Extension Educator, Horticulture
Finicky, fussy, hard to grow, beautiful but let someone else grow them--With rousing endorsements like that its amazing roses have survived for centuries. Unfortunately when most people think of roses they think of the hybrid tea roses grown more like row crop agriculture than garden plants. But I believe roses were meant to be grown among friends -- verbenas, petunias and people.
New modern shrub roses have been developed for lower maintenance needs, greater winter hardiness, increased disease resistance and certainly those lovely flowers. Some important rose introductions are the English roses and the Explorer and Parkland series out of two different Canadian breeding programs. Most English roses were introduced over the last thirty years by breeder David Austin. English roses are fragrant, have blossoms reminiscent of old garden roses, most have a shrubby habit and most repeat flower like many of the more modern roses.
In an evaluation study performed by the Chicago Botanic Garden, three English roses came out as winners for flower production, fragrance, winter hardiness and disease and pest resistance. Although many of the English roses are worth growing, 'Constance Spry, 'Lucetta' and 'The Reeve' were overall charmers in the Chicago study.
'Constance Spry' has soft pink, very fragrant, double-petaled flowers. It can get 6-8 feet tall and just as wide so its not for small areas. 'Constance Spry' flowers mid-June to early July. Although it showed good disease resistance to powdery mildew, it did get black spot in some years. Black spot is a common fungal disease on some rose varieties characterized by black spots, yellow leaves and early leaf drop. 'Lucetta' and 'The Reeve' showed good disease resistance to both powdery mildew and black spot. 'Luceeta' has blush pink, semi-double, flat flowers that appear mid-June to mid-October. 'The Reeve' has dark pink, double, cupped flowers appearing mid- June to late September.
The Canadian roses tend to be more winter hardy and less prone to diseases then the English roses. They also tend to produce hips for a winter fruit display. With the Explorer series out of Ottawa, Ontario you also learn some Canadian history since the roses are named after Canadian explorers like David Thompson, Henry Kelsey, Jens Munk, Martin Frobischer and Henry Hudson. (That last guy sounds familiar.) These roses include rosa rugosahybrids (known for their durability), shrubs and climbers.
The Parkland rose series out of Morden, Manitoba usually have Morden in the name such as 'Morden Blush,' 'Morden Centennial' and 'Morden Fireglow.' These roses get their hardiness from the native rose, Rosa arkansana.
Out of the Canadian roses the following performed best in the Chicago study: 'Assiniboine,' 'Champlain,' 'Henry Kelsey,' 'Jens Munk,' 'John Davis' and 'William Baffin.' 'Jens Munk' is an outstanding performer with medium pink flowers from early June to mid-October. 'Jens Munk' also has a brilliant display of rosy red hips. 'Henry Kelsey,' 'John Davis' and 'William Baffin' are all climbers with great arching stems.
There are many new shrub roses worth growing in the garden with different flower types and growth habits. There is nothing like a garden with roses.
For tips on rose care and a listing of hardy shrub roses for our area, stop by the Extension office for the tabloid "Home, Yard and Garden Today." For more detailed information, the 96-page report "Roses for the North: Performance of Shrub and Old Garden Roses at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum" is available for $11.95 plus postage by phoning 1-800-876-8636. Or contact the Chicago Botanic Garden for their plant evaluation notes on shrub roses.
Be sure to check out theMaster Gardener Idea Garden in Urbana to see some of the shrub roses.