Lea Brit has had a lengthy career in advertising and marketing. She writes about color, design, plants and nature.

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The Rudiments Of Roses
by Lea Brit       #Flowers   #Pink   #Roses   #Yellow

Truly there are varieties available for even the most timid or inexperienced gardeners. All roses require some attention, but numerous types are more self sufficient, thriving for years with minimal care.

Fossil records date roses back 70 million years. Tolerant and adaptable, roses survived the ages when whole classes of plants and animals, like dinosaurs, disappeared. With man’s intervention, however, some of the more highly hybridized strains are somewhat difficult to grow.

Among the first cultivated flowers, the Latin name Rosa can be traced back to the Greek language. From ancient times, the colors, fragrances and beauty of roses so impressed people that they became the most popular and cherished flowers of Eurocentric cultures.

‘The Fairy’
Photo by David Liebman.

Choosing a Variety

The hardest aspect of growing roses may be selecting them – the choices are staggering. Hybridized and mass-produced roses come in whites, a rainbow of hues and reds so dark they are called “black.”

Blooms can be two-toned, multicolored, striped or shaded. Single with five flat petals, double or with many layers of velvety petals, rose flowers can have open centers, be closed or cabbage shaped.

Roses climb, ramble, trail and grow into bushes from miniature-sized to huge. They can be brilliant accents, background, blooming borders, masses of dramatic color or contentedly grown in containers for those with limited garden space.

Before procuring plants, research by walking or driving through your neighborhood or town and looking at roses. Stop and visit with gardeners. Ask which types grow best for them. Visit plant nurseries and consult their experts on recommendations suited to your hardiness zone, climate and soil conditions.

“Start small,” advises David Pike, president of Witherspoon Rose Culture. “Don’t buy too many plants at once and be willing to commit some time to them.”

Through crossbreeding, we have multitudes of roses. There are hundreds of varieties and strains available for gardens and cut flowers. Before investing time, money and energy, the most important steps are determining the best types of roses for you and your garden, and selecting healthy, high quality plants.


The Classifications

‘Graham Thomas’
  Photo by David Liebman.

Most popular are the tea roses, grown commercially for cut flowers. Originally from China, continual blooming hybrid teas are today’s “classic” roses with single, dramatic spiral-centered blooms on long stems. Unfortunately they are high maintenance and the most disease-prone type. A maintenance program with scheduled applications of insecticides and fungicides is necessary for most hybrid tea cultivars.

Floribundas produce clusters of flowers with smaller but more abundant blooms. Very popular, they bloom in flushes throughout the summer and are better for disease resistance and hardiness than the hybrid teas. Grandifloras have tea rose-shaped blooms on larger bushes with floribunda hardiness.

“Shrub roses are disease resistant, cold hardy and carefree,” Kris Kahn of Witherspoon suggests. “More of a landscape type, they don’t have to be sprayed with pesticides to keep them healthy and attractive.” Tough plants that will grow nearly everywhere, shrub roses are often used in public parks.

Climbing roses are conventional country favorites that take little work for continuous blooms. After establishing themselves, hardy climbers become a dependable garden mainstay yielding masses of blooms.

Heirloom, antique or old roses, according to the American Rose Society, were introduced before 1867. Many rose growers are more relaxed about the definition and consider any rose that’s over 75 years old with “heirloom” rose traits, such as a rich fragrance, to be classified as such.

Miniature roses with petite blossoms are delightful in pots. They flourish outdoors in rock gardens and as low borders.


Cultivating Beauty

‘Sally Holmes’
  Photo courtesy Weeks Roses.

Eye-catching standards or “rose trees” are elegant garden accents. With a single central cane and a clipped sphere of foliage, they need trimming and training on a regular basis. Standards are grafted and require a great amount of time to keep them attractive and healthy, although they do add height and structure to a landscape.

Roses can be purchased pruned down, bare-root or potted in containers. Often healthier, container roses are easier to establish and can be planted throughout the year, while dormant, bare-root plants can only be set out during the cooler months. They also require careful handling.

