The South can be a paradox when it comes to growing things. Because we have such a long growing season, Spring usually comes in March, and we are often still harvesting tomatoes in October. While you might think that these would be ideal conditions, it can also be more than a little taxing on certain plants.
Southern summers bring hot and humid weather, with little to no cool-down at night. Most plants appreciate at least some break in the temperatures to recover, and since cooler temperatures are usually only a faint memory by July, a lot of items tend to look bedraggled and tired in the mid-summer months.
To make matters worse, all the humidity is perfect for nurturing fungal diseases which, especially on plants such as roses. This can lead to black spot, botrytis blight, and other nasty diseases.
However, we gardeners in South still insist (and persist!) on growing blooms that, while finicky, are worth the trouble when you get a gorgeous output. Take these yellow David Austin roses, Teasing Georgia (appropriately named), grown by the showroom Manager of Hawthorne House, Ron Alexander.
His secret? This year it was a long but cool spring and total neglect! Yes, even though roses can be tricky and particular – demanding the best soil, fertilizer, food and conditions – they can also be remarkably hearty. The gorgeous outpouring he had this year was testament to this.
Another trick that one of our colleagues has used to some degree of success is companion planting roses with tomatoes and onions. The roses like the onions and the tomatoes help deter blackspot. Sound dubious? She swears that the bushes that had "companions" last year did better than those without.
Rather like us humans, we thrive when surrounded by those we love and who love us back.