For the love of floribunda
The Ehrenreichs have scores of clients around the Cape for whom they provide garden design and weekly maintenance for their roses. Irwin, a retired surgeon, is commonly referred to as “The Rose Man,” a name bestowed upon him while working for John Duffley at Hyannis Country Garden. “John would walk me around the garden center and introduce me to the clients and employees as ‘The Rose Man,’ and it just sort of stuck,” Irwin recalls.
The expansive gardens located at their home, the circa 1690 Sturgis homestead in Barnstable, boast over 600 rose bushes, and many of those are of the floribunda strain. One of the more famous strains, ‘Julia Child’ has an interesting background, as the Ehrenreichs tell it. “Tom Carruth, a very successful rose hybridizer from Weeks Roses in California, had been trying to work with Julia Child to name a rose for a very long time, but none of the presented roses were ever right. Then he developed a beautiful, deep butter-yellow floribunda that he showed her, and she fell in love with it—after all, we all know how she loved butter,” Irwin says with a chuckle.
Fornari confirms the great satisfaction these roses can deliver to most gardeners, but also cautions that, since our spring season tends to be wet and roses prefer a dry spring, “black spot,” a common condition that can affect any rose, can always be a problem. “People should realize that disease resistant should not mean disease impervious,” Fornari warns. “They can make a decision themselves whether to treat regularly for black spot and try to prevent it with the product of their choice, including organic options. But people need to understand if they want to treat, it has to be done before the plant gets it. Once you see yellowing, spotted leaves, it’s really too late to start spraying.”
Overall, the satisfying return on efforts invested when growing floribunda roses should not only keep gardeners searching for the next variety to add to their garden, but also allow for more time to just sit back and enjoy them. As Shakespeare suggested in “Romeo and Juliet,” “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” When it comes to roses, if the name is floribunda, the experience should be as sweet as they come.
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