Monday, October 3, 2011

(Don't) Get the Drift

Since no one has yet posted to the now monthly blog party titled "Garden Grumblings", I can only assume that either everyone is scared to be first, or else you're all giving me the opportunity to embarrass myself before you jump in.  Okay, okay, I'll start us off and use this opportunity to display my worst purchase of this summer: my 'Red Drift' rose.
'Red Drift'
Everyone fell into the hype of the Drift®roses this year, right?  The slogans were perfectly designed to sell them:  "From the introducers of the Knock Out family," and, "The Next Big Thing for Small Gardens."  Well, I might be alone out here on this limb, but if so, I'll be the first to say that I'm underwhelmed.  Was I biased from the start?  In the interest of full disclosure, maybe a little bit, since I know that while Conard Pyle HAD introduced the Knock Out roses to commerce, Bill Radler is not the breeder of the Drift® roses; they came from the lines of French hybridizer, Meilland International.

I attended a seminar last spring on the new Drift® roses and was told by the speaker that his personal favorite was 'Peach Drift'.  Despite being a Shrub and Old Garden Rose fanatic, I was encouraged enough by the hype to decide that I'd try one or two out this year, particularly if I could find 'Peach Drift', although one-foot tall roses are really not to the scale of my garden.  Perhaps, I thought, in a container on the patio would be a nice spot, since they are marketed as excellent choices for containers?

Fortunately or unfortunately it took me a week to start looking and by then the local nurseries had all sold out except for 'Pink Drift' and 'Red Drift'.  And they were priced at $30.00 each!  Given the price at 50% higher than the local nurseries sell potted Hybrid Teas, and because 'Red Drift' is more double-petaled than 'Pink Drift', I chose the latter and only purchased one.  And I put it into a very large container in full sun and gave it more attention than any other plant this summer. 

And it is a good thing I only ended up with one, because I'm not impressed at all by my 'Red Drift' rose.  You can see it above, pictured at the end of what was admittedly a very hot summer, the leaves a little scorched from all the Kansas sun.  Yes, it seems to be blackspot resistant, but I did have to fight a bout of spider mites with pressurized sprays of water.  It didn't grow 6 inches in any direction all summer long, despite almost daily watering in the extreme heat and careful attention to fertilization.  And what you see above is the best bloom display I saw all summer, as underwhelming as it is.  The lack of bloom was a bit understandable during the heat spells, but I would think that the cooler weather of the past two weeks would have kicked off a bloom cycle, wouldn't you? 

So, pending further evidence, I'm done with the Drift® roses.  They're just not enough of a landscape spectacle for me to overlook the fact that the blooms are not individually striking. I'm going to keep the container outside, so by next spring, I will have a strong test of how hardy at least 'Red Drift' really is.  I also plan to see how they did in the garden of a friend who planted 50(!) of them this spring, so there's still a chance I'll change my mind. Or maybe not, if you get my drift.


  1. I wanted to like them, too, but as I see them around town, I'm just not wowed by them, but then again there are not a lot of roses that do wow me. Sorry. I do have a client who has the peach drift, in an afternoon shade situation, and they are quite pretty, I must admit. She also has a peach drift in full sun and it fried. Curious to know how the 50 did for your friend. Keep us posted.

  2. In defense of Drifts. My understanding is that they are not really designed for containers, and given the weather conditions this year I'm not surprised they didn't preform. I have an extensive collection of Drift's, planted in ground, and they have preformed very well. No black spot, solid flower power,and very hardy. Unfortunately leaving it in a container outdoors over winter will probably doom it as well. Pull it out and plant it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.


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