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Putting roses to work for you.

Putting roses to work for you

Be bold with roses, and you can create a spectacularly colorful landscape. But first you may have to change the way you think about these familiar plants. Forget the perfectly formed, long-stemmed hybrid tea that makes such a wonderful cut flower. Concentrate, instead, on floribundas, miniatures, and climbers--tough, versatile plants that bloom almost continuously from spring to fall. And put aside, too, what you've been told about pruning a hybrid tea (as on page 135); with landscape roses such as these, the rules are different--and simpler.

If you do all this, you'll have one of the most useful and rewarding landscape plants at your disposal.

For best results, keep it simple. Use massed planting of one variety

The old saying that there is beauty in simplicity is never truer than when you are landscaping with roses. Sure, you can mix different rose varieties with beautiful results, but the most stunning plantings use just one variety--and a lot of it.

This might sound like an expensive proposition, but it doesn't have to be. January is one of the best months to buy roses relatively cheaply, in bare-root form. Some mail-order nurseries even give discounts if you buy larger quantities.

The best types and how to use them

Not all roses are top-notch landscape plants. The best ones are repeat bloomers, flowering over and over again from spring through fall. They're attractive, compact plants with clean-looking foliage, and they resist pests and disease. Here are some that have won their stripes:

Floribundas and other shrubs. As a group, these are probably the finest landscape roses. They bear large clusters of flowers atop compact 2- to 5-foot-tall plants that are covered with shiny green leaves. Spaced 18 to 36 inches apart, floribundas make excellent small hedges, borders, and foundation plantings. Or plant them in groups as ground covers.

Some dependable varieties include white-flowering "Iceberg'; yellow "Sunflare'; pink "Simplicity'; red "Europeana', "Showbiz' and "Trumpeter'; and orange-red "Sarabande'.

Polyantha roses are a parent of many modern floribundas. With an abundance of small flowers borne in big clusters, these, too, make excellent landscape shrubs. Particularly attractive are pink-flowering "The Fairy', "Betty Prior', and "China Doll'.

Similar to the floribundas and equally versatile is the new generation of compact hybrid shrub roses recently introduced by several different nurseries. One of the finest is "Bonica', a vigorous beauty with pink flowers.

Miniatures. These don't grow as tall as floribundas, usually reaching 12 to 24 inches (a few get over 3 feet), with tiny leaves and flowers. Blooms are borne singly or in clusters and often resemble small versions of hybrid teas. Use them as small borders or edgings for walkways and taller plants.

Top landscape varieties include "Pink Cinderella'; orange "Holy Toledo'; yellow "Rise 'n Shine'; "Magic Carousel', with white blooms edged with pink; and orange-red "Starina'.

Climbers. There are several types of climbing roses, including climbing sports of popular hybrid teas. Some are very vigorous plants, which are difficult to maintain. All need support, as they will not cling to a surface on their own.

Climbing roses look beautiful sprawling over an arbor, tied to a trellis, or supported by a fence. A few of the more vigorous varieties can be used as ground covers.

Three of the best red-flowering climbers are "Blaze' (often sold as "Improved Paul's Scarlet'), "Don Juan', and "Tempo'. They look stunning on white fences. "White Dawn' is an excellent white-flowering climber and "Royal Gold' a good yellow one. Although plants are a bit hard to find in nurseries today, the salmon pink flowers of "Climbing Mrs. Sam McGredy' have graced the fences in front of Sunset's offices in Menlo Park, California, for more than 30 years (see the photograph on page 70).

Plant in full sun; water, feed regularly

All roses grow and bloom best in full sun. Less sun means fewer flowers and more disease. Letting plants dry out will also cost you flowers.

Frequent feeding with high-nitrogen fertilizer is important to keep plants blooming. Begin fertilizing in February and repeat applications every four to six weeks until October or November. Try to time applications to the ending of bloom cycles.

Remove dead flowers in summer; prune more lightly in winter

Throughout the growing season, cut back spent flowers to two or three leaves below the cluster. For floribunda, miniature, and other shrubby roses, dormant-prune to form a dome-shaped plant. Reduce the plant's mass by a third, leaving quite a bit of the twiggy growth (see above left). This encourages the plant to bloom, later, from top to bottom. Harder pruning, such as that recommended for hybrid teas, concentrates flowers at the top of the plant.

You can also use this lighter pruning to keep hybrid teas and grandifloras looking fuller and better in the landscape.

Whether deadheading in summer or dormant-pruning in winter, don't be afraid to use hedge shears on shrubby roses. You'll save yourself a lot of time.

Climbing roses take a little more training. They bloom best if permanent canes are trained horizontally and side shoots are selected for blooming (see illustration on page 70).

Where to buy landscape roses

You'll find a good selection this month in most nurseries and garden centers. Or send for free catalogs from the following Western mail-order suppliers: Armstrong Roses, Box 59, Somis, Calif. 93066; Jackson & Perkins Co., Box 1028, Medford, Ore. 97501; Roses by Fred Edmunds, 6235 S.W. Kahle Rd., Wilsonville, Ore. 97070; Stocking's Rose Nursery, 785 N. Capitol Ave., San Jose, Calif. 95133.

Photo: Miniatures

Photo: Floribundas

Photo: Climbers

Photo: Hedge of 55 pink rose bushes defines lot line, shields view.

Two years old, the planting consists of "Simplicity' floribundas spaced 18 inches apart. One line of drip tubing provides water

Photo: Patio gets soft color from pink floribundas nine months of the year; 24 "Simplicity' roses at 24-inch intervals form three-year-old border in this Montecito, California, garden. Hybrid Bermuda grass fills in between flagstones. Design: Isabelle C. Greene & Associates

Photo: Entry path is lined with 46 white "Iceberg' floribundas 24 inches apart. The showy two-year-old hedge bids fragrant welcome

Photo: Softening the geometry of this Portland garage, two five-year-old "Blaze' climbers arch in from each side toward the center; they're supported by metal pipe on arm-like brackets

Photo: Train climbing roses so permanent branches are horizontal; vertical side branches will produce flowers. In winter, shorten side branches to two or three buds. Results are like "Climbing Mrs. Sam McGredy' (right) on fence in front of Sunset's Menlo Park offices

Photo: Climbing rose atop arbor forms classic garden entry. This old-timer, "American Pillar', blooms in spring in Portland. Newer varieties repeat bloom throughout growing season

Photo: In winter, prune shrubby landscape roses as dotted lines indicate, leaving some twiggy growth. In summer, plants will bloom from top to bottom
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jan 1, 1988
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