The longest day of the year for us is now a couple of days behind us, but we have a good couple months to enjoy long days and warm weather. In fact, it’s been downright hot for the last few days, even for a guy from southern Arizona. It would appear that I’ve lost my edge and am not as nearly as tolerant of the heat as I was when we arrived here in 2001. I got more than a few you-must-be-crazy looks from neighbors and passersby as I worked out in my yard back then in the heat of the day. I hadn’t adjusted yet, and it just seemed downright balmy.
Now? I’m a Utahn through and through.
I had pleasant respite from the heat this week during a visit with my friend Pat Jessie. For those of you in the gardening community, Pat is probably familiar to you, or at least she should be. Pat and Peter Driscoll have transformed their Stansbury Park yard into an incredible oasis of trees, shrubs, pergolas, fences and walkways, complete with lots of cool garden and birding accessories. The project began about 1999 and it’s been an ongoing labor of love.
I first met Pat when Maggie and I went on our first annual Garden Tour several years ago. As impressive as it was, it was even more so when we got to look at the pictures of the yard as it was when they first moved in. That was several years ago, and I just got to stroll around the yard this week and see all the new things that have been done since then, as well as seeing several of the plantings grow to maturity.
Pat and Peter have created a living habitat that is alive with bird and insect life.
I have a confession to make. I don’t know that much about roses. Of course, I’ve seen them my whole life, and even had a few in yardscapes that I’ve had. Right now, we don’t have a single rose plant around our place. After seeing what Pat has done, and the vast array of colors and types, that may very well change.
So, when I set down with Pat to enjoy a conversation about roses, you can be sure I learned a lot. Did you know that cultivated (non-wild) roses are classified into two general types — Old Garden Roses and Modern Garden Roses? Me neither. Now I know, and you do too. Modern varieties can be found as four types: bush, shrub, climbing and miniatures. Now this is starting to make sense. Old Garden Roses come in two major types, climbing and non-climbing.
As you can surmise, Pat is a lifelong learner, and continues to learn new things about gardening, horticulture and landscaping. Along the way, she has developed an avid interest and expertise in roses. Although there is a wide variety of plants and trees in her garden, roses of various types are scattered through the yardscape. There are so many that Pat has cataloged them so she knows what is what and where they are located. She shared her listing with me, and a quick count shows about 120 different plantings. The display of color and the scent is heavenly.
A quick perusal of the listing will show an abundance of rose-related terms, such as “polyantha,” “climber,” “miniature,” “bedding rose,” “hybrid tea,” and “floribunda.”
Polyantha roses are usually smaller rose bushes and bloom in large clusters of small 1-inch diameter blooms. Climber roses have long flexible canes and are vigorous growers that will grow up supports by twining around them. Miniatures are just that — compact, but beautiful small plants and blooms. Bedding roses tend to be planted in groupings. Hybrid Tea roses are very popular as their breeding focuses on the blooms and fragrance, with single large flowers being on long, straight stems. Floribunda types are a cross of polyantha and hybrid tea roses. The result is clusters of small roses (instead of one bloom per stem) that have hybrid tea characteristics such as beauty and scent.
Pat has learned that it makes sense to get roses that are hardy and adapted to our area. One of her favorite sources is High Country Roses in Colorado (www.highcountryroses.com), as these tend to be able to withstand deep or extreme freezes that can occur from time to time. If you do have a rose freeze and suffer winter-kill of the top growth, prune the canes about 6 inches above the ground level. Many times, the roots will have enough reserve to revive and grow new shoots from the canes you have cut back. Take care not to cut down to the root stock as you will not grow the cultivated variety, as the new canes will be the understock — not what you purchased.
With so many roses to enjoy in her yardscape, it would have been unfair of me to ask her which ones were her favorite. As it turns out, that was a wise decision, as she doesn’t have any favorites. All of them have their appeal, place and add to the overall experience.
So I asked a better question: “What are some of the most enjoyable aspects of having such a great rose garden?”
“The joy of the walk in the garden,” she replied. “Seeing all the beautiful blooms, the incredible scent. Catching sight of the butterflies and birds, and experiencing the constant change of blossoms. As beautiful as spring and summer are, I always have the fall blush to look forward to when the temperatures drop a bit, and the roses come back again into full bloom.”
Pat’s interests are not just limited to roses and horticulture. She has two other pursuits that fit well — photography and art. She’s an accomplished photographer and has a love for art. She founded the Stansbury Art and Literary Society in 2009. The Society has provided a place for artists, would-be artists and art lovers to meet and enjoy a monthly theme with some great friendship. These meetings are open to the public and the next one is of special interest for us gardeners.
The next Society meeting will be at 7 p.m. on June 28 at Pat and Peter’s home, located at 427 Country Club, Stansbury Park. While you stroll the incredible gardens, Society members will be doing plein aire (a borrowed French-origin term meaning “in full air” — or outdoor painting of objects in their natural setting) painting of roses in the garden. The garden is shady and cool, and refreshments will be served. There is no charge, so be sure to put this on your calendar.
When you visit the yard, you’ll see why this beautiful setting has been a featured location on the Annual Garden Tour. It’s been a few years since it’s been a part of the Tour. We do this intentionally to both rotate new locations onto the tour, as well as give great spots time for further growth or new plantings or features to be added. The wait has certainly been worth it for this gem of a garden. Expect to see it back on the Tour soon.
So, if you had doubts that you could successfully grow roses here in the Tooele Valley, you can put them to rest. The results speak for themselves. Be sure to visit Pat and her friends next week, enjoy a great setting and even better camaraderie.
Jay Cooper can be contacted at email@example.com, or you can visit youtube.com/dirtfarmerjay for videos on gardening, shop skills, culinary arts and landscaping.