Monday, January 31, 2011

What is a cottage garden?

cottage garden

I think this is a good question. I mean I think most of us have heard the term at some point in our lives, but what is one really? I will give you the condensed version...

 Cottage gardens go back for centuries. Cottage gardens in the beginning were more out of necessity than for pleasure as they are today. The cottage gardens of England were poor working class folk who had but a small "cottage" and a little plot of land surrounding it. They had to make the most out of what they had so therefore they crammed as much out of their tiny plot as they could. They would grow things that would be used as food and medicinal purposes. Fruit trees, vegetables, herbs and flowers all growing together. They often would keep bees and a few livestock as well. To protect what they had they would often put a fence around there garden to keep there livestock in such as perhaps a cow or pig and to keep out other unwanted guests. Hence the white picket fence you think about when picturing a cottage garden. Everything had a purpose, they needed these things to survive not to look pretty. There were some flowers grown just for their beauty but most had a purpose.

 Over time though the cottage gardens started to evolve into a garden of pleasure than out of necessity sometime in the mid to late 1800's. The emphasis was now becoming more about the flowers than the vegetables and herbs. Today in the 20th century it has become extremely popular. Cottage gardens are often romanticized about...those sweet thatched cottages, white picket fence and arbors just draped in gorgeous perfumed roses, and beautiful pastel shades of flowers everywhere the eye beholds. They are informal but not messy and chaotic. They are relaxing, inspiring, and welcoming.

 Today's cottage gardens still have elements of the traditional cottage gardens of times past. Most choose to use just those old cottage garden flower favorites such as roses, hollyhocks, sweet william, and daisies. Some like to incorporate herbs and/or vegetables into there gardens as they were original used, even adding a fruit tree here or there as room permits. The white picket or something similar and an arbor are still important elements of a traditional cottage garden. Then throw in birdhouse here and there and a birdbath and you are on you way to creating a traditional cottage garden.

 Notice I said on your way. That is because there is more to it then just having the things listed above in your garden. Now everyone may tweak their garden to suit their home or location or budget and that is fine. Someone living in Arizona or Florida will probably not be able to have the look of a traditional cottage garden because of house styles and a climate not suited to growing typical cottage garden flowers. They would have to modify it but as long as you keep the elements the same you can still achieve the look you want. My cottage garden is a sort of country cottage garden. Reason being I have a weathered post and rail fence that I grow my roses over and not a white picket fence. All the fencing and the arbor I have are weathered wood so to me it gives it more a country look but I try to keep and still working on creating the cottage look around the yard. Like I said you can modify it to suit you.

 Creating a cottage garden is not about just going out and buying one of every plant and plonking it in the ground just anywhere. A cottage garden may be informal but that doesn't mean it doesn't take some planning and maintaining. In fact I think to get it right it does take planning and upkeep. A traditional cottage garden had very little grass (something I still have plenty of) as it was prime real estate. Instead there were paths meandering around beds and borders filled to the brim with flowers, vegetables, herbs, shrubs, roses and trees. Even in a modern cottage garden you will have this without perhaps the veggies. So in order for plants not to get lost in there you must consider the different heights of plants, their color, bloom time. Taller plants in the back like hollyhocks or delphiniums, Medium plants in the middle such as sweet william or daisies and the smaller or border plants up front such as violets, dianthuses. Pick a color scheme and stick with that throughout the garden repeating colors so the eye flows around the garden. For example most traditional cottage garden flowers are pastel shades with some darker variations. You wouldn't want to have a mostly pastel garden with an orange or bright red plant thrown in. It will stand out like a sore thumb. There is nothing wrong with using hot colors especially if you live in an area where most of the flowers grown there come in those shades. What I am saying is pick a color scheme and stick with it. Also try to stay away from to many different colors as it takes away from the serene calming effect that a cottage garden should have. I have seen pictures of beautiful cottage gardens with a  color scheme of of just two shades such as white and blue or white and purple. Very nice! I have also seen monochromatic gardens of all white, or all purple and that is very pretty too although very hard to achieve. Grouping flowers in groups of 3 or 5 also make a big impact rather than 1 or 2 and it gives it a much more natural look. Again repeat the colors, if you have a clump of white daisies than a little further down the border or bed repeat that color with either the same flower or a different flower but in the same color. Try to consider the times they bloom and plant accordingly so you have consistent flowers throughout the garden and throughout the year. That way you won't have blank spaces in the garden. Bulbs and rhizomes are great for this job.

