Self-Reliant Roses

By Susan Littlefield

The rose may be the queen of flowers, but many of the roses grown in gardens today will only look regal when given a toxic regimen of pesticides to ward off disease and insects, along with lots of water and fertilizer. That was the dilemma that curator Peter Kukielski faced at one of the country most famous public rose gardens, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, NY.

When the garden was renovated in 2007, he began growing some of the garden's more than 3700 roses without fungicides and pesticides for insect and disease control, evaluating them to see which of the repeat-blooming roses flourished when grown in a more environmentally-sustainable manner. And he is testing them under particularly trying conditions. Unlike most home garden settings, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden is a monoculture, where it's easy for insects and diseases to move from plant to plant. So the roses that do well under those conditions are likely to be easy-care choices in most home landscapes.

The New York Botanical Garden has posted a list of the 115 top performers in the rose garden in 2010, along with their ratings, with 10 as the top score. Those receiving a score of 9.0 or higher last year included Double Knockout?, Pink Double Knockout®, Peach Drift®, Kosmos, Darlow's Enigma, and, with the highest rating at 9.25, Easter Basket™.

To see the ratings for all 115 roses, go to: New York Botanical Garden.

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