Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
October, 2003
Regional Report

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Carefree Marvel rose bears small, deep pink flowers on short, disease-resistant plants from spring through fall.

Carefree Roses

A frequent request from customers coming into the garden center where I worked this year was for a shrub that was low-maintenance, not too tall, and bloomed all summer. After repressing a giggle at their desire for a perfect world, I would suggest one of the shrub roses. The usual reaction was to look at me with incredulity and then reply , "Oh, no, I can't grow roses." Sometimes I could convince them otherwise, sometimes not. There are a number of shrub roses that do indeed offer continuous color and require no more care than any other shrub.

Whether you're thinking about adding a hedge, expanding the shrub border, or including some shrubs among the perennials and annuals, consider steering yourself away from lilacs and weigelas and over to shrub roses. Depending on your choice of rose, you'll be rewarded, either with continual blooms from May until frost or with a shrub that handily competes with other once-blooming shrubs.

Choosing a Rose Shrub
Due to the demand for long-blooming, easy-care plants, rose companies are developing more and more shrub-type roses. The resulting array is becoming almost as dizzying as the number of hybrid teas and grandifloras. Basically, the shrub class of roses is a wide-ranging mixture of forms, from small bush to enormous climber. Not all have the same hardiness or disease resistance. Some roses that have shrub-like qualities have their own distinct classification, most notably the rugosa and the kordesii hybrids.

How then to choose? Generally, you can look to the hybrid rugosas as one fairly safe option. These have spicy-scented, single to semi-double flowers in shades of dark to light pink and magenta as well as white. The distinctive foliage is rough and deeply veined. Another option is to choose from among the Canadian Explorer Series.

Go Carefree
The Carefree Series is one that won't disappoint as the members are particularly hardy, disease resistant, and free flowering all season long. The original two, Carefree Beauty and Carefree Wonder, are 1977 introductions from Dr. Griffith Buck of Iowa State University. Carefree Wonder makes a compact shrub 3 feet wide and as tall, with medium-pink blooms with a paler reverse and 18 to 24 petals. Carefree Beauty grows to 4 feet wide and tall with pink blooms of 18 to 24 petals. Carefree Delight was bred in France by Meilland and introduced in 1996. The small pink flowers have 5 to 10 petals. All of these bear lots of rose hips for winter landscape interest.

The two newest members of the Carefree Series include the yellow-flowered Carefree Sunshine from William Radler (the breeder of the exceptional Knock Out rose) and the Meilland-bred ground cover Carefree Marvel with deep pink semi-double flowers.

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Today's site banner is by Marilyn and is called "Salvia regla 'Royal'"