An another important element as I mentioned above is mixing your flowers with shrubs, roses and even a tree or two. These are considered the bones in the garden. They are a constant in the ever changing world of flowers that come and go throughout the year. Many of these have added interests as well such as berries and flowers that give it seasonal interest as well. Roses...a must have for any cottage garden! If you haven't tried them yet because you are afraid of them or don't know how to grow them, then please take a look at my posts on roses. You simply must give them a try. Start with a few knockouts for now to get your courage up. You cannot go wrong with these I promise! Old garden roses can be trained along fences, up arbors, and along houses or simple grown as a shrub. Most old garden roses flower all summer into fall and some just once in spring. Many have a wonderful scent to fill the garden for you to enjoy! Vines are wonderful as well, many with strongly scented flowers such as honeysuckle or jasmine and some with gorgeous flowers, such as clematis. Shrubs are a wonderful addition to cottage gardens when mixed with perennials and other flowers. There are so many different kinds...not all are just balls with green leaves. Trees are fantastic too and if you are lucky to have some mature trees on your property work with them. Too many can be a problem as it takes the sun away from all those sun loving plants but if you can work with them. It attracts wildlife...add some feeders, birdhouses and a birdbath and welcome the birds to your garden. Have fun with it, create winding paths, wide borders and beds, and over time it will mature and fill in giving you your very own cottage garden. You must be patient, it won't happen over night. I am still working on mine, planning beds, creating them. It takes time. Most of your flowers will come from perennials and they take a few years to really fill out. Roses are the same as they take at least 3-4 years to really start to fill out. Fill in with annuals in the time being and or bulbs. Whimsical statues such as rabbits ans sundials help fill in the spaces as well. One thing I also love about cottage gardens is allowing the seeds to drop and spread at random giving you more free plants and doing some of the work for you by reseeding themselves. Black Eyed Susans are very good at that..perhaps too good. Which brings up another point... sharing. Any extra or unwanted plants? Share them with neighbors and friends and help them create there very own cottage garden!

 Just have fun with it, relax, and enjoy the experience of creating one. God has created so many glorious plants for us to enjoy if we would only get out there to enjoy them. I started with a clean slate when we moved into this house 5 years ago as it was new construction. I still have a long way to go but I enjoy every minute of it. I add to it little by little over the years, and change things that I find didn't work. That is one thing I love about cottage gardens is that they are always changing and so you get something new every year! Go at you pace, in the winter when you can't get outside and everything is dormant or covered under a blanket of snow go to the library and get a few books to take home on cottage gardens, roses, perennials and herbs. Learn what will grow in your area, look at the examples you like in the books and see how and what you can copy into your own garden. The cottage garden forum is a great place to get information and meet a bunch of wonderful people as well. If you have any questions post a comment below and I will try to answer it the best I can.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting started with your very own backyard chickens...

So you want to keep chickens but perhaps aren't sure where to start? Well first thing first...have you checked with your local zoning board or HOA if you have one? If yes and your approved, then let's move on!

