Your Favorite Rose Book and Why

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

hi everyone, altho i plan on getting alot of my rose info from you all in the coming months and years (LOL), i still would like to buy a book to help me along. as i have mentioned in another thread, i am totally rose-stupid at this point and being as anal as i am, i need a book or two or three, just to cover basics. thanks in advance for your input. debi

Peekskill, NY(Zone 6b)

As far as rose books are concerned, here are some books that I think have particularly good content for each topic in an index that I have created for myself over time. The topic appears first, followed by the book title and relevant page numbers:

Anatomy of a Rose
Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pg. 27
Roses for Dummies pg. 26

Bloom, Flower, Blossom, and Petal Characteristics
Roses for Dummies pp. 28-31
Ultimate Rose pg. 157

Blooming Cycles
Roses for Dummies pg.35

Classifications & Characteristics
Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 28-35
Ortho’s All About Roses pp. 6-7, 51
Roses for Dummies pp. 18-22
Ultimate Rose (best for bloom photos that accompany descriptions)
Better Homes & Gardens Roses pp. 14-57

Companion Plants
The Art of Gardening with Roses (by Graham Stuart Thomas) pp. 153-158
Roses for Dummies pp. 77-84

Containers & Pots
Roses for Dummies pp. 78-92

Cutting and Conditioning Roses for Personal Display
Roses for Dummies pp. 288-299
American Rose Society website: [[email protected]]

Diseases and Pests
Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 118-119, 122-127
American Rose Society Rosarian’s Manual pg. X-11
Roses – Time/Life Enclyclopedia of Gardening pp. 56-57

Taylor’s 50 Best Roses pg. 67

Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 97

Ultimate Rose pp. 156-157
Taylor’s 50 Best Roses pp. 120-122

Hardiness & Heat Zones
American Rose Society website: [[email protected]]

Landscaping with Roses
Ortho’s All About Roses pg. 21
Roses for Dummies pp. 71-76

Nutrient Deficiencies
Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 98-99
American Rose Society Rosarian’s Manual pg. VIII-13

Planting Guidelines
Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 76-77
Roses – Time/Life Enclyclopedia of Gardening pp. 44-47
Roses for Dummies pp. 204-207

Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 160-161

The Complete Rose Book pp. 26-27 (hybrid teas); pp. 28-29 (foribundas); pp. 30-31 (shrubs); pp. 32-33 (climbers); pp. 34-35 (ramblers); pp. 36-37 (standards)
Ortho’s All About Roses pp. 46-49
Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 106-115
Ortho’s The Easiest Roses to Grow pp. 18-19
Roses – Time/Life Enclyclopedia of Gardening pg. 53, 67 (climbers)
Roses for Dummies pp. 228, 234
Ultimate Rose (new vs. established) pg. 146

Roses for Dummies pp. 190-191

Ortho Complete Guide to Roses pp. 100-103

Roses for Dummies pp. 200-203

Sunlight & Shade
Roses for Dummies pg. 49

Roses for Dummies pg. 23 (denominations)

Roses for Dummies pp. 243-244

Proctorville, OH(Zone 5b)

What an impressive list..

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

WOWEEE (and YIKES) thank you soooooo much. there is enough info here to keep me going a long time. you have no idea how much i appreciate your taking the time to compile this. i think it appropo that Roses for Dummies will be my first purchase! thanks again repeatbloomer. debi

Langley, BC, BC(Zone 8b)

since you asked FAVOURITE -- I will try to narrow myself down to my past and present.

My all time forever and forever favourite rose book is Graham Stuart Thomas ( just a pseudonym for God -- whenever I see the Time Bandits, with god appearing as a little man in a suit... I think of GST)

anyway three books in one; published by Timber Press in 1994
"the Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book" a man who loves roses, is eloquent on their behalf, but not, as too many modern writers, blind to their faults. if it dies as soon as look at you, he says so. If it is rare (not a j&p oreo hypersell) he tells you why you should look. He teaches you to love roses of all sorts so painlessly, drawing on a lifetime of experience.

My present love also from Timber Press; (the true gardeners publisher par excellence, may their name never wither. ) Charles Quest-Ritson Climbing Roses of the World -- again because of his eloquence and his forthright style. AND his truly international guide to all the climbing roses fit to grow, with open slurs on those that are not. What is it about these Brits, so unafraid to call a dog a dog???? MORE of this would be good --- heaven knows the companies send enough promotion.

I own about 30 books on roses alone-- some of these are fabulous, some utterly useless. Since this thread is personal favourites not swank, I will say no more; except that the back of Charles Q-r gives pithy advice on roses that replaces at least 20 of them.


