I learned the most important facts about roses from my grandfather and they go like this:
Roses are not fussy plants, if they have full sun exposure they will put up with conditions that few perennials can withstand: drought, heavy soils, extreme temperatures on both sides of the spectrum and even salty water. Read more…
For rose aficionados the really creative work happens during rose breeding. The process of creating new roses is lengthy and the success rate is very low, but if you are a daring gardener, it goes something like this. Read more…
Having healthy roses is more about prevention than it is about cure. Give the shrubs plenty of space to prevent moisture from sticking to their leaves, make sure they have at least six, preferably eight hours of full sun a day Read more…
Oh, how I love this rose! When I bought it it bore the name “Unknown”. After having it in the garden for several years I started to understand that the growers couldn’t figure out which of its many faces was the real one. Every year it bears different blooms. If you don’t believe me, check out the second, the third and the fifth images in the roses’ slide show. Read more…
Roseraie de l’Hay was the first rose to bloom this year. Many more to come, though, by the number of buds waiting to open. All the rose bushes are absolutely covered in them, it looks like it’s going to be a very good year for roses, we’re having the June bloom in May. Read more…
One of the things I like most about this rose is that no two flowers are ever the same. Through the years I have seen a full range of warm pastels: the lightest butter, almost white petals with rose tinged edges, honey yellow, blush rose. Read more…
And the winner of the first rose to bloom this year award is….Hansa! This beautiful rugosa is an all year blessing to the garden: in spring it blooms profusely sporting pinkish purple flowers with a mixture of old rose and clove fragrance. Once the bloom fades, big round rose hips form. In the fall the foliage turns coppery orange and in the winter the ripe bright orange rose hips are quite striking against the snow.
Hansa is a cold weather rose, hardy to zone 3. It tends to dislike hot weather and does better in the northern regions, where it is extremely disease resistant. It is not a patented rose and you can get an entire flower bed worth of it over one winter. I started a cutting last fall and it rooted immediately. I couldn’t make an accurate assessment on the success rate for starting this rose from cuttings, but of all the roses I tried this was the one that seemed to root effortlessly. For additional information about how to start roses from cuttings, see the “Take Rose Cuttings” article.
Like all rugosas it has a wide and kind of unruly growth habit perfect for filling an empty spot at the back of a sunny border. It grows 5 to 7 feet tall, so make sure to plant it in a location where that would be a feature.
As you probably know, roses are cousins with apples, plums and raspberries, and definitely edible. The rose hips are a rich source of vitamin C and have a pleasant tart tangy flavor, reminiscent of cranberries. They can not be eaten raw, because the rose seeds are imbedded in a thick mat of itchy fiberglass like filaments, but the fruit can be boiled and strained and used in syrups, jellies and teas. The strained fruit pulp and juice mixed with honey makes for a delicious breakfast treat.
The coloring of rose hip jam (bright jewel red or orange) and its tartness makes it a prime ingredient for dessert baking. It is particularly decorative in pastries with many thin layers or as a healthy and natural coloring for frosting. Here is the recipe:
Rose Hip Jam
– 1 lb of prepared rose hips
– 1 cup of water
– 3 1/2 cups of sugar
Prepare the rose hips by cutting them across and scooping out the seeds and filaments. Wash them well and set them to simmer with one cup of water for at least 20 minutes, until they are very soft. Press the mixture through a very thick sieve and/or a cheesecloth.
Add about 3 1/2 cups of sugar to 1 lb of rose hip pulp and simmer as you would any jam to obtain the proper consistency ( the jam needs to thicken until a droplet dropped on a cold plate keeps its shape).
Let it cool down, pour into sterilized jars and enjoy.
Pruning is a simple and necessary part of keeping a rose healthy, strong and blooming. If you prune the rose wrong, you may not get a lot of flowers the following year, or none at all, but there is no wrong way to prune that will kill an established rose.
If anything, if you can live with a couple of years of no flowers, the rose will get a lot of rest and renewed energy for new growth.
Why prune roses
There are four reasons to prune roses: remove old and diseased canes to make room for more growth, allow air movement, shape the bushes to your liking and encourage blooming.
What roses to prune
1. Do not prune shrub, species and old garden roses (the once a year blooming roses) in spring! Some examples would be Albas, Damasks, Moss Roses and Gallicas. These roses generally have a tall growth habit and bloom on old wood. If you prune them in spring, you will cut out all the new year’s flower growth. Prune after blooming to remove diseased canes, make sure there is enough air movement to keep the rose bushes healthy and promote new growth. Allow the tall Albas and Centifolias to reach their full height and prune only laterally. Wait for two years before starting pruning, because flowers appear on second year wood.
2. For modern roses such as Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Grandifloras, and Hybrid Perpetuals prune with confidence up to 2/3 of the plant growth. They will grow back stronger for it. Remove canes that are larger than 1/2 inch in diameter and everything in the middle of the bush, to allow plant to develop and prevent overcrowding. Remove any canes that have winter damage. Leave three or four well spaced young canes per bush, making sure that growth is outward facing (see section about pruning cuts).
3. Cut back Bourbons by 1/3 of growth, after a couple of years. Remove lateral shoots.
4. Do not prune young roses and newly planted roses at all. They need all the growth they have.
5. For Miniature roses and Polyanthas, clean out dead and diseased canes and then cut them back to the height you want.
6. For landscaping roses, you can take the hedge shaper and cut across to the height you want.
7. Climbers and Ramblers, regardless of the fact that they are single or repeat bloomers should be pruned during the dormant season. Do not prune at all during the first two or three years, just remove the dead canes. After that prune back only old canes enough to remove clutter and promote new growth. Ramblers bloom on second year wood, so prune cautiously.
How to prune roses
The general rule of thumb for pruning cuts is a 45 degree cut that is made 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud, with the cut facing towards the inside of the bush. Remove all crossing, diseased or winter damaged canes. Remove old woody canes and canes larger than 1/2 inch in diameter.
When to prune
Prune old roses after they finished blooming to allow new growth before the cold season.
Prune perpetual blooming roses at the end of winter, beginning of spring, when new buds start developing. Pruning too early encourages roses to generate new shoots that get damaged by frosts, pruning too late makes the plant expend a lot of energy on growth that will be removed anyway. A good rule for the Midwest is to prune roses when the forsythia blooms.
Last, but not least, always use sharp clean pruning shears. I recommend disinfecting them with alcohol to prevent the spread of disease to the roses while pruning.
This last winter storm left us with some fallen branches among crystal roses. It is so eerie to walk around the frozen garden whose branches and twigs sound like glass wind chimes when the breeze moves them.
Barren twigs thickly covered in ice emit their own light due to a strange refraction phenomenon. There are a few more pictures on flickr.