A reader’s reply

The climbing rose, ‘Roseanna.’ Photo by Kit Flynn.


By Kit Flynn

After reading my article on Knockout rose and its importance, a reader emailed me the following:

  • I do not love Knock Out rose
  • I love my hybrid teas
  • I love to arrange flowers

My reply was, “Perfect!” This is what gardening is all about. One size doesn’t fit all and we are entitled to our likes and dislikes. Own them. I, too, am not a fan of Knock Out but I do appreciate its historical significance in that this one rose managed to wean us from the dependence we had on hybrid teas during the 20th century.

During the 20th century, constant spraying was a given. Obviously, it was far easier to spray all the roses at one time so we placed them in two rigid rows off in a sunny corner from the rest of the garden. And, we brought the roses inside to decorate our homes.

My friend loves to arrange flowers; however, floral arrangement has become far more relaxed than it used to be; at the same time many of us, due to time restraints, depend upon the talents of the professionals. I can only say that during the 1970s and 1980s when many women were still at home, flower arrangement was dictated by what I considered scary, unfathomable rules.

Many garden clubs were fixated on these arrangements and provisional members had to pass these strict requirements—you couldn’t just plunk some roses in a vase and call that an arrangement. Personally, I am thankful that this art form has become more stress-free and less judgmental.

My own personal feeling is that I work hard to produce flowers in my garden so my personal preference is to leave them there—in the garden. Simply put, cutting gardens don’t cut it for me. Am I right? Am I wrong? Of course, the answer is neither. It’s just a matter of personal taste. However, it does explain why hybrid teas do not hold passionate appeal for me.

We all have our likes and dislikes for our gardens. For example, I dislike the color orange, avoiding it like the plague in my garden. Is my assessment correct or incorrect? Neither, I would opine. It’s simply a color I prefer to keep out of my garden for the most part.

My prejudices extend to those plants requiring staking. Staking in my opinion is a necessary but thankless job, one I do not appreciate. Knowing this about my preferences, I seek out plants that perhaps don’t grow so high that they need the dreaded support. I will stake my roses and my lilies because these plants give me so much pleasure that they warrant a stake here and there.

Please understand: I’m not anti-hybrid tea roses. I just want readers to realize that there are wide choices of roses available, that shrub roses are aesthetically more pleasing structures in the garden than hybrid teas whose shape is rather awkward. If you are growing a picking garden, by all means include hybrid teas. If you want the roses to remain in the garden, do look at some of the other forms available.

What I want to see in the garden is the owner’s personality. I want to see some of the mistakes—after all, we are all human. I want to see a curiosity of plants. I want to see what colors and shapes attract the owner.

As a trained historian, I am fascinated with roses as this genus has a long, detailed history. I am by no means an expert since I cannot always readily identify a Bourbon rose versus a Damask rose. I try to have a mixture of roses in the garden, ranging from a species rose (Lady Banks) to old garden roses (‘Old Blush’) to modern roses (too numerous to list) to found roses (‘Peggy Martin’). My hybrid teas, including ‘Beverly’ and ‘Gypsy Soul’, are never sprayed and grow on their own roots. I savor my climbing roses.

I’m also conscious that the fence has given me greater leeway as to where I can situate my roses. I elected to contain my whole yard whereas others do not necessarily have that luxury so they find it more convenient to enclose their roses in a fenced area, thereby protecting them from deer. We all have to work within our own perimeters—it’s that simple.

So, I thank my reader for (1) giving me an idea for a new article; and (2) for expressing her personal likes and dislikes. After all, gardeners who don’t know what they like and dislike really aren’t gardeners, now are they?

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1 Comment on "A reader’s reply"

  1. Hi Kit! Great article! I am definitely in your camp as far as there is never a one-size-fits-all garden. My mother was an amazing gardener(People would stop to take pictures of it all the time.) But there are certain plants she loved that I don’t particularly care for in my garden. I’m also restricted by space and deer who apparently thought I had set up an all-you-can eat buffet when I first moved here. I also do not like staking. So, I always cut my summer perennials down by a 1/3 or so in late spring. Yes, they bloom a bit later, but they don’t flop over and get bushier that way. But to each is own! Thank you again for the read! Karen

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