December 25th, 2008
Week 52: Christmas Day Roses

photo: Christmas rose
2008-12-25. Roses blooming on Christmas Day in Austin, TX. ‘New Dawn’

Dateline: 2008
Two out of three of my ‘New Dawn’ roses have been flowering all December. The flower above is from a bud I didn’t see and pick before our last hard freeze. It survived and opened but you can see from the brown spots that it is frost damaged.

After the droughts of 2006 and 2008, I don’t have very many roses left in my garden. The David Austin ‘Heritage’ rose which was blooming on Christmas Day 2007 died. However, ‘Blush Noisette’ is still going strong, blooming in what passes for cold in central Texas but also doing well in Austin’s summer heat. This Christmas Day her flowers are either bud or blown.
photo: Christmas rose
‘Blush Noisette’

I’m bending the rules this year to show you my newest amaryllis, ‘Amoretta’. It opened about a week ago and has had to be protected from two hard freezes and then be immediately uncovered as temperatures soared into the 70s. As such it is a bit battered. I notice with roses that cold weather tends to intensify colors and I wonder if this is true with this amaryllis or whether this is its true color.
photo: Christmas amaryllis
Amaryllis ‘Amoretta’

Dateline: 2007
photo: Christmas roses
2007-12-25. Roses blooming on Christmas Day in Austin, TX. ‘Blush Noisette’
This has been a very good year for December roses throughout Austin. Two light freezes, last weekend and this, haven’t damaged the roses much especially those growing in a protected area along walls or privacy fences. The white flowered China rose, ‘Ducher’, is my only rose that is covered with flowers. Looking over my history below, I see that ‘Ducher’ and ‘Blush Noisette’ are my most reliable Christmas roses. Around town ‘Mutabilis’ also seems to do very well in this cooler weather.

photo: Christmas roses
2007-12-25. ‘Ducher’ is the only rose in full bloom; the snowy white against the red of the nandina berries is about as close to Christmas colors as we get in Austin.

The freezing night temperatures intensify the colors of ‘Heritage’. The flowers also opens more slowly last longer than in spring or summer.

photo: Christmas roses
2007-12-25. Another flower opened on ‘Heritage’; this one is a little smaller and more ragged than the one that opened for GBBD.

The downside to winter roses is that the buds are vulnerable.
photo: Christmas roses
2007-12-25. Freeze-dried buds on ‘Blush Noisette’.

The ‘New Dawn’ rose that I started from a cutting has a bud.

photo: Christmas roses
2007-12-25. A cane of ‘New Dawn’ has sprawled across the pinks; this bud didn’t quite make it open for Christmas Day…but we have 12 days left of Christmas.

Dateline: 2006
Rain on Christmas Eve ushers in a cold front. One of the ‘New Dawn’ cuttings in the vegetable garden has a single flower. A few blooms on ‘Blush Noisette’ remain. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is putting out a lot of bud growth.

Dateline: 2005
Although Christmas Day was sunny and warm (high 74F), no roses are blooming this year. The hard freeze we had the first week of December is partially to blame, but the biggest factor is the continuing drought.

I’ve lost several roses this year: “Caldwell Pink“, ‘Souvenir de St Anne’s‘ and ‘Gruss an Aachen’. The last two were among my latest additions to the garden and apparently not well enough established to handle the stress.

Dateline: 2002
It was in the 70s and muggy on the 23rd, then cold, cloudy and windy on the 24th. Christmas Eve was a midnight clear, the temperatures hovering at freezing. But Christmas Day dawned cold and sunny–a slight frost on the ground but nothing to harm the roses. Christmas Roses Photo Gallery

Dateline: 2001
Although it was in the seventies this weekend, the forecast for last night and tonight was upper twenties, so we prepared for a hard freeze. We brought in the potted plants and covered what garden plants we could with floating row covers.

