Everybody who thinks roses are a lot of trouble for a few pretty flowers on a pathetic, disease-ridden bush really needs to meet Russelliana, otherwise known as Old Spanish Rose, or Souvenir de
la Bataille de Marengo, among other things. (She dates to 1840 and has had time to pick up a few aliases.)
And forbearance for the fact that it only blooms once, for about two weeks.
Knockout roses? Go ahead, but they look like a comparative gaudy nothing. Austin roses? Well, I do own a Constance Spry, which is spectacular in a less subtle way. It's also a once-bloomer. But the rest of the Austins I've experimented with? Awkwardly shaped bushes, most of which disappear into the great beyond over the course of an upstate winter.
Why am I such an authority? I have personally killed more roses than most people look at in a lifetime. In my part of the world, absolutely nothing is as beautiful and carefree as the once-blooming Old European roses.
This may not be true everywhere. I had a conversation once with customer service at the Antique Rose Emporium, which is my favorite source for these roses. And the woman I was speaking with said that in Texas, they are not so great. Maybe they don't like the heat? Maybe in Texas there are other old rose categories, like Tea Roses, that are equally spectacular and rebloom?
But in the Northeast, for my money, it's the old unimproved once-bloomers, all the way.