Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Antique Roses for the South

On the West Coast, hybrid tea roses make a beautiful addition to the landscape.

On the Gulf coast, they usually die from rampant fungal disease, thanks to our subtropical humidity.

Never fear, rose lovers! There are roses that do grow here. Some of these grow so well that they survive literally decades of neglect, once established.

I refer, of course, to "antique roses". These are varieties that have been around so  long that they are, well, antique. They are tough and beautiful. If you need a good introduction to them, William C. Welch's Antique Roses for the South is a worthwhile place to start.

Welch is clearly enthusiastic about his subject matter, and is eagerness comes through so well in the text that it is rather catching.   The book includes the history of old roses, tips for collecting them and placing them in your landscape, descriptions of different categories to aid recognition, tips for rooting cuttings, and a few profiles of specific varieties. It even includes a chapter on things to do with clipped roses, from arranged bouquets to recipes for potpourri and rose petal jelly.  Of course, there are plenty of beautiful photographs to provide the reader with inspiration.

This slim volume is not a catalog of every variety of antique rose ever found.   It is meant, rather, to provide introductory material to a reader who is new to the world of antique rose collecting and cultivation. You will still want to talk to a knowledgeable person at your local nursery (preferably one that carries antique roses) about the maintenance of certain varieties, especially if you are purchasing plants. Some are hardier than others. Martha Gonzalez, for example, is frustratingly prone to blackspot.  The good news for those who catch the hunting and collecting bug from reading this book is that cuttings from a rose that has survived for 100 years in a neglected cemetery have a good chance of surviving lazy gardening, once they are established.

In short, if one is new to old roses,  it is a worthy addition to one's gardening library. It might even look nice on the coffee table.


dentist everett said...

i am very fond of roses and especially keeps visiting your blog site to know more about your experiences. thanks a ton for sharing

kobe said...

i like your book review because i like the pink rose very much

iss pyar ko kia naam doon said...

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Bev said...

I love your blog. I am following. The roses have peaked my interest since I live in the South. I probably have seen a few of these.