Despite the general public’s growing interest in
tougher plants, both the ARS and All-American Rose Selections continue to push a "simply irresponsible ideal for roses" – the hybrid teas and other
"modern roses" that require chemical intervention. This then influences
what large sellers like Jackson & Perkins offer and what rosarians
buy, no matter
how poorly the damn plants perform. More from Barrie: "Oh yes, I realize the American Rose Society has done some
good, and certainly they are an admirable bunch (if one’s value system
is circa 1920). Another mint julep, Jeeves."
BETTER ROSES FOR ROSE-LOVERS
being practically a rose ignoramus myself, I had to consult the expert to learn that there are many OLD ROSES that are easy to grow, disease
resistant, and graceful in form (not lanky, scraggly-looking hybrid teas). Many will have 2 or 3 flushes 6 weeks apart, some
only one flush. Barrie suggests
buying from breeders that value toughness and disease resistance, like
the "awesome" Antique Rose Emporium, with a selection that will
take our breath away. He then couldn’t resist recommending just two: Gruss an Aachen and Souvenir de la Malmaison.
One kinda bright
spot has been the huge popularity of David Austin and Griffin Buck
roses, breeders with a cult-like following among rosarians. Though many of
their roses have better than traditional resistance, their
performance in nonEnglish climates is spotty, as evidenced by the
failure of the two Davis Austins tried in my Maryland garden.
GREAT ROSES FOR THE REST OF US
I’ve always figured I couldn’t be a serious rose-grower because I loathe spraying.
Even if it were harmless it would rival tax preparation for my least fun thing to do. And maybe that’s why rose gardens are
pretty rare in this country compared to countries with more avid
gardening cultures, like England, because they take dedication. I do like shrubs though – no surprise there! – and
while technically roses are all shrubs, the hybrid teas would stand out in my
garden as the pitiful-looking plants they really are. But in the last few years mass marketers have begun leaving the old-school rosarians at the country
club door and are making big bucks off "landscape" or "modern
shrub" roses that are first and foremost, good-looking plants (screw
the flowers; give me a good looking plant), are truly
disease-resistant, and will play well with other plants in the garden.
To recommend some great-looking and
easy-care landscape or modern shrub roses, I consulted Angela
Treadwell-Palmer, rose expert with the National Arboretum. She’s on a
mission is to "Free the Roses – From the Rose Garden." Yeah, it’s
those miserable-looking rose gardens we want to leave to the history
books! For roses that fit into the rest of your garden, try her
favorites: The Fairy, Meidilands, Knockouts, Simple Gifts, Polar Ice,
Carefree Wonder, Carefree Delight. On the whole she believes that
Knockouts perform better than the Carefree group and the public must
agree because Knockouts are outselling hotcakes.
And surprise –
there are some that can take "heaps of shade." They won’t bloom as
profusely but they’re such prolific bloomers that even in shade there’s still plenty of
flowers. Angela recommends
Meidiland roses (especially fuschia), Polar Ice and Double Knockout for
Washington Post writer Adrien
Higgins has a few of favorites to add to this list: Carefree Beauty, Bonica, and Sunrise Sunset. And
I hasten to include the 18-inch-tall Flower Carpet, which
is the single most popular rose variety in history (now comprising 10
percent of the market). Here it is in mid-August, still blooming its
heart out, and its disease- and drought-resistance are amazing. It sold 12.5 million in first year on the market.
Finally, let’s never forget the fabulous rugosa roses, which thrive in cold and
hot climates alike, need only ½-day sun, and tolerate salt. It’s the only rose seen regularly on plant lists for xeriscapes,
which speaks volumes, and unlike the landscape roses listed
above, it’s powerfully fragrant. The only drawback (to some) is
their limited repeat and their less-than-delicate appearance.
the really good news is that the general gardening public is finally
being offered good-looking, problem-free roses, and they’re snatching them
up by the millions. For serious rosegrowers, on the other hand, not so
much. Still with the spraying, American Rose Society? Let’s follow
Barrie’s suggestion and give them a good smacking around.