I picked all the rose buds: ‘French Lace’, ‘Madam Joseph Schwartz’, ‘Caldwell Pink’, ‘Heritage’, and ‘Blush Noisette’. ‘French Lace’ steals the show with two perfect buds that opened into two perfect flowers. The cabbage rose is ‘Madam Joseph Schwartz’.
photo: Christmas rose
2001-12-25. Roses blooming on Christmas Day in Austin, TX.

by M Sinclair Stevens

13 Responses to post “Week 52: Christmas Day Roses”

  1. From Carol:

    How wonderful to see your notes from year to year and to have roses blooming for Christmas.

    Happy New Year,
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

    Happy New Year. It’s great having Christmas roses. Now I have to get some more that can stand the heat of our summers. — mss

  2. From Pam/Digging:

    The buds on my front-garden roses have all been nipped in recent days, but the back-garden roses are going strong. I think the front ones will rebound with new buds if our pleasant weather continues.

    Everything was covered with frost this morning and I thought we must have had a hard freeze overnight. But the weather report says we touched down at 32.0 for just a short while. When the first freezes roll in, I always carefully bring plants in and cover up tender ones. But then after a few weeks I become careless. “Eh. It’s not going to get that cold tonight, is it?” That’s when I get in trouble. — mss

  3. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    Well, that’s not the 1st thing that comes to mind when I hear “Christmas Rose,” but they are a welcome sight. That Blush Noisette is equisite! As I have no roses of my own, I especially enjoy seeing photos of roses. Happy 12 Days of Christmas!

  4. From Pam:

    My Heritage has been beautiful lately too – I just like that rose more and more. I still have a number in bloom, but ‘rumors’ have it that we might have a serious freeze one Wed or Thurs of next week, which might zap all of the buds that have been enjoying the recent warm days and cool nights. I do love roses blooming in December!

    I hope that your having a happy holiday.

  5. From Dee/reddirtramblings:

    Ah, roses in December and not in memory. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  6. From Angelina:

    One of the few things I miss about California are roses at Christmas. My roses are a big scraggly mess. I can’t prune them this early or they could get frost damage so they are just languishing. I did get a tiny bowl of rose hips from them though.

  7. From Bonnie, Austin:

    Great pictures and beautiful flowers. I have many of the same color palettes in my roses. Do you ever want to break out and go with totally different colors? I find myself coveting some deep reds and even salmon colors lately.

    Hmmm…hard question. When choosing roses, my first criteria is scent, I think. I don’t do a very good job of coordinating colors in my garden (or my house or my dress). So I’m willing to grow something even if the colors don’t match other plants if there’s a good reason for me to grow it. But there are definitely a lot of colors I don’t fancy in roses (hot pink, bright oranges, orange-tinted reds, lavender). I surprised myself this year by really falling in love with orange cosmos, given that I don’t typically like orange. — mss

  8. From Karen, Savannah:

    Do you have other David Austin roses, mss? I’ve got Heritage. Love the flower, but find the plant a bit leggy. I’ve been wondering what to try next.

    I also find ‘Heritage’ to be a bit leggy. I don’t have any other David Austin roses, yet. My two bushiest roses, which look good even without flowers, are ‘Ducher’ and ‘Blush Noisette’. — mss

  9. From Kathy:

    I guess I’m getting kind of used to seeing your roses and narcissus blooming when my garden soil is frozen solid. I still remember how amazed I was to see it the first time. I wondered if it was a hoax at first, especially since they were blooming together, which would never happen here.

  10. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    Roses in the garden at Christmas time, in spite of the drought and the freezes, how wonderful!

  11. From Jenny Austin:

    To have roses at Christmas is a wonderful treat, especially after frost has hit. I remember our Christmas rose in England was the Hellebore. It often appeared on the English Christmas card along with the robin. I haven’t seen it in Austin.
    Are you excited by a New Year of gardening? I am.

  12. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    Some roses are still blooming even here up in Fort Worth and we’ve had a couple 20-ish degree freezes. The Knockout Roses are especially vibrant (although I know its a landscape rose, not for cutting flowers).

  13. From Amy:

    This is so incredible to me…roses in December and amaryllis blooming outdoors! I love my hometown, but this just about tempts me to want to move to Austin 🙂