My Rugosas

  • Post published:05/03/2011
  • Post comments:6 Comments

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"

“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

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.

“Blanc Double de Coubert”

Hunsberger’s list recommends “Blanc Double de Courbert” as an excellent white rugosa, and while it is very nice,

"Mount Blanc"

I prefer “Mount Blanc” which grows more fragrantly, vigorously and floriferously in my garden.

"Mrs. Doreen Pike"

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"

“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?

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Lisa at Greenbow

    Pat, do you have to keep after your Rugosa Roses to keep them from spreading? I had one out front and it became a thug. One not too nice in that it was difficult to prune etc with those wicked thorns. Maybe I just had a rogue.

    I have gone through several of your last posts. The windbreak will not only be useful it will be pretty.

    Happy Spring.

  2. Kate

    I’m a big fan of Rugosa Roses, too. They’re very hardy. That Corylus is so pretty. It has such a nice, wild look to it.

  3. carole normandin

    I am from the Maine coast, so when I bought my house, I planted rugosa roses. It took them a few years to get started but now they are very full, and fragrant. When is a good time to prune them? I have pinks, after looking at your whites I may have to add some more bushes.

  4. Pat

    Lisa – certain rugosas are thugs and send out runners. The trick is to snip off those runners when they begin.
    Kate – Corylus really looks wild growing in my grass.
    Carole – The only pruning I do is to take out winterkill in the spring.

  5. Kate

    Gorgeous! I love the Pink Grootendorst – so full and beautiful.

  6. Masha

    You have so many beautiful rugosas! Thank you for these lovely pictures. Rugosas don’t do well here because of high soil alkalinity but I love them nevertheless. Yours look healthy and happy.

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