Rose season is upon us! New plants have arrived at most garden centers, and this is the right time to decide if your garden would benefit from the addition of a rose.
The array of available varieties can be overwhelming, so preparation can streamline the selection process and increase your post-purchase comfort.
As you assess your landscape’s need for a rose, decide whether you want a shrub, climbing, rambling, miniature, or standard (tree) rose. This choice could narrow your search dramatically, but if you focus on a shrub rose, you will find the largest number of choices.
Another classification system identifies wild roses, old garden roses, and modern garden roses. The online resource Wikipedia provides a very welcoming and orderly overview of the seemingly countless kinds of roses.
Hybrid tea roses are among the most popular kinds of the modern garden roses. Hybrid teas, which are widely available in garden centers, provide gorgeous blossoms in a wide and growing range of forms and colors and almost always a beguiling fragrance. Selection relies upon the individual gardener’s priorities, which might involve complementing the colors of the garden’s existing collection of roses.
Local Master Rosarian Joe Truskot particularly appreciates the hybrid tea rose ‘Maria Callas’, which is also sold as “Miss All-American Beauty.’ Truskot is the author and publisher of the Central Coast Rose Manual, a valuable and unique resource for growing roses in the Monterey Bay area. This book can be found at Alladin Nursery (Watsonville), Bokay Nursery (Salinas), River House Books (Carmel), and Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz).
The adventuresome gardener might wish to explore the extensive world of species roses, which are plants that occur in nature, without help from humans. Depending on who is counting there are 100 species or more than 360 species. These are the true wildflowers of the rose genus, always with five petals in white, pink or red blossoms. They occur in diverse scents, foliage, hips, and autumn colors. They are valued in naturalistic planting schemes and for the minimal pruning requirements. They bloom on new wood, so they can be cut back after flowering.
The species rose most likely found in a garden center is Rosa rugosa, also known as the Japanese Rose. (“rugosa” means “wrinkled,” referring to the plant’s corrugated leaves). Rosa rugosas are also available in various cultivars and hybridized with other species.
My garden includes two species roses:
Rosa californica is a fine addition in several ways to my native California bed, but it tends to spread through underground runners and develop a thicket.
Rosa mulligani, a rambler that grows vigorously and produces twenty-foot branches and spectacular one-time summer displays of white flowers.
To explore the world of roses, visit these websites:
The months of January and February are the best time to prune roses, according to Joe Truskot. Now is a good time to refresh your knowledge of this annual task, inventory your roses, sharpen your tools, and schedule your pruning session. You might also attend Monterey Bay Rose Society’s hands-on Pruning Clinic at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 10:00 to 12:00 on January 13th and 14th, 2018. Local rose experts will volunteer their practical experience with best practices in this process, which can add significantly to bloom production during the coming season.