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Hello from a rosaholic in Spain

Hi everyone, I have been a lurker on this lovely forum for some time and have finally got around to joining, so thought I should introduce myself. I am from England originally, but have lived in Spain since 2005, first in the far south of the country and now in the far northeast corner, not far from France.


I seriously fell down the rose rabbit hole about 7 years ago, having finally obtained a good-sized plot of my own. Rose growing is not easy on hard-baked extremely alkaline clay full of boulders. Then I have to cope with fried roses in scorching summers and losing a few roses to cold mountain winters. If Japanese beetles or nematodes are the nemeses of some of you folks, mine are three different types of rose sawfly that decimate my rose foliage. Despite all, roses have become my passion/obsession and I now grow a total of around 65 roses, a good smattering of antique but mostly modern shrubs.


When I first moved to my current property, we had lots of monsoon-like summer rain and high humidity coming over from the Pyrenean mountain range just to the north, so black spot was a nightmare. The last few years it’s been mostly dry, so far less disease but water is an increasing worry.


Marlorena from England is a dear rose friend from a previous forum, so I will be joining in on her posts, but hope to pitch in on some others too.


I need to figure out the photo posting procedure, but hopefully here’s one for starters, Palais Biron (aka Purple Lodge) a shrub rose bred by Pierre Orard and familiar to some of you:





Hope to meet you all soon!

Nollie

Comments (47)

  • 2 months ago

    Welcome Nollie, we are so happy you are here and look forward to your participation!

  • 2 months ago

    Welcome to this forum, Nollie. I'm an expat, too-an American who has been living in Italy since 1984. I'm in the foothills of the Appenines, in a valley between Prato and Bologna; my garden is not near my home, it's in a woodland about a 20 minute drive from our house. The soil is pretty much like yours: rocky clay,quite shallow in some areas. Water is my main worry-there's no running water out there,and the summers here are just awful. I've lost count as to how many roses I have. Currently I'm working on sort of "consolidating" my garden; I'm planning on trying to get all or most of the roses more grouped together, moving the ones that are in overly poor soil,shovel-pruning ones that aren't doing well or that I just don't like. Once freed up, I hope to start filling up these challenging spots with trees and un-demanding shrubs.

    It's so nice to have another poster from the Mediterranean on the forum!

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  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Thank you kindly BenT and bart bart!

    Bart, I have been reading all your garden travails, your conditions sound really tough. My soil is also a very shallow layer over rock, so I have to make raised or terraced beds and amend with ton bags of organic matter to create any planting depth. I use an ericacaceous compost made from pine bark, with added nutrients, that helps to buffer the alkalinity somewhat. I also use a slow release granular feed for acid plants, but my well water is also way off the alkaline scale so I still have to add extra iron to combat leaf chlorosis. Also spent tea bags in the watering cans, a tip I picked up from Marlorena.

    At least I‘ve had a good supply of free water, so far, but there is always the worry the well will dry up. Our local river has’t had any water in it for two years and we are entering our third year of official drought.

    Strictly speaking, my climate is not Mediterranean as I am inland from the coast, surrounded by evergreen oak forest, river valleys and mountains. It’s amazing the difference that 65km from the sea makes, both summers and winters are more extreme.

    I have been trying to consolidate my garden too. I try to cut down on the water hungry and/or poorly performing roses every year and I really must reduce the number of pots that are a struggle to keep hydrated. Somehow that just never happens and the number of roses goes up rather than down. A weird phenomenon that many of you guys are familiar with I know!

    Another photo from last summer, Lady Hillingdon. This is the shrub version of the better-know climing tea rose. I can post a list of what I grow if that’s of any interest?



  • 2 months ago

    Hi Nollie. Not sure if you know of this, or can even view it in Spain! ... https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001x22s/monty-dons-spanish-gardens-series-1-episode-3


    I watched this and thought of you. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • 2 months ago

    I'd love to see more of your Lady Hillingdon, Nollie

  • 2 months ago

    And a welcome from me too! I live in the high semi-desert of Arizona with rocky alkaline soil as well, so perhaps similar climate and growing conditions. Glad to meet you! Looks like you grow beautiful roses in spite of your difficult conditions.