Don’t crowd roses. They like open, sunny areas and need six hours (at least) of full sun. All roses require attention regarding watering, weeding, mulching and fertilizing on a regular basis during their establishment period. They must have well-drained soil for continued health. Choosing healthy plants, providing ample sunshine and air circulation are your best preventive measures for pests and fungal diseases such as black spot, rust and powdery mildew

Prune to remove old wood, allowing light and air to reach all parts of the plant, thus producing more blooms and less disease. Deadheading – simply removing finished flowers – will encourage more growth and flowering.


Growing Bountiful Bouquets

‘Fourth of July’
Photo courtesy Weeks Roses.

Antique rose bowls are extremely beautiful when full of a bouquet of roses from one’s own garden. Nosegays of colorful blooms have been shared for centuries and are still a wonderful way to enjoy the richness of roses.

Ms. Naida Morrison of Bradenton, Florida, enjoys growing bouquets to share with others. Recently, she revealed her easy-care cut flower rose program to me.

About thirty years ago, she moved into a new home and started buying rose bushes. Instead of digging up the shuffleboard court to plant her roses, she put them into decorative pots and fertilized them – then shoved them out onto the court.

“I like floribundas and antique roses. I’ve had some of the bushes for years. When they get root-bound, I have them repotted. If one starts looking ragged, I prune it back, fertilize heavily and leave it alone. In a few weeks, it starts new growth.”

From bounteous, overgrown cottage gardens, to row houses or sleek ultra-modern, multi-level homes, there are roses that fit in every landscape. Beautiful in fresh arrangements or dried, they are excellent additions to any garden.

Enjoy and treasure your roses.


Recommendations from Witherspoon Rose Culture

‘Abraham Darby’, an English rose introduced in 1985 by David Austin, is a gorgeous shrub with peachy-pink, full, cabbage-type blooms.

‘Betty Boop’ Photo courtesy Weeks Roses.

‘Betty Boop’, introduced in 1999 by Weeks Roses, was an All-America Rose Selection that year. This fragrant floribunda flowers frequently with open, double, ivory blooms edged in red.

‘The Fairy’, a polyantha rose, was introduced in 1932 by Ann Bentall of England. This cultivar has clusters of small ruffled pink blooms that repeat all summer on a compact, hardy and disease-resistant shrub.

‘Fourth of July’, a Weeks Roses introduction, was a 1999 All-America Rose Selection. Classified as a large-flowered climber, it has fragrant flat blooms that explode with red and white stripes on dark green, disease-resistant foliage.

‘Graham Thomas’ was introduced by David Austin in 1983 in England. This rose has an open form and full yellow blooms on a vigorous, upright bush; can also be used as a low growing climber.

Knock Out, a 2000 All-America Selection, Double Knock Out and Pink Knock Out are from The Conard-Pyle Company. These shrub roses are all prized for their disease-resistant foliage, heat tolerance and abundant flowers.

‘New Dawn’, a repeat-blooming wichuraiana rambler, was patented in 1930 when the U.S. Plant Patent Act was passed, making it the first patented rose. ‘New Dawn’ has large, tight pale-pink blooms with a sweet fragrance and is very cold hardy and disease resistant.

‘Rio Samba’ debuted in 1993 and was recognized as an All-America Rose Selection the same year. This hybrid tea has medium-sized blooms in festive tones of gold to orange, blushed with red.

‘Sally Holmes’ is a shrub rose that was introduced in 1976 by Robert A. Holmes in England. Many gardeners grow this vigorous cultivar as a climber. ‘Sally Holmes’ has huge clusters of single white blooms, performs well in heat and is disease resistant.

‘Sun Flare’, introduced in 1981 by Jackson and Perkins, was an All-America Rose Selection in 1983. The blooms are bright yellow, multi-petaled with a light licorice fragrance. This is a highly disease-resistant, extremely hardy, cluster-flowered floribunda.


Posted: 11/03/11   RSS | Print


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