Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
November, 2003
Regional Report

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'John Cabot' rose, of the Canadian Explorer Series, is a hardy semi-climber.

Roses Belong in the Landscape

It's hard not to be won over by roses. Most of them smell fantastic, have stunning blossoms, and if appropriately chosen they can give us color from spring through fall. However, instead of just planting them willy-nilly, a little forethought can give the gardener a magnificent display.

One long-standing myth that needs to be dispelled is that roses should be planted alone or only with other roses. This couldn't be further from the horticultural truth, and landscaping this way limits the myriad of exciting possibilities to beautify the home and landscape with roses.

Rose Companions
Roses thrive with all types of companion plants. Even a formal rose garden with its emphasis only on roses is beautifully enhanced with a subtle ground planting of lavender, germander, or sweet alyssum. The silvery gray foliage of any of the artemisias is a perfect foil to the glossy green leaves and brilliant flowers of hybrid teas and shrub roses alike. And there is nothing quite so stunning as the clouds of clear pink 'Carefree Beauty' roses combined with lemon yellow lilies in mid-summer.

Roses Provide Foundation
Foundation plantings are usually filled with standard deciduous shrubs, such as spirea, potentilla, and privet; and evergreens, such as yews and junipers. But, why not use roses? They are wonderful companions to evergreens. If you choose disease-resistant shrub roses, then the care and maintenance required will be minimal.

Climbing High
Perhaps you have a trellis to cover or you want to soften a harsh wall. Plant a high-arching trellis with a climbing tea rose, where the abundant nodding flowers will greet the visitors as they look up into the plant. A trellis against the house might be better adorned with a hybrid perpetual or hybrid tea since their larger blossoms tend to face upward or outward. If you want the blossoms to be mostly on the top of an arbor, then a species or true climbing rose might be appropriate. These bloom where the branches begin to grow horizontally rather than vertically.

Flowering Fences
For a backdrop to other perennials, you will want to choose a shrubby rose that not only has abundant flowers through the entire season, but also one that is graced with beautiful foliage. Some of the modern floribunda roses, shrub roses, and even the older polyanthas will fill this need with deep green, glossy, disease-resistant leaves.

For hedging and privacy, shrub roses with plenty of ground stems and a suckering habit would be better choices than hybrid teas and floribundas that tend to have sparse stems. Some of the older rugosa roses can grow to 6 feet tall, providing a wonderfully scented privacy hedge or screen.

For gardens where scent is of utmost importance, choose gallicas and damasks for their almost overpowering fragrances. For all-season color, the rugosas and their hybrids will give longer show.

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