Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Roses = Shrubs

Honey Perfume, a Florabunda Rose
Shrubs provide structure, texture, color and scale to gardens. They are sometimes evergreen and often deciduous. And ideally they are low maintenance. Most often they require exposure to some sun during the day and often require a lot of sun. What comes to mind when you think of a shrub?  I’m guessing roses don’t often make the “top of mind” list (nor do Japanese maples, but that’s a blog for another time). For some reason, I think of roses as their own separate category, but I also think that’s a mistake.

It used to be that many roses required a lot of care and upkeep. Nowadays, so much breeding effort has gone into creating roses that are carefree and more modest in size that it is time to encourage gardeners to think roses when they want a flowering shrub for a sunny location.

I recently visited Portland’s International Rose Test Garden. It was a lovely evening and many people were enjoying one of Portland’s great destinations (including a lot of wild looking people dressed up in togas…weird, huh?). Of course there are the glorious flowers, some of which deliver on fragrance, but bronzy foliage can also be found. Stately or shrub-like are also options. And the color range is breathtaking! Surely anyone can find a shrub that happens to be from the genus Rosa to work in their garden. Rosa ‘William Shakespeare’, a David Austin Rose from Heirloom Roses is about to share it’s beautiful, fragrant, magenta blooms with me in my garden.

What rose do you recommend?

Portland's International Rose Test Garden
Princess Alexandra of Kent, an English Rose
Pop the Cork, a Hybrid Tea Rose

Pink Flamingo, a Grandiflora Rose with bronzy foliage


  1. Roses are beautiful in the garden and you have some beautiful varieties shown here. They have gotten so much easier to care for over the years with the new hybrids. Many may not consider the Double Knock Out Roses "real roses' but I have them all over my property and they are beautiful all summer long! Nice post!

  2. Lee, I couldn't agree more. Knock Out Roses perform really well, and they have single and double varieties and colors include red, pinks, including one with a yellow center, and yellow. Plus they are easy to find in garden centers.

  3. US roses are selected and grown in Southern CA and AZ where there is no Blackspot disease. UK, Irish, Scot and German roses are selected and grown in cloudy, cool, rainy areas like ours prone to BS. I grow these BS resistant roses and with no spraying for over 10 years, I get lots of healthy, floriferous, fragrant bushes in my yard in Salem. Mine are bushes/shrubs, not defoliated sticks. If you want to learn about these varieties and where to get them, go to your local Rose Society where you will meet gardeners who know these roses and where to get them NOT to your local nursery who only deals with mass grown BS roses from CA and AZ. If our local nurseries would supply the roses that grow well here more people would be growing beautiful roses not just Knockout (which was bred and selected in Wisconsin by an amateur). Weeks Roses big push is to develop disease resistant roses since that is what the gardening public wants now, but the Europeans are years ahead of them. Some European varieties have been brought in and licensed by US growers. There are code names on roses. The first 3 letters tells you the hybridizer/company: HAR, KOR, TAN, FRY, MAC, DIC, MEI, COC, AUS are all European origin roses. Some MEI can be borderline since they come from the south of France. Some AUS were put on the market because of color or form and do get BS. So, Livin' Easy, Easy Going, Easy Does It, Lasting Love, Sunsprite, Elina, Royal Pageant (Della Balfour), The Lady, Grand Amore, Crimson Bouquet, Sharifa Asma are some of these European disease resistant roses which are being distributed by US growers.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to share this information, much of it is new to me. Heirloom Roses ( carries the roses you mentioned at the end of your comment (though many are out of stock at the moment). Easy Does It would be my first pick! You might like to know that Bailey Nurseries was doing rose breeding work here in Oregon at their Yamhill nursery with an emphasis on disease resistance.