The Last Rose of Summer (Mr. Lincoln maybe)

As usual, it’s on the bush beside the barn, a bush that was here (and already venerable) when we arrived 20 years ago.

red hybrid tea rose. Mr lincoln???

Mr. Lincoln, I presume?

I think it may be Mr. Lincoln, but then again not being a rose person I tend to think all fragrant deep red/black long stemmed hybrid teas are Mr. Lincoln, aka Mister Lincoln, which again not being a rose person I usually call Abraham Lincoln, even though – thank you Rogers Roses – there is no rose by that name.

Whatever it is, I offer it as evidence that plants can sometimes thrive where they have no business living at all, something to keep in mind when attending end-of-year plant sales.

Ok. “Thrive” is an exaggeration. The bush isn’t exactly bushy and until I do something about the boxwood that’s muscling it aside, it never will be.

Nevertheless. It blooms (albeit sparsely) nonstop from late May to November. The flowers last a long time, on the bush or in the vase. It does not get black spot or mildew. I’m not going to say Japanese beetles don’t eat it because if I do they’ll hear me and come running.

All this even though:

* it’s on the west side of the barn, 15 feet across the drive from a large shed and an enormous spruce tree, with the house blotting all light from the south/southwest. In other words, it gets about two hours of sun, right at the hottest part of the day. (Roses need at least 6 hours, preferably in the cool of the morning if that’s all they’re going to get.)

* The soil is poor in organic matter, full of ancient coal clinkers, largely colonized by the roots of the boxwood and the legacy pachysandra I keep planning to remove but don’t.

* Eves of the barn deny rain. We don’t water or fertilize. To say pruning is minimal is to put it kindly. Each spring the thing looks two thirds dead.

Each spring I cut off the dead parts. Then it starts greening up and leafing out and the next thing you know, roses.

Mitigating factors:

* The white walls of barn and shed do reflect a lot of light.

* A large cedar and the boxwood protect it on the north side.

* Pachysandra is a pretty good mulch if the mulched plant has deep enough roots.

* And that’s the side where the snow gets piled when we shovel the driveway, so at least in snowy years it’s getting an ideal heap of winter insulation.

ID note: Mr. Lincoln came out in 1965 and was an All-America Rose Selection. It has been popular and widely planted pretty much ever since, so I’m not necessarily nuts to see it everywhere.  In official descriptions, Mr. Lincoln has 35 petals. Our rose  usually has 25 to 30, but the more petals a flower should have, the more likely it is that not all blooms will measure up.

white wall with red rose and lilac

The full picture. That sapling to the right is a new lilac, on the theory it's always possible lightening will strike twice. (The drainpipes go into an underground cistern; no roof water for these guys.)

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