The internet is a wonderful tool with lots of free information right at your finger tips. I do recommend doing some research if you haven't already. You can find great information about specific breeds for example. You might not know that some breeds do much better in heat or cold then others do. If you are interested in raising them for meat there are specific breeds for that as well. Some are good for both egg and meat, they are dual purpose hens. Maybe you would like some more as little pets and are not interested in their eggs. There are some that fit that description like Bantams or Silkies. Then there are ornamental breeds. Breeds that lay pastel eggs.  These are are some things you may not have thought about and should consider before getting chickens.
You might also consider whether you want roosters or not. Many people think you must have a rooster in order to have eggs. Nope. Roosters only fertilize the eggs, they are not required to get eggs. Next do you want to raise chicks or but them as pullets (young hens that are just about to start egg laying). I have done both and I must say that raising them as chicks is so rewarding and fun. If you don't have the time to deal with taking care of chicks then I suggest going with started pullets. You can either buy them locally (feed stores, paper listings, or Craigslist are excellent places to look) or you can buy them from hatcheries online. Note though that if you want pullets and plan to buy them through hatcheries you will be limited as to what breeds you can get.

Once you have decided what kind of chickens you want and whether you want chicks or pullets. Next comes the coop and run. A coop can be fancy or practical, cheap or expensive. It really is completely up to you and your budget. How small or large it is is important however and that all depends on how many hens you plan on keeping. Chickens need a minimum of 2 sq. ft per bird in the coop and at 8-10 sq.ft outside/run per bird. They spend most of there time outside so making sure they have enough room is very important for happy chickens. If you live in an area where you get a lot of heavy snow then you should consider increasing the sq. footage inside as well. The reason they need a certain amount of sq. feet is prevent pecking and bullying and make happy chickens. If you only have a small amount of space in which to keep them then don't consider more than a few hens. A 6x8 shed converted into a coop for instance can hold a much larger number of hens. Remember you must also consider outdoor space in what is called the run unless you plan on free ranging you chickens. More on free ranging later. has some wonderful photos of coops (some even give how they built them) from folks from all over the country. You can also buy books or go to the library for ideas. My first coop design came from there. It was called the playhouse coop. I only had 3 hens at the time, the coop and run were all under one roof. It worked for the time being but when it rained the inside area was only big enough for them to roost for the night and lay there eggs. Something else to consider. Yes, they were covered but it still would get plenty wet inside depending on the wind. Also you might want to think ahead..chickens are very me! I always heard build bigger because you will want more. Yup! You will and unless due to restrictions you will get is only a mater of time! 3 years later I added 6 more to my 3 (sadly by the time the coop was done one of my hens suddenly died) and guess what that meant? Right...I needed a bigger coop and run. This time I thought ahead and made sure it would be big enough to add more if I wanted or rather if my hubby would let me! lol
(Check out my future post on coops and runs with more details on what to consider)

Once you decide on your coop/run design, what are you going to use for bedding? Well I think the most popular and widely used is pine shavings. I have used it for 3 years and it does the job. However I have since switched to sand both inside and out and what a difference it has made! I will never go back to shavings again. Sand is much cleaner and easier to use. A kitty litter scoop and you quickly sift the poop right up. The sand also helps to dry it up making it easy to sift and not waste bedding. Sand also greatly helps at keeping the smell down as well. The chickens also seem to like it. I think it is cool and in summer the hens spend much of there time there. As for how often to clean your coop...well that depends on how big it is and how many hens you have. I clean mine out once a week but you may have to do it sooner or you may get away with a little longer. A clean coop is the best thing for healthy happy hens. I recommend at least once a week. I have an 8x10 coop and 8 hens..I could get away with 2 weeks but I like to try to make sure I do it once a week.

