When I first began with roses, moving into that vast territory of scent, form and colour. I knew nothing.

The title quote by Mirabel Osler rings true to me as I knew nothing at all about roses when I began. Now three seasons on and three hundred roses later, give or take a few, I am none the wiser. There are so many unanswered questions that race through my mind every day of what would be the best for this rose or that. I also did not realise that roses are so wilful, needy, diverse and do not all require the same treatment in a similar vein. Every day it becomes more and more like looking after a gang of unruly children.

Pierre de Ronsard Rose

“Oh, no man knows through what wild centuries roves back the rose”.

The simple task of choosing specific roses from an online catalogue was so interesting and fun. On arrival by post, I decided on placement concerning colour and garden design and went about to plant. As time goes on, each rose’s real nature is becoming apparent, and it is not always as expected. Will this rose cascade beautifully over the sides of the large urn as planned? Will this rose withstand the afternoon heat of summer and will this other rose flower continuously as stated in the catalogue until the very end of Autumn? The questions are endless, and one never knows until planted, grown and put to the test how it will go.

Attempting to develop the garden to match the picture in one’s mind of what ‘should’ happen is a challenge with inevitable disappointments and sometimes victories.
Many roses in my garden were planted in the wrong spot, so winter was frantic with moving and rethinking the design. It has taken ages, even up till today, to arrange my vast collection of pots, and it is heavy work making the moves but well worth the effort when you see the results.

This is Pincushion a small bloom rose that was planted to trail over the pot. On first planting the frost tried to kill it many times and I almost gave up. Then much to my surprise before the end of season it started to sprout from completely hard, deadwood stalks, and this year is back and growing well. It is mixed with Dichondra Silver Falls and a specimen rose not in flower yet.

Fire Opal

Sometimes you wing it and plant a rose in exactly the right spot, and they flourish and are happy with their position and companion plants. They don’t get disease-ridden or eaten by many pests and grow beautifully, look and smell terrific. This was the case with Fire Opal described by Treloar’s as their new release novelty rose from 2018. I bought enough to go all the way along the front verandah’s edge as a low growing en-masse planting. The shrubs are really healthy and bushy, filling the area well with lovely, dark green, shiny foliage that always looks delightful.

The blooms are prolific in shades of blush pink to cream with touches of deeper crimson that dance about and play in the sun. Fire Opal is a Floribunda; Kordes rose bred in 2002 in Germany as part of the Kolorscape® Collection. Fire-Opal has been easy care, no fuss, strong, healthy rose that has hundreds of blooms all the time. If only all plants could be so well behaved.


Behind Fire Opal I’ve planted three Lantern roses that are an Orange blend Grandiflora and supposed to grow narrow and tall, so will look good as bright, glowing specimens evenly spaced across the verandah edge. Lantern roses have the same healthy, glossy, foliage as Fire Opal, which contrasts with the rich orange, red colours of the blooms.


Further along from the verandah almost by the path is another stunner I planted three years ago called Magma. An impressive rose of bright, golden, yellow with orange, red, edges. Magma is almost thornless so the reason it is by the path and was bred by Kordes Germany in 2003 as part of the Freelander® Collection. I’ve found Magma to be very consistent, strong healthy, rose that grows upright rather than spreading. My kind of rose being upright, healthy and colourful.

Planting the wrong rose in the wrong place is almost endemic to gardening

Mirabel Osler
Josephs Coat

Last year, this stunning rose called Joseph’s Coat was doing so badly with miserable, small buds or none at all, so no flowers and weak foliage. It did not grow well, no matter what I did to it. It was planted as a potted rose, so there was really no excuse and so in winter I moved it into a large pot and placed it in a Northern aspect in full sun. The picture shows Joseph’s Coat now and into a third lot of blooms. Since then the rose has tripled in size.

A simply stunning rose, showcasing colours befitting the name Joseph’s Coat. Bright red, yellow, crimson and orange blooms all at the same time. It sits where I can see it through the kitchen window, and is truly remarkable considering what it was last year.

There is no “End” to be written, neither can you, like an architect, engrave in stone, the day the garden was finished. A painter can frame his picture, a composer can notate his coda, but a garden is always on the move.

Mirabel Osler
Nahema 2018

Some plants seem to have numerous problems and suddenly get over it and come to life, like this Nahema growing fairly consistently for two seasons over a rusty steel archway. Gorgeous, delicate, pink blooms in copious numbers adorn this climbing rose. And the leaves are curled which makes it appear as if it lacks water, but it doesn’t.

Nahema Today November 2019

Nahema was bred by Guy Delbard in 1992 and is from the union of the roses -Grand Siecle and Heritage. I love how it grows and is nearly thornless so you can have it on an archway that is walked past frequently with no problems. Nahema has old fashioned bloom form and an apricot, peachy, rose scent. So plenty to like. My Nahema rose has had thrips and spider mites, but I’ve persevered over many weeks and months until this week it finally is glorious, growing and covered in blooms.

2018 Nahema

And so I keep going, hoping that the year turns around, the drought is long and difficult, the dust storms frequent and despite a massive amount of watering of the garden it does not do much when the entire soil structure is so hydrophobic. More compost, more manure and more knowledge is needed to know how this hardy, yet diversely, different plants can further flourish in my new garden. Rain, of course, would be wonderful. I’ve almost forgotten what it is. Today has been severe, hot, dry, windy, weather, so I think survival is the key before we worry too much about the roses being the perfect specimens that I know they can be. Maybe next year.

Header Image Ballerina Rose Di Baker 2019

Quotes Mirabel Osler with exception of the

Title quote by Walter de la Mare All That’s Past 1912

Content & Photos Di Baker 2019 All Rights Reserved

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