One of the rambler roses, R. ‘Veilchenblau’, which means violet blue, was grown at our Texas house in The Woodlands, Texas, a planned community north of Houston that was about an hour’s drive from the Antique Rose Emporium. Completely smitten with that establishment, many trips were taken to Brenham and the gas guzzler never came home empty. Climbers were our favorite purchases for there were many structures to cover around our brand new house, including a tea house we built from pine thinnings on the property for the orchids. Bamboo blinds were the roof covering and Veilchenblau was trained up a corner post to spread out over the blinds for beauty and shade from the glaring Texas summer sun. When the move was made back to Tennessee, the plan was also to add many old varieties of climbing roses at the new abode. Combing the local nurseries, a weed filled pot with a sad but large trunked rose was spotted way in the back. We like to investigate every inch of nurseries, especially ones that have been in business for a long time and seem somewhat neglected. Treasure hunting you could say. The tag said Veilchenblau and we carried it to the older gentlemen who seemed to be in charge. “Ten bucks and good luck with that old thing”, he said. The shed had just been moved from the end of the old driveway to the top of the newly cleared and mulched hill by the backhoe. The vision was for the shed to be covered in dripping roses, blueish on the right, white on the left that would mingle at the peak of the roof and be wonderful. The white rose planted on the rebar tripod at the front left corner was none other than the infamous Killer, R. ‘Alberic Barbier’. On the right was the bargain Veilchenblau. Killer did his part to cover the shed roof the very first year. It was time to revamp the plan. Killer was moved to the far rusty metal clothesline pole by the privet hedge that lined the property on two sides. It was replaced by the hybrid musk R. ‘Penelope’. Veilchenblau has failed to grow to its full potential to cover the shed, but does nicely drip over the edge. Or would drip if the wind didn’t keep blowing the canes off the roof, for this rose is thornless and cannot grab the shingles to hang on. We have tried weights of various sorts, found on site rusty auto brake shoes, rocks, boards, nothing seems to hold against the strong winds at the top of the hill.Trying to include the new copper rain chain at the opposite diagonal end of the shed, this shot shows the solution to the rose catchers of two metal tubs hung on the side. Why only two, we ask ourselves while writing this post? Because we had those on hand, but three would look better and do a better job of holding the rose canes. On the ground is a boxed raised bed that was once home to tomatoes and other veggies before the surrounding Pyracanthas and Hemlocks grew so large that the area became too shady for veggies. Three dwarf blueberries, V. ‘Sunshine Blue’ were planted in the eight foot box. Dwarf is right, for they are so very tiny still after three years, but the mature size is to be four feet by four feet so eventually it will work out. Maybe. Two larger blueberries were planted last year in hopes of having something to eat from this bed, but they perished in the drought. They provide protection as skeletons to the little Sunshines for now. An old wagon wheel from Texas, fence posts with scary cats with marble eyes to keep the birds away from nonexistant blueberries, a volunteer Aquilegia ‘Barlow Black’ and various weeds can be seen above.The first bud opened May 4 this year. The shrub was covered in buds, like it is every year, for it is a one time bloomer giving its all for one grand gala of gorgeousness galore. The flowers are still beautiful, and the fragrance is intoxicating but the petals are dropping even as new blooms open from the few remaining buds.As viewed from the center of the knot garden with the armillary sundail surrounded by Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ ready to pop open illuminated by the first rays of the day, it is time for the annual rose haircut. To be honest, we usually wait another week or so, but we are leaving town for a big trip to Chicago soon and have to get some chores under our belt before we go.Felcos in hand, the small handed ones, I also have an older pair of left handed ones, why don’t they make small handed left handed ones? To the point, the cuts were made resulting in the pile at the base of the lilac to the left of the chain sawed curly willow that is allowed to resprout for useful cuttings to make wreaths, etc. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is everywhere up here with volunteers gone wild. Small diameter branches, old brittle non growing stems and anything blocking the paths were removed. What is left are new growth larger canes and a few flowers close to the tripod.The after shot. The sun was too high in the sky by this time and washes out the finished project, but you get the idea well enough. We accidentally cut the longest branch that was draping over the metal tubs but placed a broken cinder block on the roof to hold the remaining canes. Another metal tub might be hanging around here, possibly under the deck, the storeyard for many long forgotten garden goodies. Surely something can be found to rest on a nail next to the tubs and hold the longer rose stems securely.In the past pruning years all smaller stems were removed and the long stout canes were rebraided up the poles, not pretty but functional. This year several still blooming pieces were spared including this little darling. While we were cutting and photographing a buzzer kept whizzing by our recently retouched cinnaberry cranium. Camera in hand, the old Canon Powershot A720 IS, we thought a good bee photo would be a nice ending to this story.Imagine the surprise when this appeared in the viewfinder, well the LCD screen but viewfinder sounds so much better. Good guy, bad guy? Anyone know what this is? All I know is that it is solid green and buzzed like a bee as he flew onto the roof, seemingly angry at me for thinning his hideaway. It doesn’t really matter whether he is friend or foe, he is bird food and will not be sprayed or bothered.
There are many good sites on the web with information about this rose. A google search will turn up whatever strikes your fancy with zone hardiness facts and other growing specifications.