A Perfect Year for Roses

In southeastern Ohio this season we have enjoyed perfect growing conditions for roses and the displays have been divine. We had a cooler than normal spring with perfectly timed rains allowing our roses to hold their blooms for a long time. We also enjoyed low humidity which inhibited typical diseases like Powdery Mildew and Black Spot from setting in.

Since moving 8 years ago from Nantucket Island, where at every turn there is a rose covered cottage or a walk to the beach takes you past a bluff covered in fragrant beach roses, it has been my desire to share and encourage a love for rambling and climbing roses. Many of my new Midwestern gardening friends are more accustomed to the ho-hum ‘Knockout’ roses introduced by the landscape industry for their ability to look mediocre in all conditions(which is supposed to be a good trait), or they are daunted by the difficult reputation of the T-roses we often see in those beautiful David Austin Rose advertisements. Not being one to settle for mediocrity when I can possibly help it, here are some beautiful roses that can tolerate both our harsh winters and our very hot, humid summers. The roses I have included in this post are fairly disease resistant varieties and I plan to have many of them available to sell next spring.

“Climbing New Dawn’ and ‘Dorothy Perkins’ on Nantucket:

This is Rosa ‘Aloha’. Here it is growing in an Ohio garden as a 4′-5′ shrub rose. It can also be grown as a shorter climbing rose reaching around 8ft. This is a repeat bloomer so deadhead back to a leaflet that has at least 5 healthy leaves as soon as the cluster has passed to encourage the next set of flower buds.


Below is the ‘Constant Gardener’. It is a very subtle, repeat-blooming, shrub rose. I must say it gets lost in all of the action I have going on in the garden in which I have it planted so I suggest giving it a quiet corner of its own where one can appreciate its delicate color and flower structure.

Here is a rose that often brings tears to my eyes as it reminds me so much of the Nantucket cottages that are literally covered from door step to roof top because of its beautiful rambling habit and where it is often enveloped by the soft morning fog with the sleepy fog horn sounding in the background. Her name is ‘Dorothy Perkins’. This rose can be susceptible to powdery mildew in humid conditions but this is easily controlled by a light spray of a horticultural oil and water solution.
Growing on my home in Chandlersville Ohio

This next rose, ‘Alchemist’, is truly a diva! She has taken me by complete surprise with her looks as I took a chance ordering some bare-root stock having never grown her before. Wow! This is one vigorous, glorious rose but she has an evil side that wields some of the most viscous and stubborn thorns I have ever encountered. As long as you keep her tied to her support and don’t let her venture too far you are safe but, once you let her roam free beware! She will exact a painful price when reigning her back in. I was literally in tears and screaming the day I had to tame her and confine her to the domain of her pergola.

‘Alchemist’ has an overabundance of buds that burst into the most luscious, blushed apricot blooms aging to a rich cream color. The kind of cream you get from a happy grass fed jersey cow. All of this talk of roses and cream has me craving a pot of Lady Grey tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Below is a simple beauty, Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’. Rugosa roses are beach roses so they are very hardy, disease resistant even to Rose Rosette disease, and quite vigorous. This is a very shrubby and thorny plant so put in a spot where it can just fill out naturally without over taking its neighbors. ‘Hansa’ has a more refined appearance than the true beach rose, growing a bit more upright rather than spreading horizontally as the beach roses do, and it has a nice double flower. My favorite aspect of beach roses is there soft, but delicious fragrance that fills the air when the sun hits the blooms. I usually will grab a bloom and bring it in the truck with me to enjoy on my way to work or en route to my next garden to tend. I have ‘Hansa’ planted in a garden at a nearby nursing home and when I am there checking on things I love being able to share a bloom from this rose if a resident happens to be outside sitting in the sun.

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