Mildew. Blackspot. Aphids. Just a few of the reasons why gardeners run screaming from roses at the nursery. Those first two plagues are worsened by damp conditions, which Seattle has, like, 80% of the year. So Seattle gardeners might as well snip off their rose garden dreams with a Felco right now and save a lot of time, money and heartache, right?
The above only applies when you choose the roses your mom or grandmother likely grew – fussy hybrid teas which need constant fertilizing, spraying, pruning and coddling to look their best. Actually, there are beautiful, even scented, fuss-free roses that grow fantastically in the PacNW -but most of them are very very old, or spanking new.
Who are these “easy” roses anyway?
Here are the roses which made the cut for Great Plant Picks, Seattle’s “Who’s Who” of plant lists from the Elisabeth C. Miller Library. There’s a rose here for every garden, from compact ‘Bonica’ to ramblers like ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk,’ which can cover an apple tree in a couple of years. Some, like Rosa ‘De Rescht,’ a rose grown in ancient Persia, only bloom once, but with an blowsy beauty and fragrance that can make you weak in the knees. Here’s a small sample:
- Rosa glauca single pink species rose
- Rosa ‘AUSmas’ GRAHAM THOMAS® double yellow David Austin rose
- Rosa ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ semi-double white rambling rose
- Rosa ‘Ghislaine de Feligonde’ double yellow old-fashioned rose
- Rosa ‘KORwest’ WESTERLAND ™ double orange modern rose
- Rosa ‘Marchesa Boccella’ double pink old-fashioned rose
- Rosa ‘MEIdomonac’ BONICA ™ double pink modern rose
- Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ double pink old-fashioned rose
Heirloom Roses’ list for PacNW-friendly roses also includes some proven hybrid teas like ‘Iceberg.’
Sold. Where can I find these easy roses?
- Christianson’s Nursery and Greenhouse Mount Vernon
- Antique Rose Farm, Snohomish, WA
- In Seattle, larger nurseries like Swanson’s and Sky will have a decent selection.
- Heirloom Roses (Oregon) (503-583-1576)
- Vintage Gardens (California) (707-829-2035)
As you shop, here’s what to look for in a healthy rose. If you leave your shopping list at home when you hit the nursery, a general tip is to look for glossy, leathery foliage which will tend to shake off disease and predators.
Reconaissance – look before you buy at rose gardens and events
- The Woodland Park Zoo’s rose garden is 2.5 acres of lovely all season.
- Christianson’s in Mount Vernon is holding a Rose Festival June 23rd with plant clinics, guest speakers, and flower shows.
- Watch roses duke it out at the Seattle Rose Society’s Annual Rose Show – this year June 22-23 at Factoria Mall, Bellevue.
- Take a drive to Portland (the City of Roses) for its annual rose fest – through June 17