Always Room for Roses – Landscaping a Rose Garden

Elizabeth-Park-Rose-Garden-Hartford-Connecticut

It’s a warm summer evening, and you are looking over your garden. You view the explosion of color along your border made of low growing dark red and deep burgundy roses (whose colors mean “unconscious beauty”).  Climbing white roses (symbols of purity and reverence) sprawl lazily along your back fence, while other rambling peach colored roses (a call to “gather together”) cascade cheerfully down the trellis leading to the front yard. You take a cool sip from your glass and smile smugly.

You are glad you didn’t listen to all those naysayers, who claimed that growing roses was difficult and time consuming. Hah! After you learned about landscaping a rose garden, you knew there is always room for roses. Landscaping a rose garden is not hard once you understand some main concepts and principles involved. If you’re a techie like me a hedged bush like the one above, also gives you the opportunity to add gadgets like outdoor projectors and outdoor audio devices, without spoiling the view.

Choose Landscape Roses

Don’t be surprised when you head out to your garden center that you don’t find any rose plants labeled “landscape”.  Technically a landscape rose is any rose that is a low maintenance bush or groundcover and is the cornerstone when landscaping a rose garden. Landscape and groundcover roses are varieties of roses that are considered to be compact in size, very disease resistant, require little pruning, grow quickly and bloom almost continuously during the season.  Of course all roses are in “landscapes” and no rose is a true “groundcover “since they can’t kill off the weeds that grow underneath.

“Landscape” rose varieties are often planted along roadways and in small parkways and were so nicknamed for their ability to survive all manner of neglect and abuse. They generally grow about 4-5 feet. On the other hand “groundcover” roses are short (under 2-3 feet high), vigorous growers that can reach widths of over 4-6 feet hence their nickname.How to Pick Landscape RosesWhile browsing at the garden center, not only should you look at plants for their growth and size at maturity, but also for their robustness. A cold hardy landscape species is best for the home gardener who doesn’t have a lot of room or a lot of time to fuss with them.

A good landscape shrub or bush ideally will bloom all season long with just a bit of fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. The bloom heads should naturally wither away and fall off on their own without a lot of deadheading (removing dead blooms to increase the number of flowers). They should also be resistant to black spot and powdery mildew so you won’t have to spray for fungus. But even the toughest of roses require a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight, regular watering and insect control measures for mites and thrips.

All roses should be pruned back to 50% with hedge trimmers for the winter.Filling in Your Rose Garden  Although it is tempting, you really should fill a garden completely with rose shrubs. Often master gardeners use other plant life as contrast pieces to balance out the garden’s palette. You can use Rock Cress (Arabis caucasica) planted in 3-12 dozen bunches (so they grow in round 1 foot high masses) to fill the spaces underneath a groundcover rose.  Or by planting Candytufts (Iberis sempervirens) around the base of a taller landscape rose shrub.Landscaping a rose garden can be easy once you know which plants to use.

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