Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alas, Sweet Marianne

With a heavy heart, ProfessorRoush feels that he must give a full accounting of 'Marianne', sweet wonderful 'Marianne', who fills me each Spring with such deep hope and yet year after year leaves me with bitter disappointment.  Soiled 'Marianne', too delicate and too beautiful for the harsh realities of gardening in the Flint Hills.

'Marianne', full view, 2015
I planted Paul Barden's 'Marianne' in 2010, and despite some early setbacks from the ravages of wind and animals, she reached her mature 6'X6' frame by 2013.  She remains at that size for me, without the need for pruning or protection of any kind.  This is a gorgeous, voluptuous untouched bush, and yet she manages not to sprawl over her neighbors and, with proper attention, a little nip and tuck here and there, I think she would make a perfect shrub rose.  She is completely disease resistant and cane hardy here in my garden.  She also never suckers, a most impressive feat considering that her 'Duchesse de Montebello' mother suckers everywhere.  A truly trouble-free rose.

Each Spring, she fills those hardy canes with buds, fantastically obese creamy buds, which occasionally open into the most beautiful apricot brushed flowers any rose nut could desire. As the buds form, my heart swells, ready to explode with the first flush of bloom from this rose.  But each May, her bloom coincides with our "rainy" season, the humid days and damp grounds of mid-Spring, and the delicate petals of those beautiful buds ball up and wither, or the petal edges turn brown and shrivel, or the deep copper tones fade away to sepia.  With the damage to the flowers, the spectacular scent also seems to wane, refusing to fill my nostrils with the nectars I need.  You can see what I mean here, at the right, the nearly perfect flower in the center, but the buds around it all beginning to show a little staining, a little bedraggling of the edges.

About one bloom in ten or perhaps twenty opens to full glory for me.  The bush always makes a fine conglomerated display from 20 feet away, but appears a hopeless mess up close.  Even the top photo of this blog shows some damage, almost perfect, but a little frazzled.  I'm disappointed again and again by her easily damaged nature.  She also forms no hips to otherwise save the display for another season.  Most often, the fully opened blooms look like the examples at the left, sometimes beautiful, but never quite good enough to show to highfaluting visitors.  Don't get me wrong, 'Marianne' is not a bad rose, she is just not right for a Flint Hills climate.  In another setting, where her bloom period would coincide with a hotter, drier season, I think she could bowl over a platoon of gardeners and leave them breathless in the grass.  Here, in rough and rowdy Kansas, she is just too delicate and refined.  I will never shovel-prune her, but I suspect I will remain ever disappointed, ever waiting for her perfect year.

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