  • 2 months ago

    Welcome, welcome!! So glad to gave you new posters abd yes, the miee pictures the better

  • 2 months ago

    Hi Peter, yes I saw it, thanks. Lots of formal gardens, trees, shrubs, some roses, few perennials. The lack of a good range of perennials here, as companions for my roses, has long been a bugbear for me.


    My Lady Hillingdon didn’t do too well for me last year, Fire, better the first year, but hopefully I can post some more this summer.


    Thanks so much Judi, yes I often have an internal debate on which state‘s climate would most align with mine. In very humid years I think maybe Florida, but the last few years it probably has been closer to Arizona!


    Thanks too to Kristine, such a wonderfully welcoming forum, I look forward very much to becoming a part of it. I have secretly enjoyed and admired all your roses for years, so about time I gave something back!


  • 2 months ago

    Nollie, so that is the Purple Lodge? so beautiful. Please do post more pictures

  • 2 months ago

    Hi Nollie!

  • 2 months ago

    My Purple Lodge looks more burgundy purple. I got it from Ludwig's Roses when they were in Arizona. Sometimes I think it should be called Burgundy Lodge but it can be truly purple. I just haven't captured it in a photo yet. Blooms are on the large side of medium most of the time. I have had my original plant in morning sun and that plant is only a couple feet tall. I planted an own root one in another spot and it is much bigger...about 5' and arching over.










  • 2 months ago

    Nollie, have you been to the Alhambra? I read a mystery , Ernestine by Kate Reynolds, about a nun at the Alhambra and it described it so beautifully. I looked up pictures of it and wanted to see it in person but probably never will.

  • 2 months ago

    Welcome, Nollie! I have the Arizona Ludwig Purple Lodge and I think ours over here is different from the European plant you have. My plant is smallish with medium size blooms.

  • 2 months ago

    Hi Sheila and thanks for your photos erasmus, wow, so different! I never get such a dark colour on it, only Munstead Wood occasionally gives me those deep blackberry tones. I never get those reflexed petals either, so it does indeed look a different rose.


    I understand that happening with the old roses, given wars, mix-ups, muddled inventories and other shenanigans, but more surprising in a modern shrub. I assume the European one is more likely the ‘right‘ one, but whatever, they are both fabulous.


    Erasmus, yes I used to live a couple of hours drive from the Alhambra and know it well. Now it’s more like twelve hours away. Amazing place and the Generalife gardens attached to it are too.

  • 2 months ago

    Welcome, Nollie!! I'm loving the addition of the new European rosarians here!! Such an infusion of new roses and more knowledge!!

  • 2 months ago

    Hi @rosecanadian kind of you to drop in, thanks. There are lots of roses available over your way that we are denied here in Europe, I’ve certainly lusted after a few that are out of reach. But there are probably a fair number we can get here that are not available there too, so it goes both ways. There is never enough room in my garden anyway so it‘s just as well!


    I don’t know of I can add much to the massive knowledge base on here, but I can might be able to feature a few novel roses. I love experimenting and have a bunch of new roses from Guillot in France to try this year - I can’t wait for those to bloom.


  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Hi, Nollie,

    Just popping in….

    Lovely to meet you from England and Spain! I especially love your Purple Lodge! What a gorgeous rose! Congrats on your 65 roses! They can be challenging, but wonderful! Welcome to our rose forum!

  • 2 months ago

    Nollie - do you mind sharing which Guillot roses you just got? :) :)

  • 2 months ago

    Hi Nollie,
    Welcome to the forum! Here in New Spain, aka Southern California, we too have alkaline soil and drought concerns. Coffee grounds are good for countering the alkaline factor,

    Nollie in Spain Zone9 thanked sylviaww 9a,hot dry Inland SoCal
  • 2 months ago

    Hi to you too sylviaww and kittyNY. I did try coffee ground kitty, thanks, but found tea seemed to work better on chlorosis, but perhaps I just wasn’t adding enough.


    @rosecanadian, this is my first time trying Guillot roses and I got Ventilo, Ladurée, Notre Dame de Rosaire and Versigny. I discovered they also stock a few J&P/Keith Zary roses so also picked up Honey Bouquet and Golden Zest. The Guillots were chosen specifically for fragrance, with Versigny being supposedly the weakest, although I remember Straw saying it was good for them. I will have to wait and see how they do in my hot summers. Every rose I buy is a gamble, but I love experimenting and trialling different classes and breeders.


