Hardy Roses

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare loftily ponders “What is in a name? Oh but a rose would smell as sweet!” While we twenty-first century gardeners don’t have to worry about being a Montague or Capulet (and the demise that may ensue!), we still find ourselves headily tripping over names while admiring roses in gardens around the community…”An interesting specimen there, Margaret. Ah yes – ahem (nasal snort and raised eyebrow) – remarkable similarity to a rugosa. And yet clear delineations concurrent with the Explorers. Whatsmore, the pallette…hints of lavender-pink…must be a Pavement series!” As a nursery grower, I often field commentaries from rosarians (a.k.a rose enthusiasts) of this nature. So wrapped up in nomenclature are these well-meaning rose advocates,in fact, that they sometimes forget the most basic and enticing thing about roses: they are gorgeous! Hardy or tender, prostrate or climbing, captivatingly scented or simply a tickle of the olfactory bulb, roses should be primarily appreciated for the beauty with which they shower their admirers. As I always tell aspiring rose gardeners: remember, it is beauty first, name second!
That being said, however, sometimes it is nice to refer to your favorite rosa species or hybrid as more than “that beautiful plant over there.” In practices of landscaping and cultivation, being cogent about varietal names can be useful. Last week we explored the merits of tender roses, this week we explore roses that can withstand our cold prairie winters.
Rugosa Roses –
Widely known for their superior vigor and disease resistance, rugosas are extremely hardy and reliable producers for cold winter climates. Top picks for all-around performance are Hansa (violet flowers, 1.5m x 1.5m sizing, large red rose hips in winter), Hunter (very fragrant red flowers, 1m x 1m sizing, full flowers with 45 petals per bloom), and Topaz Jewel (the very first yellow rugosa, moderately fragrant, clusters of flowers at branch ends.)
Explorer Roses –
Named after famous Canadian explorers, this series of roses has been bred to uphold standards of extreme disease resistance, cold hardiness, and abundant flower production. Along with several gorgeous shrub-type varieties, the Explorer series encapsulates arguably the best climbers on the Canadian market. John Davis (climber, light pink, fragrant, 2-2.5m x 2m sizing), John Cabot (climber, purple-red, fragrant, 2.5-2.75m x 2m sizing), and Lambert Closse (shrub, pastel pink, classic tea-like blooms, very fragrant, 1m x 1m sizing) are definite must-haves in this series.
Parkland Roses –
Several generations of research and innovation have resulted in the Parkland series of roses. Combining beauty with ease-of-care and performance, this line of roses has numerous, very celebrated varieties that are perfectly suited to the prairies. Among the dozens of excellent Parkland roses are the Mordens (top picks: Morden Blush – light pink, longest bloom time of any prairie rose, 1m x 1m sizing; Morden Centennial – hot pink, very showy, 1.2m x 1.2m sizing; and Morden Sunrise – fiery orange and yellow, recurrent bloomer, .6m x.6m sizing). Other significant notables in this genre are Hope for Humanity (bright red, bred in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Red Cross, 1m x 1m sizing) and Winnipeg Parks (deep pink – purple blooms, classic tea-like flowers, light fragrance, .8m x.8m sizing.)
Canadian Artist Roses –
A relatively new series of roses, the focus of this line is celebrated Canadian artists who have demonstrated resilience and vision through their work. Emily Carr (deep red flowers, recurrent bloomer, light fragrance, 1m x 1m sizing) is the most well known of this series, adding elegance to any garden it graces.
Roses are remarkable plants and are valuable assets in any sunny garden. With some rose fossils having been dated to be up to 40 000 years old, there can be little doubt that this beautiful plant is here to stay. Long live the world’s most successful garden plant!


About the author

Tricia Ingram

Tricia Ingram

Owner Cobblestone Garden Centre, designer, hort grower, writer, & educator. Language enthusiast, sports fanatic, music & arts lover, volunteer, youth advocate

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