TC Conner has seen 15 gardening seasons come and go in western Pennsylvania. He grew up in south-central Kentucky, cutting his gardening teeth in the red clay soils of the Green River valley. He moved to Mercer, Pennsylvania in 1988, and after his marriage to Maureen Goldscheitter in 1991 the couple decided it was time to start their own gardening tradition. TC writes a weekly gardening column published in two local newspapers and is a contributing writer for Pennsylvania Gardener magazine. For a copy of his new book Through the Seasons with The Write Gardener send an email to:

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Roses are Our Favorites
by TC Conner       #Flowers   #Pink   #Roses

Conard-Pyle's Knock Out™ series of roses are disease resistant and easy-care, making them perfect for sidewalks and backyard gardens.

It’s been New York’s state flower since 1955, Georgia declared it as their emblematic flower in 1916, North Dakota and Iowa calls it their flower, and Ronald Reagan officially made it our national flower on November 20, 1986. In his proclamation the President had these words to say regarding the rose: “For the love of man and woman, for the love of mankind and God, for the love of country, Americans who would speak the language of the heart do so with a rose.”

A 2000 All-America Rose Selections® Winner, the Knock Out® rose has grown in popularity due to its disease resistance and is widely used in commercial landscapes and home gardens.

Considered by many to be one of the most elegant and beautiful flowers, the rose just might be the queen of all flowering plant genera. Fossil evidence indicates species of roses dating from the Oligocene era, some 35 million years ago, so they’ve had plenty of time to work their way up through the lowly ranks to become royalty in the plant kingdom.

How did your roses grow this summer? Did they bloom profusely and release that heady fragrance only roses can produce? Are you looking to add more roses to your garden? There are many to choose from, and you can still plant containerized roses now. has a searchable database of more than 7,500 different roses. You can find old garden roses like Albas, Bourbons, Centifolias, Chinas, Climbers, Damasks, as well as English, hybrid tea, Rugosa, climbing and shrub roses to name a few. And there are over 2,700 photographs to help you choose the right color. You can also check your favorite rose catalog (David Austin or Jackson and Perkins) for the latest offerings.

When choosing a rose, be sure to pick roses that are hardy in Zones 5 or 6. There are many that do well in the Midwest and can survive our winters, but some require winter protection — especially grafted hybrid tea roses. You will be faced with the choice of bare-root or containerized (containerized are best at this time of year) and grafted or own-root plants. Roses are propagated in one of two ways — grafted onto rootstock or by softwood cuttings, which produce roses that grow on their own rootstock. Grafted roses — including many of the hybrid teas — often send up suckers from their rootstocks that produce flowers that are not the same as the variety chosen. These suckers should be pulled as soon as they are noticed. In addition, the grafted site (that knot where the bud union meets the rootstock) requires winter protection. Roses grown on their own roots — including many of the popular shrub roses —do not tend to sucker, do not have a grafted site that requires winter protection and they tend to be longer-lived and more durable.

Extremely fragrant and beautiful, David Austin’s English rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ deserves a home in your garden.



Fragrance is the most important feature when I’m searching for a new rose; that, and a rose’s resistance to disease. If fragrance is high on your list for what to look for in a rose, rosarian Lily Shohan writing in the book “Old Roses for Fragrance” recommends the Centifolias. Most Centifolias grow 4 to 5 feet high, are leafy and bear lush, fragrant, pink blossoms. Colors range from white to deep rose-red, some are striped and spotted. Shohan lists ‘Juno’, ‘Crested Moss’ and ‘La Noblesse’ as having “that sweet somewhat fruity but alluring scent.”

In my wife’s herb garden, ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ an English rose, has the quintessential old rose fragrance. Flowers are large, rosette-shaped and colored a deep, rich, glowing pink. Gertrude Jekyll was a famous garden designer who still influences today’s landscape architects on the style of English gardens.

And although they have little or no fragrance shrub roses have become the stars of some gardens and landscapes. The popular Knock Out ™ roses can be seen everywhere, and for good reason. They are very tough plants that are resistant to disease. Flower Carpet ® ground cover roses and Proven Winners’ Oso Easy series of landscape roses are also durable, disease-resistant small-flowering shrub roses.

With so many choices, fragrances and colors, it is no wonder that Americans love their roses.


Tips on Growing Roses

• Roses’ worst enemies are probably Japanese beetles, which are about 1/2 inch long and metallic green with copper-colored wing covers. Beetles feed during the day in groups. They can fly for miles and eat more than 270 kinds of plants. They skeletonize leaves. Control by placing a bucket of soapy water or rubbing alcohol beneath the infested plant and knocking the bugs into the bucket. When disturbed, the beetles fold their legs and fall. Some research suggests early control might keep them away from those plants. For a list of chemical controls, call your local extension office. Japanese beetles’ numbers will decrease near the end of the summer.

• Do not apply fertilizer to roses after mid-August, as this will cause the plant to push out new growth that will be susceptible to winter damage.

• Continue to dead head roses to encourage flowering through the fall.

• Don’t prune roses this fall. Wait until next spring instead. Then, prune roses when forsythias bloom. For hybrid tea roses remove all dead and small, weak canes. Leave three to five healthy, stout canes evenly spaced around the plant. Cut these canes back by leaving three to five outward-facing buds. For modern shrub roses, remove dead canes, then remove one-third of the very oldest canes. Once-blooming roses such as Alba, Gallica, Centifolia, Damasks and Mosses (which produce flowers on old wood) should be pruned after flowering. Climbers and ramblers may need a few seasons in the garden before pruning is necessary. In many cases, pruning is limited to removing winter-damaged wood in early spring.

The Knock Out® rose is just as comfortable in Main Street flowerbeds as it is in home garden flowerbeds.


Posted: 09/19/11   RSS | Print


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