Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

April 4, 2006 > So many roses!

So many roses!

by Pat Kite

I have now planted a new tea rose, a grandiflora, and a shrub rose. Once upon a time, these definitions seemed somewhat obtuse, which is why I have a lot of wrong size roses mismatched together. So let me clarify.

Tea Roses: These are the single stemmed beauties, similar to florist's roses. Endlessly hybridized, they come in multiple color combinations. Height is 3 to 4 feet, with a tidy appearance. Some have fragrance, some don't. Read the label, but, better yet, sniff a sample. To avoid aggravation, look for label descriptions that include: "disease resistant." My favorite rose in the whole wide world is "Double Delight," creamy white and red.

Grandifloras are bushy and tall, from 4 to 6 feet high. Their large flowers come in clusters, or groups. Grandifloras need room. Some, such as the yellow "Buccaneer" make a good fence-hiding hedge.

Shrub Roses: My new shrub rose, a salmon pink, went in a corner underneath my fig tree. It will reach 3x3 feet. But some shrub roses can get to 7x7 feet. Shrubs tend to be enthusiastic growers, so pick your site carefully. Check to see whether your purchase just blooms once a year, or is recurrent, i.e. blooms all summer.

Climbing Roses: The bright yellow "Sutter's Gold" climbing rose in my back yard is 30 years old. It is now about 20 feet high and arches like an umbrella. Next to it is bright red "Blaze," very hardy and showy, but lower at 10 feet. The duo is a nice fence concealing combination.

Polyanthas: These are short shrubs, about 2 feet high, covered all season with clusters of small flowers. They're quite hardy, but seldom have fragrance. If you want scenic rose bushes for a patio, porch or balcony, these are a good choice. Don't forget to water. Roses love water.

Floribundas: If you yearn for a rose border fronting your abode, these are a good choice. Floribunda flower clusters are showy all summer. Plant in groups of one variety for the best eye catcher. Know your final height when selecting a border. Floribundas usually stay about 3 feet high, but some get more space optimistic.

People keep saying roses are hard to grow. Such blather! In our clay soil, roses are happy campers indeed. Give them sun, ample water, a bit of fertilizer once in a while, and the only work needed is pruning in January. I hack away, and my plethora of roses does well despite the haphazardness.

Did you know that the original rosaries, symbols of Mary's rose garden, were made up of rose petals pressed tightly together? The rose beads gave off a pleasing aroma during the prayer count.
An Announcement! The University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley is having its annual spring Super Sale on Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free. Thousands of plants will be on sale, including many rare varieties.

For information, visit

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