I come from a long line of gardeners. My
grandmother had a huge perennial bed, my aunt gardens every inch of her yard and
my grandfather loved to grow vegetables. Everyone gardened except my
mother who was definitely the black sheep of the family--gardening-wise, that
That all changed about eight years ago when my mother decided to grow a few roses. Like
most things that my mother enjoys, she didn't stop at just one or two roses--she
planted over forty roses. I tried to tell her that roses were
labor intensive and required way more time and energy than most care to commit,
but of course, she dove right in anyway.
Boy am I glad she did. Thanks to Mom, I discovered hardy shrub roses.
What I've found since my mother became a dedicated rosarian is that not only do
most modern shrub roses repeat bloom all season, but many are fragrant and
disease resistant. There is definitely a shrub rose for every landscape
that I've discovered since I started collecting shrub roses is that not all of
them are northern-hardy here in zone 4a. I would guess that I've probably lost
at least a third of the roses that I've planted. I don't want that to
discourage you, because my loss is your gain. I'm going to list my favorite
shrub roses first and after that I'll also give you the roses that had problems
or bit the dust the first winter out. I would heartily suggest that
buy the book, " Growing
Roses in Cold Climates," by John Whitman and Jerry Olson. My mother and I took it right along with us when we went to the nursery
and depended on its brutally honest rose reviews to make our final choices.
My Favorite Roses:
'Hope for Humanity'
Rose--This very hardy, low growing (2' high x2 'wide) rose is one of the
Parkland Series of roses bred at the Morden Research Centre in Canada. It has
gorgeous blood-red hybrid tea-like blooms and glossy foliage.
Rose--This tough rose can easily reach over 10' tall. One of the very best for
your garden arbor, the fuchsia pink flowers cover it in late spring and
intermittently the rest of the season.
Rose--Another Parkland Series rose, CG has a 5'x3' spread, is disease
resistant and sports fragrant, semi-double crimson red blossoms most of the
season. Just a good all-around rose for your landscape.
Pavement Roses--All the Pavement rugosas are wonderful plants for the landscape. Most reach about
4'x4' with double blossoms in shades of lilac, mauve and white. They bloom
all summer, are fragrant, disease-free and salt tolerant.
'Therese Bugnet' Rose--The
double purplish-rose blossoms are very fragrant and appear on and off all
summer long. What sets this shrub rose apart are the red stems and bright
orange hips that make it a nice plant for winter as well as summer interest. Does
tend to mildew later in the season, but it doesn't seem to harm the plant.
'Jens Munk' Rose--A 6'
high, dense bushy shrub rose that is covered with bright pink flowers in late
spring and intermittently the rest of the season. Very disease-resistant.
Dr. Buck Griffith
Roses--Shrub roses with blossoms that really do look just like hybrid teas. Buck
roses are supposedly crown hardy in the north which means that although they
die back to the ground, they should send up new canes each season. I've tried
several and they all died.
Rose--Non-stop hot pink roses on a very disease resistant 3'x3' plant. Planted
three and not one made it through the winter. I planted them
deeper the next year--still didn't have any survive. However, if you
live in the southern part of zone 4, they will thrive magnificently and are
a real showstopper in the rose or shrub garden.
'Topaz Jewel' Rose--One of
the few yellow shrub roses, 'Topaz Jewel' does have a very nice light fragrance and
beautiful pale yellow double blooms. It also has a lot of die back each
winter and very nasty long thorns.
'Winnepeg Parks' Rose--Not
at all vigorous. Mine limped along for 2 years and then didn't come back after
a hard winter. It does have lovely double raspberry colored blooms on a
Rose--Like many of the Morden roses, this shrub is very susceptible to black
spot and other diseases. Many have good luck with the Centennials, so if you
don't have a problem with blackspot in your garden give
this one a chance.
My new favorite shrub roses are the
Easy Elegance Rose Collection from Baileys in Newport, MN.
Easy Elegance 'Little Mischief' and 'Sunrise Sunset' roses
in the front of my rose garden.
Ping Lim, an
internationally recognized rose hybridizer, crossed over 25,000 plants to come
up with roses that are hardy, disease resistant, and best of all bloom all
season long. All of the roses are also grown on their own roots which is a
definite plus in our colder climes. In fact, Baileys is so sure that they will thrive in your northern yard or
garden that they even offer a two year guarantee!
I have tried several varieties of
the new Easy Elegance roses and never lost one yet including the
roses that Baileys describes as hardy only to zone 5. However, I do cover them
with mulch in the winter which definitely helps.
Even the hardiest Easy Elegance roses usually die back to the crown every winter without mulch. They will send
out new canes in the spring, but since I already have cages around all my roses
to protect them from rabbits [look closely at the photo and you can see the
cages], it's easy to just dump some chopped leaves
or straw inside each cage after the ground freezes.
Baileys will be releasing new
varieties of Easy Elegance roses every year, but here are my favorites so far:
Sunrise Sunset Rose: Deep-green semi-glossy foliage. A very
prolific bloomer, the 2.5 in. blossoms are a bright fuchsia pink with an
apricot center. It reaches about 2.5 ft. tall by 2.5 ft. wide in my
Mischief Rose: Clusters of deep pink 1" semi double blossoms with a
bright white eye. Smaller than Sunrise Sunset it is perfect for the
front of the border.
the Rage Rose: Large 3.5 inch semi-double apricot-blend flowers all
summer long on a 2.5 to 3 ft. high by 2.5 ft. wide plant. Remove spent
blossoms to promote repeat bloom.
Regional (Twin Cities)
nurseries that specialize in shrub roses: