The Spring Leaf-out

If ever there was a sign of the degree to which I’ve been infected with rose fever, it’s in the choices I made in varieties. How else can one explain using a chicken coop heater to stabilize the ambient temperature in a corner of the garage, thereby enabling the survival of certain cultivars that, ordinarily, would not be hardy in one’s climate zone?

As of yesterday, the most sensitive plants have emerge — both having already started the process of leafing out, despite storage in total darkness.

Papa Meilland is listed as hardy to 7b, which is exactly where I am. Since I only just received it last spring and want it to put on some size, the goal was zero winter dieback.

Papa Meilland, in the absence of light, apparently didn’t develop much chlorophyll.

Gloire de Dijon is also listed as 7b, and likewise arrived as a tiny little thing in April.

Gloire de Dijon’s home is a large livestock feeder, which I drilled out for drainage and placed on casters. It too survived a strong winter.

It’s widely accepted that roses planted in containers should be considered to experience the stress of a plant one full zone colder, so some level of protection was a must for these new critters. Our garage certainly helped keep them out of the elements, but it is detached, and likely wouldn’t help much with temperatures. So the livestock heater seemed a good idea. (See zone stretching).

Had I been more cautious and left Clothilde Soupert alongside them, it might have survived the winter. Clearly some lessons learned this year. Meanwhile, in two weeks I’ll have two new roses: a replacement for the Bella di Todi lost last year to RRD, and a clone of David Austin’s much balleyhooed (and equally much lamented) Fair Bianca.