Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rugged Rugosas

In June my sister-in-law happened to visit us and said that she wanted to put roses in her garden. She didn't want fussy things. Only roses that could thrive on neglect. Did I have any recommendations?
Did I indeed! Rugosas!
I have just two in my garden: Wildberry Breeze, shown above, and Blanc Double de Coubert. I plucked a startling white blossom and handed it to her. I instructed her to sample the fragrance. "I want this!" she said.
Well, of course she did. Who wouldn't? The rich damask fragrance of Blanc Double de Coubert is heavenly. And the rose blooms all summer on a tough plant that thrives on neglect. In fact, the only thing you can do to harm a rugosa rose is to spray it. I've seen rugosas defoliated by well-meant, but damaging sprays.
Wildberry Breeze, strongly perfumed of cloves and rose, was my first rugosa. Look at her photo above. See the deeply veined leaves? Rugose means wrinkled, and that's how this class of roses earned its name. The tough, leathery leaves are impervious to disease, and insects leave them largely alone. In autumn, the foliage turns yellow, adding interest to the garden after the flowers have faded. In addition, there are large, orangey-red rose hips on the shrub--rich in Vitamin C if you care to make a terribly tart tea from them. I don't. I leave them for the birds.
The rose suckers, sending shoots out all around the base of the parent. This is a good thing or bad, depending on what you want in your garden. I don't mind it, as it means free plants. If they meander where I don't want I dig the suckers out.
One note of warning, however. You'll want heavy gloves for any deadheading or digging of suckers: the rugosas are well-armed with dense prickles over every inch of their thick canes.
I think my sister-in-law was sold. I expect she'll have rugosa roses in her garden come spring. Perhaps I'll add another one or two to my own plot, as well. My December garden work will involve scouring garden catalogs for "wrinkled roses." It's a task I eagerly anticipate. Wildberry Breeze photo by JulenaJo.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to stop by and visit and thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. I agree, rugosas are the least demanding roses. I have several, but the hybrid Therese Bugnet is my favorite.

    I went back and looked at your older posts. The one about the coyote was scary. We have way too many around our farm. This time of year they begin hunting in packs. Very eerie when they pass the house yipping and howling.