first to bloom this year... knock outs

This year the first rose to open in my garden wasn't a rugosa (as it often is), but a Double Pink Knock Out.

Usually, I won't buy a rose unless I know it has a strong fragrance. Living on a corner that gets a fair amount of traffic (and lots of people's trash), I don't really like spending a lot of time gardening in the front yard. I planted Knock Outs (despite the lack of a strong fragrance) because I wanted roses that I didn't need to tend to and that I wouldn't mind dogs peeing on. I ordered them online and when they arrived they were in tiny pots and the plants were minuscule with spindly pale growth.

I planted them anyway and although some of that original growth died back, three months later, they looked like this:

Two years later the bushes looked like this:

And here they were last year:

In that photo they're about five feet tall. Some years I haven't fertilized them. Some years I haven't pruned them. I think, other than that first year, I haven't watered them. True to their reputation Knock Out Roses require very little work and look beautiful anyway. This is their sixth year in my garden.

When the rose catalogs began arriving this past winter and I noticed that William Radler (the breeder behind the Knock Out Roses) has a new offering, a fragrant, white rose called Milwaukee's Calatrava, I was immediately intrigued. Described as "intoxicatingly fragrant"and named after Santiago Calatrava's beautiful addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, it seemed like it would be a fun addition to my garden. I held off ordering and I have also held off purchasing one when I saw them at the garden center this spring because none of the plants were in bloom. I'm waiting to see if the fragrance lives up to its description. While waiting, I did a little research online and found a wonderful blog article about William Radler. If you're at all interested in roses, I'd highly recommend reading it. What I was most impressed with is how low-tech his set-up seems. He's just a regular guy growing seedlings in his basement. Reminded me of the novel I semi-recently read, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. And it made me want to add his new rose to my garden even more than I had before. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Gorgeous. Can't wait to see them.

  2. WOW! So neat to see the growth over the years!!

  3. The roses really are a knock out Anne! They are gorgeous and a welcome splash of colour to your neighbourhood. I don't have one rose in bloom as yet. I shall have to visit your blog for my rose 'fix'.

  4. Gorgeous! I need strong plants that can take care of themselves. ;)


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