Rose care made easy

Brian Minter tells you how

  • Fri Jun 30th, 2017 11:30am
  • Life

Brian Minter

Special to The Progress

I know they are prickly and bare almost half of the year, and yes, they do need some winter protection, but right now they more than make up for it. Roses in the landscape and garden are particularly beautiful this year.

From being one of the most sought-after flowering shrubs, over the past few years they had fallen out of favour because of their higher maintenance requirements, especially dealing with mildew, black spot and rust. Dead-heading and pruning used to be a constant, and deer have made them one of their favourite appetizers. In addition, many of the controls for rose diseases have been taken off the market.

Well, in spite of these issues, there’s been a resurgence of interest in roses. Breeders around the world have realized the importance of easy care and low maintenance and as a result, many new varieties have restored the status of roses to, once again, being the most popular of all flowering shrubs. Many of these new varieties are soldout in garden stores at this time of year, so if you’re planning in the future to add colour in your garden, you may want to put some of these terrific new varieties on your wish list.

Kordes is one of the brands that ‘has it all’. Kordes roses have been developed by one of the most respected families of rose breeders in the world. I had the good fortune of meeting members of the family and I asked them why they did not enter their roses in the All American Selection (AAS) trials to win awards. “In these trials,” they said, “growers are allowed to spray their roses for diseases. We don’t spray.” Their dedication to producing clean roses has led to many renowned varieties like the fragrant pink ‘Beverley’ and the red ‘Grande Amore’. Sold in western Canada as ‘Clean and Easy Roses’, the whole series is quite special.

I had the pleasure a few years ago at a Garden Writers’ conference in Vancouver of presenting the top AAS award to Ping Lim, the breeder of ‘Easy Elegance’ roses. Wow, what a gentleman! Sold through Bailey’s Nursery in Minnesota and now as well in Oregon, these roses have skyrocketed in popularity because they are hardy (zone 4), generally lower growing (about 1 metre) and are clean of virtually all diseases. ‘Easy Elegance’ roses bloom almost continually from June till frost. This line of roses has grown to be very extensive and is still expanding.

A number of years ago, the breeder, Anthony Tesslar, introduced the ‘Flower Carpet’ series of roses that were designed to be used as a lower ground cover rose for mass plantings on banks, bare landscape patches or just small areas needing cover. On the West Coast these roses can get a bit of black spot but they will also outgrow it and are very low maintenance, while providing lots of continuous colour. We have them in our garden, and we love them.

A couple of years ago ‘Drift’ roses were introduced as a hardy, continuous-blooming summer rose to provide lots of low-growing colour. So far it is available in a limited number of colours, but the soft pastels are very attractive. After growing them for one season, I’m very impressed.

Not to be outdone, Proven Winners has introduced ‘Oso Easy’ roses, rated for zones 3-5, and they are now receiving international recognition. Bred by many world-famous breeders, their colour spectrum is quite remarkable. They are versatile in so many situations from containers and garden beds to ground covers. 2018 will see quite an amazing number being introduced.

Years ago, the Meilland family in France introduced the now famous Meilland roses that are still being planted in huge numbers. These roses started the trend and growth of easy-care roses for all of us to enjoy.

Roses have changed for the better. Yes, most of the old favourites are still available, but with so many new great styles and easy-care varieties, roses have earned their way back into our gardens and on our patios.