Once I had a rose garden; now I just have roses



 This is by way of saying that roses are always in the
spotlight for the June GBBD, but it is interesting how my use of roses has
evolved. Well, it interests me. When we moved into our property, the previous
owner had left a walled-in rose garden of one hybrid tea (Double Delight), a
red climber and a bunch of white shrubs. Only the climber is left, as the
hybrid tea was a disgusting blackspot magnet and the shrubs would give out one
big bloom and then be decimated by midge. Back in those days, I was using the
full arsenal of sprays, which is what I had been told was necessary.


All that stopped when I pulled out most of the roses,
replacing them with lilies and perennials. I was able to get rid of my ventilator.
But lately, roses have been sneaking back into the mix. I can’t resist the old
or old-style cultivars, like Louise Odier and Abraham Darby. And climbing
anything is totally necessary for my narrow space; it demands vertical growth.


Now I have roses mixed in with tall perennials. Their
ungainly shrub habit doesn’t bother me because you really can’t see it,
surrounded as it is. Nothing gets sprayed, and they perform quite well all
season, with a decent amount of rebloom. I’ve picked Charlotte right into
November (shown above; I try to avoid too many close-ups, but you have to with roses).

I’d prefer always to garden with roses, but if these
misbehave, they won’t leave much of a gap behind. And here’s my other GBBD

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. i could have written this post. i planted tons of different kinds of roses all through my gardens years ago. i never sprayed them. this last year towards the end of winter i checked on them and they were downright ugly. i missed trimming them last year and they had grown into monsters. i have a lot of them in a roomed in part of my gardens. recently i walked down the path and opened the doors and literally
    caught my breath. all of them were at top bloom and were gorgeous. i think i will keep them. they have no idea how close they came death! you can see them in all their glory on my blog.

  2. Great post, Elizabeth. I am never interested in rose gardens per se, even at fabulous botanical gardens. But mix roses in with other perennials, and I’m enthralled. That’s the way they should always be grown.

  3. I introduced a rose-garden only friend to the wonder of perennials and not spraying, when I told her that the holes in her passion vine were from butterfly caterpillars and made that connection for her between the plants and the critters. She ended up being a butterfly freak, and including butterfly plants in her garden which was beautiful with all the roses. Side benefit, of course, less spraying of things since all the good critters that ate aphids were attracted to her garden now.

    Then again, she’s the only reason my garden has roses, since that was the one question she had when she saw my pretty yard — where were my roses. She insisted on buying me a couple, and now I have a lot of them, all organically grown.

    So now we both have roses, and perennials, and butterflies Always something to learn from each other!

  4. The only thing I don’t like about the roses mixed in with the perennials is it is hazardous to weed. I have a no- name lovely little pink rose that spreads by runners (only rose to survive from the former owners rose garden,oh and Blaze, too) and weeding in that bed results in bleeding and hair catching.

  5. I never tire of reading how people use roses in their landscapes. Roses can be beautiful, healthy plants. We just need to choose the right types for our gardens. I like that you have a few sneaking back. ‘Double Delight’ was one of the first roses I ever grew, but it is long gone. Too much trouble.~~Dee

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