  • 2 months ago

    Thanks, Nollie. :) Oh my!!! Ventilo is a beauty with an apricot scent!! Love this one!! Laduree another beauty with citrus, vanilla and raspberry!! Well chosen!

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Hi, Nollie,

    I see some gardeners try coffee grounds. i have not tried coffee grounds yet; however, I recommend Alaska Liquid Fertilizer & Alaska Morbloom liquid fertilizers. And I recommend ESPOMA Plant Tone or ESPOMA Rose Tone fertilizers, which have a little chicken manure & amazing organic ingredients. I also suggest organic soils, compost, and cow manure. I always put a little cow manure (decomposed properly) in the soil each spring, keeping it away from plant roots. (Manure can burn plant roots if too close, but super good to amend alkaline clay soil, too. Very common in US. .) My soil was clay, too.

    Have fun! Many wonderful soil amendments on the market!

  • 2 months ago

    Hi @KittyNYz6


    Sorry not to respond sooner, I‘m not getting notifications for some reason, or they appear days later, but thanks for your excellent suggestions.


    I use lots of organic soil amendments, whatever I can get my hands on. Sheep manure pellets are also great, more acidic than horse or cow so good for alkaline clay soils. The fertiliser brands you recommend aren’t sold here, but there are similar European equivalents to the Tones you mention and for later liquid feeding I use fish emulsion with seaweed extract and a high potassium bloom booster. So I suspect our approach is pretty similar, just different brand names.


    I also collect as much rainwater as possible to save having to add tea etc. to my very alkaline well water, but there is never, never enough rain!!

  • 2 months ago

    "there is never, never enough rain!! " Amen to that-and I say this in spite of the Ciaran storm and the recent landslides that have isolated our area from the cities. Fact is, these were NOT the fault of the rain-the fault lies with us humans who have so abused the planet that the climate has gone nuts,and who have not bothered to care for Mother Earth in the least.

    I'm in the process of building another rain-collecting roof structure up on the highest area of my garden-an exhausting job, but I must find ways to harvest more rain. Worse yet, I'm planning on at least two others-possibly even three-all to be built on the steep hill. Very intimidating thought,but there's no sign of hope of getting the fountain back from which I've taken water in the past,so it's necessary. Hopefully making these will be slightly less exhausting since I plan to use bricks for the bases for the supporting colums, whereas with the one I'm completing, I made the base out of stones and poured cement. Mixing the cement is by far the most tiring part of the job.

  • 2 months ago

    That sounds a daunting project Bart! I have 5 x 300L water butts but could easily use twice that because when rain comes it can be torrential. At least I have the roof structures already. Trouble is, you pray hard for it to come but just when those roses that ball in the wet are coming into full flush you pray that it doesn’t! I have weeded out most of the ballers, but there are one or two that I love and can’t bear to part with.


  • 2 months ago

    I collect rainwater too. I don't know the dimensions of the containers (husband does)...but they're HUGE! I overused rainwater last year and my roses didn't like it. I have to balance its use better this year.

  • 2 months ago

    @rosecanadian wow -over-used rain water? what did that look like?

  • 2 months ago

    Welcome Nollie!

    I hope your roses will do great this year and the summer won't be too harsh.Optimism aside... we all know this summer is going to be brutal! I'm another southern Europe rosarian based in Malta. Both you and Bart have my full empathy concerning drought and summer heat. (Bart: Wow! I am impressed with your water catchment building effort!)

    Nollie, I was wondering if you have any recommendations for good Spanish rose nurseries. I have a couple of Dot roses and they are among my best performers in the heat, so I'm looking into getting more Spanish bred roses. I've been looking at the ones bred by Rosales Ferrer too. Unfortunately Dot don't ship outside of Spain, not sure about Ferrer. Are there any Spanish rose nurseries you'd recommend?

  • 2 months ago

    Fire - it lowered the pH too much and my roses got BS. They also got Downy Mildew...not sure if that's related to the rainwater. But my roses have never had either before.

  • 2 months ago

    @seasiderooftop thanks for the welcome. I really hope we get a less brutal summer this year too, over 40c is not pleasant!


    I don’t actually have any Dot roses and have never bought from a Spanish nursery. That’s shocking really, but I’m not a fan of hybrid teas, which most Spanish breeders and sellers major on. I nearly bought Mme. Grégoire Staechelin (Spanish Beauty) once but realised it might be too tender for my mountain winters. I buy most of my roses from France now, and occasionally from the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Germany. I really rate French nurseries so could recommend some there if you are interested?


