How did your roses do this year, and are they still going strong? Friend of Rant Pat Leuchtman/ Commonweeder wants more people to grow rosesâ€”hereâ€™s her guest rant explaining why.
How many times have I heard people say, â€śI love roses, but they are too much trouble and I canâ€™t be bothered with all that spraying.â€ť The problem with that statement is that the people who make it are usually thinking about hybrid tea rosesâ€”which means they are not keeping up with the real news in the rose world.
When I met with the amazing Peter Kukielski, Curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden I learned that he has tripled the number of roses in the garden since he arrived four years ago. He chose roses that are disease resistant and will not need spraying. Indeed, they cannot be sprayed because New York State has outlawed most of the ingredients in the traditional sprays.
Where did he find all these disease resistant roses? It turns out that this isn't such a new idea. During our chat, he mentioned the EarthKind varieties, which are old roses that have been tested by Texas A&M. The test involved caring for roses for one year, with proper planting, watering and weeding. For the next nine years the rose care was minimal. The result? A list of hardy roses that can take it, providing carefree beauty, as well as (often) scent. Last spring The Rose Garden began hosting a Northeastern version of the EarthKind trials. I am eager to see what they learn.
Speaking of Carefree Beauty, the popular variety was hybridized by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University. He wanted to create roses that were hardy and disease resistant, a novelty in 1950. Now dozens of Buck Roses are available.
Buck got help and advice from Wilhelm Kordes, the world famous German rose breeder. Over the years the Kordes family has continued to work on disease resistant roses; they stopped spraying their fields entirely 20 years ago. American gardeners can now buy Fairy Tales roses like the brilliant orange yellow Brothers Grimm (highly resistant to black spot and mildew) and Felicitas (equally resistant with double pink blossoms on arching canes). And the Fairy Tale series is just one of the disease resistant Kordes families. There are also low growing Vigorosa landscape roses, climbing roses and even Kordes hybrid teas.
Most people are familiar with Conard-Pyleâ€™s KnockOut roses, but may not know about hybridizer Ping Limâ€™s Easy Elegance line. Easy Elegance is so confident about the hardiness and disease resistance of these roses that they offer a two year guarantee.
Currently the NYBG website lists the top 115 roses of 2010. I watched Kukielski and a volunteer go over an exhaustive evaluation form. When he says a rose performs well he is speaking from documented evidence.
If Peter Kukielski at the NYBG can find thousands of disease resistant roses, we can all find at least a few varieties that will provide beauty and scent without compromising the health of our gardens for ourselves, our children, and all the other creatures we welcome.