The April 2014 issue of Fine Gardening magazine has an article by Peter Kukielski, former curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden titled Easy Picture Perfect Roses. Peter knows all about ‘Easy’ roses because during his tenure at that garden he ripped out 200 or so of the roses in the garden that needed pesticides and fungicides to survive and then replaced them with 693 roses that did not need that kind of care and pampering.
I met Peter in early November 2009 when he gave me a tour of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden. Even at that time of the year many roses were in bloom and a number of volunteers were busy making evaluations of each rose to decide whether it was worthy of remaining in the garden. There is a great article in the NYTimes here that describes that process. I wrote about my visit with Peter Kukielski here and here. He is not only a brilliant rosarian, he is the most charming and good humored of men.
Since we met Peter, along with Pat Shanley and Gene Waering edited a fascinating book The Sustainable Rose Garden which covers many aspects of rose growing by 40 contributors, including Peter himself, and Stephen Scanniello of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and president of the Heritage Rose Society. He is now working on his own book Roses Without Chemicals. I can’t wait for it to become available.
My Rose Walk began with hardy roses which include the Griffith Buck hybrids. It also includes rugosas, albas, another roses that can tolerate the winds and winter of our Heath hill. Many of them also turn out to be disease and pest resistant. ‘The Fairy,’ a polyantha, is on the Earth Kind rose list, which is something Peter taught me about. I have added other Earth Kind roses like ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and Double Knock Outs. In his Fine Gardening article Peter lists other easy care roses like the luscious ‘Cinderella Fairy Tale’ and the rich golden ‘Tequila.’ Do you think I will be able to resist adding a new rose to the garden this year? I don’t think so either.
I will be talking about The Sustainable Rose at the little e at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on April 26 and 27. I’ll only be there one day – not sure which yet. Lots of rose photos. I hope to see you there. I’ll be channeling Peter Kukielski, my hero.
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You can never write too much about Earth-Kind roses. My favorite, dating from 1869, is the China Rose Ducher, which is (to my eye) a lovely soft cream color. It is among the many new roses Peter Kukielski replanted with at the botanical garden during his tenure. These roses are survivors in the truest sense and by virtue of their ability to endure without chemicals and pesticides they may be our saviors as well.
Flaneur – You and I are incomplete agreement about Ducher.