Food and water requirements. Laying hens need laying pellets or crumbles found at any local Feed & Seed store. They are usually sold in 50lb bags. Laying hens need a complete laying food for proper egg production and contain everything they need like calcium which is necessary for shell development. If free ranging you hens most of their protein and nutrients will come from the bugs and grass they eat but you still need to provide them a laying feed. You may also want to supply crushed oyster shells where they can get some when they need it. The oyster shells have the calcium they need. If you notice your hens shells are thin try giving them a little oyster shell and that should do the trick. Another thing you may want to provide your hens with is crushed granite. Since chickens don't have teeth they store small pebbles in their crops and at night when they have settled in for the night those pebbles help grind the food. If they are free ranged they will most likey find these on their own. Water is extremely important and they need a lot of water for good egg production. Chickens do drink a lot of water and this must be checked daily. Be sure to provide them fresh clean drinking water. In winter check it to see if it is frozen and in summer especially if you live in areas such as South Carolina with our hot humid summers you need to check twice a day. Our summers are so hot and those poor "girls" are panting and holding their wings out....they are not happy campers. I like to fill there waterer with lots of ice cubes everyday and every afternoon. I like to keep a 3 gal. waterer in the coop and a smaller one outside. In summer their water evaporates quickly plus the chickens are drinking much more water so check often!

Chickens are fantastic garbage disposals. They will eat almost anything you give them. They will love you for it too! When I open the backdoor or call them...girls!...they come a running to see what yummy treats I have for them. There are some things you should avoid giving them and that is meat products, onion and garlic. You also shouldn't give them moldy or bad food.

I almost forgot about nest boxes! This is pretty important...all those lovely eggs need to be layed somewhere! You need about 1 12x12 box for every 3 hens. However, they will most likely try and use the same box as everyone else. I have 4 for my 8 hens to which only 6 are laying and they use 2 boxes and even then most use the same box. I have even seen two in a box! They are funny that way. They will most of the time either wait till the one is done or cluck telling them to hurry up and get out cause she wants her turn, even though there are 3 other boxes. Go figure! Though I have sand in the run I use wheat straw to line their nests. I check for eggs a couple times a day as they don't all lay in the morning. I store the eggs in the fridge after collecting them.

That is about it! Keeping chickens is very easy and they require little. Keeping there feed and water containers clean and providing clean water and food (depending on the size of your feed container and amount of hens you might might only have to fill it up once a week), clean coop and run (I also rake this out every 2 or 3 weeks) and that is all. Then just enjoy them and love them! Most like to be held and enjoy being with you. Some of mine like to follow me around as I garden. If you have further questions leave a comment and I will try to be sure to answer your questions.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Is keeping chickens in a small suburban neighborhood possible?

I think I have always been a country girl at heart. Always wishing I had grown up on a small farm with horses, sheep, a cow or two and a flock of chickens. Even now I still wish I had a couple acres to have myself that small farm I always wanted. Will that ever happen...probably not.

I might not ever be able to have the sheep, cows, or horses but the idea of keeping chickens has stuck with me for years. In fact long before I actually thought it was really even possible. Years ago I was watching Martha Stewart and the episode I caught was about her chickens. I saw all the beautiful colored eggs and her wonderful coop and oh the chickens! After that I truly dreamed of someday having some of my own.

Well one day years later almost a year after moving into our first house I was in Cracker Barrel when something caught my eye. It was a book on urban chicken keeping! I thought seriously you really CAN keep chickens in a suburban neighborhood!! My husband wasn't with me at the time but when I got home I couldn't wait to tell him the good news. Unfortunately he thought I was nuts and wasn't so keen on the idea. So I started researching about what it takes to keep chickens and coop designs. I found a fantastic web site called full of helpful information and a terrific forum. So I started talking to my husband about it again now fully informed. I showed him that we could build a small coop that would look nice and keep a few hens. How they wouldn't take up much room at all and we could put them right along the back fence and out of the way. To my surprise he said ok!! So right away we found some neat coop plans and got to building meanwhile I bought 3 young hens (RedStars) who were just starting to lay and they were on the way! I was so excited to finally have chickens of my very own! So they arrived Hannah, Abby and Ginger, all safe and sound and put them into there new home. We adored them and couldn't believe how much better tasting there eggs were too! Three years later we got 6 more as chicks and raised them, adding to the 3 we already had. They are very addicting let me tell you...ask anyone who keeps chickens!

