Category Archives: Antique Roses

Pruning the China roses

Unlike hybrid tea roses, which stand erect in a line like soldiers at inspection, antique roses are bushy. Even the climbers are pretty bushy. And when you prune them, as I did our three Chinas this afternoon, you don’t have to be finicky.

Lopping off a third of the bush is the rule. Now we’ll sit back and expect our antique rose bushes to start blooming like crazy in March. Earlier if we’re lucky. And continue, at intervals, the rest of the year. I’m tempted, however, to dig up Louis Phillipe whose red blooms have always been too sparse to satisfy me and replace it with the Bourbon antique Souvenir de la Malmaison.

Had a Souvenir back in ’07, I see in my archives, whose pictures unfortunately did not make the forced transition from Yahoo to WordPress in 2013. But in ’09 the neighbor on the other side of the fence laid down a bunch of herbicide to kill something and it leeched through the soil and wiped out Souvenir. Then a replacement got run over by the landscaper’s mower and finally the neighborhood deer (courtesy of the city council which refuses to do anything about them) got in the backyard and ate it down to nothing. They think roses are candy. The deer, not the politicians.

Karma, you say? It was, after all, to commemorate my Mississippi great, great grandmother who mentions her’s in her pocket diary of the 1850s. She was a slave owner. Well, we all have our faults. So I’m going to try again. Maybe.

At the very least, I could follow the lead of Austin gardener Pam Penick and erect a bottle tree. Since bottle trees supposedly were invented by Southern slaves, maybe there’d be some redemption there. Maybe even enough to spare a new rancho edition of Souvenir de la Malmaison from assorted catastrophes. Eh?

New roses at the rancho


Not more of our usual antiques, but the new Knockouts which bloom year-round in Central Texas. We have seven eight red and yellow ones alternating along the back fence.

Butterfly Rose


Springtime in the back forty at Rancho Roly Poly.

Our coming winter: colder than usual

I was thinking back on Labor Day when I cut back the Antique Roses in the Back Forty whether I should go the whole hog one-third trim, or do what I did which was just give them a haircut and plan to give them another one in January, instead of waiting to Valentine’s as is customary with this breed.

Now I wish I had gone the one-third, because January could be icy (probably not snowy, that’s hardly ever true here) according to WeatherBell meteorologist Joe Bastardi. His conclusion is terse: “Another colder, snowier than normal winter is on the way, in my opinion. I would prepare using a blend of 02-03, 09-10 as two-thirds, with 04-05, 06-07 as one-third…”

If the latter half of the statement is confusing, it refers to analogue winters which is Bastardi’s favorite method of forecasting because it frequently works. The winter of 2010, for instance, was so cold here that the green elephant ears in the front beds turned black and fell on the ground. They grew back, of course, from the roots. Go here for his not very technical, reasonably easy to understand explanation with lots of pretty graphics.

Racing clouds preceded twister

Was out in the back forty about noon Monday, checking to see if any new deer had jumped the privacy fence to get at the rancho’s roses. Had one Sunday, and an earlier one a week ago. Still trying to figure where they’re getting over.

Saw no deer but was struck by the clouds overhead. Coming out of the northwest and the southeast. They were just racing north. Wind was picking up, of course. Had to be a low out there somewhere, in the direction of Round Rock, probably. Hoped it would spawn a thunderstorm and bring us some rain.

Had no idea then that the low was as far north as Oklahoma or that about 3 p.m. CDT it would spawn a killer tornado that would wipe out two elementary schools south of Oklahoma City. G-d bless the dead and the injured and the devastated untouched, so to speak. Glad to see that CGHill at Dustbury, at the Bandwidth Wastage Station, survived this “last rite of spring” as he blogged it.

Heard some fool Democrat blaming global warming/climate change. The usual dreck. This is Tornado Alley, nitwit, beginning down here around Austin and stretching as far north as South Dakota. We get these bastards every year about this time. Wouldn’t have wished it on Oklahoma, especially not those dead kids and their devastated parents. But I’m sure thankful it didn’t spin up anywhere near us.

Waiting for the reviews

Finishing a novel and then waiting for the reviews, according to Keith Ridgeway, isn’t fun.

“It’s a little like crawling from a car crash to be greeted by a panel of strangers holding up score cards.”

Ain’t it the truth. So far I’ve been lucky, but with more than a hundred copies taken when the novel was on Amazon’s free promotion list, there’s bound to be some contrary ones out there just waiting to hold up their score cards. Stands to reason.

Our Zephirine Drouhin are in bloom

It only took seven years for these Bourbon beauties to finally arrive in the fall. I’m not sure it was quite worth the wait for them to become sufficiently established to do so, but they sure are pretty in October. About half the diameter of these blossoms photographed back in May, and not near as abundant. But still radiant. Ah, antique roses.