Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
June, 2003
Regional Report

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Pink roses grace a tall arbor in June.

Rose Shopping

Rose shopping is tough. Of course I want a pretty one, but every rose is pretty. So, I've narrowed it way down to pink. Do you know how many roses are pink? Now, I'm winnowing. Here's how it works.

The number one big, easy distinction is winter hardiness. I look for roses rated hardy to zone 4. That way I figure it's pretty safe in my zone 6 garden, come what may. I also prefer roses grown on their own roots instead of grafted so if winter's fury or hungry deer should destroy the canes, it can grow back true to name from the roots.

Rough and Tough
If it needs spraying or cossetting, it won't survive the ruckus (let's be kind and call it benign neglect) in my big garden. So, easy care (that means disease resistance) is essential. This recent damp and cloudy weather is really showing the goods on that score -- all kinds of foliar problems are cropping up, sad but true.

Location, Location, Location
Full sun all day long is best, good air circulation is absolutely necessary in this region, and decent soil and average moisture are givens. I can provide those but I do have limited space. This rose has to fit in the space available and that means small, the spot is only about four to five feet across. A rose needs room to grow to its full mature size without crowding.

Flowers PLUS!
Duh. If it's going to take up space in my yard, then it had better bloom big time. I want pink, repeat or constant bloom, with some fragrance.

The "Short" List
Some roses inevitably sell out early so I'll be considering many possibilities, including: First Light, Knock Out, Nearly Wild, Bonica Improved, The Fairy, Raspberry Rugostar, Carefree Beauty, Carefree Wonder, Carefree Delight, Carefree Marvel ... is there a pattern here?

Live plants may not exactly match a catalog photo. So at the nursery, I'll examine flower color (blue-pink vs. orange-pink) and foliage color (blue, olive, dark or light green.) Is the habit rangy like a climber, vase-shaped, or rounded? Ultimately, I will probably purchase the healthiest, sturdiest-looking plant at the store that day, the one that says "Buy ME!" the loudest -- and meets the criteria.

Now, I may insist I'm looking for a smaller pink one but if something else entirely calls out to me, who can say. I may have to make room for two new roses. Or three. I'm only human.

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