11.03.06

Old Shed :
Most of the old-fashioned roses planted so far have grown and flowered well, though some are a little slower. This Winter, we plan to plant out the remaining gaps with the rose cuttings struck last Winter. The tree dahlias will need heavy mulching as well to protect them from the frost, but even though they are so seemingly fragile and succumb so easily, their dramatic displays make them worth keeping and they do keep coming back every year, so they are not that much effort!BlogSummersplendrs20%ReszdIMG_2514I would love to plant Albertine against a rose trellis the length of the shed back wall, where it will look stunning each year. We also want to construct an entrance arch for 2 yellow Noisettes next to the cumquats. And I still hope to find my Golden Hornet crabapple, which I will plant in line and next to the Gorgeous variety, which we were mistakenly sold! Ross has found the stink bugs on the cumquat trees a bit of a challenge, so will spray the trees with Eco-Oil this Winter and investigate a pyrethrum spray for next Summer. We will also have to research organic controls of the 28 spotted potato ladybird larvae, cabbage moth and grasshoppers.

While I have been writing this review, I have also been writing a separate list of all the garden tasks, which need to be done and it’s a long one!!! But that is what is so great about having our own garden again. It’s an endless source of things to do, as well as inspiration, pleasure and enjoyment, and we love it! Finally, the promised description of our first monthly feature plant!

Agapanthus (also known as African Lily, Lily-of-the-Nile)

Nothing spells Summer as much as a cool sea of blue agapanthus, with the odd white one thrown in!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.35.37
It is the only genus in the subfamily Agapanthoideae in the Flowering Plant family Amaryllidaceae, which is the major group in the Angiosperms and has 79 genera. Agapanthus are herbaceous and mainly perennial and bulbous flowering plants in the Monocot order Asparagales and include : Alliums, Cliveas, Crinum, Galanthus and Leucojum, Narcissi, Hemerocallis, Hippeastrums, Nerines and Zephyranthus.BlogOneYearOnAg20%ReszdIMG_5203Their name comes from the Greek : αγάπη (agape) = love, άνθος (anthos) = flower.They are native to Southern Africa, but are now naturalized throughout the world.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-08 17.06.07There are six species (though some sources say 10) : A. africanus, A. campanulatus, A. caulescens, A. coddii, A. inapertus and A. Praecox. There are also many cultivars and hybrids of A. Africanus and A. praecox. The most commonly seen species is Agapanthus praecox subspecies orientalis.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 18.30.44
They can be very invasive. In New Zealand, A.praecox is classed as an environmental weed. Agapanthus is also considered to be a weed in some parts of Victoria. Therefore, it is best to remove their spent flower heads to prevent seed formation, especially if you are close to native bushland. Better still, plant sterile varieties like ‘Black Pantha’, which don’t set seed.

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Hitch hiking on the Princes Highway!
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Escapees from a driveway on the Candelo-Bega Rd.

The perennial Agapanthus grows from an underground rhizome each year. Agapanthus species and cultivars have long, strap-like, fleshy leaves that form dense clumps of evergreen or deciduous foliage. In Summer (November – January), tall stems (up to 1m tall) tower over the foliage bearing large rounded umbels of bell-shaped or tubular flowers, in shades of blue to purple or white. Bold and architectural, their flowering stalks are also simple and elegant. Dwarf and miniature varieties up to 45cm tall also exist.BlogSummersplendrs20%Reszd2015-12-19 10.04.42Flowers are sensitive to ethylene gas, so vases should be kept away from ripening fruit. It can last up to 2 weeks in a vase. It means ‘Love Letter’ in the Language of Flowers.BlogSummersplendrs20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.08.48
They are propagated by seed or clump division in Winter. Split clumps every 4-5 years for best results. If growing in a pot, use a smaller pot, as they prefer their roots overcrowded. Their foliage forms an excellent groundcover and they can also be used as a low border along a path, driveway or fence.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 19.03.26
They are tough and hardy, heat- and drought-tolerant, as well as being very pest-hardy and are tolerant of poor soil, wind and salty air, so are good for coastal gardens. They are very easy to grow and virtually indestructible, except with very heavy frosts. They can be protected with mulch, but they still bounce back as the Summer progresses anyway. Snails like them. They are said to thrive on neglect, but flower far better with full sun, good drainage and regular watering.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-12 19.11.43
Parts of the agapanthus plant are sometimes used for medicinal purposes. Agapanthus contains several saponins and sapogenins that generally have anti-inflammatory , anti-oedema (swelling due to accumulation of fluid), antitussive (relieves or suppresses coughing) and immunoregulatory  properties. Agapanthus has been used medicinally for cardiac complaints. In South Africa, its roots are boiled in water to produce a tonic for pregnant women to promote contractions during labour. Expectant mothers sometimes wear charms made from the dried roots to ensure healthy babies.
However, the sap contains substances that can irritate skin or mucous membranes and causes severe ulceration of the mouth. Obviously, it doesn’t worry this little nectar-sucking Eastern Spinebill!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-24 12.37.58My darling daughter painted us this exquisite watercolour of two of our favourite things- flowers and butterflies- to celebrate our first year in our beautiful home. She is so talented and we feel very lucky to be the recipients of such a beautiful gift!BlogOneYearOnAg20%Reszd2016-01-12 17.28.16















