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For the love of floribunda

For The Love of Floribunda, April 2018 Cape Cod LIFE |

A hedge of ‘Iceberg’ floribunda roses makes a perfect backdrop for most Cape Cod architecture. ‘Heaven On Earth,’ a peach-colored rose, is a perfect accent to ‘Teasing Georgia,’ a yellow David Austin (not floribunda) rose.

“What I like about floribundas is the number of flowers on the plant,” says C.L. Fornari, the Cape’s foremost creative gardening expert. “These are not roses that were bred to grow a long stem with a perfect rose at the end of it. These were bred to have clusters of roses, and they just have more flowers, which makes them more satisfying in the landscape.”

These reliable beauties can hold court in the center of a perennial bed, line a pathway, or even command attention in an oversized pot. Their care needs are minimal: a bit of early spring light pruning, some fertilizer and some deadheading (the removal of spent blooms). In exchange, their showy blooms spill forward in massive clusters, with the individual flowers in various states of opening. They start out with several flowers that are tightly furled conical points of color, like the tip of Cupid’s arrow, and ultimately open, on the vine as well as in the vase, to reveal shallow cups of lush layers of velvety petals. This transformation makes it appear as though the sprays are made up of several different roses.

As a bonus, the species often offers fewer thorns, particularly as compared with other shrub-like species, and the heady scent rendered from most varieties is often described in terms usually reserved for fine wine, like honey, sweet apple, spicy and fruity. But perhaps their greatest contribution to the garden is their long blooming activity. Many varieties of roses are limited in their contribution based upon when they make their grand entrance—usually late June into July in this region. But most floribunda will start their show at the same time, and with small attention, they will continue to perform, usually until the first frost.

Fornari cautions gardeners to do a bit of research, since not all of the cultivars will fulfill the full season promise of blooms. “Not all floribundas are the same, and people should know that. There are floribundas that bloom once and not again and floribundas that bloom several times through the summer,” she says.

Choosing which variety to take home may be the hardest part of owning one of these beauties. Irwin and Cindy Ehrenreich of Barnstable have a long history of educating gardeners on a variety of roses, but they both say floribundas are definitely one of their favorites. Cindy says she might love ‘Daybreaker’ the most, due to the color range displayed during its bloom duration. “It starts out as a tight tangerine center,” she explains, “wrapped in soft pink outer petals, and by the time it transitions to being fully open, it has become a beautiful yellow in the center, like the color of a summer sunset.”

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