No other flowering shrub brings about as much emotion, especially romantic emotion, as the rose. In fact, 10 years ago, my husband and I were married at the renowned rose garden in Thornden Park in Syracuse. It’s no wonder that people love roses in the garden — with their season-long flower production, large flowers, and almost unlimited color choice roses are an integral part of almost any flower garden.
Many of the roses in the Syracuse rose garden are climbing roses, hybrid tea roses, floribunda, and grandiflora. There is no doubt that these roses are beautiful. Their peak blooms are in June and July, but as I remember the roses still looked gorgeous in August during our wedding with their large fragrant blooms.
Unfortunately, these types of roses take a lot of care, especially since they are not particularly hardy in our harsh winter climate. To survive they need extra protection, in the form of heavy winter mulches, burlap wraps, and even the burying of their canes, in the case of climbing roses. And many times, even if you manage to keep the rose alive, there is significant winter die back. This can add stress to the plant, causing it to be more susceptible to diseases and live a significantly shorter life than a tender rose grown in a warmer, milder climate.
Fortunately, over the past 20-30 years, many varieties of hardy shrub roses have been bred to better survive our harsher winters. Modern shrub roses vary in hardiness, but also in plant size and form, flower color, fragrance, and flower shape. They also vary in their disease resistance. Some of the more common modern rose series include the artist series and explorer series, the knock out roses, and the modern series. There are many other series to consider as well.
Planting a hardy rose is similar to planting any shrub, though the graft union (normally a slightly swollen knob) should be planted 2-3 inches below the soil’s surface. Caring for a hardy, modern shrub rose is similar to that of any other shrub or woody plant. In particular, roses want to be in an area with at least 6 hours of sunlight. Roses will need to be watered, at the root level regularily, and only minimally fertilized.
If you are looking for a plant to add season-long color to the garden, consider trying one of the newer hardy shrub roses. Finding suitable rose suitable to our northern winters and your unique growing conditions from the among the growing number of hardy shrub roses does require research, but in my opinion is well worth the investigation!