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Unintimidating Rugosas

Susan Harris of Garden Rant talked about trends for the year, including a link to Slate about roses. The thrust of the article was that it doesn’t necessarily take a lot to get roses to thrive. I can speak to the hardiness of old shrub roses, albas and gallicas, and rugosa roses including the newer hybrids. The trick to growing roses, as it is for any plant, is the right rose in the right place and some care with the initial planting.

I live on a hill in western Massachusetts where temperatures go to 20 below 0F and the winds across our fields are terrific. Those are the challenges my roses face.

The benefits they have are full sun, and good soil that drains pretty well, a careful planting and annual feedings of rotted manure and compost. When the spring is dry I give them a good soaking at least every week as they come into bloom. Not every rose I have planted I have survived, but for people who need really tough roses, I cannot speak highly enough of the rugosa.

The rose pictured above is R. rugosa ‘Apart’, which has big wonderful blossoms, and is immensely fragrant. Similar in shape and appeal is R. rugosa ‘Mount Blanc’ which is white. For the most part they only bloom for about three or four weeks, from mid June into July.

There are other rugosas like Mrs. Doreen Pike (shown) which grows low with bright green foliage, and small ruffly flowers that continue for most of the summer. Linda Campbell is also low, but in a vivid red. I have been very happy that there seem to be more rugosas available since I started 20 years ago.
Although I have bought many roses locally and from a variety of mail order nurseries, I got my first roses, and many more since then from Roses of Yesterday and Today in California. They have a huge selection in their on-line catalog

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