July is a brutal month for most perennials. It is also the time when even the most floriferous of roses will take a break from putting on impressive displays. My favorite rose, Rainbow Knock Out, is not spared this intermission; during this past July, I was finally able to witness how it coped with the temporary transformation brought on by the heat of summer. It was not a pretty sight and my observations might help to explain why this otherwise amazing rose bush is not popular anymore with garden center owners.
The first image demonstrates how beautiful this bush can be in the temperate weather of early summer.
The second image shows what it looks like in July. By then, the vivid coral blooms fade to white and the shimmering gold centers turn brown. My rose bush maintained this less-than attractive, white and brown appearance during the entire month of July and began to revert back to its coral glory only in August.
One may correctly presume that a prospective consumer, browsing through a nursery in July, might not be drawn to a plant putting on such a faded display. The “shelf-space” occupied by any plant is critical to encouraging customers to shop and this rose cannot “pull its own weight” when it looks so tepid. If I were a nursery owner, I, too, would be eager to replace this rose with a more attractive-looking plant.
So, what does this mean for the gardener who adores this rose, in spite of its shortcomings? Rainbow Knock Out will work just fine when it is planted among, and surrounded by, colorful July-blooming plants. Its faded appearance might be mistaken for an anonymous white perennial inserted into a garden composition; it will hardly be noticed. Conversely, do not plant this rose all by itself, as a specimen, because that is when its shortcomings become blatant.
This is the third time that I post about Rainbow Knock Out Rose. Some readers might erroneously believe that I have a vested interest in the marketing of this plant. Therefore, in full disclosure, I report that, because I live in Canada, I have no opportunity to either receive any freebies from American growers [who ship awesome plants across the border to my suppliers], nor am I able to enjoy the company of their public relations representatives at garden writers’ conventions. Since blogging is a labor of love, I cannot justify the expenses associated with attending these events. I pay for my own plants and write about them whenever they enchant or inspire me.
P.S. Since I first wrote this post, Eileen, who garden blogs at Gatsby's Gardens has reported on her site that her Rainbow plant grows rather large and that, after the first bloom, she has contained its volume by shearing it down a size or two without affecting its floriferousnes.