a page from Ilona's Garden
Naturalized bulbs
hardy Hansa
Books, poems, and royal gardens have been dedicated to them. Artists depict them, perfumers adore them, lovers embrace them.

Roses! The memory of their fragrance can begin with the new mothers bouquet, the sweet sixteens corsage, the brides bouquet, through the “please-don’t-be-mad” offering, the I love you gift, the get-well vase, and, finally, on to the funeral bier.

They are a bouquet for all the senses: smelling sweet as roses, feeling soft as rose petals, we can eat them, we hear them abuzz with honey bees, the list can go on.

It is probably the most beloved flower …And they can adorn our gardens with the same sumptuous colors and rich fragrances, even used in the most utilitarian of ways.

In my own gardens, I have specific demands and uses for roses. The first general rule (which I break in one very special case) is that a rose must have fragrance. I am generally not interested in scentless roses when so many delightfully aromatic cultivars are available. I like healthy foliage and growth, and prefer a bushy shape. This is because I grow a garden; the purposes of cut flowers are different, and long leggy rosebushes are fabulous for cutting gardens! If I like the rose enough the plant shape is taken in stride.

Hardiness is a quality I learned to appreciate the difficult way: losing all ones plantings in a brutal, snowless winter gives new meaning to the word “hardy”.

specie rose

General Rose information:


Roses are divided into categories depending on type of flower and plant, origin, and colors. It can prove confusing, so I prefer to work with categories in the context of use in the garden. The climbing roses can be modern hybrids or species or old fashioned cultivars, but we know that they are what we want on a fence or an arbor; a shrub that holds its own in the border is preferable to a long, tall plant constantly swamped by its neighbors. So, as in other plants, think first of the situation, then look for the rose to fill it.

Find out your planting zone, and check the hardiness, then look for the height/width of the plant, each rose variety is going to have its own attributes, so any comments on the one you have an eye on is helpful.

  • Roses generally need full sun, a few tolerate less.
  • They usually like a fertile, rich soil- with debates on whether clay is better, etc., but soil that is enriched with humus will reward with blooms.
  • When watering, do not splash the foliage, especially midday, as that encourages disease.
  • It is helpful to “deadhead” the flowers and lightly prune throughout the season, always cutting back weak, dead growth, and pruning between flushes of bloom. That is similar to the care you give other plants.
  • A mulch is another amenity, keeping down weeds and conserving moisture .

scilla and chionodoxia

Landscape With Roses

This is a beauty with so many talents

pink rose How may they be used in the garden? As a shrub, as part of the border, along a fence, over an arbor, climbing into a tree, as a boundary, on a trellis, in a cutting garden, dripping over an incline, are a number of the places roses may find use. If you use the modern hybrids, there are no more freely, full season bloomers with the exception of annuals. My own choices are limited by the fact that I do not care to use chemicals, so disease resistance is a factor I would consider important.

My Growing Experience:

single rose

This page has my personal observations on certain roses in the garden.

You will probably need more information on roses than I am furnishing, so for your convenience I have a group of the rose sites I find most helpful in the sidebar.

Don’t forget how useful catalogs are when shopping through a store full of beautiful rose plants. And consider ordering your roses through the catalogs -just because you can get fresh plants delivered to your door.


Roses Can Run

I don’t know why, but there are some things that garden writers tend to overlook. One fact is that some roses run at the root. I consider this important, and now (unintended) have an entire bed devoted to Charles De Mills and whoever can compete with him. This is a Gallica rose, and the eglantine rose spreads widely as well. The Rosa Glauca seeds itself, but it is not difficult to dispose of unwanted plants. Watch out for Thèrése Bugnet, since she likes to develop root spread as she settles in, as well.

Blues Are For Moons

Everyone has color preferences and I am sure there are people that love the modern attempts for a blue rose. The colors achieved so far, in types such as the Sterling var. are what I would term “insipid”. Pale anemic roses, although perfect for a Gothic/Vampire theme garden, do not find a place in my garden. If I want pale pink, Nymphe de Cuisse, Konigen Von Danemark, and others give something lovely. But, à chacun son goût.

Roses are Shrubs in the Garden, Flowers in our home,

Fragrance in our hearts


Small But Mighty

Dortmund rose

Miniature roses are often surprisingly hardy and give a unique look in the garden. They have the rose asset of being both perennial and blooming throughout the season. One of my favorites is called “Green Ice”. It has that lovely ivory white that turns to softest sherbet green, the same coloring that you find in a grander scale in the “Annabelle” Hydrangea. It has healthy foliage and full little flowers all summer!  Great for front of borders or little stops at the edge, and a hedge would be  something.

Social Climbing Roses

And here are my favorite climbers: “America” -wow, this rose has hardiness (with some protection), lovely fragrance, warm coral color, good bloom; “Alchemyst” a single bloomtime in spring, but so generously! A very soft apricot in an old fashioned full petal form. New Dawn Climbing Rose which you can purchase conveniently through Amazon! This rose is one of the hardiest, which really means something when you want a climber in cold climates – it is a soft pink color and is healthy- if you try this you won’t be sorry.

Leucojum (Giant or Summer Snowflake)

Very Hardy Roses

Hybrid Teas

  • Fragrant Cloud
  • French Lace
  • Peace
  • Garden Party
  • Just Joey
  • Mary Rose
  • Mr. Lincoln

Special Use Roses

  • The Alchemyst, climber
  • Golden Showers, climber
  • America, climber
  • New Dawn, climber-hardy
  • Green Ice, miniature
  • Holy Toledo, miniature
  • Carrousel, miniature

Winter Care

For the past few years, which have been mild, I have experimented with a Canadian technique which is described below. It essentially is growing roses on their own roots at a deeper measure to insure against frost damage. So far,so good; but it really hasn’t been fully tested,yet.

Planting is as follows:

*bare root plants are planted in a hole deep enough to cover the bud union with six inches of soil to meet the surface of the flowerbed.

*potted plants , after dormancy has broken, require a sort of pit which is filled in at the end of the growing season (otherwise, uhoh, smothered plants).

Quick Tips

All the important stuff

peace rose
Rose Hints

  • Buy #1 stock,1 1/2 and 2 are inferior
  • Don’t splash water on leaves,if possible
  • Roses need fertilizer
  • Mulch is good underneath roses
  • Prune dead, weak growth and spent blooms

Roses are an important component of Cottage Gardens, read about ideas for use and companions, there.

All Season Interest

Rosehips For Winter

rose hipsIt is sometimes forgotten how beautiful rosehips are for winter color. The shrub roses, such as the rugosas are best for showy red berries. And don’t forget that they can be used for a healthful tea!


More of My Roses:

A selection of pages from this site

Growing in my garden.

My journal reports on the topic:

Scenting the Air

Heirlooms in June

Number You Killed

Some Tips

Where Should I Plant This Rose?