This message was edited Nov 13, 2005 5:38 PM

North Vancouver, BC(Zone 8a)

We have yet another Rosarian in our midst, by the sounds of how many and the kinds of material she has! My shelves are remplis with Beales 20th Century and Classic roses.....Graham Thomas's books, and, I think my favourite, really, is the Roger Phillip & Martyn Rix bible, simply called, "Roses"...........but the best info for around here in zone 8a, is, definitely, my friend, Brad Jalbert's book, "Roses for British Columbia".........Elaine

Langley, BC, BC(Zone 8b)

Elaine, I have and love P&R and like it a lot, but do you think mb their newest, which I am covetting night and day may be better -- covering stuff that isn't on the website?? (don't forget that saying oh no, not at all will save me money :)

This message was edited Nov 14, 2005 12:06 AM

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i think i need to rephrase my question or maybe clarify it for my own good. "favorite" means different things to different people, so my question is now, what is the best book for an absolute beginner? i already ordered Roses for Dummies, but if there are others, i'm game.

you all have to understand that i don't know a tea from a floribunda from a romantic from get the picture. i would like a book that tells me how the roses are classified, how they get their names, what it all means...thanks again, debi

Peekskill, NY(Zone 6b)

For technical knowledge and know-how, I would select the Ortho Complete Guide to Roses from the list I printed above.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

Oh, what a great thread....I know I will end up babbeling on a bit here, but - oh well! I love roses, and I LOVE to naturally I have quite a few books on roses. At present 16, with several new Amazon purchases on the way, and 3 from e-bay being shipped soon! Since I have so many books, and no one wants to hear about them all ....what are you most interested in reading up on?? General care?? History?? Pruning? Descriptions of the rose classes (Hybrid Tea, Old Garden Roses, etc...), or a book to read up on specific roses you are looking to buy?? The thing about rose books, actually any gardening book, is that some are really good on 1 or 2 things, and barely skirt by other topics. Some are written specifically about, say - Climbing Roses, and so go into them in greater detail than a general rose book. What are you most curious about right now?? The 'Roses for Dummies' is a GREAT starting point, and covers a lot of really good, general rose info and care advice. Is there any other area you would like a book to cover??

Let me know!


This message was edited Nov 14, 2005 9:13 AM

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

Jamie, LOL, thanks for asking. i know this sounds really stupid, but i find it difficult to proceed with a "passion" until i know all the ins and outs of it. i can't just go out, buy a rose and plant it and say to people, "o, that's so and so rose". it is maddening even to me, but i need to know all the different kinds, teas, etc. i need to know some history, i need to know how they are classed and rated. it all looks so mysterious on the rose sites. i am pretty confident in my gardening abilities, i know disease and pest and nutrition and will brush up on all of the specifics for roses. i don't think i will be killing any of the little devils at any rate. thanks everyone for your continued comments. debi

Langley, BC, BC(Zone 8b)

Debi, that is too hilarious!!! I lay in bed last night thinking about rose books, why I like what I like and why I find others useless; or at the least, not relevant.

I love to read. Really thats the end of the story; but I love to read people's experience with roses. i love to hear about the duds as well as clinical "objective" information about rose. I love hearing a dog called a mutt (and separately, and less admirably, I love to hear people rationalize that their mutt really is a rare, but unrecognized.......)

I love reading Graham Thomas, becausehe puts the long history of the rose out there for me to get some perspective on my tiny niche in time; and because he never once advances the idea that caring for roses is so timeconsuming you would have to be independently wealthy or the scion of a pesticide company to do it well.

Charles Quest -- is the same; full of down to earth advice, and lots and lots of stories.

I agree with Elaine, above. For getting a visual sense of the roses that can be grown; no-one gives more pics (the clearest form of understanding than Phillips and Rix. they have several books on roses alone; and what is most significant, the info on caring for these wonderful plants is simply presented in the front.

Brown side down; trim new bare root plants top and bottom. bonemeal in planting hole; water if it isn't going to rain. Fall is best. Spray preventative March, then again a month and a half later. (substance depends on your politics) Make the soil good, feed if you get around to it. Don;t prune until the forsythia blooms in your area.

That will do most of them, making them grow instead of fading away, -- but like you, I wasn't ready to start until I had the atlas. In addition to the ones I recommend above; I recommend sending for Peter Beales catalogue; a gold mine of info - hxs, shade tolerance, fragrance etc. You can log onto the site; but it is a lot of fun going throug the catalogue and he only charges postage.

I hope this is useful not just more blabbeling.

