The Q&A Archives: Roses

Question: I have never grown roses, but have cleared a space for a flower garden. I would love to have climbing roses. Do I have to amend my soil? What variety would you suggest?

Answer: In your gardening zone, you'll want to choose the hardiest climbers available. Here are a few to consider:
ALCHYMIST; A profusion of large, fully double, old-fashioned blooms of golden-yellow touched with orange. Wonderfully fragrant. Vigorous plant with shiny bronze-green foliage that may be grown as a shrub rose or a climbing rose.

JOHN CABOT; The first climbing rose of the Explorer series, the vigorous growth makes it ideal for use as a climber. Its fragrant blooms appear in great abundance early in summer and continue until frost in a gamut of shades from orchid-pink to fuchsia-red, all complemented by lustrous soft green foliage. The lovely flowers are followed by attractive hips of orange. This is a wonderful, repeat blooming fully double rose, petal count is 40 and hardy to zone 3.

JOHN DAVIS; Bred from `Kordesii'. The most beautiful of the very hardy Canadian Roses. Wonderful climber with double, sometimes quartered old-fashioned blooms of rich candy-pink opening to show golden centers. `John Davis' is such an outstanding rose it should be grown in warm climates also. Disease-free. Very hardy to zone 2.

NEW DAWN; The yardstick against which all repeat flowering climbers are judged. In 1997 'New Dawn' was voted the most popular rose in the world at the 11th World Convention of Rose Societies. Silvery, blush-pink, medium sized, double flowers with nice form produced in profusion on a great plant. May be grown as a shrub. Winter hardy to zone 4. Outstanding. Always in bloom.

WILLIAM BAFFIN; A vigorous, extra hardy shrub or climber. Clouds of eyecatching deep strawberry pink, semi-double blooms touched white toward the center of the bloom. It looks like an artist took a brush and painted a slender white line down the center of the inner petals. The entire effect is set off by its golden stamens where small red-orange hips will appear in the winter. Blooms in large clusters throughout the season. Outstanding disease resistance. Will repeat bloom. Very hardy to a zone 3.

Roses require all day sunshine and well draining soil. I would amend the bed with organic matter (compost or aged-manure) prior to planting. Simply spread a 3-4" layer over the top of the bed and dig it in to a depth of 10-12".

Best wishes with your new climber!

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