The Reign of the Roses

Roses, roses, roses!!! Their season has finally arrived! And this is just their first year!!! I always remember finding it incredibly difficult to take holidays in November, as this is prime rose flowering time!!! It is so exciting discovering each new bloom every day! The Soho Bed smells divine at the moment and looks fantastic. It has come a long way from its beginnings at the start of this year!BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 16.16.13BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2953BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3035Among the new blooms are :

Hybrid Teas: The Children’s Rose (pink); Lolita (orange-pink).Ice Girl (white) and Mr. Lincoln (deep red and super fragrant);BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 16.16.21BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 16.16.55BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2954BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.37.48And David Austins: Fair Bianca (white); Eglantyne (light pink); L D Braithwaite (deep red) and Alnwick (warm pink).BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2959BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3033BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 16.45.00BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 16.44.55BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2998BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-27 08.40.01The Moon Bed is following suit with David Austins: Troilus (cream) and Golden Celebration (gold).BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.37.21BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 16.17.23BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3031BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.37.05The Old-fashioned Rose Bed by the shed sports : Viridiflora; Archiduc Joseph; Countess Bertha and Maigold.BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.45.17BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3010BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2949BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2976The climbing Noisette rose over the path beyond the Soho Bed, Alister Stella Gray, will be pushing for a supportive arch before we know it!BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 16.16.06BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2999Here is the promised photo of Lamarque, the Noisette climber against the house, and I cannot resist adding one more photo of the Paul’s Himalayan Musk on the other side of the house.BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.33.27BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2991And the rose hedges are in full swing :

White Hybrid Musks : Autumn Delight (Photo 1); Penelope (photo 2) and  Kathleen (photos 3 and 4);BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 13.53.37BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 07.52.28BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 07.52.52BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2966Pink Hedge : Hybrid Musk roses : Cornelia (photos 1 and 2) and Felicia (photo 3); and China rose : Mutabilis (photos 4 to 6), whose single fragile blooms of variable colour always remind me of a flight of butterflies!BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2967BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2969BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-27 08.40.43BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-27 08.41.19BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 15.13.38BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 15.13.25The rugosa hedge : Frau Dagmar Hastrup (pale pink) and Roseraie de l’Hay ( deep purple pink).BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-21 14.15.29BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 15.13.14The cutting garden is still resplendent with outrageous colour from the Dutch Iris, Cornflowers, Ranunculas and Iceland Poppies and now the Calendula (last photo).BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2941BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2987BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.55BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.41BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2963BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.33BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.24BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.38.35The Dutch Cream potatoes are up in the vegie garden and the heritage tomato plants are powering along, as are the rhubarb, raspberry canes and  black currant bush. The blueberries, miniscule as they are, are covered in full berry and the citrus are equally well-festooned with sweetly scented flowers. The red bottlebrush (Callistemon) has its first flower and has plenty of buds, so will be quite a show!BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3003BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 16.47.17BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 16.53.05BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 16.48.08I was momentarily excited when I discovered that the fruit on our White Mulberry tree was reddening up, thinking that maybe we had been given a false identification and had after all my favourite Black Mulberry instead, but on further investigation, found that White Mulberry fruit can be white, red or black and from looking at the leaves, I’m pretty sure that it is a White Mulberry unfortunately! But they are the favourite food of silkworms and you can still eat the fruit- it is just a slightly different taste to that of Black Mulberries! And I discovered that we have tree-climbing snails! I am not sure if they are after the new apples or the mulberries!BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.33.51BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.33.56I love the blue border (Convovulus mauritanicus) of the maple bed and my Rosalie Geranium has been encouraged to join suit! I still find the bromeliads very exotic and worthy of a Dr. Who set!BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2993BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2983The Acanthus mollis spires and lilies are multiplying every day and the hydrangeas and buddleias are becoming quite large, the former almost overpowering the Green Goddess calla lilies.BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3022BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3039

The snowball tree is still in full bloom and creating a white carpet of snowfall below and the red rhododendron provides a small splash of colour in the shade.BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.44.50BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2944The Virginalis philadelphus has tripled in size and sports beautifully scented white blooms and the Carolina Allspice, which was so slow to regain its foliage, is expanding rapidly and even has a small bud, which is very exciting!!! We also discovered some purple bearded iris hiding under the cumquats! Once they have finished flowering, we will move them to the border of the Moon Bed to multiply and receive the recognition they deserve!BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 15.14.55BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3012Garden tasks this week have mainly focused on weeding, mulching and watering, though the pergola supporting the Banksia rose is almost finished with all the cross pieces mortised in and fastened to the fence for extra strength.BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 16.39.04BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-25 16.39.17We had a visit from this cute little lost dog late Friday afternoon, so spent the evening searching for her owner, before boarding her with a friend for the weekend. We put up notices all round town, but the next day she was back! She obviously likes the place and made herself a bed in the mondo grass and nerines at the base of the Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose. We gave her a meal of premium nonfat mince, raw egg and bread and she spent the night in her spot. Fortunately, her owner turned up. He was visiting his mother, who lives nearby, and his pet had escaped through an open gate. We were amazed to find out that her name is Scamp and she is 15 years old, the age and name of our old dog, who died in July!!!BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 16.56.08BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3028BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 16.56.04BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 15.17.12Next door has a new sheep- this very cute black lamb! And finally the ever-fascinating backdrop to our little piece of Heaven!BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 17.37.19BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-26 17.36.43