need little work
n I, like many of you, decided - after trying to grow hybrid roses for many years and failing - that roses were just too hard to grow, and gave up on them. After spraying many gallons of fungicides and insecticides over the years and watering, fertilizing and pruning endlessly trying to keep them alive, the leaves always seemed to be covered with spots and holes.
I was spending most of my gardening hours in the rose bed trying to produce the beautiful long-stemmed flowers and buds shown in the catalogs. So I quit growing roses.
Then, several years later, a friend convinced me to attend a symposium on old garden roses. As I sat listening to rose nurserymen Michael Shoup and Mark Chamblee from Texas describe how old roses can withstand the harsh southern summers, red clay soils, droughts, pests, diseases, and poor gardening practices of neglectful gardeners, I remembered the beautiful roses that my parents and grandparents grew with so little attention paid to them. I was convinced that I could grow roses again without spending all my time in the rose bed.
This time, instead of a rose garden, I have gardens that have roses in them along with perennials, herbs, annuals and other shrubs. My 40-odd roses are living happily throughout my yard in flower gardens and all I have to do is admire them.
These old roses have been growing for centuries all over the world without much help from gardeners. Most are capable of producing hundreds of magnificent blooms from early spring through fall. Many have been passed down, by cuttings, through families for generations.
So if you want to have beautiful roses without the hard work and dedication needed to grow modern hybrids, try some old garden roses. They root easily from cuttings if you can get them from friends, or you might find them growing in old cemeteries or old home places.
There are many local and online nurseries that stock old roses with hundreds of varieties of shrubs, climbers, chinas, bourbons, polyanthas and floribundas. Rose gardening can be fun for you again.
Bill Fisher, a Master Gardener, is a trained volunteer of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. For gardening questions, call the Hort Line at (662) 620-8280 in Lee County or (866) 920-4678 outside Lee County and leave a message.