There are, happily, a number of great nurseries, depending on your needs. I have ordered received roses from all of these companies
Note that some require an order of three:
Pickering Nursery (large bareroots with a minimum order of three). Cheap shipping - 3-4 roses ship for $18.00 for three or four. Order and install in April, and they jump out of the ground and bloom in June. Biggest plants (my bareroots have been two feet tall), cheapest shipping. Lots of own root roses. Amazing selection of roses of all types.
Heirloom Roses (1 gallon containerized with a minimum order of 3). I ordered and planted three roses. They are small but very healthy, and I am pleased with the purchase. Two Austins and a Harkness. Actually three Austins, as one was sent by mistake and I was graciously allowed to keep it. This is from their site:
"Our own-root roses are first year cuttings grown and shipped in special pots, 6" deep by 3" wide, designed for tree seedlings. The pot allows a strong root system to develop and the rose will not experience the transplant shock bare-root roses do. The rose itself is about 8 - 10" above the soil line of the pot. The own-root roses you will receive are smaller than budded roses and grow very rapidly."
Chamblees (1 gallons with no minimum order). I ordered a single rose for $18 that came to $30 with shipping. The quality is extremely high. I made my first purchase from them this year and am looking forward to another. Glamis Castle. It established quickly and has been blooming almost non-stop since I purchased it in late spring/early summer.
Antique Rose Emporium (two gallon containerized roses - read expensive shipping) with a minimum of three. The roses are big and of great quality, and it is easier because they are in pots. They are $18.95 and absolutely top of the line but the shipping will kill you.
Roses Unlimited (1 gallon containerized roses with a minimum order of three). I ordered from this company for spring delivery on the recommendation of Peter Schneider, the author of "Right Rose, Right Place". Most roses are $16.00
Forest Farm (small selection, but extremely high quality), containerized, but with very high shipping, which comes down per plant with a four gallon order. I got a Charles DeMille that knocked my socks off. I was ordering three shrubs at the same time.
The quality of all of these, regardless of size, has been extraordinary.
I'm sure that others will pipe in. I have ordered from some of these companies at the excellent recommendation of other DGers. Terry_emory is particularly knowledgeable.
Their bare-root roses are large enough to put everyone else's to shame, both in the number of viable canes and in the length and quantity of roots. Their roses are grafted onto Multiflora rootstock, which does not appeal to gophers. That's a huge advantage in my garden, where everything has to be planted in gopher-proof cages.
They'll start taking orders for next season in just a couple of days -- September 1st. The best roses sell out quickly, so it's wise to place orders as soon as possible. They'll either ship the roses to you in late fall or hold them for you for spring shipping.
The best own-root rose nursery (again, just my opinion) is Roses Unlimited. I've found that the others send out too many mislabeled roses.
Of course, we all have our opinions based upon our experiences, but generally speaking, I would not recommend installing grafted roses in cold climates like mine in Illinois. Our harsher winters mean that there is a possibility that the graft union will be destroyed during a cold winter. I see Dr. Huey here (a red rose common rose used for grafting) all the time. I'm sure that they are great in California, but Ibveas is in Michigan.
Also, multiflora roses are considered to be invasive in the midwest, and if you lose the graft union, that will be what you have left. I'll spare you the links to the many articles on the subject.
And while I like Pickering's very large bareroots, installing multiple large bareroots can be quite a task. It means digging very deep, very wide holes. And that can be quite a task, even with good soil. That is why I have been moving toward own root containerized roses, both for ease of installation and a greater guarantee of winter survival.
I have only received one mislabeled rose in some 40 orders from all these companies. That was Heirloom, and the result was that I received an extra rose.
Palatine and Pickering are both in Ontario, so their rootstock is clearly hardier than Dr. Huey. They both use Multiflora seedlings, which are said to be resistant to the usual diseases attacking Multiflora in the wild.
Heirloom is so famous for sending out mislabeled roses that they're less-than-affectionately called "Err-loom" by some rosarians. They apparently have a 40-50% mislabeling rate. Chamblee and Vintage Gardens are also likely to mislabel, but the worst offender is Rogue Valley. Most of the mislabeled roses in my garden came from Rogue Valley.
As for the dificulty of planting large bare-root roses, Heirloom recommends a planting hole 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide for their tiny little plants. No difference from a good planting hole for a bare-root plant.
Multiflora may be invasive in certain locations, but the solution is to pull the rootstock suckers off the plant if they appear. Pruning them will not work. They must be pulled off below the graft before they can weaken the rose, take over, and start growing and spreading.
