Rosa 'Just Joey'
'Just Joey' is a rose I completely forget about most of the year. It takes the entire summer off, not growing an inch, not blooming. The unchanging foliage looks increasingly tired (though rarely diseased) as the summer wears on and I avert my eyes, drawn to those roses who work all summer. Come the beginning of September, 'Joey' wakes up, produces a couple of large, perfect flowers that quickly droop in the still-hot September weather, and then retires again. There may be another two or three huge blooms for Christmas, nothing more.
Spring is the glory of this rose. It is always slightly earlier than nearly every other rose in the garden, and produces perhaps a couple dozen huge, perfect flowers. The follow-up flush of bloom in late May is nearly as good, sometimes better. Then it is vacation time.
A mature plant, ten years old:
'Just Joey' is a fairly old cultivar (1972). It endures because there are few roses so large yet so delicately colored. There is a good fragrance, though not powerful, just sweet. This is a satisfyingly short grower. Most Hybrid Tea roses get so tall in southern California that by Summer's end, you must look up and reach to see a flower. This is one that does not get too tall, staying under 5 feet (1.75 M). It also holds its foliage fairly low to the ground, so short companion plants work well at its feet.
I find every Spring I pick a few 'Just Joey' flowers for the vase to admire their perfection. I may spend more time looking at a single individual 'Just Joey' flower than I spend glancing at the roses that produce lavishly all summer. Yet I think hard about digging it up every fall when I realize it hasn't produced a flower since June. But fall is too hot here to be digging in the garden, and by the time it is cool enough, it's almost time for 'Just Joey' to bloom again. Then digging it up becomes impossible--I need that spring beauty, and forget about the averted eyes of summertime.