The Spring Lake Garden Club named the Dominguez's home on Patricia Drive in Sunset Acres as the March Yard of the Month. Along the front curb of their home, roses ring the yard. Photos courtesy of Spring Lake Garden Club
'Everything is coming up roses'
Winter weather in Central Texas makes finding a yard of the month a real challenge, so a front yard with more than two dozen rose bushes, all in bloom, was a welcome surprise to Spring Lake Garden Club’s search committee. Our honoree for March 2019 is the home of Rene and Silvia Dominguez on Patricia Drive in the Sunset Acres neighborhood. Built in the 1970s, homes in this area featured generous lots attractive to gardeners.
Like many who have settled in San Marcos, Silvia Dominguez came here about eight years ago for a visit with a cousin and decided to make the town her new home. Three years ago, she and husband jumped at the chance to buy a sturdy but abandoned house and refurbish it as their home. Their property and the next-door yard included a few examples of old garden roses, which bloom profusely in a range of colors, and they soon realized the value and beauty of these neglected bushes. Near the front curb, the couple added a line of popular Knockout roses, first introduced in 2000, which are also reliable bloomers requiring little care. Now Rene Dominguez is the gardener for the entire collection, including some in the neighbors’ yard. Because of its location near the highway and commercial properties, browsing deer avoid the area, so roses can grow without special protection.
After a wet winter, this rose bush blooms even before spring begins.
Silvia Dominguez’s friend and master naturalist Judy Telford noted that roses are best fed by adding compost to the soil and mulching roots well to keep them moist and cool during hot weather. Feeding roses with commercial rose fertilizers, including large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, often encourages leaf growth instead of blooms. Watering deeply by hand with a garden hose during very dry weather is all the attention roses need to produce blossoms if they have sufficient sunshine. Last year they cut back the rose canes in late October and early November, but ample winter rains encouraged new growth and blossoms now, even before spring has officially arrived.
The American Rose Society applies the term “old rose” to rose varieties introduced prior to 1867, when the hybrid tea rose was bred. Most roses bloomed for a limited time only once a year, although a few were remondant, or able to flower on both old and new growth. Around 1792 a repeat flowering rose from China was introduced into Europe, and these imports crossfertilized with old roses to produce highly desirable plants which bloom for much longer periods of time. When and for how long roses, both old and modern, bloom in the complex environments of Central Texas may be a continuing conversation among local gardeners.
A deep red rose opens, surrounded by other buds preparing to bloom.
“Deadheading” or removing spent or withered blossoms is optional for modern shrub roses, but this practice can benefit the plants in many ways. Once old blooms are removed, the rose plant can direct energy towards new growth and flowers instead of producing seeds if pollinated. In addition to increasing blooming, removing dead material may also decrease problems with pests or diseases, as the plant structure is opened up for better air circulation and sunlight. Deadheading spent flowers can be done minimally, simply removing blooms on the end of branches, or also removing the upper part of branches so that new blooms form closer to the plant’s roots and are therefore likely to be larger than buds near the top of the plant.
Other plantings in the Dominguez's front yard include a handsome magnolia tree, its glossy green leaves offering a central focus in front of the house, a large gardenia bush, and a crape myrtle waiting to leaf out. A small bed of tradescantia with deep purple and green leaves hugs the house foundation and will spread vigorously once winter gives way to spring and the roses bloom with new vigor.
The color of pale orange or apricot roses contrasts with more common red hues.