Denton, TX(Zone 7a)

Roses for Dummies is the first book that I read on roses, it is the one that helped get me started on all this...
My favorite book is In Seach of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher...(who will be in Dallas at the rose conventions in October 2006 I am so excited!

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

Hortensia, thanks for all the info. i, too, love to read and maybe that is part of it, just having that info "in my hands" makes it real to me. i once knew a man who had a small black shepard mix with half her tail missing. he was convinced she was a rare and royal breed called Egyptian Carrier (a breed that i have never to this day heard of) LOL. believe me, she was a mutt.

not babbling at all! i have tons to read, digest and research-the way i like it! debi

Proctorville, OH(Zone 5b)

As a newbie, I wanted to know before I bought... but I couldn't make sense out of the descriptions.... So I bought a David Austin & then ...a grandiflora... & for me actually seeing the bush & then reading the descriptions made things clearer.... Just call me a...dirty hands on.... kind of reader...LOL

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i know what you mean. sometimes that is the best way, just not always the way my twisted mind works! i have to admit tho that all of the tropical gardening i did in the keys wasn't always book first. books make things easier and clearer alot of times, but there is nothing like "dirty" experience. LOL

Peekskill, NY(Zone 6b)

To say nothing of "dirty books"...


mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

and the best part is when we can visit DG and "dish" the dirt with our fellow gardeners.

Taylors, SC

I am w/ repeatbloomer---Orthos Complete Guide To Roses.---so far, hands down. Found it at the library and ordered it on Amazon before I even had to return it!!
I also have The Encyclopedia of Roses by Charles and Brigid Quest-Ritson which I like mostly because of the vastness of the pictures and descriptions.
Thanks for the thread---I love to read about them too---but I definitely want lots of pictures along w/ those descriptions!!

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

thanks everybody who posted on this thread. please don't stop posting. i ordered a couple of books and they are on the way (but i will be out of town for the coming holiday. when i return i will devour them and report in. everybody have a safe and happy thanksgiving and i will talk to you in a couple of weeks. debi

Palmyra, IL(Zone 5b)

okay I'm going to go to ebay to buy ---Orthos Complete Guide To Roses.---

What about a good book on old roses? any suggestions

Denton, TX(Zone 7a)

In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas you mean OGR's? This is it!
I am having problems with the computer, or else I would wax eloquently, on why I love this book...

This message was edited Nov 19, 2005 10:44 AM

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

I have recently bought a couple books on both eBay and Amazon - really great rose books!! One was 'Gardening with Roses' by Patrick Taylor (1995) This book is so much better than so many others in that it provides so much more detailed information about each Rose as a plant - Fullness, wide or narrow, foliage, toothed, shiny, large, small, burgundy etc.., plant combo ideas for each and every rose, and so much more. After reading one of his 2-3 paragraph descriptions of a particular rose, you truly know if it would be a good choice for your garden. I feel this type of info is more important that a billion pictures of rose blossoms, and many other rosarians do as well. The number of prominent rose gardeners that recommend this book is quite telling. GREAT BOOK!!!

Another special rose book is: 'Roses, a Celebration: 32 Eminent Gardeners & Their Roses' by Wayne Winterrowd (2003) I love talking to fellow gardeners about the roses they love and why, this book does just that with some very famous gardeners. I have only gotten to read an excerpt of this book, but I was entranced!! And now I am looking for the mailman every day to get it and read the rest!!!

I have several more neat Rose books, and will post about them when they get here..I can't wait... :-)

Langley, BC, BC(Zone 8b)

Jamie, i agree with you so much about " I feel this type of info is more important that a billion pictures of rose blossoms," The rose pictures only feed my (already insatiable) appetite for MORE MORE MORE. Thw experience of other rost fanatics; their discussion of the faults and virtues of a particular rose are far more enriching.

IN light of this, I would like to add another couple of books which I don't YET own; but have ordered

The illustrated encyclopedia of roses / general editor, Mary Moody ; consulting editor, Peter Harkness.
Published Portland, Or. : Timber Press, 1997 a truly inspired read through ALL TYPES of roses

Author Scanniello, Stephen.
Title A year of roses / Stephen Scanniello.
Published New York : H. Holt, c1997

a fine, though climate specific, book written by someone who understand the meaning of "care"

and my current longing book " Best rose guide : a comprehensive selection / Roger Phillips, Martyn Rix.
Published Toronto : Firefly Books, 200

the latest from this dynamic duo.


Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

Although this book doesn't focus on just roses, I have to add to the list, a fabulous book on natural gardening.
The approach is not just "organic" pest control or fertilizer.
It's about how you can use natural products to build your soil, how you can provide nutrients to you plants that also make them more pest and disease resistant.
The book is out of print *grumbel grumble* but you can get it from amazon used books At a very reasonable price
The Complete Natural Gardener

ISBN 1561707163

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

I was looking at the reviews of rose books on the Amazon site and noticed that "Roses for Dummies" apparently has a list of the 10 roses beginners should avoid. I'm just curious. What are they? I don't have the book, so could someone who does have the book please tell me (and the rest of us) which ones they are?

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

The book has a list of "Ten roses never to grow....unless you know what you are doing"

1 - Austrian Copper Rose (Rosa foetida) - the book says this is the original source of blackspot in roses....and is never without it

2 - 'Brandy' - So tender it should be grown as an annual in all but the warmest winter climates

3 Climbing Orchid masterpiece - every disease know to roses will find this rose....avoid it!

4 - 'French Lace' - same as #2

5 - Lady Banks Rose (Rosa Banksiae) - This very vigorous rose will grow and grow and not plant it unless you are Edward Scissorhands

6 - 'Mermaid' - Rampant grower, will kill a tree if allowed to grow into it. spreads by underground runners...difficult to get rid of...avoid

7 - 'Mint Julep' Avoid this rose because it is just so ugly.

8 - 'Newport Fairy' - same reason as #6

9 - 'Snowfire' - this rose has thorns that are near deadly....very difficult to handle even to prune...

and last but not least.....
10 - 'Sterling Silver' - This rose was a big hit when it first came out, the first mauve for retail sale. But it has been much improved upon and doesn't stand up to all the newer mauves...Lady X, Fragrant Plum, Angel Face, or Stainless Steel'

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Oh, thank you, Jamie. It's an interesting list, but I don't agree with some of these. I'll say why and I hope others will chime in.

# 1, 3, 6, 7, 8: I'm not qualified to comment because I've never grown them.

# 2 and 4: I guess I don't have to worry about this in my zone. These roses never suffer from the weather here, but many people I know think French Lace should be avoided because of its weak stems.

# 5: What's wrong with vigorous?

# 9: Snowfire's a wonderful rose, and I've never noticed the thorns being any worse than the thorns on other roses, so they can't be that bad. Besides, this shouldn't be grounds for avoiding it. We all expect thorns when we grow roses, right?

# 10: Silly reason. I'm growing or have grown Sterling Silver and three of the other four mentioned here. They all look completely different, so this reason is relevant only if you're going to grow just one mauve rose. There aren't many people in this forum that would limit themselves in that way.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

I was hoping people who had grown these roses would chime in....the book was so specific in its reasoning with regard to these roses, I just knew there would be some dispute on at least some of them. I tend to agree with you Zuzu about most of those you mentioned. The only one I happen to agree with the book for me, just ME in MY garden, is the two or three listed as very rampant in growth. I don't have room here on my lot to grow anything that is likely to want the kind of room this type of rose needs. But that sure doesn't mean others should avoid them as the book says, it is just a question of right rose/right place...and my gardens are not the right place. But you have more than one rose that is amazingly well grown and as vigorous as they want to be....and someday I might have the room to grow them......I can only hope!

Can't wait to see what others have to say :o)


Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

I think I'll take the book's word on some of these. I won't mind avoiding #1 and #3 if they're really that disease-prone, although I'd also put Baronne Prevost in the category of roses that get every disease imaginable (at least in my garden). I grow it anyway, though, because it's so pretty.

The same goes for #6 and #8. I don't think I want anything rampant by means of underground runners. That sounds too hard to control. As for the Banksiae, though, I recommend it to anyone. I have three of them, one on a set of two arbors, one on the garage wall, and one on the back fence. They're big, but they're not as big as the climbing Cecile Brunners or the Mme Alfred Carrieres, and they're only half the size that Dorothy Perkins grows to in just a few months. Besides, they have one major advantage -- NO THORNS. Who cares if you have to keep pruning a rose that has no thorns?

Here, by the way, is Mint Julep, in case anyone else is curious about this "ugly" rose. I think I've seen uglier roses.

On a completely different note, I knew it was raining all day today, but the rain gauge says I got almost 4 1/2 inches of rain since yesterday evening. Isn't that amazing?

