Top Climbing Rose Suggestions

Cecile Brunner rose. Image: Malcolm Manners.

Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’. Image: Malcolm Manners.

My post last week on our two hardy if unimaginative climbing rose choices, ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Iceberg’, prompted several reader suggestions for other climbing roses. Some backed up both ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Iceberg’ for their reliability. But our readers had great ideas for other vigorous climbing roses:

Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’
The top suggestion was Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’. Reader Linda T. says, “The flower is tiny, like a mini rose, and soft pink fading to dusty pink. Ah. But the scent? Peppery-spice rose. Quite unique (my opinion). It flowers in giant clumps. Best feature? It makes divine rose hips for tea. It grows quickly and in my yard, tolerates some shade without loss of either bloom or scent.” Commentor P seconded Cécile Brünner, adding that they are, “nice 10ft tall screens between our yard and the neighbors, are evergreen, have handled numerous fierce windstorms without a hitch, and are currently blooming sweet little pink flowers everywhere.” Rachel adds, “It has the most beautiful little pink flowers (at least they’re little here in Phoenix) and when I open the back door I can smell them from across the yard.”

Rosa ‘Altissimo’ and ‘Mermaid’

Rosa Altissimo. Image: Wikimedia.

Rosa ‘Altissimo’. Image: Wikimedia.


Rosa ‘Mermaid’. Image: Wikimedia.

Ivette S. says, “I have a thing for single roses, so my favorite climbers are Rosa ‘Altissimo’, a gorgeous true red with beautiful yellow stamens in the open center, and Rosa ‘The Mermaid’ – a huge rambling climber that will grow anywhere. Both have their major bloom in the spring, and then a sporadic showing through the year. Such gorgeous plants, with lovely leaves too.”

New Dawn

New Dawn climbing rose. Image: Wikimedia.

Rosa ‘New Dawn’. Image: Wikimedia.

Amanda asked for a suggestion for a rose that will tolerate the wet climate of the Pacific Northwest. Skye responded with Rosa ‘New Dawn’, “My parents live on Galveston Bay and they have a New Dawn climbing rose that is gorgeous and vigorous, it takes wet conditions, hurricane winds, salt spray, humidity and heat and still looks gorgeous.”

Responding to a request for a very long climbing rose, reader Lori B. suggests Rosa ‘Felicite et Perpetue’ but notes that they are hard to find in the U.S. If any reader knows a good source for ‘Felicite et Perpetue’ in the U.S., please leave a comment. And, lastly, in my post last week I forgot to mention that ‘Don Juan’ produces moderate sized hips while ‘Iceberg’ makes tiny ones.

Saturday Tweets: A Week of Strange Links

Los Angeles Announces Separated Bike Lanes on Sunset Boulevard


Sunset Boulevard is about to get a major makeover. Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell announced today the installation of fully separated bike lanes along the iconic boulevard. The project will connect Echo Park with Hollywood and make it safer for residents to bike to Metro Red line stations along this busy corridor. City planners estimate that the resulting switch from cars to bikes for short trips will cut everybody’s travel time, resulting in a win-win for both cyclists and motorists.

He also spoke of additional positive outcomes. “Finally our children will be able to safely ride their bikes to school, or to visit the local ice cream shop,” said O’Farrell.  Signalling the end of a hundred years of car-centric planning, O’Farrell’s links the new bike lanes with his goal to lessen the devastating impact of climate change and end the U.S’s dependence on fossil fuels.  He added, “It’s no coincidence we’re fighting wars in the Middle East.”


Current bike lane conditions on Sunset: narrow and often blocked.

Funding will come from two unique sources: fines for owners of illegal billboards and film companies caught blocking bike lanes without a permit. “I’m happy to be killing two birds with one stone on this one,” said O’Farrell.