    What roses do well for you in heat? I imagine they are very exposed to that on your rooftop. My south-facing border is the biggest challenge to roses, especially as it’s backed by a stone wall - I call it the rose wall of death! Munstead Wood and Warm Welcome cope well there, Darcy Bussell is ok too, but most others I’ve tried there just fry and die.

  • 2 months ago

    The Wall of Death...maybe if you start a new thread people who also garden in hot places will be able to recommend varieties for you? :) :)

  • 2 months ago

    I can only dream of a lower pH rosecanadian and good soil to boot, but we have to work with what we‘ve got, unfortunately! Interesting that too low caused you black spot.


    I have a long wishlist of heat tolerant roses gleaned from the excellent advice of hot zoners on this thread already, based on past lurking. The problem is finding space to try them all! I will definitely venture forth into new threads soon though..

  • 2 months ago

    Isn't that the truth...lol...space is always a problem. :)

  • 2 months ago

    My soil is terrible, too, and I wish it were more acid; I'm doing what I can to lower the ph,but it isn't easy. However my problem isn't a lack of space-my garden is way too big. Actually I am now in the process of trying to sort of "consolidate" it ; I hope to concentrate most of the roses into particular areas, and fill the other ,less accesible/poorer areas with undemanding shrubs and trees.I'm putting in a LOT of trees; the summers here have become just too hot; both the plants and I need shade. My garden faces south-west, so you can use your imagination...

    And speaking of shade: Nollie, is there any way that you could place a fast-growing tree near the wall of death to provide shade? Or maybe provide shade artificially for plants while they are young,until they are big enough to handle that kind of heat? Also, could you share your wishlist of heat-tolerant roses? I know, I know, I'm supposed to be trying to gt the Rose Monkey off my back, but still-well, let's say it's just for the knowledge, lol.

  • 2 months ago

    Hi Nollie,

    I do the same as you and order from France, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, etc... I agree with you that HT's often aren't the most exciting or romantic looking but I'll take anything if it can stand the heat !

    On the rooftop, Julia Child does very well in one of the most exposed areas, as does the Tea rose Homere. They bake in full sun from sunrise to around 3pm with no problems. Another great one in that area is hulthemia hybrid Orienta Aylin, as well as the pernetiana Angele Pernet.

    In my boyfriend's garden, Mutabilis is a champion, as well as Marie Pavie and Sweet Revelation (also sold as Lady Jane Grey, Sue Hipkin and Chimene).

    My conditions are different than yours for sure, since we don't have to worry about cold hardiness at all, so I don't know how those roses would do in your location.

    Here, aside from heat, the main annoyance is wind, and believe it or not, sand. Yesterday we had south winds from Libya with a light rain. The combo of rain and sahara sand left all my roses looking like the pic below. The sand is sticky and can't just be hosed off, so next weekend I'll have to manually sponge it off each leaf. Fun!

  • 2 months ago

    Hi @bart bart yes, really alkaline rubbish soil is a bummer. Although it’s not really possible to change your pH to make it more acidic long term, I do find a thick layer of ericaceous compost as a mulch and using acid ferts, sequestered iron, tea etc helps buffer the alkalinity and ameliorate the worst chlorotic/nutrient blocking aspects of it. Our rootstock Laxa is meant to be tolerant of alkaline soils but that doesn’t always translate into the scion. Some of my Austins are the worst for getting chlorosis, but others with thicker, shiny leaves cope much better. A whole other topic.


    I do have some trees and shrubs in front of the sandstone stone walls and terraces, but find it still absorbs a ridiculous amount of heat. Climbers directly against the south-facing walls are impossible, so I plant mostly shrub roses as far away from them as the width of my borders allow. Noella Nabonnand actually did the best there, but it’s foliage was decimated by bugs hiding in the cracks - it was an earwig, sawfly, pollen beetle and everything else pile on!


    I promise I will look out my various wishlists and tell you the ones I already have that cope for you later… not that either of us needs more encouragement it seems!

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Nollie, when you say "tea" do you mean you just ake a pot of tea, let it cool, and then water a plant with it?

    Seaside, sometimes we get that sandy rain here, too. I always thought it came from the Sahara desert.

