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Article: Have no fear, Earthkind roses are here: A Good Place to Start

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Forum: Article: Have no fear, Earthkind roses are hereReplies: 4, Views: 19
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Prescott, AZ
(Zone 7a)

January 11, 2010
10:59 PM

Post #7453110


Thanks for putting together a good article on Earthkind Roses. This is a great starting point for those who are new to rose gardening; it's a source rich with the easiest care roses. Many of these have been grown in gardens for over a century; and many will do well over most of the US. My own experience with roses on the Earthkind list has been quite positive. I've grown New Dawn in TX and NJ and been wowed by its performance both places. I've grown Sea Foam and Knockout and been completely satisfied with their vigor and disease resistance, when most other roses failed. I've seen Carefree Beauty blooming in a municipal garden in Somerset NJ where it covered its head-high frame with flowers. And I was amazed by its ability to produce blossoms.

As you pointed out when you were doing research for the article, there are several potential shortcomings with the Earthkind list.
1) The roses on the list are primarily pink.
2) The list does not place any premium on fragrance or flower form.
3) Earthkind is a program of Texas A&M where winters are mild and summers are hot and humid. It has therefore has produced a different set of roses than would have been produced at, say, Iowa State or U of VT. Notably, it includes a number of tender roses; and eschews a number of roses that do well where summers are not blistering hot.

I feel I must comment on the list of alternatives. Some of these I have grown in my own garden; others I have seen grown elsewhere. I must emphasize that my comments below are based on personal experience or observation which may not be typical. But I am a gardener with a low level of patience for plants that need coddling; and that's the target audience for Earthkind roses.

Some years ago I saw Hot Cocoa in the San Jose Municipal garden. Whereas Day Breaker was a big and healthy plant covered with flowers, Hot Cocoa was scrawny, recumbent, and had just three thimble-sized blossoms. Normally, that would be a problem; but I found the flowers so unattractive that I thought the plant would have looked better without them. Admittedly, the color issue is one of taste; but the bloom production is not. It may be that it was a young plant. In any case, Hot Cocoa is better considered a novelty rose than a typical garden rose simply because it is so different from what one is likely to choose if one were just out to find "a good rose." I know that my opinion on this is not 'in step' with the in crowd of rosedom, but I view the popularity of Hot Cocoa as a trendy sort of thing. It may always be grown as a curiosity; but Hot Cocoa will never be central to why most people grow roses.

I recently saw About Face in the Somerset municipal garden. It was the scrawniest rose in the garden at the time. And I could find nothing to recommend the flowers other than the novelty of a dark color outside and a light color inside. The garden has - I don't know - maybe 1000 or 2000 named cultivars of roses and the most impressive thing about this rose was its failure to produce beauty in every respect one could imagine. Admittedly, the garden - as an AARS trial and display garden has a lot of good cultivars, but in that location, given professional care, 999 or 1999 roses were better. That hardly puts it among the best alternates to EarthKind. Not for the part of the US that has weather resembling NJ's.

I 'grew' Blaze in my NJ garden for seven years. To its credit, it did better than every hybrid tea rose except Olympiad, Midas Touch, Electron, and Memorial Day by virtue of the fact that it did not die in the first two years. Not completely. It is supposed to be a climber. And one year it reached chest high and two feet wide, producing perhaps eight or ten flowers before it collapsed in mid June as it always did with blackspot. I would hesitate to mention this rose in the same paragraph as EarthKind Roses. In spots next to it grew Knockout and New Dawn. They grew happily enough without disease and bloomed much more generously.

