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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 20, 2017

Gardening where you are with roses

Jun 13, 2013

When it comes to plant selection, knowing your place makes a world of difference, saving you time, money, and frustration. Choosing plants proven to thrive in a particular area makes gardening rewarding.

Roses provide an excellent illustration. We Iowans may admire magazine pictures of climbers topping trellises or hybrid tea roses gracing a garden somewhere else, but we will be happiest choosing roses that are better-suited to our actual growing conditions.

One Iowa gardening website offers a list of eight roses (either specific cultivars or rose types) that are nearly foolproof: well-suited to the prevailing conditions and easy to grow. Here’s the list, with my drawn-from-experience comments added:

1. Carefree Beauty. It doesn’t surprise me to find a Buck rose at the top of the list. Dr. Griffith Buck worked tirelessly at ISU to develop roses that would thrive in Iowa. ‘Carefree Beauty’ is a well-chosen name. This is a gorgeous, lipstick pink rose. Both the plant and the blooms are shapely. I do nothing except feed this rose, and it thrives. Two other Buck roses that I’ve enjoyed are ‘Quietness,’ with beautiful soft pink and fragrant blooms on a large, shrub-type bush, and ‘Hawkeye Belle,’ another soft pink with blooms similar to those of hybrid tea roses.

2. Knockout roses. You’ve almost certainly seen these as they are widely used in public plantings. The reds and pinks have both proved to be lovely and hardy, and now there is a yellow available as well.

3. William Baffin. This is a fairly deep pink climber, one of the very few climbers known to perform well in Iowa. It has the added virtues of resistance to powdery mildew and to blackspot.

4. Rugosa roses, the originals.

5. Easy Elegance roses, developed in Minnesota.

6. The Fairy, a little pink polyantha rose.

7. Morden Blush, part of a series developed in Canada.

8. David Austin roses, even though they are not as hardy or disease-resistant as the others listed above. I understand the list-maker’s fondness for these roses, which are gorgeous. I’ve had a fine experience with ‘Winchester Cathedral,’ a white flushed with pink. Although the blooms are relatively small, they do cover the bush. ‘Graham Thomas’ is a rare instance of a clear yellow rose that performs well in Iowa.

As the list suggests, it’s a little more difficult to find reds and yellows that will thrive in Iowa. I’ll offer one more suggestion, in this instance for a beautiful deep red – ‘Dublin Bay.’ I’ve grown this in soil with too much clay and in spots with too much shade, and it persists in all its beauty! It is marketed as a climber but performs as a bush in my garden.

Right now: Many vegetable gardeners have experienced frustrating delays in planting, but there is still some time. June 27 is suggested as the cutoff date for planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and melons. Getting sweet corn in the ground by July 8 is recommended.


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