P is for the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden. I last visited this garden in November of 2009 when there was still plenty of bloom on view although you wouldn’t know it from this photo of the view from the entry to the Gazebo where Awakening roses twine around the beautiful iron framework.
I had gone to meet Peter Kukielski, self-taught rosarian, and the then curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, transforming it into one of the most environmentally-friendly gardens in the world. He more than tripled the number of roses in this garden which seemed miraculous. I asked him how he did that. He looked at me with just the trace of an impish smile, leaned toward me and said very softly, “I planted them closer together.” Surprise and laughter from me. A simple answer. Last year Peter co-edited The Sustainable Rose Garden with Pat Shanley and Gene Waering, and is currently working on a new book.
Kukielski looked to the hybrid roses created by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University. Dr. Buck’s goal was to create winter hardy roses that also had bood disease resistance. I have several Buck roses including Applejack which greets people as they come up our road, and Quietness which is a miracle on the Rose Walk. Many of those beautiful roses are still available from Chamblee’s Nursery and Antique Rose Emportium.
He also looked to all the Kordes hardy, disease resistant hybrids. Nearly thirty years ago the German government outlawed many of the common herbicides and pesticides and other chemicals that were commonly used on roses. That means German hybridizers began work right away to develop roses that could thrive without that help.
He not only looked at Earth Kind roses, he began a trial garden at the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden to locate and name more Earth Kind roses. Texas A & M set up a test garden, planting a number of roses and caring for them for one year, then giving them no further care for nine years. Those that did well were named Earth Kind roses because they were disease resistant and did not need supplemental irrigation. The Fairy, a old trooper of a a floribunda. Lots of gardeners appreciated The Fairy’s hardiness and exhuberance long before it became an Earth Kind Rose.
I want to make the point that roses have changed. There are plenty of hybrid teas that still need a lot of fussing, but for those of us who have no inclination to fuss because of the work, or because we don’t want poisons in our garden there is a whole new world of beautiful roses that we can happily have blooming in our gardens. Do you have any roses in your garden?
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