Sit back, and I’ll tell you a tale of days gone by, when gardeners delighted in the roses they grew, cities had rose societies, old man Schmittenheimer’s roses were the talk of the town, and everyone’s grandmother had a vaseful of homegrown flowers in the good living room. Roses were a trophy for a job well done. And the preferred roses were hybrid teas and grandifloras, and they all required work – pruning, protecting and vigilance.
Somewhere along the way, we turned into gardeners who demanded low-maintenance, easy-solution roses, and work was found to be a four-letter-word. Cultivating hybrid tea roses fell out of favor with many, if not a majority, of us. The quest for the Holy Grail of shrub roses began – a hardy shrub rose, requiring little work, no winter protection, yet producing hybrid tea sized blooms with the wonderful fragrance of tender roses. Many wonderful shrub roses have been developed, some hardier than others, but most are hybrid tea wannabees, and many lack one of tender roses’ most enchanting qualities – the wonderful rose fragrance.
Hardy shrub roses have a wonderful purpose in the landscape, and we’ve included quite a few in our new landscape. But we’ve also returned to the practice of growing hybrid tea roses, after a decade or two without.
Hybrid tea roses are unequaled in flower quality, perfumed fragrance and range of colors.
But what about all the work? It depends on your view. To me, golfing is work. A lot of work goes into fishing to yield a few pounds of fish. But to those who enjoy golfing and fishing, the work isn’t work, otherwise it’s probably better to find a different pastime. Growing roses is like that: if you enjoy gardening, then growing roses isn’t work – it’s a hobby, a pastime, a fun leisure sport with a great reward.