Obviously, everyone's experience is different. But it seems to me that if one wished to branch out from EarthKind, getting roses with the same strengths and adding new ones, the list would include some English roses: Tess of the d'Ubervilles, Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas. It would include some timeless tough floribundas such as Iceberg (hackneyed yes, good too) Europeana, SunFlare, Sexy Rexy, Eye Paint. It would include some climbers; Albertine, Paul Transon, White Cockade, Francis E Lester, America, CandyLand, Zepherine Drouhin. It would include some tough and beautiful hybrid teas: Midas Touch, Olympiad, Electron, Folklore, Memorial Day. It would include some hybrid musks Ballerina, Buff Beauty, Penelope, Moonlight, Kathleen, Lyda Rose. It would include some miniatures; Gourmet Popcorn, Cupcake, Rise 'n' Shine, Red Cascade. And it would include some great shrub roses such as Sally Holmes, Autumn Sunset and Westerland, and a few of the better Buck and Svejda roses. It would also introduce northern gardeners to the better rugosa and alba hybrids.

As I'm sure you know, the ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses can be a fairly robust source for rose ratings. A lot of roses that are all the rage in CA, but fare less well in the rest of the nation will get middling ratings there. Sometimes even AARS winners such as Apollo get panned by ARS gardeners. The whole thing raises the question about whether the notion of "Good Roses" is a reasonable one if the definition implicitly requires a rose to do well across the whole of the US. Frequently the answer is no. We need better information.

I hope you find these comments helpful and eagerly await your next articles "Beyond Earthkind." And "The Best Roses for (Your State's Name Here.)"

(dana)Owensboro, KY
(Zone 6a)

January 12, 2010
1:12 AM

Post #7453535

thanks for the comments. the one thing id add is: do your research when adding English roses if you live where it gets pretty hot. make sure the ones you pick arnt fussy in the heat or give them partial shade.. some cultivars tend to shatter fast.
i realize you said it was based on your own experience but i beg to differ on hot cocoa and about face..;} ive grown them both for the past 3 yrs ; about face is own root and is so vigorous and productive it grew to 6 ft from a one gallon in 3 months. here is the thread on it it just shot right up and by the end of the first season it was huge and never got an ounce of blackspot. hot cocoa is also a nonstop bloomer with good resistance...maybe some of these roses arnt very elaborate or have show form, they are good to start with. hot cocoas color isnt so russet that it will go out of style. it fits well in the red groupe. its all a matter of knowing your yard looking up the stats and trial and error. all of my roses do great with little care but my moms get dieback in the winter and eaten by the bunnies all spring and she lives 2 mi away... so no rules are hard and fast .some that do horrible one place will do great somewhere else. plants are funny that way lol . lol the articles lol yes, and you forgot extra easy extra fragrant
(dana)Owensboro, KY
(Zone 6a)

January 12, 2010
3:35 AM

Post #7453950

its funny how our experiences with some are so different my blaze is over 10 ft and is pretty good about not getting blackspot.(blooms non stop). on the other hand my america wont grow and was naked most of last year lol
Prescott, AZ
(Zone 7a)

January 12, 2010
3:43 PM

Post #7455120

Dana, Thanks for the responses. One thing we definitely agree on is that there is a great deal of variability in the way each cultivar performs.

I've noticed that there are precious few roses that one could grow in the same garden with rudbeckias ( brown-eyed Susans) because the colors would clash. I'm wondering whether Hot Cocoa and About Face might be exceptions.
(dana)Owensboro, KY
(Zone 6a)

January 12, 2010
7:03 PM

Post #7455751

my garden looks like fruity pebbles lol so i grow all colors together.. but hot cocoa would be gorgeous in a brown themed bed. rudbeckias, certain brownish daylilies and light pinks would look great i think. there are lots of brownis flowers. actually the cover of heirloom roses catalog had a bouquet of hot cocoa and lady of the mist and it looked great. you wouldnt think an apricot rose and a russet would look that good.

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Other Article: Have no fear, Earthkind roses are here Threads you might be interested in:

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Interesting marti001 4 Jan 6, 2010 2:45 PM
Helpful and Encourging HoosierGreen 4 Jan 12, 2010 2:01 AM
This article is for the rose-averse vossner 2 Jan 11, 2010 1:45 AM
What about fragrance? 1973tr6 7 Jan 14, 2010 6:15 PM
Spice LeslieT 1 Jan 11, 2010 5:48 PM

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