Friday, 30 May 2014

Sharifa Asma

I have 14 David Austin Sharifa Asma roses, so let me tell you just why I like them so much.

Firstly, because they are so stunningly perfumed. I started by buying two bare-root standards. I may have lucked out, but these two are amazingly fragrant, with a smell that is almost oily. You can imagine droplets hanging in the air.

Second, because they are upright and bushy, unlike some of the other David Austin roses which can be quite rounded and spreading. Sharifa Asma has more the upright growth of a hybrid tea, maybe even narrower and about 4 to 5 feet tall. They fit just perfectly into a relatively narrow space.

I was so impressed with the fragrance of the standards that I decided to make a hedge of them. I headed off to Melville Rose Nursery late one winter and picked myself up 6 Sharifa Asmas (I’ve since extended the hedge). Three are very fragrant, two aren’t at all and one was mislabelled and I think might possibly be a Glamis Castle (pictured below). Any other ideas as to its identity would be welcomed. It fades to white with age.

Which proves one thing, that fragrance in roses varies from plant to plant not just variety to variety. Nowadays I try and pick them up during flowering season so I can pick out the most fragrant ones.

And thirdly, because they are very heat and sun tolerant and do really well in Perth summers, flowering often and generously.

If they have a fault, at least in my eyes, it is in leaf form, kind of wrinkly. Apparently it is a rugosa style leaf (so the literature says). I’m not that fond of it but I find I don’t focus on it in the landscape.

Highly recommended!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Guest post: Moonbeam

Today’s post is by my Gardening Neighbour, David. He sent me this photo of one of his roses and I suggested he might want to blog about it. He kindly agreed. This has definitely risen to the top of my wish list. In Perth it is available from the Swiss Rose Nursery.
This is an old David Austin rose that I love called Moonbeam now classified as an English Rose, it reminds me of a clematis and hangs on the bush like large silk handkerchiefs. This was one of David Austin’s early hybrids bred in 1983 however the parentage is unknown. To me there seems to be more than a hint of Tea Rose in the flowers and foliage.


I am not sure why Moonbeam has not been featured more often as it is capable of producing the most achingly beautiful blooms and for anyone who is a fan of roses with a full boss of exposed stamens it is a must have.


The blooms open from long pointed buds that can be blushed a lovely shade of warm apricot pink depending on the season. The blooms open flat with a double layer of tissue paper like petals that are cream blushed through with a warm pink however as with the buds the blush will quickly disappear in warmer weather. The blooms are on longish stems and can have a tendency to droop under their own weight.
 My plant has only been in the ground for 12 months and has started to make a nice framework of branches. I would recommended this rose get some afternoon shade as the tissue paper petals will quickly burn in full afternoon summer sun. For 12 months I had it growing in its nursery pot in full shade and still got some blooms though I would not recommend it as a shade loving rose. The foliage is a lighter shade of green and is not too thorny. I have not seen Moonbeam as a fully grown bush in the ground so can’t be definitive as to final height and width however from the growth I have seen and the reference material listed by David Austin I would expect a bush of 1.2m x 1.2m.

 Moonbeam is a rose that can easily justify a place in any garden and would also look nice in a raised pot where the semi drooping flowers can be fully appreciated.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

More Autumn Roses

Here are some more of my autumn roses.
This is David Austin’s Princess Alexandra of Kent. It’s fairly new in my garden – only a couple of summer’s old. This rose flowers fairly infrequently in this spot. I have another one in a less harsh position which does slightly better and I am going to shift this plant near it.
And because it’s such a treat to see it in flower, this is a shot of the back with the bud of hybrid tea, Fragrant Plum.

And it’s very lovely bud.

This pop of colour was irresistible – a Pat Austin bud against the dark blue fence.

And the heavy droop of a fully open flower.

This is David Austin rose, Young Lycidas. It starts as a dark bruise…

And gradually fills with petals and fades through the red plum tones.

This is hybrid musk, Felicia. I planted this as a weeping standard last spring to provide a bit of shade over a scorched lawn area. I bought it from Roworths rose nursery in Landsdale. The guy there estimated it as being 5 years old and warned me not to expect much in the way of flowering. I had low expectations but, in a classic case of under-promise and over-deliver, it has flowered continuously all season. I don’t expect it to ‘weep’ as such, being more of a spreading shrub than climber.

And this beauty is English rose, Pretty Jessica.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A Trip to Melville Roses

English rose, Sir Edward Elgar
I have a confession to make… I don’t like rose gardens. Or let me qualify that – I didn’t like rose gardens. The roses are regularly spaced apart, and a good distance at that; all the plants are the same size; the foliage is the same and the flowers tend towards the top of the plant.

English rose, Portmeiron
When I first moved in to this house there were some roses along the driveway, somewhat neglected but blooming away. I was going to take them out, and then I had a revelation. Those plants had survived 5 years of neglect with no summer watering… therefore they were drought tolerant! And with the ever present threat of harsh water restrictions they met my major criteria for a plant in my new garden.

David Austin rose, Golden Celebration
This was the beginning of a journey into rose discovery, and for starters I wanted a rose garden that didn’t look like the rose gardens I don’t like. I wanted a rose garden that looked like a normal garden - plants jammed in and growing into one another, lots of foliage, and flowers all over. And this is where I discovered shrub roses. I read a David Austin book borrowed from my local library (it is at my house very regularly and here at the moment if you’re looking for it). In it he recommends close planting to create the effect of a large shrub – about 500 mm apart (around 20 inches). Close plant a rose? You can do that? Apparently so. And this from an expert.
Hybrid tea, Ian Thorpe
So why am I telling you all this in a post about a visit to a rose nursery. It’s because I bought more roses to put in and I’m looking to excuse myself. Just following David’s advice.

English rose, Wise Portia

David Austin’s Ambridge rose

A blooming camellia hedge