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.
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.
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.
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?