Saturday, October 4, 2014

tale of two gardens

The rose obsession (more about that another time) is continuing, so of course on my trip to see the family a week ago, I had to go to the rose gardens in San Jose. "Seriously? San Jose?" You might ask, thinking only of San Jose as the center of Silicon Valley. But when I did a search on the best place in the US to grow roses, this is what came up. San Jose apparently has deep loamy soil, moderate temperatures, and is dry enough to keep diseases at bay, and moist enough to make rich soil. So...heh...San Jose.

Two huge rose gardens are in San Jose, the Heritage Rose Garden, and the Municipal Rose Garden. They are within a few miles of each other, so I had to go. Maybe it wasn't peak season, but I do like to go to rose gardens off peak, to see what REALLY performs.

many, many roses

I decided to go to the Heritage Rose Garden first. After driving 40 minutes and going through what is seriously not an exciting city (sorry if you like San Jose, but I've got to keep it real), I followed the directions to the garden, which directed me to the front of the garden...which had no parking, and funneled me onto the highway. After some frustrating detours, we made our way back, literally, to the back of the gardens, to park. I was only semi-prepared to encounter the thousands of roses planted in concentric circles.

My mother, bored, but appreciating 'Sombreuil' for a few brief moments
 I got a chance to see many roses that I had only previously seen pictures of, previously. Even better, I got a chance to smell them. Nothing like smelling them in person, something I learned to appreciate after smelling the mothball (to me) fragrance of 'Glamis Castle' after I had purchased a plant on-line.

I'd read about 'Snowbird' on-line, people describing how tough it is, prolific, beautiful, and scented.

It didn't have the best plant appearance, but the flowers were beautiful. Scent is present, but at this late afternoon time, very light.

I was impressed with the nodding flowers of 'Prince de Bulgare' (you know how I'm a sucker for nodding flowers) and also the fragrance. 

I was also impressed with the low flying planes, making their way to the runway. I felt like they would clip my hair, if I was but a little taller. Just like at Kew.

'Proud Land' had enormous, very high-centered blooms, with incredible color, but very little scent. The impression on the bush is also the much maligned 'lollipop on a stick' appearance that hybrid teas are criticized for.

My sister giving scale to what happens when Austin roses have "Jolly Green Giant syndrome." This was 'Charles Austin' about 7 feet tall or more, long, long thorny stems with a cluster of blossoms at the top.

'Jude the Obscure' got our votes for "best scent" of any rose we sniffed in the garden.

'Laure Davoust' didn't have the most beautiful flowers in my opinion, but the fragrance was divine and unique. Not one of those things that I can describe. You just have to smell it yourself. 

This being the Heritage Garden,  there were some found roses (like 'Snowbird' which was called "Rockville Road Cream" until people decided it was 'Snowbird'). This one is "Lewelling Blvd Red" which is an unidentified rose found in Hayward (on Lewelling Blvd of course). Whatever its name, it was very impressive with productivity,  although almost no fragrance.

'Fakir's Delight' while interesting was of no delight to me, with incredibly thorny canes. The flowers that were present were distorted, small and single, but I assume this huge vining wicked beast is beautiful in the spring. Just not for me.

Yellow roses don't usually do it for me, but 'Lady Hillingdon' (a tea rose from 1910), was rather, well, incredible. Not necessarily for the color, although it is a soft warm yellow, that even I could appreciate, but the yummy unique fragrance. I've heard it described as "Tea Rose and apricots, then aging to a tobacco aroma, retaining a slighter blend of spice and fruit..." ("100 Old Roses for the American Garden" by Clair G. Martin). That's as good a description as any.

Big shrub, or sort of a climber.

Then a few miles down West Taylor Street to the Municipal Rose Garden. This is a very different garden, with a similar layout. This garden is mostly designed for display, with beds of the same rose, lawn pathways. The roses are not always labelled.

 The entrance.

 'Europaeana' strutting its stuff at the entrance.

 I assume this is 'Iceberg'.

 'Grand Dame' showing the nodding form that I like so much, on a tall gangly shrub. Nice fragrance.

 'Grand Dame' from a distance, surrounded by others, not necessarily labelled.

 'Sugar Moon' twice the size that it grows in the Albuquerque Rose Garden.

 Sumptuous flowers with a sumptuous fragrance at the tops of tall canes and frankly weedy looking bushes. Tied with 'Jude the Obscure' for my sister's favorite fragrance.

'Precious Platinum' impressed the heck out of me in production. Not so much in terms of fragrance.
'Chrysler Imperial' had more fragrance, but the bush looked sickly.

I had to remind myself that the way the roses grow here might be totally different from how they would grow at home. But still, something to think about, and for a short time, my rose lust was sated. I may have to go again at peak season. Just to see.

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