I've known Bob Clinard in many of his incarnations - first as a landscaper, second as an employee at an antique store and now, for the last twenty years, as manager of a major airline's club for first and business class passengers (actually, I only know of him in this capacity, as I've rarely been in such a lounge). All of this time, he has been a keen gardener.
In the early years, when he worked on a project at my house, he generously shared some of his aunt's light blue irises with me. Next, he called to say that he was making a garden at a commercial property on a busy street. What he did was phenomenal and a traffic stopper. I still have a slide of some gorgeous 'Bonica' roses next to a picket fence. Underneath was a row of a special verbena Bob had discovered, an interesting hybrid he named 'Dorothy Burton' after his grandmother. Bob also grew hollyhocks, the seeds of which were said to have come from Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Wisconsin. For the large flower garden outside the antiques store, Bob won a Clean City Award.
Bob's latest garden at his home is a showcase for his collection of David Austin roses. He makes his selections based on a rose's heat and humidity tolerance. He also considers fragrance. His favorites include 'Teasing Georgia' (a lovely apricot; very double), 'Othello' (deep pink, and also the English rose form) and 'Pat Austin', the magnificent orange rose pictured above.
Bob says he amends the soil for his roses with mushroom compost and a garden mix from a local landscape supplier. He tries to use mostly organic fertilizer and fungus control for the roses and the entire garden, where he also grows lots of cheerful sun-loving flowers and bulbs.
I took the above photograph in early May when the roses were at their peak. "The bugs and heat have not been kind to the roses this year," says Bob. "The prime time is spring, but they will get better with the cooler weather coming."