Some recommendations make sense, and some don't. For large bareroot roses, if you don't dig a hole that big, you can't get them in the ground. Palatine has a reputation (mentioned on GW) for bareroots so big that they are difficult to get into the ground. Between that and my lack of experience with them, I hesitated to suggest them to a new rose grower. We put in roses when the weather is getting iffy, and I have unpleasant memories of putting in roses in October in this climate and really struggling against the wind and rain. My Heirloom roses, all three are doing beautifully with smaller holes. I have mature roses that never got a two foot hole. The have been in for over a dozen years. Digging a big hole and spreading a large root system over a mound of soil is a very different experience from lowering a container into a similar hole. With a big bareroot, you may have to try over and over again to get it in because they are unwieldy..
I don't pay much attention to "famousness" when my observations are otherwise. I also find that some recommendations are out of date, based on the persons planting them. Looking at your observations on Heirloom and comparing them to GW, they seem out of date. Edmunds was a great company in 2003, when it was really Edmunds. No longer. Heirloom was a recent recommendation to me, and it came from a peron with recent experience and high expertise.
I didn't recommend Rogue Valley.
The solution to the multiflora problem is not to expect the grower to watch for rootstock. I have just moved and left 23 roses behind. I do not know whether the new owner would recognize suckers. I would not expect them to. I think that recommending roses with the multiflora problem to an inexperienced grower in a place where mutiflora is on record for being invasive and expecting them to watch for rootstock is unreasonable. The solution is to avoid them if you have a choice.
Perhaps it is being in such different parts of the country is going to result in very different points of view. And different philosophies about rose growing.
Hands down best roses I've received are from David Austin. Have over 200 in my rose garden and have ordered for friends and family from CA, TN, Fl, and RI - no problems. Incredible quality. I've made the mistake of ordering Austin roses from elsewhere (Heirloom) and they just don't compare. DA also has many standard varieties - personally, will not order from anyone else.
I do have to agree that Austin's is my very favorite. Hands down they get my birthday money every year--in if fact my mother should just call them up and tell them to just "send Terri a selection". But then again I realize that I'm a bit of an Austin fanatic and that I should remember to diversity =+))))!
The_Meadows, there is no way that Heirloom can compare in size to Austin's. They are very small. I just grabbed some because they were bargains - it was my first order, and a well known enabler encouraged me. They are all blooming and shooting up in size, and they were $7.95. I think the best Austins I ever got were from a garden center that dealt directly with David Austin. The best part was that they were within driving distance of my home (no shipping!). Heritage and Glamis Castle in bloom in my climate. I could inspect them in their containers, and wow were they large. Those roses exude health, 12 years later. It was August, and they had no blackspot or mildew. I also got a wonderful Tess of the D'Urbervilles from White Flower Farm that was from Austin.
I'm ending up ordering from a number of suppliers, sometimes because I want a rose that isn't widely available. Or the shipping is really high. I used to order exclusively from Antique Rose Emporium, unless I wanted a rose they didn't have. Those Texas roses did wonderfully, and I still have them all. And when someone knowledgeable (the anonymous enabler above) points out a good vendor I didn't previously utilize, I'll give it a try.
But you know, in the end, I find myself with antique roses (I love Portlands and Bourbons) or Austins that have been vetted by someone else in my zone, or that I have seen at the Chicago Botanic Garden. That's why these recommendations are so interesting to read. You get to see what companies people feel strongly about, and why. One thing I really enjoy seeing each is individual's loyalty to their suppliers. It's because of al these people above buying all these roses from rose specialists that the rose specialists survive. Bravo to that!
And Terri, that was why. Peter Schneider (Right Rose, Right Place, and the Combined Rose List) is a huge fan of The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild. He strongly recommended it to me at a forum I attended (he is the nicest man in the world). I had to try it. Can you imagine ignoring the advice of someone so terrific? And someone being so very specific in his choice? Who gardens in your zone? The only other place I could find it was David Austin Roses, who wanted $27.95 for it. I also wanted Jacquelyn DuPre, and he didn't have it. When I did the research, the only place I could find that had both was Heirloom. And they were own root, which is huge in my book.
I really like knowing why people choose a particular vendor. It's really interesting.
I'm a little late getting back to this thread, Ibveas, but I remembered that we used to have end-of-year rose nursery report card threads when I was more active in DG. This is the most recent one I can find, but much of the information is dated by now, particularly in the case of the now defunct nurseries. So many have gone out of business in the last three years. Nevertheless, the information in this thread could be helpful to you.
I was interested to see on your October 5 remarks to Steve 812, that you recommended to him that he buy all his Austins at Pickering. Have you had a difficult experience at Palatine, which you noted above that you thought was the best on-line nursery?
I agree, by the way. If possible, that's what I do.