Rose cottage garden plants
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Rose cottage garden plants that grow well in your Rhode Island garden.
By Lauren Rubin
Rose Cottage Garden Perennial Gardens. Perennials are so common in perennial flower gardens that they are often an afterthought. But we're planting tons of them here in the Rhode Island Rose Cottage Garden (RIRCG) Project. Today we'll walk you through the rose varieties we recommend to grow in this garden.
I asked 10 years ago what was the most common "unwritten law" of perennial gardens in this country. Many people said the same thing: "Short, branched, bushy shrubs planted in an area about the size of a shoe box. Perennial types planted there."
Now in our 10th season, we've begun to realize that isn't true for many gardens. "Perennial gardens" here are typically labeled gardens planted in rockeries and screened porches as well as the ordinary garden. That second category is a huge fraction of what we plant at RIRCG and certainly reflects a lot of what people around the country want and need. And there are a lot of unique plant selections that never get taken into account.
Do a search on "perrenial gardens" in your favorite catalogs and you'll find dozens and dozens of unique plants growing under the lights, in pots, and in the ground for those who want unusual color and flowering options. The "Rose Cottage Garden Perennial Garden Project" doesn't just reflect RIRCG's layout and planting methods, it's a reflection of the unique plant varieties that people want, and what people are prepared to spend on them.
The style of the RIRCG was developed by landscape architect Dale Patricelli for The Esplanade at South Beach in Miami. RIRCG focuses on the 12 rose varieties that he introduced, but many of these selections are available in the catalogs listed below.
Rose Cottage Garden Projects
The story of the RIRCG is a simple one: I live here. I fell in love with roses, and came across this little corner of the world, and was drawn to it. Then I read gardening books, went to garden shows, and when I had just enough money, bought enough plants to grow a garden that I could love. So, I decided to start one.
I began in 2007, and it was not very successful. The climate here is mild and rainy, but the sun has to be out a long time in order to make a hot, sunny day. As I was researching "how to grow a perennial garden," I came across the work of Eric Alston and Larry Dougan, both of whom share similar philosophies as me. The problem I was having was that all the plant selections were very large, and not suited to growing in Rhode Island. That was my first insight into the problem of what to plant here.
The gardens around me were based on traditional themes. I could envision the dozens of annual flowers that I wanted to grow, but couldn't due to the heavy shade, wet soil, and overall climate.
I could plant three to four large shrubs that would provide plenty of color, but again that didn't work because they would do just fine in a sunny southern California garden, and they'd probably be shaded out in Rhode Island.
Dale Patricelli at the Esplanade at South Beach in Miami
It was in 2009, on my 20th visit to the South Beach Esplanade, that I ran across a table of roses that just called out to me. I pulled out a book by Eric Alston that was about planting roses and I learned about "climbing" roses.
Then I made an appointment to see the gardens and plant center manager for The Esplanade, Dale Patricelli, and I asked him if there were any places where I could see some of the plants that he'd grown. He took me out to the rose garden where all the roses were looking beautiful and explained that he was trying to change the image of flowering plants. He was trying to grow his kind of roses -- unique, in the right proportions -- in a potting mix, which wouldn't kill the plants.
I understood that plants should be pruned, which I had done all my life, but I was a garden designer who had never pruned a living rose.
At first I didn't want to grow these plants, but they were the right rose varieties for me, so I started taking classes from Dale Patricelli and went about learning how to grow roses in pots. Soon I had almost 100 plants growing in my home. I realized that this garden, if I could start and sustain it, could be a model for other communities.
The plant selection started out in 2011, as I struggled to grow enough to plant one of our first beds of 100 roses. That plant was the first set of "Sheiheyanhuan" varieties introduced by Dale Patricelli. These varieties are hardy here, don't grow tall, and look unique. They all have pink petals and also a blush color in their flower centers.
I continued on that path. All of the plants were chosen for two reasons: We wanted to grow plants that would not be shaded out or killed by the Rhode Island climate, but also plants that didn't have a very long blooming season, so we could enjoy the plants year-round.
Roses also came to mind because of a story I had to do a lecture on. It's about growing roses and what I learned there was just what I had thought: if you try to grow too many varieties, it will be a big mess, and the plants will have a short season.
And that's why we've been doing this garden. To grow roses in that climate -- that style -- in a place that is far from traditional rose gardens.
Arising from those rose plants, we've come up with many ideas and possibilities. As my crew of gardeners got established, we began planting around those original 12 roses. We added 20 more in 2010. Then we have over 130 roses now, and have done around 250 since then. We