April 25th, 2007
Rose ‘New Dawn’
Rose ‘New Dawn’
After losing almost half my roses to drought over the last 18 months, I feel the wheel of fortune has turned again. 2007 has been a boom year for roses in Austin. Among my own roses, I’m seeing a flush of flowers like I’ve never seen before. The vast number of flowers are weighing down the canes. You’d think we were in England or something. Driving around town, I see it’s the same all over. One block east of Congress on East Annie, a Travis Heights cottage has its front picket fence covered with roses. The roses in every garden I visited this weekend were spectacular.
Three of my roses, ‘Heritage’, ‘Blush Noisette’, and ‘New Dawn’ took the center stage last week. After six years, ‘New Dawn’ is tumbling over the front fence as if she’s modelling for a photo in a rose catalog. The very thorny, stiff canes spread ten feet in each direction. I’ve read that they can get 20 feet long.
The pale pink flowers have a modern pointed shape and are lightly fragrant. (Peter Beales describes it as “well-scented” in Classic Roses. I disagree. He also says ‘New Dawn’ “flowers freely from June to October”. In England, I guess.) They fade to ivory when past their prime. The leaves are a bright glossy green that turns russet after a frost. If you don’t prune the spent flowers, rose hips develop.
Introduced in 1930, ‘New Dawn’ is the everblooming sport of ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’ and the first rose patented in North America. Although the thought of plant patents now conjures up nightmares of Monsanto, after reading about the struggle of rose hybridists in For Love of a Rose, I understand better how important plant patenting is given that you can work for years developing a plant and anyone can stick it in the ground and propagate it.
Which is exactly what I did with ‘New Dawn’. Now I have three ‘New Dawn’ babies, one of which I managed to get planted last December. All three babies began blooming this year on April 22.
The question of whether ‘New Dawn’ is actually remontant keeps coming up on the net. Mine has one good flush in late April, and then a flower or two in the fall. Despite the weather (drought or flood, heat or cold) it is the one rose that always blooms at about the same time each year. Some people theorize that roses being sold today as ‘New Dawn’ have actually reverted to ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’. Others posit that it depends on climate and in Austin’s hot summers ‘New Dawn’ goes dormant. Still others say they have no problem getting repeat bloom as long as they deadhead.
That might be my problem. Of all my roses, ‘New Dawn’ is the one I find most difficult to prune…yes even harder than ‘Mermaid’. Or it could be that it gets too much shade. Mama ‘New Dawn’, which is planted between the pecan tree and the Texas Mountain laurels, gets blooming the week the pecan is leafing out and doesn’t do much the rest of the year. However, it listed as a rose that can tolerate some shade, performing well with as little as 4 to 5 hours of sunlight.
In 1997 ‘New Dawn’ was voted the most popular rose in the world at the 11th World Convention of Rose Societies. Do you grow it? Does it rebloom for you? If so, what are your summer temperatures like and how much sun does it get?
Zanthan Gardens History
Spend all day preparing the hole for ‘New Dawn’. First I dig in several wheelbarrows full of compost and clean out the remnants of lawn and weeds. The area is very wet, mucky, clay, both black and caliche. Few rocks, though and many earthworms. The clay is so heavy that I dig in a lot of peat moss, greensand, and cow manure. Then I put the 3×3 foot box that AJM made and fill it with Revitalizer to make a raised bed. Finally, I plant ‘New Dawn’.
‘New Dawn’ surprised me this morning with several perfect pink flowers about 3 inches across, somewhat flat but with a beautiful mounded center. The plant is sending out long shoots and I cut back the pecan tree and mulberry whips so that it would get some air and sun.
Top dressed with Revitalizer compost and then covered with Texas Native Hardwood Mulch.
Defoliated (a little) and pruned ‘New Dawn’. (Note: In Austin, where roses don’t lose their leaves during winter, stripping last year’s leaves encourages this year’s buds to sprout.)
Cut back and stripped ‘New Dawn’. Planted 3 canes to see if I can sprout them in the vegetable garden as directed by Reddell; two eyes above ground and two below.
First flower. Just one that I almost missed. It is leafing out well, but there are only a few flowers. Currently the pecan has not leafed out and started shading it yet.
Fed with bone meal.
Weeded around ‘New Dawn’. Worked half a bag of Dillo Dirt into the pine needle mulch which is mostly broken down. Watered well. ‘New Dawn’ is one of the few roses that has leaves which turn russet after a frost.
All three baby ‘New Dawn’ plants began blooming today. The original plant has been blooming since the week of March 19th, when we were in New York city. Now a month later, she’s covered in flowers looking better than I’ve ever seen her.
Cut ‘New Dawn’ out. She’s completely died, the victim of too much shade (from the pecan in the summer and the Texas mountain laurels in the winter) or too much drought. All the other roses in the front are doing well so I think it’s the shade more than the drought. One of the cuttings I struck from this plant is thriving in the back north border. The others I never got around to transplanting and ended up throwing out when I built the raised vegetable garden in Fall, 2008.
by M Sinclair Stevens in Austin, Texas