Monday, September 12

Hating the Knock-out Roses

Does anyone else feel duped by the extravagant campaign for the knock-out roses?  I see them everywhere which means they have been oversold and over-bought. It must have been the most expensive ad campaign in the history of gardening. And for what? A rose that has no odor and blooms half the season, if that.  This rose doesn't even respond to the old brewers yeast trick to get a blooming cycle started.  It responds instead with more foliage which in the end simply adds more time in the garden for cutting back an un-gainly looking shrub, the knock out rose.  After the blooms petals fall off, the spiny looking hip left behind simply doesn't develop into a respectable hip and then the unsuspecting gardener has to spend more time in the garden snipping off the trashy looking clusters of spent blooms so that the bloom cycle will come a little more quickly.  Do you know that left to it own devices this knockout rose will grow to six feet or more?  how much cutting back do you want to do in one season?

A better rose is the Nearly Wild pink old fashioned five petaled rose.  It grows to a respectable 3 feet in height and no further.  When brewers yeast is added to its base every month this rose blooms in spades with no extra foliage.  The Nearly Wild is also three feet wide at best. 

Perhaps you truly want a red rose.  Mr. Lincoln is a good choice and it is truly red. Not that off-shade of very dark cerise that the red-knock-out claims is red.  Place that red knockout near a real red rose and you will see a striking difference. Mr. Lincoln, being red, also thrives in the Northeast so it is an easy rose to grow in our humid summers and harsh winters.

This rose added to any garden has another problem.  This rose is everywhere: used in high traffic local curbsides, used in town landscaping, parks, and of course it was carried at home depot and still is which means it is still in demand by landscaping companies and towns. How many of one kind does a person need to plant?  What gardener wants a plant that has no uniqueness?  There are plenty of plants recently introduced that are much better behaved and unique:  Rock and roll Astilbe for one and the valentine Dicentra. Granted these plants don't bloom as the knock-out roses claim to bloom but they are more unique and every gardener has a special place in their dirt for a good old american unique plant. Thats what built america to begin with: unique people with unique beliefs.  Perhaps that is why I have a penchant for the unique as well.

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