Answer: To answer your question I turned to "Roses for Dummies" by Lance Walheim. He identifies the following classes of roses:
hybrid tea, grandiflora, polyantha and floribunda, miniature, climber and rambler, shrub, and species and old garden.
Hybrid teas would be long stemmed and the plants are upright. Grandifloras may have smaller blooms (and in clusters) than hybrid teas but the stems are still long enough for cutting. Floribundas have numerous smaller blooms in a cluster. Polyanthas are the ancestors of the florabundas and are usually smaller plants overall and also have blooms in clusters. Miniatures are really small. Old garden roses include many types such as China, damask and species and many of them only bloom once a year. Shrub roses include many of the modern landscape type roses many of which now bloom all season. These are often grown on their own roots and thus are relatively more winter hardy.
Climbers do not climb, instead they have long canes and scramble. They can be trained to a trellis or tower, or they can be stretched along the ground to bloom all along their canes. Ramblers are the ancestors to the modern large flowered climbers.
With regard to climbers, there will be a different approach depending on the type of rose you are using, the actual winter hardiness of the plant and whether or not it is grafted or grown on its own roots. Some roses are much less hardy than others and could require extreme winter protection methods while others might be left in place without much worry.
Within each of the above groups there will usually be specific varieties that are more disease resistant, more shade tolerant, more dependable or more hardy or better performing than others. Roses that are well sited, cared for regularly and of carefully chosen varieties will be healthier than inferior varieties struggling with poorly prepared soil, too little light and lack of air circulation.
If you are planning on getting into roses in a big way, you might want to read up on them a bit. There are also consulting rosarians available through the American Rose Society and your local County Extension should also be able to help suggest roses that do well in your area from which you might select. Have fun with your new garden!
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