How To Buy A Rose Bush

It was a rose bush I had to have as soon as I saw it at the garden center. It was named ‘Strike It Rich’, and it was still blooming in the August heat. Its color was described as “deep golden yellow, swirled and kissed with ruby red”. Which is to say: orange. But I love orange, and this was really a magical orange which did indeed have an almost mesmerizing mix of tones.

Rose 'Strike It Rich'
A cut flower from our new rose, “Strike It Rich’.

Actually, ‘Strike It Rich’ reminded me of our late lamented ‘Westerland’ rose, a victim of rose rosette disease.

Perhaps this was an impulse buy (actually, one of several impulse buys, but that’s for another post), but I didn’t care. Plus it was on sale, given the lateness of the season. Only thing was, I couldn’t get hold of Judy to obtain her agreement for a purchase that would have a major impact on the garden (‘Strike It Rich’ is a fairly substantial Grandiflora shrub rose, about 5′ tall.)

Sure, I could call her on my mobile phone, but she was desperately racing against a project deadline from her job. I genuinely hated to interrupt her, and if I did, she was unlikely to want to discuss purchasing a rose bush. She would not understand “the fierce urgency of now”, a phrase coined by our current President concerning the need to purchase plants. (At least, I think that’s what he was referring to.)

Looking at one of the hypnotically beautiful long-stemmed flowers (Grandifloras are known for long stems), I came up with a plan.

About an hour later, I walked onto the back porch, where Judy was frantically tapping away. I presented her with a rose cut from ‘Strike It Rich’, the numerous and very sharp thorns on the lower stem carefully removed.

“Oh, how beautiful!” she said. “Thank you!”

“I’m glad you like it. I got it at the garden center.”

“The garden center is selling cut flowers now?”

“Not exactly. It was attached to a rose bush. To give you this flower I had to get the whole bush.”

She gave me a look, but not an argument, possibly because she was too busy to be distracted. Even so, I considered the maneuver a success.

'Strike It Rich' Rose
‘Strike It Rich’, newly installed in our raised driveway border.

I planted ‘Strike It Rich’ on the west side of the raised driveway bed, which gets lots of hot afternoon sun, in front of the Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum) and some Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), and behind the Nepeta ‘Kitkat’.

Mid-August is not an ideal time to plant new perennials, the summer sun is not kind to plants adjusting to being transplanted. This was certainly the case for our new rose. Despite deep watering and mulching, I found ‘Strike It Rich’ to be distinctly droopy on its first afternoon. This was not surprising, since the garden center kept all their roses away from direct sun. Eventually I fitted the stems most prone to droop with sun hats made out of Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) leaves. This worked well enough, and when I got home today ‘Strike It Rich’ was standing upright, even without sun hats.

'Strike It Rich' rose
‘Strike it Rich’
Photo: Heirloomroses.com

Just for the record, ‘Strike It Rich’ was a 2007 All-America Rose Selection winner. It is highly disease resistant with an upright shrubby habit, and hardy to at least zone 5.  The gorgeous flowers are fragrant and long-lasting. I can attest to this personally since the open cut flower I gave Judy on Saturday is still looking quite fresh on Tuesday evening.

Have you planted ‘Strike It Rich’, and do you have a favorite rose?

70 Comments on “How To Buy A Rose Bush”

  1. Nice looking rose, I have Westerland that I love for its sunset colour. Clever you to present a flower stem to Judy. Here I couldn’t plant shrubs or perennials in summer a sure recipe for disaster. When you plant do you plunge the pot into a deep container of water and let it drink until no more bubbles escape, I find this a good way of rehydrating plants bought from a nursery or garden centre.

  2. How crafty of you! I am fortunate enough to choose ALL our plants as I am the only gardener in our household. 😉 I love orange roses too, and have a couple that have lost their name tags, with a third on my wishlist for autumn. I have used a large red umbrella to shade new plants before now… looks a bit arty!

  3. I think your presentation of the rose was a perfect introduction to your impulse purchase. For me gardening is a solo act and I have no one to answer to for my plant selections. There are times however when I wish I did have a partner that shared by gardening enthusiasms- especially when it comes to chores like weeding.

  4. Awww…you are really sweet couple :-).

    Darn! why can’t I find these roses in our garden centers. Whatever rose they have here have absolutely no smell. NADA!!

    I am looking for garden roses with smell; I can buy from David Austen catalog, but too costly.

  5. Jason….my man. Very smooth, bro. Need to start taking notes from Rico Suavez himself.

    My favorite, instilled in my pre-blackspot Aussie days experiences, is ‘Double Delight’. Have toyed with buying it as a large container annual as here at the nursing home have no place to plant one. Have you grown or seen in person? Creamy vanilla petals gradually turn bright crimson when touched by the sun for an effect I’ve never seen elsewhere.

  6. Your approach to Judy was perfect! What could she say, after you had presented her with such a lovely rose? You have certainly struck it rich with that one. I love the color. I have been thinking of planting a rose in a particular spot in my garden. If this one is disease resistant in my climate, Strike it Rich may find its way to my home, and then I will be as rich as you!

  7. If I consulted my husband every time I wanted to purchase a plant, I’d have a single pot with a single petunia and lots of grass. He has less grass but a very happy wife, which makes his life easier in the long run. But I do love your approach to buying the whole bush. It looks like a beauty. I’m hoping my Westerland recovers. It’s put out new growth but I won’t know for sure until next year.

  8. What a deliciously cunning move! I love it! And I bet Judy did too. Lovely colored rose, too. I’m not a huge rose fan (except for close-up) but if they knock me out with fragrance as well as beauty, I can be swayed. I have only two kinds of roses in my garden. One is a huge L’Etoile de Hollande which came with the house. Re-blooming, wonderfully fragrant, and with vicious thorns, it reaches way past our eaves. The other is a ‘Hot Cocoa’. The only reasons to keep that one is the color, and the unusual way it fades from fiery, reddish orange to soft, old-fashioned pink, as well as for bouquets. No fragrance to speak of, which usually would disqualify most contenders.

  9. Hi Jason, that is a gorgeous rose! I’ve been really enjoying my roses this year too and need to photograph them asap because I’m just falling for roses more and more each year. I dream of a dedicated rose garden actually. I just adore them! I love the colour of this one, reminds me of a delicious orange ice cream I used to enjoy as a kid!

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