  • 2 months ago

    Hi Seaside, sorry I missed your post earlier.. I think you nailed it there, your ’heat stress’ and growing conditions will be different to mine and Barts will be different again. Heat is exacerbated or not by so many other factors. With all the research into heat tolerance in the world, you only really know which roses will work or not in your specific conditions by trying them, I think. I do find this forum hugely helpful in pointing me in the right direction though.


    Julia Child and Marie Pavie are troopers in the heat for me too.


    Bart, I chuck used teabags in the watering cans - much of the tannins are disposed of in the brewing. You can also spread spent leaves around the base but not the freshly brewed tea itself. Neither my wife or I actually drink tea so I do it specially for the roses!

  • last month

    Hmm...am I right in thinking that you imply that the tannins are not good for the plants?

    Sadly, I'm stuck drinking tea-my digestive system doesn't seem to be able to tolerate coffee very well anymore. Boo-hoo

  • last month

    I did read somewhere that too much concentrated tea was not a good idea because of the tannins, @bart bart but ca’t remember the source. I play safe anyway and just use the spent stuff.


    Here is my wish list of what various sources have said are heat tolerant roses, Bart, but it’s highly selective depending on what I fancied trying at some point and not defined by what does well in either dry or humid heat. Many are large roses I don’t actually have space for, since my garden is only a small patch of cultivated land at the bottom of steeply terraced, wooded areas:


    Maggie (pos. Mme. Eugene Marlitt?)

    Mlle. Sombreuil (tea, not LFC)

    Madame Joseph Schwartz

    Marie Ducher

    Little White Pet

    Portland from Glendora (Josephine Hanet?)

    Hume's Blush Tea

    Maman Cochet

    Mrs. B.R. Cant

    Le Vesuve

    Joseph's Coat

    Dr. Grill

    General Schlabkine

    Monsieur Tilier

    Duchesse de Brabant

    Devonensis

    Rosette Delizy

    Old Blush

    Archduke Charles

  • last month

    Seaside - oh, you got your yearly sandstorm again. What a pain to have to take the sand/grit off of each leaf. But, you gotta do, what you gotta do. :) :)

  • last month

    Welcome Nollie! Love your photos!

  • last month

    Thanks for the list, Nollie. I've been wanting Maman Cochet on and off for some time now,but have stayed away for fear of it balling during the spring flush. Once summer really sets in, it's too hot to appreciate flowers, and in any case most of my roses go semi-dormant then, so spring blooms are what really matter to me.I have Joasine Hanet (?) and several Climbing Old Blushes. They get sick and ghastly every year after blooming,dropping all their leaves, but I love them anyway, and also hope that improving their soil may reduce the problem. I'm also trying to grow clematis with them, to help cover for them during the phase in which the leaves need to re-grow.

    Seaside, we've had sand in the atmosphere here in Italy , too. Mainly Friday and Saturday; it started dissipating yesterday and today it's raining properly.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi Nollie, on GW you were advising me on getting a bushy salvia. I went for So Cool Pale Blue for my community garden. You wondered if it might get too big for the space. I had put in two. Over this last winter someone trampled all over the garden and broke one SCPB completely. The other has got badly slugged, oddly (I've never seen a bushy salvia get bad mollusc damage). So, in answer to your good question, I don't think size on that plot willl be a problem. The conditions are too harsh.


    It seems to have zero interest for pollinators. I'm wondering if any of the peachy ones might do better.

    Thanks for all your many insights over the years.



  • last month

    Hi Fire, Sorry your salvia SCPB didn’t work out and for the disgusting vandalism. I don’ t have slugs here and never seen a snail go for any of the shrubbies, but they do nibble the nemorosas a little. I don’ t have any peachy ones, so I couldn’t say if one colour is better than the other for wildlife. Rosemary and agastache are great for bees and butterflies and the shrubby orange and yellow agastaches attract those as well as hummingbird hawkmoths. The shrubby agastaches can be a bit tender/short lived though, but one peachy coloured one, which I think is called Tangerine Dream, is pretty tough.

  • last month

    I tend to go for super-tough perennials as it's a low maintenaince garden. I did look at agastache, but I don't think they would do well. It's planted on mostly sand and gets no tlc. I think the molluscs went for SCPB because there was little else they wanted, on the "shifting menu hierarchy" principle.


    I like that so many plants in my garden remind me of all the kind GW people that recommended them to me.