The June/July issue of Organic Gardening Magazine has an excellent article by Wes Hunsberger about the benefits and delights of rugosa roses. I know whereof he speaks because I have been growing rugosas for more than 20 years. Think of the beach roses thriving on sandy dunes, lashed by wind and salt spray, lovely and fragrant with pink or white single blossoms. Hybridizers have brought that beach rose hardiness and disease resistance to the garden. “Apart” with its big full double blossoms is one of my favorite rugosas.
“Belle Poitvine” is very similar in size and fragrance. You can see this rose is growing next to a barb wire fence, but last month we finally took this North Fence and the South Fence down: it has been about 20 years since those fences kept heifers in their pasture and off our lawn. I have been amazed at the difference in the view without those thin strands of wire. Who would have thought such a slight thing could put such a stop to the eye. Now we will be able to stroll past the roses and into the woodland windbreak we are planting this spring.
Rugosa alba is the beach rose and I have a hedge of these single white roses along the top of the Sunken Garden. There is as little to nourish these shrubs at the top of the stone wall as there would be on the beach.
As far as I am concerned “Scabrosa” looks just like the pink beach rose. It certainly grows as vigorously.
Hunsberger’s list recommends “Blanc Double de Courbert” as an excellent white rugosa, and while it is very nice,
I prefer “Mount Blanc” which grows more fragrantly, vigorously and floriferously in my garden.
It is no surprise that the strength of the rugosa appealed to the famous rose hybridizer David Austin. He created this low growing shrub with bright light green foliage and small pink blossoms that he named after a member of his office staff.
“Corylus” is another low growing rugosa, with bright green foliage that sends out runners. Since most of my roses grow in grass, this is not an ideal situation. I am going to have to do something about that.
“Pink Grootendorst” is a larger shrub than “Mrs. Doreen Pike, and the flowers are slightly smaller, and with their pinked petals they look a lot like dianthus. I love this bush.
Hunsberger’s list also includes “Martin Frobisher.” Every camera in the world must love this rose – except mine. I saw many photos that I loved and declared I had to have this rose. The reality disappointed me. The roses are small and an insipid shade of pink. No one pays attention to this rose at the Rose Viewing. I don’t even have a photo of Martin in my files.
Another rugosa he recommends is the pink “Therese Bugnet” which I planted last spring. No photos yet. I also planted “Agnes” a yellow rugosa this spring. I think I have room for still another rugosa.
Is there a rugosa in your future?