Just returned from a lovely two weeks in Italy. For the second year in a row my husband and I stayed at the same Agriturismo in the Emilia Romagna region in central Italy. It’s called “Podere Prasiano” and it’s run by a lovely couple called Emanuela and Massimo. I’m mentioning it because, besides having fantastic food and a wonderful setting, there is a beautiful garden tended by Emanuela herself. I’ll post some photos at the end of this so you can see for yourself.
In particular I want to mention Emanuela’s roses. She has many rose bushes and I’ve rarely seen such beautiful, healthy ones outside of a botanical garden! She also has lots of fruit trees in her orchard and at the top of each row of trees was a rose bush in full bloom, a lovely aesthetic choice. I couldn’t tell you the names of many of the roses, but the colours range from pink, red and orange, to several different bi-coloured varieties. I asked her what she feeds them and she told me, “manure and ash”. She believes in organic gardening so her answer didn’t surprise me, but the results did! Of course, the climate is very different than here and her roses get at least 8-10 hours of sun at this time of year I would think, so that must help. I’m not sure that all (or any!) of the varieties she grows would survive a harsh Montreal winter without a lot of protection. So, what is a poor Canadian gardener to do, who wants to plant roses in her garden?
Fortunately, in the last fifty years, Canadian plant scientists have been breeding hardy hybrids from the species of roses that grew wild in Canada with some of the hybrid teas and floribundas that were imported from elsewhere. The resulting series of roses, called Explorer, Parkland and Canadian Artists, have all the hardiness we need as well as disease resistance and ease of maintenance. I recently read an interesting article on these roses in the summer edition (#14) of ‘Garden Making’ magazine. I wondered why there were no orange roses in any of the series, and the article answered my question: the red and pink colour genes are the most adaptable to breeding techniques. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other options; newer techniques have enabled development of white, yellow and even multi-coloured hardy roses. The one I’m anxious to try is in the Tom Thomson series, called “Campfire”.
After reading that article and enjoying the beauty of Emanuela’s garden, I’m determined to find a couple of spots (with at least five hours of daily sunlight!) for some new additions to the Tranquil Garden.