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A couple of seasons ago, I was at my favourite garden centre and stopped in my tracks when I saw the most glorious rose standard … or rose tree. No matter the price, I had to have one. Sound familiar? After all, it was only the price of a good bottle of Scotch whisky!
A rose tree is a rose bush grafted to an older, stronger straight stem so the ‘tree’ is tall and stands above the rest of the garden.
This rose tree is from Weeks Roses -www.weeksroses.com) and they label it a "36 inch Twofer Tree".... The names of the roses are "Brilliant Pink Iceberg" (the light one) and the dark one is "Burgundy Iceberg".
They are both Floribunda roses meaning there are several roses on one stem - they bloom in little bunches. See the bottom lower left ? There are three dark roses on one stem.
Because this rose tree has different needs than wintering other roses, I had to make a new bed for it, leaving room to bury it for the winter. To keep this tree beautiful, it needs a whole different type of overwintering.
Remember - in a colder climate - ours is zone 5, the bud union of any rose - and especially those grafted to another trunk - needs to be planted at least 4 inches under the soil to keep it from the nasty freeze-thaw-freeze which happens in early winter and early spring.
See the bare space to the right and back of the blue lady? That will be its bed, come late fall.
In the above photo, you can see where the lower flower stems meet the "trunk" ... this is the bud union that needs to be planted a few inches under the soil; no matter if the bud union is up above the soil by over 3 feet!
In order to keep this rose tree from freezing during the winter -
...we have a couple of options....
1. If we don’t plant it in the ground and put it in a pot on a patio, we could cover it lightly and move it, pot and all, into an unheated garage. If we put plastic over it - there would too much moisture around it which could freeze the bud union.
2. If we plant it in the garden, we could dig up the tree and put it in a large pot - and then put it in the garage.... However, we know roses hate to have their roots disturbed.... I admit I have moved many of my roses (see moving roses) so many times, that I wonder if this is true, but the experts say it is. So it is something to think about if you do this.
3. The other option, is to leave it where it is planted in the ground and dig a trench and bury it.
Yes, a trench! That means planning for this when you plant it. You will need room for a trench at least as tall as the tree - and yes, you have to bury the WHOLE TREE.
In the Spring, you can plant annuals in the bare space where the trench was as they will be done when it is time to bury your rose tree.
I pruned all the branches back to about 3 or 4 inches from the graft union to an out-facing bud so that the small limbs would not be bent or broken in this maneuver. (the photos below show this)
Ordinarily, I do not prune my roses in the fall, but this is different.
Remember, plants do not die in the winter, they sleep. So in this case, I don’t want it to have to use any of the food it has stored in order to stay alive, nor do I want it to try to maintain long branches.
We dug a long trench behind it ... long enough to bury it lying down and wide enough to accommodate the top. Being careful not to disturb too much root, we then dug a deep hole behind the tree (in the direction we were planning to lay it down) and as the hole got deeper, it was then (sort of) easy to tip it over on its side..…(some call this the “Minnesota Tip”)
We wrapped a a frost blanket - a porous piece of fabric-(see bottom photo) around it so that when we dig it up in the spring, we would not be injuring the tender bark.
This fall, our second season, we used a porous shrub cover that fit over the top with a draw string to close the bottom around the trunk- it was easier too.
We covered it with earth we took from pots, a bag of sea compost and hilled it up over the tree about 4 or 5 inches at least... We covered the mound with lots of leaves, and more earth to hold it all in place and then more leaves.
As that was the first year we had done this, we had to wait until the spring to see if we did enough.
Here it is… second spring below!
We dug it up when the frost was out of the ground but before it got too warm or it would have begun budding under the ground. The frost blanket worked in protecting the wee buds that were starting.
Here it is covered with green leaves and buds in June. (If you wish to see what it looked like when we first dug it up... read on).
We put a circular weeping or drip hose around its base to keep the moisture level consistent as the first few seasons are crucial and water is one of those essentials for roses.
And below - its second summer - in bloom !
My how time flies...Fall is upon us once more, and again, we have buried it below the ground - Hopefully all the work will keep it as happy next season.
(Note: here we are at Spring again and it is now the end of the second winter for this tree and we are about to dig it up...)
Here it is, upright once again - May 6 - We have had a warm couple of weeks - the temp. today is 21 C. (almost 79 F.) Hope it isn't too soon.
But there are tiny buds barely showing and the stem is green ! Good signs.
Above- This is May 14 and you can just see the beginnings of tiny reddish buds along the green stems... You can also see clearly where the two roses were grafted on to the main stem. What an amazing feat!
Wow.... the buds are getting bigger... above,
this is May 18....and the day-time weather has been in the teens (around 60 F.)
There have been 5 nights we have covered the rose tree against 4 or 5C (39-40 F.) With temps that low, if there is any wind, the temp could quickly drop to freezing and we have come too far to lose this tree now...
Today is May 20 and the buds are budding. When they are a bit bigger, in a few days and before they really leaf out, I will prune off the darkened bits, just above a bud. But it is already stressed... I may have rushed it and dug it up too soon...sigh.. but, it is alive and I will do all in my power to keep it that way.
Alas, today and yesterday were very cool and windy... and tonight "they" are calling for - 1C (30 F.) and that is freezing, so on goes her blanket... perhaps it could be called her dress... I think she is grateful but a bit indignant.... but, whatever it takes....
Stay tuned..... we have only just begun a new season !
This is June 22 - the 3rd season for this rose tree. It has a few blooms and lots of buds. A friend takes hers in its pot, into her garage, but this winter it did not do well and one side is not looking too great. You can see this has a bit of a lean to the right. Since this photo was taken, we have straightened it.
The Rose Tree - July 21, ready for the Garden Tour
The Rose Tree with new garden arbour.
WHAT IS THIS BELOW???