I'm starting a small series that shows the performance of roses (and perhaps other plants) in the three growing seasons of Louisiana. It's my way of sharing how these roses perform through the year. I don't have enough pictures to show every month or I would do a month-by-month comparison. It's been quite enlightening to me seeing these comparison photos and realizing just how much difference there is in various cultivars.
The first subject will be my Abraham Darby rose, since it's the first alphabetically. The first photo is Abe at peak in mid-April. At this time of year there is no better looking rose in the world. The leaves are deep green with red stems that really stand out. Top them with huge, fragrant, apricot blooms and this rose is to die for. All memory of it's many problems disappear at this time of year when it's one of the greatest stars of my yard.
This barren few sticks with roses on them is the same plant in early August. Gone are all the lovely leaves. They all turned yellow and black and fell off. It's had plenty of water and mulch and still didn't thrive. Keep in mind that I haven't sprayed all year and this rose does not appreciate that.
This is the last shot taken at the end of September. Many of the leaves are growing back out without spots. It's regained much of its former health and it's looking much better. Into October and early November, this good trend has continued and Abe looks even better now than in this photo. It will look really healthy by the time the first frost comes around and sends it into dormancy.
This is a classic example of a rose that definitely needs fungicide if you want it to look good all year. I give it plenty of water, mulch, and alfalfa pellets for nutrients, but it still has no resistance to the dreaded blackspot. Starting next year I may start spraying this plant again because I don't want it looking half-dead for most of the year. Keep in mind that David Austin roses such as this one have a reputation for being divas and this is no exception. If you're willing to pamper them or else overlook loss of leaves for half the growing season, then this is a great rose. Otherwise, it's not a good choice. I do not recommend Abraham Darby to people who aren't willing to spend plenty of time spraying. On the other hand, if you put in the effort, this plant is one of the most beautiful and desirous on the planet.