Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interviewing roses


My friend Jane Kyburz always gets me tickled when she's about to go somewhere important (like a college reunion or a big wedding).

"I'm starting to interview clothes," she will say, meaning she's looking through her closet to see if anything will work for the occasion.

I have my (fill in the blank) college reunion coming up.  Jane is a year younger than I, but she's from Nashville and went to Vanderbilt with me.  So, she's driving me up to stay with one of her friends.  It's Vanderbilt's Homecoming so maybe she'll see lots of people she knows, too.

I haven't interviewed my clothes yet.  Truthfully, there's not much hanging in my closet that I feel like talking to. I do know that whatever I end up taking will be either black or gray, with an outside chance of a navy blue sweater, depending on the weather.

However, I have begun to interview roses for some new sunny spaces I have.  My first candidate is the English rose 'Pat Austin'.  I took the above photograph in Bob Clinard's Atlanta garden at the height of the rose season here.  Thus, the blooms are fresh, and the foliage looks great.  I haven't interviewed this rose in August to see how it looks.

But, thank goodness for the Internet.  I was able to look up what people said about Pat.  I took some information from several sources, and the opinions varied greatly.  I do think I know a bit more about the rose now.  Here are some of the comments:

(From a nursery, a glowing report):  "...bathed in stunning coppery bronze flowers with peach overtones at the ends of the stems from late spring to late summer.  The flowers are excellent for cutting.  It has dark green foliage throughout the season;  tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front.  Beauty fresh fragrance; abundant blooms."  The only drawback?  Spiny, meaning I guess that it's really thorny.

(From a comment on a blog):   "Great repeat (meaning blooms).  Mild, pleasant fragrance.  BIG drawback:  fades quickly.  TERRIBLE for cutting/vase."

(Yet another comment on a blog):  "Very healthy foliage; blooms constantly; no disease; very vigorous; in heat, the blooms don't last long."

(And another one):  "I just stuck it (meaning 'Pat Austin') in relatively poor soil where it receives hot summer sun, and it's growing like gangbusters.  It's the first rose I've ever tried."  (!) - my exclamation. 

Three people said that during the first two years, the flowers were too heavy for the stems and drooped.  All cleared up eventually when the plant grew stronger.  "It's worth the wait," one commenter said.  Another person posted a photograph of a beautiful 'Pat Austin' in a vase with other flowers.  Maybe the all-caps, TERRIBLE guy had one of the early droopers.

But, I say, who can argue with the color?  The rose allegedly grows four feet high by four feet wide.  And, it's fragrant, and I am a sucker for orange roses.

What would make me buy this rose, more than anything else said?  Someone from Orlando, Florida, in Zone 9 said this:  "No diseases; very vigorous; very healthy foliage."

If Pat has good foliage in Florida, then I think there's hope for this one.  Another interview coming soon.

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