If you had money to burn on your garden, you’d go to the garden center every weekend and buy flat after flat of gorgeous annuals in full bloom. Your garden would be a riot of color from now until the first frost knocks everything down.
And what would you have to show for all that money when next spring comes around? Nothing. That’s the problem with short-lived tender annuals — they die and don’t come back. (Well, except for a few self-sowers.)
With perennials, though, you get plants that should come back year after year. And some of the best blooms-for-your-buck perennials to try are the new easy-care roses that more and more nurseries and home centers are carrying.
Getting roses to survive and thrive from one year to the next used to mean maintaining a frightening arsenal of poisons and chemical potions to fight off bugs and diseases. In recent years, though, wholesale growers have been bringing more low-maintenance, long-blooming roses to market.
Many gardeners have fallen in love with the Knock Out brand of easy-care roses in recent years.
Knock Out roses in full bloom at Wave Hill in Riverdale:
The Flower Carpet series of groundcover roses from Anthony Tesselaar Plants has also won praise from rosarians.
This spring, we’re welcoming a new easy-care rose called Rosa Oso Easy ‘Paprika,’ which was developed by renowned hybridizer Chris Warner of England.
Other roses in the Oso Easy series, which sound more like food than plants, include ‘Honey Bun,’ ‘Cherry Pie,’ ‘Peachy Cream,’ ‘Fragrant Spreader’ and ‘Strawberry Crush.’ The series is part of the Proven Winners ColorChoice line.
‘Paprika’ is a low-growing perennial shrub rose that will reach a height of just 1 to 2 feet, making it a good choice for containers and patio gardens. From spring until frost, ‘Paprika’ will produce lots of spicy, reddish-orange single blooms with a bright yellow center. As they age, the flowers fade to a soft coral color with a golden center. The glossy green foliage offers hints of red in the new growth. For more information, visit provenwinners.com.
Another reliable brand is the Easy Elegance collection from Bailey Nurseries, a family operation out of St. Paul, Minn.
One of the most colorful in the collection is a low-growing shrub rose called Sunrise Sunset, which boasts bright fuchsia pink petals that change to apricot yellow near the center.
(Photos from Bailey Nurseries)
Its dense, spreading habit makes it a good groundcover, or try planting it en masse down a hillside or near a swimming pool.
The slightly blue-green foliage is supposed to be completely disease resistant. Like others in the Easy Elegance collection, Sunrise Sunset has been bred by Ping Lim, a well-known hybridizer who uses no chemicals in the breeding or evaluation programs. In fact, he sprays the test roses with powdery mildew and black spot as part of the evaluation program. Any that show signs of problems are eliminated.
Sunrise Sunset is hardy to USDA Zone 4. Unlike many roses grown for the commercial market, it’s grown on its own roots, making it more vigorous and more likely to keep its true color if a particularly cold winter kills the shrub back to the ground. (If this happens, healthy new canes will emerge from the roots, Bailey says.)
Roses like lots of sun and a good watering or rainfall once a week. Water in the morning to avoid getting the foliage wet.
Last year, Bailey added three new low-maintenance roses to it Easy Elegance collection: Super Hero, a deep-red floribunda rose; My Girl, a deep-pink shrub rose; and All the Rage, an apricot shrub rose that changes colors while in bloom.
The tight coral buds of All the Rage open up into apricot-colored blooms with luminous yellow centers. As the flowers come into full flower, they take on a lipstick-pink hue.
All the Rage is as easy to grow as any other shrub, Bailey says. You don’t even have to call yourself a gardener.
This new variety is hardy to USDA Zone 4. Most roses appreciate a good protection of mulch or extra soil for their first winter.
My Girl would be a wonderful addition to any garden that can stand up to its vivid pink hue.
It offers ruffled double blooms atop medium green foliage. Its fairly compact growth habit — 2 to 3 feet tall — makes it an ideal choice for small spaces.
Super Hero, a new deep-red stunner in the collection, looks like a surefire winner for any yard.
Along with the everblooming red flowers, this caped crusader offers medium to dark green foliage that should withstand hot and humid Hudson Valley summers. Hardy to USDA Zone 4, Super Hero will reach a height of 3 to 5 feet.
If you like a classic, subtle white rose with just a hint of color, one called Snowdrift from the Easy Elegance collection may be the one for you. (Who comes up with these names, by the way? It must be as much fun as naming lipsticks or paint colors.)
Presumably, this beauty in white got its name for its uniform, upright habit with blooms covering the plant all the way to the ground. The cup-shaped blossoms are creamy white with a hint of apricot in the center as the blooms begin to open.
Snowdrift is very reminiscent of English roses, Bailey says. Each cluster of blooms retains its pure color before dropping cleanly to the ground.
Look for Easy Elegance roses in the better nurseries and garden centers. For more information, visit www.easyeleganceroses.com or www.baileynurseries.com.