Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nothing Like a White Rose

I have three "white" rose plants and I love them all.  White roses stand out so beautifully- the blooms are highly visible from a distance - and they look great even under moonlight.  There is something delicate and enticing about them that is different from other colors of roses to me.  They are quite difficult to photograph with my cheap digital camera because they capture too much light and are overly bright under normal lighting conditions.

This first picture is a wonderful China rose called Ducher.  It is one of the famous Earthkind roses, which means it is one of the most maintenance free of them all.  Ducher has a slight yellow tinge to it at first bloom. It has a slight but noticeable and lemony fragrance.  The bush form is full and lush getting to about 5' x 5' around.  I never spray mine and it gets practically no disease in my Louisiana climate.  If there is a complaint against this rose it is that the blooms crisp in the heat of summer and are much smaller.  In spring and fall this plant really shines.

Madame Alfred Carriere
 This next rose is actually a very light pink in color, but it quickly fades to almost pure white after being open for a few hours.  It is Madame Alfred Carriere, a rose sometimes classified as a noisette and sometimes as a tea.  It is a vigorous climber with a sweet, wafting fragrance that is impossible to miss.  The rose is a bushy climber that gets both long and full.  First bloom in spring is spectacular with the vine being covered with blooms.  The fragrance will fill a yard at that time.  It blooms more sporadically throughout the summer and then puts on a fairly large flush again in Autumn.  I get maybe 30% leaf loss on this plant in the summer without spraying at all.  I can't imagine not having this rose, but it definitely needs lots of space.  One last thing I appreciate about this rose is the small number of thorns it has.

Prosperity is the whitest of the white.  It's nearly pure white right from the start.  It blooms in large clusters on a sprawling plant that doesn't know if it wants to be a climber or a shrub.  It is in the hybrid musk family of roses and has the distinct and lovely fragrance of that clan.  Mine stays beautiful without spray and blooms 9 months out of the year for me.  I've seen this rose especially recommended for a wedding rose because of its beauty and fragrance.  The blooms are smaller and get easily crisped around the edges in the hot part of summer, so it looks its best in spring and fall.  One of the things I like best about this rose is that it has ready-made bouquets.  You can cut off one of the clusters of bloom, put them straight into a vase, and set them anywhere in the house for a beautiful look and a natural air-freshener.

These are three of the very best white roses for Louisiana.  To this list I might only add the popular polyantha, Marie Pavie.  Marie Pavie is a smaller shrub with fragrant blooms on a plant with few thorns.  I don't currently have one of these, but it's on my wish list!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Plants and Elephants

There is a square "courtyard" type area in our yard where we annually put a swimming pool up for our three children.  Last year, I got the bright idea to make this area into a tropical square.  It's perfect for this because it's in a sunny place on the south side of our house and quite sheltered from north winds.  It has become my place to experiment with various tropicals.  No tropical area is complete without some elephant ears (colocasias and alocasias.)  I picked up two beautiful colocasias this year as my first victims.

I love the dark-colored, purplish colocasias.  Purple Ruffles fits that bill and it quickly found a spot in the tropical square.  It is a medium-sized colocasia that should thrive in Louisiana.

This is what is looks like now.  The leaves are burnt around the edges because of the drought conditions we had this year.  Tropicals typically don't fare well in drought!  Still, it's growing and I anticipate great things next year.

One of the colocasias that I really love is Thailand Giant.  It makes such a loud statement in the yard!  This is one that requires plenty of water and fertilizer to look best.  This year was not ideal, but my plant still looks fine with all the supplemental water I've given it.  If it survives the winter well, I really want to baby it next year and get those giant leaves this plant is known to get.

My plant has leaves only about 3' long which is quite below the possible 6' size of this plant.  These plants grow well in zones 8 and higher.  It's best to put them in large pots if you live further north.  They will die back to the ground every winter only to come back strong in mid-spring.  They prefer part shade and moist, rich soil.