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The Monsters of 2013.

Of course, I'm referring to our roses. While it's been disappointing to see roses that thrived last year (Evelyn, Enchanted Autumn, Iobelle) not doing as well, some roses have been displaying disturbing vigor over the past few months and are now huge.

In 2013, with our cool, rainy June and extremely hot July, the roses that have grown the most are Polareis, Mariannes 1 and 2, Umbra, Crown Princess Margareta, Darcey Bussell and both Duc de Guiches. Heritage has also been doing very well. Simon Estes has produced a bazillion buds for its next flush, and Quietness has filled out nicely, too.

I'm considering getting another Quietness and Prairie Star for next year. Prairie Star blooms a little better than Quietness, but Quietness has better foliage and doesn't attract thrips like PS. Still, both roses are very attractive landscape plants.

Now that I have a few red Austin roses, here are some opinions:

LD Braithwaite: not so great bloom form, no fragrance, great as cut flower

William Shakespeare 2000: consistently gorgeous flowers with weak stems, nice fragrance, TINY plant though it is growing steadily

Darcey Bussell: very strong grower, very good repeat, flowers of somewhat inconsistent shape ranging from double to perfect, flat rosettes

I think the best red I have is probably Darcey Bussell, but WS2000's flowers are pretty terrific.