Announcing Our New Solar Cooking Initiative


Last December, when the summer heat finally subsided, I decided that since Los Angeles has become the capital of the planet Arrakis, we may as well as make hay with the sunshine. I decided to learn how to cook in a solar oven, and more than that, I wanted to learn how to do it really well.

We have made and used and written about solar cookers here,  and here, which are reflective surrounds for a cooking pots, and which can be quite effective under the right circumstances, but we’d never played with a solar oven, which is, in its basic form, an insulated box with a clear lid. Solar ovens reach higher temperatures than cookers, and can be used in less ideal conditions. But we’d never invested in a solar oven because they are rather pricey, especially for an unknown quantity. Would they really work? Could we make good food in one? I certainly didn’t want to spend a couple of hundred bucks on an oversized rice cooker.

Wait! I almost forgot. We do have a solar oven in our garage! And if I don’t mention it, the Internet will make me a liar. Erik posted on it back in 2013. He was gifted a Sundiner, which is a 60’s era solar oven. We never use it because, being a product of the 60’s, it has a very small, shallow cooking box, suited only for cooking hot dogs and frozen dinners.

So, anyway, being cheap and not fond of TV dinners, I decided to make a proper, box-style solar oven (there are a lot of DIY plans out there) and test it out come the equinox, when the days are longer and the sun a little higher. Then, just as I was about to start construction, the good folks at a sun oven company called Solavore contacted us and offered to loan us their oven, the Solavore Sport, for an extended trial period. It was one of those moments where the universe seemed to be conspiring to help us along, so I answered, “Funny you should offer…”

A few happy emails later, and now we have a shiny new Solavore Sport to explore. In the spirit of DIY, I will still make an oven later this summer and report back on that process, and I will also run a comparison between the commercial oven and the homemade oven and see how they stack up.

But my primary goal in this season of solar cooking is to figure out whether, if properly used, a solar cooker can create meals of the same quality as those I turn out with my kitchen stove. Not “It’s not bad for solar” but “Hey….this is scrumptious!” More than that, I want to figure out what solar ovens do better than real ovens. I want to master the vocabulary of solar cooking.

I figure the learning curve is going to be high–it’s like having to learn how to cook all over again–but I’m excited to have the Solavore Sport on hand for these experiments, because I can focus on the cooking itself instead troubleshooting my construction techniques.

Throughout this short winter I’ve been looking at fusty old solar cookbooks from the library and poking about on the Internet for inspiration, and frankly, most of what I found has been pretty bleak. A lot of the recipes seem outdated or just out of step with what Erik and I like to cook and eat. But, in all my looking somehow I never stumbled on the Solavore website. It turns out they have an attractivecollection of solar recipes, so that is where we will be starting out.

I’m calling this series Solar Oven Summer, and no, I do not find the acronym S.O.S. pessimistic. And yes, it is summer here now, as far as I’m concerned. We’ll tag all these posts so you can find them all at once. In our next post we’ll take a close look at the Solavore Sport, and then we’ll begin learning how to use it, one recipe at a time.

Are any of you solar chefs? Any advice? Horror stories? Favorite resources?

Douglas Rushkoff on How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity


In lieu of an episode of our podcast this week, (I’m still debating whether to post every week or every other week) I thought I’d point to this inspiring lecture by media thoughtstylist Douglas Rushkoff. You simply must listen to this talk, entitled “How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity,” and let us know what you think!

The lecture is an indictment of the cult of individualism, the false promises of the “sharing” economy and the extractive mentality of “platform monopolies” like Uber and Facebook. Rushkoff’s sincerity and enthusiasm is infectious. Speaking of the hyper-rich class of CEOs he says, “They’re doing evil in their companies so they can have a goat share and send their kids to Rudolf Steiner school. But why not make the world a place where you would want your kids to actually be?”

Rushkoff shows us how we can get out of this mess and into that world we want our kids to live in, though cooperation, by working on a small scale and through developing tools that use the promise of the sharing economy to lift all boats rather than make a few people in Silicon Valley rich.