Thursday, May 04, 2006

Beautiful Easy Roses

A lot of people don't grow roses because these beautiful blooming shrubs have a well-earned reputation for being fussy. They are attractive to insects, black spot and mildew, they require frequent fertilizing and pruning and they often die over the winter if the weather gets too cold.
All of the criticisms are valid if you are growing the wrong type of roses. Hybrid tea roses, the ones with the beautiful fragrant flower shop blossoms, the ones with names like "Princess Diana" and "Peace," are the fussy ones that need the extra tender loving care.
But the new trend in rose growing is to return to the more cold hardy, disease-resistant, low maintenance roses that are even more beautiful and often just as fragrant as any dolled-up hybrid tea.
And now is the time of year when people should be ripping out their problem roses, replacing them with easy-care varieties and pruning the good ones they already have. Early spring is the best time plop your new roses in the ground and give them a trim when they are still dormant, well before the leaves begin to form. Now is also when lawn and garden centers will have the best selections of roses and before the mail order catalogues are all sold out.
Anyone can grow a rose bush as long as they have a somewhat protected, well-drained site that receives at least six hours of sunshine each day. Roses don't grow well in windy and dry conditions, they don't like soggy soil and they don't like shade.
If you want glorious flowers for your landscape or a delicate bouquet for the table, and if you prefer to spend your time admiring your roses rather than sweating over them, I advise you to grow the newly rediscovered old-fashioned looking shrub and climbing roses that are now widely available.
Here's a list of the easy-care roses you will enjoy:
Rugosa roses
are best known in many people's minds as the beach roses along coastal New England. They are cold hardy even in Canada, they are fragrant, bloom all summer long and produce rose hips for the birds in fall on shrubs that will grow four to five feet tall.
Some of the prettiest rugosa roses include 'F.J. Grootendorst,' 'Hansa,' 'Therese Bugnet,''Henry Hudson,' 'Blanc Double de Courbert,' 'Fru Dagmar Hastrop,' and many more.
'Betty Prior' is a cold-hardy floribunda rose, which mean they produce clusters of blossoms on bushy shrubs. This variety is also quite resistant to black spot and mildew. It will grow four to five feet tall and produce pink flowers all summer long. "Carefree Wonder" and "Bonica' are two reliably ever- blooming, disease-resistant shrub roses that will easily survive our coldest winters. They both produce medium-pink clusters of beautiful roses.
English roses are a new line of old-fashioned looking and often quite fragrant roses developed over the last 20 years by breeder David Austin. They have blended the voluptuous charm and old roses including damask and gallica and the vigor and repeat blooming of modern hybrids.
They are reasonably resistant to powdery mildew and black spot and they are cold hardy to all but the most mountainous locations in the New York metropolitan area.
There is no doubt they are incredibly beautiful with old- world names like ‘Cottage Rose,'‘Brother Cadfael,'‘English Elegance,' ‘Fair Bianca' and many more.
For really small garden spaces people should think about growing "The Fairy' a 2-foot-tall polyantha rose bush that is covered with small, light pink flowers from June until late September.
Climbing roses can add great dimension to a small urban garden by rambling up on flower-packed canes that can reach 20 feet long. All you need is sunlight and a sturdy support like a trellis or an arbor. Two of the very best easy care climbing roses are ‘New Dawn' and ‘Climbing Cecil Brunner,'
Once you are ready to plant your rose, be sure to dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the root system of the plant. This gives you room to really spread out the roots.
You are going to plant the rose about one inch deeper in the whole than it was in the nursery for a potted rose, and for a bare root rose, deep enough so the beginning of the root system is one inch below surface level. This depth helps protect the root system from winter cold.
Place a bare root rose on a little mound of soil in the bottom of the hole, spread the roots out, set the plant so the crown is one inch below ground level.
Barely cover the roots with soil and fill the hole with water. Fill in the hole with the remaining soil and firm down with your hands to get rid of any air pockets. Water your roses once a week for the first year and as needed after that. Try not to get the leaves wet as this can promote the growth of fungal disease.
For new and existing roses, spread a handful of Epsom salts (a good source of magnesium) and a handful of natural organic fertilizer at the base of each rose bush in early June. Spread a two to four inch thick layer of compost or composted manure around the bush and the bulk of your maintenance duties are complete.
All of the roses I mentioned are resistant to the two main rose diseases of black spot and powdery mildew. If you have these diseases with your existing roses, spray them with a sulfur-based fungicide from a catalogue or garden center or with a homemade solution of one tablespoon baking soda, one tablespoon ordinary liquid dish soap and one gallon of water.
Bugs are another matter. Aphids and Japanese beetles are roses' two biggest insect enemies. Insecticidal soap and Neem, both available in garden centers and catalogues, are quite effective. Lady bugs feast on aphids and I enjoy controlling Japanese beetles by paying my kids to pick the bugs off by hand and stomping on them or dropping them into a container of soapy water.
Roses need a little pruning every year to remove dead canes, control their size and to promote good flowering. Prune in early spring when the forsythia is in bloom by cutting out any crossing branches and by snipping off up to a third of any canes length by making a cut 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud.
Good sources of roses include: The Roseraie at Bayfields, P.O. Box R, Waldoboro, ME 04572-0919, 207-832-6330,; David Austin Roses Ltd., 15393 Highway 64 West, Tyler , TX 75704, 903-526-1800 (Catalogue $5) or; Wayside Gardens, 1 Garden Lane, Hodges, SC 26965, 800-845-1124,
If you cannot decide which roses to grow, you should without a doubt visit two of the finest rose gardens in the world: The Cranford Rose Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden.

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