Now I must say that though it is possible to keep chickens in an urban/suburban neighborhood every county, city or neighborhood has different laws or rules. More and more cities are allowing folks to keep a small number of hens as it is becoming more popular and folks are fighting to have laws changed to be able to keep a small flock of backyard hens. However there are still some who require a certain amount of land or have strict requirements to keep them. Then there are some especially folks living in neighborhoods with HOA's that forbid keeping chickens. You will need to call your local zoning office to find out what there laws are on keeping chickens. I strongly advise you to mention them as pets as this seems to make a difference for some reason with certain areas. HOA's are a different story as they are usually very strict. I don't have an HOA and will never live in a neighborhood that has one for that exact reason. It never hurts to try though and you may just be the one to help educate them on keeping chickens and change the law or rule. Now there are some keeping chickens illegally. I don't advise it. You will quickly become attached to them and if caught (they can be a little noisy at times) they will make you get rid of them or possibly fine you. If they don't allow them in your area try to change it, many are doing just that. Most folks are very uneducated about chickens and think they smell and attract rodents or can carry or bring disease. I suppose that can happen if not cared for but so can other animals. Most people who want to keep backyard chickens do it because they love chickens as I do. They do make wonderful pets. Many enjoy being held in fact. Most are sweet tempered excellent with kids and are very amusing to watch. They make excellent garbage disposal as they love kitchen scraps and leftovers. In return for a small bit of space and some love reward you with delicious tasting eggs every or almost every day. That's without the help of a rooster I might add! Yes, no rooster needed! I will post on what it takes to keep chickens and how to care for them in another post.

To the right is a couple of eggs from one of my beautiful Easter Eggers and Rhode Island Reds. What a treat to find these everyday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The anticipation of spring...

It is right about now that I start getting restless. I long to be back outside enjoying the fresh air, getting my hands in the cool dirt, planting flowers, and smelling the roses! I do enjoy a break though from gardening but I can only take so many months of seeing brown! Yuck! Oh the green leaves and grass, the beautiful colors of the garden...not to mention being able to go outside without a jacket. I have had my break and now I'm ready to get back outside and garden. I know I am not alone. Even my chickens long for spring! My 8 "girls" love to eat grass and hunt for big juicy bugs. I usually let them out of their spacious run everyday for a time to do what chickens love to do. Oh I still let them out but it's not as much fun as there is no green grass to eat and hardly a bug to be found.

It is this time of the year all those garden and seed catalogs start coming in the mail too. That just makes it worse! You poor over them again and again. You start thinking of the vegetable seeds you want to try this year, or the new roses you want to add. You start designing new beds or layout of your garden. The wheels are turning! Spring is still a ways away, though lucky for us living in the south east spring isn't as far away as it is for some folks. That brings some comfort but not much. I know for me I look out my window imagining what it will look like in spring. Unfortunately, we can't make it come any faster. All we can do it wait and plan in the mean time. Which isn't so bad after all, because once spring does get here it is a mad rush to get everything done before our hot humid summers kick in. So as hard as it may be, enjoy the break, use the time you are stuck indoors to get things done inside that need to be done or you would like done. For me that entails painting. It has been 5 years this May and I still haven't painted my sons room or mine for that matter. As for the chickens well they don't garden and they don't have to paint the inside of their coop. So they have no choice but to wait it out. So I'll give them some extra scratch, (which for a chicken is like candy) and I'll still let them out now and then to still try to hunt for a bug or two. Other than that they will wait just as I have too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Myth...Roses are fussy and difficult to grow.

This is what you hear a lot. I have always loved roses especially when you see pictures of them in a mixed border with other flowers or roses climbing the side of a house. You know what I'm talking about, that lovely English cottage garden with the white picket fence and rose covered arbors. Who doesn't love that look? I know I do and always have. So when we bought our first home I knew the kind of garden I wanted to have. Problem...what about those hard to grow fussy roses?

Well there is good news! It is all about WHICH roses you choose. Before I started researching I thought a rose was a rose was a rose. I had no idea that there are so many classes of roses! Teas, Chinas, Noisettes, Hybrid Musk, Gallica,Polyantha, Shrub, Hybrid Teas, Floribunda, Rugosa, Damask, Moss, and many more. I had no idea so many types of roses existed or what the difference was. Roses are also then divided into two groups, Modern and Old Garden. Old Garden Roses are rose classes created before 1867 and include Teas, Chinas, Noisettes, Bourbons, Damask, Centifolia, Moss, Gallica, and Ramblers. Modern roses are those class of roses which were created after 1867 and include Hyb Tea, Floribunda, Hyb Musk, Hyb Rugosa, Minatures, Polyantha, Groundcover, and Shrubs (which include such roses as the famous David Austin Roses).

Now not all roses do well everywhere and some are just plain fussy and need more pampering such as those Hyb Teas you see at box stores and such. Of the two groups Modern and Old Garden, the Old Garden roses tend to be the most disease resistant, heartier, and less fussy. Once established they can almost thrive on neglect. The Modern classes can be a little different. However that is not always the case, some are also very disease resistant and thrive on little to no pruning, feeding or watering. Though it is not ideal to just let your roses go, the fact is they can and will flower their pretty little heads off. Now Hyb Tea roses probably of all roses need the most attention, they are prone to disease and are heavy feeders, who also like to be pruned hard to really do their best. This I believe is the class of rose that makes people think based on this one class of rose that ALL roses are this way and that just is not the case! Like I said before it is all about picking the right rose for your area. Some roses need the cold weather, and some hate the hot weather, some love it hot and dry where others classes love hot and humid. Some cannot take a cold harsh winter and will die. So it is very important to do your research to find out which rose classes do best in your area.

Since I live in hot humid South Carolina I will discuss those roses that do well here and that I grow. My desire is to get the information out to folks who perhaps live in the Charleston area who are interested in growing roses but don't know where to start. The first thing is don't expect to go out to the local garden shop or nursery and expect to find these roses. That is the saddest part, because I believe people don't know much about roses and to many when they think of roses it's the hyb teas and so that is what the nurseries buy. That same class of rose you will find when getting a dozen roses. However, their are soo many other classes of roses that come in so many different sizes and shapes that people are just not aware of and that are not fussy or difficult to grow. The same kind I mentioned in the beginning when you picture an English Cottage Garden. So to get those roses most of us have to order them from vendors that grow all those roses I listed above. If you are lucky enough to live by one watch out they are addicting!

Roses that I grow that thrive in our hot humid summers are teas, chinas, noisettes, and hyb musks. These roses love our mild winters and hot humid summers. I also have a couple polyanthas and a row of knockouts in front of my house (I will discuss knockouts in another post). I have been growing the tea, noisette, polyantha and china roses for 4 years, going on my fifth year this May, the hyb musks are going on there second year. The following is a list of the roses their class and description and how they have performed for me thus far:

  • Lamarque (noisette)- Moderate to large climbing rose, 12-20 ft, z 7-9, white to light lemon color flowers of med. size double in form, excellent disease resistance, repeat bloom, fragrant. (This is my very favorite rose, I just love it! So healthy, vigorous but not crazy, blooms spring into December, wonderful clean citrus scent, beautiful flowers)
  • Blush Noisette (noisette)- shrub 4-8ft some can be grown as small climber but mine wants to be nothing but a shrub, z 6-9, very fragrant, light pink flowers that are cupped and double and bloom in sprays is repeat blooming. ( This is another rose I adore, very fragrant and wafts in the air, very healthy also and a strong grower. The one thing that doesn't thrill me with this rose is the spent flowers tend to hang on so I dead head this rose a lot to keep it neat looking. It is a must have rose for me despite that)
  • Ducher (china)- shrub, 3-5ft, z 7-9, fragrant, repeat bloom, white/ ivory flowers, light green foliage. ( This rose is yet again another favorite. Have had her going on 4 years and she really put on some growth this last year for me. I think she will be more towards the 5ft mark for me. Very healthy, wonderful scent, and good repeat, lovely rose, said to be only only true white china rose)
  • Hermosa (china)- small shrub, 3-4ft, beautiful lavender-pink double cupped flowers that have a slight peppery fragrance to them, repeat bloom. (This rose tends to get black spot frequently and has a twiggy growth, have had going on 4 years but still remains fairly small. However, I still love the beautiful pink flowers, lovely shape, just a cute little rose. I've been thinking of trying another and see if it does better in another area)
  • Mrs B R Cant (tea)- large shrub 5-8 ft or larger, z 7-9, full cabbagey flower that is a med. pink with silvery edges and a darker pink on the underside, said to be very fragrant but I cannot smell a thing, good repeat bloom, very good disease resistance. ( I wasn't too sure about this one at first, slow to get started and was prone to black spot the first year or two but then it got herself together and has really put on some growth the last 2 years, now she is very healthy and blooms her head off. Flowers are just gorgeous but sadly I cannot smell her though she is said to be very fragrant. I love this rose a must in the garden for me!)
  • Climbing Pinkie (polyantha)- moderate climber 5-7ft or more or graceful arching shrub if left alone, z 6-9, repeat with two big flushes in spring and fall, small pink semi-doubled flowers that are fragrant, it is also nearly thornless. ( I really love this rose, have one planted in the corner of a post and rail fence by the driveway and in spring she is a real showstopper! She throws out these huge long arching canes that are so easy to work with since there are few if thorns. Does tend towards some bs but nothing too bad and quickly puts on new leaves. Another must have rose!)
  • Duchesse de Brabant (tea)- shrub 4-6ft, z 7-9, very good disease resistance, very cupped pink flowers that tend to nod, fragrant like raspberries, healthy light green foliage, almost always in bloom. (I know I say this a lot but this another favorite of mine that I cannot do without in my garden. Extremely healthy, beautiful flowers and never stops blooming what more could you ask for in a rose! I also think she will get big she puts on a lot of growth every year.)
  • Sombreuil (Colonial White) (large flowering climber)- Climber 8-15ft, z 6-9, extremely thorny, fairly healthy, very fragrant creamy white flowers that are large flat and quartered, good repeat bloom. Thorns tend to get stiff with age. Good as a pillar rose, or trained fanned out along a wall or fence, or over an arbor. (She is fanned out on a fence for me using wires spaced about 6 inches apart. She throws out some monster canes that are wicked thorny and she does tend to get a fair amount of bs for me. However the flowers are amazingly beautiful, very strong tea fragrance that I just can't get enough of. A very good repeat bloomer for me with a big flush in spring and fall)
  • Madame Alfred Carriere (noisette)- large vigorous climber 15-20ft, z6-9, light pink fading to almost white, extremely fragrant, cupped and double nodding blooms. It too is nearly thornless, making it easy to work with. Repeat bloom. (I have had this rose going on either 3 or 4 years now I forget. I planted it next to a med sized tree that I want it to climb up. It is on the east facing side of the tree. I don't know what it is but this rose hasn't done much in the last 2 years. I am hoping that this year will be the year for it to do something as it has yet to be vigorous in my garden. Flowers do have an amazing scent though so I will keep it around for now or maybe move her)