Denton, TX(Zone 7a)

I planted Lady Banks, because Roses for Dummies, told me not to....and I have never regretted it....the fact that it has no thorns is a definate plus, as Zuzu says...I am not sure about Mermaid spreading via underground runners, I wonder about the truth of I have never heard anyone mention it. I know it is a monster, with terrible thorns...Michael Shoup at ARE says to make sure where you plant it, is where you will want it to stay, as it is so painful if you have to move it. I have a friend, who managed to get a thorn of Mermaid stuck in her hand, and it went into THE BONE! she had to have a series of IV antibiotis.....It is pretty but evil (as she says) this same person, refers to French Lace, as "defoliated sticks, with a flower on the top" I have taken her at her word, and I don't grow French Lace...I don't know about any of the others

This message was edited Dec 2, 2005 2:38 AM

Langley, BC, BC(Zone 8b)

What an interesting list ( now THAT was a pet and a slap if I've ever heard one -- sorta oops) I've only grown French Lace and banksiae lutea; and have just planted Sterling Silver, so can't really comment from my experience on the roses mentioned.

The worm of suspicion that stirs in my brain is why 10 (--eeww, I wish I'd phrased that differently, I went on to say the other worm, but the thought of having worms in my brain...well, lets change the subject)

Ok, here are my cavils: why 10? I can think of lots more that I would strongly discourage a beginner from planting, because they were just TOO MUCH WORK, and that is what puts people off roses (just reading Taylors guide to roses, one (forget which) is said to be "disease resistant but subject to blackspot and mildew LOL, or actually Cry OL)

5 and 6 whats wrong with big? and if banksiae, which banksiae and why not Paul's Himalayan Musk or Kiftsgate or or or....

and if Mermaid spreads underground (which could be true for all of me) and if that is wicked, then goodbye rugosa, gallica and philadelphus Galahad :>) just checking to see if you're still awake.

and 6 again -- I hate that kill a tree stuff. I really really really doubt it. but "experts" are always warning against climbing things up trees.

and if it kills an ugly tree, BONUS!!!!!!

7&9 ugly is as ugly does -- I'm not wild about rosa chinensis viridiflora. But you can grow it. even love it.

On the other hand, I don't grow many of these. Was there a top 10 do grow list??? That would give some perspective on this "expert"

Denton, TX(Zone 7a)

Where can I buy a philadelphus Galahad? Sounds like my kind of plant! Oh wait! you didn't describe it...okay, truth be known, I sometimes choose plants, by whether I like their name or not, and that one sounds like a gallant plant...

Denton, TX(Zone 7a)

The parent of Mermaid, the MaCartney Rose, suckers (underground runners) but Mermaid itself is not supposed to do so.

This message was edited Dec 2, 2005 4:00 AM

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

That's so funny, Melva, because I often buy plants for their names too, but mostly because they sound like delicious desserts. I have so many plants with names that include sorbet, parfait, etc. I also name my cats after food -- Mango, Chutney, Lumpia, Vanilla, Ambrosia, Waldorf (the salad, not the hotel), etc.

Hortensia, I also doubt that a rose could kill a tree and I would be very grateful to a rose that could kill some trees.

Here's my Snowfire. Do you see any horrible thorns? This isn't a baby. It's about 4 feet tall and at least 5 or 6 years old, but it still hasn't developed any killer thorns.

Thumbnail by Zuzu
Langley, BC, BC(Zone 8b)

.....tiptoeing in....ssshhh.

yes Melva, philadelphus Galahad, though he runs around (saving things, no doubt) is a wonderful plant. tolerates lots of shade; blooms his head off and has a wonderful fragrance somewhat different from yer basic mockorange. its a P. lewisii hybrid, (I think) and has that wilder scent; but stays short (about 4 feet with me) You could plant the rose Great North Easter aka Sir Galahad nearby too!!!

but then wouldn't you need Magic Dragon for him to slay??

...tiptoing out, who me, hijack a thread?.......ssshhh.....

Denton, TX(Zone 7a)

I already have Magic Dragon (the rose) so I am set.....

Langley, BC, BC(Zone 8b)

There you go, then --- and you could plant the lupine Noble Maiden, too!

ps what is the name of the white delphinium of the King Arthur series. Is it Galahad too????

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

you are not hijacking this thread by any means hortensia! i forgot i started it and have to read the whole thing again this afternoon. i just got the dummies book and haven't read it thru yet. (i did see the list) and i will be able to make comments when i get my act together (after the house move) LOL but i did think the 10 list was interesting and had planned on introducing it for discussion, you all just beat me to it! debi

Taylors, SC

I currently have Mint Julip in my garden. Bought it beacause the flowers were interesting, pink and white w/ green. But I must say what is UGLY about the plant is it's lack of foliage and form. Would I buy another, NO. Will I chuck it, NO. I have discreetly placed it behind some tall daylilies! It is, as someone described another rose, a stick w/ a flower on top.

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