  • Mrs Dudley Cross (tea)- shrub 3-6 ft, z 7-9, compact shrub with double delicate shaped flowers that are a light yellow and pink blend. Nearly thornless and healthy. Fragrant and repeat bloomer. (I have 2 of these, the first has not done good at all but when in bloom I just adored her so that I had to get another and try her in another spot. That one has been doing really well and is going on her second year in a new bed. Spring through summer her blooms are a light yellow with pretty pink edges but in fall her blooms are much more pink with very little yellow. I really adore this rose and can't wait to see how she does this year!)
  • Buff Beauty (hyb musk)- low spreading shrub or small climber 5-7ft, z 6-9, med. very double flowers that are a rich, muted apricot blend, fragrant, improves flowering with age. (I really love this rose though it is only going on its second year in my garden, so far I love her! Really love the clusters of apricot blooms that in its first year put out blooms all year. I have this one to climb over a swing arbor so we shall see how she does)
  • Cornelia (hyb musk)- climber or specimen plant 4-7ft, z 6-9, grown as a specimen plant she throws out large arching canes giving her a graceful look with thick dark foliage covered in clusters of small coral buds opening pink with golden stamens. (This is also a new rose for me going on her second year. She was swamped by other flowers last year and forgotten about but still despite hardly being watered she has done fine. Can't wait to see how she does.)
  • The Charlestonian (noisette)- short climber under 10ft or large shrub 5+ft, z7-9, sprays of small white fragrant blooms that bloom through out the season. (Again new going on second year. Have it trained as a small pillar and in its first year it has gotten HUGE! This is one outstanding noisette rose, very healthy, vigorous, and strong tea scent. I love her, and very fitting for Charleston, southern charm at its best!)
  • Belinda's Dream (shrub)- shrub 3-6ft, z 5-9, fast growing upright shrub, blue-green foliage, beautiful medium pink flowers, excellent repeat bloom, fragrant, healthy. (I found a fantastic deal on two of these from a nursery down the street that was going out of business. Boy was I lucky! These were good size when I bought them but have really put on growth since I got them a year and a half ago. They are very healthy, and put out some gorgeous medium pink flowers with a very lovely sweet fragrance all season long. Love this rose and so glad I grabbed up two at a steal!)
  • Marie Pavie (polyantha)- small shrub 3-4 ft, z 5-9, small semi-double pale pink to creamy white flowers that are very fragrant. Healthy, dark, green foliage. (Not so in my garden, I have gone to shovel prune this rose out of my garden so many times but decided to give her another year. The flowers are very fragrant which I love but she gets terrible black spot for me and just looks ratty the rest of the year. She's going this year for sure if she doesn't get her act together!)
  • Alister Stella Gray (noisette)- climber 6-12ft (though I have read it can get much larger),z 7-9, it produces long slender flexible canes, clusters of small but very double blooms that start out as very dark yolk yellow opening to creamy yellow fading to white. Very fragrant. Blooms through out the season. (I am so excited about this rose. I bought it to climb along the top of my chicken run. I have a yellow shed/coop with white trim and thought this rose would be so pretty along the run. It has been very healthy as all the noisettes in my garden are. This is again a new rose going into its second season and I can't wait for it to get to doing its thing! It has a very strong fragrance that really carries in the air, perfect for a chicken run! lol)
  • *NEW* Maggie (found)- large shrub 4-7ft or more z 6-9, medium red, repeating. this is this roses second spring in my garden and in the first year it shot up a cane 6 ft tall! Love the form and color of this rose! I am excited to see what it does this year (2012).
  • *NEW* Natchitoches Noisette (noisette)- large shrub 3-5ft, z 7-9, pink blend, repeating. This rose is still sitting in its pot waiting for its new home so I don't have too much to say about this rose yet.
  • *NEW* Baronne Henrietta Snoy (tea)- large shrub 4-6ft, z 7-9, pink blend, repeating. This rose is also still sitting in its pot from last spring awaiting a new home.
  • *NEW* Spice (found)- large shrub, 4-6ft, z7-9, white, repeating. Ya, this one is still waiting for a home too.
So those are the roses I grow as of now though I have 6 more coming in the mail for spring planting (thanks to my birthday and mother in law!). Once you know the right rose to grow, you can bet you will be sure to have beautiful roses year round. As with any other plant, they will perform their best with regular watering (roses do like a lot of water), well drained soil is a must, some feeding with organic methods being the best for plant and soil, and light pruning. Sure you will still have some issues to deal with but no more than you might with other flowers or shrubs you might grow. You may have some disease or bug issues and may or may not want to spray. Overall these things are easy to deal with and minimal and you will be amply rewarded with beautiful and even fragrant roses all year round!